Michael McCarty and Jody LaGreca interviews with David Alan Binder
Post date: Jun 14, 2016 1:07:12 PM
Michael McCarty and Jody LaGreca interviews with David Alan Binder
Today only, Dear Readers and Dear Writers, you get two for the price of one, LOL!
1. How do you pronounce your name?
MICHAEL McCARTY: I never read Hooked On Phonics I am guessing it would be something like “My-Kel Mak-Karr-Tee.” You can call me Mike, or “Yo’ Book-Dude,” or “Hey Horror-Meister.” I’ll answer to anything. LOL.
JODY LaGRECA: The pronunciation is Jo-Dee La Gre-Ka. LaGreca is my husband’s last name. It is still rather exotic to me considering my maiden name was Barkan, pronounced like the actress Ellen Barkin.
2. Where are you currently living?
McCARTY: I was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. For the last two decades I have been living on the other side of the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois.
LaGRECA: I currently live on Long Island which is near New York City.
I was born in Sea Gate, Brooklyn, the first gated community in New York located in Coney Island.
3. How are you able to find and collaborate with co-writers? Any tips you can pass on about co-writing? Find a co-author?
LaGRECA: Michael would be the expert since he is the “king” of co-authoring. He approached me about co-authoring Bloodless, which led to our Bloodless Series. Since I write consecutively as the story comes to me, solo writing is much easier for me. Though collaborating has been an interesting experience. As for tips, it is certainly not for everyone and can be risky. All of our collaborating was done without signed agreements. So trusting the co-author is essential. Michael felt like a long lost friend even though we never met.
McCARTY: My novel collaborators: Jody LaGreca, Mark McLaughlin, Joe McKinney and Linnea Quigley – all started out as friends before we jumped into writing books together. Friendship is key. If you can be friends together, you can write together hopefully. Sometimes I think Jody and I were very old friends in another lifetime, it often feels that way.
4. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
LaGRECA: I’ve learned that the stories I write are mysteriously inside of me. I am always surprised and entertained by the way the plots are weaved. I’ve also learned that just when you think you’ve finished writing a book— you have just begun. Polishing up a manuscript is very tedious and time consuming. When a reader is enjoying a book they have no idea all the work that goes into it. Having to market your work on top of this is a super human feat.
McCARTY: Writing is a tough profession. I compare it a lot to boxing: You are going to be knocked around a lot by people in and out of the business, but try to stay the distance, that is why the first Rocky movie was so great, Rocky didn’t win, he stayed in the ring the whole time and that is my advice for writers too.
5. What would you say is your most interesting writing?
LaGRECA: My plots are extremely unique with colorful characters and surprise endings. They have many twists and turns and I have been told they are very hard to put down. I am a multi-genre author who is equally at ease writing Horror or Contemporary Romance, which makes my titles eclectic. They are not written by formula and each novel is very different than the next. If someone was going to try one of my books I usually recommend them in the order they were published. Many historical fiction fans start out with Afternoon Tea and then Suburban Weird for contrast. The themes of these books are as such, “Afternoon Tea,” A Saga of Forbidden Love, the Culture of High Society and Their Irony and “Suburban Weird,” A Tale of Lies, Lust, Love and Betrayal In Contemporary Times. I have ten titles to choose from and my latest book Love Edward, my first Contemporary Romance, is getting a great response.
McCARTY: I have been interested in writing my whole life. My first published article was an interview with my 5th grade teacher in 6th grade, because I had a huge crush on Mrs. Stonebraker (even named a character after her in Bloodless.) Ten years after that, I got paid for a record review in a local newspaper. Ten years after that, my first national magazine sale. Ten years after that, my first published book. I have over 35 books, mostly in the horror, science fiction novels; nonfiction, poetry and short story collections.
6. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
LaGRECA: I have exciting news! My current publisher, Start Publishing of New York City, under the imprint of Whiskey Creek Press, has partnered with Simon & Schuster. S&S will be distributing my eBooks on July 1st, which include The Bloodless Series (Bloodless, Bloodlust, and Bloodline), Forever In Vein and Love Edward. Michael and I are very fortunate since our books will have greater worldwide circulation which will help boost our sales. Having a traditional publisher has its benefits as far as editing and all the other details. Plus having a publisher who recognizes your work gives an author credibility.
It’s not to say that self publishing is any less since those books can reach acclaim as well. However, there is a lot more work on the author’s end. My first five books were published with Xlibris. They are titled Afternoon Tea, Suburban Weird, Seduction, Fleshpot, and The Gloaming. The advantage of self publishing is having control over all aspects of your books. When I first published Afternoon Tea in 2008, I was extremely excited when it received a five star review from Midwest Book Review. I was doubly excited when The Gloaming also received a five star review from Midwest. This validated my efforts and although it’s a rough business my personal satisfaction has fulfilled me to a great degree.
McCarty: I have too many publishers with over 35 books. But I will name a few. Like Jody mentioned Start Publishing of New York City, under the imprint of Whiskey Creek Press. I also have Dark Moon Books out of Florida, Wildside Press out of Rockville, Maryland. Crystal Lake Publishing is out of Africa.
7. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
LaGRECA: For me eBooks are better since customers have to purchase them new. Whereas print books have a used book scenario and anyone can sell a used book without saying where they got it from and the author does not receive a royalty. There is nothing an author can do to protect themselves against fraud.
McCARTY: I’m not a big fan of eBooks. The advantage of eBooks is in postage. But besides that, I like trade paperbacks and hardcovers better and for me – I make most of my money at book signings, it is a little more lucrative financially.
8. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
LaGRECA: A writer’s best bet is to go to the library or purchase a copy of “The Writer’s Market.” Everything an aspiring author needs to know is in there.
McCARTY: The Writer’s Market. Also for Genre Fans: Ralen.com.
9. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
McCARTY: I am probably the worst person to talk about agents. I fired four of them and ended up not using their services. Agents are probably a necessary evil, like voting. LOL.
LaGRECA: A great query letter and book can capture an agents’ attention, but there are no guarantees. It is extremely difficult to get an agent who will agree to represent a book and be successful in finding a big publisher. The authors who have agents and land big publishers are the ones who become more well known. It doesn’t mean their books are any better. Though it is very difficult for an author to really get their name out there the same way a big publishing house does.
10. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
LaGRECA: Whatever you do don’t quit your job or think you are going to be the next Stephen King or Danielle Steele. Those positions are already taken and finding fame and fortune in writing is like playing lotto. Everyone has a chance but it’s all a whim of fate.
McCARTY: Like I said, writing is a tough profession. Hang tough.
11. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
LaGRECA: The most surprising things I’ve learned were that I am now able to publish a paperback myself on Create Space. With patience and perseverance and natural mechanical ability, I can accomplish far more than I ever expected. I can also make book trailers. This is a great feeling as well as the fact; coming from an artistic family I designed most of my book covers.
McCARTY: Some of the biggest surprises for me were the direction the books will go. I never imagined my novels like Bloodline (co-written with Jody LaGreca), Monster Behind The Wheel (co-written with Mark McLaughlin), Lost Girl of The Lake (co-written with Joe McKinney) Return of the Scream Queen (co-written with both Linnea Quigley and Stan Swanson) and Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack would go where they went story-wise and because they surprised me as author or co-author, they also surprised the reader as well.
12. How many books have you written?
McCARTY: I’ve had 35 books published. More are going to be published over the next couple of years.
LaGRECA: I’ve published 10 books, 7 solo and 3 co-authored with Michael. I have many more projects in the wings. Each one requires tremendous attention and devotion beyond belief so it seems endless and exciting at the same time.
13. You certainly have a lot of books. Do you still have a day job?
McCARTY: Yes I still have a day job. I write in my spare time and work full time as a sales person for Orkin. In that spare time, I had 35 books published in 10 years. I guess it is about time management and luck.
LaGRECA: I used to be involved in a family business as a designer of couture evening wear and accessories. My designs have been featured in major magazines and we used to sell to upscale department stores and boutiques. When I became a mother, my husband suggested I stop working. This was a blessing since I am rather old-fashioned and always wanted to be a traditional housewife. I have been writing since the age of seven so when my daughter began kindergarten I went back to writing and feel fortunate my husband is supportive of my endeavors.
14. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
LaGRECA: Since every writer works differently, I can only say what works for me. When I am involved with writing a book I usually write during the morning for at least an hour or two. Then in the evening I go over what I’ve written and sometimes continue writing if I have the time. I have purchased Text Aloud with “natural voices” which reads the text back to me. This helps tremendously with my editing since you can hear an error you might have missed.
McCARTY: My best trick is learning to open a bottle of beer and type at the same time. LOL.
15. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
LaGRECA: As far as providing twists, in my opinion this has to be an inborn ability. I don’t go by formula, but rather tap into my subconscious. If an author tries to contrive it there is a possibility it will sound too rehearsed. I never plan what I am writing and let the story take me where it wants to be.
McCARTY: Go where the story takes you, even if it is a direction you didn’t plan or want. I was really surprised at the direction of the Bloodless series taken, but that is why the books are so entertaining and enlightening.
16. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
LaGRECA: I can safely say there are no other books on the market like the ones I have written. Growing up I thought my family was conventional like the Brady Bunch—when in fact—we were more like the Adam’s Family, with me being Marilyn. I’m not joking. Once I was taking a cab home and the cab driver told me there was a house on the block that looked like the Adam’s family. Guess what, it was my house. LOL … As a result my books have an undercurrent of unusualness and darkness that beckons attention. You just have to try one of them to understand. Now on top of all this Mike reminds me of Uncle Fester!
McCARTY: I guess it is mixing horror and humor together. Opposite sides of the spectrum but they work so well together.
For The Bloodless series, I felt that Jody and I blindfold the readers with a beautiful scarlet silk scarf and lead them through a darkened maze. It doesn’t matter where we take the readers: abandoned apartment buildings, burning airships, Marilyn Monroe’s beautiful home in Brentwood, California or Andy Warhol’s art deco nightmare apartment The Factory in New York City, because along the way, Jody and I whisper elegant words into the readers ears. Words so delicate they almost melt before reaching their brain. The darkness was never so sexy or scary as it is with this series.
And for Monster Behind The Wheel I felt Mark McLaughlin and I were in a bar in Hades, drinking and watching Nascar and telling jokes, plenty of dark humor. One reviewer on Amazon said of the novel: “Christine on Acid. Stephen King's Christine but if King wrote it while he was on really, really good drugs. A crazy, nightmare with a car at the eye of the storm. A horror blast from start to finish.”
You can’t get much better praise than that.
17. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
LaGRECA: I promote my work on my Facebook fanpage (Jody R. LaGreca) and on other facebook pages, on Twitter, Goodreads giveaway and on my website at http://jodylagreca.wix.com/suspense.
McCARTY: Facebook: Michael McCarty Horror, Twitter: Michael McCarty 6. You can also send letters to me the old fashion way at:
P.O. Box 4441
Rock Island, IL 61204-4441
18. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
LaGRECA: I would have possibly tried to get a publisher for a few of the books I self published since I had not gone that route. Though all and all, I think getting my name out there helped me to establish myself as an author.
McCARTY: There is a former collaborator (whom shall remain nameless) that I wouldn’t work with again.
Probably write fewer books per year, so I can promote them more.
19. What saying or mantra do you live by? [Question changed out of respect to Sandra Brannan whom DABinder interviewed a while back.]
LaGRECA: Since I have the desire to live to over 100 like my paternal grandfather, I will go with this mantra from the Babylonian Talmud. “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”
McCARTY: “Michael McCarty: Horror Writer and Comedian. He tried to scare you and make you laugh.”
20. Last words?
McCARTY: Please check out these books: Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or ask for them at your local book store or library:
The Bloodless series: Written by Michael McCarty & Jody R. LaGreca:
Bloodless, Bloodlust and Bloodline
Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews With Horror and Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers by Michael McCarty
Lost Girl Of The Lake by Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty
Revenge of The Two-Headed Poetry Monster by Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin
Return of the Scream Queen by Michael McCarty, Linnea Quigley and Stan Swanson
A Little Help From My Fiends by Michael McCarty
Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack by Michael McCarty
A Hell of a Job by Michael McCarty (with afterword by Jody LaGreca)
Also check out the e-short story “The Glowing Dead” by Michael McCarty and Jody LaGreca on Amazon, it is only .99 cents….
Michael and I are happy to have completed our trilogy, the “Bloodless Series.” It’s not your cookie cutter vampire series; it is infused with horror, history and romantic suspense. If you like vampire books, it will illuminate your senses and take you to uncharted worlds beyond the imagination. Also, for vampire fans, reading my book Forever In Vein is a must. “Deftly written and a thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end… "
-Midwest Book Review
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