Tag Archives: horror

Author Interview: Nils Odlund

Author Nils Ödlund is a Swedish writer, living in Ireland, who writes deep character driven stories set in an urban fantasy world. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Nils OdlundMy name is Nils Ödlund. I’m originally Swedish, but I’ve lived in Cork, Ireland for the past fourteen years. My day job is in customer support, and I spend most of my free time gaming, reading, or writing. I’m happily single, and tend to keep to myself, but even then, the isolation of the last year has worn on me. I try and keep active in various online writing communities, though – to have people to talk to and cut away from the day job for a bit.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing in 2011. Initially, I wanted to create a fantasy setting for a Pen & Paper RPG, but then a friend of mine suggested I write short-stories set in the world. I figured it’d be a good way to show off various aspects of the setting I’d created so I set to it, and then I never really stopped.

The short stories grew longer, and eventually they turned into novellas and novels. It’s been ages since I did any actual work on the setting, though.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I used to consider myself a gamer, and to a certain extent I still do. At some point, and I don’t quite remember when, I realized that I spent more time writing than I did playing games. That’s when.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My next book is called Nothing Left to Lose, and it’s the tenth book in the Lost Dogs series. Lost Dogs is the story of Roy van Waldenberger and Alene Moneya. Roy is a retired wrestler who’s on a journey to find the love of his life. Alene is an aspiring young journalist who decides she’s the one to tell Roy’s story.

Both Roy and Alene are therianthropes. Therianthropy is an affliction where the spirit of a predator takes up residence within the mind of a person. It makes the person stronger, faster, and tougher, but it also slowly turns them into an animal.

Much of the story focuses on Roy’s and Alene’s relationship with their respective inner beasts, and how it impacts their lives and their place in the world.

What inspired you to write this book?

Originally, I just wanted to show off the setting I created, and I needed an excuse for someone to go on a road-trip by train. It was just meant to be a series of short stories, but the stories grew, turned into novellas, and later novels.

The setting is still there, and it’s still important to the feel of the story, but it’s the characters who matter. I’m not going to say that they write the story, but getting to know them and figuring out who they are has definitely been a major inspiration outside of the original idea.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Can I say “blunt and evocative?” I try to avoid long flowery descriptions and instead focus on using words that trigger association and mental images. I believe that the imagination of the reader is a lot stronger than any words I can put on the page. I try to give them a framework that encourages them to fill out their own images, and to put part of themselves into the story.

Originally, I thought everyone was able to picture things in their mind, but then I learned of aphantasia, and how some people don’t have an inner eye that lets them see things. For a while, it troubled me, because my writing relies so heavily on the readers inner vision. I worried someone with aphantasia wouldn’t understand my books.

Eventually, I decided to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve talked to people with aphantasia, and usually when descriptions get too long, they just skip or skim them. My descriptions are generally short, so I figured they’re easily skipped if they don’t make sense.

In addition to the above, I try to write in a plain and simple style. I’m not a native English speaker, and my command of the language (especially word flow) isn’t perfect. I try to be aware of this, and to limit myself to using only words I’m perfectly comfortable with. My hope is that this results in an easily readable and gently flowing prose, which does not trip up the reader.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Lost Dogs, the series, was originally going to be called Werewolves On A Train, but I decided to skip that. It carries too many connotations and gives a somewhat silly impression.

Within the world of the story, “dog” is a derogatory term for therianthropes (except between themselves), and since the two main characters of the story are a bit lost, each in their own way, the name stuck.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are plenty of messages. Some are rather blunt and on the nose, others are more subtle. One recurring theme is that the world doesn’t wait and giving up is not an option. Life isn’t fair, everyone makes mistakes, and there is no simple solution.

That doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. Sometimes life is unfair in your favor.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

My largest influences are probably Tove Jansson and Neil Gaiman.

Tove Jansson is a Finnish author and the creator of the Moomintrolls. Her writing style is absolutely amazing, and she has an uncanny ability to infuse even her children’s books with nuggets of timeless wisdom.

Neil Gaiman has this way with storytelling and world building where the fantastic elements feel solid and grounded. It’s like they’re a natural part of the world and not something cool that the author wants to impress me with.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I’m one of those writers who underestimated the importance of covers when they started out. I asked a local artist friend to do cover art for me. The art itself was great, but it didn’t work as a marketable cover for an indie fantasy book.

Eventually, I began tinkering with it, and discovered I could do acceptable covers myself. They’re not top-notch professional level, but they’re at a stage where I’m still not ashamed of them even if they’ve been around for a couple of years now.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you’re starting out. Seek other writers and learn from them. Ask for feedback, give feedback, and learn what feedback applies to your writing – because not all feedback is relevant feedback.

Also, don’t rush it. Writing is a long game.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

While this will be the last book in the Lost Dogs series, it will not be the end of Roy and Alene. Their story isn’t over.

Nils ÖdlundBook Cover
Cork, Ireland.

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
INSTAGRAM
GOODREADS

Last Fight of the Old Hound

AMAZON

How a Writing Planner Saved Me Last Year by Loren Rhoads

Image by Semisvetik04 from Pixabay

I am a planner junkie. For years I kept searching for a system that would help me organize all the information I need, track all my submissions, make space for my to-do lists, and keep my calendar. I would hear one of my writer friends rave about a system they were excited to try or see an ad that promised to get me organized and snatch it up. I ended up with a cupboard full of half-used planners.

I am also an inveterate list-maker. Often, when I sit down with my notebook for a day’s writing, I begin with a to-do list to clear my head. I had to-dos in my in-box, my notebook, my diary, on scraps of paper on my desk, in my unanswered emails. I had folders full of notes from conferences, tear sheets from writer’s magazines, articles I’d printed out from the internet. The weight of everything I thought I should do made me freeze.

Last year, when all my anchors were suddenly gone — no more writing in the cafe after dropping my kid off at school, no more writing in the car before I picked her up in the afternoon — I really struggled to focus and get anything done. What saved me was my planner stash. I took the planners apart and pulled out all my favorite charts: what were my goals for the year? What writing projects had I started and drifted away from? What markets did I want to pitch articles to? When were my favorite magazines open for story submissions?

Armed with that information, I made a master to-do list. Everything went on it, no matter how big or small. Which social media did I enjoy using and what was my theory behind my presence there? What were my goals for my newsletter and how could I better connect with my readers there? Since I couldn’t attend the conventions I’d looked forward to, how else could I get my books into the hands of readers?

Once I finally had EVERYTHING noted down, I could see that it was clearly too much for one person to accomplish RIGHT NOW. I used my planner sheets to pull out the little things that I could finish easily. Once I crossed those off my list, I got a jolt of pride that carried me forward to tackle bigger projects.

I made writing dates with friends over Zoom. A writer I knew set up a Tuesday morning chat for her writer friends. I joined Shut Up & Write sessions. I organized Happy Hours and went to writer’s group meetings online. Slowly, my weeks took on some structure. I needed a calendar to keep track of when everything was happening.

I’d published a novel in February (then saw all the conventions I’d planned to attend get postponed or canceled), so with my planner’s help, I managed to put together a blog tour and list of reviewers. After I attended the Bram Stoker Awards online, I was inspired to assemble a collection of my short stories, using what I’d learned from the first blog tour to promote it. Cross that goal off my list!

Inspired by my planner, I also did some major reorganization projects in my office, emptying all my file drawers and consolidating my research. I (finally!) assembled a binder of all the contracts I’d signed over my writing career. I made another binder of unfinished stories, so I could see the work ahead of me.

Having projects waiting for my attention made it much easier to deal with the discovery that the nonfiction book I’d been researching didn’t match the book the publisher wanted, one I was unable to write because of a previous contractual obligation. In another time, I would have been spun by the rejection. I would have been lost for months. Instead, because I’d been doing all this work on goals, I quickly shifted gears and began work on what became the third book I published last year. It’s no exaggeration to say that my cobbled-together planner was a lifesaver.

The upshot of this is: there are many planners for writers out there. Some focus on logging your daily word count. Others track the business aspects of being a writer: your income and expenses. Still others concentrate on calculating your available writing time and how to make best use of it. Some combine inspiration with goal-setting. Finding the right planner for yourself may take a couple of tries, but if you find a planner that supports the kind of writer you are and the work you want to do, it can change your life. It is definitely worth the effort.


Author Loren RhoadsLoren Rhoads is the author of a space opera trilogy, a succubus/angel duet, and a collection of stories called Unsafe Words. She’s the co-author of the brand-new Spooky Writer’s Planner, an undated 13-month planner designed to inspire and support writers of dark fantasy, paranormal romance, horror, and morbid nonfiction with weekly calendars, goal tracking, submission logs, and more. It’s available as a digital download on ETSY and as a paperback on AMAZON.  The book trailer is available on YOUTUBE.

Author Interview: Jeannie Wycherley

Losing herself in an imaginary world is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to Author Jeannie Wycherley. She  can travel far and wide with an array of wonderful people and creatures and when it gets interesting, she can share it with everyone else. Bliss!  Please welcome Jeannie to No Wasted Ink.

I’m Jeannie Wycherley. I live by the sea in East Devon in the south-west of the UK. Over the years I’ve worked as an academic, a waitress, a library assistant and as a stage manager. I have a doctorate in modern and contemporary British social history. I run a seaside gift shop with my husband (or try to at the moment, things are not great). I have two dogs that I love above all creatures and I’m fanatical about forests and wildlife.

When and why did you begin writing?

I always loved to write but I lost the urge when I started working. I was busy, I was young, I had a life. Then in 2010, during counselling for a bout of depression, I uncovered my desperate need for creativity. I started to fiddle with words again and wrote a play that was performed by a local theatre company. I then found an online virtual writing bootcamp in June 2012 with a group called Urban Writers. I loved it! There were lots of exercises to do, something everyday, and by the end of the month I had a long short story that I was quite proud of. After that I began to write every day. It became a habit. I submitted short stories everywhere and gathered quite a collection.

I took part in the Six-Month Novel challenge, again with Urban Writers, and produced my first novel. It has never seen the light of day, but I proved I could do it.

I was made redundant in September 2012 and over the next few years, I balanced freelance copywriting work and working in our gift shop with my creative writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Relatively recently! I published two novels, Crone (2017) and Beyond the Veil (2018) but felt like an impostor. It wasn’t until I started to work on my Wonky Inn series (first published September 2018), when the writing and the characters totally consumed me, that I realised I was a proper writer. Now I drive my husband mad because I don’t talk about anything else. He’s currently in the process of getting a proofreading qualification so he can help me out!

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

It’s called The Municipality of Lost Souls and, put simply, it’s a ghost story where some dead sailors want vengeance for their wrongful deaths. But it’s far more complex. It’s about greed, power and manipulation, love, lust and loss. It’s about the way we treat others. It has shades of Jamaica Inn and The Old Curiosity Shop and The Woman in White about it.

What inspired you to write this book?

It started life as a short story, published by the Society for Misfit Stories. It was a story that would not let me go. I knew there was far more to it, but the complexity of it put me off. It requires quite an ensemble of characters and that proved difficult to balance at times. I take much inspiration from the landscape around me. The town of Durscombe—a fictional name—is based on Sidmouth, where I live. I wanted to write about the power of the sea and have this kaleidoscope of people’s lives unfold in front of a tempestuous, glowering backdrop.

Do you have a specific writing style?

People have often remarked how immersive my descriptions are, that reading my work, whether it’s dark fantasy or cozy mystery, is a little like going to the cinema. They can see the world through my eyes.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I have absolutely no idea! It just popped into my head. I have had some criticism for it, because of its length, but to me, The Municipality of Lost Souls, has a whole different meaning to Lost Souls. It adds place, context, era and specificity. There are so many lost souls in this book, but the most important ones, are in the town.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, but it’s not spelled out. Part of me wants readers to understand what drove me to produce this story, but not everyone will. I’m perfectly happy if they read it and enjoy it without getting ‘it’, though.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I’m getting on. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve observed a lot. I’m ravenous for people-watching. Obviously, this is a historical fantasy novel, so it’s not true to life, but I’ve used my experience as a historian to add flesh to the bones. I like my characters to be flawed. This bunch certainly are!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

So many. I drew on my love of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins for The Municipality of Lost Souls. I love their use of language. Both of these writers have wonderful villains too. Dastardly! I have several Dickensian type villains in this novel. I would add Elizabeth Gaskell and Edith Wharton to that list too. Gaskell is my favourite author of all time. She has a gentle touch, but she really packed a punch when it came to unpicking the social issues of the day.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The beautiful cover was designed by Anika Willmanns of Ravenborn Covers. She does the most magnificent work. I wanted something ghostly and tempestuous and I wanted to show vulnerability. I think Anika did an amazing job.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Commit! And believe in yourself.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks so much for reading! I can never quite get over the fact that people actually read my words! I’ve never been happier and it’s entirely down to people like you!

Lost Souls Book CoverJeannie Wycherley
Sidmouth, East Devon, UK

FACEBOOK
TWITTER
PINTEREST
GOODREADS
INSTAGRAM

The Municipality of Lost Souls

Cover Artist:  Anika Willmanns

AMAZON
BOOK LINK

Author Interview: Lisanne Harrington

I met Author Lisanne Harrington at a book signing event.  She is a lovely lady and a fine author.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Lisanne Harrington. After nearly twenty years as a paralegal, I staged a coup and left the straight-laced corporate world behind forever. I now pander to my muse, a sarcastic little so-and-so. Only copious amounts of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper and hamburgers will get him to fill my head with stories of serial killers, werewolves, and the things that live under your bed.

When not writing, I love to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls (although I hated the movies), horror movies like Young Frankenstein and Fido, and true crime shows. I like scary clowns, coffee with flavored creamer, and hot, salty French fries. Lots and lots of French fries.

When not hanging with “The Girls,” I write paranormal mysteries and murder mysteries.

I live in SoCal with my husband and rowdy, always-has-to-have-the-last-word Miniature Pinscher, Fiona.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a big reader, so it just seemed a natural transition to writing. I started with short stories as a small child and co-wrote my first novel when I was 11. It then progressed from there and has become a part of me. When not writing, I feel incomplete.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

To me, being a writer is a little different than being an author. Like I said above, I’ve always been a writer, but I didn’t consider myself an actual author until my first book, Moonspell, was accepted for publication sometime in the beginning of 2015.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The one that has recently been published wraps up my Wolf Creek Mystery Series. Moon Shadows continues the story of James Manarro, who wakes up to a strange world in which nothing makes sense. As if it isn’t bad enough that a werewolf had stocked the town of Wolf Creek and James had to kill it, or that James is dealing with very real teen issues, now the whole world is silent, and everyone—his parents, neighbors, and friends—seems to have disappeared. Then he hears a voice, one he can’t possibly hear because it belongs to his best friend, Riff, who has been dead for over three years, killed by the first werewolf to attack the town. But when James runs out to find Riff, he is plunged into a world of darkness filled with monsters determined to kill him once and for all.

The one I’m working on right now started out as a killer clown story but has morphed into a tale about an ancient Chinese mythological creature that appears every 44 years to terrorize a town.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Wolf Creek Mysteries were originally conceived as a trilogy, so Moon Shadows is the third installment. It picks up right where Book 2, Moon Watch, leaves off, and is really a continuation of that storyline.

The one I’m writing now has a protagonist based on my bestie, who wanted to be put into one of my books, and coincidentally, is the same one I co-wrote my first novel with. We’ve been friends over 50 years! She’s half Chinese, and her father immigrated from China when he was 14 and alone, and I used that as the stepping off point. While researching some elements of a killer clown story based on all the evil clown sightings from a few years ago, I came across this particular beast and knew I just had to write about it. I’m saving the killer clown story for later. 

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Titles are generally difficult for me, so I leave them until the novel is complete. Since Moon Shadows has an eerie, shadowy fog shrouding the town, it seemed only natural when I was done to have shadows in the title, so in keeping with the “Moon” theme, this one was easy.

As for the Chinese mythological creature, we’ll just have to wait and see what it calls itself…

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The entire trilogy explores the world, how we see ourselves, how others perceive us, and how we are all similar and go through many of the same experiences.

In my current WIP, I’m sure there will be some sort of message, but since I’m only a few chapters in, only time will tell what it might be.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Bentley Little really knows how to weave a terrifying tale based on normal people and events, surrounded by true elements of horror. Stephen King writes wonderfully three-dimensional characters that could very well be your friends and neighbors.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

New York Times bestselling author Bonnie Hearn Hill was my first online writing teacher and has since become a friend. She helped me fill my toolbox with all the things I need to write a good story and weave in a mystery or two along the way. Her students have all been filleted by her critiques, which she gives honestly but with love and a sincere desire to help.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Forget about writing what you know. That’s not necessary now that research on the Internet is so readily available. Read everything you can, especially in the genre you write. Know the tropes and stereotypes and try to stay away from them if you can. If not, you need a unique spin on them. Sharpen the tools you have and always always always explore new ways to grow as a writer.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just that I hope they enjoy my stories and will check out my Wolf Creek Mysteries series. Also, there’s a Monster blog on my website, if they’re interested.

Be sure to look for my upcoming murder mystery, Murder in the Family (no creatures involved), and my newest horror story, Gravelings, both due out in 2018. And check out my Chinese beast story sometime after that!

Also, I would love to hear from them. They can contact me at wolfcreek.projects@gmail.com.

Lisanne Harrington
Southern California

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
FACEBOOK

The Wolf Creek Mystery Series

Publisher:  Black Opal Books

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
BLACK OPAL BOOKS

Anthology For Your Writers’ Group by April Grey

magazine rack
Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Could you, should you, dare you, put together an anthology for your writers’ group?

In this age of Internet and computers, we all know how easy it is to publish online. Just hit “send.” However, putting together an anthology (ebook and/or paper) for your writers’ group may take a bit more effort.

For me, a love of learning led me to take classes from Dean Wesley Smith
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/online-workshops, in how to create a book cover and how to format a book interior. Easy Peasy? Hmmm. Well, there are many You Tubes that teach you how to do formatting and design, so yes, with a little determination and time you can do it.

Although the how to’s is something that almost anyone can do, coming up with material—that’s where having a pool of creative people is vital.

The first anthology I put together was inspired by our local community garden, along with two stories about gardens from writers I knew. I’ve been involved in SF, Fantasy and Horror workshops since the early 90’s, both on-line and in real life and so would read many, many stories a year to give crit. In return I also got my stories reviewed.

Once the idea to put together an anthology came to me, I asked of the writers in my circle if they had any stories about gardens, gardeners or gardening. I pulled together six stories. Not a lot of material, but I was thinking this could be a promotional item. I included excerpts of material from the writers. Six stories transformed into twelve! I’d seen samplers from all sorts of publishing houses.

Besides years of critting, I was an editor for Damnation Press. This rewarding work allowed me to get to know an even larger circle of writers than from my writing groups.

My second anthology was again inspired by events in my life. Cronehood isn’t for the fainthearted. This time I had ten stories to go together. Instead of photoshopping a cover all by myself, I enlisted the work of Dirk Strangely. I have long been a fan of his Tim Burtonesque style, and I figured why not splurge and send some money his way? I’ve used his artwork for four of my covers.

We all know that a cover can make or break a book. Of course, what’s between the covers matters a great deal, but it’s the cover that lures the reader in to crack open the book or read an on-line sample.

Wonderful cover art, great stories, a formatter, and an editor. That’s it. For ebooks, Smashwords is extremely user friendly. Createspace’s customer service is great (though I always fight with them about the spine—that’s for another blog).

I haven’t mentioned publicity, maybe because that’s my least favorite bit. Word of mouth, blog hops, reviews, all of this needs to be done both leading up to release and after publication. Since this is being done not to get rich, but to promote your writing group, that you really need to have group support in getting the word out that your anthology is a must-read among a sea of other self-published works.

Another thing needed is a theme. Most anthologies have one. So far the Hell’s series has focused on gardens, crones, pets, and music. All the stories are more dark fantasy and humor than horror and can appeal to a wide audience.

Recently I was fortunate enough to be co-editor of our local Horror Writers Association’s anthology, New York State of Fright. It’s at its publisher right now and should be out in 2018. I’m very excited to see that work of so many writers who I have known for years and greatly respect. The theme is centered on New York and it is a varied and exciting read!

I hope that this has gotten you thinking about your own writers’ group. Great stories and cover art are the biggest factors. If you have that, then you should consider this as a great project for the new year!


Author April GreyApril Grey’s short stories are collected in The Fairy Cake Bakeshop and in I’ll Love You Forever. She is also the author of two urban fantasy novels: Chasing the Trickster and its sequel, St. Nick’s Favor.

She edited the anthologies: Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Cursed Instruments; Hell’s Garden: Mad, Bad and Ghostly Gardeners, Hell’s Grannies: Kickass Tales of the Crone and last year’s, Hell’s Kitties and Other Beastly Beasts.

She and her family live in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC in a building next to a bedeviled garden. Gremlins, sprites or pixies, something mischievous, lurks therein. Someday she’ll find out. Please visit www.aprilgrey.blogspot for her latest news.  Follow her on Twitter and FaceBook