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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 83 (August 2012)

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  • MargaretC
    Welcome to the August 2012 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter s Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2012
      Welcome to the August 2012 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter's Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled "Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe." For my recommendations of "must read" classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
      www.simegen.com/reviews/vampires/vamprelm.htm

      Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/

      And please visit the website of the Infinite World of Fantasy Authors: http://www.iwofa.net/

      Here’s where you can order all issues of my discontinued fanzine, THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT, in bargain bundles of two or three issues each:
      http://www.lionheartdistribution.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=83_94

      This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Margaret-L-Carter/212888768731562

      Fictionwise.com sells quite a few of my e-books as well as my short stories from various anthologies, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Sword and Sorceress” series. Search “Margaret Carter”:
      http://www.fictionwise.com

      My page on the Jewels of the Quill website is an excellent place to find all my books in one master list:
      http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/jewelsbooklists2.html

      Here’s the list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
      http://tinyurl.com/7ypz23e

      And now there’s a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon, which I’ve updated with almost all my books:
      http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretlcarter

      I’ve added several new files to this group’s Yahoo page:

      A timeline of the stories and novels in my “Vanishing Breed” vampire universe, in internal chronological order.

      A checklist, by issue, of all the authors interviewed in THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT. They include some high-profile writers such as P. N. Elrod, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Laurell K. Hamilton.

      The contents of DAYMARES FROM THE CRYPT, a short chapbook of horror and fantasy verse, much of it vampire-themed, which I self-published in 1981. I’ve added three “bonus” poems written later. Below is a sample, a Lovecraftian-flavored sonnet from that collection.

      On August 4, I’ll be interviewed by Kate Hill in connection with the celebration of the twelfth anniversary of erotic romance publisher Ellora’s Cave:

      http://kate-hill.com/anniversary.html

      And directly to the interviews:

      http://www.kate-hill.com/blog

      I’m interviewing Jonathan Maberry, a distinguished author of horror (and other genres) and editor of a new vampire anthology, V-WARS.


      *****

      Interview with Jonathan Maberry:

      MARGARET CARTER: What inspired you to begin writing?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I was born to it. I was telling stories with toys before I could write anything down.

      MARGARET CARTER: What genres do you write in?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m all over the place when it comes to genre. I suppose all of my stories are built on the ‘thriller’ model â€"meaning that they’re all a race against time to prevent something big and bad from happening, but that allows me to play in a lot of different genres. My first three novels (GHOST ROAD BLUES, DEAD MAN’S SONG and BAD MOON RISING) were supernatural thrillers; my Joe Ledger novels (PATIENT ZERO, THE DRAGON FACTORY, THE KING OF PLAGUES, ASSASSIN’S CODE and 2013’s EXTINCTION MACHINE) are science/action thrillers. THE WOLFMAN was straight horror. My teen novels are post-apocalyptic adventures (ROT & RUIN, DUST & DECAY, FLESH & BONE and 2013’s FIRE & ASH).

      For my short fiction I’m really all over…I’ve written straight mysteries, psychological thrillers, fantasy, military science fiction, horror, comedy, Steampunk, speculative fiction, space opera, surrealist psychodramas, and even a Sherlock Holmes story.

      MARGARET CARTER: Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: I outline all of my major projects, and even some of my short stories. An outline is like a formula â€"if this, this and this happens then the natural outcome is that. However I allow the story to change in the telling, because after all, you can’t expect to have all of your best ideas on the day you write your outline!

      I’m a very disciplined writer. I write fast and I write every day. Last year I wrote a million words for publication. This year it’ll be a bit more than that. Without structure --proper research, outlines, etc.â€"I’d never be able to maintain this kind of output while staying at the top of my creative game.

      MARGARET CARTER: How did you become interested in vampires, zombies, and other monsters? Which is your favorite supernatural creature?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve always loved the ‘larger world’, as my grandmother called it. She introduced me to the legends of vampires, werewolves and other monsters when I was a kid, and encouraged me to read the folklore, anthropology and history as well as the popular fiction.

      I don’t think I have a favorite monster. Each offers different creative opportunities. Zombies are a blank-slate (they don’t have a personality that intrudes into the story), so they allow you to use them as a shared threat and therefore explore the dynamics of people coping with a shared catastrophe. That’s pretty much the basis for ‘drama’. Vampires are so varied â€"there are hundreds of different species in folklore, so there’s a tremendous amount of storytelling gold there. But they all share the common element of being ‘takers’ â€"whether that’s blood, breath, life force, or other vital essence. Werewolves are downright scary. I love ‘em all.

      MARGARET CARTER: How did you get into the graphic novel field? What challenges does this kind of writing present that are different from those of prose fiction writing?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: I was scouted for comics by Marvel’s editor-in-chief Axel Alonso after he read my novel, PATIENT ZERO. He called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to write for Marvel. Turns out…yeah, I did.

      Writing comics is a far more collaborative process than writing novels. The editor, artist, and others contribute their ideas at various stages during the process, and that’s a lot of fun. And, since comics are driven by their images, the writer has to learn to become very visual in his storytelling. I know that writing comics for the last few years has had a positive impact on the visual storytelling of my novels.

      MARGARET CARTER: What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: My next novel will be FLESH & BONE, the 3rd in my post-apocalyptic zombie series for teens. The first book in the series, ROT & RUIN, has won a slew of awards and is being considered for film. The second in the series, DUST & DECAY, recently won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Young Adult Novel of 2011.

      I also have a slew of short stories and novellas due out (aside from V-Wars). “Jack and Jill”, a spin-off of my 2011 novel, DEAD OF NIGHT, will be included in 21ST CENTURY DEAD (St. Martin’s Griffin), “Spellcaster 2.0” will be in AN APPLE FOR THE CREATURE â€"edited by True Blood author Charlene Harris for Tor; and others.

      MARGARET CARTER: Please tell us about the V-WARS shared world.

      JONATHAN MABERRY: In V-Wars we explore how science might explain the worldwide presence of vampire legends. Melting arctic ice releases an ancient virus which triggers dormant DNA (junk DNA). This DNA was once responsible for the phenomenon of vampirism, but over the centuries all vampires were hunted to extinction. Now the disease causes mutations which transform a percentage of the population into vampires. The thing is, vampire legends are different in every country. The vampires of Japan are different than the vampires of France or Peru or Alaska. So, as the disease manifests, people become the kind of vampire typical of their culture.

      Some people act on their new predatory natures and begin hunting humans. Some resist those urges. The humans react with typical fear and aggression, so we have atrocities and violence on both sides, and that escalates into full-blown armed conflict.

      The stories of V-Wars are told by eight writers: Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, Gregory Frost, Scott Nicholson, James A. Moore, Keith R. A. DeCandido, John Everson and me. And we had a hell of a lot of fun with this project.

      MARGARET CARTER: Which do you find easier to write, fiction or nonfiction? How do you do your research?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: Nonfiction was always easier for me because I’m a research junkie…and it’s what I was trained for. I went to Temple University’s School of Journalism with the intention of being a newspaper reporter. I actually became a magazine feature writer and wound up selling about 1,200 features, 3,000 columns, as well as a couple of dozen nonfiction books on subjects ranging from women’s self-defense to books on the myths and legends of vampires. However I’ve since fallen in love with fiction and it’s what I prefer to write these days. I’m currently writing my fourteenth novel since 2005.

      MARGARET CARTER: What are you working on now?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve always got a million projects going at once. Right now I’m writing FIRE & ASH (book 4 of my Rot & Ruin series of post-apocalyptic novels for teens), as well as a 4-issue limited comic book series for Marvel (MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE AVENGERS). I’ve also got a few short stories due, including a Steampunk western and a story set in the Land of Oz. I’m also in the middle of doing some pitches for Hollywood.

      MARGARET CARTER: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: First, it’s important for all aspiring writers to understand that writing is an art, but publishing is a business. Learn the craft that allows the art to blossom; but at the same time learn everything you can about the business side of things. That’s absolutely crucial if you plan to have a real career as a writer.

      MARGARET CARTER: What's your website URL? Do you have a blog? Where else can we find you on the web?

      JONATHAN MABERRY: My website is www.jonathanmaberry.comwww.jonathanmaberry.comwww.jonathanmaberry.comwww.jonathanmaberry.com and my blog is part of it. Most of my blog posts are interviews with my fellow authors. But I’m everywhere on the web: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads…you name it.

      *****

      Some Books I've Read Lately:

      THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, by Daniel Kahneman. You might expect a book by a psychologist who received a Nobel Prize in economic theory to be intellectually demanding. Parts of it areâ€"the mathematical and statistical bits made my head spinâ€"but it’s also lucid, readable, often witty and amusing, and fascinating to anyone interested in how the decision-making process works. Kahneman describes, as the book’s overarching metaphor, System 1 and System 2. The System 1 function of our brains makes fast, intuitive decisions. It’s the part of the mind that instantly recognizes a friend’s face, the difference between a dog and a cat, or the fact that 2 plus 2 equals 4. Most of the time, the instantaneous, good-enough conclusions of System 1 serve us well, especially in emergencies. But it’s weak in dealing with complex problems and often misleads us. To think out a question logically, step by step, a procedure that doesn’t come naturally to human brains, we use System 2. The author demonstrates the distinction with the “bat and ball” problem. If you buy a bat and ball together for $1.10, and the bat costs one dollar more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? System 1 instantly answers ten cents. Only when we think the problem over carefully, using System 2, do most of us realize the correct answer is five cents. I have to stop and analyze that question anew every time I look at it. The author also introduces us to Econs, those Platonic ideals of economic agents who make choices on an entirely rational basis, and Humans, real-world people who make decisions in flawed, emotional ways. Still more thought-provoking, to me, is the difference between the experiencing self and the remembering self. Which should have the greater weight in making choices, how we feel while going through an experience or how we remember it later? Kahneman seems to think the prevailing human tendency to privilege the memory of an event over what it felt like at the time is a mistake. (I don’t altogether agree with him. A present experience is fleeting, a memory often permanent.) He discusses gambling, risk assessments, and many similar processes vital to our dealings with the problems and opportunities of life. At the end of each chapter he gives a few real-life examples applying the principles of that chapter to the “water-cooler conversations” he hopes to encourage among his readers. If you’re intrigued by the workings of the mind, don’t let the size and density of this book keep you from reading it.

      THE LONG EARTH, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. Normally I’m wary of collaborations unless I’m familiar with both authors, and I’d never read Baxter before. I tried this novel because its premise sounded intriguing, and the one review I read before buying the book hinted at some Discworld-like elements. Well, not so much, it turns out; THE LONG EARTH is decidedly SF, not fantasy. Even though it’s not typical Pratchett, I did enjoy it. A device called a Stepper, introduced to the world by an eccentric inventor, enables people to “step” from our world (Datum Earth) to the same point on other Earths, of which there appear to be an infinite number, all empty of human life. I’m reminded of Pratchett’s image of moving down different legs of the Trousers of Time. The farther one travels from Datum Earth, the stranger the climate and geography become. There seem to be so many habitable worlds, though, that every person could rule over his or her private realm, if desired. In practice, people who plan to settle permanently in a new world tend to step in groups of colonists. The Stepper, simple enough for any child to construct, has the Discworld-ish touch of using a potato for a battery. Some people can’t endure the nausea and disorientation most of them suffer in the first seconds after a transition, and some can’t step at all. Gradually the latter become a majority back on Datum Earth, leading to political upheaval. Conversely, a few people can travel without a Stepper. One of these natural steppers, Joshua, who initially thinks himself unique, is the protagonist whose adventures we follow through most of the narrative. He’s recruited by Lobsang, a former Tibetan monk reincarnated into a mind-bogglingly advanced computer AI, a slight echo of certain Discworld characters, to explore the multiverse of the Long Earth. In an airship inhabited and piloted by Lobsang, he and Joshua travel from world to world at a rapid pace that soon takes them six figures’ worth of worlds distant from their point of origin. Lobsang’s conversation, with gradual revelations about the true history of stepping, and the varied landscapes of the successive worlds, make entertaining reading. However, I agree with the review in the latest LOCUS that not until around the middle of the story do we find much of a plot. Up to that point, the voyage feels like a picaresque travelogue with no real conflict. Things do pick up, though, as Joshua and Lobsang meet a young woman where no human life should be and discover nonhuman but humanoid creatures they nickname “elves” and “trolls.” I enjoyed the book and recommend it as worth reading if you like either of these authors or find the premise exciting. Apparently there will be sequels, in which I’d be interested enough to borrow from the library, if not to buy.

      DEADLY PINK, by Vivian Vande Velde. One of my favorite YA authors, Vande Velde wrote COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT, probably the best YA vampire novel I’ve ever read. In this new novel she departs from her typical horror and fantasy to develop a science fiction premise. Teenage narrator Grace’s brilliant older sister, Emily, an intern for a virtual reality game company, disappears into a frilly, sugary game intended for little girls. She leaves a note stating that she has made a deliberate choice and it’s nobody else’s fault. Attempts to get in touch with Emily’s friends and ex-boyfriend yield no explanation for why she would do this. Since players can’t safely stay inside the program forever (in effect, she’s committing suicide), the gaming company sends Grace in after her. The company’s lawyer and senior engineer assure Grace’s mother that a player can exit any time and there’s no danger. Not surprisingly, when things start to go wrong, these claims turn out to be not quite true. Grace quickly discovers Emily has reprogrammed the game to bypass the restraints that restrict a player’s virtual wealth and power. Furthermore, Emily actively avoids Grace and obstructs her progress. Grace has a lively, engaging voice, with a willingness to persevere in the quest even though she considers herself merely ordinary compared to Emily. (Grace is the “levelheaded” sister.) I marveled at the ingenuity of the plot twists and traps as well as Grace’s methods of meeting the challenges. The nasty sprites and the gypsy king who serves as the voice of the game’s AI are especially entertaining. As one would expect in a YA novel, Grace not only succeeds in her quest but also gains newfound confidence in her abilities and fresh insights into herself.


      *****

      From “Daymares from the Crypt”:


      Ancestral Heritage

      My grandsire, bred and born in Buda-Pest,
      Oft muttered tales no Magyar tribe had dreamed.
      They woke a thirst; my fancy could not rest
      In groves where wolf-men howled and maidens screamed,
      But lusted red for lore of alien race
      In shape unknown, who served a star-spawned Thing
      Beneath a blood-drenched moonâ€"their only trace
      An ebon spire of stone from fabled Leng.

      All these my grandsire told; the gods he named,
      The Watchers at the Gateâ€"my soul’s life-breathâ€"
      Were myth, I deemed, from Asian hordes untamed.
      “No more?” I begged, an hour before his death.
      These words he whispered, quenched at last my thirst:
      “Yuggoth was our forebears’ home at first.”

      *****

      Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:

      Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to, has a newsletter for fans:
      For more information, visit:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FansofJewelsoftheQuill/
      To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
      FansofJewelsoftheQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Moonlight_Fantasy

      My Publishers:

      Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
      Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
      Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
      Harlequin/Silhouette: www.eharlequin.com
      Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com
      Mundania Press: www.mundania.com

      You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...

      "Beast" wishes until next timeâ€"
      Margaret L. Carter
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