Author Meet & Greet!

Author Meet & Greet

All are welcome here.

Connect with authors through their social media links (if they choose to share them), learn about their writing process, and purchase their works.

The 4 most current interviews are posted here. Older ones may be found under the Archive: Author Meet & Greet on the main page of this blog by the author’s last name.

**Jack Ketchum’s Interview from December 2017 is PINNED at the bottom of this page**

So, without further ado, let’s get to know

Meet & Greet Author:  #171

Paul Flewitt

Your Name: Paul Flewitt

Genre(s) of your work: Horror/Dark Fantasy

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Smoke (OzHorrorCon Book of the Tribes; A Tribute To Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and Cabal) – 2013

Paradise Park (Thirteen Horror’s 13 vol 3 anthology) 2013

Poor Jeffrey (Novel) 2013

Always Beneath (Vamptasy Dark Light 4 anthology) 2014

Climbing Out (Lycopolis Press Demonology anthology) 2015

Apartment 16c (Behind Closed Doors Anthology with Matt Shaw) 2015

The Silent Invader (Fragments of Fear TV show and Matt Shaw’s Masters of Horror anthology) 2016 and 2017

Clive Barker Career Retrospective Blog Spot (Meghan’s Houese of Books) 2019

The Last Madness of Dear Eddie (The Many Deaths of Edgar Allan Poe anthology) 2020

Defeating The Black Worm (Demain Publishing Short, Sharp Shocks series) 2020

Bio:

Paul Flewitt is a horror and dark fantasy writer from Sheffield, UK, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Paul began publishing in 2012, beginning with the flash fiction story, Smoke, for OzHorrorCon’s Book of the Tribes anthology. He went on to pen further short stories, including Paradise Park, Climbing Out, Apartment 16c and Always Beneath.

In 2012, he also published his first novel, Poor Jeffrey, which was received to much critical acclaim.

Paul cites writers such as Clive Barker, Stephen King, James Herbert and JRR Tolkien as inspirations on his own writing.

Paul continues to write, contributing to Matt Shaw’s The Many Deaths of Edgar Allan Poe anthology in 2020 with The Last Horror of Dear Eddie. He also began releasing free short stories and fanfiction on his Wattpad account for fun.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

That’s a question with quite a few answers. First and foremost, it’s probably because it’s what I read most often. It’s familiar, and I know the rules. It’s what I feel comfortable in, and that goes a long way towards being creative.

The longer answer is that I grew up as a fantasy nerd. My dad was big into writers like Tolkien, Donaldson and Brooks, and he passed those books onto me when I was still fairly young. I remember writing a story at school for a task that was only meant to be a few pages, but I filled several exercise books with the damned thing. I suppose that was a big pointer towards what I would eventually become.

My Dad was a hobby writer, mostly of poetry but he did write the occasional short story too. It was his fault that I started writing in my spare time, copying him by writing poetry. It became something of an obsession, and I went through a phase of writing a couple of poems per day. That progressed to writing short stories too, which seems pretty inevitable to me now.

My reading habits changed somewhat in my teens. I guess I figured out the formula for fantasy, and those books didn’t excite me anymore. I tried reading all sorts of other genres, but I couldn’t seem to find the exhilaration I had experienced reading fantasy. That’s when a neighbour noticed that I read a lot, and handed me a Stephen King book. That was Skeleton Crew, and I devoured it. Here was something quite different, more visceral and just what I had been looking for. A closer family friend saw what I was reading, and handed me her entire King collection, which ran to a hell of a lot of books. Mixed in there were some Herbert, Laymon, Masterton and Campbell books, and I was in hog heaven for months. Then the same thing happened with horror as I had with fantasy; I worked out the formula and they all became a little generic. They played by the same rules, and ended up in the same places. I was a little despairing because I suspected I might hate reading after all. Then I discovered Clive Barker, and he opened my eyes to new possibilities. Here was a writer that spoke my language, and never disappointed the teenage me. I’d struck around for ways to explain what it was I wanted to write, and here it was on the page with me. It was a melding of horror and fantasy, the real with the surreal, profundity with the banal. There were twists and turns, unexpected endings. I loved it, and I wanted more of it.

Of course, several writers since have emulated Barker, and I found writers that did similar things over time. That’s what really shaped me as a writer, and why I write what I do.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It really hasn’t, and that’s a cool thing. The only things that changed when I started publishing is that I get to do it a lot more, and have a good excuse for doing it. I don’t make masses of money, partly because I don’t write so quickly, and because I haven’t yet secured a deal with a six or seven figure advance. I don’t even aspire to doing that, although I wouldn’t refuse it if the opportunity came along.

I suppose, if anything, publishing confirmed to me that I can do the only thing I ever thought I was truly good at. Before, I was always bang average at everything I turned my hand to, but this I can honestly look at and think I can do it pretty well. Obviously, I have the same writer hang-ups as everyone else, but the positive reviews, the pitches accepted, the favourable comments from other writers and the opportunities I have like this one (to sit and talk about writing with people like you) goes a long way to convincing me I might be okay.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Well, I already cited a few in the lengthy reply to the first question, but there are many, many more. Obviously, Clive Barker is a huge influence and inspiration to me. In short, I think he’s a genius. His ability to draw a reader in and convince them of the reality behind his fantasy is beyond belief. His style is very approachable, with no filler or bloat. I just love what he does.

Stephen King was really my first love, because of his world building and characters. They are so relatable, and you actually care about them. He isn’t a great storyteller by any means, and his work is often a little bloated with unnecessary exposition which slows the pace down at times, but I’ll still always love what he does.

Tolkien was the first big influence on me, I think. Lord of the Rings was the first work I really got lost in, and I wanted to live in The Shire. Even re-reading it, I’m always a little sad to leave that world behind at the last page, and that’s the sign of a really good story. I doubt anyone has ever created a world with such depth of history, language, culture and politics as Middle Earth, and I guess we’d have to live a long time for another to come along. Some come close, but nobody yet has equaled the feat.

Then, of course, there’s Poe and Lovecraft, who I can’t not mention. They were the ones who write the blueprint for everything that dark fiction is today. None of us would be here today if it wasn’t for those two lunatics. They both rethought the way fiction is written, and created characters and situations that I doubt many would have considered at that time. You always have to honour those who went before, and these were the guys who sparked the flame.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

It isn’t something I really considered. I mean, people have been tolling the death knell of the book for many years, but they never seem to go away in the paper form. Now we have ebooks and audiobooks, which are just other ways to consume our content. That’s fine, and hopefully people find enjoyment from them.

From another standpoint, I think audiobooks particularly are important to allow people with disabilities to access written fiction. I know a very close family member loved his audiobooks, and he would never have consumed a book in paper form due to cognitive functioning not allowing it. Of course, there are also the visually impaired, who can’t always find the books they want in braille because they’re so damned expensive to translate and create. I did look into braille books, and the costs of production are very restrictive for an indie writer. So, audiobooks have their place in the market, and serve an important function.

Are they the wave of the future? Will they take over from physical books?

I doubt it. They’re far from a new thing, and nothing has yet taken away from the tactile and personal experience of opening a new paper book for the first time and reading those first lines. The smell, the feel and anticipation of that experience is something I doubt any constant reader will tire of.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I guess I have a love/hate relationship with them. Obviously, anywhere that makes books freely available is a good thing, right? But … the tastes of the customer are often dictated by those of the acquisitions manager, and if they don’t like a particular genre, they don’t get stocked. Frankly, I tire of walking up to “horror” shelves in these big stores and seeing only Stephen King books, like he’s the only one in the entire world writing the stuff. I hate that they refuse to take a punt on indie writers enough … even local talent. They’d prefer to just stock what they know they can sell thousands of copies of, and its always writers that are already selling in the millions. It’s a business, I get it, but surely there’s space for a big store supposedly dedicated to the written word to educate people on what’s out there? I see people saying all the time that dark fiction is a dying genre, that nobody reads it, and that’s totally untrue. There’s real talent out there, and people itching to find it, but you have to search. Guys like Dave Jeffery, Mark Cassell, Matt Shaw, Mark Allan Gunnels, Lee Murray, Lee Franklin are all writing very different styles, very different approaches to the genre, and all should have far better profiles than they have in the mainstream, but they’re limited to cult followings because they’re not with big presses. It sucks, and its what all bookstores should be doing to highlight ALL writers, not just those with cache.

And I’ll climb down from my soapbox now…

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A bad one?

I’m far from being a marketing guru, but I suppose I’ve picked up certain insights into what works and what doesn’t.

First, I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule that works for everyone. If there was, we’d all have bestsellers and have followings of millions by now, right? We don’t, and that’s because what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

I think there’s no substitute for gaining a reputation for consistently high quality work. Word of mouth goes a long way, and the only way to get that is by being consistent and dependable. After that, I think reaching out and being approachable is the next thing. Nowadays, fans don’t want their authors to be shrouded in mystique. They seem to want to get to know you on a more personal level. So, reach out to readers, and potential readers, and talk to them. Be yourself.

What doesn’t work, and never will, is endlessly spamming people’s inboxes with invites to groups, pages and links to buy books. That’s just annoying, and must be the industry equivalent of the unsolicited dick pic. Nobody wants that, nobody asked for it. If you want to sell me your shit, talk to me!

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Hmm, now this is a tough one. It’s very easy to be militant about this and say that all literary efforts should be unencumbered by censorship, and that free speech should be sacrosanct. There is a grey area though, and free speech doesn’t come without consequences and responsibilities. I think that’s something that people in general often forget.

Do I think there should be censorship? Generally no, because I think important and difficult topics can be tackled in fiction if handled deftly and with respect. But, it has to be handled carefully. It’s  increasingly easy to offend, to the point that books like To Kill A Mockingbird are now being slammed for their racist content, which entirely misses the point of the entire book. I think there are important conversations to be had, and they can take place in literature like nowhere else.

Where can people find you and your work?

You can find more information, and keep up to date with latest news at these links…

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/Paul-Flewitt-Author-of-Dark-Fiction-352745188170046/

Amazon; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paul-Flewitt/e/B00FG34L7O/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Twitter; @RealPaulFlewitt

Instagram; @paulflewittauthorofdarkfiction

MeWe: @Paul Flewitt

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/DarkFantastique

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Terry Shepherd

Your Name: Terry Shepherd

Genre(s) of your work: I write thrillers about awesome women detectives and mystery stories for kids.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Chasing Vega – 2020 (English, Spanish, Audiobook)

The Waterford Detectives (English, Spanish) – 2020

Juliette and the Mystery Bug – 2020/2021

Chasing the Captain – June, 2021

Students in Time – September, 2021

Bio:

Terry Shepherd wrote his first short story at age eleven and was first published as a non-fiction author in 2008. He created Detective Jessica Ramirez in 2019, publishing his thriller “Chasing Vega” in 2020. The book earned 5-Star ratings on Amazon and is also available in audio book and Spanish language editions. The second installment in the trilogy, “Chasing The Captain” was released this summer.  When his grandchildren asked to star in their own stories, he created the “Waterford Detective” stories for his grandson and published the popular “Juliette and  the Mystery Bug” series, co-authored with his wife, Colleen, when his granddaughter wondered how kids could protect themselves during a pandemic. His forthcoming books include “Students In Time,”(September, 2021)  a time travel adventure that parallels the 4th grade public school history curriculum.

Terry is also a prolific book narrator and audio-artist, voicing 7 novels, along with dozens of commercials and promotional trailers.  He hosts the popular Authors on the Air podcast, was a moderator and panelist at Bouchercon 2020 and is co-chair of the Sisters In Crime – Capitol Crimes Chapter’s 2021 Anthology project.  He was an early social media adopter, authoring “Social Media and Your Personal Brand” in 2012.

He has written over 400 motivational essays since 2004, the best of which were aggregated into three popular self-help books.

Terry and Colleen live on the ocean in Jacksonville, Florida and are co-founders of “Down Syndrome Nation” a web resource for friends and families of persons with Down syndrome. Terry is a graduate of Michigan State University, has studied at both Harvard and Oxford and toured South America as a rock drummer in the summer of 1972.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I want to create stars that can inspire people of color and persons with special abilities to dream that they can be heroes, too. During my corporate life, my greatest joy came from seeing people reach beyond self-imposed limits and creating company cultures that reflected the customers we served. As an author, I have the privilege of creating worlds where protagonists can face incredible challenges with courage and tenacity, where good ultimately prevails and the stars of the dramas are transformed in the process.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It’s opened doors to a whole new community of friends and colleagues who are part of the creative process. Writing is something you can take up in every season of your life and the process of learning The Craft is a never ending exploration.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Wow. There are so many. I grew up reading C.S. Lewis and translations of Homer’s great epics. Megan Abbott is one of my favorite fiction writers. Her prose approaches poetry. Lee Goldberg’s fast paced plots influence my own style. Among the new generation of great story tellers, I admire Shawn (S. A. Cosby), Shoshona (S. M. Friedman), Boyd Morrison, Owen Laukkanen, Kate Anslinger and Tori Eldridge. Each creates compelling characters and tosses them into deep waters without a life jacket. They bring different styles to the table pieces of their delectable story telling approaches have helped me become the writer I am.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

Full disclosure. I am also a narrator of audio books and read each chapter of my own works aloud as the final edit. A great narrator can bring depth and a rich new dimension to the printed word. I’m definitely biased, having been a broadcaster, voice-over artist and voice actor for over 50 years. But there’s something about the ability to take your story teller with you, whether it’s in your car or whispering in your ear as you drift off to sleep that is alluring.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

They definitely serve a purpose and can expose our work to a broad audience. I still love hanging out with the smaller booksellers and in the back stacks of used book shops. The unique personalities of each place and the dedication of the folks who work there adds to the charm of the reading experience.

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A bad one?

Hosting the Authors on the Air podcast with my partner, Pam Stack has been a mutually beneficial experience that has helped sell my own work and given me the privilege of promoting some really great writing talent. I have yet to get a return on my investments in ads on the major social platforms.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

The reader ultimately decides what sells. There are genres that I don’t personally enjoy, but personal taste is personal taste. In a free society, the exchange of ideas, even if they make us uncomfortable is crucial.

Where can people find you and your work?

I’m all over the traditional on-line outlets (https://www.amazon.com/Terry-Shepherd is my Amazon outpost) and am active at TerryShepherd.com, TerryShepherdWrites on Facebook, the.terry.shepherd on Instagram and TheTShepherd on Twitter. We have a Little Free Library initiative, where I provide my books for free and for families, teachers and kids who want to learn more about the hygiene habits we teach in Juliette and the Mystery Bug, visit Mystery-Bug.com

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Dr. Ian D. Brooks

Your Name: Dr. Ian D. Brooks

Genre(s) of your work: Self-Help, Coaching, Personal Development

Titles/Year of Published Work(s): 

Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story, 2021

Bio:

Starting off working in a clinical psychology ward then transitioning to work with “higher functioning individuals”, Dr. Ian D. Brooks has spent his 25+ year career helping people move forward. His clients include Netflix, Shondaland, Bank of America, Guitar Center, Nike Inc. Sony, and Warner Brothers. Dr. Brooks is the author of Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story; which integrates research and personal journey that drives readers toward introspection and action.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

The self-help genre ties to my educational and career experience where I believe my perspective is unique enough to move people forward. In summation, I choose this genre because I care about people being the best they can be.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing Intention has changed and altered my life in numerous ways.

The book offered me permission to open up about my thoughts on personal development in a way I had not allowed myself to do previously. Writing this book – much like journaling – provided a quiet sanctuary to document personal and client experience I gained over time. Writing required me to share details, paint a picture, and draw out emotions associated with client changes and their challenges. Further and in the moments of writing, I was evolving real-time by living the experiences I was writing about. Thus the book took on my personality and experience in way I could not have imagined when I first started.

Aside from the actual writing of the book, my life was also altered. The book brought clarity of my passion towards helping people in a one-on-one way; rather than across technical changes. For promotional purposes, the book required to become more engaged in social media and outspoken on my perspective. Prior to the book, my social media footprint was minimal and my opinions shared even less; yet, Intention required/demanded that I be seen and share my voice in a way that I shyed away from previously.

While Intention started as book written based on client experiences, I learned more about myself and grew as a result of its completion that I can only hope my readers/listeners can taste of what experience is like for themselves. It was a pleasure to be the author and my own client as I transformed my story.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Langston Hughes

Malcom Gladwell

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Each of the three have mastered the art of storytelling. Their use of words to paint a picture from the eyes of the past, present, and future offers a lens of which readers can clearly see what the author is painting. Langston Hughes through his poetry and writings, Malcom Gladwell through his research and stories, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle through the woven picture of Sherlock Holmes mystery, have make it enjoyable to read their materials.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

Audiobooks are here to stay and compliment hardcopy/e-books. In fact, audiobooks have been in around a lot longer than we consider. In graduate school, I recall reading textbooks for those who were blind or had reading disabilities. From a “mainstream”/non disability perspective where multitasking is the rule – not the exception and soundbites act gospel –, audiobooks play into the continuous demand to be on the move. Audiobooks allow listeners to gather information at anytime and anywhere without being tied to handheld books and in a quick fashion.

The type of book (non-fiction versus fiction) and narrator’s ability to tell a story, influence the listening experience and material retention. However, the use of audiobooks will only increase and continue to assist with different learning styles.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I believe mainstream/corporate bookstores are necessary to expand reach of authors in a way that smaller/independent bookstores have not in the past. Such consistent visibility and extension of viewership creates instant brand visibility and authors can connect to readers who may not have considered them in the past. This culminates in higher inventory and access for readers.

This does not mean they are perfect for all book titles or authors. Indie and independent bookstores have a connection to the community and niche demographic that is often missed by mainstream/corporate locations. This demographic connection allows indie and independent stores specialize the book buying experience for their market.

So I like mainstream/corporate bookstores in assisting with sales and volume; whereas, indie/independent bookstores allow for greater connection with readers.

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A bad one?

The best marketing tool is the internet. It’s expansive, operates 24hrs a day/ 7 days a week, and offers real time sharing of information that isn’t constrained by time or space. The effective use of online advertising, social media, live streamed events, Podcasts, posted reviews on book forums, and websites can drive attention to desired audiences. Note that this marketing also diversifies the channels for distribution and easily establish a two way dialog to connect with and listen to your audience.

There are very few bad marketing tools as any tool used to capture an audience is worthwhile. Also, what may work for one author may not work for another. To rephrase the question, I would ask – where should you invest your energy and money in marketing? This is where internet data analytics and assessments of return on marketing investment shape where you place your time. If there are trends in data where emails are not being opened to capture your audiences attention, but site advertising is working better, then reinvesting more money in site advertising may prove more useful than email blasts.

A tool or method of marketing is only as good as the person conducting the marketing. So the person marketing must have a consistent message and interaction point for their audience. If not, then no matter how good the tool is, it will not be effective.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No. The art of writing and sharing of any topic, is intended to provide knowledge, belief, perspective or story. While some topics challenge societal norms or personal values, they have a place in expanding our thoughts, reinforcing our beliefs, or even allowing us to change sides.

In writing, authors are documenting a sense of truth – be it through fictional characters that build a story and take readers on a journey or non-fiction authors who are sharing their beliefs – through their eyes. Where topics that are taboo come into question – in my perspective – is centered around how authors provide and readers interpret the context regarding the topic. Taking topics as absolute misses how stories are built to paint a picture and that there is variation to how that picture is seen through the eyes of the reader.

Topics that are taboo for one person are not necessarily taboo for another. Even if a topic is taboo for these same two people, their tolerance for the messaging may vary based on their perspective and context.

We have to be careful regarding censorship as, just because a topic cannot be said through the lens of one person, doesn’t mean it still cannot wand will not be said.

Where can people find you and your work?

My book Intention: Building Capabilities to Transform Your Story will be available on Amazon.com (in KDP and Print), Ingram Sparks, Good Reads, and at select bookstores across the country.

I can be found at http://www.RhodesSmith.com. This site offers access to my book, blog, news & press, as well as signing up for individual and group coaching sessions.

  • Website – rhodessmith.com

  • Amazon Link INSERT

  • Twitter – DrB_Intention

  • Instagram – DrB_Intention

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Jeffrey James Higgins

Your Name: Jeffrey James Higgins

Genre(s) of your work: Thrillers, creative nonfiction, essays

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

 Furious: Sailing into Terror, 2021, by Black Rose Writing. (Debut novel)

The Interrogation, 2021, Kindle Direct Publishing. (Short Story)

Find more short stories, creative nonfiction, and essays at http://JeffreyJamesHiggins.com.

Bio:

Jeffrey James Higgins is a former reporter and retired supervisory special agent who writes thriller novels, short stories, creative nonfiction, and essays. He has wrestled a suicide bomber, fought the Taliban in combat, and chased terrorists across five continents. He received both the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Heroism and the DEA Award of Valor. Jeffrey has been interviewed by CNN Newsroom, Investigation Discovery, CNN Declassified, New York Times, and Fox News. He was a finalist Adelaide’s 2018 Best Essay Contest and a quarterfinalist in ScreenCraft’s 2019 Most Cinematic Book Competition and 2021 Cinematic Short Story Writing Competition. Black Rose Writing will launch his debut thriller, Furious: Sailing into Terror, on May 20, 2021. Kirkus Reviews called it, “A taut and suspenseful tale on the ocean.” Discover Jeffrey’s writing at http://JeffreyJamesHiggins.com.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I’ve always loved reading thrillers, and I’ve identified as a writer since I was five or six years old, so when I started writing fiction, choosing the thriller genre made sense. Writers should be passionate about what they write, and if they pick genres for other reasons, like chasing the market, it shows. My twenty-five years chasing criminals and terrorists also gives me insight into thriller writing. I’ve been in many life and death situations, and those experiences inform my action scenes.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’ve wanted to publish books since I was a child. After working as a reporter, I entered law enforcement and enjoyed it so much, I stayed for decades. I retired four years ago and have been writing full time since then. It has taken me years to learn the craft, and I’ve made many mistakes, but now that I’m getting published and receiving great reviews, I feel like I’m finally following my calling.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I enjoy many authors, and I discover new writers all the time. When I was young, I devoured the Hardy Boys, but quickly moved to adult books. I traveled the world through the writing of Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Arthur Conan Doyle. For nonfiction I love Mark Bowden and Sebastian Junger. I like many thriller writers, but Michael Crichton and Dean Koontz top the list. Michael Connelly is the king of police procedurals. For pure prose, my favorite writer is Cormac McCarthy.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

Audiobooks are selling in record numbers, and while the pandemic may have had something to do with that, I think they are here to stay. I listen to audiobooks when I run. It’s a great way to consume more content. My parents told me stories every night, and I credit them with firing my imagination. Audiobooks may seem new, but they are really the oldest form of storytelling.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love all bookstores, and I enjoy spending afternoons browsing, but bookstores need to provide expertise, coffee shops, author signings, or other events to offer readers something they can’t find online. I also love Amazon. Many authors criticize them for dominating the market, but true monopolies don’t exist in a free market. Amazon will remain on top as long as they meet customers’ needs, and right now, they do that. Their search engine is the best way to explore titles and clicking a button and having a book show up on my doorstep the next day still seems like magic.

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A bad one?

Marketing is much different from writing fiction, but it’s a necessary skill for authors, and I’ve been training myself. I’m trying the basics, such as social media posts, ads on Amazon and Facebook, giveaways, interviews etc. Furious is a nautical story, so I’m also targeting unconventional markets, like marinas and sailing schools. I’m making many mistakes and learning the hard way, but hopefully, I’ll become more effective.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I believe nothing should be censored. People have agency in their lives, and they can choose not to consume books that offend them. While we’re not experiencing much government censorship, there has been a dramatic increase in book banning and shutting down dissent by social media platforms. Amazon has taken down books it finds offensive, bookstores have refused to carry titles under threat of violence from angry mobs, and New York publishing has tried to silence people with whom they politically disagree. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I believe in free speech, but . . .” Everything after the “but” is anti-free speech. We live in dangerous times.

Where can people find you and your work?

My debut novel is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The early reviews have been great. I self-published The Interrogation on Kindle Direct Publishing. It was a was a quarterfinalist in Screencraft’s 2021 Cinematic Short Story Writing Competition. My other short stories, creative nonfiction, and essays are free to read on my website, http://JeffreyJamesHiggins.com.

Twitter: @jeffreyjhiggins                  https://twitter.com/JeffreyJHiggins

Facebook: @JeffreyJamesHiggins    https://www.facebook.com/jeffreyjameshiggins

Instagram: @jeffreyjameshiggins     https://www.instagram.com/jeffreyjameshiggins/

LinkedIn: @JeffreyJHiggins             https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffrey-james-higgins/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21097942.Jeffrey_James_Higgins

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jeffrey-james-higgins

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jeffrey-James-Higgins/e/B08XWKRKP6?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

Website: http://jeffreyjameshiggins.com/

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Jack Ketchum

(PINNED – Interviewed in December 2017)

Name: Dallas Mayr

Pseudonym (if you use one): Jack Ketchum

Genre(s) of your work: Horror and Suspense (and the occasional Black Comedy.)

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):  Writing professionally since 1970, first fiction 1976, first novel, OFF SEASON, 1981.

Bio: see my website http://www.jackketchum.net/and add to that, Most Recent Novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF SOULS, written with Lucky McKee and Most Recent Collection, GORILLA IN MY ROOM.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?  

I grew up loving fantasy, and horror is the dark side of fantasy.

How has writing changed/altered your life? The usual perks of self-employment — no punching the time clock, no damn bosses hovering over your desk.  But in addition to that, writing mandates continual periods of self-examination.  You don’t easily get away with lying to yourself on the page.  It requires you to scour your history and your present for your deepest faults and pleasures, to reveal and revel in them, to find the strengths in your life and work from there, reaching outward.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Far too many to list here.  I read all over the place and consequently my favorite writers come from all genres and backgrounds, from Henry Miller to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard and John D. MacDonald to Thomas Hardy, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Straub and Stephen King.  Why?  Because they’re smart, empathic, courageous.  Because they’re good!

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I wish we had a lot more mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar bookstores.  I seriously miss browsing.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

The need for empathy and tenderness in the world, that the souls of beasts and humans matter.  And a few hours of just plain fun.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Depends on the piece.  Some, like THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and RED, are highly personal, others…?  I don’t know where the hell they came from!

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?  

Finishing a piece is almost always easy.  It’s getting started that’s hard.  Getting all your ducks in a row and then having the balls and suspension of disbelief  to say to yourself, this is really going to work.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

I give books a first paragraph test.  If it passes, then a first chapter test.  If it passes that, I’ll almost always finish the book — I can tell from there that I’m going to want to.   If it fails I scuttle it immediately.  Very occasionally, too much repetition will make me dump it.  I don’t want to waste reading-time.  Too much good stuff out there.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Nothing should ever be censored.  Everything is worth discussing.  How long a discussion is another matter entirely.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

 Life’s short.  I don’t bother with peeves.  If I’m bored, I just close the book.

Where can people find you and your work?

Website, see above. I have a list of published works there.   Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/jackketchumofficial/ Twitter, https://twitter.com/jackketchum Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ketchum

What can I say?

I am honored to have snagged a bit of Jack Ketchum’s time, for him to share his thoughts and words with me (and my readers), and for his participation in a blog such as this one. Thank you so much – for the interview as well as your writing. It has and continues to be an inspiration.

Readers, I implore you to look into Jack Ketchum’s work, especially if you are a horror/suspense fan. From the mouth of Stephen King – “Who’s the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum.”

28 comments

    1. Hi Donna;
      My pleasure. As an independent author myself, I know that marketing is key and getting the word out by any means is crucial.
      Thanks!
      Sue

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  1. Hi Sue. Thank you for including me in this roundup of four writers. I read all the interviews with pleasure. The CWA includes so many interesting members. I enjoyed meeting my fellow interviewees via your blog.
    Susan Bass Marcus

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s nice to see Teri here — always good to know a little more about her. I had to laugh about her friends being more careful about what they say. 😀 It’s funny how many people worry they’ll be “in the book” when they learn you write. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely have some new books to order (Zombie turkeys – still chuckling). I just finished my fifth book and I’m taking a year off to just read and read and read. Thanks for the great interviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, LB! That’s the point of the interviews – to give everyone a chance to find out about each other. Thanks for reading and feel free to spread the word! 🙂

      Like

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