Thursday, June 21, 2007

Interview with Heather Ingemar

Where did you get the idea for such a unique twist on an old tale?

I don't want to say I had an 'idea' for it because Lear kind of came to me rather than me seeking him out. One day, in August '06, I just had this vivid image of this dark-haired man with grey eyes walking into his apartment late at night. He had a gun and was a cop, and somehow, I knew he was different. So I sat down at my computer and started writing. Next thing I knew, he was a vampyre--though not in the tradional sense, he had a girlfriend, there was this thing with a mad scientist, and wham! It was all there. I think I wrote it all in about three days. A lot of my fiction is like that. I don't write until the character comes to me and essentially says, "Hey! Lady! I've got a story for you!"

Are you a vampire fan yourself? If so, what are your favorite shows/movies/books?

Definitely! Although it's rather funny--I still have not read Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (don't tell my Brit. Lit. professor!). So, I guess I should say: yes, I'm a vampire fan, but with the caveat that they aren't nasty. I like my monsters to defy the concept of "monster." You'll find that a lot in my fiction. Nothing is quite how you'd expect it.
Anyhow, my favorite vampire media. I am a fan of the Underworld movies and of course, "Nosferatu," although it's got to be the 1800 vintage black-and-white film. As far as T.V. goes, the few episodes I saw of Buffy were good. Ironically, I haven't read much vampire literature, although I really liked "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer and "Covenant with the Vampire" by Jeanne Kalogridis. I read a poem in Brit. Lit. class called "Cristabel," I forget who by. The vampire lady in that one was nasty, but I was rather fond of the poem because the vampiress wasn't at all like the more traditional concept of a vampire. She didn't suck blood (at least, it wasn't mentioned), and she was more akin to a snake with hypnotic powers than a bat or something. Rather unusual.

This is short fiction? Tell us how the eBook differs then from a more conventional novel:

Yes, "Darkness Cornered" is a short story. As for how the ebook differs from a more conventional novel, well, for starters, the format. There's a big difference between paper and a computer screen. Secondly, you can purchase it online and read it right away--instead of having to wait for two weeks while it's in the mail. In my opinion, the short story really excells in the digital medium. The demands on a reader's time are less, not to mention, people who don't want to invest the time and effort into reading a novel tend to be more willing to pick up a short. The ebook medium also allows for greater expression of creativity. For example, in my experience, print magazines are are looking for a certain kind of fiction and they only have so many pages to display it in. In the ebook medium, however, there aren't the space constraints. The author has a bit more leeway with length. It isn't so crucial that it be over so many words, or under. There's breathing room. And with breathing room, creativity blossoms.

Why keep it short? Is there more story you’d like to develop later?

Keeping "Darkness Cornered" short was an editing call I made early on. A couple weeks after I'd written the story, I started filling in the backstory. I started where Lear met Kai and began writing up to the time when he enters his apartment. Halfway through, I got bogged down. There was too much, it was interfering with the sharpness of the part I'd already written. So I decided to start cutting. Then I realized that there was a lot of good info on the V-mutation that wasn't in the story I'd written. I made the call. Cut what I can of the slog, and keep the necessary info for inclusion in the short. It was tough, but that's what I did.
Looking back over it, I think, "you know? There are parts that could have been fleshed out a little better." Then again, who can't not look back over their work and continue to see room for improvement? They say hindsight it 20-20....
As for further development of the story later, I don't know. Certainly not with Lear, but Kai is still out there. She's got a whole life to pick back up again. She's starting over. If she wants her story told, I'll know. As for right now, no more development is planned.

What’s next?

Aaah, what's next. I've got two upcoming works with Echelon Press ( a horror short story titled "A Slip of Wormwood" and a fantasy novella titled "Prophet's Choice." "Wormwood" was really a hoot to write, it's morbid and wonderfully twisted. "Prophet's Choice" was a story I'd started about three years ago that I couldn't leave alone. I slogged away on it as a novel for, well, about three years, and managed to finish it last Thanksgiving. It was horrible when I shelved it, terribly lack-luster. Then around February, I got to thinking about it again and pulled it out. I realized it needed a serious trim to give it the necessary shine. So I set about it. In short order I had the story I'd envisioned all along. Much happier about it, I polished it and sent it to my publisher. The rest, as they say, is history.
As for current projects, I'm working on a novella series tentatively titled "The Angels of Shadow." I refuse to divulge too many details until it's finished, but I will say that it's a rather odd love story. Kind of like "Beauty and the Beast," only not. (As if that didn't confuse you!) I'm also working on another horror short story and a fantasy short story that's been bugging me since December.
Other than that, it's just life on the farm.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Darkness Cornered by Heather S. Ingemar

Lear King is one of thousands in the latest chain of human evolution—vampyres. The V-mutation, as many call it, moved fast through the population and heightened certain natural traits such as photosensitivity, cell regeneration, and lower body core temperature until the people affected became like the supernatural creatures of ancient myths. And as with most developments in evolution, it becomes survival of the fittest: most of the "normals" died out.

Except for Kai Green, Lear's girlfriend. She's one of the last few "normals," and the light his life.

Then there's Dr. Maddox Corvan, the head of the Department of Scientific Research, who is certain that this V-mutation is a disease, and who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of it. Even tracking down the remaining "normals" and performing macabre experiments upon them under the reputable guise of his station.

Dr. Corvan, frustrated after his last experiments go haywire, locates Kai, and pins her as his next victim. But there's just one problem.


Can he save her before it's too late?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interview with Cynthia MacKinnon

What gave you the idea for Light at the Edge of Darkness?

I can't claim any credit for the "idea" behind LatEoD. Daniel Weaver, who had just formed a critique group, suggested a short story project would be fun for the members. Although I wasn't part of Daniel's group, I did catch wind of the project, discussed some possibilities with he and Frank Creed about publication and then upped the ante a bit -- Daniel thought it constructive to tackle this project as good experience in submitting stories for publication. So, this group of writers sharpened their pencils and set to work writing short stories.

Because this was a critique group, as soon as stories were completed, the group turned their focus to critiquing. The result was some excellent examples of Biblical speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, cyberpunk, supernatural, dystopia, etc.). I still refer to the anthology as "Daniel's Project."

How did you find your contributors?

Once the anthology project was announced, most (if not all) members of the critique group were enthusiastic about participating. Then, members were encouraged to invite other writers with whose work they were familiar and the numbers swelled as people were invited from other Christian groups. The project was also announced at the site of "The Herscher Projects" which is a private group of speculative fiction writers chosen from Elfwood (the world's largest on-line sci-fi - fantasy community).

Once the stories were honed, they were submitted to me and using criterion-referenced evaluation, I chose the resulting selections. We had considered a "democratic" selection involving all the authors, and although we did this for fun, I made an executive decision -- there were too many variables to consider the democratic approach viable.

There was one exception to the above process as I wanted a headliner for the anthology. "Undeniable" a novella by Canadian horror writer A.P. Fuchs, was a comissioned work.

What was the most fun about putting the anthology together?
That's easy . . . having a job that entailed reading all the stories! I have to confess, prior to reading the submissions, I was not a fan of Christian nor speculative fiction--and certainly not horror. When I found myself immediately caught up in each of the "winning" stories, I knew I had found treasure! I never dreamed I'd be captivated by Biblical speculative fiction!

What was the toughest thing about putting the anthology together?

1. For three months I was just itching to read the stories, but couldn't. I purposely kept my distance from the critique rounds in order to view each story at its very best. I knew from experience that it is very easy to develop biases. For instance, I see an original draft that is very rough and then read it again as a submission and think, wow! has this ever improved. It would be so tempting to accept the story based on the effort put into improvements. The other side of the coin would be to read an original draft that holds real promise and come submission reading time, not pay as close attention to the story as I should.

2. The toughest part was making a final decision about each story and then having to inform each individual about my decision; many fine stories had to be turned down.

Why do you feel there's a need and a place for works like LatEoD?

To answer this I have to take a step back. The Christian community is, unfortunately, suspicious of this genre (as a matter of fact, much in the same way as alternative Christian music was viewed 15 years ago). The big CBA publishing houses are reluctant, to put it mildly, to take a chance on spec-fic, because they don't see a huge market for it. However, there is this huge untapped market of speculative fiction fans who are limited to reading secular works, many of which are anti-Christian by nature. What if they realized that literature existed that reflected their traditional values and was respectul of their Christian worldview?

Well, I didn't have to go very far in my research to hear the same thing over and over: I'd snap up a volume (or novel) of Biblical speculative fiction (stories) in a moment! but I can't find any. Yes, I realize that there exists some excellent work that fits this criteria, but one wouldn't know it by searching in a Christian book store! This, of course, presents a new problem: to make the availability of this genre known to the market. The whole raison d'etre of the Lost Genre Guild is to band artists together with the goal of promoting speculative fiction, making the market aware that the genre is available.

What's next?

Glad you asked! In the immediate future, look for the release of Flashpoint, by Frank Creed this fall and League of Superheroes by Stephen Rice this winter. Plus The Writers' Cafe Press has an ace up its sleeve, but ya'll are going to have to wait and see what it is!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Review: Light at the Edge of Darkness

Note: This is a re-run for the Light at the Edge of Darkness virtual book tour.

If you like exciting speculative fiction with a strong Christian message, pick up Light at the Edge of Darkness, an anthology of Christian speculative fiction edited by Cynthia MacKinnon. The 27 stories take the doctrine of Christian salvation from several different angles, yet all bear the same message: God is there for you if you seek and accept Him.
First, a word on the overall craftsmanship: Fantastic. These are well-written stories with strong plots, interesting characters, and vivid descriptions. (Some a little too vivid--don't read Weaver's stories or Fuchs' "Undeniable" before bed).
With 27 stories spanning horror, fantasy--both traditional and modern--and SF, as well as a few comedy pieces, there's something for everyone. I'm going to share a few of my favorites:

"Fumblebot's Task" by Deborah Cullins-Smith: Fumblebot, one of Satan's more ineffective minions, is given one last chance to prove himself: use Gretchen Hobson's superstitious fears to destroy her newly found faith in God. Cullins-Smith weaves a funny tale of (literally) hellish inter-office politics and miraculous near-misses as Fumblebot lives up to his name and, well, fumbles the task. The devil is in the details--or he should have been if he'd wanted it done right.

"Fair Balance" by S.M. Kirkland: Teenage rebellion becomes a fight for one sibling's soul. Kirkland drew me into the story from the beginning, but what I loved most about this story was that it did not take the easy ending.

"Allison" by Deborah Cullins-Smith: Get out the tissue for this poignant story about the fate of children lost in the womb and for the mothers who mourn them. I get teary just thinking about it, but I'm willing to bet many a mother will find comfort in her story.

"Small and Simple Things" by Alethea Knight: I loved the narrative voice in this tale as a grandmother tells her grandchild the story of their people and the amazing mutations that affected them when they colonized a new world. I would like to read more about this world where these Gifts--from sprouting wings to glowing--are first feared, then enjoyed, then depended on to survive in Panacea.

"Your Average Ordinary Alien" by Adam Graham: Another chuckler. I love the idea of a hard core SF fan being abducted by aliens and finding out they aren't so different from us after all. Kirk Skywalker (he changed his name) summed it up best: "I finally get to meet an alien and he tells me that you're just flying green WASPs."

"Soar on Wings" by Carizz Cruzem: What an imagination! Cruzem takes a look at life from the point of view of a fly--and makes it enjoyable, believable and fun! To add a Christian message attests to his genius. Write more!

"Edge of Water" by Karen McSpadden: Another writer who impressed me by not taking the "easy, ask Jesus" way out. When Clare discovers she's been slated to undergo human experimentation/torture, she decides suicide is the only way out. To prevent her from keeping her appointment at the euthanasia clinic, her husband must make an extreme sacrifice--and finds the strength to do so in the Body of Christ.

"Chairman" and "True Freedom" by Frank Creed: Biblical Cyberpunk. Not a genre you'd expect, but Creed has the skill to pull it off. In these two stories, machines find God--one in its human masters--with bizarre results--and one through the prayers of one of its human captives--with results he leaves you to guess at.

"At the Mountains of Lunacy" by Stephen L. Rice: What's a spec-fic anthology without at least one D&D parody? Rice is indeed the High Mage of the one-liners--or maybe for this anthology, he should be Paladin. I may not let my teenage son read it for fear that for months afterward, he'll start quoting lines and giggling hysterically. For those who can resist such temptation (or who revel in it), Rice's his adventure is fast-paced fun.

As a Catholic, I found several of the stories (even a few of my favs) rather "Fundamentalist" in their message, but that didn't stop me from appreciating the wonderful work and imagination put into these fantastic tales. Light at the Edge of Darkness is a good read for anyone and a must-read for those who are looking for solid Christian speculative fiction.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Light at the Edge of Darkness, edited by Cynthia MacKinnon

Biblical speculative fiction—a real mouthful to describe this lost genre. What is “Bib-spec-fic”? It is speculative fiction that is written from a Christian world view intended to inspire and entertain readers. In Light at the Edge of Darkness, several sub-genres of spec-fic are showcased including horror, science fiction, dystopia, fantasy, time travel, supernatural. The stories have been organized into subgenres with some versatile authors writing in more than one category. You will read the serious, the light, the parody, and the heart-stopping “fiction to scare the Jesus into you.”

When forced to the edge of darkness, there’s only one way back: embrace the Light.

. . . venture to futures where religious "Terrorists" smuggle frozen embryos to save lives and resist technologies designed to break their souls;
. . . explore dying alien worlds scouring the galaxies for hope;
. . . get abducted and discover the universe’s secrets or the trial of a lifetime.

Teetering on the edge, escape inbred captors through a haunted labyrinth,survive a house where nightmares walk, or settle in for a martyr's tribulation.

Join an epic quest through the ridiculous, cross swords with monsters, sneak a glimpse at heaven, and traverse the planes where angels and demons tread.

Follow these tales and more to the edge of darkness, to the brink of despair, and bask in the Savior’s redeeming Light.

Note: This is a re-run for the Light at the Edge of Darkness virtual book tour. Cynthia is offering prizes to those who visit the hosptin blogs and post comments. Find out more at

Saturday, June 02, 2007

CFRB Presents: David Brollier

Tell us a little about yourself:

I'm happily married to Barbara Ann, yes that really is her name. We've been married for nearly 34 years and have 2 grown children, one daughter-in-law and one grandson who will be 2 this August. I'm a retired correctional officer, now a part-time library clerk and a licensed minister with Soar Like An Eagle Ministries. Oh yeah, I write a little too.

Actually I've been writing for a long time. In the late 70s I wrote a sci-fi trilogy that is not yet ready for submission. I've written tons of poetry, songs, articles, editorials, most of these have been posted on the web or, as in editorials, in our local paper. THE 3RD COVENANT is my first published novel.

Where did you get the idea for the Church of the Third Covenant, the cult which s murdering people in the "name of God"?

Well, let's start further back. In 1973 or 74, while living in Springield, MO. a priest was killed with a bayonet (and yes it was in a bowling alley). I never did like the way that case was concluded. The boyfriend was let off, the woman was given Murder in the 2nd Degree. So that's where the bayonet comes in.
Then, while working as a correctional officer I ran into an inmate who headed up his own church. That was the bases for The Church of the 3rd Covenant, although let me rush to say that neither this man, nor this church did the vile things mentioned in my novel. So in answer to your question the idea is a culmination of several things in my life, real things, which I fictionalized.

How much of yourself do you see in your main character?
When Nat is talking and almost forcing the Gospel on May, that's me. When he loses his temper, that's me too. When he learns to trust in God, even that's me to a point. I guess if I really knew kung fu and had lived in the Orient at one time Nat would be like a twin. As it is he's more like the image I would like to see of myself, not the one I have of myself. So even for me Nat is a role model.

Why write this story?

Again, to answer this question we need to travel back in time. In 1973 I created a character called "Nat Adams" which I hoped would be a Christian comic book hero. I even drew up a few comics. My art work leaves much to be desired and that idea was scrapped.

Then in 1980 or there abouts I started a collaborative work with Marc Burns. The name "Nat Adams" was again chosen as the hero. This time we began with his history and gave him a complete background. I can tell you where Nat grew up, what he was like and how he became who you find him to be in my present book.

That collaborative work was never completed as I moved away before that could take place. Marc still remains a close personal friend who has graciously allowed me to utilize all the ideas, descriptions and other work we put into the collaborative together without claiming any personal recognition. When I retired from corrections I had a lot of things going on in my head, but it was actually after reading some great mysteries by people like Jeffery Deaver and Harlan Coben that propelled me into writing a mystery of my own. I wrote it to have fun, to show people that Christianity can be fun as well as to show them the life of a Christian, warts and all. While there are many things I wished I'd have done differently, such as learn how to use the point-of view properly, I am still proud of this work. I'm proud because it marks a beginning. I've had one person suggest that I re-write it when I'm out from under my current contract. You know Karina, I think I'll leave it just the way it is, to remind me of how easily it is to make great mistakes and to help me to remember where I came from. Should I become a best-selling author, something I am aiming for, I want to be able to look back on this work and say, "Ugh! I can't believe that was me." And in that reflection be encouraging to new authors as they come to me with questions. I want to leave my book the way it is to keep me humble. Does that make sense to you?

What's next for you?

I'm currently working on another "Adams/Wish" novel. With the help of some others both here and on another group, not to mention the help of one of my co-workers at the library, I'm currently doing my 3rd re-write. I hope to be presenting it to publishers for consideration by mid-summer, or perhaps to an agent.

I'd like to also say that since reading LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF DARKNESS, compiled by Cynthia MacKinnon, I plan on both writing some Biblical speculative fiction of my own as well as inserting some of these elements into the future "Adams/Wish" novels. Exactly where I go, well, as always, that's up to the Lord.

One thing I'd like to say before we conclude here is that I believe with all my heart that the story I told in THE 3RD COVENANT is the one God gave me. It's a story about a believer's struggle with faith, a non-believer's struggle with their own beliefs and a love that truly does endure all things. The parts of this novel that people enjoy are those parts that God helped me write. The parts where there are errors or it may seem to get off track (or the POV makes things hard to follow), well, that's me. I take credit for the errors and give God the credit for what is not in error.

Thank you for this time Karina. It's been fun. Like most authors I could talk forever about my own writing. In fact I could talk forever about writing in general, so this has been a special treat for me.

Friday, June 01, 2007

CFRB Presents: 3rd Covenant by David Brollier

An ex-convict with an agenda and two of NYPD’s finest face off when Father Rierdon is found murdered in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Detectives Nat Adams, homicide, and May K. Wish, crime scene investigator from Manhattan South’s Crime Scene Unit, join forces to track a ruthless killer. Clues seem to point to one man, an ex-convict who has started his own church. As the body count piles up, the pressure is on to resolve the case quickly. Nat struggles, among the carnage, to live the life of a Christian, often failing. The chase is on, covering three states, but will they be able to resolve this case quickly enough? This question seems to mock them as they face a struggle against a religious cult that leaves behind a deadly bayonet as its calling card.