Welcome to the all new author interviews from Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.
Now, this is not your normal interview. You will be asked questions most people are too scared to ask to your face. These questions are dark, embarrassing, and/or intimate. I will try to do this once a month. Why should you participate?
Because, Lizzy’s Dark Fiction will giveaway a copy of your book alongside your interview at no cost to you!
To enter: Email me at lizzylessard (at) gmail.com with your name, book you wish to use for giveaway, and let me know you want to do the interview. All genres of books will be considered, even ones not normally reviewed on Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.
What happens then? You will be emailed the 10 questions. You must explain “why” with each answer. You are allowed to substitute one question with a “safe” question (a normal interview question), but doing so might hurt your chances of being picked. I will pick my favorite interview out of everyone that has entered. If you’re not chosen, you may re-enter. Author contest will re-open as soon as the interview is posted on Lizzy’s Dark Fiction. Since this is a reoccurring contest, there is no set end date. Upon emailing me, you will be entered into the current contest and given the current set of 10 questions.
Not an author?
You can still join in on the contest!
Comment with a list of questions you think are too dark for the normal interview.
If I use your question, you get $1 to spend at Amazon for each question chosen. You can submit an unlimited amount of questions, but duplicate questions will be deleted so please read the comments before yours before submitting.
- US only: Paperback books giveaway. Book must be available through Amazon at a max pre-shipping value of $15. I will be the one responsible for sending your book to the winner.
- International: Ebook giveaway. You will be reimbursed for the purchase amount of the book through giftcard (default is to Amazon.com, but I’m flexible) at a max value of $15. If your ebook is under $5, then we can offer two books for giveaway. You will be responsible for gifting your book to the winner. I will let you know what format the winner wants.
Questions currently on my list:
- Imagine your characters are on survivor. Who will they vote out of the book?
- Imagine your main character dies on page one. Everything else remains the same. Describe the new plot to your book.
- Your main character commits a crime. Describe how and why.
- One of your characters kills another. Who kills who. How does it happen. (Accidents allowed. Extra points for creativity.)
- Reveal the darkest moment in your life.
- Who do you think is the most overrated author?
- What book are you ashamed to have read?
- What is the weirdest thing that has ever been said or done to you by a fan. (Internet stalkers count)
- Reveal your secret “author” crush.
- What scares you the most?
- Scariest thing you have ever read/written.
- Hardest scene you have ever written.
- Name a topic that you refuse to write about.
- Favorite monster/villain.
I Kill You Questions:
- Remember the notorious author threat? ”I’m going to write you into my book and kill you off.” Describe how you would kill off this person.
- What do you think is the worst way to die?
- Pick a popular book character. Write their death scene.
Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
Edited by: Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink
In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.
It’s always hard to decide what to rate anthologies. Some stories are amazing and others bore me. So, I decided to to highlight the short stories that were dark, disturbing, and make this anthology worth buying. 5/23 lived up to their promise to be haunting. These 5 stories were A+++.
Clockwise by Leah Cypress – A retelling of the hickory dictory dock rhyme. Amarind was a princess transformed into a mouse and only the magic of a clock switched her back to a human. She has to unravel the mystery behind the enchantment with the help of a witch.
Boys and Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier – Bronywn tries to save her sister from the Beckoning, but she soon learns that you can’t deceive the witches in the woods.
Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling – She can’t understand why her mother keeps getting pregnant when there’s no money to feed the children she has.
The Well by K.M. Walton – Jack and Jill are the only two left alive after a deadly virus kills everyone else in the world.
The Wish by Suzanne Young – Lauren hates her life so much that she makes a deadly wish upon a star.
A copy of Two and Twenty Dark Tales was provided by the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Since there are so many authors, I’m only going to spotlight the ones from the stories I loved in this anthology.
- Leah Cypress – website | Changelings – a FREE collection of short stories | Mistwood – A Kirkus 2010 Best Book for Teens
- Angie Frazier – website | Everlasting – YA historical fantasy | The Midnight Tunnel - first in a MG mystery series
- Heidi R. Kling – website | Witch’s Brew – YA active fiction paranormal story
- K.M. Walton Heidi R. Kling - website | Cracked – YA contemporary about bullying
- Suzanne Young – website | A Need So Beautiful - YA angel book | My reviews of A Need So Beautiful and A Want So Wicked (Can you tell I LOVE this author?)
So what is 5 star review? Well, this is where, as a reviewer, I let you know what makes me rate your book 5 stars – or not. This week’s topic: characters.
Please note that some things that turn me off to your book as a reader/reviewer turn others on and vice versa.
There’s so much I could write about characters, so I picked just a few things. Characters in books I rate 5 stars are likeable, evolving, and complex. Characters are the “who” of the story. We typically think of them as people, but animals, and even objects can be personified and become characters.
- You could describe an ant as hardworking and persistent. You could write a story about how an ant overcame seemingly impossible odds to find food and feed its colony.
- You could write a story about a train that wants to take a trip off of the tracks – oh, wait…that’s called The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper.
But there needs to be someone or something that is the center of the story. Someone that we can connect to as a reader. Someone that is likeable. This would be your POV (point of view) character. The reader needs to be able to “feel” and “care” for the people telling the story. Would you go to a random person’s wedding or high school graduation? Do you cry when you read the obituary section in the newspaper? If you have nothing invested in these people, then no…you don’t care. The closer you become with the people, the more you are affected by what happens in “their” life.
I love You. I hate You. Either way, I care enough to notice you.
Now, don’t confuse “likeable” with good. Sometimes the villain is more likeable than the hero – like Hannibal Lector vs Will Graham in Red Dragon by Thomas Harris or Megamind vs Metroman (yes, I know…a movie!). Sometimes the hero is horribly flawed like Sherlock Holmes – socially inept. Humpert Humpert in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – pedophile. And if you can make both the villain and the hero likeable, that’s even more awesome.
And likeable certainly does not mean perfect. Think about it. Would you want your best friend to be rich beyond belief, gorgeous, athletic, brilliant, and extremely lucky? And why don’t we also make this person have a few supernatural powers and be the Chosen One. No, I don’t think you want to be friends with Mary Sue. Besides the obvious jealousy, readers have trouble relating to a character like that. You have flaws, therefore your characters should have flaws.
And CLUMSY is not a big enough game changer of a flaw to be the only flaw. Unless…you plan on your character tripping, smacking into the villain and the villain’s extended knife, which is perfectly positioned to plunge into the heat, and the character dies. If that happens, I can say, “Man, I’d rather be ugly than clumsy. At least no one ever died from being too ugly.” Then, and only then will you get full points in the character department with an otherwise completely Mary Sue character.
The Story of Evolution
There are two types of characters: those that change over the course of the novel (dynamic) and those that stay the same (stagnant). Most novels have both characters. The key to having dynamic characters is to make their evolution from the starting person to the end a very believable transition. The change in the characters need to be proportional to the situation for it to be believable. You can either have a lot of minor events that contribute to the change or you can have one major event that triggers a change.
Character trait: Character is a loyal wife. Then she has an affair.
- Believable: Scene after scene we have the wife doing things without her husband. He spends no time with her and she grows increasingly lonely, until she meets someone to fill the void – a neighbor.
- Not-believable: Husband forgot take out trash. Wife screws her neighbor when she sees him at his trash can next door.
Character trait: Character used to love spending all her time with animals. Not anymore.
- Believable: Character quits veterinarian job after own pet dies and there was nothing she could do to save Fluffy. Every animal she sees reminds her of her dead dog and she can’t bear it.
- Not-believable: Character quits veterinarian job because ants have invaded her kitchen and THIS MEANS WAR! Every animal is a potential enemy now.
A thousand faces
Do you act the same way in front of your parents or your boss as you do your friends? Your lover? If the answer is yes, then please find the nearest exit and “get a life”. teenagers especially treat different people differently. They might be more joking around their friends. Quieter around someone they like. And more conservative (both in dress and speech) in front of their parents. There might be conflicting information for the reader.
Example: Suzy tells John that she can’t stand Bobby, but Suzy then tells Bobby that she likes hanging around him.
What does this mean? It means that either Suzy is hiding her true feelings from John about Bobby or Suzy is hiding her true feelings from Bobby about himself. To one of these guys, Suzy is honest. To the other guy, Suzy is a liar. She is still one person, but has conflicting character traits. She is complex and that’s how I like my characters.
Readers: What do you think makes a character likeable?Read More
Z is for Zombie by Philip Hansen
It’s the end of the world as we know it… and nothing is fine.
Mack, Skinny, Navarette and El Tee are Echo Squad, soldiers on the frontlines of the zombie war. Faced with an army of zombies that hungers for all flesh to be eaten their tiny group must survive deadly decap zombies and wicked clever roamer zombies in time for an aerial assault that will change the face of the battleground against the living dead.
Z is for Zombie is an action-packed gun-porn short story in the world of the living dead.
This is a man’s story. A story worthy of a man cave and the story to read between Halo 3 matches. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the author is an avid gamer (as am I) and the utter pwnage of the characters over the zombies in the novels was epic…like purple epic…like I just beat the hidden cow level epic. Okay, okay. Seriousness. This is a story about soldiers…in a zombie apocalypse. They talk like soldiers and there is quite a bit of military jargon used in the story. I loved the dialogue. The descriptions are so vivid. The pacing and action is super fast. The plot and characters feel so authentic and intense that I just have a need to read the story out loud – and then I realize that I probably shouldn’t in front of my kid. I don’t want to explain what “headshot” means.
Warning: excessive cursing violence, and gore.
I do have one complaint – the text is in a stupid font and non-adjustable. Besides that, this is a pretty awesome short story.
So what is 5 star review? Well, this is where, as a reviewer, I let you know what makes me rate your book 5 stars – or not. This week’s topic: pacing
Please note that some things that turn me off to your book as a reader/reviewer turn others on and vice versa.
Since we’re talking about good pacing this week, I promise that I won’t ramble on like I have with these topics before. I’ve read quite a few books that suffer from a lack of good pacing. I think one of the biggest amateur author mistakes is including too much non-relevant information. There has to be a point to every scene. Worse is when the pacing slows on the “boring” parts of the characters’ stories and speeds up when the “exciting” stuff happens. It’s frustrating to read four or five pages about Mindy drinking her morning coffee and then two sentences about how she ran over a guy last summer. Why couldn’t there be five pages about the hit and run instead? Even as a flashback, it is much more entertaining than reading about someone eating or driving a car or sleeping.
So, what is the pace of a story? It is how fast the plot advances in the story. The plot advances much faster in action scenes than in narratives and the writing on the page should reflect this change. Let’s start by focusing on this post. The top section of the post is wordy and the text takes up the entire page from left to right. It will take you, as the reader, double the amount of time to read these two paragraphs than to read the next two “sections”.
How to speed up the pace:
- - Shorter sentences
- - Less descriptions
- - More action
- - Back and forth dialogue.
How to slow down the pace:
- - Long, complex sentences
- - More descriptions
- - Minimal action
- - Monologues/narrative
Of course, there needs to be a balance. Too much white on a page is just as tiring as too little. I like a very fast pace “thriller” feel to the books I read. In my mind, if the characters aren’t talking or the characters aren’t moving, then it’s not important. Long narratives lose my interest quickly and so do long monologues, which tend to happen when the author is trying to “info-dump” through dialogue. Other readers might enjoy the slower sections of the novel to relax their mind and “take a breather” so to speak.
Reader: Do you like fast paced books, leisurely paced books, or something in between? Or does it depend on the genre?Read More