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:

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Following many inquiries as to the existence of a photo book commemorating the 2016 Mystery Art Auction, StarkLight Press would like to definitively state that it has withdrawn from the production of the book.

Following the Dawson Creek Art Gallery’s 2016 Mystery Art Auction, many poets and some artists felt that their work was neither properly acknowledged nor recorded by the Gallery. In order to smooth over hard feelings, StarkLight Press had offered to compile gratis a photo book featuring the paintings and poems included in the fundraiser for the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. Copies would be available for purchase online and at the Gallery with all proceeds going toward the Art Gallery itself. The layout and design of the book were to be performed by the Press once high quality digital images and poems were provided by the Art Gallery curator.

After four months, in January 2017, the publisher had been stonewalled by the curator, Kit Fast, and had obtained only one low resolution brochure with the pictures inside. It came to the attention of the publisher that Mr. Fast had not informed anyone from the SPCAC or other members of the Gallery about the production of the book, when at a public meeting, people had no knowledge that this book had been trying to get itself made since the event in October.

After a lengthy apology delivered over the phone, Mr. Fast promised to provide release forms and high quality digital images and poems from the artists not directly connected to StarkLight Press.

As of September 2017, only two-thirds of the release forms have been provided. There has been no contact from the Dawson Creek Art Gallery with regard to this matter. Although we refuse to speculate as to the reasons why the curator and Art Gallery have so greviously sabotaged what could have been a valuable opportunity for the local arts community, we recognize that there are serious problems with bullying, clique-ism and discrimination against Persons with Disabilities in the Dawson Creek Arts Community.

Unfortunately, due to the bad behaviour of a few, all the artists and poets involved in the 2016 Mystery Art Auction go without a professionally-made and promoted commemorative book.

Therefore, following disrespectfully unprofessional interactions with the Dawson Creek Art Gallery, StarkLight Press would like to formally withdraw its offer to commemorate the 2016 Mystery Art Auction with a fundraising book. We are also officially stating we will not be making any commemorative books for the Art Gallery in future, unless a more professional and courteous approach is taken.

While StarkLight Press regrets the fact that it cannot help poets and artists who did not receive proper acknowledgment from the 2016 Mystery Art Auction, it nevertheless has exhausted every opportunity to try to provide a lasting record of the hard work and creativity that went into the event.

Virginia Carraway Stark Talks Hallowe’en

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

So many people are ‘into’ magic and it’s always at Halloween that I ‘discover’ that I have several dozen friends that are witches that I had no idea about the rest of the year. I have no objection to the practice of Wicca or to witches, but what I do object to is dabblers. This story was more or less inspired by the idea of dabbling gone completely overboard. Dee is that crazy girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing and takes things way too far. I pretty much climbed into that girl’s head and ran with the idea.

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

Costumes are one of my favorite parts of Halloween. I don’t understand why we can’t go around in costume every day of the year if we want to. No one has ever been able to give me a good answer to that question and I insist that if we were socially uninhibited enough to wear costumes whenever and wherever we wanted that most of our social ills would fade in the freedom to express ourselves in the multiplicity of ways. People have these expectations of sameness from the people they work with and major changes are met with fear and trepidation. Isn’t that odd?

Imagine if we could dress how we feel, or even dress the opposite of how we feel. Feeling glum? Get the glitter and the glam out! Or wear your emo on the outside for the day and dress goth if you feel sad. Feeling happy? Why not wear that unicorn horn? Put in your rainbow hair extensions and strut it! Oh yeah, and there’s candy. Can’t forget candy.

I like the autumn weather, the leaves, the moodiness. The feel of mist and a little bit of eerie creepiness… but not too much. There’s a poignant feel as the year lets go with a sigh and the ground freezes, Halloween spells the last of sunlight warming my shoulders and the start of snowflakes and warm sweaters. Pumpkins and apple flavored everything for the rest of the year until fruits start are harvested again and on and on the wheel of the year turns with cinnamon to warm my veins and hot chocolate to warm my hands. It’s quite the tradeoff for losing the sun. I’m glad I don’t have to make the choice, fortunately it’s been made for me and Halloween makes me not responsible for what’s to follow.

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

I have to think back to the past to parties of the past and what I liked best for this because I’m not feeling in a party place right now. The funny thing is, the most fun I ever had at a Halloween party was probably one of the ones I had as a Girl Guide! I’ve been to some crazy parties since then and experienced some wild fun, but there’s something so classic about bobbing for apples, having mask put over your eyes (These were her BRAINS… And these were her EYES cue peeled grapes and cold spaghetti).

There’s something so rewarding in the pretend fear and the sheer innocence of those little games that puts those nostalgic parties at the top of my list. Maybe that is the most boring answer that anyone has ever given for one of these, but all the other parties I’ve gone to for Halloween, no matter how much effort has gone into them, no matter how sophisticated and realistic they are, no matter how good the cocktails, has something that is somehow cheap about it compared to the joy of those parties. Besides, is there anything really more scary than carving jack-o-lanterns in a group and having pumpkin innards fight? Try getting that out of your hair! Truly the things nightmares are made of!

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

More than anyone else I’d have to say my husband and my mother. It seems like there reaches a certain point in your writing career where there isn’t anything that ‘enough’ to tell you how you’re doing as a writer. I’ve won awards, I started off making a substantial amount of money on screenplays with names in them that most people would recognize. That’s something that most writers don’t get, let alone start with. It makes it hard, especially when there are people who just sit there like turds (ICBC, yeah, I see you!) saying that you aren’t a writer, or other people who get so jealous that they drive you out of the arts community rather than admit that you’ve had a few wins (Dawson Creek, tipping my hat to the artists there).

Things get complicated.

Friends act weird when you get some wins under your belt that aren’t going to make you world famous but are enviable nevertheless.

There are the people in writing who say absolutely nothing about what you’re doing and ignore your writing as though you’ve done something gauche like farting in front of the queen mother. There are friends who make snide remarks about how far you haven’t come and ignore everything you have done.

There comes a time when you look around yourself and realize that you have fewer friends than you thought you had because of your success and more people wishing you ill because of them.

It’s heartrending to any artist to be torn down and that’s why cruel people who don’t feel like they’re achieving their own goals in life do it: it’s easy money to kick an artist/writer etc when they’re down. We’re baring our hearts and souls on the page and making ourselves vulnerable. My mother wrote her whole life, she kept journals. Keeping a journal isn’t easy and keeping a truthful journal is even more hard. I can’t tell express to a non-writer how hard it is to turn off the inner critic except through analogy: imagine never once questioning the way you look in any outfit ever again… or naked. Do your thighs jiggle? Is your makeup okay? Suck in that gut… Nope, none of that. Let it all hang out. Cellulite flopping in the breeze, not a care in the world about whether or not looking down like that gives you a double chin… Do you get the idea? Could you ever do that?

Now imagine that isn’t your body, it’s your essence. It’s your soul. It’s your most secret thoughts. It’s thoughts that aren’t even yours but things that are, ‘what ifs’ that you wonder in the dark as you try to imagine why someone else did something. Let all that flab in your mind, all those bits jiggle around and let anyone who happens to pick up your writing make of it what they will. No one is ever going to really understand what you have to say on the page. Everyone is going to misjudge you. If you know the people reading what you wrote; it’s going to be an exponential number worse. Every little bit of guilt is going to tell them that any negative thing you put on the page is surely about them. Every character who is a villain is surely a thinly veiled version of them… they just know it! How they’ve caught you out!

While you go blithely writing your world, crafting your characters as you would a child there are people turning each tap on the keyboard into a diabolical scheme of paranoia against them. They try to dig into your psychology. They try to ‘figure you out’. They try to find you in the page.

You’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you?

That was my mom’s favorite song when she was alive. One of the last communications we had was a card where she congratulated me on my writing and told me how excited she was to see where my writing would take me. She wrote that she had never been able to write except when her soul ached, that was why she only wrote journals.

After her death, during the divorce from my father, at other pivotal moments in her life, her journals were plucked from her hands and used against her. After her death my family poured over each pen stroke and internalized every word that could be interpreted as harsh to cut their souls with. They hated her because of those journals. I only read a few of them, but the ones I did read made me love her so much more. I understood our differences and our sames so much better. I cried because she had never said the words on the page to me out loud and even if she had, I don’t know if I would have been in a place where I would have understood what she was saying to me. But she wrote. She wrote without an inner critic telling her that she was writing ugly things, or beautiful things, she wrote because her soul was screaming and now I understand her more than I ever did before.

I know that my writing has made me no end of enemies and will likely make me many more, but I also know that my writing has been there for people when they needed to hear the words I spoke. I know that I have helped people in my lifetime with my words and as my mother gave me the gift of understanding after her death to inspire me to keep writing, I understand what the ability to speak the words needed when I cannot physically be there to say them means to people. That is how my mother has encouraged me in life and death to keep writing.

My husband has had a much more intensive role to play in my writing life. He is the guardian of the very soul of my writing. When people are cruel I know that there is one person who will always be kind. He won’t lie to me, he’ll tell me the truth about my writing, but he will talk to me. He won’t seal up like a clam the way people do to writers when they feel withholding. People stop talking or acknowledging writing, or deliberately push buttons to try to stop up writing, as though every word I personally write is somehow an affront to them.

But Tony Stark isn’t like that. He’s there with me. He WANTS to hear the words I write. We share back and forth and through our symbiotic encouragement and enthusiasm he puts my hands gently back on the keys after they’ve been squished flat by the stomping brutality that is relentless as soon as those pages leave the drawer and are shared with the world. It’s a strange thing that writers are repaid with little or no money, cruel words as often as kind, and yet they write the words that need to be there for those people who need to hear them most. Like my mother. Even after her death more people hated and reviled her for her writing than ever thanked her for her courage, but her words changed the world for me. They gave me a mother where I had none, or at least, when I thought I had none.

These people who will be there for you and who understand the subtle rays of goodness that writers put into the world are few and far between and my husband is the strongest and most steadfast of all the people.

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

Google me. Seriously, I don’t mind, I kinda like it 😉
I’m all over the internet. You can find me on my author page www.virginiastark.wordpress.com

@tweetsbvc

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

www.starklightpress.com

www.gafmainframe.com

Amazon, and a variety of other blogs, radio guest spots, interviews as well as brick and mortar stores in Canada, Texas, New York, Iceland, Argentina and Australia.

Tony Stark Gets A Head in Life…

… couldn’t resist the dreadful pun! That’s what comes from tackling the concept of beheadings, oracles and Orphic tradition- all in one story. Read about how Tony came up with this fascinating tale of opportunistic resurrection here in his interview for Wild, Wicked and Sparkling.

VRELO CAVE   Vrelo Cave is located in the Canyon of Matka on the right bank of Treska River near the Macedonian capital of Skopje. Vrelo is a system of two caves, one above and one underneath the water, and a lake. Highlight of the top cave is a three meter high stalagmite, called the „Pine Cone”. The actual depth of the submerged cave has not yet been determined, it seems to lie well over 500 m, and therefore some consider Vrelo Cave to be Europe’s deepest underwater cave.

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

I was thinking about the connection between beheading, resurrection and mystery schools of spiritual belief.  I found that there had been a lot of talk this year about decapitated, cognizant heads after Alien:Covenant came out, what with double Michael Fassbender and all; that apocrypha seems to me to be very closely based in not just Sumerian myth, but the early Orphic tradition- love lost through personal responsibility, re-inventing of the soul in new forms- as well.  The idea of the disembodied character-inna-head being given new life made me start thinking about other notable cases throughout mythology and history. 

 Mimir’s head was given the ability to prophesy and assisted the gods for ages after it was removed from his body. Orpheus continued to give oracular messages after the Maenads ripped his head from his shoulders. The conceit that the head contains the seat of the soul, and moreover, once it has been separated from the material body, that it has supernatural powers, is an interesting one. Throughout history, Marie Antoinette is one of the most notable decapitation victims, and so I began thinking, who would be the one to give her head new life? Orpheus seemed a logical conclusion; his Orphic teachings are primal reincarnation. [I don’t know much about what Mimir believed in 😉 but he seemed to be more of a personal advisor to Wodin than an independent agent like Orpheus. ] The way in which Orpheus maintains that one travels intact across lifetimes made me think about him hearing about Marie’s death and 1815 re-interment. I started thinking, hey, now’s my chance. Orpheus’s head being taken to Macedonia linked up with other  personal apocrypha about the region and seemed a natural fit. 

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

I think it’s the energy in the season that reminds you that, even though there is death all around, from the leaves in the trees to the crops to the apparent deaths of animals that migrate or hibernate, energy moves to the spirit realm. It is still there, changed, eldritch perhaps, but all around. So, I’d have to say, the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

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

Costume party, of course. Starting off with giving the kids their candy, so that all the party goers get into the Hallowe’en spirit. Then a nice house party, with the backyard set up for whatever activities the weather is amenable for (because northern Canada Hallowe’en often involves snow!) and then not too much loud music or too much heavy drinking. Lots of good costumes and fun.

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

I draw great inspiration from Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis, and Shakespeare. Tolkien for his truth, Lewis for his insight, Shakespeare for his volume and quality, gathering things from disparate sources and making a cohesive whole that spoke to us all. He was like if Frank Lloyd Wright and a magpie had a baby that could write.

Virginia Stark has helped give me inspiration to keep writing, and to keep on to the ends of things and then beyond. I would say that our StarkLight Press followers, and especially our GAF Universe followers, help to always ask the right questions that require another story, another novel, to flesh out. Discovering the truth of the world is its own reward, but having an interested, engaged, intelligent audience is a beautiful and happy bonus.

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

StarkLight Press now has almost my entire body of work, which I am very happy about. The only other place to find my stories is with a totally awesome press out of America, Writerpunk Press. They’re the only ones I’ll work with other than SLP, because they have great respect for what you’re trying to do creatively and they have a very high quality, high energy group of authors and workers. They put out a beautiful product, also.

You can shortly find the whole body of work from the GAF Mainframe in our upcoming Encyclopaedia Galactica, featuring entries and magazine excerpts that fill the blanks around our Galactic Armed Forces Universe stories. It’s been a blast to work on, compiling pictures from fans, computer artwork and my own pieces for illustrations. Our latest novels for the GAF Universe are coming out this winter and spring of 2018. We’ve phased out the public access to the bulk of the work on the site and will be bringing it back with secure membership and login later this month- it’s a big compliment to have your work swiped and referenced and talked about on the Internet, (especially when people link to your stories and interviews, referencing them as fact!) but our authors and fans have put so much work in that it deserves a little security.

https://punkwriters.com

www.starklightpress.com

www.gafmainframe.com

 

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.

Alaska Highway Coffee Table Book New Shipment

StarkLight Press is pleased to announce that the latest run of The Alaska Highway: 75th Anniversary coffee table book has arrived and copies have been mailed to all our readers! This was one of our most diverse mailing shipments, with orders going to Austria, Smolensk, Kyoto JP, Busan Korea and Adelaide Australia!

Look for new information on our next Kickstarter campaign in order to get your copy of this beautiful, informative and collectible book. Contact us at starklightdesk@gmail.com to be put on our mailing alert list for your copy.

 

 

Alaska Highway Book Update!

Thanks to all those who recently ordered a copy of The Alaska Highway: 75th Anniversary Edition, making this our fourth run of the book!

Books will be delivered to StarkLight Press warehouse by July 15th, and will be available for pickup after 4 pm that day. For our customers in North America, your books will arrive by post by July 27th.

For international customers, orders will be arriving by August 15th.

 

Thanks again to everyone who has helped make the 75th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway into such a huge success!

 

 

Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.