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:  #213

Jay Whales

Pseudonym (if you use one): Jay Whales

Genre(s) of your work: Horror, but to paraphrase the late Richard Laymon “I don’t actually write horror, I write crime fiction.”

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Marquand Tales, 2015

Weddings Suck: A Non Politically Correct Novel of Horror, 2015

Sasquatch: A Non Politically Correct Novella of Horror, 2015

Sarah: The Non Politically Correct Novella of Horror, 2015

IBRNSOB (Redux): The Non Politically Correct Novella of Horror, 2015

Booger Eating Bastards: A Non Politically Correct Novella of Horror, 2015

Nothing Ever Happens in Fox Hollow – Volume 2: A Horror Short Story Anthology; The Haunted Mirror by Jay Whales, 2020

Nanjing Fried Rice, in queue to be read on the Horrorific podcast, 2023

Bio:

Jay Whales grew up in a small Missouri town battling sasquatches, rednecks, witches, booger eating bastards, drinking Spine Likker fresh from the spigot and just having fun.  Jay rode in the back of pick-up trucks, never heard of a seat belt until he started working and he and his best friend watched shitty horror movies every chance they got on VHS.  Jay also dabbles in acting, it is a hobby, he is not expecting to be the next Clint Howard.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I have been an avid fan of horror, movies, books, comic books, you name it since the earliest days I can remember.  I enjoy and I write every genre of horror as well.  My earlier writings were pretty brutal and “non politically correct,” nowadays I would have to use the term that my writings were “non woke” in any way, shape or form.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing is an outlet where-in I can express my imagination.  My entire adult life I was in the military where at each and every step someone was telling me what to do.  In my writing, no one can do that.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

If stranded on a desert island, I would want every Richard Laymon book with me.  To me, he wrote “down to earth” stories that could happen to most of us.   His writings never got boring or bogged down in inane dialogue.

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

Somewhere in between.  I can not listen to audiobooks while driving, my mind works in ways where I am not listening to it.  Others though are the opposite and live and breathe their audiobooks.  Some people still haven’t accepted ebooks.

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

The best marketing tool is word of mouth, though of course to be a big time writer, a person would need word of mouth on the national level.  A bad marketing tool would be to rely solely on user reviews.  They are too subjective and any person can read any user review on any product and see an 180 degree swing in the users write up.  Of course, I am aware, this is also “world of mouth,” that I just said was a good thing.

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

NEVER!

What is your opinion of Trigger Warnings?

Trigger warnings are a joke.  A nation that has to put such warnings on peoples “art”, is a nation in decline.   If trigger warnings were around in times past would the Bible have been written?  Would the statue of David be around? The movie Soylent Green?  The list is endless.

Where can people find you and your work?

https://authorjaywhales.wixsite.com/mid-western-stories#!

https://www.amazon.com/s?i=digital-text&rh=p_27%3AJay+Whales&s=relevancerank&text=Jay+Whales&ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1

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Ellen Jo Ljung

Your Name: Ellen Jo Ljung

Genre(s) of your work: Memoir

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Tales Told Out of School: Lessons Learned by the Teacher  (Published 2022)

Bio:

Illinois Master Teacher Ellen Jo Ljung spent nearly four decades teaching and learning from her students. She taught middle school, high school, and other teachers in three different states as her family moved. Author of two textbooks on teaching writing with computers and more than two dozen articles, Ljung also maintains an education blog.

A trailblazer in Problem-Based Learning, Ljung developed and taught a course that became a model for a state innovation program. She wrote many of the professional development materials for that program and for Teacher-Match. Ljung also helped bring Gay/Straight Alliances to her school district and is a co-founder of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance [www. https://www.ilsafeschools.org%5D.

When she isn’t busy reading and writing in her home office, Ljung and her husband of 54 years create art glass sold in galleries and travel the world to kayak. They’ve kayaked on five continents, from Alaska to Africa to Asia. She is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem for children in foster care and a political activist. In her spare time [isn’t sleep overrated?!], Ljung creates wearable art.

You can read her blog at www.imwriter.com and reach her at imwriter@imwriter.com.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

As a teacher and professional storyteller, I find myself generating my stories from experience. All of my early writing [two textbooks on teaching writing with computers when they were just coming to schools and dozens of professional articles] was expository, but I love stories. I’ve always treasured Barry Lopez’s quote:

Remember on this one thing, said Badger. The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed.

I retired from teaching when changes made it far less appealing. Writing and publishing this book has allowed me to end my career on a celebratory note, and its led me to so many interesting readers!

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I can’t remember not writing, so I don’t know how to answer this. I wrote mediocre poems in a notebook in grade school, I’ve journaled for ages, and I write for multiple venues now. But I do think I’ve always used writing, especially journaling, to figure out what I think.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Oh, so many… I love authors of good contemporary fiction like Colson Whitehead and Britt Bennett, I learn from authors like Ibram X. Kendi and Isabel Wilkerson, I relax with good mysteries, especially those featuring setting and/or female protagonists [Laura Lippman, Lisa Scottoline, Sara Paretsky, Marcia Muller], authors like Elizabeth Berg relate to my life, and – even though I’m not a big fan of science fiction – I find Ray Bradbury’s work more compelling than ever as so many of his predictions and warnings have come true.

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

I know many people who love them, and I used to listen to them on the way to work – in fact, I learned to leave early so I wouldn’t have to stop a book at a critical juncture! – but I think there may always be a passion for paper books that we hold and connect with. And I can’t imagine life without an e-reader; my Kindle doesn’t keep my husband awake if I’m reading at night, and it allows me to have a slew of books at my disposal at all times. I suspect we’ll continue to support all these platforms.

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

Word-of-mouth and Facebook posts have

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

I don’t believe in censorship. My parents encouraged me to read widely, and I got an adult card at our library when I was still in grade school. They also encouraged me to talk about what I was reading and helped me process more adult themes and issues. How can we learn about our world and our fellow human beings if we limit access? Censors undermine our ability to be exposed to and evaluate new and different ideas, to learn to think for ourselves after considering more options.

What is your opinion of Trigger Warnings?

Having been afraid of guns all my life, having been mugged at gunpoint twenty years ago, I appreciate a theater’s warning me that there will be gunshots… but I don’t see the same need with books. It’s easy to know about the contents of a book these day with the most basic online search, so people with issues like my fear of guns can warn themselves if they need to.

Do you find that you sell better in person (at events) or through social media (like a personal blog, website, or Amazon)?

I do best in person, though the internet has helped, too. I haven’t put my book on Amazon or released an ebook there yet, because I’m committed to selling through independent bookstores first and foremost.

Where can people find you and your work?

They can order from me directly or from Politics & Prose [https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781624293788] or from Harvey’s Tales [https://harveystales.com/].

www.imwriter.com

www.blog.imwriter.com

Facebook: Dare to Teach and Learn

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Kenny Sills

Your Name: Kenny Sills

Genre(s) of your work: Horror/Thriller/Suspense

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Tattoo: A Beautiful Sin (2011)

Tattoo: The Soul Reaper (2021)

Bio:

Kenny Sills, award-winning author, attended Southeast Missouri State University from 1988 – 1994 where he studied creative writing, philosophy, theology, martial arts, and music.  Life is an adventure and Kenny has spent his, traveling and exploring the world, both alone, and with his wife, Syndi.  They now call the St. Louis area, home.

When he’s not writing, he works with people with special needs.  Kenny, or “Sifu” to his students, is also a 5th degree Black Belt and owns Ohana Martial Arts in St. Charles, Missouri where he teaches classes for typically developing people as well as people with special needs.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I grew up in the 80’s, watching the great (and not so great) horror films, Freddy, Jason, Michael, Chucky, etc.  I always reveled in the excitement of being scared but safe in the theater or in my living room, watching them again on VHS.  That feeling stuck with me throughout my life and “bled” into my writing style.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing has opened up my mind and imagination and helped me realize more of what’s going on around me.  Also, it’s opened up a world of travel and meeting tons of interesting people at all of the book signings I do.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Brian K. Morris is an amazing author and a more amazing person!

I also enjoy the writings of Dan Millman and reading about all of his mystical adventures.

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

I think audiobooks have their place for a certain type of person.  However, I know that there are traditionalists who love the feel of the book in the hand and the turning of the pages.  I’m sure that’ll never change.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’ve never really thought about them in a positive or negative way.  They’re an avenue to connect readers with authors, so I guess they’re alright in my book! 😉

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

Facebook!  So many ways to get your word out to the world on Facebook.

I’ve also tried ebay, craigslist, etc.  No traction there, for me anyway.

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

Although I’m a horror writer, I can’t get myself to write about rape.  I can’t say it should be censored in other people’s work, but I can’t do it myself.

What is your opinion of Trigger Warnings?

Again, I grew up in the 80’s.  We didn’t have “Trigger Warnings.”  If something upset us, we dealt with it, which helped us learn to deal with other hardships and things that bothered us in life.  I think we’re doing a disservice to the younger generation who want’s to be shielded from reality, and the negativity that it can bring from time to time.

Where can people find you and your work?

You can email me for a personalized and/or autographed copy at tattooauthor@gmail.com

You can also order a copy online:

Tattoo: A Beautiful Sin

https://www.amazon.com/Tattoo-Beautiful-Sin-Kenny-Sills-ebook/dp/B0077T9PZ8/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=tattoo%3A+a+beautiful+sin&qid=1623423318&sr=8-1

Tattoo: The Soul Reaper

https://www.facebook.com/kenny.sills.1

https://www.facebook.com/TattooABeautifulSin

https://www.facebook.com/KennySillsTattoo

https://tattooauthor.wixsite.com/tattoo

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John S. McFarland

Your Name: John S. McFarland

Genre(s) of your work: Horror

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Black Garden, 2010/ 2021

The Dark Walk Forward, 2021

The Mother of Centuries, 2022 

Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom, 2022

Bio:

John S. McFarland’s short stories have appeared in numerous journals, in both mainstream and horror genre. His tales have been collected with stories by Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson. His work has been praised by such writers as T. E. D Klein and Philip Fracassi, and he has been called “A great, undiscovered voice in horror fiction.” McFarland’s horror novel, The Black Garden was published in 2010 to universal praise, and his young reader series about Bigfoot, Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom, is in print in three languages. His story collection, The Dark Walk Forward, is his first.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I have always loved monsters and outsider stories, cemeteries, crumbling buildings, it fits my nature!

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I had to accept that of all my creative interests, I was a writer first and foremost. I love words, stories and imagination. I am most myself when I write.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Poe, Lovecraft, Stoker, LeFanu, M.R. James, Mary Shelley, Ray Bradbury, Michelle Paver, Susan Hill are all great, classic horror writers

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

Yes. And ebooks. I resist the trend, but I am an anachronism.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

At least they sell books. Anything corporate turns me off but the neighborhood shops struggle.

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

I have tried PR people, Kirkus, online marketing. The only thing that works are selling them at book fairs face to face.

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

No

What is your opinion of Trigger Warnings?

I don’t know what they are.

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon, or Dark Owl Publishing

 

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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.”

119 comments

    1. Sorry for the late response – we were at the State Fair! 🙂 I added that trigger warning question because I have run into that issue a LOT over the past, say, year or so. I wondered what other writers had to say about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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