Author Interview, Charles Muir

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Interview #70, with “compelled misfit” and horror/dark fantasy writer, Charles Muir!

charles_muir

Describe yourself in 5 words:

Compelled. Hungry. Misfit. Persistent. Transmuting.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

hollywood

From my story in Hell Comes to Hollywood, “Alone and Palely Loitering”:

Knight had a friend, a writer, who soared to dazzling descriptive heights when it came to women’s breasts. Ample ones, especially. On paper, they quivered and beckoned as a succulent feast of edibles, their “creamy mounds” and “Hershey’s kisses” in contrast to Knight’s lens-like assessment, all dimensions appreciable in his worldview. The woman before him was more than a feast, she was a gateway to gluttony, her breasts densely spheroid with long, shadowed cleavage lines, mounted over the proud breastbone of a Valkyrie. And hips, high-velocity curves like a wildfire along twin hummocks, hips that blazed their own sexual lights against the bosom’s fearful symmetry. A tigress, Knight thought, like that Amazonian knockout in those cannibal horror films he watched with the sound down when his wife wasn’t around, he forgot the actress’s name just now.

“Um,” was all he said…

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

A bright light, like a hot, flickering, yellow star, burned through the ghostly mesh of his death dreams. He looked over and she was standing sideward to the fireplace, holding a burning brand outthrust toward it in her hand. Yet not a stick or twig; it was a scroll of tightly furled paper. And as the flame slowly slanted upward toward her hand, she deftly reversed it, taking it now by the charred end that had already been consumed and allowing the other to burn.

— Cornell Woolrich

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

It took me five years to relearn how to write. I don’t mean writing as a craft, but as an act of putting words on paper without college-grafted perfectionism killing your first thoughts. With my stories I now try to emulate Ray Bradbury’s “seven drafts in seven days” approach (or seven sessions at the computer in my case) allowing my conscious thoughts to take over gradually in the last two or three drafts in a more natural arc. It’s fun and healthy for me, seeing as I’m a solitary doer and prefer to keep my studio closed off until I send out the end-product.

As for publishing, all my work has been in short fiction, which out of long habit I continue to submit individually to the small presses, hoping to find an indie publisher who will be interested in anthologizing my stories someday. This means the usual confetti of rejection letters and the sense of climbing a ladder with only two rungs. But I absolutely see the value of self-publishing these days. The technology is in place, the stigma is (rightly) going away, and emerging writers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to self-promote in a dismal marketplace.

As a side note, the Internet can be terrible for a neurotic person like me. There is a metrical side to seeing your work in print in the form of online feedback and statistics that didn’t exist when all you got was a check and contributor’s copy. Still, the Internet has given me relationships and opportunities I never would have dreamed of otherwise, and is giving artists a chance to get their work out there despite the stagnant commercialism and elitism of big publishing.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

I personally prefer narration that transforms the mundane into the strange, even nightmarish. It wakes you up for a moment. I remember very little about even crucial plot points, but I’ll recall a certain shadow, or a flight of stairs, or the way a character resembles a puppet for just an instant. That transformative vision is what gets me as close to the writer’s mind as I will ever get.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

You will get better if you love what you do, because you will do it a lot and for as long as it takes to achieve the desired effect.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

My personal website: www.charlesaustinmuir.com

My article on “How to Submit Short Fiction for Publication”: http://tinyurl.com/submittingshortfiction

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Much thanks to Charles Muir for stopping by — do visit Charle’s Website for more info on him and his projects!

CHARLE’S BIO (in his own words):

I’m a writer, primarily in the horror genre. I’ve appeared most recently in the U.K. magazine, Morpheus Tales, and the Stoker-nominated horror anthology, Hell Comes to Hollywood.

I was born on the Oregon Coast but have lived all my life in Portland.

I’ve written psychological horror, splatterpunk, dark fantasy, flash fiction, slipstream, squishy-soft sf, and experimental. Some of my favorite themes include alienation, disease, hunger and metamorphosis.

My aim is to bend reality, skew the mundane, and broadcast my personal horrors. At the same time I don’t take myself too seriously.

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Author Interview, John Hansen

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Author Interview #35, with teenage author of horror stories (and other random murderous pieces), John Hansen!

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Hey John! Please describe yourself in 5 words:

Creative. Passionate. Clever. Slightly insane.

Ah, a fellow insane person ;) Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

Here’s an excerpt from a work in progress — but it gives you a good taste of my writing style:

“And for a moment — one terrible moment — Kyle’s cold, rigid expression softened. The ferocity that had burned within his eyes melted away into something that Hannah had not seen in Kyle in the longest time — regret. And in that one terrible instant, Hannah almost felt sympathetic for her suffering husband as she saw into that struggling soul of his, which had become trapped beneath his hard, unflappable exterior as it desperately sought out a way to reveal itself. Hannah wanted to reach out to him, to touch his hand, to fall sobbing into his outstretched arms and to have him tell her it would all be okay, to let her take him back no matter his past mistakes. But she knew better than that. Hannah could never again trust that cruel, sadistic man; much less take him back. The kids didn’t deserve him, she didn’t deserve him…no one did. No one deserved a man like Kyle. No one deserved a murderer.”

Gripping! Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

My favorite author is Rick Riordan. My favorite book by him is Mission Road. It’s illegal to reproduce an excerpt (according to Random House’s policy), so, keeping that in mind, I don’t think I’ll break the law today. An excerpt can be found online, though, if you’re interested.

Excerpt: http://www.randomhouse.com/
book/154524/mission-road-by-rick-riordan/#excerpt

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

In my opinion, writing is spontaneous, compulsive. I can sit down and write a book and I’d love it. It’s a hobby of mine and something I’d like to eventually do professionally. Writing comes naturally to me and many others but it is not the easy to do, even if you have a writing gift. Writing is not easy but it is many author’s calling. Anyone can write a book. I mean anyone. It could be awful or it could be amazing but just the writing aspect is nothing more than a compulsion.

Publishing is different. Publishing is difficult to do and should not discourage any of you authors, but publishing is really what takes your writing — your hobby and compulsion — to the test. As I said, anyone can write a novel and many people do because of this calling they get, but few books written are actually worthy of publishing. Lack of commercial (please don’t call it traditional because that doesn’t mean what you intend it to; it includes vanity presses like Publishing America in the ‘traditional publishing’ spectrum) publication does not wholly reflect the quality of your work, but no matter what many indies say, if you don’t succeed at all (I mean complete rejections) it should set off some alarms.

If you don’t get any requests for partials or fulls from agents, it means that there is something wrong with your writing or book. Just as simple as that. Don’t let this discourage you; it happened to me. I went back, read through my manuscript and realized that my characters were boring. The publishing industry — without doing anything more than rejecting my manuscript — changed me as an author. I took my passion to the test, and I failed. It was a slow recovery but in the recent months I’ve completely revamped my writing style and since then I’ve gotten a bunch of short story/poetry publications. I’ve been told that what I have written so far of my second novel is excellent, perfect.

To me, writing is a calling but there is a fine line between writing and publishing. Anyone can write. Only skilled writers can publish. If you fail in the publishing industry, go back to your work. Read through it again. Find what is wrong. Try again. It will work for you.

Yes, failure is part of the journey to success (whether commercially or independently published). What is your definition of “good writing”?

“Good writing” is as broad as any prose that evokes emotion from the reader. Every good book evokes emotion because that’s what makes books so enjoyable; if a book doesn’t, it is, frankly, bad. Who would want to read a book that gives you no emotion? Reading passively, as if you are at a distance from a book because no emotion escapes you, is probably the least enjoyable thing one can do. But if a book evokes emotion in the reader, the reader will feel a kinship to the author and characters and it will make the reading experience so much more enjoyable. It doesn’t matter how it is portrayed; any author’s goal is to captivate their readers. Good writing does this. Whether it is rich, beautiful prose for a love story or fast, flowing writing for a thriller, it doesn’t matter. Good writing evokes emotion within the reader, compels them to read on and ultimately enjoy the book.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

I hate to sound so stupidly redundant and repeat what I’m sure every guest here says as that is against my personality, but this is an exception. Heed my words, don’t grumble to yourselves about how annoying I am (well, you can do that too). As you all have heard, the #1 tip for writers is to never give up. Never. DO NOT let rejections from agents and publishers discourage you at all. It’s a tough industry and rejections don’t reflect the quality of your work.

If you have a book out somewhere, don’t think twice about 1-star reviews, no matter how harsh they are. Why? Because guess who else gets 1-star reviews? Hmm, let me think: Stephen King, John Grisham, Christopher Paolini, Suzanne Collins, James Patterson and I could go on (so, essentially, you’re in good company).

Guys, it takes years to publish. Decades. A fellow crime writer who is now commercially published went through two literary agents who could not sell her book. She did countless rewrites, submitted everywhere and for a period of twelve years, she could not get her book published. But did she give up? No. She dumped the agents, kept submitting and twelve years after the books’ completion, she got a publishing acceptance. Her book now sits on the shelves at your local bookstore. Never give up. Never get discouraged. All of you have a gift, have a unique way to tell a story; show it. Write, submit, and write some more. Let my author friend be your guide. It takes forever to publish but if you work at it as much as she did, you get great rewards.

Please let us know your websites/blogs/etc:

Please visit my book blog where I read and review books, host commercially published authors, agents, publishers and publicists for interviews (I have an interview with literary agent and published author, Mandy Hubbard coming up!), and give my tips on writing as well as your occasional insane and random post. It is appropriately titled “The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer” (http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com).

I tweet as @ABoredAuthor, and am on Facebook.

I’m also on:

Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MysteryRiter)

Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5148469.John_Hansen)

CrimeSpace (http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/JohnHansen)

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Much thanks to John for stopping by — be sure to check out his vibrant blog/website to learn more about his writing, reviews, and guest interviews!