Monday, October 29, 2018

Inkshares Horror Contest 2018 and Interview with Previous Winner: Scott Thomas

Inkshares is hosting a Horror Contest. It started 10/8 and it runs through until 12/14
They have everything you need to know about the contest on their WEBSITE
But I think this is particularly noteworthy:

"What is the purpose of this contest?To publish and represent at least three novelists in the horror space. We’re modeling this contest after one we did in collaboration with the Horror Writers Association of America last October, which bubbled up some incredible debut authors that we are currently in the midst of publishing."

As "Mother Horror" and Co-Creator of the upcoming monthly Book Club Package, Night Worms-I'm all about promoting horror and growing the genre's fanbase. So this Horror Contest is something I can get behind and support.
InkShares invited me to interview Scott Thomas- who won one of Inkshare's previous contests on WattPad. Scott submitted, Kill Creek. You can read my glowing, 5 star review HERE

Interview with Scott Thomas...

1. It’s been almost one year since the debut of your first novel, Kill Creek. Can you share with me what this last year has been like for you?

This last year has been amazing. Horror has always been my favorite genre, but my TV career has taken me more into kids and family projects, so to finally feel like I have legit entry to the horror world is a dream come true. And it’s been a thrill to see the response to Kill Creek. I wrote the first draft of Kill Creek many years ago, and I was beginning to wonder if it would ever see the light of day. To have it out in the world and finding an audience is an incredible feeling. It’s also opened doors which have allowed me to line up more projects. Hopefully this is just the beginning of my career in horror.

2. What advice can you give to writers out there with a horror story to share who are thinking about entering Inkshares’ new horror contest?

Enter it. What do you have to lose? The folks at Inkshares truly want to tell the best version of your story, and they’ll work with you day and night to make that happen. If you’re sitting on a horror novel, ENTER IT IN THIS CONTEST. If it weren’t for a manuscript contest, Kill Creek would still only exist on my hard drive. I said “what the hell” and entered it in a contest, and less than a year later, I was talking to Inkshares about fully publishing it. And a year after that, it was on bookstore shelves, online, and landing on “best of” lists. Where would I be if I hadn’t entered that contest? Still sitting around wondering “what if?”

3. I’m choosing Kill Creek to be in my top ten horror books for the year and I know for a fact that your book will make lots of other lists as well. How does it feel having your debut so well received?

First of all: thank you for including Kill Creek and for being such a vocal supporter of this book! I’ve loved watching readers recommend Kill Creek to others, and then seeing them respond positively. Word of mouth is huge when you’re a new author, and I’m truly grateful that the response to Kill Creek has been overwhelmingly positive. One of the greatest moments of the past year (actually, of my life) was seeing Joyce Carol Oates tweet about my book. When you write something, it doesn’t matter how much you like it or your friends like it or your family likes it—if it’s going to live, it has to find a wider audience. Oddly enough, that quest for relevancy, that need to be known in order to survive, is a major theme in Kill Creek. So this whole experience has been weirdly meta.

4. Is there pressure on you for future book releases coming off the success of Kill Creek?

Nobody puts more pressure on me than me. Obviously when one project has been well received, you don’t want to disappoint with your next one. I’ve tried to let my next book live on its own, but because it’s another slow-burn supernatural story set in Kansas, I can’t help but compare the two, even though it’s a very different story. I think I feel more excitement than pressure. I’m excited to tell all of the stories that have been bouncing around in my head over the years. They finally have an outlet to the world. There are a lot of them, so I plan to keep putting books out as long as people want to read them.

5. Speaking of success, I’ve seen that Kill Creek is being developed for Showtime. Can you tell me more about that? 

Yeah! Late last year, a company called Platform One optioned Kill Creek for television. They hooked me up with an incredible executive producer named Misha Green and we started working up a pitch. Then, out of the blue, Scott Derrickson, the director of Dr. Strange, Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, DM’d me on Twitter. He had read Kill Creek and wanted to know if the rights were available. I told him that we were going to pitch it to networks, so before long, he was on board to direct the pilot. Along with Katie O’Connell and Elisa Ellis from Platform One, producer Andrew Lazar and Adam Gomolin from Inkshares, we went out and pitched to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO and Showtime in one day, and Apple the next morning. Since Kill Creek is about storytelling, we decided to pitch it like a ghost story. We asked each company for their darkest conference room, and when the execs came in, I lit a candle and pitched the whole show by candlelight. It was freakin’ epic. I couldn’t be more excited that Kill Creek ended up at Showtime. I’m a huge fan of their original series. Their focus on story and character makes them the perfect fit.

6. What books would make your top ten list that were released this year? 

I have to admit, I’m not a very fast reader, and my long work hours mean that I manage to read a couple pages every night before falling asleep with the book on my chest. But I also can’t leave a bookstore without buying something, so I have a lot of books on my shelf from past years that I haven’t read yet. Most of the books I read this year weren’t released this year. So here’s my “not only from this year” Top 8 List: Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, You by Caroline Kepnes, A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, That’s What She Said by Joanna Lipman, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and Insomnia by Stephen King. I’m currently reading The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub, and like most Straub, I expect to love it.

7. Are you currently working on something you could talk about a little bit with me?

In addition to writing the first episode of Kill Creek for Showtime, I’m currently writing the second draft of my new novel, Violet. Here’s the quick synopsis: "When Kris Barlow was ten years old, her father brought her to their family’s lake house to spend the last few weeks with her dying mother. It was one of the most difficult times of young Kris’ life. Luckily she had someone to help her through it: her imaginary friend, Violet. Now, thirty years later, Kris has returned to the lake house to recover from yet another family tragedy. With her is her eight-year-old daughter, Sadie. But what is supposed to be a summer of healing becomes an odyssey of unspeakable terror―for Violet is still in the house, waiting to play with Kris again…” Like Kill CreekViolet is set in my home state of Kansas. I’m enjoying creating a supernatural mythology for the area where I grew up. Violet isn’t connected to Kill Creek, but it definitely takes place in the same universe. It’s also a much more contained story; most of it is told from one POV. It is a story about abandonment and the (sometimes terrifying) responsibility we feel for something we create, be it a child or a story or an imaginary friend. When we create something, we hold ourselves responsible for its actions, the good and the bad. And Violet is up to some very, very bad things. 

8. Scott Thomas: If you were an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be and why? 

Hmm… I guess I would be Vanilla Bean with unseen rivers of blood red cherry and chunks of bitter chocolate just below the surface, because I think sometimes people are surprised that plain, “normal" me enjoys thinking up bloody, dark tales.

9. If you had to spend the night in a haunted house with four horror writers, which four would you choose? 

Stephen King, Anne Rice, Peter Straub and Clive Barker. Not that original, I know, but it would be a freakin’ thrill.

10. Lastly, do you get to read or judge this Inkshares contest? Do you have any secrets to tell me about what would give a prospective entry an edge over everyone else?

Unfortunately I don’t get to read or judge the entries. And I don’t have any incredible advice for making sure your book wins a contest. I would approach it as I do any story: make sure that if you took the hook out—the horror element, in this case—your story would still be intriguing. That means creating interesting, relatable conflict for the characters that stands on its own. Other than that, all you can do is enter the contest and let your writing speak for itself.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Of Dark Origins

When I was a little girl, my favorite reward for a job well done was when my parents would take me to our local bookstore and let me pick out a new book. The children's section was a down a narrow staircase and at the back of the store.
The owners had a whole bookcase full of chapter books under the heading, "Mysteries". It was my goal to own all the spooky titles. My favorite author was John Bellairs. His books had the best covers illustrated by Edward Gorey who also illustrated some pictures inside too! At some point, I had exhausted the Mystery section downstairs in the kid's library and I needed something to fill the void. I remember my mom researching some appropriate titles and making some suggestions  that we then checked out at the library. One of those books is still a favorite, it's called The Witch at Blackbird Pond and I've been on the search for the same edition I read as a child, I'd love to read it again. Around this time, I also started reading Agatha Christie novels. I lived for the scenes of murder and mayhem.

At the same time I was discovering a passion for "dark fiction" my mother's collection of horror was growing. My dad bought her a bookcase for her new addiction. One of my favorite things to do was to pull an "adult scary book" off the shelf and read the tantalizing synopsis on the back. Sometimes the books even had a scary cover I could stare at.
One fateful day, I grabbed Salem's Lot off the shelf and instead of putting back, I took it into my room.
I remember thinking that this book would be a good selection because the cover wasn't that scary, that little town locked inside the "O" looked pretty quaint, actually. I was ten years old. At night, in secret, I read Salem's Lot and to be perfectly honest, I was terrified. I regretted my decision to read such an adult story. It felt so wrong and I was scandalized by all the grown up subject material but I couldn't stop reading it. It felt wrong, yes but it also was everything I ever wanted. I devoured it.
A Constant Reader was born.
When I finished, I slid the book back into its spot on my mom's shelf and I vowed to stick to my own "child appropriate" spooky stories.
After a few attempts, those books weren't cutting it anymore. I read Firestarter and Carrie shortly after Salem's Lot.
But the book that called out to me the most was also the biggest and had the most intriguing cover. I avoided it as long as I could but after having read three Stephen King titles and jonesing for more, I finally relented and pulled IT off the shelf. I was thirteen.

Stephen King's IT scared the shit out of me. I think I finally confessed to my mom that I had been stealing her King books and reading them in secret after I finished defiling my young brain with tales of shapeshifting, demonic clowns. The amusing thing is that she wasn't mad. At all. She encouraged it, actually! I didn't take her up on her offer right away. IT scared me off of horror books for a pretty long season. I did read The Eyes of the Dragon and The Talisman, because she told me those weren't scary and I fell in love with both of those stories.
In high school, I started the Dark Tower series and I also started venturing out into the works of Peter Straub and Anne Rice. Horror found its way back into my good graces. It wasn't long before I consumed Stephen King's entire back catalog and also started buying his new releases for my own collection.
I became a horror junkie but it's interesting how it wasn't my genre of choice for a long, long time. I went through a whole phase of murder mysteries where I read everything I could get my hands on by Patricia Cornwell and John Sanford. The grislier the details of the crimes, the better.
Eventually, I found my way back into horror and now, in this season of life, it's the only thing I want to read. I feel like horror, as a genre, as really arrived. It's a new animal. There are so many sub genres and so much diversity, I don't feel the need to satisfy a lacking need in my heart with anything else. I'm still a Constant Reader but I'm also Mother Horror and I'm loving it. I'm enjoying my non stop parade of chills & thrills and reviewing it, professionally. This isn't a hobby or a pastime anymore. It's a lifestyle.