Welcome to the February 2019 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter’s Crypt, devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled “Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe.” For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

The long-time distributor of THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT has closed its website. If you would like to read any issue of this fanzine, which contains fiction, interviews, and a detailed book review column, e-mail me to request the desired issue, and I’ll send you a free PDF of it. My e-mail address is at the end of this newsletter. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

Vampire’s Crypt

A complete list of my available works, arranged roughly by genre, with purchase links (gradually being updated as the Amber Quill and Ellora’s Cave works are being republished):

Complete Works

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

Here’s the list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
Carter Kindle Books

Here’s a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon:
Amazon

My annual vampire fiction bibliography update is now available. If you’d like to receive a copy of the file, you can request it by e-mail: MLCVamp@aol.com

Below is another short excerpt from my new paranormal romance novella “Yokai Magic,” which you can find here:

Yokai Magic

The current scene occurs immediately after Val’s cat, Toby, chases a barely-glimpsed, unidentified creature out of the living room.

This month I’m interviewing Australian thriller writer Stephen B. King.

*****

Interview with Stephen B. King:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve written all my life, starting with poems and short stories in my youth, then I left school and got involved with the music business as a guitarist and had a ball writing songs. But then real life popped its head up, so along came marriage and children, and working for a living – a guy can’t have fun all his life, can he?

I spoke about writing a book for so long, it drove my wife nuts. Then out of the blue I heard a song, “Nevermind,” by Leonard Cohen (theme song for True Detective 2) and suddenly inspiration hit me like a lightning bolt. My wife, to shut me up, bought me a laptop, and told me no more excuses write the damn book. Now as I approach book number 10, I think maybe she regrets that.

Inspiration for stories comes in many ways. Coming up with ideas isn’t my problem, It’s finding the time to write them, then re-write them five times (my minimum) then the editing rounds……..

What genres do you work in?

Call me morbid, by all means, but the world of serial killers has always fascinated me. It must run in my family because my daughter is in her last year of university studying criminal psychology. A good friend is also a psychologist, and his wife is a renowned sport psychologist, and they have all been a good source of research.
When I write a story about a killer, I like to ‘get inside’ their head and show the reader how and why they became that way. Let’s face it, it doesn’t just happen that a ‘normal’ person wakes up one day and decides to kill people. While I don’t like to glamorize it, I do like to show the human side, and get the reader to invest in the character. If I can do that – watch out, we’re going on a roller coaster ride.
I’ve also written Thirty-Three Days, a romantic thriller using time travel. When inspiration hits, I will write anything. I’m also working up some ideas for a series of comedy stories involving a large car dealership (I work in one myself) An author, I believe, should be able to write anything, rather than get stuck in one genre – says he as he begins yet another thriller……..

Do you outline, “wing it,” or something in between?

Mostly my stories come from a spark of an idea, and for me to explore that I write it. I then write chronologically from that point on and see where it leads. Once I start I do not plan the ending, I work my way towards it, and I find that often I’m surprised myself at what I write. I also think it makes it fresher if I don’t know what’s coming.
For me, writing is all about bringing to life characters, getting the reader to invest in them, and even care for them. And, if I achieve that, then I can put those ordinary characters into extraordinary situations. My new release Glimpse Series, at its core is about desire. The effect that sexual desire can have on the marriages of the protagonists, it’s also about Pat’s desire to use her abilities on the front line of a major police investigation to catch a murderer. Also, of course it’s about the skewed desire that a serial killer has, to murder his victims.

What have been the major influences on your writing (favorite authors, life experiences, or whatever)?

Authors, there are a few: my famous namesake is right up there for putting characters you love in harm’s way. Of recent times I’ve fallen in literary love with Scandinavian writers and two are the finest authors I’ve ever read; both now deceased, unfortunately. Stieg Larsen and Henning Mankell. The former penned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and the latter the brilliant Wallander series. Two TV shows made me sit up and take notice and realize how good TV can be, a British one called Wire in the Blood, and the second was American: True Detective. A really good thriller/police procedural I think is the best there is, so I try to emulate what I like to read and see.

Your website includes an essay on why people are fascinated with murder. Could you give us a brief summary of your answer to that question?

As I alluded to in that article, I think it’s because we yearn to know why. Why would someone do hideous things to other human beings yet appear outwardly normal? In my latest trilogy, I explored that extensively with three different killers, with three different motivations and each are radically different to the other. Of course in my case, it’s fiction, but I try to get the psychology aspect as close as I can to factual because I think its important to try to show the answer to that question: Why?

What kind of research have you done for your fiction about serial killers?

I’ve read extensively, and talked to people in the field of mental health, in my attempts to try to portray sufferers in the right light. We must remember that often they don’t think they have a problem; it’s us ‘normal’ people who do. Some ailments are born from physical causes; electrical impulses short circuiting from a blow on the head as a child etc. Other problems are often caused by a series of events and the psyche has created personas to protect the sufferer – these are the most tragic of all. I read an article that said we only use 10% of our brain consciously, which begs the question: What’s the other 90% for? The human brain is capable of great good – think Einstein, Stephen Hawkins, but also great evil- Jack the Ripper, Son of Sam. Most of us thankfully live in the middle ground.

Please tell us a bit about your experience in having your work adapted to audiobook format.

So far only 1, called Thirty-Three Days. But Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer is in production now. I can only say it is an incredible experience and one I would recommend to any author if you get the chance. To hear my words performed by an actor was one of the highlights of my life, which still gives me goosebumps when I think of it now. When it was finished and released, I bought a copy, and listened to it without trying to edit or find fault, and it was amazing.

What are you working on now?

There is an urban myth that the ACDC song called Highway to Hell, was written by Bon Scott (RIP) about the highway which runs between Perth (where I live) and our port city of Fremantle (where we defended the America’s cup from the first time it left America). It’s a, to use an Aussie slang term, a mongrel of a road at any time, but in rush hour, it’s dreadful. So, I’m working on a thriller called Breakdown on the Highway to Hell, about three women who go missing after breaking down in rush hour traffic…….

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I have two pieces of advice: 1….. Never give up. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it – you can. Rejections will come by the bucket full, but treat each one as a stepping stone to success. 2…. Write from your heart, and edit with your head.

What’s the URL of your website? Your blog? Where else can we find you on the web?

All my books are available via Amazon, Goodreads, itunes etc And I always respond to comments and reviews – email me, tell me what you think of any of my books.

Stephen B King
Stephen B. King
twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor

Thank you for hosting me, and letting me ramble on

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

IN AN ABSENT DREAM, by Seanan McGuire. The fourth book in the “Wayward Children” series, which began with EVERY HEART A DOORWAY. That novel takes place in a boarding school for children and teenagers who have returned to our reality after time spent in another world accessed through a magic portal. Each of the following books deals with the individual experiences of various characters. IN AN ABSENT DREAM stands perfectly well on its own. In fact, it’s almost better not to have read the original novel first, because that one reveals the ultimate fate of this newest story’s protagonist. Katherine Lundy is “ordinary enough to have become remarkable entirely without noticing it.” A quiet child who follows the rules and keeps her thoughts to herself, she prefers to spend most of her time reading. In 1964, at the age of eight, she stumbles upon a door in a tree. On the door are the words “Be sure.” When she enters, the door vanishes, leaving her in a long, curved hallway. Signs on the walls proclaim five rules: Ask for nothing. Names have power. Always give fair value. Take what is offered and be grateful. Remember the curfew. At last she emerges into the Goblin Market, a combination of a carnival, a farmer’s market, and a craft fair, thronged by people many of whom don’t look human. Lundy (as she decides to call herself to avoid giving away the power of her first name) quickly finds a friend in Moon, an owl-eyed girl with feathers in her hair. Moon introduces her to a woman called the Archivist, a mentor figure who impresses on Lundy the importance of giving fair value and not accumulating debts. Feathers like Moon’s symbolize what happens to people who fall too deeply into debt; if they don’t balance accounts, they eventually lose their humanity altogether. Unlike most worlds where magic portals lead, the Goblin Market allows multiple visits. Lundy goes back and forth, torn between the faerie realm she considers her true home and mundane life with her family. She loves her parents and sister but can’t imagine being content with this life. Her father, having visited the Goblin Market in his own childhood, sympathizes but of course wants her to stay in the “real” world. The “curfew” looms, her eighteenth birthday, by which she must choose to live permanently in one world or the other. This anguished dilemma remains in the foreground. Dramatic events such as her heroic battle against the Wasp Queen and the death of a friend happen offstage. IN AN ABSENT DREAM is a story of inexorable choice, with no unambiguously “happy ending” possible.

THE WICKED KING, by Holly Black. Sequel to THE CRUEL PRINCE. The prince of the first book (who wasn’t quite so cruel as he appeared) has become the king of the present novel. Whether he’s truly “wicked” remains an open question. Jude, the mortal girl brought up in Elfhame as a foster daughter by the elven warrior who murdered her parents, again narrates the story (in present tense, annoyingly). The new king, Cardan, has bound himself to obey her commands for a year and a day. He resents this obligation, of course, and she tries to exercise her power only when absolutely unavoidable. She also carefully prevents anyone else from knowing she holds this control over the king. She has enemies, one of whom tries to poison her. Meanwhile, her secret role as a spy complicates her life. Court intrigue makes every choice open to her hazardous. When the Queen of Undersea demands that the King of Elfhame marry her daughter, Jude strives to save Cardan and his realm despite her ambivalent relationship with him. Like the previous novel, THE WICKED KING highlights the perilous existence of a mortal in the elven world. The unexpected conclusion could be the end of Jude’s story, but I suspect there’s more to come.

THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS, by Laura E. Weymouth. This portal fantasy, like EVERY HEART A DOORWAY but with a very different approach, explores how the protagonists cope with the aftermath of returning to our world from a sojourn in a magical realm. Incidents from their life in the other world and the six years between their return and the story’s present are framed as flashbacks. (The first-person accounts, both now and then, are narrated in present tense, and, still more annoyingly, all the flashbacks appear in italics.) During a bombing raid in World-War-II London, siblings James, Philippa, and Evelyn disappear from their backyard shelter and appear in a place called the Woodlands. The lordly stag Corvus, Guardian of the Woodlands, in response to Evelyn’s desperate plea to be “anywhere but here,” has transported them between universes. Evelyn longs to stay, but Philippa wants to go home and agrees to remain for a while only when Corvus promises that no time will pass back in London. Their parents will be safe and never know the children were gone. James, eager to play a significant role in this world that he can’t in Earth’s war, gladly accepts Corvus’s invitation. Beautiful and peaceful though this country is, it’s threatened by invasion from the Empire, whose ruler demands submission and tribute from the Woodlanders, including freedom to cut down sentient trees for the Empire’s war resources. Corvus, although magical, doesn’t have the godlike power of Aslan in Narnia. The war wreaks devastation on the Woodlands before victory is finally achieved. Even so, Evelyn is happy there. When Corvus keeps his promise to send the three children (now young adults) home, James and Philippa welcome the return, while Evelyn is essentially dragged along against her will. In one important factor glossed over by Lewis in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, Evelyn suffers wrenching dislocation at suddenly being thirteen again after having grown into a young woman in the Woodlands. She has to live through the ages between thirteen and eighteen twice. (That DOES sound to me like a fate almost worse than death.) As the novel begins in the story’s present day, she’s at a boarding school as the British equivalent of an American high school senior. James attends Oxford, and Philippa has gone away to Harvard. Although Evelyn tries to fit in as her family and schoolmates expect her to, she yearns for “home” and continues to feel disconnected from her mundane life. Philippa, on the other hand, embracing normality, armors herself in “powder and pumps,” the conventional persona of a bright, attractive young woman. In Narnian terms, Evelyn corresponds to Lucy and Philippa to Susan, except that Philippa never denies the reality of the Woodlands. After almost six years back in the “real” world, Evelyn becomes close to a boy her own age and begins to feel almost at home in this universe. This change, however, feels to her like a betrayal of her true home, the Woodlands. The second half of the book, narrated by Philippa, begins with Evelyn’s disappearance. Philippa goes back to England, struggling with guilt over having, as she sees it, abandoned her sister. Her anguish over not knowing what has happened to Evelyn is vividly rendered. Is Evelyn dead, possibly by suicide, as generally assumed, or has she found her way back to the Woodlands? The story comes to a satisfying conclusion, but it’s bittersweet, not an unequivocally “happy” ending.

*****

Excerpt from “Yokai Magic”:

“Way to go,” she said to the cat. “You flushed out some kind of creepy-crawly and then lost it. Now I have to spend all night worrying if it’s loose in the house.” He sat down and licked his front paws, each in turn, with his ears twitching as if he acknowledged her scolding but couldn’t bother with a response. “Best case, it was just a big, white moth. I could live with that.”

After one more scan of the kitchen and a survey of the dining room, just in case, she succumbed to second thoughts and checked the den and laundry room as well. Nothing. In the den, she did notice that the high-backed, rattan papasan chair, another souvenir her grandfather had picked up in Japan, sat in the middle of the floor instead of where it belonged. She’d taken photos of it the evening before to compare with online images of furniture of similar origin and age, in case it might be valuable enough to bother selling. Probably she’d repositioned it for better lighting and absentmindedly neglected to move it back. She shrugged at her own flakiness and tugged the chair into its usual corner.

After pouring herself a glass of Riesling, she settled on the living-room couch to watch a nature program she’d recorded earlier in the week. Toby curled up next to her with his plumed tail over his nose. She stroked him to calm herself.

Halfway through the life cycle of dolphins, she glimpsed movement from the corner of her eye. Is it back? She glanced up and located the disturbance above the fireplace. The two ivory figurines on the mantel, which her grandfather had bought in Japan, the ones she’d been seeking documentation for, twitched their limbs. The dragon spread its lacy batwings and glided to the edge of the hearth. The octopus stretched its tentacles and crept down the fire-guard screen. Toby uncurled his long, fluffy body, flexed his claws, and hissed.

Val slowly pulled herself to her feet, clutching the wing-backed end of the couch. “You see that?” she whispered. Maybe that’s what happened to the cat statuette. It got up and walked away, too.

The dragon and octopus scrabbled onto the carpet, their respective legs and tentacles clicking like a handful of dice. The cat lashed his tail and hissed again. Her breath caught in her throat. This is not happening. She flapped both hands at the animated figurines. They halted, the dragon’s wings vibrating and four of the octopus’s limbs suspended off the floor. Toby sprang at them. They both skittered up the screen to their places on the mantel.

Val collapsed onto the couch, trembling, with her face in her hands.

When her pulse slowed, she peeked between her fingers. The dragon and octopus sat in the positions they’d occupied ever since her family had bought the house. Toby jumped onto the cushion beside her and licked his tail. “That didn’t happen, right?” she asked him. He blinked at her. “I dozed off and had a really weird dream.” After her hands stopped shaking, she gulped the rest of her wine, turned off the TV, and went up to bed.

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

“Beast” wishes until next time—
Margaret L. Carter