Thursday, March 31, 2016

Guest Author David Bernstein: Why I Worry About Every Book I Write

Horror Author David Bernstein is becoming one of the most prolific writers I know and a very talented one at that. He’s written a wide variety of great books including Skinner, Witch Island, and the Machines of the Dead series, to name a few.

Today, Bernstein shares his cross-genre writing style and things he worries about as a writer. He’s also got a new collection out called Mixed Bag of Blood.

Why I Worry About Every Book I Write
By David Bernstein

I worry about every book I write. I suppose a number of writers do the same thing, but I worry for a different reason than most. I’d guess the number one concern for a writer is if readers will like their work. It’s only natural. As horror fiction writers, we want to entertain. Give people a way to escape from the real world. We want people to like what we’ve created. However, as writers we should also expect not to please everyone. It’s just not possible and every writer should get this through their head. Don’t worry about bad reviews. It comes with the territory of being an author. The key is to have more positive reviews than negative. If you accomplish this you’ve done something right.

But that’s not why I worry when I put out a book, and it’s kind of my own fault. You see I love writing horror fiction, but I have a problem. I enjoy writing all kinds of horror fiction. 
My books vary in tone, violence, and subgenre. “The Unhinged” is so different from “Tears of No Return” I’m afraid I’ll confuse readers as what to expect from me. “The Unhinged” is as violent and gory as a book gets while “Tears of No Return” has mostly movie-action type violence—guns and breaking bones. Not much blood. Every new book is like a mystery package. What will Dave’s next book be—Sci-fi horror? Backwoods killers? Goblins? A demon turd? A man who pukes whenever he has sex? A B-movie slasher? Demonic possession? Will it be gore-filled or atmospheric?

But I can’t help it. I love writing all over the place and I hope readers like that I do that. That’s why I was so excited to have “A Mixed Bag of Blood” published. It shows how much I enjoy writing a variety of tales—from scary, to bloody, to gore-filled, to flat out balls to the wall insane. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love knowing there are certain authors I can go to and know to a degree what I’ll get. If someone can tell a great tale, that’s all I really care about. After all, we have to do what we love.
A Mixed Bag of Blood synopsis
From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.
This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.
Available now at Amazon

Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood
"Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you'll want to read. With an introduction by Kristropher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did."

Cat After Dark 

Praise for David Bernstein

"David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, 'Be careful what you wish for.' Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…" —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

"A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!" —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, at Visit him at his website: email, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Interview with Author Stuart R. West

Today, I’m interviewing one of the funniest authors I know, Stuart R. West. He can write straight-up serious horror fiction with the best of them, and he can also write dark comedy when the comedian takes over. West talks about his latest novel, Demon with a Comb Over, as well as shares some of his background on writing.
BM: Stuart, welcome to my blog.

SRW: Thanks for having me, Brian! I’ll try not to embarrass you too much.
BM: Okay, let’s start with your latest book right out of the gate. Demon with a Comb Over just released. What’s it about?

SRW: Demon with a Comb-Over  is pretty much what the title implies. (But not about Donald Trump; close, but not quite). A fair (at best), struggling (too put it kindly) Kansas City stand-up comedian, Charlie Broadmoor, makes the mistake of heckling a man with a comb-over. Who turns out to be a demon, Kobal. A demon without a sense of humor. After that, the demon’s hell-bent on destroying Charlie and those he loves. Black humor and horror collide! Chaos ensues!

BM: How did you come up with the main character, Charlie Broadmoor?

SRW: Ah, Charlie’s kind of my surrogate, I suppose. I even wrote his physical characteristics to resemble me. Our families are similar, the divorce situation very close, the relationship I had with my daughter right on the nose. I even tried my hand at stand-up comedy years ago. Crashed and burned! (So, um, now I’m a writer). Strangely enough, given the subject matter, it’s my most autobiographical book. Except of course, I haven’t encountered an angry demon. Not that I know of.

BM: The title of your new book is hilarious. What made you decide to mix horror and humor?

SRW: Honestly, Brian, it didn’t truly start out that way. It began straight-up horror. But once I got into the rhythm of things, the rat-tat-tat neo noir (and noir tough guy dialogue can be very similar to one-liners), the bizarre characters, the annoying angels, the comedy setting…I soon realized horror mixed with humor was the only possible outcome for the book.

BM: I’m a fan of dark comedy myself, so I’m curious to see how Charlie deals with this relentless demon. I’ve read your blog and you’re very funny. Are you a stand-up comedian yourself?

SRW: Well, thanks, Brian. (How ‘bout writing my wife and telling her you think I’m funny? Talk about a tough crowd.)

BM: I just might do that. I know we writers could use all the support we can get.

SRW: As I mentioned earlier, I tried it once. Didn’t take. Maybe a “failed stand-up comedian?” One step worse than my character, Charlie.
BM: On your blog, I noticed that you use humor in marketing your books. You describe Zombie Rapture as “Dark humor. Love in the Year of the Zombie” and Godland as “More fun than going to the dentist.” Do you mostly write books with humor or do you have some that are straight-up serious?

SRW: I’m afraid this is gonna be a long-winded answer. But if everyone imagines Morgan Freeman narrating, it’ll be less painful.

First of all, the marketing…like many writers, I loathe self-promotion. I’d rather be writing. But it’s a necessary beast.

BM: I feel the same way about self-promotion. I’d rather write and leave marketing to the publisher. However, today’s publishers rely on their writers to promote their own books. You take a clever approach.

SRW: I’m just trying to make it interesting for myself. Although, I’m probably not doing myself any favors.

Some of my books are very serious: Godland is a pretty straight-up, completely dysfunctional family horror thriller. Ghosts of Gannaway is my historical ghost saga detailing many social issues of the ‘30’s in a mining town. But there are a few amusing (I hope) characters popping up in even those.
I like to mix genres, make it different. And humor sort of just rears up on occasion. But most of my humor is character or situation based, not one-liners. Sort of like life. As we all do, I run into some of the most absurd characters and situations. And I think my books reflect life in that sense.
Actually, I’ve only published one straight-forward comedy: Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, a light mystery about a vapid male stripper who wakes up with no memory, no clothes and in bed next to an older, dead man. He spends the entire book trying to defend his heterosexuality first and foremost. Proving his innocence is secondary to him.

BM: Bad Day in a Banana Hammock sounds similar to my days being a male stripper. Only I woke up in bed with an Orangutan. Moving on... So, how did you get started writing?

SRW: Well, I failed at stand-up comedy, playing in an alternative/performance art band, corporate America, the graphic arts…I thought, “huh, why not try writing?”

BM: Yes, becoming a writer seems a destined occupation for us Corporate America dropouts. Being an author is definitely a fun job that’s creatively rewarding. It would be nice if the career came with health insurance and a pension plan.

Let’s talk about writing a manuscript. Do you outline or just start writing and wing it?

SRW: Wing it, most definitely. Usually they come together pretty much on their own (although at times the books don’t end where I thought they might). The only exception was Ghosts of Gannaway, the hardest to write book I’ve experienced. The research alone took nearly six months! Never, ever, ever again!

BM: I pretty much wing it myself. I’ve tried outlining and it just hasn’t worked for me. Can you offer any advice to other writers?

SRW: Drink heavily. Find an understanding companion. Most importantly, forget those starry eyed notions of big bucks and just write for the love of writing. It’ll show in your books.

BM: Sound advice, especially finding an understanding companion. Writing for the love of it is most important for me. What is your writing schedule like? What’s a typical day like for writing?

SRW: I usually try and write about four hours, three to four days a week. Until the Carpal Tunnel starts hollering.

BM: I like to write early in the mornings, anywhere from four to six hours. If I’m on a role, I’ll come back and write a couple more hours after lunch.

Okay, Stuart, now that Demon with a Comb Over is finally published, describe your next book project.

SRW: It’s called King of Killers, the third book in my darkly comical Killers Incorporated trilogy. It’s about an evil corporation (Like-Minded Individuals, Inc.) who sponsor serial killers for their own nefarious needs. My protagonist, Leon Garber, is a decent sort for a serial killer; he only kills (I’m sorry…”takes on projects”) abusive people. However, LMI puts a target on his back. By the third book, he’s running the corporation. The final book is about his possible corruption in the face of evil corporate America taken to extremes. It’s an unusual world of colorful serial killers, corporate speak, and absurd situations.
BM: Your next book sounds like a fun one. Where can people find your books?

SRW: Best place to start is my Amazon author’s page: Stuart R. West Amazon Page.

 Available at Amazon

Stuart. R. West is a lifelong resident of Kansas, which he considers both a curse and a blessing. It's a curse because...well, it's Kansas. But it's great because…well, it’s Kansas. Lots of cool, strange and creepy things happen in the Midwest, and Stuart takes advantage of them in his work. Call it “Kansas Noir”. Stuart writes thrillers tinged with horror and horror tinged with thriller, both for adult and young adult audiences. Stuart spent 25 years in the corporate sector and now writes full time. He’s married to a professor of pharmacy and has a 22 year old daughter who’s still deciding what to do with her life. But that’s okay. It took him twenty-five years to figure that out.

Twitter: @StuartRWest