Leanne Caine Chats with StarkLight Press

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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!

Virginia Carraway Stark is in the House!

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Next on our author interview series, StarkLight Press talks with Virginia Carraway Stark, whose writing resume is rivalled only by her acumen in helping fellow authors find and refine their mots justes.  You can find her at the sites listed below!

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

The past few years have been a time of change and acceptance for me. A lot has changed and I’ve had to adapt to a lot of new things. I’ve endured betrayals from friends that I thought I would always have in my life and made new friends that I never imagined being in my life. Through it all; I’ve kept on writing.

I think the biggest thing that’s changed for me is that I’ve had to take a walk in the wilds. I had to take some time of introspection and quietude and get to know myself all over again after the things I’ve been through in life. I’ve explored myself deeply and I’ve written profoundly about my family and my childhood. I’ve explored the world through others perspectives while keeping the writings private except for a very few, trusted friends and family.

Nevertheless I do have a lot of new publications. I have several drabbles coming from Black Hare Press, a new novel coming from New Moon Press, and I have the third book in Verna’s Saga coming out as well as the fourth novel in my ‘Daughter’s Series’ starring the always popular Sasha Wheaton. Interspersed is the novel, ‘DoYou?’ which explores some of the concepts looked into in the collaborative novel Space Stranded and problems with anti-matter beings meeting matter beings. The SegDeb Galaxy is explored by Sasha and ‘Shroom.

My bookshelf has swelled to bursting with the coming releases of The Decay of Man and the release of Gendler’s Landing.
The personal set of based on true biographies that I’ve written about my family will also be coming soon, Preacher Man being the first and based on the life of my deceased elder brother. Coming close on the heels of that will be the story of my mixed race half sister.

Recently I’ve done interviews for Joshua Pantescellara’s award winning Vlog and been on a panel for historical fiction for CyCon.

After this April’s poetry month I also have enough poems to release an illustrated book of poetry, my second book of poetry that is only my own writing. I’ve been part of many poetry anthologies but having one just for me is always very special!

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

I contributed a few stories to StarkLight 5, but I think the one I’ll address is “Looking Glass”. The inspiration for it came from a series of dreams. I think it’s probably an unusual thing to dream about being summoned by a Pope who wants to use your wings for spells and bathing in a pool of mercury… but that’s just me!

This was a series of dreams that started many years ago and I felt a close relationship to many of the people in the world of the past. I’ve tried to pinpoint it to what Pope it would likely have been, but everything is all a dream. I’m pretty sure it’s a highly offensive story, but I’ve given up all thought of not offending people. I’ve learned in life that someone is always going to be unhappy by something that one does, so one might as well do as one pleases.

It’s liberating when you get past the depth of pettiness people can go to!

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?

My favourite place to write is on my laptop, ideally in a nest of cushions. I often write on my notepad on my phone or in my bullet journal or on any scrap of paper that’s handy when desperate. The most unusual place that I wrote was to write nearly an entire screenplay in between making lattes at Starbucks. I wrote it all on those brown, recycled napkins and some on my arms and hands when I ran low on napkins. It wasn’t even quiet, it was during the Christmas season and Starbucks was a madhouse. Thankfully I had an understanding manager and I was able to keep up with orders as well as writing so I didn’t get into trouble! My screenplay did go to Cannes, but that particular one didn’t get made into a movie…yet!

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

Nature is best. Animals are definitely a plus. The best place to go is to the other worlds that I imagine with my husband and creative partner. We met creating and we have continued creating together for many years now. There’s something about the way our minds meld and merge beautiful and magical worlds and characters that is like nothing else.

If I was to pick anything, I would say, with my husband, in the trees, by the water and or in the water. That’s my bliss.

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

Reading too much about what people think about you. The worst thing is to let that influence you. I think that’s why so many television shows get punched with the suck fairy. People go through Google and FB etc to find out what people think about their writing and they lose control over their worlds. It’s really easy to get ‘feedback’ that is poisonous. Pick your feedback carefully and reject the stuff that sounds like crap. Be the ruler of your own worlds and people.

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

I’m going to give my three favorite mainstream authors: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Richard Adams… although there are a lot more and I could probably go on and on! Indie authors are a little bit more difficult because a lot of them started off Indie and quickly became more mainstream. I tend to think of them as Indie more because they are friends than because of the nature of their writing. I really enjoy a lot of the writers from Writer Punk, I’ve published with them and always look forward to picking up the book at the end and reading everyone’s work. Robert Sawyer is by no means Indie, but he’s a friend along with Randy McCharles who also has a conventional contract, still, being more chummy, I’d list them as ‘Indie’. My absolute favorite is my bias but it’s absolutely true, my husband. He’s a wonderful writer and I can always count on co-writing with him without ever being let down. His novels are superb and his science fiction is the hard, well developed kind that could actually turn into real technology one day. His characters have seduced me a thousand times over and there’s no one whose work I’d rather read… not even Tolkien!

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

The last movie that I watched was Solo… it was, umm, okay. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be from the review that I had heard, I think that most people didn’t like it because there was a total lack of Jedi and clearly written intending for most of the questions to be answered in a sequel. The actor who played Hans did a good job of it, his voice was eerily like Harrison Ford’s voice and he may possibly have been cloned off of Harrison Ford at some point to play the role… well, it’s science fiction, anything is possible!

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

I have a lot of projects coming out soon! The Family Series, The Daughter Series, a whole lot of short stories and poetry, the Royal Maze series… gosh… yeah, lots. Once I bring out all the things I’ve been working on in private over the past year or so it’s going to be a deluge!

Bio:

Virginia Carraway Stark has published numerous novels. She has been part of dozens of anthologies, collaborations, guest blogs, drabbles and has written screenplays that starred Rowdy Roddy Piper and Nick Mancuso. She has upcoming releases from a variety of presses including Dark Moon Publishing, Simon and Schuster, Black Hare Press and StarkLight Press. Virginia enjoys new writing experiences. She has taken part of many writing marathons both for poetry and novels. She’s a regular for the yearly novel writing exercise NaNoWriMo, the 24 hour poetry marathon and the 3 day novel writing competition. She writes a poem a day for poetry month and once went three years writing at least a poem a day. Some of her poems have been turned into songs. She has even contributed to online ‘choose your own adventure’ series! Virginia has won awards for her novels and poetry, her works have been part of other award winning series and nominated for her essays, blogging and other writing. She is well known for her passion her spirit of adventure both on and off the page. Her stories range from science fiction. Supernatural, horror and the true stories of her life, historical books (one of which was endorsed by the Prime Minister of Canada as well as the Army Corp of Engineers) or studies of the paranormal. You can find her by Googling her or at www.virginiastark.wordpress.com,

on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/Virginiacarrawaystark/

and @tweetsbyvc. She loves to get fan mail and to take part in new adventures in writing and always, to share her passion with the world.

 

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

StarkLight 5 Winners!

We are pleased to announce that the winners of our latest, StarkLight  contest have been chosen!

This well-known anthology features an array of speculative fiction from authors around the world- including first time authors with special merit.

The winners are:

Chris Scott

Sergio Palumbo

Jason Pere

Neri Kemraj

Will Norton

Van Fleming

L.E. Caine

Tara O’Neill

Maude Welles

Alfie Elkins

Nicholas Vincenzi

Delaney Murdock