Monday, October 29, 2012

Dead Man's Party

My birthday was a couple days ago, it's Coffin Hop, and Halloween is just around the corner. So to celebrate, I have Jack Wallen, who has graciously agreed to visit my blog today!

Anyways, Jack has a lot to say about creating the perfect villain, and in the sprit of Halloween and all things creepy, I'll let him take it from here....


It wasn’t until I was doing a touring a show along the east coast and Canada that I had that magical moment of falling under the spell of a villain. That villain was Shakespeare’s Richard III as portrayed by the brilliant Colm Feore. When Mr. Feore limped onto the stage and recited “Now is the winter of our discontent…” he had the audience eating out of the palm of his twisted hand. We laughed, we ooh’d, and we ahh’d at his incredible acrobatic use of the language and his voice. But more importantly, we fell in love with a character so utterly evil that when he walked on stage carrying a severed head we thought it just… for a moment.

That was when I realized how delicious a well played villain could be. Mr. Feore took a despicable character and made an audience want to cheer for him. The same thing happened with Anthony Hopkins portraying Hannibal Lecter in the Silence of the Lambs that made us, as an audience, so badly want to know the why a man or woman had become who they were. Why did Lecter eat humans? Why did Lecter get away with making us love him? Dexter Morgan – Same thing.

This begs another question – why do we writers need to create killers or protagonists that speak to the readers minds, hearts, and emotions? Aren’t they simply evil? On the surface, yes. But creating a character built completely of malice, with nothing for the reader to connect to, will cause a story one big problem – no one will care. Oh sure, they will care that your good guys get away… but any connection a reader might possibly make with the bad guy is gone.

Let’s take a look at an historical character often thought of as the single most evil human to ever grace the earth – Hitler. There is not doubt that the acts Hitler committed were despicable. But when you learn he was beaten as a child, ruled by an iron-fisted father, was an artist, and lived most of his life a vegetarian you (or the reader) all of a sudden might want to know more. Without those “humanizing” bits of information the man is nothing more than a monster and no one would be willing to invest in getting to know the why. Not that those elements, in any way, give a man that committed such atrocities any sympathy. But it does add an element of curiosity to the mixture.

What drove him to do what he did?

That human element is key. No matter how evil, violent, or malicious a killer is, they must have a hook (not literally…unless said killer is Candyman) that allows the killer to wend its way into the readers conscience. These “hooks” are not always easy to incorporate believably, but they are a must. For me, the best way to achieve some level of humanity in a serial killer is to consider the very moment of the killer’s past that allowed them to kill. Once I have that key moment I work my way backwards. Let me give you an example. In my book A Blade Away I discovered, during the creation of Lakme, the moment that caused him to want to kill was when he (as a young boy) witnessed the death of his mother at the hands of his physically and sexually abusive father. At that point, the young man had to stop his father from doing any further damage to the world, which allowed the young boy to release years of pain upon his drunken father.

It was at that moment I realized, as a child, Lakme had been so abused by his father, the reader would at least be able to extend the reach of sympathy for the child that became the killer. The audience could “see” how the man became the killer and, on some level, think I would do the same thing.

Killers are tricky to write. If you create a one dimensional protagonist, no one will care. If you create too many dimensions the character’s motives and actions become confusing. The single most important element for a killer (or protagonist), from the writer’s perspective, is humanity. If a killer does not seem human the audience will have nothing to connect to. If the audience is unable to connect they will not read. If the audience doesn’t read…you get the idea.

No man or woman is born evil. The beaten housewife that murders her husband. The tortured prisoner that wipes out his captors. The shipwrecked church group forced to cannibalize one another to survive. These atrocious acts seem justified to the reader, because the reader can relate, thanks to the given circumstances. But Imagine a Hannibal Lecter that wasn’t captured by Nazi’s and forced to watch as they murdered and cannibalize his sister. Imagine a Dexter who only cared about the kill and not cleaning the streets of the criminals the system over looks. Those characters all of a sudden are nothing more than horribly malicious men with no humanity for us to connect to. Evil, hatred, or malice without cause is a recipe for disaster very few writers can overcome.

Creating a believable killer is no easy feat. Even the most despicable men and women were, at one point, human beings that loved and were loved. Those connections must be made in order for big bad nasties to be believable.

I do enjoy creating a good killer. Although those around me tend to offer up that look when I describe my latest madman, I know, so long as I craft them carefully, those killers will give life to my books the good guys can’t touch.


Want to know more about Jack? 

Jack Wallen is the new name in horror. His works span genres and weave evil, conspiracy, and fear into nightmarish worlds.

Jack has been given the title "Zombie King" by his readers and fans. He didn't garner that title by dining on the brains of helpless victims. It was only after writing until his fingers and mind were nothing but meat for the beasts that he became a master of the zombie genre. During that haunted hay ride Jack produced works of fiction enjoyable by not just zombie fans, but anyone daring to take a peek into what might possibly become of humanity.

Of course, being of the insane writer clan, Jack isn't just happy with the penning of zombie fiction. Oh no, the nightmare does not end there. Like the late, great Freddy Mercury, Jack wants it all -- so, he will continue twisting the horror genre to meet his disturbed mind as well as write his Fringe Killer and Screampark series, and his joyous celebration of all things diverse -- Shero.

For his inspiration to begin reading and writing, Jack thanks the ever-incredible Clive Barker for penning in a genre with words of grace and horror. 

You can find Jack at

Thanks Jack for gracing me with your presence today! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


It's Coffin Hop time! I have anxiously awaited this event and now it's here!! What is Coffin Hop? Well, it's the best damn show in town! Over 100 horror authors participating in a Horrorpalooza of guts and glory. This is one event you don't want to miss!

I'll be giving away one Grand Prize Giveaway!! 
The winner will receive: 

A signed copy of unDead Dixie Debs (Southern Gothic Horror Collection)
A coveted ebook copy of Coffin Hop: Death by Drive-In (2012 Collector EP Edition)
Signed bookmarks
Zombie bumper stickers
Mini Zombie Doll
Super fun buttons and other spooky swag!  

#2 Giveaway (8 winners)
These winners (one for every day of Coffin Hop) will receive:
 An ebook copy of unDead Dixie Debs. 

So what do you have to do? That's the easy part, all you have to do is comment on ANY of my blog posts between October 24th and October 31st to be entered to win an ebook (giveaway #2). 

If you comment on ANY of my posts AND comment on another Coffin Hop participating author, you will be entered to win the Grand Prize Giveaway (the more authors you visit, the more times your name gets put in the hat)! Not only that, but you'll be participating in one of their giveaways (some MUCH, MUCH, cooler than mine), which equates to more than 100 prizes to be given away!

Also, please let me know in the comments (my posts) that you have commented on another author site. Winners will be selected at random. 

For more info on Coffin Hop, stop by the official blog.

To see participating authors, click on the pic to take you to the Linky List!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I just hit the "publish" button and PARADIGM has now been uploaded to Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and Kobo. It will take a few days for it to go LIVE, so keep checking your favorite ebook retailer! I'll be doing periodic updates on FB as soon as I get word on it's status.

I know many of you have been super patient with me as I worked on this, and are excited as I am that it's finally here. THANK YOU for hanging in there!

UPDATE: Now live on Amazon and iTunes

Thursday, October 18, 2012


It's never to early to prepare for Halloween! A fabulous Spookaganza Giveaway!! 33 ebooks, by some fabulous indie authors, will be divided among 3 winners. That's 11 books, folks!

Contest runs from October 20th - October 30th.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Update: PARADIGM Release

Just wanted to post another quick update. PARADIGM was sent last week to editing and I should be getting it back sometime soon! Looks like a definite October release! For those that have been waiting patiently these past few months, I thank you for being so understanding. Sometimes things don't go as we planned and life sometimes gets in the way!

I want to thank all the beta readers who gave me some great feedback and I appreciate all your efforts!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Coffin Hop News!

For those of you who know me personally, you know it's been one hell of a month so far and it's only the 10th of October. BUT it's a new week and I'm forever optimistic!

You'll be pleased to know that I have all of my beta reader feedback in and will be sending in my final draft for editing today/tomorrow!! That means I'm only a couple weeks away from publication folks!! 

But right now, I want to focus on other things on the horizon. Can we say, HALLOWEEN anyone? The hubby and I have taken advantage of the early halloween candy displays at Walmart and have already eaten several bags of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. That's not my news though.

Some have noticed a new button on my side bar. What's Coffin Hop, you might be asking... Well, it's the grand dame of all Halloween extravaganzas! It's a blog hop featuring some of the best in indie horror entertainment. The cool part is, I get to be a part of it!! 

Between October 24 - 31, there'll be giveaways, posts, prizes, hexes, and a lot of B-rated horror cheesiness! I'll post more info prior to the hop, but here's a little teaser of what's in store:

The Coffin Hop Anthology will be available next year, but there will be an official Collector's EP - Coffin Hop: Death By Drive-In. The collector's sample edition (okay, it's a sneak peek) will contain stories from Amy K. Marshall, Jessica McHugh, CW LaSart, and Red Tash. This edition will be offered for a limited time during Coffin Hop 2012! 

If you can't already tell, I'm super excited about this event. Not only is the story I submitted some of my best work (in my opinion of course), but I love celebrating Halloween, my birthday (which falls during Coffin Hop), and giving away prizes! I'll have a giveaway for every day of the hop and that's just a win for everyone! 

It's too late to submit to the anthology, but it's not too late to participate in Coffin Hop 2012! If you're a reader, check back for more info!! It's going to be one hell of a ride! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Paradigm Release Update

Just wanted to post a quick update! I'm still waiting to hear back from two of my beta readers and in the meantime, I am working on the edits from the feedback I currently have. I expect to have the final draft done and ready to send to my editor this week! 

For those of you who have emailed/send comments on FB, I know ya'll are anxiously awaiting PARADIGM, and I'm thrilled to hear from you. I am doing my best to get it out this month and it looks like I'm on track for an October release date. 

Until then...