Hounds of the Underworld- authors’ interview

Aren’t writers supposed to be solitary?

cover_Hounds of the Underworld
Cover designed by Daniele Serra

 

  • Dan Rabarts: That’s just a myth we like to maintain so we don’t have to invite anyone to our parties. Writers are actually about as social as spider monkeys, and we like to do many of the same things when we’re together: eat our bananas upside-down, groom each other for tasty insects, that sort of thing. But we keep this top secret because if everyone knew, everyone would want to be writers and come to our parties.
  • Lee Murray: It’s not exactly a party! There’s definitely a myth circulating that writing is a solitary occupation, and yet I don’t know any successful writer who works entirely in isolation, even those not writing in collaboration. Obviously, there are times when you have to glue your bottom to the chair, put your head down, and churn out the words, but most writers will contact experts to support their work, send early drafts out to a critique group or writing buddy, and then, when draft is completed, beta-readers and editors move in, all of whom contribute to the work in different ways. As far as I can tell, writing a novel is always a collaborative process.

How did you come to collaborate with each other?

  • Dan: A little book called Baby Teeth kicked it all off. I had a crazy idea and got some people on board and realised I’d bitten off more than I could chew, no pun intended. Lee stepped up to help pull it all together.
  • Lee: I think with Baby Teeth – a charity project ‒ the way the anthology came together was atypical, with stories coming in from both established and emerging writers, so from an editing perspective, it was always going to be a challenge. Professionally, Dan and I brought different skill sets to the table and we tried to make it fun and not too intimidating for the newbies. Ask any of the writers: it was like a comedy routine going on in the margins, the pair of us battling it out, trying to find the best way to polish the text. On the way we both learned some new techniques, which we carried over into our individual projects. By the time Baby Teeth went on to win the Australian Shadows and Sir Julius Vogel awards it was clear the partnership was something we should explore further. I threw it out there, and Dan said, why not? But ours is more than just a professional arrangement. On a personal level, we clicked from the get-go. We’re friends: I love Dan’s sense of humour, his can-do attitude, and his wonderfully weird and twisted way of thinking. And the great thing is, our families get on too ‒ we both have incredibly supportive long-suffering spouses ‒ so when we can, we get our kids together, crack open a few drinks, and fire up the BBQ. It’s not all work.

How did you split the collaboration process – decide who contributed what?

  • Lee: Hounds of the Underworld is a he-said she-said narrative, with me writing the science consultant Penny Yee, and Dan writing her ex-con brother, Matiu. So while we each contribute to the development of the other characters, it’s as if we have ownership of those particular story threads. In terms of process, the Dan and Lee approach is an odd mixture of planning and ‘pantsting’, with doses of affectionate squabbling. In fact, the sensible big sister and subversive little brother roles of Penny and Matiu apply to our writing process too, where I am the big sister who knows best and Dan has the crazy go-off-on-a-tangent ideas. Broadly speaking, we have an idea of where we want the story arc to go, but I never quite know what to expect when I open Dan’s latest section, exactly where he’ll have taken a scene. Down some dark alleyway, usually! Working with Dan definitely means taking the story to another dimension.
  • Dan: Yip, we manage to keep this balance of driving the narrative forward in our own ways: Lee with solid research and plausibility, and me with random unexplained explosions. But we frequently sit down during the process and make sure that, at least to some extent, we’re working towards the same goal. The push-pull dynamic that Penny and Matiu share to get their results isn’t that far removed from our collaborative process.

Tell us about the most {worrying / enjoyable} part of collaborating?

  • Dan: Worrying? There’s always the risk that one of us will be abducted by aliens or otherwise removed from the process, and the one that’s left will have to not only pretend to be the other writer, mimic their style, fall into their ideas, take ownership of plot points we’ve deliberately maintained some distance from, but also knowing we’d have to maintain the other person’s social media profiles until the aliens release them back into the wild. All those hashtags. So many hashtags.
  • Lee: {rolls her eyes} Lynne, please don’t get him started. I’m going to open up the next section of the sequel and find it has aliens in it now, aren’t I? The downside is that people assume we must be married! No, I think the biggest worry is that our lives keep getting in the way. Family. Work. We’ve learned to be flexible.
  • Dan But enjoyable? That’s the magic of it. It’s having an idea which is only half-formed, and bandying it around with someone excited and committed to the project, invested in the world and the characters. Lee will bring something new to that misshapen idea, an unexpected twist that gives it direction and completion, and you have this synergy going on that leads to cool things happening, taking form on the page. Whole is greater than the sum of the parts, sort of thing.
  • Lee: The thing I like is that I only have to write half the book. Actually, collaborating ends up being more work than writing on your own, but being a ponderously slow writer myself, sharing the work helps me with the word-count head games!

With which other writers would you / have you collaborate/d? Tell us about that…

  • Dan: We’ve both collaborated with other writers, and produced some fairly cool works as a result. I’m part of a writing band called Cerberus, which comprises myself, Grant Stone and Matthew Sanborn Smith, and one of our stories, Dada, has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. We produce some extremely weird fiction. But my favourite collaboration outside of the Rabarts/Murray workload right now is a little story called “The People Machines”, which my ten-year-old son and I are writing at bedtime. It’s a story about two boys who get the power to turn into any machine they can imagine, just in time to protect the world from the evil, machine-eating Corlocks. Fart jokes and witty puns abound.
  • Lee: I have a collaborative YA novella, Mika, with YA specialist, Piper Mejia. We’d already worked together on a number of student anthologies, and when I moved to Wellington, the project gave us a reason to talk every week. With Mika, a Kiwi version of the Wizard of Oz, we wrote alternating chapters and then ‘smoothed’ the final text, so it reads like a single writer. I also have a couple of picture books out on submission, both collaborations with Eileen Mueller. But like I said earlier, all writing involves an element of collaboration.

 

 

Tell us what fun and games went into the cover design…

  • Lee: It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s by Italian artist, Daniele Serra. In terms of fun and games, there weren’t any: we sent in some ideas, just concepts really, and it came back perfectly formed.

What’s your favourite way to meet your readers ‒ at book signings, conventions, or other events – and why?

  • Dan: Book launches, for sure. Because that means they might be buying a book. Yay! (Buy books, people. We love you when you buy books.) But otherwise, pretty much anywhere. Bars are good. Personally, I like those impromptu gatherings of a dozen people dropping in on an unsuspecting restaurant downtown somewhere to chinwag and press the flesh and talk books and writing and the deplorable state of American politics while comparing craft beers. Good times.
  • Lee: Any time you meet someone who likes your story. Online. At a launch. Conventions. Anywhere. There’s nothing more uplifting than to know you’ve inspired a reader. I walked into the supermarket once, and a woman came running over to me and said, “You’re that writer lady, aren’t you? You’re doing so well.” That was pretty special.

Red: Thanks, Dan and Lee for the distance interview

Raw-Dogs-Screaming

Hound of the Underworld can be purchased at
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Reviewing Blood Related, by NZ author William Cook

I love crime – any media. I’ve been a fan from way W COOK_Blood Related
back  – Hitchcock’s Half-Hour and The Untouchables,
at thirteen. Most current crime shows I watch “live” – but  Silent Witness I have to record and watch in daylight.
It’s too good a show to not watch at all – no matter how creeped out I get. Most crime novels (thrillers, chillers, serial killers…) I can read at any time.
But if Blood Related had been a TV show – I would have had to watch it in daylight.

A delightfully chilling sense of unease throughout the tale of Caleb Cunningham, psycho-killer, as he turns slaughter into an art form – ‘installations’ – hidden from discovery under the city. The sewers and drains are his alleys and pavements.

Gut-wrenching reveals – his twin brother a killer too, both moulded as such by their father, another serial killer, and their mother an insane alcoholic. Bodies secreted everywhere, even in the much modified basement of the family town house. His grandfather was a killer, his handiwork scattered in the grounds of a country farm.

Only homicide Detective Ray Truman senses connections and pursues the multitude case files as he works on the puzzle of three generations of serial killers. He comes too close to ending Caleb’s continued criminal future.

So, those are the facts of who’s in the tale, but no spoilers. Some reviewers will give you more but  I’d like you to follow the horror in Cook’s pages.

You still have a lot of fine reading to do. Cook’s style is unique – part narrative, part reportive – and the details of Caleb’s insane crime spree are conveyed in a (first-person) skin-crawler style which fascinates and repulses, both. This will not be my first, or only, William Cook thriller!

Published 2015 King Billy Publications, Wellington, New Zealand

Buy at Amazon.com at http://tinyurl.com/BloodRelatedPromo: Kindle or Paperback editions available

Read about more of William’s work at his site: http://williamcookwriter.com

Reviewing Blood Related, by NZ author William Cook

I love crime – in any media. I’ve been a fan from way back – Hitchcock’s Half-Hour and The Untouchables. Most current crime shows I watch “live” – but Silent Witness I have to record and watch in daylight. It’s too good a show to not watch at all – no matter how creeped out I get.

Most crime novels (thrillers, chillers, serial killers…) W COOK_Blood RelatedI can read at any time. But if Blood Related had been a TV show – I would have had to watch it in daylight. A delightfully chilling sense of unease throughout the tale of Caleb Cunningham, psycho-killer, as he turns slaughter into an art form – ‘installations’ – hidden from discovery under the city. The sewers and drains are his alleys and pavements.

Gut-wrenching reveals – his twin brother a killer too, both moulded as such by their father, another serial killer, and their mother an insane alcoholic. Bodies secreted everywhere, even in the much modified basement of the family town house. His grandfather was a killer, his handiwork scattered in the grounds of a country farm.

Only homicide Detective Ray Truman senses connections and pursues the multitude case files as he works on the puzzle of three generations of serial killers. He comes too close to ending Caleb’s continued criminal future.

So, those are the facts of who’s in the tale, but no spoilers. Some reviewers will give you more but  I’d like you to follow the horror in Cook’s pages.

You still have a lot of fine reading to do. Cook’s style is unique – part narrative, part reportive – and the details of Caleb’s insane crime spree are conveyed in a (first-person) skin-crawler style which fascinates and repulses, both. This will not be my first, or only, William Cook thriller!

Published 2015 (3rd edition)
Billy King Publications NZ   King Billy Publications, Wellington, New Zealand

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Click to buy

Read about more of William’s work at his site: http://williamcookwriter.com

Reviewing ‘Soul of Dust’ by Adam Millard

MILLARD_Soul of Dust
So Jack Bridge tells us, as he pauses a moment in a tearing race after a daemon in the opening chapters of this paranormal, magical, fantasy cum horror story; a great mash-up of genres–which, dammit, works.

Jack tells his story as if we are his companion, well used to his mannerisms and vocabulary (occasionally R13 rated). The conversational, sardonic at times tone makes this book pleasantly readable–even through scenes which are not, exactly, pleasant.

I loved it! Millard’s writing turns Jack into a real person – though he’s not,  with real purpose – as he has: to rid the world of daemons, spooks, sidhes, vamps, wolves… He works alone, from a shabby office, and carries only one ‘weapon’–and an effective one at that, and enjoys using it:

“At times … I really enjoy my job.”

This is an “eyes-wide” and at times a “laugh-out-loud” read…well suited to fans of Urban Fantasy, the Paranormal, Sleuthing, Investigators, Wizards, Demons, or Magic.

“…shooting me a smile that could melt hearts. Not mine, though. Mine was made of stone, my soul nothing more than dust. Maybe one day that would change, but not today.”

Reviewed for
Roane Black on White

ISBN:  1519691815
ISBN13: 9781519691811


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Woman of the Dead, x Bernard AICHNER

AICHNER_woman-of-the-dead

If you, at age six, had to begin work in preparing bodies for funeral directors–your parents– what effect would that have on you?

For Brum, it taught her to shut down her emotions, right up to the day she allowed her parents to drown. She took over the family business, reinvented and remarketed it, built it up as a successful business, but always dedicating herself to giving dignity to the deceased.

Her life is gently comfortable, until she sees her husband–police officer and father to their two daughters–killed by a black car slamming into him on his motor bike. Her life is upturned, as she grieves, listens to her late husband’s phone calls on his cell phone, and discovers he was spending time interviewing and calming an aggrieved young woman.

Emotionally bereft, Brum finds comfort in the companionship of her husband’s best friend, police officer Massimo. She is driven to find the woman, and when she does, is horrified to learn of her tormented life as a captive. Gradually she draws more and more information about the woman’s torturous life, who she invites to stay with the family. One morning, the girl goes shopping for the family, and never comes home.

Massimo tells her of the discovery of a drowned homeless woman, whose body is in the police morgue. Brum is driven to track and remove each of the young woman’s tormentors, aided by her mortuary assistant, Reza–a man with his own criminal past. He is detached from emotion after years of creating trauma and serving time, but warms to the welcome Brum’s family have given him.

Her tracking of each of the sadists and what she does when she succeeds makes gut-churning reading, which in turn makes it impossible to put down the book – in case what you imagine is worse than what is written next.

The resolution is a reveal of a shuddering discovery, and handled in the same way as with the first three sadists. I’d have read this in one session, but starting in the late evening made it impossible. Guess what I was reading over breakfast next morning. I hope to be reading more from AICHNER, and soon.

Hatchett_NZ_logoPublishing Date: April 14th 2015
ISBN:
Paperback 978-0-297-60848-6
Case bound 978-0-297-60847-9

BookSellers-NZ_logo     N Z Release Date: 9th April ‘15