S.G. Browne

Slushpile of the Mind, Part II

If I’m trying to sleep, the ideas won’t stop. If I’m trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. —Carrie Latet

Where do writers get their ideas? In the first installment of Slushpile of the Mind, I told you where I get mine. Below you’ll find five authors who share where they find theirs. Check ’em out!

Eric S. Brown

Eric S Brown is the author of Bigfoot War, Season of Rot, and World War of the Dead. His novel, War of the Worlds Plus Blood Guts and Zombies, will be released from Simon and Schuster in December and is available for pre-order now at www.amazon.com and numerous other places. His short fiction has been published hundreds of times and he was a featured expert on the zombie genre in Jonathan Maberry’s Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead.

I get my ideas from growing up reading comics, loving zombies and horror, and having that whole background to draw on. With all that genre knowledge bouncing around in my skull, it’s easy to see something happen in everyday life or on the news and go “whoa, what if this happened but with this?”

Rhiannon Frater

Rhiannon Frater is the author of the award-winning As the World Dies Zombie Trilogy, originally self-published but later picked up by Tor for release in 2011. She is also the author of the modern day vampire novel, Pretty When She Dies and the gothic horror novel, The Tale of the Vampire Bride. Her latest release is the YA zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters from the Little Library of the Living Dead Press. Visit Rhiannon at rhiannonfrater.blogspot.com.

My nightmares are my primary inspiration. As strange as it sounds, every time I have one, I wake up thinking “Can I use it?” My vampire novels are both based on vivid dreams. Also, sometimes I’ll just have a vivid image come to mind that gives birth to a story. I “saw” Jenni standing on her doorstep in her pink nightgown staring at the tiny fingers of her zombified toddler pressed under the front door and that was how As The World Dies was born. Once in awhile, I’ll hear a conversation start up in my head (yes, I have voices in my head), and I’ll turn my attention inward to discover characters discussing their story. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, being a writer is just a way of being legally insane.

Rain Graves

Rain Graves has been published in the horror fiction genre since 1997 professionally, but she’s best known for her poetry books, The Gossamer Eye (2002 Bram Stoker Winner) with David N. Wilson and Mark McLaughlin, and BARFODDER: Poetry Written in Dark Bars and Questionable Cafes (2009 Bram Stoker Finalist), which Publisher’s Weekly hailed as ‘Bukowski meets Lovecraft…’

I get my ideas from real life horror; crime. Sometimes it’s as subtle as watching a cat toy with a bug and toss it around before killing it. Other times, it’s terrible news stories like the Fritz Lieber trial, or good old fashioned unsolved mysteries, like the Black Dahlia or Jack The Ripper.

Mark Henry

Mark Henry writes just about everything, from horror comedy to young adult fantasy to erotica. His novels include the Amanda Feral trilogy, Happy Hour of the Damned, Road Trip of the Living Dead, and Battle of the Network Zombies. His first short fiction as Daniel Marks will be published this month in the young adult anthology, Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love. Check out Mark’s snark stylings at www.markhenry.us.

Where do I get my ideas? That’s a hard question and one I don’t get very often, which puts me in the minority. I think people are worried about how I might answer, like I roll up out of the gutter to do my author events and those damp spots on my clothes might be urine or vomit or…worse. Understandable considering my horror-comedy series is pretty vulgar and very dark. But, oddly enough, I’m not out plumbing the depths of bondage dungeons and funeral home foam parties to put together a story. The answer is simply, the ideas come from EVERYWHERE.

Regardless of whether I’m writing about zombies or vampires or sex-changing demons, I try to infuse the stories with all the little horrors of everyday life. It’s not unheard of for me to sit around in cafes and write down eavesdropped conversations, or draw out people’s horror stories about pus extraction or relationship decay. That shit is perfectly decent fiction fodder, in my book. Food Courts, newspapers, gossip blogs. Books. Reading is a big one. Though I’m rarely inspired by my own genre. I am inspired by “perfect sentences.” Those stretches of words that are themselves self-contained stories. Vonnegut owns my favorite. But I’ll keep it to myself.

Jeremy C. Shipp

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 50 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Pseudopod, and Withersin. His new book, Fungus of the Heart, comes out in October. Feel free to visit his online home at www.jeremycshipp.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JeremyCShipp.

My creative fire is predominantly enkindled by those beings who elicit a potent response in my organs, from the man who bolts toward my car pointing a handgun at my head, to the kitten who dies in my arms, to the zombified Smurfs in my dreams, to the wife who calls me just to say she loves me. I also find myself reacting creatively to the goings-on on this planet. I make an effort to keep my finger on the weakening pulse of civilization, and I am sometimes heartbroken, sometimes touched by what I learn. All of these people, all of these experiences funnel into me, reflect off the funhouse mirror in my soul, and transform into ideas. The ideas, then, shoot down my right arm, and squirt out of my fingers, octopus-style, and I write and I write until my brain implodes and I have to sleep for a while.

Filed under: The Writing Life — Tags: , , , , — S.G. Browne @ 6:38 am

10 Questions With Mark Henry

Mark Henry is the twisted author of Happy Hour of the Damned and Road Trip of the Living Dead, his Amanda Feral zombie comedy series that is equal parts snark, sex, and style. His heroine, Amanda, is a newly turned zombie navigating her way through Seattle’s undead club scene while jonesing for a vanilla breve latte and trying to keep her nails from breaking. Hey, it’s not easy being sleazy when your flesh is decomposing.

Although I haven’t had the chance to enjoy more than a few words with Mark, we have swapped meaningful glances on a couple of occasions. However, I have no doubts that most of the memorable comments from any conversation we might have would come from him.

Tell us about your first zombie experience. How did you lose your undead virginity?
Oddly enough, my own mother played a hand in my zombie deflowering. Let me take you back. It was 1978, and little I was an impressionable child—and by “impressionable” I mean “prematurely pervy”—on my birthday that year, my mother went down to our local lending library and checked out a God’s honest film projector and canisters of George Romero’s classic reinvention of the zombie mythos, Night of the Living Dead. She presented it like a gangsta on the wall of our 1960’s era rambler in full of view of a rather jittery gathering of pre-teens. I’m fairly certain young minds were traumatized that day, stunted even. But not mine, I…was in love.

What’s your favorite zombie film?
It really depends on the day, but today I’m feeling goofy, so I’ll go with Return of the Living Dead, that 80s classic of zombie comedy. And here’s why. One, Linnea Quigley dancing on graves topless with bleached out punker hair. Yes, please. Two, “Send more paramedics” is one of the funniest lines in the history of ever. Three, Braaaaiiinnnnnsssss! Before this ground breaker, zombies were content to just eat any old body part and be satisfied that there was no better flavor to be found in a squiggling panicked victim. Return gave them a flavor fave, and I’m all about the food obsessions, so thank you Dan O’Bannon. You’re okay in my book.

It’s the zombie apocalypse. Do you use a gun, a machete, or a Louisville slugger?
Gotta go with the machete. I’m a cook, so I’m most comfortable with a knife in my hand, if I can’t choose wiener, that is—of course, a penis is not a weapon, and if it’s being wielded as such ladies, please purchase a machete.

If you were a zombie, who would you eat first?
Because, above all else, I’m a loyal husband, I’d have to say…my wife! Plus, I can smell her spleen and I bet it’s as succulent as they come.

What’s the first thing you ever had published?
A short story called “An Acquired Taste.” It was actually the birth of Amanda and Wendy and not at all good. Not. At. All.

Who’s your favorite author?
That’s a tough one, because I love different authors for different reason. King, Barker, Rice. Hell, Sedaris and Burroughs are huge for me. I even love Alexander McCall Smith. I’m obsessed with some cozy mysteries. Now you have me all discombobulated. I guess I’ll go with Stephen King. He was my favorite as a kid and young adult and I still buy his stuff, though not this last one, Under the Dome. I didn’t buy that one. I got one of only 100 ARCs printed, bitches. Read it and weep!

What’s your favorite book?
Definitely The Stand by Stephen King. I’ve got a boner for apocalyptic epics that aren’t completely depressing **cough**The Road**cough**. Plus, I kind of have to say it because Randall Flagg is following me on Twitter. It’s safer that way. (If you want to follow me, I’m mark_henry, go to it!)

Name your favorite guilty pleasure.
God. I wish I felt guilt so this could be an easier question. I’ll tell you, I can’t resist the call of the Twitter. It’s so bad, I wouldn’t exactly call it a pleasure. Oh wait!!! I do have one. Gourmet Roach Coaches! There’s this one in Seattle that I’m obsessed with called Marination Mobile. It just won the Good Morning America best Food Truck in America and has the most awesome Hawaiian Spam sliders. Seriously, you’d sock your mom for these bad boys. Uhhhhhhh.

Other than your favorite author/book, name something that inspires your writing.
John Waters, the film director, is a huge influence. A bunch of my friends and I got into his early films in High School. Starting with the innocuous Polyester. I’m pretty sure that flick was my first exposure to 300 pound drag queens, but dammit, Divine was a lady and Waters crammed so much bizarre and irreverent imagery, characters and scenes into that one, I was hooked. Then of course we saw Pink Flamingos. What’s really funny is, I’ve been re-reading the third book in my series and was so proud that the dialogue read like a John Waters script. I almost wept.

If you had a theme song that played when you walked into a room, what would it be?
“Destroy Everything You Touch” by Ladytron. No question. If something can go wrong with me, it will. Every time. That’s no joke either. People in my life accuse me of being jinxed.

Shameless self-promotion bonus question: What’s coming up next?
What’s next, thankfully, is the mass-market paperback reissue of Happy Hour of the Damned (Jan. 26, 2010), the first book in my Amanda Feral zombie comedy series. A trade paperback does not fare well in the urban fantasy genre, where readers are used to testing new authors for no more than $7.99. Add into that the fact that the publishing industry took some pretty big hits in the past couple of years and what I’m left with is a series in jeopardy. So I started this little campaign to promote the re-release. Learn more about Save Amanda Feral at www.markhenry.us.

A month later, Battle of the Network Zombies (Feb. 24 2010), my third Amanda book hits store shelves. In this one, Amanda’s hit the skids both financially and with new(ish) boyfriend, Scott. You know what could turn her shit around? A guest judging gig on a super seedy reality competition show! But when the star, an oversexed wood nymph, turns up charbroiled, Amanda must pull a Miss Marples (minus the fugly sweaters) and solve the crime with a film crew in tow. It’s, at least, 50 percent dirtier than anything I’ve ever written and I’m in love with it, hope everyone else will be.

You can visit Mark and learn more about Amanda Feral at www.markhenry.us. Or follow his musings on Twitter at mark_henry.

Filed under: Interviews,Zombies — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 8:21 am