Jason Warden over at Shadowcast Audio is doing a podcast of the stories from the book, including my story. Each story is being released each week, so mine will be a wee way down the list – but if you prefer to listen to a story than read it, check it out at Masters of Horror Podcast (or http://www.shadowcastaudio.com/?p=938) for those who prefer to copy and paste, but if you click on the blue underlined words, it will take you straight there. Keep an eye out and when I know mine is up, will try and let you know.
Yip, big title, I know, but you will get over it.
So, you think you’re a blogger worth your salt. Then here is a challenge for you.
September 13th to 19th is Speculative Fiction Blogging Week, brought to you by SpecFicNZ. Here’s your challenge –
Blog about Speculative Fiction for an entire week. Yes, that is right, 7 entire days of blogs about nothing but fantasy, horror, steampunk, zombie nations, vampires (Ok, a little overdone now perhaps), science fiction,poetry, short stories, writing, ideas, visions, pictures anything that is out there and not the normal (what is normal these days anyway???)
Do you think you can handle that? Want to know more details? Check it out at SpecFicNZ.org.
So, you up for it? Huh, huh? I can’t hear you…
Jennifer Brozek is a freelance author for many RPG companies including Margaret Weis Productions, Rogue Games and Catalyst Game Labs. Her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity and White Wolf SAS. She has also co-authored three books including Dragonvarld Adventures with Margaret Weis. Author of In a Gilded Light (Dark Quest Books, 6/2010), she is published in several anthologies, is the creator and editor of the semiprozine, The Edge of Propinquity, and is a submissions editor for the Apex Book Company. When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA and HWA. She also blogs on a regular basis on LiveJournal – http://jennifer-brozek.livejournal.com
Jennifer contributed “Cost of Job Security” to the Masters of Horror Anthology. I asked her some questions about writing and inspiration.
Where did you come up with the idea for the story in the anthology?
My husband and I were at GenCon in 2008. Our hotel was connected to the convention center but only through the intervening mall. Late one night, we headed back to our hotel to discover that while the door between the convention center and the mall was open, the door between the mall and the hotel was closed and locked. By the time we got back to the convention center, that door was also closed and locked. My husband, being the intrepid sort led me through the “employees only” back halls to find an exit. The contrast between the shiny stores and the dingy back hallways suck with me. Eventually, “The Cost of Job Security” blossomed in my mind.
What is it about your main character that you like? Dislike?
In my mind, the main character in this story is Mark, the head security guard. He’s worked at the mall for years and he knows that the mall consumes someone 4-5 times a year. I like the fact that he has made peace with his situation. In his mind, he really has no other choice. All he knows is that his mall eats people and while he works there, he is safe. What I don’t like is the fact that he is not willing to go beyond that. Part of me thinks of him as someone who gives up easily. Then again, it is hard to combat something as esoteric as a mall that eats people.
What made you write a horror story?
I am the kind of author who writes my demons away. If something bothers me, I write a story about it. Once on the page, whatever was bothering me leaves me alone. I also like to write out “what if” stories. As it happens, I have a very twisted sense of the world. I can see monsters in everyday things.
What inspires you in your writing?
Literally everything. It is hard to answer this question in a meaningful way. In my forthcoming collection, In a Gilded Light: 105 Tales of the Macabre (Dark Quest Books, May 2010), I put down my inspiration for the story at the bottom. Everything from a late handyman to a song to a bowl of soup to a detour sign inspired me to write a story.
How long have you been writing?
Professionally and getting paid for it? 6 or 7 years. But I’ve been writing stories for much longer than that. I started with RPG reviews, moved into magazine fiction and RPG world building and now I do fiction, editing, RPG world building and anything else that catches my fancy.
Why do you write?
Why does anyone do anything? I write because I love to write and because I have stories to tell.
What horror books / authors do you like / respect / admire?
The top of my list of favorite authors are Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. I want to become their literary unholy love child. Following them is a plethora of authors: Steve Perry (Matadora series), Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas series), Seanan McGuire (Toby Daye series), Cherie Priest (Eden Moore series), Michael Moorcock (Elric series) and the list goes on. Between my husband and me, we own well over a thousand books. Also, Ellen Datlow is a favorite editor of dark/horror anthologies.
Jason Warden is one of the contributors of the Masters of Horror Anthology. You can visit his site at ShadowCast Audio.
What was the inspiration behind your story Once Seen?
My story was inspired by a combination of several H.P. Lovecraft stories, but mostly just the overarching theme of his work. That being, in my view, that the quest for knowledge may lead to our own demise.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for about ten years, writing well for about a year, and writing Horror more or less the whole time. More and more often, whether on purpose or not, I find myself including some form of Science Fiction in my Horror.
When did you first decide that Horror was your thing?
I’ve always loved Horror, it has always resonated with me as a particularly powerful medium because fear is the basis for almost every decision we make in our lives. Feeding off that and playing into it only seems natural to me.
What other genre do you enjoy?
Science Fiction, Bizarro/Surreal, Speculative
Do you enjoy scaring people?
I do, as a kid in a small town we didn’t have a lot to do, so we made our own fun. Often that consisted of sneaking out at night and tying objects (usually a purse) to fishing line and setting it in the road. It wasn’t long before someone would stop to investigate, at which point we’d pull it away. There are few things as great as watching someone jump out of their skin.
What is your darkest fear?
Loss of self or to say it another way loss of free will.
What are your writing goals?
To be a recognized and regularly published author, if not in the mainstream then within the genre.
Do you have a novel on the go? Short Story?
I have the makings of a novel and many many short stories that are working on me, or rather, that I’m working on.
You can read Once Seen in the Masters of Horror Anthology, out April 2010.
Here it is, the cover. The book itself won’t be available until April, date still to be advised, but it is coming (via Lulu.com). I can’t wait!
Yes my name is on the cover because I am one of the editors of the book. I also have a story inside. Also inside are the following stories:
1) Joseph Mulak – Wounds
2) Angel McCoy – The Barnes Family Reunion
3) Carole Gill – Truth Hurts
4) Cassie Hart – Its all in the cards
5) Marty Young – Fireflies of the Bushfires
6) Jennifer Brozek – Cost of Job Security
7) Scott M. Goriscak – Home Sweet Home
8) Karen Johnson Mead – One Day
9) Lee Pletzers – Teeth
10) Bob Morgan Jr – Ladies of the Scale
11) KK – Visitation
12) Larry Kokko – The Clifton house
13) Jason Warden – Once Seen
14) William Cook – Devil Inside
15) Richard Barnes – Something unpleasant
16) Mark Edward Hall – The Fear
All of the stories are bone chilling and terrifying in one way or another. If you like a good thrill, you will enjoy these stories. Dark and Disturbing they are.
Over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing some of the writers and posting their interviews here. If you have someone in particular you would like to hear from, or a question you would like to ask, please feel free to leave a comment.
After reading Lee Pletzers The Last Church, I discovered a passion for NZ Horror and Lee Pletzers work.
I asked Lee the tough questions…
What would you do if you couldn’t write? (Explode? Be a mad scientist?)
I haven’t a clue. I like making movies and I have some basic director skills, so I would probably have gone to film school. Photography is also a skill I have. I take some interesting shots. If I couldn’t write, I am sure I would find some other medium to express my creative side.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what 5 things would you take with you and why?
1) A solar powered laptop so I could document the events of a zombie invasion and have several hundred ebooks to read as I wait for a rescue ship after I emailed my location.
2) A rifle for fishing. I would save one bullet in case my email didn’t get through. Plus, I don’t eat fish.
3) Sunglasses (for sunny days. I have light sensitive eyes having spent most of my childhood in a room with a pad and pen).
4) A sleeping bag and pillow, in case it gets cold at night.
5) My ipod (solar powered computer will be able to keep it charged — AC/DC on a desert island! Ye ha).
On second thoughts I think I should have answered with: Pocket-knife / Bottled water / filtering system to turn sea water into drinking water / matches to light a fire / SOS knowledge. But my brain doesn’t think that way.
If you couldn’t use the computer for a week, how would that affect you?
I would have a lot of email to read after that week, but it wouldn’t affect me too much. I would read all the time and handwrite some notes.
What made you decide to write?
I don’t think there was any actual decision on taking the plunge to write. I just sat down and wrote ever since I was a kid. I have always loved books and I wanted my family to read my stories.
There were no thoughts of becoming rich and famous when I was a kid, I just wrote when I had an idea.
My first long short story came about when I was 13 and in Whangamata and it was raining cats and dogs (the poor little pets hit the ground with resounding thumps — occasionally a whimper before impact) and I was bored. No TV, nothing to do and I had an idea of an alien race entering Earth and taking over. It was set in another dimension. It took two weeks to write and was over sixty pages long.
I never made a conscious decision to write, I just did it and didn’t stop.
When I was eight a teacher would send me and my friend to the playground during Social Studies to write a short story. It had to be two pages long. We had trouble understanding Social Studies. Each week, we wrote a short story, usually vampires (Hammer Horror fan here, from childhood) and the teacher decided to read my story out in front of the class. I had made a spelling error writing bloood (blued) instead of blood and everyone laughed (me included), but then the teacher said: ‘Lee writes ten times better than all you put together.’ Head swell moment that lasts even to this day.
Why write Speculative Fiction?
Because it is the fun genre. You have freedom to explore the imagination in fun and exciting ways. My SpecFic is always a mixture of horror / action / SF or Dark Fantasy.
When will the next Lee Pletzers book be out?
It was released last Saturday 05-09-09. Currently stock is sold out but if you order you will be next in the line. Amazon is waiting for some more books from my publisher.
The link is: http://is.gd/2W62x I use the short URL as Amazon URLs are very long.
Publisher is: Black Bed Sheet Press.
As for my next book: The Game, I have no idea. My publisher hasn’t mentioned any date yet, so I suspect it will be next year.
What is the Last Church about?
I was going to say, check out what Amazon is saying but there is no description there yet. So, http://thestoryteller.co.nz/lastchurch.html will take you to a page where there is a book trailer and a description, plus several advanced reviews.
I could copy + paste the information but the trailer does a real good job, and it’s short. It will barely touch your bandwidth.
Why did you write it? What inspired you to create this novel?
The only inspiration I have is the need to write a story that popped into my head. There is no special message, political or otherwise in any of my work. I just want to tell you a story and if I scare you or excite you, then I’m telling it right.
And the really tough question…
What are your thoughts on publishing in NZ?
Oh, don’t get me started on this topic. There is a reason most authors in NZ are published overseas (USA / Australia / UK). NZ publishers aren’t interested in horror, sf or fantasy–regardless of what they say. They want NZ based books about the NZ spirit. Books that I don’t read or write. In an interview on radio a HaperCollins editor said he wanted to see more SF in New Zealand, but when he rejected my friend’s novel, he said there was no place for SF in NZ publishing houses (this person is a member of SpecFicNZ).
There are some books that make it through: Bloodline (SF/Fantasy) for example. A good story but the writing needed some flavour.
I tend to buy from the small press in the US/UK as most of the SpecFic in these houses are good reads with exciting storylines and themes that aren’t currently profitable for a major publisher to invest in. Although I have heard that Pocket books is buying up zombie novels as zombies are the new vampires. Apparently.
Anything else you would like to tell NZ about Speculative Fiction?
Give it a try. Order books online, explore the small press, discover the new breed of horror writers, you may be very surprised (as I was, hence my decision to find publication in this realm).
Lee, I appreciate your time and your assistance.
No, thank you for the interview.
It was my pleasure and I look forward to reading it in the SpecFic Blog week.
So speculative fiction is something to do with creating a world that doesn’t exist, so how can we relate it to NZ? Doesn’t it have to be in another world / universe / plane? Here are some ideas that I have thought of.
Supernatural – we have a good source of natural material for this – ghosts haunting Larnach Castle, what happened? Why is it there? How did it get there? A strange psychic woman, who doesn’t want popularity is thrown into the deep end to investigate.
Science fiction – In the future, what would NZ look like? Would New Zealanders be able to travel to space? Would we still be the clean green country we are trying to portray ourselves, or have we become the dump for the rest of the world.
Apocalyptic and post – apocalyptic, – if a nuclear bomb went off, would NZ survive? Where would we go? What would happen to the people, the animals, would NZ be able to exist if we were blasted back to the ice age?
Fantasy – What would happen if the Maori gods had a rebellion and decided to rise up against us mere mortals?
Cyberpunk – we have some very clever hackers in NZ, who have hacked into the treasury’s mainframe, only to discover that the nations money is gone – and they are to blame… how did that happen?
Horror – a zombie serial killer is on the lose and ranging around the friendly country known as NZ, unfortunately the killer is indiscriminate, motiveless and grisly. Such violence in its attacks…
Utopian and dystopian – the government is overthrown and new order is brought in where everyone has the freedom to do what they want, when they want. What kind of chaos would ensue? Would it? How would they regroup the forces and restore peace?
Steampunk – what if steam vehicles came to NZ before the trains did in 1850’s? What if NZ invented a steam aeroplane before the flying machines were even thought of? Would we have become a nation that developed a better technology using steampower than the rest of the world? Would we have invented the first computer before the rest of the world?
Alternate history – what would NZ be like if Japan and Germany had won the war? Would we be a nation of Japanese, or would the Americans have saved us and we have an uneasy truce with Australia, who were invaded?
There are some ideas of how Speculative Fiction can include NZ, if something fascinates you, please feel free to take the idea and run with it.