Friday, December 17, 2010

Interview: Kevin Lucia

Today, I am going to share an interview that I did with Kevin Lucia, a great rising author to come from Shroud Publishing. He is a horror author and a teacher. This interview talks about his book, working with Shroud, future projects and the school system. Feel free to comment at the bottom and check out his website:

His newest story got published with The Bag & The Crow, recently. Check it out.

Don't click on me or a kitten dies!

Hey Kevin. Thanks for coming to Another Slightly Scary Story. You've enjoyed some success with Hiram Grange and the Chosen One, written for Shroud Publishing. Can you tell everyone a bit about the story and the unique way you ended up writing it?

Sure. A little bit about the series: Hiram Grange is a highly skilled - and seriously troubled - operative for a privately funded, covert agency which investigates and battles the supernatural as it encroaches upon our world. He saves the world on a daily basis but no one knows, and also it's a toss-up which is more dangerous: the monsters he hunts or himself.

In Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Hiram travels to Ireland and faces perhaps his worst temptation: he's offered the power to bring back everyone dear that he's lost. The cost? The natural order of the cosmos as we know it. He has to choose between saving the universe by destroying an innocent girl, or saving this one girl - who becomes a symbol of everything he's lost - and risk the destruction of the universe.

It's very much the classic "right place, right time" story. I sold some fiction to Shroud Publishing's second anthology, Abominations: 17 Tales of Murderous Monsters, which introduced me to Tim Deal of Shroud. One day he posted a call for submissions on the Shroud forum for this new novella series he wanted to create. I answered the call, we all brainstormed a bit, story ideas were approved, and here we are.

Did you read the series before you wrote it? Before you pitched it?

Actually, it was insane: all five Hiram writers wrote their novellas at the same time. We spent literally a year zipping emails back and forth to each other, asking plot and character questions, checking details, swapping samples. It was a very interesting process that I never want to do ever again. ;)

And how do you like working with Timothy Deal?

Love it. Not only his he one of the kindest, most generous human beings I know, he also knows his stuff. He's a rare commodity in the horror genre: he's committed to both quality product/fiction AND discovering new voices, which is rare. Usually, either a publishing company is of high quality but only works with certain writers, or said publishing company is looking for new voices that usually don't turn out to be much in the quality department. Tim has an excellent eye for both.

Any news on season 2?

Not yet. I know Scott Christian Carr, author of the absolutely MIND-BENDING Hiram Grange & The Twelve Little Hitlers, is currently working on a new novel/novella, tentatively titled Hiram Grange in the Caves of Alquida, and I've toyed with an idea putting together Hiram and Sherlock Holmes. Plus, Shroud's new, free Digital Edition features Scott's Hiram Short, Edsel Einstein: A Hiram Grange Story. You can download Shroud's Digital Edition for free here:

Will there be a graphic novel?

There's been lots of talk and interest, but nothing else so far.

Do you have any future plans to work with Shroud Publishing again? Are you still writing The Drift?

I recently edited Shroud's Halloween Issue, which featured fiction from Rio Youers, Norman Partridge, and many other fine folks, and last summer I wrapped up editing on the soon to be released Terror at Miskatonic Falls, a very Lovecraftian unique poetry/prose anthology. I'll be serving as the Review Editor until January 2011, and I also hope to guest edit more issues of the magazine in the future. And they will be publishing my first novel, The Drift.

Can we hear more about The Drift?

Sure. At it's heart, The Drift is a ghost story. A man is haunted by his dead son, and five friends are haunted by something they did in the past. The key is twisting all that on it's ear so it doesn't come out like every other ghost story every told. It's going to be a bit nonlinear, and more complicated than anything I've tried to date. We'll see how it turns out.

In your mind, does horror need new faces?

Not necessarily, not at the expense of quality writing and publishing. I think the new POD and Ebook technology has made it so easy to get published, lots of "sketchy" or at best very small publishing companies have sprung up and diluted the market with "new faces" that may or may not be worth reading. And usually, "new faces" who are worth reading aren't new at all, they've just stuck it out, weathered the storm and plugged away. I think it was Jack Ketchum (The Girl Next Door, Old Flames) who said "If you're good enough and hang around long enough, someone will discover you eventually." I think newer writers - myself included - should be forced to actually "hang around" awhile befpre they're "discovered".

What are your strengths and weaknesses in writing?

Weakness. easy: I have a really hard time plotting. I'm not sure if I over-think things, but whatever it is, my plots initially start either too convoluted and horribly complicated, or terribly cliched and "done before". Hiram Grange & The Chosen One doesn't look anything like my initial notes for it - thank God - and my initial work on The Drift was also very, very different. Because of this, I find I don't write much unsolicited short fiction. Most my ideas for short stories are just "okay", and "okay" doesn't cut it the pro market.

Strengths: I guess I'll pick what I LOVE doing the most and hope that means it's also a strength, and that's characters. I'm very much a character-driven guy. I love getting inside one of my character's heads, figuring out their voice, figuring out them. That's reflected in my reading also; I'll take excellent characters with depth over slick plotting any day.

Do you think writing horror adds to the violence in the world?

I really don't, but there's problems with that statement, primarily because there's so much variety under the term "horror". "Horror" ranges from ghost stories to cautionary tales to legends and myth, to werewolves, zombies, hack and slash. But I think blaming the violence in the world on horror is too convenient, like blaming the Columbine shootings on "The Matrix". Now video games, like Grand Theft Auto? That's more worrisome, because there's very little stopping kids ten years and UNDER from spending hours and hours in front of simulated, realistic violence that's all turned off or reset with the flip of switch.

Do you think your writing would affect your teaching, if people were offended by its content? Should that be relevant?

That's always in the back of my mind. I teach at a Catholic high school. However, as I've developed, I've become very much more of a "less is more" kind of guy when it comes to gore and sex, so in reality...most of the stuff I write is probably no worse than the games of Grand Theft Auto they've been raised on....but yeah, I do keep that in mind when I write. So far, no problems.

What problems do you see with the education system?

I think it has more to do with society than anything else. There's too much to say, so I'll keep it very simple:

1. over-reliance on technology in the classroom to make learning seem "cool" or "sexy"

2. over-commitment to high stakes testing and teaching to those high stakes tests

3. And again, society: everything's flipped. When I attended school in the '90's, parents mostly backed the teachers, and that's it. Now, it's parents backing the kids against the teachers, too often.

What would you do to overhaul the school systems?

Honestly? I don't think there is much that CAN be done. It's bigger than just a new educational strategy or new programs. Basically, people just want to do their own thing today, and don't want to be told what to do. I see that in the classroom every day.

Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Peter Straub - one of the finest craftsmen in the business. Reading his work defined what "horror" meant for me.

F. Paul Wilson - Repairman Jack is the best character, ever, and Paul's characterization is so precise, so fine tuned. And his pacing makes a 400+ page book read like a novella.

Norman Partridge - Dark Harvest is simply one of the best novels I've read in a long, long time. Plus, I love Norman's economical, tight style, and he takes stories where you least expect them.

Who are some authors to watch out for in the near future? Why?

Rio Youers - Mama Fish (also published by Shroud), and End Times are two of the best things I've read in the last three years. The next generation of Peter Straub.

Norman Prentiss - Invisible Fences was so, so sublime. He's the new "quiet horror" guy, the new Charles L. Grant

Nate Southard - Just Like Hell and He Stepped Through both knocked the wind out of me. Again, a next-generation Jack Ketchum or Norman Partridge.

You say much of our fate is out of our hands, but do you believe that changes as we get older? What is it that makes you more in control now?

Actually, as a parent, you're in control even less. With kids - especially little ones - you become even MORE aware of all the small, little things you simply can't control, that could change your life in an instant. You must always plan - simply to be organized - but the older I've gotten, the more I've realized that "control over own lives" is just a pleasant illusion.

Do you have any tips for making a website?

1. Don't until you actually land a book deal. Just do a blog until then. If I could go back, I would've just used a blog until Hiram.

2. Make it clean, simple, and functional.

How about networking?

Networking is a weird beast. What it really is: making friends. And I don't mean by kissing butt with your manuscript behind your back, hoping someone will cut you a break, I'm not talking about nepotism. Just get out to Cons, learn all you can, be yourself, find folks with similar interests, and make friends. Don't be afraid to approach the big boys - but approach them because you want to become friends, you want to learn from them and get to know them. Make no mistake: you only get published because your writing merits it, but you only get offered opportunities if people trust you, know you're a solid human being. Networking is simply an UNpremeditated, much larger version of "right place, right time". Can't make it happen. It just does.

Why write?

Because I can't NOT write.

I believe that might be a good note to end on. Kevin, it was a pleasure to have you. If you would like, take a moment to add anything else you might want.

New writers: read and write every day. Don't sell yourself short. Don't fall for this "work myself up the ladder" bit. Aim at the TOP of the ladder, get rejected a lot, lick your wounds and learn from them. Find critique partners, enroll in something like the Borderlands Press Writers Bootcamp, and never stop writing. Ever.

Thank you Kevin. I look forward to working with you in the future.

You too, Draven.

As a side note, Kevin is sending me his book. I will be posting a review once I am done reading it. I hope everyone checks the short. How can you pass up on a good,free read?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is 'Evil' the Newest Trend?

I've been reading books about knights and how they were romanticized and fictionalized by society. Sir Galahad, the Pure, was the favorite hero of the Victorian medievalists. Today, Lancelot and Guinevere steal the show, and often times our hearts, on the most recent versions of the story.

If we listen to today's kids, or even the writers on Twitter, we hear a common theme. Most people say they have more fun reading, watching or writing an evil character. When people talk about Heroes, they think of Sylar. When people talk about Lost, it's often Ben or Smokey. Kids on the corner talk about their favorite bad guys the way we used to talk about superheroes.

They think they are 'cooler' - 'more fun.'

So why the change? Are we becoming more tolerant of evil? Are we, ourselves, identifying more with the wicked side of mankind?

Maybe we just like to push the limits. Is it possible that we demand failure in our literary characters because failure is the only thing we can see in ourselves? Or do we need them as excuses, so we can justify the things we think or do?

With so much drama in the LBC... It's kinda hard being Snoop, D. O. double-G... If you just read that with your professor voice, then you have brought a smile to my face.

What are your opinions? Weigh in and leave your blog link.