Leanne Caine Chats with StarkLight Press

leanne-caine-author-photo

Recently, StarkLight Press sat down with Leanne Caine, long-time author and contributor, to chat with her about her story in our latest anthology StarkLight 5.

Leanne is author of a number of short stories and flash fiction, has contributed for the past four years to the StarkLight Press Poetry Marathon, and in addition has written for us in several collaborative novels, including our Tales From Space novels The Arkellan Treaty, Space Stranded.

Leanne is currently working on a memoir as well as contributing to the long-awaited sequel to The Irregulars, StarkLight Press’s first novel about the underground world of psychically-gifted homeless children in North America.

 

SLP: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been up to in the past few years.

This is a hard question for me. I disappeared off the social media map and went back to ghost writing for awhile because I have been going through heavy waters.

The worst thing in the world happened to me, at least, the worst thing that I could imagine, my daughter’s bio dad put his head back into our life. After not being there for her for her entire life he showed up and destabilized everything and on top of it all called me an unfit mother. He used my writing to ‘prove’ it. Ouch.

I went back to ghosting and just about became a ghost myself in the process. It hasn’t been an easy time.
I never wanted that man in my life and I love my little girl, but that isn’t because she reminds me in any way of her sperm donor. I don’t mean I went to a sperm bank, I mean one of his little suckers got by my defences and gave me the only thing in my life I love other than writing.

Fortunately; my baby’s got a good head on her shoulders and sperm donor waited until she was old enough to make up her own mind.

That’s probably more personal than you meant about this question but that’s what I’ve been up to.

I’ve been stripped naked and shorn for all the world to see and nearly lost my baby, nearly lost my writing. I’m back and my daughter isn’t going anywhere.

SLP: Explain for our audience a little bit about the inspiration for your tale, and the themes that inform it.

My story is reaching back to the old stories about revenants and vampires. I was tired of the modern stories about vampires that seem to deviate further and further away from the original stories that our ancestors told about them.

A long time ago, we had a lot of reasons to fear corpses. We still have reasons to fear corpses, but now those reasons are more or less medically founded and we fear them because we don’t want to be contaminated. Even so, we’re also worried that the sheet will fall down, their eyes will fly open and we’ll be forced to fight with the body of the one that we loved.

It’s hard, if you’ve ever seen the body of a loved one, you might get it a bit. They go from being warm and loving to cold and, well, gone. Their eyes change and there’s this feeling of being alone, and yet there’s also the sense of being around a really creepy doll that it could become animated by anything at any point.

It’s armed with claws and teeth and the weight of a human body and it’s scary!

People, even now, often dream about their dead loved ones coming to the door and being asked to be let in. That’s where this story starts, a young wife lets her dead husband in and they make love… well, that’s the implication. It actually starts with the fruit of their intercourse, a demonic vampire baby that’s birth kills its young mother.

The baby’s a monster. There’s lots of signs that used to be well known as signs of vampire babies, this ones got several of them. The midwife thinks about killing the baby but she hasn’t been christianized enough to go running to the priest and start killing babies. Well, maybe in this case that’s the wrong thing, maybe not. It’s a story that’s caught on the cusp between the old ways and the new. There used to be old ways of dealing with vampire babies that would be at least as effective but the midwife’s hands are tied by just enough Christian influence for her to be rather impotent. The result and demon baby on a rampage.

You can read the rest to see how it turns out for everyone. The short answer is: not good.

SLP: What’s your preferred method for writing: computer/smartphone, typewriter, hand, voice transcription? Tell us the most unusual place you ever wrote down a tale- in the elevator at work, on horseback, in a crowded subway?

I really miss Aurora being a baby, it was awesome when she was teething and would scream and hit random key and delete my work. That had to be my favorite. *jk*

Seriously, it’s nice to have a little girl turning into a big girl, I can have some quiet time and it’s a luxury after being a single parent all these years. I went from being a kid at home to being a mommy and it was pretty hard. There’s a lake here and my favorite place to write is anywhere on the lake. I take my computer to the beach a lot and other times I use my friends’ boat or even houseboat for awhile if I don’t have to work. That’s the best, even if I’m limited to pen and paper and have to type it all up when I get home. There’s something about the peace and quiet of being removed from the ground and not being connected at all that makes writing more fluid than anywhere else.

I hate writing in the heat.

I hate writing at my parent’s house even though it has air conditioning and a pool because they’ve never stopped saying ‘I told you this would happen’ since I suddenly got real fat my last year in high school and then suddenly lost all the weight and had this crying baby…

SLP: Where do you like to go best to recharge your creative batteries?

Again, the water. I like to swim. Ironically, I also like to hike in the desert. There’s something about the extreme heat and the deprivation that I like. I don’t like to be sun burned so I go out covered up because I like being fair and have my gothic moments. I like to go skiing and snowboarding in the winter, there’s something about it that’s similar to swimming.

Otherwise, I guess I like to go out and dance my brains out on the dance floor and act like I’m a lot stupider than I am for a portion of the night and blow off some steam that way.

SLP:What, in your opinion is author kryptonite? (antithetical to the creative writing process)

Dealing with family problems. Those are awful. Feeling overwhelmed and having no privacy or quiet time. That sucks all kinds of balls. Feeling like you’re losing what matters most to you. Being attacked for what you’ve already written.

 

SLP: What are your three favorite mainstream books, and what are your three favorite indie/independently published works?

This question is hard and is responsible for this being late. I’ll tell the truth. I’ve been re-reading group anthologies that I’ve been in in StarkLight and getting ready for next projects. I haven’t had a lot of time for other reading. I’ve been reading the entire GAF Mainframe and all the books I can get my hands on. A lot of the other authors have been writing stuff on the side for The Irregulars and I’ve been sinking my greedy little hooks into that too.

I spent too long on this question, I wanted to make something sound super profound and make me sound deep, but no, oh, and also some manga that likely few have heard of but is absolutely silly and serves no earthly purpose.

SLP: What is the last movie you saw? Give our authors a brief review.

The last movie I saw was a Chucky binge. I don’t think I need to give a review. Doll comes to life, doll kills everyone. Usually, some poor kid gets blamed for being a little psycho. Awww, poor traumatized kids! Watch their family get hacked to pieces and then they get called psychos. Next movie comes along and they’re in a psychiatric hospital, just about to leave and then some dumbass psychiatrist decides that before they leave they need to face their fear and they give the guy a Chucky doll. Wow. Jerk!

It’s a funny horror series if you’re into that sort of thing (which I am) and I love the one where Chucky gets a girlfriend. I can’t recall the name of the actress, but man, she is an awesome actress. She did some stuff with John Waters but mostly does voice acting because she has an amazing voice. She’s a bit buxom and I think that’s why she didn’t do more acting acting, I thought she was pretty hot (but not as a doll, terrifying as a doll).

Anyway, horror binges are awesome and they’re also good things to watch when you’re working on a scary story for ambience.

SLP:  What are your next big projects, so that our audience can keep an eye out for them.

I’m working on the sequel to The Irregulars from StarkLight Press. I’m hoping to work more with the character, Jet, that I’m writing. I love this series so much, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written and I love working with the other writers on it. When you get the right people working with a project it just ROCKS.

Thanks for taking the time to fill out our StarkLight Volume 5 Questionnaire!

Alfie Elkins Returns!

venezuela1.jpeg

Back from what was recently a tropical paradise and now is being scouted as a possible location for the shooting of “World War Three”, Alfie Elkins shares with StarkLight Press a little about his story, based on his time in Venezuela, his past and his difficulties in getting binders.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been up to in the past few years.

I started out as a bank clerk in London, then took a teaching degree and taught in public school for a number of years. I then went (perhaps stupidly) to a first aid course so I could help out on excursion trips, and got hooked on medicine. I then became a paramedical specialist with the NHS, and a few years ago, I moved to Venezuela to help them to revamp their emergent care services.

I’ve spent the past two years in Venezuela helping overhaul a public health paramedic corps that is now in shambles due to the current unrest. So, time well spent. Hopefully some of the procedural changes and policies we’ve developed are still preserved and the improved work culture will restore itself once the turmoil is through. Then it would be a good use of time.

Currently, I’m in Manitoba, resting with some mates of mine and keeping one eye on the river levels, because flooding is the last thing I need to round out this long, strange trip of mine!

2. Explain for our audience a little bit about the inspiration for your tale, and the themes that inform it.

Venezuela was a trippy time, and a peculiar place to me. I had no idea how riddled with folk voodoo, magic and superstitiousness it would be- so much so, that it bumped up against my work life as a paramedic. People would shake sticks with little things on them at me. They would prevent me from saving someone until an offering had been completely burned. They would leave little gifts outside the paramedic building (cigarettes, whisky, weed, other things, food (areppas, hallaca, mondongo bowls etc) out for us. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of little favelaways and dark nooks and corners in Caracas alone, let alone in the other areas of the cities in Venezuela.

I had been helping Tony and Virginia write on the Tales from Space Continuing Stories (I love that series! and working on it is a true pleasure) when I had a truly bizarre encounter with another Brit. It was eerily similar to the sort of thing that we have been injecting into the ultimately doomed GAGA universe, (I don’t want to give too much away here, but let it be known that ‘this sort of thing’ we are writing on gives the GAGA new hope, and not in a Star Trek IV kind of way, but a holy sh*t, this opens up everything! kind of way). I started writing a journal entry about it (as I had been continuing to keep a kind of regular accounting of the time I’d been having, and it turned into my story, Nueve Dedos, Pellirojo.

The whole time was very surreal when the encounter happened, and the writing time after- one of those weird times when you think, is this the Neverending Story? Am I  writing reality? Don’t know, but I’m very grateful to StarkLight Press for keeping so much of the espanol intact, as it cannot be truly separated from the story.

3. What’s your preferred method for writing: computer/smartphone, typewriter, hand, voice transcription? Tell us the most unusual place you ever wrote down a tale- in the elevator at work, on horseback, in a crowded subway?

The past few years, whatever is handy. Since I joined the NHS, I’ve been writing story ideas and things on abdominal pad wrappers, tissue boxes or what-have-you. In Venezuela, I had a notebook, and was able to use the smartphone, but with increasing irregularity in my cloud access, I moved more to hand writing and note-taking again. Which was refreshing. I can thoroughly recommend it- I miss handwriting!

4. Where do you like to go best to recharge your creative batteries?

Somewhere quiet, and ideally a little out-of-the-way. Which is how I met el estrano in my story. Ideally, I’m a night hawk, so I like it after dark, places that were bustling, now quiet. Soaking up the residual hustly bustly in the nighttime seems to help inspire and organize my thoughts. Or give me some!

5. What, in your opinion is author kryptonite? (antithetical to the creative writing process)

Overthinking, and overcomparison. Definitely. Also, I bloody hate autocorrect and that new Google finish function. It’s great for driving the flow right off!

6. What are your three favorite mainstream books, and what are your three favorite indie/independently published works?

I like Robert Ludlum, and Agatha Christie, and Kyril Bonfiglioli. Any of them (I know I had to pick books, but I’m going to be broadly incorrect!) I have to say that indie works are great, and I love to peruse them whenever possible, but the Tales from Space universe is just phenomenally detailed and well-plotted, with characters and scope that stick in your head, no matter how preoccupying your day has been, which keeps me coming back to the series and also pestering the core group of authors for more.

7. What is the last movie you saw? Give our authors a brief review.

Speaking of Bonfiglioli, I finally got to watch Mortdecai, which was, wow, not one of Depp’s better performances. I think it was cinematographically a good representation of the books, with the exception of the over-CGI’d location cards (but hey, Johnny Depp had to earn his money by badly Britishly narrating something, right? It was a book, after all).

I thought that Ewan McGregor just nailed Inspector Martland, however, and the scenes involving the Inspector were just delightfully paced and worked! It was like watching a fan edit of the movie of Bonfiglioli’s work, with the real movie being about the case, and then all these strange fan-acted scenes injected in between of someone in a bathrobe mincing about, pretending to be Charlie Mortdecai.

I would watch a series based on Martland and the international MI-6 angle, by the way, Netflix.

8. What are your next big projects, so that our audience can keep an eye out for them.

I’m working on a memoir of my time in Central America, which blends what I’ve researched and seen first hand of the local culture with my own time there. Untitled yet, but I hope it’ll be ready for full-color publication in 2020.

Also, a few short stories for the next Tales from Space anthology, as well as some independent stories from other worlds in which I’ve written a few times before.

Most excitingly, I think, I’m partaking in The Irregulars, Part 2, which is set to be a really rollicking ride through the world of international espionage, psychic operations of governments and- believe it or not- cybersecurity, biometrics and Celtic culture! Can’t say much on that, but I’m writing with Van Fleming, Will Norton (an old mate of mine), Leanne Caine, Krista Michelle, Tony Stark and Virginia Carraway Stark as well! It’s going to be a real spot of fun, that one!

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond to our questions, Alfie! You can find his story, “Nueuve Dedos, Pellirojo”, in StarkLight Volume 5.

StarkLight Talks with Lee F. Patrick

StarkLight Press sits down with Lee F. Patrick, author of Dark Reflections, a thrilling tale found in our Hallowe’en anthology, Wild, Wicked and Sparkling.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for your tale.

The idea of a stalker makes for a creepy tale, but I wondered what might make a stalker worse. They are certainly a horrible thing to endure. However, you can’t slap a restraining order on a reflection! This story was mostly written a few years back and I kept coming back to it, trying to make it better. Psychological horror, for me, trumps slasher horror. Who in their right mind would believe what Francie is going through?

2. What draws you to the Hallowe’en season?

I enjoy fall as my favourite season. The ideas of the old celebrations of honouring the dead, and that it’s possible to cross between this world and another one is fertile ground for my subconscious. I’ve written some Celtic style poems and short stories with the same sort of theme.

3. Tell us about what would make the best Hallowe’en party ever.

I’m not a big costume party fan, but having a bonfire out in the woods, staying up all night to watch the stars would be wonderful. We’d just have to remember NOT to chase any white stags that happen along. Or, maybe we should.

4. Who has inspired you to not just write, but to keep writing?

I started reading when I was young and my parents gave my sister Lesley and I access to the Science Fiction Book Club, so we read Heinlein, Asimov, McCaffrey, Norton and a host of others. I still have some of those books.

I’ve been writing not very seriously since the late-1980’s as an alternate to my hard science day job. From there, ideas kept knocking on the inside of my head demanding to be let loose. Lots of projects were started and then languished as I started writing on the next idea, or because I wasn’t sure how to build the plot and believable characters. I decided to get serious and publish last year. Since then, I’ve published a thriller novel (Alter Egos), and had three short stories/poems published. Dark Reflections is the third (Thanks to Starklight Press!!). Another story was accepted and is awaiting publication.

A big bonus is my husband, G.W. Renshaw, is also an author. I did the 3-Day Novel contest years back and he was my support staff. He made sure I had food and tea and quiet to write in. Now, he’s also the tech guru who keeps updating templates and helping with all sorts of weird issues with covers and formatting.

The Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, which I’ve been part of for many years, gives inspiration and information of many kinds. When Words Collide also gives me lots of contact with other authors and folks who love to read.

5. Where can people find your work and more about you as an author?

I have a FaceBook page under Lee F. Patrick, and of course, at Amazon. A website is in the planning phase. The ideas and writing keeps intruding on the marketing time.

 

You can find Lee’s tale in Wild, Wicked and Sparkling, available now at the StarkLight Press Bookstore or on Amazon here:

wwsfront cover

Alfie Elkins on Flotsam

For the first of our Wild, Wicked and Sparkling author interviews, we speak with Alfie Elkins from off the coast of Venezuela, where he talks about what inspired him to write his haunting love story, Flotsam.

1. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for your tale.

I’ve been living by the ocean for the first time since I was a boy, not in British Columbia but down in Venezuela. It brings up a lot of poignant thoughts about the past, about roads I didn’t take, paths I wasn’t able to tread. Also, moving across the ocean was a complete shake-up. I’ve never been out of Europe for living before, and the strange, disjointed, ethereal feeling I have for not having English soil under my feet- no matter how irritated I am at it presently- needed an outlet.

Walking by the ocean seems to be a real grounding point. It is all one sea, after all. I’m amazed by the sheer quantity of detritus that washes ashore. I’ve also been thinking a lot about relationships, and how they end, and how it connects up with both seasons and spirituality. Then I was reading a story from Tony featuring one of his characters, and I thought- this guy could go on a pretty dark journey, so I asked Tony is he’d mind if I popped him out of the tale and into a little Outer Limits-style classic horror story. It all kind of wove together with my memories of going to the west coast of Canada, and how much it seems like the border between the overworld and the underworld in Irish myth.

Oh, and I’ve also been reading a lot of Manga, too, lol.

2. What draws you to the Hallowe’en season?

It’s always been a very festive time for me. Growing up in London, it wasn’t actually Hallowe’en, but it was pagan style bonfires and all the old myths and beliefs, which usually lie dormant, were just suddenly back as though they had never left. Stories about the otherworld, about the spirits walking abroad, stories about loved ones coming back. Redemption across insurmountable odds, and the magic that comes with the dark time of the year.

3. Tell us about what would make the best Hallowe’en party ever.

You’d need a bonfire, for certain! Good music, not popular stuff, but mood music. Keep the costumes to a fantastic or archetypal nature, none of the flavors of the month. Lots of stout and cider. Would have to be able to go outside, in a natural space. And, of course, some spontaneous spectral activities.

4. Who has inspired you to not just write, but to keep writing?

I first started writing as a way to reduce stress from my job at the NHS. I was a paramedic and a supervisor of a station in London- not a fun job. Journals, then poems, then strange stuff started coming out of me, and a friend of mine, Pearl, knew Tony from the GAF Universe website. So I got into that, and couldn’t stop writing and working on it.

I’d have to say that Tony and Virginia, and also Will Norton, have been an exemplary model for making writing not just an activity, but a part of one’s life. The ease with which they accept whatever-old-thing you’ve been pounding out, be it a poem, a story fragment or what have you, makes it easy to silence the inner critic. Their communal worlds like the GAF Universe and The Program at Green Hill fire the imagination, and they allow you to jump on in and add your own inspiration, which helps if a free-formed idea just isn’t available. Then they take that idea and through some mystic process- bam! it’s incorporated into the whole. Will’s energy and sheer cock-eyed imagination is an inspiration, because the stuff he writes is just crazy brilliant. It makes you start thinking outside whatever bounds you’ve been placed inside.

5. Where can people find your work and more about you as an author?

People can find it through StarkLight Press, www.starklightpress.com and online at the GAF Mainframe site www.gafmainframe.com [Editor’s Note: The works are taken down until servers come back up following Hurricane Harvey, and should be available in four or five weeks]

There was also an autobiographical piece that did rather well for itself back in the day, based on my work as a teacher turned taxi driver, thence to the NHS. I’m in talks currently to get the publishing rights transferred to StarkLight Press, and hopefully it will see a third printing in North America sometime in 2018.

Hearts Asunder Sequel Available Again!

hearts-asunder-vol-2-graphic

Our second terrifying volume of Valentine’s Day horror stories has received a huge response from readers. Hearts Asunder Vol. 2 makes the eighth title from StarkLight Press to sell out from its online sources. To all our readers and fans, I say, Way to Break the Internet!

I am pleased to announce that this chilling collection of tales is now available again through the StarkLight Press Bookstore!

In addition to this title, look for our second volume of Shamrocks, Saints and Standing Stones, coming in early March from StarkLight Press.

 

Announcing StarkLight 5 Short Story Contest

It’s here- that moment you’ve all been waiting for-

The StarkLight Volume 5 Short Story Contest!

200.gif

 

That’s right, now you can send in your original short stories to our latest edition of StarkLight Anthology! Be it horror, or fantasy, science fiction, suspense or speculative fiction, send us your original piece before Feb 28, 2017, for a chance to win a coveted spot in one of the most talked-about anthologies in North America.

You can have a look at our submission guidelines here:

https://starklightpress.com/official-short-story-contest-rules/

Be sure to like us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/StarkLight-Press/ to hear updates about this contest, as well as other cool short story and poem opportunites we have for authors this year.

 

– Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.

Blue Moon Season Release Date!

blue moon season front cover

Our first were-themed anthology is set to hit bookshelves in stores across North America on August 21, 2016!

This rollicking read features stories about transformation into anything… wolves, fossas, lamps… this anthology is filled with spine-chilling misadventures of people who tangled with the light of the full moon, and the monsters that emerge from it.

Featuring a bevvy of new authors, as well as StarkLight Press favorites, Blue Moon Season is perhaps our most horrifying, entertaining anthology to date!

Check into StarkLight Press all this week for interviews with our winning authors, including:

Piper Tadwell                                     Van Fleming

Mod Welles                                         Will Norton

Tara O’Neill                                        Jeren Nethers

Alfie Elkins                                        Virginia Carraway Stark

Nicholas Vincenzi                            Leanne Caine

Cathy Illes

and more!

Congratulations to all of our winning authors!

Look for Blue Moon Season Anthology August 21 on Amazon and Scribd, as well as in bookstores in British Columbia, Ohio, Ontario and California!

 

– Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.