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June 25, 2010

Killing A Second Year

The first issue of the second year of Killing Time - Horror E-Rag is available now. There are a number of changes that come with a new set of issues. Some are stylistic, others a matter of content. Some of the original style changes from the first run of the E-Rag, as a bunch of web pages, did not make it into the new magazine format. That had to do with colour issues and considerations that were not pertinent in a PDF publication. I did not remove mention of these unused changes in the Letter From the Editor. I find it more important to retain the historical nature of these re-issues. The first new article is a bit of Q and A. It held up amazingly in the time between when it was first written and now. Speaking of holding up. I noted that one of the stories has dated itself in tiny little ways. It's interesting to note how some things have changed in the world in 8 years.

The new stories are something special, not that the ones before them weren't or the ones after. The first story gained some of its own notoriety the first time I unleashed it on the public, making it a fan favourite. Now, the second story... if you thought that any of the previous stories were twisted, you had better hold onto your proverbial hat. This one is bizarre, and might I add sick, in a good way if such a thing is possible to you. Be careful sleeping after you read it. A new year means a new serial story. This time out we join Benjamin Roland Burke whom is looking to become a parapsychologist. Little does he know how much he will have to learn hands on out of the classroom. The Franchise Discussions will only appear every other issue now; in the vacant places will be the Horror Cinema Autopsies. Each of those will take a more in-depth look at one particular movie. Happy reading.

Music: Blessed Are You by Iced Earth.

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June 18, 2010

Masters of Horror Anthology:
Interview with Cassie Hart

from Writer of the Horrific and Surreal

Let me introduce you to my friend Cassie, we have known each other for a few years through KiwiWriter, and have been emailing each other for a few months now. Cassie is a founding member of KiwiWriters. Her contribution to the anthology is titled "Its All in the Cards".

For how long have you been writing?

Hi Karen! I've been writing for most of my life, but more seriously over the last three years. I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo '06, which kick started things for me again and ever since then it's been go go go.

What was your first NaNoWriMo novel? What inspired you for that first story?

That particular novel was Lifelines, though itís gone through plenty of revision and editing since then. The idea actually came up several years before I wrote it, at a contact course for a writing paper I was taking through Massey. We had to listen to a few minutes of music and then jot down any ideas that came to us. I canít remember what the music was but what I could see was a woman sitting on the porch of an isolated cabin, smoking, then a young boy and dog ran out of the house and came up behind her asking for ice cream. Something was watching them from the woods, something that wasnít human. Most of that scene is still in the novel, though the watcher wasnít what I originally thought it was.

It is quite interesting where ideaís come from. So, your story for the Anthology. Where did that one come from?

To be honest, I really donít remember. It was so very long ago Ė all I know is that it started out life as a childrenís story about bullying and ended up a neat little horror story.

Ok, do you normally write in the horror genre? What is it about horror that you like or dislike?

I donít always write horror, and half the time when I do I donít even realize it until I get to the end and read back over it. I love being scared myself, so itís only natural that Iíd want to attempt to scare others, or make them shudder and feel uncomfortable, questioning whether that tap on the window really was just a branch or something more sinister.

I think I prefer my horror to be a little subtler, and have some depth. I want to be scared for hours afterwards, if not days, and gore just doesn't do that for me. Sure, bring on the blood, but I want to see how the events affects the individuals involved, I want to be able to make a connection with the characters.

Yeah, I am in the subtle horror camp too, something that makes you think afterwards Ė oh, that was scary! So what genre do you normally write in?

Speculative fiction, itís a term I hadnít heard of until the last year or so but it seems to be growing in that there are more and more people interested in writing across genres rather than sticking to strictly horror, or fantasy, or sci-fi. I love being able to write stories that encompass a range of things yet all deal with that wonderful question: ĎWhat if...?í

OK, so you write short stories and novel length stories. Which do you prefer doing and why?

Hmm, thatís a tricky one. About six months ago I would have told you that novels were my primary writing love, but since getting pregnant and deciding to put my novels on hold for the time being Iíve found a real passion for short stories. I still love novels, but the reality is that in the here and now I donít have the time to commit to them. Iím really enjoying shorts for the ability to mix and match genres, to just dive into anything that pops up and gets me curious. The beauty is that you can chop and change, you can explore any idea because you only need a few thousand words with which to do that. And if you get to the end and decide it doesnít work for you, you donít feel like youíve wasted too much time.

Itís only been in the last six months or so that Iíve felt like I know what Iím doing with a short though, I think reading some books of short stories helped with that, and having had two stories accepted for publication this year I can certainly say that the quicker gratification you can get from writing short stories compared to novels is certainly a nice thing!

So how do you juggle writing with motherhood?

Thatís a tricky question. Some days I donít manage it very well, and other days it seems like a breeze. I feel really blessed to be able to be a stay at home mother, but itís a very busy job most of the time!

Now that my eldest is in school Iíve settled into a nice routine where I get the housework done with my youngest in the morning (sheís at that Ďhelpful toddlerí stage), then we play and read Ė after that she sleeps and I get my write on because writing time might be scarce for the rest of the day. It usually nets me about an hour of solid writing time, though often I find another half hour after the kids are in bed. With number three on the way though, itís going to be a whole new ball game.

I think the one important thing I've learned from becoming a mother is how to be flexible. You don't have the luxury to wait for the muse to strike, or set your perfect atmosphere--you just have to grab hold of any time you have and make the most of it.

So if you have such limited time during the day, do you read? What sort of books do you like reading?

I do get in some reading time before I sleep most nights, though sometimes I just fall asleep straight away. I like to mix it up and read a range of things--often whatever takes my fancy from the withdrawn section at the library (that way I don't have to worry about late fees). I read some non-fiction, and a mix of short story collections and novels from whatever area interests me at the time. Pretty random really.

I too have started reading a bit more than I used too Ė more time on my hands I guess. I have found that some writers have similar writing patterns. Do you find yourself comparing your writing style to others?

You know, I haven't so far. I'd not be brave enough to say that I'm the next here. I do find that I enjoy writers who have more character based stories than plot based though, which is how I like to write. I also prefer a more stripped down story these days than I used to a few years ago. I'm not sure how others decide who their writing style might be like--I think perhaps it's something another reader might pick more accurately rather than the writer themselves.

So whom do you read? Locally / Internationally?

Locally, I don't read enough, unless of course you count the NZ writers who I'm friends with--I'll often read their work and give them some feedback when asked. InternationallyÖ well, it really depends on my mood. I recently re-read a few of Robin Hobbs' series; they are fantastic. I can't afford to buy new books, and always end up returning library books late, which narrows my options down, a bit. Can't wait until e-readers become more available within NZ because I'm saving my pennies already!

Your writing, what is the most important thing about it?

Hmm, I could take that question in so many different ways! The most important thing though, I guess, is that I get to do it. It gives me a way to explore all kinds of places, peoples, emotions, situations, and whole worlds if I want to. I need that, I have far too much creative energy, too many ideas inside to ignore. So writing helps keep me sane, and allows me to use all that energy in a positive (well, mostly) way.

What do you try to convey in your writing?

Iím not sure I try to convey things so much as explore issues, and whether I get to the bottom of them at the end of the story or not is sometimes irrelevant. Many of my stories and novels have begun from questions I have about the world, though my characters certainly explore those issues in different ways than I would, and might not necessarily come up with the same answers. I really believe in trying to create believable characters, who are also interesting. Characters that speak to the reader in some way (even a negative way), characters that evoke some kind of gut response to them.

Maybe thatís it there, Iím trying to hit readers in the gut at some point in my writing. I want to have emotional impact on them Ė I want to evoke a response that lasts longer than the story does.

Gosh you ask some tricky questions. I should have had a coffee before sitting down to them!

Cassie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your writing, I appreciate you letting us explore your world. You can find out more about Cassie at her blog J C Hart.

You can read Its All in the Cards in the Masters of Horror Anthology.

Music: Obsolete by Fear Factory.

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June 11, 2010

Masters of Horror Anthology:
Interview with Marty Young

from Writer of the Horrific and Surreal

Marty Young was interviewed by Karen Johnson Mead. His contribution to the anthology is titled "Fireflies of the Bushfire".

Where did you come up with your anthology idea?

This story was written back in 2007. It's actually based on a true story. I was living in Canberra (ACT) during the 2003 bushfires, living in the suburb of Kambar, which was one of the heavily hit places. I woke up that day to a surreal world, headed out (through necessity) to the supermarket and found it filled with frightened people, then when I came out, noon had become pitch black. The fire front reached the house across the road from me before the wind took it back upon itself. So the story idea was really given to me. All I had to do was survive.

How long did it take for you to put together your story?

Not long at all. I think the first draft only took a couple of days to write. The revisions always take me longer.

Why did you submit your MoH story Ė was it one you have had for a while or one that you put together especially for the Anthology?

Fireflies of the Bushfire is a story I've been proud of since I wrote it, but for whatever reason, I never got around to actively submitting it anywhere. When this anthology came along, I thought brilliant!

What research / preparation did you do for your story?

I usually do a whole heck of a lot of research for my stories-this probably stems from me being a scientist during daylight hours. Research is part of the job, so that obviously carries over into my fiction writing. My stories have to be grounded in fact, they have to be realistic, or else I won't believe in them.

Why do you write horror? What is the fascination in it for you?

I don't choose to write horror; I just write whatever stories turn up in my head. Most of the time, these stories are pretty dark, although I prefer the 'quiet horror' side of things. All that blood and guts isn't for me. I like the shadows, the monsters hiding in the dark, the things you hear but don't quite see. I reckon that works far better than the violent in-your-face stories and flicks that are so common.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing back in the early 1990's, but somehow got waylaid by science and geology before I got anywhere. In 2002, I was in the early stages of my PhD and feeling the pressure, so I began escaping into fiction again. As a consequence, I founded the Australian Horror Writers Association (and have acted as the President since our official launch in 2005). But it wasn't until I finished my studies in 2006 that I started spending more time on writing fiction. The problem here though was that I'd spent over a decade writing science, and that is a whole world away from fiction; it's taken a long time to be able to separate the Dr. Marty Young from Marty Young, the writer. And running the AHWA didn't help matters either, because when I should have been writing I was building the organisation. It's only this year that I finally decided my writing had to come first.

Why do you write?

I write because I love writing, I love creating stories, and because I need to write. Ideas spiral into my head and I need to write them out. I also think that writing keeps me balanced. It stops me from going postal-only kidding. I think...

What are you currently working on?

I've been spending the majority of my time lately on my novel, actually. I've been working with an editor friend in the States, who has pulled my novel apart and demanded I do better. In March this year, I finally finished the last edits of the story, got my editor's approval, and am now working on writing a synopsis and researching agents. My editor (Paula) has been brilliant; she's really made me pull my finger out, and the end result is something of which I'm immensely proud. The next step will be to submit it to agents, and that, I imagine, will be a horror story in itself!

Tell us about yourself (that you didnít put in the Anthology) a bit about you as a person, your writing habits / styles etc. Something so the reader of the interview gets to know who you are.

I grew up in Hawkes Bay, and take particular delight in watching the All Blacks win. I'm also a massive cricket fan, but this isn't always as much fun being a kiwiÖ I'm a geologist by day, but once the day is done, dinner finished, and my time my own, I slink away to my study, put on loud cranky music, and write for at least an hour a day. It's a schedule I keep religiously. I'm far more comfortable writing novels than short stories though, and am 1/3 the way through my next novel. But still those pesky short stories hound me, forcing me to take time away from my novel writing to clear them from my head. And yep, I'm a massive Stephen King and Clive Barker fan, but I'm also a new fan of Charles L. Grant (can't believe I haven't read Grant's work before now! That's just embarrassing). My blog is and this is my AHWA Memberís Page-Ėoh, and I love scotch!

You can read Fireflies of the Bushfire in the Masters of Horror Anthology.

Music: The Breeding House by Bruce Dickinson.

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June 4, 2010

Welcome back to the regular scheduling for Inchoate Ascendant™. I am still sort of on hiatus, but only because I have three more great interviews. Please continue to check back in for the rest of them including:

  • June 11: Marty Young
  • June 18: Cassie Hart.

Masters of Horror Anthology:
Interview with B. L. Morgan

from Writer of the Horrific and Surreal

B. L. Morgan was interviewed by Karen Johnson Mead. His contribution to the anthology is titled "The Ladies of the Scale".

Where did you come up with your anthology idea?

I love to do short stories that are inspired by songs that I like, especially songs that seem to be long forgotten. Ladies of the Scale was originally inspired by The Lamia by Genesis. Itís a very weird song and the story is weird also. I just liked the feel of the song and tried to give that feel to my story.

How long did it take for you to put together your story?

This story was put together some years ago. To tell you the truth I donít actually remember exactly how long it took to do. I would guess it took around a week to complete it.

Why did you submit your MoH story Ė was it one you have had for a while or one that you put together especially for the Anthology?

1st Question: It was because Lee Pletzers is the guy that runs the publishing house. Heís one of my favorite authors in the world. Heís not gotten even one percent of the notice that he should get. Heís also extremely honest and hardworking. I have found that while most authors are hardworking finding a publisher that is hardworking and honest is extremely difficult. Lee always does the honorable thing. He should run for president over here. We need somebody in the US that we believe is really honest.

2nd Question: I wrote this story some years ago. I canít even remember when. Itís always been one of my favorites and never been published. I did send it out to an anthology that was cancelled and after that got seriously into learning novel writing and stopped producing shorts. (I really should do some more.)

What research / preparation did you do for your story?

Not a whole lot. Listened to the song The Lamia maybe twenty times to get the strange mood that it put me in. Mixed it with another type of story that I had always wanted to do (a hit-man type thing) and went at it. Preparation? I donít remember actually preparing a lot for this one. The character was pretty much there when I started and the setting grew as the story went. It was a strange journey this guy takes.

Whoís story are you most looking forward to reading? Why?

Actually I look forward to reading all the shorts from all the authors for one reason: I havenít read hardly any short stories for a few years now and I do love reading short stories. Usually I read books that prepare me for the book I am doing. I am going to specifically take time out from that to dive into this collection and Iím really looking forward to experiencing some good short jolters.

Why do you write horror?

Actually, what I write doesnít really seem to fit in any one genre. An example is the first novel I wrote: Blood And Rain had gang-bangers, drug dealers, voodoo and zombies in it. It also had a lot of violence and blood. Horror is the one genre where you can mix other genres and it still all goes together. Oh, one other reason: I like a lot of blood and guts in what I read and write so it usually is horror.

What is the fascination in it for you?

Stories that deal with life and death are basic to the human experience. We are most concerned about the eternal struggle against death and how to deal with the inevitability of the end in a brave and honorable way. Horror is fear. People want to conquer their fears but youíve got to feel fear to conquer it.

How long have you been writing?

Since around the age of 10 or 11. Iíll be 51 on May 24th, 2010. Iíve been at it a few weeks.

Is writing your full time thing, or do you have a day job?

Sadly I havenít been able to make enough money from writing to be able to quit the full time job. I do have a full time job as a property manager.

What is it?

We manage a rental property with over five hundred and fifty tenants. It does get interesting some days.

Why do you write?

Writing is a lifelong obsession that I choose to indulge. I am a reading addict and love falling into a good book and getting lost in the alternate reality of a very good story. I want to be able to give a reader what my favorite authors give me: a really good exciting roller coaster ride that is an escape from their daily lives. We all need to escape every now and then.

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am bumping up the word-count on a novel named Red Simon: Vampire Punk to submit it to the major publishers. Itís all a matter of taking the next step in career development.

After that, who knows? I may complete a novel I started working on before I got the word that Red Simon needed to be longer. Or I may just take a few months off and just do shorts. Iím not sure what comes next. Thatís what makes life interesting.

To give a little bit about myself:
I do value my privacy so this wonít be the place where youíll read that juicy bit of tabloid stuff that seems to be everywhere these days. B.L.Morgan is actually Bob Morgan Jr. He lives in Washington with his wonderful wife Judi, a dog named Willard, and a cat named Dexter. Yes, our pets are named after characters from horror movies and television series.

I write anytime I can fit the time in. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and write for two hours then go back to bed. Sometimes itís in the evening. Sometimes itís before work in the morning. The times during the day vary. What I do that does seem to work for me when doing a novel is set a page count to get done per day. I make it so that it is an easy amount to get done and force myself to make certain that I get that amount of pages done.

This works at least for the first draft.

About me as a person:
Again I am a very private person. I just canít understand these people who do the reality shows where they get followed around with cameras twenty-four hours a day being filmed. To me, that would be hell. What if you want to scratch your ass or pick your nose? Would you have to tell the cameraman to go take a break?

Anyway, after a misspent youth where I did some extremely stupid things, I now live a very peaceful, quiet life with my wonderful wife. I used to be an adrenaline junkie and now I value peace and quiet. I guess I learned that every day does not have to be more exciting than the day that preceded it to be a very good day. Today will be a good day.

Books out: Blood And Rain, Blood For The Masses, Blood On Celluloid, (next month: Blood And Bones), Night Knuckles & You Play, You Pay.

What the future holds only God knows and he ainít telling.

Take Care
Have Fun

You can read The Ladies of the Scale in the Masters of Horror Anthology.

Music: Armchair Hero by Bruce Dickinson.

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Robert G. Male
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