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Issue #4 Katrina Sisowath & Craig Hansen



Snowmageddon is falling! The Blizzard of 2015 has arrived to bury us all! Will anyone survive long enough to read this issue of Ten Things We Need to Know? We'll see...

Even before the blizzard, this issue got delayed - among other reasons, because my computer died and I had to buy a new one.
Uploading interviews on my cell phone was NOT a reasonable option!

I am going to continue posting issues of this series. I enjoy it, I love making contact with my fellow authors' work, and even making friends sometimes. And it's not a bad way to continue to introduce myself and my work. But I am also discovering that I only have so much time in the day. It can take up to 12 hours to prepare a single issue between reading the samples of a few authors before I find one I like, contacting them, interacting, researching them, writing questions, uploading, etc. So, I'm not going to make any promises anymore about how many issues I'm going to publish every month. The series will continue and I will publish as often as I find practical.

As far as my own work goes, the first episode of my hard Sci-Fi epic Farther Than We Dreamed is now FREE on Amazon, and everywhere else. Or you can buy episodes 1-4 together in a collected edition at a discount. Episode 5 is also available, and I just sent Episode 6 to my editor. If you would like to watch a video of me reading the first chapter of Episode One, or more information on the series, click HERE.

I have two authors to introduce you to today. I think they're both really interesting and I hope you give them both a little of your time.



Katrina Sisowath

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Katrina, thank you so much for joining us. Please tell us about your book, Serpent Priestess of the Anunnaki.

KATRINA SISOWATH: Serpent Priestess of the Annunaki is a fictionalized account of the Annunaki, who, according to the Sumerians, came from the planet Nibiru and created us. According to Sitchin and other authors, Enki was the Serpent—a medical practitioner who specialised in DNA and genetic manipulation. Ninkharsag was a priestess and his mate, who worked alongside him in his experiments. In China they are known as Fuxi and Nuwa—a pair of half-human, half-serpent beings who created man. It is a mythological fantasy—so derived from non- fictional accounts, myths and legends, placed within a fantasy setting and a heaping tablespoon of creative license added to the mix. Hopefully the end result is appetizing.

 

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Tell us about Ninkha.

KATRINA SISOWATH: Ninkha is short for Ninkharasag. I found it easier when reading what I’d written aloud to read the shortened name, and thought it would be easier for my readers as well.  In Sumeria she was held in great esteem, yet seemed somewhat overshadowed by the machinations of the other Annunaki around her, especially Enki and Enlil. She was the peacemaker, the one who had to step in and beg for the bloodshed to cease.  Of all the Sumerian Pantheon, she is the only one I believe, could actually be deemed ‘loving’ to those beneath her (though the jury is out on whether Enki was also kind—there are some things he did that are not included in my book that would suggest he had his dark side).  I thought she deserved a book about her, one which tried to imagine her thoughts and experiences, her emotions on traveling so far from home and having to adjust to a new environment. Her desire to improve the lives of humans and the trouble it caused when the other Annunaki took umbrage.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN:
In your book, Serpent Priestess of the Annunaki, you are working with the wonderful Sumerian mythology, as translated into English by Zecharia Sitchin. This is what drew me initially to your work. It is such a rich mythology, which we normally only find discussed in works of speculative science. Can you talk a little about your own relationship to the Sumerian myths? And to what extent are you making it up verses using the known mythology?

KATRINA SISOWATH: Oh boy, if a reader is expecting Sitchin’s accounts turned into a fantasy, following The Wars of Gods and Men faithfully, the reader is going to be disappointed and probably send me an angry letter, at the very least. I’ve read Sitchin’s works, have them in my library and go back to them time and again. It is impossible to glean all that he has to offer in one reading.  The Mythology is fascinating and yet has been ignored in favour of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology in literature and cinema. I believe the Annunaki were the precursor to those Deities and should be given far more attention than they have. Could his works be turned in a Fantasy series? Absolutely. Did I? No.

My reason is I was most interested in the Serpent Cult and its politico-military arm: the Dragon Court. Sitchin is not the only author whose works I have studied cover to cover; there is also Erich von Danniken, Laurence Gardner, Michael Baigent and others. There is a vast sum of information out there about the Sumerians and the Annunaki, and I do urge those inclined to read as much as you can, from as many different authors as possible, before forming your own opinion.

 To create a fictionalized book based on speculative science and alternate history that has so much information written on the subject, some conflicting, meant that I had to decide what my story was about—its theme. And my theme is the Dragon Court and how it has influenced us throughout our history. It began with the Annunaki, which is why the first book is about them and I have tried to keep some of the events and the key figures’ personalities in line with Sitchin’s accounts. But much has not been included, as there would be way too much to cover, and much has been altered, such as Ninkharsag being the wife of Enki only, rather than mating with both Enki and Enlil. However, I do believe someone should take his work and turn it into an epic fantasy---I would be the first in line to read it.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Dragons feature prominently in your story. What emotions stir inside of you when you think about dragons?

KATRINA SISOWATH: I think Dragons are always endowed with a sense of majesty and power and that we admire them almost as much as we fear them. It’s fascinating that they are found in almost every culture which begs the question: did they exist?  The Bible talks of ‘Seraphim’—winged fiery serpents that were used to corral and punish disobedient humans. Too me, seraphim sound like dragons.

The reason they do feature in my story is, on planning the series (yes, there are quite a few books to come), I found myself confronting the issue of the Reptilian Gods, as represented by this image:


I also examined what’s been written about the Seraphim, the Dragons and the Dragon Court itself---its reincarnations throughout history as the ‘Dragon Court’ in Egypt, ‘The Imperial and Royal Court and Order of the Dragon’ in Europe and ‘The Order of the Dragon of Annam’ in Vietnam.  When I combined all of this information, along with the theory the Annunaki were skilled in genetic experiments—well, using it in a mythological setting was too good to pass up. I found myself thinking if the dragons were real, what was their connection to the Annunaki?  How did the belief that there were half-reptilian, half-humans come about, and why were dragons equated with wealth, power and royalty? I do provide an explanation in Serpent Priestess—though it is by no means meant to be taken literally.

My next book, due for release in the next couple of months, explores the idea of the Reptilian Gods a little more, and what happened when humans decided to rebel against the Dragon Court—though who was right and who was wrong, like most conflicts in history, depends on your own point of view.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I've read that you've actually been a guest writer on Ancient Origins. Please tell us about this experience.

KATRINA SISOWATH: I contacted April Holloway (the editor of Ancient Origins), as I’m a big fan of the site. Its articles are fascinating and in line with my interests. She agreed to let me submit guest posts about what I’ve discovered while doing research for my books. So far I’ve submitted two: http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/tracing-origins-serpent-cult-002393 and http://www.ancient-origins.net/history/serpent-priestesses-and-ancient-sexual-rites-002491.

Response has been encouraging, with some great feedback and conversation. The best aspect of my work is meeting other like-minded individuals who are looking for answers and curious about the world, suspicious of the History we were taught in school. We do not always agree on the theories and hypothesis put forward, but the ideas that are shared and the questions asked add, I feel, a distinct enhancement to my own life—a respite from the daily toil and drudgery (which always seems a little more drudging during the bleakness of English winters).

I have some more articles lined up. I will be exploring the various Dragon Courts, the Mystery School of Thoth, and the Annunaki themselves-- in particular the dispute between Enki and Enlil and the ramifications of their dispute through history. It can be argued that we are still feeling the effects today.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN:
In your opinion, have aliens influenced the course of human history?

KATRINA SISOWATH: It is highly probable, given the various accounts by separate cultures that are not believed to have had contact with each other, and yet have similar tales and beliefs.  The other explanation would be that at some point in the future, mankind discovers time travel J.



NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN:
What would the difference be between advanced aliens and Gods?

KATRINA SISOWATH: I honestly think none. If advanced aliens existed, our ancestors would have believed them to be omnipotent and omniscient


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What's more important to you, as a reader and as an author, world-building, or characters? And, why?

KATRINA SISOWATH: I believe both are equally important. It is a gripe of mine when authors try to create this ‘modern’ person in a historical setting. Our needs and basic desires have not changed, but our ancestors’ way of thinking was influenced, or in some eras in history, forced upon them. So, the world around us affects our thoughts and beliefs, which in turn builds or destroys our character.

To be authentic, the characters of the protagonists and antagonists must reflect their world and society around them. I believe the author must start with imagining that world and then choose whether those characters rebel against that society or believe in it. 

That does not preclude taking a character out of his or her natural environment and throwing him into a completely new world. I think one reason time travel is so interesting to a lot of us is we do imagine what it would be like to find ourselves thrust into a completely different era and culture. How would we adapt—would we be able to adapt? Would we thrive? Would we even survive? Would our advanced knowledge mean we are hailed as fonts of wisdom? Or would we be hunted down as demons and destroyed?  What if we found ourselves thrust into a future where we appear as uncivilised savages?  How would our personality change when confronted by a new and very different world?


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN:
I understand from your biography that you are experienced with making brownies. Can you talk about this a little?

KATRINA SISOWATH: It is a bit of a joke---I am a total klutz in the kitchen, always injuring myself, and have absolutely no skill when it comes to decorating cakes. Yet my baked goods--including but not limited to-- brownies, taste divine.

One thing about England--- you can never find a good brownie. They are either too cake-like, or resemble biscotti. It’s been my mission to show English friends what a good brownie really is and there is a method to creating the brownie that will ensure that it comes out of the oven fudgy, moist, and with the little papery sheets on top, even the packaged kind. My favourite recipe uses dark, milk and white chocolate, plus cocoa, so I don’t bake it very often.  The amount of calories per slice, if converted to electrical energy, could probably light up a room.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What's your deepest darkest secret?

KATRINA SISOWATH: I’m scared to death of fire—won’t go anywhere near a bonfire on Samhain or Guy Fawkes’ night. I’m inclined to believe that experiences, particularly trauma, change our DNA and can be passed down through our descendants. So perhaps an ancestor or two had a traumatic experience involving fire---though I’ve not researched my family tree back far enough to prove or disprove this theory.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Would you like to ask me a question?

KATRINA SISOWATH: What would be your advice to someone who has never heard of the Annunaki? Where should they look first? Which book/author would you recommend?


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Katrina, as you know, the publication of this interview was delayed by a couple of weeks. I generally don't answer these questions until I upload the rest of the interview, so I've had some time to wrack my brain and try to come up with an exciting, inciteful, and wise answer. But in the end, I think the correct answer is the most boring one that I could possibly give you.

I would start with the traditional books collecting the myths as understood and originally translated into English.

I love reading myth. It's had a tremendous influence on my work. And then, only after having read as much of that as one can, I would suggest turning to Zacharia Sitchin and considering his alternate translations and theories. I consider myself agnostic on the issue of alien intervention on Earth. I love the ideas and the stories, and Ancient Aliens may well be my favorite show on television.

If you actually read Sitchin, or other ancient texts, I think it's actually reasonable to wonder if the strange devices and wheels within wheels are not descriptions of technological devices. How does the appearance of Yahweh make any sense in Moses's story if he wasn't in a spaceship?

But I agree with Graham Hancock when he suggests that the beings which are described in the ancient tales might not be exactly aliens, but ultra-terrestrials, beings from other levels of existence. There's so much we still don't know, and as a writer of fiction whose main concern is physiological truth rather than scientific truth, I don't feel knowing the answer is always as important as the quest. If you haven't, which I bet you have, I would suggest you check out his book Supernatural.


You can find me at: http://katrinasisowath.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/ksDragonCourt

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8323631.Katrina_Sisowath

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KSDragonCourt

And blog: http://katrinasisowath.blogspot.co.uk





CRAIG HANSEN

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Craig, please tell us about The Woodsman.

CRAIG HANSEN: The Woodsman has an odd origin, but most of my stories do. Shortly after I was finishing up on Shada, in late 2011, I was trying to decide what story to tackle next. Writing Shada had given me a little fatigue for spending time in Ember Cole’s world, and I wanted a buffer project before coming back to that series.

About the same time, my wife and I had been watching a lot of Netflix streaming movies, and at the time, that included tales like The Eye, the Japanese film that had inspired The Eye and its sequel; another similar movie called Blink; and, although it had been some years prior, they all reminded me somewhat of The Eyes of Laura Mars. So that general plot trope of a blind person regaining their sight through a miraculous new surgery, but then finding out they’d been given the eyes of a killer, was at the top of my mind at that time.

With all that as background, I was involved in a writers’ board discussion about something, and I remember asking one of my online writer friends if he’d ever attempted any plot inversions. He wasn’t sure what I meant, so I gave him the example at the top of my mind. I said, “Take a story like The Eye, where an innocent blind person regains their sight but is haunted because they received the eyes of a killer. A plot inversion would be if you reversed those roles and had a killer receive the eyes of an innocent person like a missionary.” My friend responded that he’d never heard that take on that particular plot, and I should consider giving it a go. So my mind started playing around with that basic theme.

I started with only one character and situation, basically: Steve, my killer, who decides one night to do a good deed. He decides to try and stop a convenience store from being held up by a punk kid. And it all goes wrong. And keeps going wrong. That first sequence of events wrote themselves swiftly and smoothly, in about a week, until I had him sitting in EyeCU, waiting for his transplant, before it even began to slow down a bit.

I figured by then I’d found my next story and it would be darkly funny and not super-long, around 50,000 words or so, and that’d be it, and then I’d move back to the next Ember Cole project.

But, as often happens, the project took on a life of its own. A couple months later, I was passing 50,000 words and felt like I was maybe only half-done. Then, a small press publisher got wind of the project and expressed some interest. To that point, I had given up on all traditional publishing after around thirty years of beating my head against the wall in that way and only getting a few items placed, outside of journalism.

It was the worst thing to happen to me, in terms of completing the novel. As soon as I thought a print publisher, small press or otherwise, was interested, I became a lot more self-conscious and I simply froze up. The story didn’t flow anymore. It was like pulling teeth: painful. A story I’d started around January of 2012 and thought I’d be done with by June at latest, began anchoring me down. I didn’t cope well for several months. I’d get a chapter done here or there, not always a long chapter; and then for the rest of the week, I’d waste time in Netflix because I couldn’t press forward.

And it’s not because I’m a pantser, either. Plot-wise, I had my basic template in the plot-trope I was inverting. That wasn’t the issue. It was simply that fear of my work being looked at by a print publisher. I guess that thirty years or so of mostly rejection letters had resulted in an almost-phobic reaction. I don’t know. It’s just what happened. And it became agonizing. Time dragged on and finally June 2012 became June 2013 before I finally completed the story and polished it up to the extent I could at that moment in time, and I sent it off to be judged.

For their part, the small press were good people; but they didn’t care for my story in the state it was in and, being honest with myself, I knew some of what they said was true. For example, it had taken too long to get Steve his new eyes and get on with the main story of what happens next, in that draft. And the story was a 102,000-plus word monster by that point. Much longer than originally planned.

But then, when they proposed some solutions to me, some of their feedback just made matters worse. They wanted it cut by as much as a third, mostly from the early, draggy chapters. They wanted almost all the EyeCU scenes cut and told me they “weren’t essential to the story.” Well, EyeCU had been my working title. And they told me, “That was never going to be the title, anyway.” Which I found pretty presumptuous. And they never even hinted that if I made all these changes, they’d even be interested.

Well, I went through the draft myself and took a sharp scalpel to it. Thank God for Scrivener, because I could cut chapters without losing content. I put all the outtake chapters in a holding folder for safe-keeping.

I whittled the book down to around 70,000 words, and added a new first chapter because one of their pieces of advice that was golden, and that I fully agreed with, was that the audience needed to know Steve was a killer right away. Immediately and without doubt and without any hedging on just what kind of evil monster he truly was. So I wrote a new first chapter and it flowed well and fed into my original first chapter quite easily, and that problem was solved.

Except that Chapter 1 was quite a bit more graphic and violent than I normally write, and the age of Steve’s victim, though consistent with his character, made it worse because she’s very young. I knew that first chapter would turn off some of my normal readers, but I also knew that to appreciate the changes Steve undergoes, we first had to see him at his honest worst.

The trouble was, I’d cut too deeply and felt there were now just too many plot holes to fill. Way too many. And again I grew paralyzed because I had no idea how to backhoe those elements back into the story I’d just torn apart, without major rewrites.

By this time it was fall of 2013 and I’d spent a few months less than two years on a book I’d thought might take me six months. And I still didn’t have a solid manuscript to show for it. My mind kept wrestling with different ways to work essential information back into the new structure of the book, but nothing more than a total rewrite seemed to fix it, and by then I didn’t want to spend another huge chunk of my life doing a total rewrite on a story I’d been working on for nearly two years, to the exclusion of any other lengthy project.

It’s also good to understand this: a writer’s mind doesn’t stop coming up with new, fun ideas when working on a long project. You get these other ideas and you get excited by them and you jot down some notes and basics, maybe start a chapter or two, and then you remember, dang it, I still have The Woodsman on my desk. So by this time I had a huge pile of ideas that all seemed more fun to work on, but I couldn’t give myself permission to really work on them.

Toward the end of 2013, I contacted the small press and told them I’d be continuing with The Woodsman on my own. The main reason I did this was I hoped it’d spark me to finish. By removing that imagined pressure of having to please someone else with the story. See, the one change I couldn’t live with, really, was the complete elimination of EyeCU from the tale. It was where I’d started and losing it made it feel like a completely different story than the one I’d set out to write.

But even after parting ways with the small press, I felt boxed in by that savage hack-n-slash job I’d done and still made no progress for months.

Then, around August 2014, I was challenged to finish the dang thing on the same day, by two different sources. One source was my wife, who was concerned I’d spent the better part of three years on a story I wasn’t finishing, and what was the point of me being a writer if I wasn’t finishing anything big? She had a point.

That same day, the guy who kept the spirit of J.A. Konrath’s Eight Hour Fiction challenge alive after Konrath did it the first time, announced a new kind of challenge: he called it the “Fantastic Finish,” and the idea was to take some old project that had been sitting around unfinished, and try to finish it in one big, twenty-four-hour-or-less push. The twenty-four hours didn’t have to be consecutive, just a limit on the amount of time invested. So the combo of my wife challenging me to get The Woodsman done already, and the Fantastic Finish challenge giving me the same message, hit home. I picked up The Woodsman for one final, serious push.

First thing I did was, I broke my way of thinking about the story and restored some of the EyeCU-centric chapters. Enough that I didn’t have to think about having to rewrite everything. I credit my wife for helping me see that rather simple solution. I had been too close to the story for too long, but I hadn’t actively worked on it much in months, so I had fresher eyes as I restored some of the cut chapters and started a deliberate revision to make sure everything was consistent in the new structure. By this time, we’re talking about the third major restructuring of the story.

The difference is, with the idea that I wanted to fix it in twenty-four hours of effort or less, I found ways to make it work. It took one major pass, and then a couple reading passes to check for consistency and logic gaps and other holes to patch up, but I did manage to finish it within that time limit.

After that, things went quickly. I changed the title, from EyeCU to The Woodsman, of course. But the story felt like it was the same story I’d set out to write once again. That made a difference. Plus, it was my choice to give it a new, final title, and my choice what the new title would be.

So, as of October 17, 2014, The Woodsman is finally out there. To be honest, I was still too close to it even then to know if I’d succeeded in telling a cogent story. It had gone from 102,000 words down to 70,000 and ended up back at 88,000 or so. I’m just now getting distant enough from it to start reading reactions from readers and feel like maybe the positive feedback it’s been drawing is actually earned.

It’s my longest novel to date, and one of the hardest I’ve ever wrestled with. It’s probably not as perfect as I’d ideally like it to be, but nothing ever is and it’s finally off my desk and out there and I’m relieved and glad.

But sometimes, I still wake up in a sweat, from a dream in which I’m told I have to start all over with it again. It’s kinda like those dreams where you think you’re back in college and you’ve overslept and you’re late for a class and ... well, you get the idea.

But in the end, I did learn a lot from the experience and the stuff I’m writing now is much better for having been through all of that, and I love being in the midst of finally telling other tales.

I’m coming to love The Woodsman again, and part of me always loved it. But it really derailed any momentum I’d built up as an author back in 2011, to spend so long working on just one major project, so it’ll always have that aftertaste of a love-hate relationship.

 

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Tell us about Steve.

CRAIG HANSEN: Steve Peretti is, to me, a fascinating character. When you consider who he is, that probably comes off sounding rather creepy. But it goes to two very distinct parts of who I am as a person.

On one hand, I was a kid who read my first exhaustive book on the Jack the Ripper murders when I was still in my young teens. I knew very clearly the difference between history and fiction. Stephen King provided a good read but I understood ultimately it was just a story; Jack the Ripper was actual evil. Those crimes happened to real people.

There’s a part of me that’s always been drawn, in a somewhat macabre way, to how anyone can bring themselves to commit such genuinely evil acts. It’s something that just isn’t part of me. It’s alien. It’s a mystery.

As a result, I’ve maintained a passing interest in true crime stories in general, though Jack the Ripper is, of course, the first true crime that drew me in. That “never solved” aspect is, of course, the main attraction. A couple years before 2011, I got an article placed in a Jack the Ripper journal where I mused on how little reliable information we actually have on the so-called final canonical Ripper victim, Mary Jane Kelly. That was fun to write.

And outside of Stephen King, one of my favorite horror titles in the 1980s, even before the movie came out, was Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs. So I’ve often found serial killers fascinating, in a way. Because they’re a puzzle. And they scare at a deep level, because in the world we live in, there is no Frankenstein, there is no Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but there was a Ted Bundy and a David Berkowitz and a Dennis Rader and a Gary Ridgeway and so many more. And I find that more unsettling than the sort of creature that doesn’t really exist. Sorry, vampire fans. But it’s just my opinion, nothing more.

So with Steve, I had a chance to explore my own unique serial-killer character, someone who was that kind of human monster, and I had a chance to delve into what made him tick and, more importantly, what he feared.

See, that’s one of the questions I explored that made The Woodsman fun for me: playing around with the idea of, here’s the boogeyman, the fellow who gives us nightmares: What scares a guy like that? What scares the boogeyman?


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What was it like for you, as an author, to spend so much time inside of the mind of a serial killer?

CRAIG HANSEN: I suppose I could go for the flippant-cool answer and just say something like, “So much fun!” Or go the humble direction and say, “Unpleasant.” You know, so I don’t sound like this strange, macabre guy.

But the truth is, writers are already an odd lot, and those who write horror are probably among the oddest. Because the experience isn’t all just one thing or another; it’s a bit of a roller coaster.

I’d like to believe that it was a detached sort of thing. That it was an exercise of sorts and affected me only when I was at the keyboard. But that’s not the whole truth.

Sure, in the early-going, the only time I was exploring Steve’s head-space was when I was at the keyboard. But as the project dragged on, my wife occasionally made comments about me seeming moody or depressed.

While part of that I attribute to the whole drama of how long it took me to get the story into publishable form, I think for honesty’s sake I’d have to admit that spending time in the headspace of someone so unlike yourself does have an effect on you.

Not that you actually start to over-empathize with a character like Steve, and not that you actually want to start thinking like him, or doing what he does. But one cannot spend three years solving a puzzle like Steve Peretti, whose tale is written exclusively in the first-person voice, and not have it affect your mood, your mentality, all that stuff.

I think the most disturbing time for me was when I was doing the final push to finish The Woodsman. That was around the time Jihadi John started posting his murder-porn videos on the Internet for ISIS. And to help me get into that Steve Peretti mindset, I sought out the obscure sites where I had a chance to see a couple of those ISIS videos unedited.

I mean, that’s not who I am, really. I enjoy horror and I have indulged in some true-crime stuff, but I’ve never sought out snuff films, for example. In college, I watched a few minutes of a Faces of Death videotape someone had, and it just made me ill.

Yet for a time, however short it was, I was seeking out those Jihadi John murder vids on the Internet. It was strange for me, not something I normally would want any part of. So, yes, not just as a writer, but as a human being, spending nearly three years in Steve’s headspace did have an impact on me. And it wasn’t healthy in some respects.

Now I’m back to taking in the kinds of entertainment I’m more prone to. Which still might be a bit darker than the average person’s: after all, I enjoy a good, creepy-spooky tale. I like watching found-footage horror films, for example. I’ve seen every Paranormal Activity. Lighter stuff than Jihadi John murder-porn. That’s something I don’t want to go back to in my personal habits. And, thank goodness, it sounds like a US-UK airstrike injured him a while back, so hopefully his reign of terror is at an end, even though ISIS remains a threat on the world stage.

Over the holidays, I watched Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever and a few romantic comedies, and even listened to some Taylor Swift and Weird Al Yankovic, so I’m past it all now, thankfully.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: As a horror writer, and a reader of horror, what would you say the difference is between good horror and bad horror?

CRAIG HANSEN: There are a lot of ways to do horror poorly, and only a few ways to do it well. It’s one of those genres where the line between genuinely scary and unintentionally bad and silly is razor-thin.

I mean, take Stephen King’s Christine as an example. The way in which he wrote that tale made it fairly chilling at the time I first read it. Back then, I was in high school and close to the age of Arnie. I identified with his desire he had to be cool, to be accepted, when you’re neither of those things.

So what made the story work in print were its strong characterizations. But think about it for a second: we’re talking at the surface level about a demon-possessed car. In the hands of many a writer, this could really devolve into silliness. Though I think John Carpenter’s film captured that same strong tone from the novel.

Yet it could so easily go the other way. For example, back in 2006, a Frank Peretti novel, The Visitation, was adapted to film by Robby Henson. It was one of those end-of-the-world thrillers. Edward Furlong, who’s been pretty decent in a lot of stuff since T2: Judgment Day, played the main villain. But through some lousy direction and Furlong playing his character all screamy and over-the-top, with no subtlety, it just came off as a parody of a horror film, rather than anything actually chilling.

Film and novels are very different storytelling platforms. What works well in prose doesn’t always translate into good films. To make the transition work, one must deliver the goods in a very different way.

In written horror fiction, the key is believable characters who lend themselves to strong reader identification. If you care about the characters, you can forgive a plot contrivance that might seem a bit silly, because it’s real for that character you’re pulling for, and their survival is what you care about. Because without that, who can buy into a demon-possessed car, as in Christine. So characters are your buy-in.

And I get frustrated because, well... here’s the thing. Horror is often called, these days, a dead genre in terms of sales. It’s one of the cheapest genres you can purchase a BookBub promo for, because apparently it doesn’t get a lot of love from BookBub newsletter subscribers. And yet, in many ways, I think horror has every potential to be extremely popular right now. And in many ways, it is.

What’s the highest-rated drama on TV, or at least on cable? The Walking Dead. What have been among the last two most popular movie series franchises? Twilight and The Hunger Games. And in many ways, all those are horror, or at least contain horror elements.

But it’s not trendy to admit you like horror right now, so people slap supernatural romance onto Twilight, which is probably for the best, given that Meyer’s vampires are so toothless.

And shows like The Walking Dead or The Hunger Games movies get labeled post-apocalyptic, or, worse, sci-fi, which are terrible misnomers. The Walking Dead is zombie fiction. I don’t care if it’s contemporary or near future or post-nuclear-war, zombies belong to horror.

And The Hunger Games? Owes a lot to King’s Bachman book, The Running Man. It’s a higher class of horror, but I’d still place it more comfortably in horror than in sci-fi. It’s supposed to be unsettling. It’s supposed to make you ill-at-ease. That’s the goal, and that’s a horror-genre goal.

And post-apocalyptic? To me, that’s just a fancy new label for horror, in most cases. I know that’s a controversial opinion, but I’m gonna be fifty in a couple years, so I think I have a decent sense of the history of the genre.

I mean, just because something’s set in the future doesn’t make it science fiction. And just because you have zombies doesn’t make it horror, but The Walking Dead is definitely horror in much the same way that Stephen King’s The Stand was horror, even though it had those near-future, post-apocalyptic elements. I mean, what’s more frightening than the end of the world and a return to a more primitive, brutal way of living?

Horror is about fears. And great horror, unlike slasher films, contains characters you care about so much that the supernatural threat, or whatever it is that’s scary, becomes secondary. And what do fans of The Walking Dead always say? “It’s not so much about the zombies and the gore ... it’s about Rick, Lori, and Carl, about Glenn and Maggie, Beth and Daryl, all the characters in that world.”

Well, that’s what good horror, the best horror, does.

But all the slasher films of the last forty years, or the torture-porn movies of the last decade, have given the genre an unsavory reputation, undoing some of the work Stephen King did in pulling the genre out of its pure-pulp status into the realm of storytelling that might interest a wider audience.

True fans of King know, or should know, that what makes him great isn’t so much that his ideas are weird or inventive or ultra-realistic. He runs the gamut, there. Whether it’s as surface-silly as a possessed Plymouth Fury, or as ripped-from-the-headlines realistic as A Good Marriage, exploring what it might be like for a wife to discover her husband has a secret life as a serial killer, or as nearly-cliché-wish-fulfillment as going back in time to stop the JFK assassination, it’s not his ideas so much as his execution, his storytelling, his character-building.

Yet so many who want to be like King think horror has to be weird, or has to follow the shallow characterization and heavy blood-flow of a slasher film, or something. And there’s really nothing wrong with those approaches, but they are niche approaches.

A lot of writers of horror want to be popular like King, but they then pursue these tiny niche-subgenres and then wonder why their torture-porn doesn’t sell like 11/22/63. Well, it’s probably because they’re writing torture-porn instead of a wish-fulfillment time-travel fantasy with doses of realistic horror mixed in.

Or it’s because they don’t develop the full lives of their characters and make them breathe the way King does. If you want to have any hope of selling like the best horror writers, maybe one should try emulating what they do that works and not just fulfill the standard conventions of the genre.

Great character work always does the trick for me, not characters so poorly developed that you end up rooting for the villain. It’s not plot, it’s character. It’s not what’s happening, it’s who it’s happening to, that engages the reader.

Always write to emulate the best aspects of the best writers in your genre, while maintaining your own voice and approach. If you just toss in the standard old, “there’s a cave outside of town that leads to hell,” or “there’s a mad killer on the loose,” then realize you need to go above and beyond in giving your characters rich lives so that, when you set the monsters loose, people actually care about whether your characters survive ... even if some of them don’t survive. Probably especially then.

I guess that’s a lot to think about. But horror is indeed a tricky genre. If you go all weird and don’t ground it in reality through relatable characters, you’re lost, because then all you have are the conventions of the genre, and that’s usually not enough, except for the genre hardcore readers.

Stephen King once wrote about a possessed wind-up toy monkey, in a short piece called “The Monkey,” in his Skeleton Crew collection. It’s a rather silly thing for an adult male to be scared of. But his story made it work because of the buy-in he earned through his character work. And it worked a lot better than the Child’s Play/Chuckie movie franchise ever did.

Written stories have one advantage filmed stories can’t compete with: access to a character’s inner thought life. Using tools like that can help a lot, so if you’re writing horror like a screenplay and not using that inner thought life to build empathy for your characters, you’re just not taking advantage of the written form.

’Nuff said.



NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: You've also recently published a couple of novellas in the Spoiled Rotten series. Would you like to tell us about them?

CRAIG HANSEN: Sure.

The first two came to me pretty easily and I had almost no planning to them, just sat down and starting writing one night. I did them as Eight Hour Fiction challenges and both are novelette-length pieces. In the first one, Spoiled, I wanted to build empathy for Mike, the focus character.

The main question the tale asks is: Does the love of money always corrupt?

There are two ways to tackle that question. One is with a character who is poor and always wishing he or she had more than they do. The other way is with a character who never lacks for anything. If money’s not a need, can it still corrupt you?

Now, there are a couple of real-world experiences in my background that informed this story.

Once, when I was in high school, I saw the old movie, Inherit the Wind, on late-night television. This was when there were only three broadcast nets and, while cable was around, it hadn’t reached us yet. If I’m recalling the right title, it was a film about the Scopes Monkey Trial.

I was struck, at the time, by how a movie had been made about an American education system where creationism was taught exclusively, and it took something like that trial to start opening classrooms up so evolution could be taught. But the tables had turned and, by the 1980s, only evolution was taught and creation was shut out of the classroom. So I wrote a letter to the editor for the local paper about that ironic turn-of-the-tables. A few days later, they printed it in the Sunday paper. It was fun, because I always loved getting something in print.

A few days after that, I got this odd letter in the mail from someone who, clearly, was an elderly person, a church-goer. She wrote me a brief letter about how my letter touched her, and then, weirdly, enclosed a check for ten dollars.

Getting money from a stranger was very alien to me. My parents insisted I return it and, having an elderly grandparent living across the street from us, I totally understood why. But the woman didn’t have a return address on the letter or on her check. Eventually, we tracked her down in the local phone book. She got cross with us when we said we wanted to return the money. “I’m sure you’ll put it to better use than me,” she said.

Eventually, as a family, we decided the best course of action was to cut the check up and throw it away. And that was that. But I’ll admit, I was young enough to feel a little odd about turning down the money, too, even though it was the right thing to do.

So, I magnified that idea for Spoiled Rotten. I take a kid who’s from a living-check-to-check type family and start prospering him. It begins with him upset because he wanted a bike, but an unexpected bill hit his family and his parents had to say no.

Later on, through some unexpected good fortune, his father gets a windfall and buys him the bike anyway, but without talking to his wife first. That exposes some cracks in the marriage of his parents.

The next time we see Mike is a few years later, when a mysterious check arrives in the mail, addressed and made out to him. But instead of ten bucks from a kindly senior citizen, Mike gets an amazing amount of money. More than his father, who’s now out of the picture and has never paid his child support or alimony, ever made in a year.

At first, his mom insists they destroy the check, but the checks keep coming. His mom has him track down the company sending them, and when they contact the company, BAM Corp, they find out that, no, there has been no mistake, and the money really is intended for Mike.

It’s a dream scenario. The money he receives is tax-free, and the amount goes up several times, at least yearly, and more often when his needs change. He never has to worry about money. And the rest of the story is about the mystery behind this money, why it’s coming to him, and does it corrupt him.

The first two books cover major phases in Mike’s life. Spoiled is a rags-to-riches sort of tale, with a dose of romance to it as he finds his true love. But it ends with a shocker.

Rotten is book two and follows up on how Mike deals with the shocker at the end of book one. It puts him to a morality test. Book two ends with what he’ll decide in doubt.

I’m still working on Book Three, which needed a lot more time to complete than an Eight-Hour Fiction challenge could allow, because I ended up with a lot of plot to tie up, a lot of story left to tell. Book Three is called Ripe, and closes out the trilogy and will be healthily into novella territory. All three books together will be enough to be a novel.

The other real-life touchstone is, Spoiled Rotten is set, like a lot of my stories, in northwestern Wisconsin, in the fictional area of Veritas County, and specifically in a town called Hope. That setting is strongly influenced by the five years I spent as a journalist in northwestern Wisconsin.

In the real Wisconsin area where I lived, there was a heavy Native American population and a lot of beautiful culture. Most were Ojibwe, though some were Lakota. In my interactions with the tribes, I found out, through different stories I reported on and interviews I did, how the casino economy was impacting tribal life.

One of the helpful things they tried to do was set up funds for their young people when they turned eighteen. It was meant to inspire them to go to college and improve themselves, or at least act as a buffer against poverty. Unfortunately, not all their kids were using it well, and while I won’t go into specifics here, let’s just say it introduced me to the theme that if a person comes into a lot of money too young, they don’t always have the best instincts in terms of how to use it.

That general idea plays a lot into the Spoiled Rotten storyline, too, though Mike’s wealth comes to him in a different way. It starts out as a very focused tale and ends up, in Ripe, being a real globe-spanning adventure.

It’s really been a refreshing change of pace, too, after finishing up work on The Woodsman, which was a much darker tale. There’s an aspect of horror to Spoiled Rotten, but more of just a menacing undertone. If I had to categorize it, I’d say it’s closer to suspense fiction with a romantic subplot, though I would not call it romantic suspense, per se, since it doesn’t necessarily stick to that genre’s happily-ever-after expectation.

But aside from Wisconsin, I get to take Mike to Ireland, Colorado, Australia, Antarctica, and the US Virgin Island of Saint Croix. So by the end, it’s just a great chance to really kind of have the kind of globe-trotting tale that is only possible when you have a character like Mike, who has unlimited resources.

Spoiled Rotten, however, is sort of a novel that I never set out to write thinking it would be novel length. I thought it would be three books of about 12,000 to 15,000 words each, and that would be that. Now it looks like the final word count could approach 50,000. But a lot of my stories grow beyond original plans like that.

 

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I see that there's also an audio book out now for your novel, Most Likely. How did that come about and were you satisfied with the experience?

CRAIG HANSEN: Both Most Likely and Shada are now audio books, actually. I used Amazon’s ACX service for both, and the two voice talents I worked with have become good pals. Most Likely was voiced by the amazing Chrissy Swinko, who has appeared in some sketches on Jimmy Kimmel, and now has a web series sitcom called Corporate, with a full season available on YouTube. So she’s going places. I like to mention her and promote her whenever I can.

Most Likely was narrated by another terrific performer, Jennifer Harvey, who seems more concentrated on voice work than on stand-up and acting. I’m also a big booster of her.

Shada was a project that happened quickly, but then, it’s a shorter work.

Most Likely had a false start because I started out with a different voice actress who dropped out part-way in, due to a career change. I found an even better match in Jennifer, but it took a long time to sort everything out and then start over and get to a finished product.

I now have The Woodsman, and, soon, Spoiled Rotten, that are both long enough to make into audio books, but I’m not sure I want to rush back into the experience. While I enjoyed the process, and my work partners on the first two, it’s just a very time-consuming process and ultimately held me back from getting other writing done, so I don’t know. Maybe someday, but not soon.

Especially with the recent changes to the ACX pay rates.

I’d want to have some momentum-changing hits to really do it under the current circumstances. Books that move slowly in eBook and print also tend to move slowly in audio book, so I think I’ll wait till I’m selling well enough to justify the time I’d have to invest, not to mention making sure it’s worth the while for the voice actor or actress.

 

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: You've had a busy year. In June you published the short story, Nice Girl Like You. Please tell us about this story. And, why publish a short story all by itself?

CRAIG HANSEN: Nice Girl Like You marked a change for me in a lot of ways.

It was my first story set in Oregon, since I moved here in mid-2011. And at the time, it had been several months since I’d release The Devohrah Initiative, another short, and Under Contract, another short, about a year before that.

If you read the earlier questions in this interview, you’ll know that this was all happening at a time where I wasn’t done with The Woodsman yet didn’t feel I could move on to something else of significant length because of The Woodsman not being done.

I began to feel stale and unproductive, even though I’d been writing my tail off following the release of Shada in fall of 2011. So, in part, Nice Girl Like You was born out of the desire to do something else, but not something long, something that wouldn’t eat up my time with no end in sight.

I’ve loved living in Oregon the last few years and, although I haven’t really lived here long enough to know it like I know the Midwest, I felt like I wanted to do something set in Oregon. Around the beginning of 2014, I wrote an early version of the story and tried to fit it into around two thousand words. or something insanely short like that, to fit it into a collaborative project, an Internet radio theatre sort of deal someone was starting, called Fogland.

I had a story I wanted to tell, about stalking and obsession and a haunting, something with a lot of Oregon atmosphere, and as it turned out I wrote a bit long and the editor was willing to bend, but he felt I should cut it by a third. I, on the other hand, felt penned in by the length limitations and so we agreed to go our separate ways, and I removed that story from consideration and decided to expand it, give it more life, and allow it to breathe. Through that process, Nice Girl Like You was born.

I decided to put it out there because I felt pressure to keep my name visible. I needed to publish something because, after starting off 2011 with the novel-length Most Likely and the longish novella, Shada, I hadn’t published more than once a year and all I managed to get out each year was a short fiction thing.

All of this silence was building up, so I thought, well, at least I can get this out for 2014 so I have something I can point to for the year. It’s a nice little tale for its length, if I can say that about my own work.

I feel good about it. There’s not a feeling of needing to someday go back and expand it into something bigger. And that’s hard for me, because I start a lot of my books thinking they’ll be shorter and then they take on a life of their own and become much bigger.

I appreciate short fiction. I enjoy reading it and writing it is kinda fun, too. And when you have a project that’s taking years to complete, it makes you feel like you’re running in place, so publishing something short gives you that confidence of, yes, I can still finish something.

And as far as why publish it as a standalone?

Because others do, and it’s not like I have a stack of twenty short stories I’m sitting on and can assemble them into a collection. I used to have more old manuscripts, but with the progress in technology and formats and all that happy stuff, whatever I used to have has been mostly lost to time.

I mourn the loss of one short story I wrote in college, a story called Smooth, because even though it occurs in three major scenes and is only probably 4,500 words, I worked on that story for months, refining it, revising, crafting, chipping away unneeded words like a sculptor can obsess over his work. I probably did close to fifty revisions on it.

And I no longer own a copy. Too many moves. It’s probably in a junkyard somewhere in Minnesota or Wisconsin, buried on an old 3.5-inch Mac floppy disk or something.

But even something like that, it’s ancient and dated and very late-eighties. It was about a college freshman who’s socially awkward, who hits the bar with his roommate, who seems to effortlessly attract women to him. So he sees the guy as smooth, which ends up meaning skilled socially with women. But over the course of the night, as secrets come to light, what starts out almost as hero-worship becomes a discovery of the guy’s feet of clay.

He’s been with so many girls that he has STDs, but he never tells anyone he’s with. So there’s this complete transformation where the idol he’s worshipped goes from someone he wanted to be, to someone he never wants to be. He goes from socially awkward to feeling, if not skilled with women, at least more responsible than this other guy. So he discovers his own kind of smoothness by the end of the story.

So yes, a think a short story can be a great experience for both writer and reader, when done well. And out of everything I wrote in my college years, Smooth is the one story I’d love to have back.

Continually working that story to death was a big part of what made me transform from a kid who wanted to be a writer and had some talent, to a kid who was a whole lot closer to being a publishable writer.

But, bringing us back to Nice Girl Like You, while it’s set in Oregon, the most recent part of my life, its themes are leftovers of an early part of my life, when I was single and owned a tiny house in a tiny Wisconsin town and had to deal with isolation and loneliness a lot.

I have a main character who’s in that place, and then, boom, a young woman close to his age and who is also apparently single moves into the house next to him. He shows a little interest in her because, well, what else does he have going on? She reacts mildly, but then starts to rely on him, and soon he’s in a situation where he has to rely on her because he has no one else. It all begins to spiral out of control.

It’s really a story about stalking and obsession and the idea that when you’re alone and lonely, sometimes you think that not being alone would be so much better. But when things change, you find out that what you held up as a better situation isn’t what you thought it would be. So it’s a haunting, lonely, maybe even somewhat paranoid, atmospheric tale that centers around two people. And after working on The Woodsman for so long, where for plot reasons there were not a lot of non-victim roles for women in that tale, I was able to create a female character in that tale who was far more complex and definitely more self-sufficient.

I like to twist expectations with my work, and who knows? Maybe I’m a bit predictable. But I’ve received some nice feedback over tales like Nice Girl Like You and The Woodsman that seem to indicate maybe I have a couple drops of talent in that area. And that’s a nice thought.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: It's been about three and a half years since the last time I interviewed you. Your novel Shada had just come out then. How would you say you've grown and changed in that time, both as an author and a human being?

CRAIG HANSEN: As an author, I just have a lot more fiction writing experience under my belt. I think I’m writing better as a result.

As a human being? That’s a more complex answer, because while I mostly worked on The Woodsman during that time, I’ve gone through a lot of life events.

For example, my wife and I are caring for my 92-year-old father, a WWII vet with Alzheimer’s and dementia. That’s challenging every day. It’s caused us to make certain choices in our lives, like putting off parenthood. And now that I’m closing in on 50, it’s causing me to think more about aging.

I do admit to having a bit of fear of going down the same path in terms of how I age. Losing the ability to think cogently is one of the most daunting things a writer could face. It’s not hereditary as far as I know, but then, I was adopted, so that doesn’t matter much anyway. It’s more just one of those things where you think about it and go, “Will that be me someday?”

And I find it does affect how I write.

I touched on Alzheimer’s and dementia with a subplot in Shada, and also allergies, but now I find I’m thinking a lot more about these sorts of health things that can happen and they are popping up more in my stories, probably because my mind is dwelling on those ideas.

I mean, in Spoiled Rotten, there are characters or subplots involving actual or suspected conditions like cancer, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia. Sometimes I worry my fiction is starting to reflect a hospital waiting room.

But conditions like these are real and out there and while they may not be the dominant theme in any of my stories, having them there, for me, grounds some of these characters, gives readers potential touchstones with them. It’s interesting. But I have to do my research and make sure I’m accurate, because on issues like that, if you’re not accurate, it’s not well-received.

Within the last year, I’ve starting using a CPAP machine for my own condition, sleep apnea. And I was also diagnosed with Type-II diabetes. I am sure at some point those sorts of things will pop up somewhere, in something I write.

I’ve also grown spiritually and politically and as a person concerned about researching stuff and getting details right in my stories. So there has been a lot of stuff like that.

It’s just part of life, and it seasons you, and even if you’re writing a story primarily about younger characters, it gives you an edge in terms of making the world those young, healthy characters live in a lot more textured.

 

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What do you do to inspire yourself?

CRAIG HANSEN: Probably all the wrong things.

Joking aside, ideas come to me from strange places.

Back in 2011 or so, I noticed a “news of the weird” article on Drudge Report. It seems Saudi Arabia or someplace in that vicinity had a twist in their knickers because, apparently, some birds they believed belonged to Israel were crossing over into their land. Sounded really weird to complain about, at least to me, at the time.

My reaction was, first of all, they’re birds. How can you tell an Israeli bird from a Saudi bird? Search me! I have no idea.

Anyway, the complaint was about airspace violations and spying allegations and such. It struck me as odd, but for several months or more, that was all.

Fast forward more than a year, around the time spy-drones were just starting to be talked about, mostly in the context of people wondering if Obama and Attorney General Holder would be approving such spy-drones for use against American citizens, either overseas or on U.S. soil. Remember that kerfuffle?

Here’s the way my mind works: I connected the two stories in my head a bit, and when I did my first Eight Hour Fiction story, the time Joe Konrath issued the challenge on his blog in August 2013, I came up with The Devohrah Initiative.

In that short, I told the tale of a vigilant Palestinian solider upset he’s assigned to beach duty on the Gaza Strip, because it’s not a frontline battlefield assignment. He’s proud of his military service.

Then he’s left alone and a bee starts buzzing around him ... only it’s not an ordinary bee... it’s a drone. I played it for a mix of satiric humor and high-tech horror. (Just because you have tech in a story doesn’t make it science fiction.)

I’d go further, and the story’s fun but brief, so I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t read it yet. It did well with the PR push of appearing on Joe’s blog, and, at $0.99, it was priced as an impulse-item.

About four to six months after the story was out there, a news site was doing an end of 2013 news roundup. One of my friends sent me a link to one item in their list, and I grew amazed as I read it because in December of that year, one of the Ivy League schools (or maybe it was MIT, I forget) announced it had developed a new military drone, shaped exactly like a mechanical bee!

My story presaged reality by only a few months. The real bee drone is significantly bigger than an actual bee, but not as big as you might think. The bee drone in my story was more miniaturized and able to be mistaken for an actual bee.

So, that’s the genesis of one of my stories. I just read news and live my life and things collect in my brain until they coalesce into something that suggests a story.

But it doesn’t always have to be news, either. One of my messianic rabbis a few years back had a favorite saying that he used as spiritual advice: Sometimes, you have to pay for your good deeds.

What he meant was, life doesn’t always embrace the folks who do good. They become suspicious of those who do good, so instead of a thank you, you get a more hostile reaction.

And that became an overriding theme for The Woodsman, as I wrote it. Steve has spent most of his adult life doing evil things and going largely undetected. His life only falls apart when he steps out of character one night and tries to stop a gas station robbery. Consequences come his way only when he did a good deed.

It kind of underlines and clarifies the idea that I’ve often observed in life: that the people who are always doing something stupid seem to get away with it, because it seems like the world expects some people to be idiots or dangerous or whatnot.

It’s the person who normally does good but makes one mistake, who gets hit the hardest, gets the book thrown at them, whatever. So this is the reverse of that, for Steve. He normally is a pretty wicked guy, but the one time he does something unselfish, something good, that’s when his world starts coming down around him.

So it even became my tagline for the book blurb: Sometimes, you have to pay for your good deeds.

 

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: What are you afraid of?

CRAIG HANSEN: We already discussed my fear of someday being in the life situation where my Dad finds himself as he’s nearing the close of his life.

That scares me more than made-up monsters. I get more freaked out by real things, like cancer or serial killers or Alzheimer’s, than any of those supernatural things that are the traditional bugaboos of horror as a genre.

That’s not to say the supernatural can’t be spooky fun, too. I’m working on a zombie story when I once thought I didn’t have anything new to contribute to that subgenre, for crying out loud!

But I gird that supernatural element with a lot of grounded-in-reality fears. Like middle-school bullying, asthma, sexual harassment, and whatever else I end up tossing into the mix by the end of the story.

Real-world fears support the more supernatural elements. Razed is gonna be a fun read, I think, because of that mix, whether Kindle Scout ultimately picks it up or not.


NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: Would you like to ask me a question?

CRAIG HANSON: Sure.

Last time we talked, you were marketing standalone titles like TheWhite Hairs and Luminous &Ominous. 

I’ve noticed you’re now marketing a series with, like, five installments so far, the Farther than We Dreamed series. What prompted the strategy shift from standalones to series, which do you prefer at this point if you knew your sales would be good either way, are you having fun sticking with the same set of characters for multiple books, and how is it working out for you in general?

NOAH K. MULLETTE-GILLMAN: I have the luxury of not yet being an author who sells a lot of books. No, don't feel bad for me. I know my work is good and I have every confidence that I will eventually figure out the marketing half of all of this.

But, as an author who doesn't yet sell a lot of books, I can do what I feel is artistically best without worrying too much about what will sell better.

You mentioned my book, Luminous and Ominous. I've still sold more copies (not including free copies of various books) of Luminous and Ominous than of everything else I've ever written combined. That was a stand alone book. Many readers implored me to write a sequel, and I tried, but to date there has not been and probably never will be a sequel. That story is over.

Farther Than We Dreamed was imagined as a 13 episode series. It isn't broken down that way just because I hope it will sell better. It's organic.

I'm also currently planning out a new horror story which I'll probably write once I polish off Episode 8 of Farther Than We Dreamed. That one would be another stand alone book.

And I am still kicking around the possibility of writing a sequel to The Dead Have Ruled Earth For 200 Years. I never did manage to get much attention for that book, but I am extraordinarily proud of it. I wouldn't write the sequel expecting that it would sell better for being a sequel, but because I have more to say about that world.

So, the answer is that finances aside, I would want Farther Than We Dreamed to be a nice long story on a big scale, and I will also continue to write other shorter works. It's just a question of what style fits the story best.


That's it for this week! I want to thank Katrina and Craig. Weren't they both great guests? Please consider downloading at least the samples from their books. Remember, I only interview authors who I have read and enjoyed at least the free preview of!

I'll see you back here very soon, if we all survive the blizzard!

Like my facebook page www.facebook.com/fartherthanwedreamed for updates.

And, if you've still got some time, why not let me read the first chapter of Farther Than We Dreamed to you?


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