Sunday, February 23, 2014

What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico #Interview via @am_sch #ASMSG

Back in September 2012, I met this crazy writer-blogger guy named AM Schultz. He had some very cool blog posts about writers and coffee, male writers trying to make their way in the very female world of Young Adult fiction, and other fuckery I just can't even recall.

Sadly, AM Schultz's wonderful blog has disappeared. But, I retained a piece of the dark magic, a smidgeon of AM Schultz insanity.

This is the very first interview I ever did, and it still ranks among one of my favorites (revamped):

AM: Ok, you wrote some stories, but let's start by hearing about the guy behind the keyboard. Five quick questions:

-Best road trip you've ever been on:  Several can qualify as “the best”.  They all have one thing in common, Mexico.  I lived on the border and in Mexico for several years.  I consider Mexico to be kinda like Vegas.  As long as you make it home, back across the border into the US, what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico. :)

-There's an alien in your shower eating a vanilla ice cream cone. You're holding a chocolate cone, and he wants it. What do you do?  Does it have to be a ‘He’?  I’d prefer my aliens in the shower to be female, like Captain Kirk with the green chick, or the other girl with six arms.  And if I’m in the shower with my sexy green female alien, we’d be doing all kinds of things with that ice cream, sharing it in all the ways that ice cream could possibly be shared in the shower.

-You're bowling. Perfect game. 300. Bill Cosby shows up and bowls a 310.  Do you cry foul?  Bowling with Bill Cosby next door, that would be pretty damn cool.  I’m sure I would be in awe, and probably not bowling at my best.  But when it comes to a showdown with ole Bill Cosby, nobody said it better than Eddie Murphy in his classic “Raw” stand-up comedy routine, “Tell Bill to have a coke and smile and shut the f**k up” :)

-Ain't no Party like a West Coast Party Don't Stop. Do you have proof that this isn't a true statement?  I would say the person who wrote that line has never been on an extended stay in Mexico.

-Chicken Little: Meteorological Prognosticator, or Sniveling Little Turd?  Definitely the latter.  I’d go so far as to say he’s a Whiney-Puke Sniveling Little Turd.  Everybody knows the world’s gonna end in the next few months, what good does it do to whine about it?

Now for the real interview. 

AM: You've got a book out, "The Nightlife: New York," which is the first in what is expected to be a lengthy series. With there being 47 and a half trillion series-style fiction offerings on the market right now, why should readers give "Nightlife" a read?

ME: This novel is the introduction to these two main characters in the series, and they are not really all that similar to your garden variety vampires.  There’s no council of supernatural creatures or other such fantasy world junk, just these two unique characters trying to live without notice in a world of eternal night.  We soon learn that relationships with other people are impossible.  In New York City, surrounded by a population of 8.2 million, these two quietly slip in and out of the herds of human cattle, never making any real connections.  They have no one but each other to rely on when the nightlife gets out of hand (as it so often does).

Story elements include:  Vampires, strippers, escorts, domestic gangs, corrupt cops, pimps, all the classic elements of a shady metropolitan nightlife blended with two vampires.  There are underlying themes of romance throughout, but it’s not pure romance--more urban fantasy.  Their world is exactly the same as ours, but seen through the lenses of two vampires living in the gritty metropolitan nightlife.  Very intense action scenes, graphic violence, and a good dose of erotica.  

There are now 5 Nightlife Series novels, plus the Omnibus!

One of my pet peeves is this:  I don’t care for the “undead” premise that most urban fantasy uses.  These characters are very much alive physically, heartbeats and all, but they have physiologies that are very different in certain ways.

AM: Great stories begin with great characters. Tell us a little bit about the moving flesh sacks in Nightlife.

ME: It’s coincidental you use the term “flesh sacks”.  At one point in the novel, our protagonist Aaron, a newly changed vampire, begins to view people as bloated flesh sacks.  Being especially gifted individuals, the vampires perceive the human cattle around them as lethargic, weak, frail, overfed cattle.  Ripe for the taking.

The primary POV of the novel is told from Aaron Pilan’s perspective.  At age 22, moping through life doing pretty much nothing, no direction, Aaron finds himself suddenly thrust into this strange, intimate relationship with his new master Michelle.  He’s young, inexperienced, na├»ve, fresh, unspoiled by the corruption of the New York scene.  Michelle becomes his mentor, teaching him how to fit into her solitary, secretive existence.

Aaron is our padewon learner, this is his coming of age story.  He faces trials and tribulations.  This is only the beginning of his tale, the tip of the iceberg.  He is destined for far greater things, but in this novel we will know him as a boyish man simply trying to survive.  He struggles against these new predatory urges blossoming within his psyche.  He’s never really known true aggression, but he learns very fast.

Michelle is a mystery, we don’t even know her surname.  She’s French, fiesty, impatient, aggressive, yet very careful and considerate of her actions.  She has seen much death in her long life and has adopted strict rules of comportment to avoid causing further death.  She has little tolerance for abuse of humans, they are to be respected and left in peace.  She is a strict task master when it comes to teaching Aaron the ins and outs of feeding and slipping between the cracks of society.  She will not hesitate to kill him if he proves to be uncontrollable.  She has a dark and violent past history with her former master, and a heavy prejudice towards men who abuse women.  She absolutely will not stand for Aaron’s abuse of the women they feed from.

It’s quite a challenge for Aaron to keep up with Michelle, follow all her strict rules, and maintain his predatory instincts in check.

And he simply can't help but become utterly smitten with Michelle.  She’s everything he could ever want, a super model wonder woman.  But she sees him as boy who needs his hand held through life, a fairly emasculating scenario.

And then she puts him to work…as an escort in the sex trade…same as her.  That’s when it gets really interesting.

AM: If you had to compare your writing style to any contemporary author, who would you consider to be Luedkean?

ME: I am writing Urban Fantasy, and in that genre I consider Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Baker vampire hunter series to be the undisputed master.  There are some close runner ups, like JR Ward of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and Sunny an Asian author who wrote the Mona Lisa series.  If I had to compare the style I am attempting to emulate, I would say I target those two authors and several others.  I also greatly admire Dean Koontz.  I have enjoyed virtually every single one of Koontz's novels, but specifically the Odd Thomas series.  I love how the supernatural elements blend in slowly and seamlessly with the normal world.  He effortlessly paints a picture that’s oh-so-slightly different from reality.

There are a lot of authors out there right now redefining this genre, I am working towards that aim to add in a unique factor, a blending of elements that are distinctly my own.

AM: And speaking of which, is it "lewd-key," or "loud-kuh," or what? What are we looking at here, Scandinavian? Lifeline,bro! Hooked on Phonics didn't work for me.

ME: “Lewd-Key” would be the correct pronunciation.  It’s a German name, but I’m as American as it gets, bordering on Redneck.  The longer I stay in Texas the closer I get to Redneck status.

AM: As an author, you obviously want as many people as possible to purchase and read your books. It sounds like you've got elements that will appeal to a wide demographic: vampires, strippers, crime, urban setting, paranormality. Tell me, though: who should NOT read this book.

ME: This is not for children, 18 and over!  If you are offended by contemporary views of sexuality, erotica, or graphic violence, don’t bother reading the Nightlife Series.  I have Young Adult fiction that’s very toned down in those controversial areas.  That would be a better choice for a younger or more sensitive reader.  I write Adult Urban Fantasy for me, and YA Urban Fantasy for my own teenagers, who are greatly entertained by it.

My Young Adult novel, “The Shepherd”, would be far more appropriate for older teens. 

AM: Reviews, recommendations and shout-outs are the lifeblood of the modern independent author. Before you go, are there any other authors out there you want readers to check out before they pick up your book?

ME: Shane O'Neill is a wonderful new Indie carving out his niche in the world of epic-historic dark-horrific Dracula fiction. And Brian Patrick McKinley has a solid vampire fiction series reminiscent of a Chicago mobster-vampiric underworld, with a massive cast and scope like Game of Thrones.

For traditionally published books, my go to authors are Laurell K. Hamilton, JR Ward, Sunny, Dean Koontz, Christopher Moore, Stephen King, Anne Rice…. You’ll see all the greats I have enjoyed on my goodreads author page

I have so much work on my plate right now, most of my reading time is devoted to exchanging critiques with other authors.  They critique my manuscripts and I do the same for them.  Would you believe I am critiquing romance novels?  I have read more romance than I will ever admit to.

I leave you with a quote from Mark Coker of, another man I greatly admire:  

“Pay attention to romance.  Study it.  Read it.  No other genre does a better job of getting inside the heads of readers, especially female readers.  Even if you write thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy or even horror, your books will probably get better if you study romance.  Romance writers are among some of the finest storytellers of interpersonal relationships.  If you want your readers to care what happens next to your characters, study the masters.”
This was a revisited, revamped, version of my interview with AM Schultz, but, the original sense of the absurd remains. What happened to AM? Why did he shut down his wonderful blog? Who can say, but he's still floating through twitterverse, chatting it up:

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