Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Twenty Questions Character Interview: Wolf Cowrie

This week, I'm going to add a new occasional feature: Character interviews! I can't guarantee that this will be anything approaching regular, but it should be a fun exercise, and informative for both me and my readers.

I will be using Auto Crit's "Twenty Questions" method, described here. I will be answering the question in-character as Wolf in italics.

  1. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do? I don't get any of those. I guess I'd go out hunting--just me and nature--or maybe go to the local saloon for a drink.
  2. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while? I'm a half-Sioux in the frontier. Most folks know me by skin color first and by reputation second. Most folks might write me off as short-tempered or even rude, but when you've been through all the stuff I have you learn how to get to the point real quick. That said, if you manage to get me as a friend, I'm about the best feller to have on your side when things get tight.
  3. What's your idea of a good marriage? Do you think that'll happen in your life? Marriage, huh? Do I look like the marrying type to ya? Well, if ya insist. my idea of a good marriage is a feller finding a woman who completes him, and the other was around. A rough feller like me couldn't exactly hook up with a high-class lady--she's gotta know how to handle herself. I used to think that I wasn't gonna get married, not after Kimimela. Now, though... things are starting to look up. I still love Kimimela, you understand, but she's gone. I gotta keep moving forward now. I guess it all depends on whether I can step out with this lady I've been fancying without her Pa feeding me a shotgun.
  4. What are you most proud of about your life? (If they answer with something other than a personal statement, like a business achievement, ask "What about on a personal level?") My proudest moment, I think, was finally taking down that son of a bitch Russeau. I'd been hunting him for five years, and now I've got my payback from him for Kimimela. [He runs his hands through his hair.] It wasn't all sunshine and roses after that, but I got him good. A close second would probably be earning the respect of the people in Goldwater--which is nothing short of a miracle considering the place is up in the Black Hills.
  5. What are you most ashamed of in your life? (Again, if necessary ask "What about on a personal level?") I still ain't proud of the fact that I couldn't save Kimimela. I mean, some nights I lay away wondering... was there something more I could have done to get her back after she'd been turned into a vampire. [He looks down.] I keep wondering if I could have saved her rather than just had her head off and been done with it.
  6. If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick? Doc Meadows, I think. He seemed a bit limp-wristed when I first met him, but he save my life, and he's tough when push comes to shove.
  7. Do you think you've turned out the way your parents expected? [Laughs.] Probably not. The thing is, I don't think my Pa ever found out my Ma was a skinwalker, so he'd be all shocked to heck if he found out I was a shapeshifter. My Ma, though... I think she had it in her head that I'd grow to be a respectable Sioux man rather than a wandering gunslinger and monster hunter. Then again, none of us predicted Russeau, so where it is.
  8. What do you believe about God? (If they believe in God, ask "What do you suppose God thinks of you?") I believe that there's lots of things out there that can help a good man if he's in a pinch. The white folks got the God they pray to in their churches, and I got the Great Spirit that Indians follow. Hell, for all I know they might be the same thing. As for what either of them thinks of me... [scratches his ear thoughtfully] Well, I like to think I've been doing the best I can with the hand I've been dealt. I ain't pretending I'm an angel--I've done some bad things in my life, but all of them needed doing. I've been getting rid of the monsters and such that would be hunting down His people, using what I have and what I know to protect people. I'd like to think that He figures I'm doing a good job of that.
  9. Is there anything you've always wanted to do but haven't done? What would happen if you did it? [He purses his lips thoughtfully.] Whelp--strange as it might seem, I've always wanted to live a peaceful life. You know, settle down with a nice woman, maybe have a couple of kids. I don't know what kind of kids we'll have... whether they'll be more like her or more like me, but... [shrugs] Worth a shot anyways. Trouble is, the lady I got my eye on--and her on me, by the way--is a white woman, and even if I've got me a reputation as a hero in these parts there's still gonna be people who won't like me stepping out with her, let alone marrying her. They'd have some loud arguments against it, in fact, and she might get caught in the middle. That could get real sticky in a hurry.
  10. What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? What did you learn from it? The worst thing that happened in my life? That would be when I went to Kimimela's village to ask for her hand in marriage... I had wedding gifts for her and everything, so her parents could see that I'd be a good husband, but... when I got there, the place was in flames. The people who lived there... all dead. Slaughtered. drained of blood. Massacred by the man that I came to hate with every fiber of my being--Russeau. I saw him, up on a hill, looking down at the ruins of the village... and he... he had Kimimela. She was in... some sort of a trance. I... I couldn't stop him from taking her. I tried, but he was too strong and I didn't know near enough about what he was. I keep thinking that I could have done something more... that I could've saved her, but... [He shakes his head.] That was the day I learned about the monsters in the frontier... starting with vampires. That was the day I started hunting.
  11. Tell me about your best friend. (If you think it might be interesting, ask "How did you meet? What do you like about this person? What do they like about you?") I don't got many friends, but I'd say the closest I got to a best friend is Lucifer, my horse. Well, he's mostly a horse. I snagged him shortly after Doc and I took care of Russeau in Salvation, and whatever else he is, he's the only horse in these parts that's willing to carry me. [He smirks.] We had to have a bit of a discussion about that, but it's all settled. He's the devil incarnate on four hooves, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  12. What's the worst thing you've ever done to someone? Why? ("Why" is usually a good follow-up question to any response!) The worst thing I ever done to someone was shoot his wife with a crossbow. She'd been turned--not into a vampire but into some other kind of nasty hungry critter. There was no time to explain things to him, so I put her down real quick. I'll never forget the look on his face after. I don't think Lucifer ever looked at God with that much hate.
  13. What would you like it to say on your tombstone? [He grins] "Look out, Devil--Here I Come!"
  14. Describe your ideal mate. She'd be strong, pretty... [laughs] patent... and she'd know her way around a gun. [coughs] I got someone in mind, actually... [grins]
  15. What are you most afraid of? I'm afraid that the way I live my life right now, hunting and being hunted by every nasty thing in the frontier, I might just lose everything I've come to love. Everything I care about. I try to get around it by traveling light, but being a local hero makes that kind of hard.
  16. What's the most important thing in your life? What do you value most? [He looks thoughtful and settles back on his heels for a bit] The most important thing in my life? Well, I'd be lying right now if I said it wasn't Susannah Twohill. What we got... well, it's complicated because of a lot of things, but I'd go through Hell and kick the Devil between the legs for her.
  17. What do you like best about yourself? Least? I like that I got the know-how to defend people from the nastier critters on the frontier, but I hate that I wasn't able to save Kimimela, in the end.
  18. What do you like best about Susannah? Least? [He smirks.] Susannah's got grit. You can take that to the bank. She's not like the usual ladies you get in big towns from rich families, all hiding behind their fans and their money and hoping that the boogeyman don't crawll in their bedroom window and get em. Dang it all though... sometimes I just want to strangle her because she's brave, but she's stubborn, too... a real hothead. I could explain to her why something wasn't safe until the cows came home and she'd still tag along anyway. [He smiles fondly.] Maybe I'm crazy, but I wouldn't have her any other way.
  19. How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change? Right now, I'm at a bit of a crossroads. I could keep on with the monster-hunting, or I could settle down once and for all. There's no real hints about what the right direction is. I've been hunting for a long time, and it would be nice to have a rest, but... I'm worried the nasties will just find me anyway. Reputations tend to cut both ways like that.
  20. Are you lying to yourself about something? What is it? [He thinks about this for a long while.] Well, I'd like to say that what I am--half-skinwalker--doesn't bother me at all. I mean, I've been this way my whole life. I can't imagine what it would be like if I didn't know how to shift. Sometimes, though, I think things might be easier if I was full-human. Heck, even if I was full-Indian a lot of things would be less complicated. 

There's my first character interview! Would you like to see more of these? More questions? Different questions? Any particular characters you'd like to see interviewed? Let me know!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Beta Readers Wanted: Necromancy Will Kill Your Dating Life

Hello blogosphere! I have an announcement to make...

This evening I will finally be finished rewriting Necromancy Will Kill Your Dating Life. This was my entry for NaNoWriMo last year, and since I sacrificed coherency for word count, it was an absolute mess when the rough draft was done. Editing it was a bear, but I persevered, and now it's ready for beta readers!

Necromancy Will Kill Your Dating Life is a Supernatural Young Adult novel about a seventeen-year-old high school student in St. Louis, MO, who happens to be the latest in a long line of necromancers. She has been raised knowing that the dead are nothing to fear, so ghosts and zombies aren't anything remarkable to her. Unfortunately, it has left her with exactly one friend, a lot of people at school looking at her like she's Drusilla, Queen of the Zombies, and no apparent hope of finding a boyfriend.

This changes when, two weeks before Halloween, she is asked out on her first date ever by the single cutest guy in her school. Unfortunately, spectral activity is increasing around St. Louis, and it seems to be centered around Tiffany herself. How, Tiffany must get to the bottom of some increasingly hostile haunts before a) everything goes to Hell on Halloween or b) she scares off her impending boyfriend.

This is my first YA novel, and in addition to the Urban Fantasy stuff it will also deal with potentially triggery topics like bullying, suicide, and depression. I will need some help to make sure I capture the high school experience accurately, because it's been a while since I've been seventeen years old, and I'm sure the social dynamics and the language have evolved quite a bit since then.

If this sounds like something you would like to read, please feel free to contact me and let me know what format you prefer.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kickstarter Aftermath and Moving Forward

Well, my first Kickstarter project wasn't as successful as I'd hoped it would be, but that's okay. Self-publishing is always a learning process, and I think the next time I try to go this route I will get things more right than I did this time.

In the meantime, though, I do plan to move forward with the polishing and publication of Hungry as a Wolf. I'm in communication with an editor/proofreader on Fiverr who can work within my (tiny) budget, and a graphic designer on Facebook has offered to do my cover in exchange for a copy of the finished book.

So, for all of you who backed this project, thank you! It means a lot that you took the effort to invest in my novel, and I will keep you in mind when Hungry as a Wolf is finally published.. In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do! Feel free to follow along with my progress on my website here or my blog here!

In other news, I'm very close to finishing the first round of edits for Necromancy Will Kill Your Dating Life, so I fully expect that title to be available for beta reading next month. Anyone who likes supernatural YA fiction should feel free to give this one a shot. Follow my progress here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wild West Zombies

I love zombie movies. I think my love for the genre started with a Behind the Scenes look at the making of the music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller", but it only continued with the Romero Whatever of the Dead movies. Zombies are fun and gory and insatiable (and technically ghouls, as portrayed by Hollywood) and pretty much universally recognized. However, zombies in their modern form have been around since the 1960s, and they've been deconstructed, reconstructed, parodied, and even turned into romance heroes in the meantime. So what could I do with the silly things to set them apart, aside from dropping them in the American frontier?

I do what I did with Wolf Cowrie's background and draw from Native American mythology, of course! As I indicated in my first article for the Kickstarter campaign, Wolf being raised Sioux was a happy bit of fortune, considering the setting was in a territory that would eventually be South Dakota and all the racial drama that happened between the local people and white settlers. The Sioux were historically the mortal enemies of the Ojibwe, who hailed from the region of southern Canada... and the Ojibwe's folklore told of a charming little critter called a Wendigo.

Depending on who you asked (the stories vary), a wendigo is either a human who resorted to cannibalism and turned into a monster, or an evil spirit that drove men to acts of violence and cannibalism. I decided to split the difference here, while taking a page out of the account of the Donner Party story: The wendigo was there, but trapped in a vessel and unable to get up to monkeyshines until a bunch of gold miners uncovered it and subsequently had the Worst Winter Ever.

The result: intelligent, berserk undead, animated by a supernatural force that drove them to consume human flesh. To add another layer of horrifying to the whole thing, these screamers (so named because of a horrifying shriek they emit when they spot food) are completely aware that the hunger is not their own, but those geographically closest to the wendigo's influence can't do anything about it. They don't feel revulsion, or fear, or anger, or remorse, and they absolutely will not stop until they have eaten you.

The result combines elements of Return of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, and 28 days Later, and I think on the whole they work out well as a literary monster. Who says you can't do anything new with zombies?