Ahoy me hearties and shiver me timbers!
Once again it is the time of year when THE WHIMSICAL HERALD and crew are transformed into a phantom clipper ship, sailing over the literary seas in celebration of the macabre:
On this night of nights peer through a spyglass
To see a ghost ship sailing under the moon
Its rigging spider web festooned
…Captivated, you watch it pass
Hearing the strains of the dance of the doomed
And the shrieks and cries of a skeleton crew
Damned to sail, never reaching a port
And hoisting up mugs of ale to you!
Among our special guests will be sea witches, Blackbeard the pirate, Black Bart and Calico Jack, a Siren chorus and Conjurors of spooky tales that are sure to shiver your timbers! Check out our interview with TELL-TALE’S Vincent Price Award winner author Feind Gottes, who won the award with his frightening tale, ’VACUITY’.
Dare to journey through the bloody mind of a madwoman, or escape, if you can, from an underground military compound, where secret experiments may land you on the menu.
Perhaps you’d like to see what the witches in Salem are doing this Halloween, or what really happened to Hansel and Gretel. Scared of clowns, vampires or puppets? Sit down and curl up with this unique collection of horror stories. You’ll sleep with the lights on for weeks.
Vacuity by Feind Gottes & Other Tales
So how does it feel to be the winner appearing in TT's 3rd annual horror anthology, landing you the coveted cover position?
Honestly, it feels great! I know everyone says this but I really didn’t expect to win or even be a finalist. A week to two prior to submitting I had received a somewhat harsh critique telling me that basically my writing wasn’t mainstream enough to ever see any real success so I wasn’t feeling the greatest. Shock is the only way to describe how I felt when I was announced as the winner! It was more than a win, for me, it was validation that what I was doing was worth doing.
How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?
I didn’t begin writing until I was nearly 40 so I have forty years of life coloring my writing. I’ve read a ton of books in a variety of genres. I’ve seen more horror movies than you can shake a stick at, from the big names to micro-budget B movies seen by no more than a handful of people. I’ve been up and I’ve been down but I’d say the open-mindedness my parents unwittingly instilled in me has colored my writing the most. I don’t think they necessarily sat down and thought about it yet from early on they encouraged me to make up my own mind on everything from religion to politics. People tend to cling to beliefs even in the face of new information, I try not to do that.
Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.
My writing process is really very simple – First, I always start with a simple idea perhaps a sentence worth or sometimes just a few words. Then I do the hard thing, nothing at all. If my mind returns to a particular idea over and over then I have to write it. At that point I sit down with a notebook (yes, real paper and a real pen!) expanding the idea with a few plot points which I don’t always stick to and coming up with names for the main characters. Then I slide on my headphones, open a new Word document, crank the volume and start to write.
As for brainstorming, occasionally I’ll sit with a notebook and pen and jot down as many ideas that come to mind. Depending on how lost I’m able to get in thought, that can be just a few ideas or dozens. The process is always the same though – headphones, heavy metal cranked up with my trusty pen and paper.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
It would definitely be fun to have the power of hypnosis, just snap my fingers and people would do whatever I tell them. However, if I could have a superpower right now, at this moment, it would be for super fast editing skills. I don’t dislike editing my own work but I am too dang slow! Currently I’m mired in the quicksand of editing my first novel slowly sinking to my doom!
What is your biggest fear?
Being buried alive. I have written some terrible ways for someone to die but nothing gives me the heebie jeebies like the thought of being sealed in a coffin underground. Yikes!
How did you break into publishing?
When I began writing I did it simply to see if I could with no real aspirations or delusions of grandeur. Once I completed my first story, I immediately started another. It took me some time to even let a friend read what I had done but they liked it. Only then did the thought of maybe being published some day strike me. I knew absolutely nothing about how to even go about it so I just kept writing. My original idea was to write a collection of short stories so once I had that done I began to blindly send out the manuscript getting rejected left and right if I got any response at all. Then I happened upon Dark Chapter Press completely at random. Thankfully, Jack Rollins was kind enough to explain to me that no one was likely to publish a collection from an unknown author but as it happened he was putting together an anthology and thought one of my stories would fit. That story was Hell Awaits which closes out the anthology Kill For A Copy – my first published tale and it was used to send the reader off with a bang! Since then I’ve tried to grow my community of horror writers and fans allowing me to network which is eventually how I found out about the contest from Tell-Tale Publishing!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember it well! It’s now called Essence Asunder (not the original title I had for it) and was just published in June as a novella. It was my first solo published work!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My motivation was simple. I had read several books in a row that disappointed me, usually in the way they ended. I kept reading endings that were boring, stupid, predictable or relied on some big “deus ex machina” for some big, shocking twist. It was making me angry so I bitched and complained until I finally told myself that I needed to either put up or shut up. I sat down and began writing. I haven’t stopped since.
If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?
Wanna grab a beer and chat about horror? – I’d ask my hero, Clive Barker.
What are your current projects?
As I stated earlier, right now I am deep into the edits on my first novel called Piece It All Back Together which is a horror/mystery about a serial killing Private Investigator hired to find a missing person. The case will rock her world! I’m hoping for an early 2019 release on that but the story itself has been complete since about March (2018). I am so flipping excited to get started on what I plan to do next! My next project is planned as a novel trilogy based around the biblical Cain and Abel mythos. The first novel is plotted out in detail which is something I have never done before and the second and third are partially plotted out. I also have over a dozen pages of notes with full character details, again, something I’ve never down before. I have several short stories slated to appear in some very cool anthologies over the next couple months also. Yes, I am always busy working on something and plan to do so until I can’t any more.
Feind Gottes [Fee-nd Gotz] is a horror writing, metal loving award winning horror author. Feind currently resides near Omaha, NE with his girlfriend and one crazy cat.
In 2017 Feind placed in the Top Ten in The Next Great Horror Writer Contest, then later won the 2017 Vincent Price Scariest Writer Award from Tell-Tale Publishing with his story Vacuity, now published in Vacuity and Other Tales.
2018 marked a milestone for Feind with the publication of his first solo published work with the unleashing of his novella, Essence Asunder.
Lastly, Feind won the Dark Chapter Press Prize 2016 novel writing contest with the first draft of his first novel, Piece It All Back Together, which is currently being edited for an early 2019 release.
Feind on the Web
Amazon Feind Gottes
Alas it is time to say farewell to our guests. Many of the sea ghosts will be returning to Davy Jones locker, and our sister ship, the Flying Dutchman will pass by and fire off a tribute to commemorate the occasion.
The night is young, and with a fair wind at our back we will lift our cups, sing sea chanteys and continue toward the horizon until the dawn.
I am, as always, your humble servant,
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness, THE WHIMSICAL HERALD
Yo Ho Ho Me Hearties!
It was smooth sailing with the wind at our backs as The Whimsical Herald sailed into port to pick up our latest literary guest, the popular and prolific YA author Ellen Fritz. Ellen is the author of several well beloved books that continue to engage and amaze her readers, young and old.
A former teacher and counselor,author Ellen Fritz will be joining us at the Captain’s table in the seat of honor, swilling down Grog, and will regale us with an insider look at her latest release, ‘HUNTED’, BOOK 4 of her “In the Night” Vampire Series!
A COMMON ENEMY, A BRAVE AND DETERMINED HUMAN GIRL WHO BARELY ESCAPED A VAMPIRE’S BLOODLUST…
AND AN UNLIKELY, IRRESISTIBLE AND FORBIDDEN ATTRACTION
The Vampire at Cara’s feet was dazed, but there was only one way to kill him. At least only one Cara knew of. She took a homemade wooden stake out of her backpack, positioned it over his heart and hit the end as hard as she could with the wide head of the mallet she’d picked up at the hardware. It took three blows before the stake slid between his ribs into the Vampire’s heart. Cara sat back on her heals and watched as his skin took on a gray pallor and his eyes lost their glow and turned a chalky white. She grinned slightly in satisfaction, knowing she’d saved future would-be victims and avenged those already dead. Cara dragged his body to the back of the alley and pushed him against the wall. She pulled a canvas drop cloth out of her backpack and covered him completely to shield him from even unlikely visitors to the scene. Right before dawn, she’d come back to uncover him and let the sun disintegrate him. That would be the end of yet another Vampire stalking the streets.
Rule the Night has been destroyed. They find a place to hide at Gina’s sanctuary, La Sang Rouge, in Indianapolis. An ancient Vampire club is found and must be investigated, its members and leaders eliminated before they themselves are destroyed. Luke discovers a human, Cara, who escaped from a Vampire in bloodthirst. She is taking her revenge, seeking and killing the same evil Vampires that Luke and his friends seek. The two are drawn to each other and find it impossible to resist their growing attraction, despite their differences and Cara’s hatred for all Vampires.
They get help from an unexpected source, a secretive group of shifters even Vampires thought were a myth. Without help from these creatures, they may all be destroyed.
1.Congratulations on Book 4 of your ‘In the Night’ series Author Ellen Fritz! This seems like the darkest installment of the urban fantasy series to date-would you agree?
Yes, it is a little darker. The characters are out in the world a little more, no longer as protected as they were in Rule the Night.
2. Tell us about the undeniable attraction between Luke and Cara in ‘Hunted’.
Luke and Cara are “love at first sight” characters. They can’t deny their attraction to each other even though Cara, especially, fights against it.
3. What is it about Cara that makes her so relatable to readers of all ages?
Cara is relatable because she is an innocent victim who decides to fight back. With no family or friends for support, she does what she has to and protects herself and other women. She’s determined to never let anyone take advantage of her again, but finally learns to trust Luke.
4. In book 4 of the ‘In the Night’ urban fantasy series the characters are all grown up and you switch from YA urban fantasy to New Adult. What, if any, difficulties did you encounter in this transition?
Characters have to grow and change or they stagnate. After what they’ve faced in the first three books, I couldn’t see them as the teenagers. I think it would have been harder to write if I’d tried to keep them younger.
5. With readers waiting for the next book, what kind of feedback are you getting on the first three novels?
Everyone that contacts me about the In the Night series loves the story and characters. Some have even said it’s better than Twilight!
6.’In the Night’ is not your only series. Which do you enjoy writing more, urban fantasy or Scifi fantasy?
That’s a hard question because I love them both. Generally, though, I think Science Fiction is harder.
7. What authors do you read, or do you have time to read now that you are writing?
The last few years, my favorite has been Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series. Her plot and characters are unbelievably real and complex. Besides, it helps to get my mind away from the vampires and aliens and plunge into her historical fiction.
8. What is the most encouraging response you have gotten from a reader or readers of your work?
At a really big bookfair in Bowling Green Kentucky, a girl ran up to me and said, “You’re here! I read you would be and couldn’t wait to meet you!” She had read Abandoned and wanted to get all three books of the series and have me sign them. We hugged and she stayed to talk for quite a while. It was fun to meet someone that loves my books.
9. There are many elements of mystery and intrigue in your stories-can a character ever have too many secrets?
My muses are some of the old classical writers that I studied in college. They wrote about people who were caught in a situation and that’s what I like to do.
10. Who are your writing muses?
My muses are some of the old classical writers that I studied in college. They wrote about people who were caught in a situation and that’s what I like to do.
11. When you aren’t writing what are you doing to unwind?
I have to admit I’m a TV fanatic and love it when stories like Midnight, Texas by Charlaine Harris are produced. They were great books and it was a great show. I will admit, though, that I often read while watching TV.
12.What genres have you not explored yet in your novels that are beckoning to you?
That’s an easy one. Time travel. I have a couple ideas percolating through my head, but haven’t pulled them all together, yet.
13. Luke is a well drawn and unique character. How does he compare to Parker in your previous novels in this series.
Although both vampires, Parker is more serious in some ways than Luke. Luke likes to laugh and flirt with the human customers even though he used that to fool Charles into thinking they were on the same side. Parker is more like Byron, a serious businessman.
14. What modern day actors and actresses would you cast in the main roles in ‘HUNTED’?This is always the hardest question because there are so many good young actors around. I personally love Jennifer Lawrence and Eddie Redmayne, but I think they might both be too old for my main characters. Although wouldn’t Jennifer Lawrence be amazing as Constance?
15. What projects are you working on for 2018-2019? Can you give us a teaser quote from a work in progress?
I’m presently working on three different books -- a time travel, a dystopia, and a second Bigfoot. I can’t settle on the one that I can’t resist and have to finish, so don’t want to give you a quote, yet. Right now, I suspect that it will be the dystopia that wins the battle.
Aye it is with many misgivings that we wave farewell to our distinguished guest Ellen Fritz. She is such a vibrant and sparkling creative soul and we will miss her company, but she has many more bestselling books to pen and we must sail on across the literary seas to our next port while the weather is temperate.
Thank you for joining us, well met as always, and fair winds and following seas to you all!
I remain your humble servant,
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness on THE WHIMSICAL HERALD
Welcome aboard me hearties!
Avast ye and listen well! Today we are on course to shanghai Renowned author Darren Simon and capture him as our guest at the Captain’s table on The Whimsical Herald. He writes middle grade and YA novels about seafaring pirates, danger and adventure, combining both science fiction and fantasy for a tantalizing brew sure to delight our literary palates!
(Not to mention, Pirate tales are our favorites!)
DEADLY WATERS, A YA PIRATE ADVENTURE by Darren Simon,
A Pirate’s Calling Book 2
EVEN LOSING BOTH HIS HANDS IN A DANGEROUS CONFRONTATION WITH DASTARDLY MASTER OF THE DARK ARTS JEM SLAYER WON’T STOP 13 YEAR OLD SAM EVERLY FROM SEEKING REVENGE!
The ship’s quartermaster, dressed like a British naval officer in a long blue waistcoat with two flintlock pistols tucked into his belt, signaled commands like a third-base coach waving a runner to home plate. Ranger’s crew scurried over the deck, grasping lines—lowering some of the yards—anything to keep the ship from tearing apart against the violent tug of nature.
Gazing at them all, Sam cursed himself. He yearned to help. But without real hands what could he do? He glowered at his wooden appendages. Damn Slayer for taking my hands. He lifted his wooden hands, then slammed them against the gunwale. Damn me for losing the fight. For now, all he could do is maintain his mind link with the crew, the only way they could all see their way out of this magical realm.
The captain crossed the deck with confident steps despite the ship’s pitch. His massive hands wrapped around Sam’s noodle-like arms. “Why do you strike my ship, lad? Is that fear or rage I see in your eyes? Do not fear. I’ll get you to Slayer. We’ll be having our revenge. ” Sam tried to speak but his words were not much more than a whisper drowned out by crying wind. “Sucks…I can’t help…your crew.”
Hornigold raised a bushy eyebrow. “I not be knowing this word—sucks—unless you refer to a fine drink, a rumsuck, but I think not. Take heart lad. The only reason we be able to see our way back home be because of you. That makes you the most important man on this here boat. You should get below deck where it be safer”
Thirteen-year-old Sam Every has traveled back in time to the Golden Age of Piracy to face Captain Jem Slayer, master of the dark arts. Deceived into handing Slayer the ultimate weapon, the Sword of Zel-Kar, Sam has lost his hands, sliced off in his first clash with the evil pirate.
But all is not lost.
Sam’s friends have found their way back in time, and with the help of the pirate hunter, Benjamin Hornigold, have rescued him from the island where Slayer marooned him. Now, aided by a new band of rogues and a mystery friend, Sam must rise above his injuries and find the strength to again face Slayer before it is too late—before the future is forever shattered.
1.How did your background as a Journalist benefit you in writing middle grade and Young Adult novels?
My work as newspaper journalist had two major effects on me that helped me become a middle grade and young adult writer. First, it taught me the craft of writing. I firmly believe that everyone can write, but it is a skill that must be learned. Journalism fine-tuned my skills, forcing me to learn to use words in ways that could connect with readers. I especially liked writing human interest stories where part of the story involved using words to create word pictures for readers. That is what I try to do as an author—build a connection with readers and allow them to see in their minds what I have written on the page. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, journalism showed me how much I love writing, and that love expanded into writing novels. That I chose to write middle grade and young adult novels is simply a result of my love for the books I read as a youth—which ultimately led me to a career in writing.
2.Was there anything close to the Deadly Waters series available to read when you were a kid?
While Deadly Waters is a pirate novel, more than that it is an action-adventure story and a story of good versus evil. So there were certainly pirate books and books about the sea, like Treasure Island. But to be honest, I was inspired by the Lord of the Rings series and Choose Your own Adventure books. I loved high fantasy and science fiction novels.
3.Which of the many well drawn colorful characters in Book 2 did you have the most fun with?
Without giving too much away, there is a historical pirate in the novel whom I really enjoyed writing about—especially reimagining that pirate based on the fantasy elements in my novel. It actually took quite a bit of research to understand that pirate and to place that pirate into my book in a way that made sense and fit into the right timeframe of that rogue’s life. Again, I’m trying to hold back information because I don’t want to give away some of the mystery of the novel. But, in the first novel, The Dangerous Legacy, and in this one, Deadly Waters, I have incorporated real life pirates and pirate hunters. In every case, it has been fun to write about those pirates.
4.In your opinion is world building in a novel that blends both science fiction and fantasy trickier to pull off than writing in either genre individually?
Honestly, I’m not sure because every book I’ve written has combined both elements. However, I have written a short-story that is pure science fiction—not yet published—and it was pretty difficult to do. And I have another pure science fiction in mind, and I am looking forward to tackling that book and the challenges that will come in writing it.
5.What were you top 5 favorite reads as a youngster?
My love for reading started with comic books, both Marvel and DC. They led me into the Choose Your Own Adventure series, specifically the Dungeons & Dragons Choose Your Own Adventure stories. From there, I started reading Star Trek novels. Ultimately, I fell in love with JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. I also loved Tolkien’s Silmarillion.
6.Do you love the ocean as much as your main character Sam Everly?
Yes! In fact, it was my love of the ocean that led me to write the first pirate novel. I now live in the desert Southwest of California, and one summer I just didn’t have much chance to get to the beach. Missing the ocean, I just started writing about an experience as a youth in my hometown of Torrance, Ca. at the Redondo Beach pier. I had no idea writing about a day at the pier would turn into a pirate novel, but it did. But, yes, the ocean is where I find the most peace.
7. What feedback from young readers do you get concerning Sam’s dismemberment? What prompted you to include it in the storyline?
I haven’t really gotten any feedback from young readers as most of my school and library visits are a way of introducing the books, so at that point they don’t know what happens to Sam. I chose the dismemberment of his hands because I felt every true hero must face not only hardship, but face loss and overcome it. Since so much of Sam’s powers have to do with his hands (which control his ability to wield his fire blade), I felt losing that power would be a true test of his ability to become a real hero. Plus, it was a fun scene to write, which goes back to trying to create a great visual for the reader. I wanted them to experience that loss not only with Sam, but as if they were Sam. What would they feel? How would they react? Hopefully, it drew them closer to the storyline.
8.Do your own kids read your novels? What advice would you give youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?
No, my sons do not read my writing. The thing is they already know so much about the stories because I consult with them, but also, I guess it would be a little weird to read Dad’s book. As far as becoming a writer, there is so much to say, but for now I’ll just simply say if you have any desire at all to write, start by actually writing—whether it be a journal or diary, short fiction, poetry… anything. The more you write, the more you learn about yourself as a writer and discovering that you do, in fact, love writing opens the door to so many different career paths that allow you to be a writer. I would also say—and every writer says this—don’t be your own worst critic. Go easy on yourself. You certainly do have to learn the craft of writing, and that takes time and practice, but try to enjoy the journey of just creating something. If you are too hard on yourself, it becomes way too difficult to move forward. In the end, writing should be fun.
9. What in your opinion are protagonist Sam Every’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
His greatest strength is his determination to do what is right—to stand up against impossible odds, and rise above his own pain, to protect those he cares about and those he loves. For such a young man, he also shows great courage in that he is constantly in danger. He is less concerned about losing his own life and more focused on stopping the evil Jem Slayer to protect the future. His greatest weakness also revolves around his age. Though he is brave for a young teen, he also has no real idea what he is doing and must depend on the knowledge of others to survive and even have a chance to defeat Slayer.
10. Do you include places you have visited or lived in your novels?
I wish I could say yes, but the truth is—no. I would love to visit the Caribbean and see the places I am writing about, and in this new book, a part of it—an important part—takes place in the London of the early 1700s. I would love to someday visit England, which is clearly a very beautiful place. However, the London I am describing is something very different—dark, foreboding… a cesspool of violence and struggle while still a center for wealth, shipping and commerce. Having never been to England, it took a great deal of research from studying historical books to contacting London historical societies to gather as much information as I could. I really enjoy doing that kind of research, and I think it helps add some authenticity to my descriptions.
11.What can readers look forward to in the future? Can you share a teaser from a work in progress?
Well, I have a new manuscript I’ve written that again mixes fantasy and science fiction, but it is more of an urban fantasy. I can’t say too much more about that right now, but I hope to see the manuscript become a book that young adult readers will enjoy. Beyond that, I am working on a follow-up to Deadly Waters and developing a science fiction story about pen pals across the universe.
Alas, the sun is sinking into the sea, and it is time to bid farewell to our intriguing Author guest. We look forward to many other exciting and magical tales of bravery, torture and perseverance on the high seas from Author Darren Simon.
Until then, fortune be with you and yours as we heave ahead over the mysterious and beckoning literary seas in search of fair breezes and the finest in entertaining reads.
All my duty to you,
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness, The Whimsical Herald
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)