I am very excited to announce my second book, a young adult sci-fi romance called Eyes Ever to the Sky, is now available on Amazon.
Writing and launching a second book is an amazing experience and I do hope you like the final product. I'm also celebrating by giving away a $25 gift card on my website.
Check out the book and let me know what you think. And thanks to all my Underground friends who helped make this possible. When Hugh wakes up in a smoldering crater—no memory, no clothes—a single thought echoes in his head…trust no one. Frightened and alone, with no memory of who he is, he stumbles upon a grisly murder scene and is fatally shot. He wakes, only to find he can heal himself. He has superpowers and he’s going to need them.
Desperate and bleeding, Hugh stumbles upon fifteen-year-old Cece, who’s got enough troubles of her own. Between caring for her bipolar mother and trying not to get evicted from her run-down trailer, Cece may be the only person struggling as much as Hugh. Drawn to Hugh, Cece finds a love she’s never known. But when the real killer—a man-hunting beast—chooses another victim, Hugh and Cece realize they must unlock the clues to their past if they have any chance at a future.
Matt Langford, author of The Watchman, is a 39 year old full-time ICU nurse in the UK. In his own words: “I rent two young children and a wife. I pay the basic rate so they tend to shout at me rather a lot. My wife is just about to re-enter full-time education. I manage to fit my mountain biking within, around and underneath my three full-time activities. My time is my passion. I have been writing since the age of 11 when my short story,
The Clay Hog, was read out in my school assembly. The reviews were startling. Since the advent of the internet I have had several short stories published and my work has appeared in the ABC Tales Magazine. Sadly,
The Clay Hog is now lost, presumed an archive. I also enjoy playing the guitar, although others may not agree.”BRIAN:
Matt, thanks for joining us today in The Underground. The Watchman
is a fascinating novel about the world, and a family, seen through the eyes of a mentally disabled teenage boy named Adam. Why did you select this particular, and if I may add ambitious
, subject matter for a first novel?MATT:
The advice I’ve always received when asking about inspiration for writing is ‘write about what you know’. There is little I don’t know about living within a family where a child has a learning difficulty. I started writing the novel over ten years ago and, to be honest, my reasons for writing then were very different to my reasons for writing now. The events that inspired The Watchman
were still fresh in my mind and all the principle players were alive and well and still played a large part in my life. Ten years on and things have changed. My relationships with my family have evolved and I’m a lot more mature. If I was to start The Watchman
from scratch now, I doubt the feelings and emotions I would convey would be anything like how are in the novel at present.
I unearthed The Watchman
about a year ago following an 8 years hiatus on my hard drive and found many problems with the initial draft. I’d included many short passages called ‘Gobbledeegooks’ which were, essentially, asides from Adam’s narration and information taken from the ‘real’ world. I read the draft through over and over again until it finally dawned on me that these passages detracted from the essence of the novel – namely Adam’s world, which is what the story is all about. So I cut them all (except for the opening paragraphs – a diary entry from Jane, who would go on to be Adam’s mother). I also cut about 90% of the dialogue. Soon I found that the more I took away from the outside world and the more concentrated Adam’s world became, the more the story developed. (If I was more brave I would have no dialogue at all. But I’m a bit of a woos). I lost about 30000 words! Which wasn’t easy. But without this cull I don’t think the finished piece would have worked at all.
In a sense I ended up going through a process with my 14 year old, my 26 year old, and my present self! An odd meeting of minds I’m sure you’ll agree. We all had different reasons for writing this book that complemented each other wonderfully. What I told my younger selves was that ultimately, the best stories come from within micro-worlds. Nothing is more micro than a family. Every family has a Hollywood blockbuster bursting to be written. I wouldn’t be so bold as to claim my family was particularly more interesting than any other, but it certainly contained elements that others should be made aware of, and I feel people will feel more affection to their own stories once reading The Watchman.BRIAN:
I take it, then, Adam was inspired by someone in your personal life. How difficult was it to write from the perspective of a mentally disabled person?MATT:
Adam is a character based on my brother, Deny. When I started writing The Watchman
my idea was to write nothing less than a memoir. As the writing progressed Adam took on his own personality, his own words, his fears and his own outlooks. Soon, The Watchman
evolved into a fictional novel with characters and events merely based on real life and real people. I’m unable for one moment to imagine how Deny thought or made sense of his world. Like Adam, his only communication came via made up words, gestures and physical contact. He was unable to convey any tangible feelings other than frustration –and this is what inspired me to portray Adam in the way I have. Deny was an incredible personality and genuinely moved everybody he ever met. I remember grown men crying in his presence simply because Deny treated them without prejudice and without judgment. He was extraordinary and inspirational. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago. He was truly unique.
Once the character of Adam was established and his motives, personality and language decided upon, he kind of wrote himself. A tip for writers – the stronger the character is in your mind, the easier it is to write for them. You should be able to drop your character into any situation and write about their responses. So, regardless of Adam’s predispositions, I didn’t find it difficult to write for him once the blueprint was established. BRIAN:
From idea to publication, how long did it take you to write The Watchman? MATT:
Every one of my 39 years! I first put pen to paper in 1999. That draft was complete about a year later. I added nothing until last summer. Over the last 12 months I’ve cut, edited and added about 50% of the entire novel.
Literary Fiction Length:
180 pagesThe Rundown
What is the difference between a good book and a great book? People talk about a good book, perhaps recommend it to a friend or even rate it on Amazon. On the other hand, a great book connects in a very personal way. A great book is inherently honest, without a shred of manipulation. It gets inside you... tugs, digs, and performs reconstructive surgery on your heart and soul. A great book leaves you no place to hide and forever changes you to the day you die. Is The Watchman
by debut novelist Matt Langford such a book?
Adam is a mentally disabled teenager caught up in the everyday maelstrom we call life. He cannot speak beyond a few simple words. Most of his language is made up and known only to him. He possesses a very limited grasp of the past, with even less understanding of the future. Everything exists in the now, and revolves around him. Adam’s family, which is the same as saying his entire universe, is falling apart. His younger brother and sister are growing up and changing in ways he cannot comprehend. His parents’ marriage slowly grows cold under strain of a father’s joblessness and alcoholism. Adam is also changing, physically becoming a man, imposing more unrelenting demands and needs upon an already stressed family. The book begins with a short entry from an expecting mother’s journal, full of hope and love for the baby she carries inside. The Watchman
ends with a father’s touching connection with his oldest son. The Watchman
is an ambitious book by any standard, but Matt Langford took this challenge to a higher level.
The author tells this story exclusively through Adam’s perspective. In doing so, he forces the reader to actively participate and make their own translations of Adam’s world, their own conclusions about the motivations of the “normal” people surrounding him. Langford pulls this off masterfully. With short, simple and brutally effective prose, Langford creates more character development, more humanity
, in a few sentences than most authors can create in whole chapters. In only 180 pages Langford boils a family’s existence down to its raw essence.
This is the point in my review where I usually point out something I found wrong with the book. If there were editing problems with The Watchman
, I didn’t notice. I was too busy losing myself in the story. For two days it took over my life. A book hasn’t done that to me since I was a kid.
Is The Watchman
a Top Pick? Of course, but good books can be Top Picks. “Top Pick” seems like such a small kudo for such a profound novel. So, does The Watchman
qualify as a great book?
A few nights ago I attended my child’s school play. During the presentation loud, inappropriate laughter and other strange noises emanated from the back row. There, an obviously mentally disabled boy of perhaps thirteen squirmed next to his mother. He smiled, touched, flailed and spoke in a language known only to him. Tenderly, and with the utmost patience, his mother tried to simultaneously restrain her boy while watching her other child in the play. It could have been a scene right out of The Watchman
. Until the day I die I will never look at a mentally disabled person, or their family, again without thinking of Adam.
This great novel earns Five out of Five Stars. Matt Langford Links:Matt Langford’s Blog
and Amazon PageThe Watchman on Amazon
Matt Langford on Facebook
, and Goodreads.
I’ve often thought the term “biographical fiction” (or, biofic) sounded like an oxymoron. Literally, it could be translated as “true make-believe,” giving the impression that an author has completely repackaged history for the sake of entertainment. But as a writer who recently spent almost three years conducting exhaustive research on the Wright brothers to pen a novel about their woman-shyness, trust me, I wasn’t earning about relative velocities, bicycle repair and wing warping to simply do some entertaining. It’s all about sharing your interpretation of that history. So if you’re an author dipping your toe into this pond for the first time, here are three of the biggest questions you might ask: Why write biofic? What’s so rewarding about it?
It’s all about learning something new about the people who most intrigue you. When you peek behind the curtain to find out who those people really
were and what made them tick, you feel like you know something special. And when you know something special, you feel compelled to share it. In the case of the Wright brothers, what struck me most was their bachelorhood. I wanted to know why they never married, dangit, and why they felt nervous around women to the point they avoided them. In other words, I believe biofic is rewarding because it’s all about “digging deeper.” And authors are the kind of people who like to do that sort of thing. What are the challenges?
Research. Research and more research. Some authors may find this cumbersome and tedious. I find it fun--thus there are over 3 single-spaced pages of resources listed at the end of my Wright brothers novel. I’m not trying to scare a prospective biofic author from wading into the pond by saying that. I fall into obsess mode when drafting a manuscript and probably enjoy the learning experience more than the writing experience. I spent time pouring over ads from the year 1900. I even looked up late nineteenth century CPR, dental care, the stitches used in five-gore skirts, you name it. You don’t have to go to this extent! But if research of this caliber doesn’t drive you crazy, it sure makes the descriptions pop on the page.
The biggest bear for me--and what other biofic authors have said--was weaving the fiction within the facts. Caesar DID cross the Rubicon. Washington DID become America’s first president. Lincoln WAS assassinated and the Wrights DIDN’T marry. I couldn’t take two love-shy bachelors and turn them into philandering womanizers. I thought it would be disingenuous and at first, I found “the facts” too confining. It was imposing limitations on my imagination. But the longer I worked, I began to find it helpful, like framework. So I suggest putting your imaginative energy into filling in the details, crafting the dialogue, describing the emotions and building the world.
I’ve written historical, literary and women’s fiction, and hands down I’d say that writing biofic is probably the hardest genre to write. But I’d also say that laboring through my biofic novel was also the most rewarding experience I’ve had as an author. Why is biofic so hot?
There’s no doubt that biofic is one of the best selling genres. We simply love learning about people, especially well-known people. As a reader of biofic myself, I enjoy learning some new, overlooked tidbit about a famous person. Something small, but yet something that substantially defined them, their accomplishments and their lives.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about interpreting history, too, casting and seeing it in a new light. Someone reading about Thomas Edison, for example, might think he was one of the most brilliant inventors who ever lived, and thus portray him as a genius in a novel. Someone else, however, could come away from the same research thinking he was a brute who ignored his wife, cared little for his children, and treated Nikola Tesla like trash. In that case, he’ll be portrayed more as a jerk than a genius. And biofic fans value those different perspectives.
But most important (at least, for me), biofic lets readers and writers experience
real history. It’s the closest we can come to actually “being there” or “accomplishing that.”In fact, knowing more about the people who made such impacts on the world, in turn, inspires us to do a little more dreaming, ourselves.
About Tara Staley Tara Staley
is the author of Conditions Are Favorable
, biofic about the Wright brothers during their years experimenting with flight at Kitty Hawk. The book will be published April 23 in paperback and ebook formats and has been blurbed by nationally bestselling author Caroline Leavitt. Her debut novel Need to Breathe
was selected as a “LitPick of 2012” by Twitter’s popular forum @LitChat, and Underground Book Reviews named it a Top Pick this past January. She lives in NC with her husband and two sons, a cat, and too many cardinals to count.
Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we are introducing Author Spotlight Thursdays. Please welcome Jeri Walker-Bickett. 1. Tell us about your new book.
My books contains literary short stories adhere to realism and feature characters down on their luck, yet stubborn enough to move on. A tryst between a carnival worker and a pretty high school student begs the question of who takes advantage of who. A young man’s encounter with a drug addict finds him striking out on his own in hopes of a better life. An English teacher publishes literature deemed inappropriate by a Mormon community. A mother goes on a quest to get rid of the family’s aggressive pet. Finally, New Orleans provides the backdrop for a stroll with a psychotic housewife. Such is life!
Four of the stories were written years ago in graduate and undergraduate workshops, and the newest story, "Not Terribly Important," marks my return to creative writing after years devoting my existence (70+ hour work weeks) to being an English teacher rather than pursuing my original passion for writing. 2. If you had a writing motto, what would it be?
Two mottos apply to my writing and all of life in general. "Let's learn together!" reflects my belief that we can learn more from each other than we can alone. My other motto, "What do I know?" is also the title of my twisted book blog, as well as a throwback to the motto that guided Michel de Montaigne's personal essays and outlook on life. The best experts never stop learning, and the true bravery comes from fully exploring one's own mind. 3. What is one thing you want audiences to know about you?
I've got mad skills. Really. Academic scholarships were plentiful in my past, so I've had the joy of studying the craft of writing for many years and in many different contexts. Now I am turning my experience as a teacher of college composition, secondary English and creative writing into a newly forged career as a freelance editor and author.
The novel I am currently working on is titled Lost Girl Road. It's a psychological suspense ghost story that takes place in the woods of northwest Montana. Alas, my
drafting process is not a fast one, but nor do I want to be a writer who rushes into publication. The draft will let me know when the time is right. 4. What character in your book do you most relate to and why?
Hmmm, at this point in time I'm most like the English teacher in my short story "Not Terribly Important." Suffice to say, the themes explored in that story reflect much of what I find myself mulling over regarding the state of education in America and why I could no longer be a part of such a broken system. Back in the day, I would liken myself more to Julie, the teenage girl in "Pretty Girl" who is a bit of a wild child.
5. What is the best kept secret you've discovered in regard to indie publishing?
I'm still new to learning about marketing, and I read tons of great blogs. Personally, what has worked best for me is to use my blog to build a network of professional contacts I can learn from. Certainly, I wish I had taken some marketing classes in college rather than say, The History of the Personal Essay, but then again, being an academic bum made me into the person I am today.
All that aside, I'm still on the fence on what path to publication to pursue for my
novel. Time will tell. I will be attending the Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference this July in Seattle and am quite terrified of the agent pitching sessions! Either path to publication is wrought with lots of hard work and its own sets of pros and cons. I just want to make the right choice for me.Such is Life on Amazon.
Writer and artist Nancy Klann-Moren is the author of "The Clock of Life." It won best unpublished novel when she submitted the manuscript to the San Diego Book Awards. Her previous book of short stories, "Like the Flies on the Patio," also won awards for three of its stories. Please welcome Nancy to the Underground. Candi:
Your Southern setting and characters feel so authentic. Can you tell us about your experiences that helped you bring Hadlee, Mississippi and its townspeople to life?Nancy:
I was pretty comfortable with the house setting, and with all the characters, but felt unsure about the actual town itself. So unsure I took a road trip through the back roads of Georgia and Mississippi until I finally found a town that fit all my criteria for Hadlee. Then, while writing, I literally saw each scene as if I were watching it on a screen. As for the authentic feel of the book, I once got some advice from a playwright friend who said a writer must be especially mindful about the way their characters think and speak. He said a character must never say something just so the writer can get a point across. That advice served me well during the writing of this book.Candi:
What inspired you to explore both the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement in your story? Nancy:
The idea of human inequality and how it comes to be has always been something I’m unable to understand, so the foundation of that aspect of the book was more emotional than cerebral. And, it has always been hard for me to stomach the politics of why we went into Vietnam. Looking back at those times in our history, one can see a living and breathing reality, where our American protests changed the status quo. Candi:
You address many difficult topics through the eyes of young Jason Lee. It kept a tone of simplicity and innocence, yet there was a profound sense of discovery as he came of age. How did you decide to have Jason Lee tell this story? Nancy:
This narrative began as a short story of about 4,000 words, told in Jason Lee’s point of view. (It’s included my book of short stories, Like The Flies On The Patio.) One morning while in a workshop at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference, I read an excerpt. When I finished, the instructor, Sid Stebel, asked what I was doing for the next couple years, because, “What you have written isn’t a short story, it’s a novel.” Realizing the subject matter was really important, I took up the challenge. Having Jason Lee tell the story was an honest continuation of what I’d started, and it truly is his story.Candi:
I read that your novel was adopted by the Los Medanos College English Department to be used in their freshman writing classes. Have you had any feedback from the students?Nancy:
Not yet. It is scheduled to begin in the fall semester, 2013. In the mean time I’m contacting other English Departments about using it as a framework from which bigotry can be discussed safely in the classroom, comparisons can be made, and recent history can be explored. It fits in nicely with essay readings from several sources as well as subjects in ReReading America
and Changing Society. Candi:
How has your experience been publishing this novel?Nancy
: Because of the state of the publishing industry, I opted for indie publishing, which felt satisfying because I had creative control. With that said, there are also the challenges of “Authorpreneurship,” and learning to market the books. There are huge obstacles when it comes to spreading the word through established review venues like Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times, or even “established” local newspapers. Thank goodness for outlets like The Underground Review to help. I’m confident that through word of mouth, The Clock Of Life will become a must read.Candi:
As an artist and a writer, do you look to different means of inspiration for each, or does one compliment the other? Nancy:
I suppose they both tell a story. Art is more playful and inspired by objects, and writing takes a lot, lot, lot longer. ABOUT OUR GUEST WRITERCandi Sary, author of Black Crow White Lie, has made the finals in several writing competitions, including the William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. She lives in coastal Southern California with her husband (while her 2 kids are off at college), and can often be found surfing the waters of Newport Beach. You can find her at www.candisary.com.
REVIEWER: Candi Sary
GENRE: Southern Fiction / Literary Fiction
AUDIENCE: Adult /Young Adult
EDITOR: Diana J. Ewing
PUBLISHER: Self-published through BookBaby
Jason Lee Rainey lives in Hadlee, Mississippi in the 70s and 80s. He knows nothing about his deceased father until his first day of school when his mother tells the boy that his father was a hero. As the novel progresses, the story of his hero father slowly unfolds and coincides with Jason Lee’s coming-of-age struggles to grow into a worthy son.
Jason Lee’s father was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement and Jason Lee himself comes to understand the ugly truths of racism through his friendship with a black boy named Samson Johnson. He’s told at school that the interracial friendship isn’t right, but his mother, Cassie, assures him, “It’s a tough thing to do in these parts, but you be friends with anyone you want, Jason Lee. Don’t let nobody tell you different, you hear?”
The tragedy of losing his father in the Vietnam War is not only a great burden on the boy, but also on Cassie. Despite her strength in raising Jason Lee on her own, she never completely mourns the loss.The two are reminded of the war daily as Cassie’s twin brother, Mooks, a traumatized Vietnam vet, lives with them. When Cassie finally breaks down, Jason Lee is faced with yet another hardship. And it certainly is not his last. Challenges continue to come at him in the small, racist town, while Jason Lee struggles to respond in ways that would make his father proud. The Clock of Life
by Nancy Klann-Moren is one of those books where everything about it feels right. The novel unfolds with the ease of good old-fashioned storytelling. It’s a pleasure spending time with Southern talkin’ Jason Lee. Opening the book is like sitting down on the front porch with this hopeful kid from a less than hopeful town, and listening to him try to make sense of life. His musings are raw and his interactions with other characters are refreshingly honest. Nothing feels forced—even the setting comes to life organically through the boy’s casual observations.
While its genuine language and tone make it an enjoyable read, it’s the story’s depth that makes the novel so memorable. Nancy Klann-Moren takes an intimate look at the impact the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War had on one small family. She shows how these two chapters in our history deeply changed individuals. After reading his father’s journal, Jason Lee says, “And the whole idea of doing right for others, just because it’s right, consumed me.” This revelation, in the mind of one young Southern boy, gives an up-close look at how momentous change in a country takes place one person at a time.
Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird
, The Clock of Life
is a thoughtfully told, powerful story.
THE LINKSBuy it on AmazonBarnes & Nobel NookBarnes & Nobel Print
THE REVIEWERCandi Sary, author of Black Crow White Lie, has made the finals in several writing competitions, including the William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. She lives in coastal Southern California with her husband (while her 2 kids are off at college), and can often be found surfing the waters of Newport Beach. You can find her at www.candisary.com
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Spring is coming so grab your sunscreen and your baseball cap and throw us your best pitch!
We’re trying to make this a family event, so everyone is welcome: adult and young-adult, self-published and traditionally published, fantasy and literary fiction...
This is a friendly competition, aimed towards connecting writers and readers. Still, we don’t want any scraped knees or crying children, so let's take a moment to go over the rules:
-Pitches must be under 100 words.
-Novels only: no anthologies, chapbooks, graphic novels, non-fiction or children’s books.
-Indie or self-published books only. Nothing published by a major publishing house.
-Your novel must be available to the public, either as an e-book, paperback or hard copy.
-Authors who have previously submitted their book for review, whether accepted or declined, are STILL ELIGIBLE. AwardsFirst Place
-Review and Interview on Underground Book Reviews
-Pitch featured on Underground Book Reviews
-Free subscription to the Weekly NewsletterSecond Place
-Review and Interview on Underground Book Reviews
-Pitch featured on Underground Book Reviews
-Free subscription to the Weekly NewsletterTop 5
-Pitch featured on Underground Book Reviews
-Free subscription to the Weekly NewsletterHow it works:
-Authors send their pitches via our Submissions Manager
. Every pitch will be read in its entirety. Pitches are eliminated if they have grammatical errors, confusing or awkward wording, or do not meet the entrance guidelines, as outlined above.
-Authors are notified of elimination/acceptance within 48 hours.*
-Accepted pitches are posted on Underground Book Reviews’ Facebook page.**
-Readers and fans are invited to ‘like’ their favorite pitches.
-Voting and submissions will close at the end of the day
on May 30th: midnight, EST.
-On May 31st, ‘likes’ will be counted and the top five winners will be announced on Underground Book Reviews.
*Submissions, eliminations, acceptances and voting will happen on a rolling basis. The later you submit your pitch, the less likely you are to collect ‘likes.’ If you submit your pitch less than two days before May 31st, we cannot guarantee that your pitch will be read or considered.
**We will promptly delete any pitches posted by a third party on our Facebook page.
Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we are introducing Author Spotlight Thursdays. Please welcome K. H. Alynn. Tell us about your book. It's 1982, and 17-year-old Rudi Weiss is a tough girl living in the tougher streets of Irvington, NJ--with her life centered around alienation, drugs, and punk rock.
Though this changes when she's caught selling pot and given a choice: either spend the rest of her childhood in juvenile detention or move in with an ex-Marine and his family in the nearby affluent suburb of Maplewood.
There at the local high school, the wild and free-thinking Rudi disrupts the entire established order. And she especially disrupts Tommy Goodwin, a rich and popular preppy who's seemingly her opposite.
But underneath their veneers, they are much the same--two lost souls desperately in search of something. And when they find it, it explodes everything around them.
Something that's only exasperated when Rudi's past catches up with them, in this magical and bittersweet tale of unexpected love. What is one thing you want audiences to know about you?That I believe punk rock and romanticism are not
in-congruent.If you had a writing motto what would it be?That I'm never going to quit, no matter how often I tell myself otherwise.What book character do you most relate to and why?If I had to pick just one, I'd chose Dunya from Crime and Punishment. She just refused to give in.What's the best kept secret you've found in regard to indie publishing?I'm still looking for it. :)Bio:
K. H. Alynn is both a child of the punk rock era and an ever hopeful romantic. Linkshttp://www.amazon.com/Love-Punk-Rock-Grrl-ebook/dp/B00C93QMJ4https://www.facebook.com/ThePunkRockGrrl
Candy Korman is professional writer, amateur Argentine Tango dancer and cat-lover living in New York City. She writes mystery novels and short stories in addition to her series of literary novellas, Candy’s Monsters, inspired by horror classics. Her latest novella,
Poed, takes readers into a contemporary version of Edgar Allan Poe’s dark and twisted world. Please welcome Candy Korman to the Underground! Jeri: How is it that you came to write “literary novellas inspired by horror classics?”
Candy: It occurred to me while I was watching yet another Frankenstein
movie on TV that I had never read the original. Once I read it, I became enamored of the shifting points of view and the MONSTER as the ultimate misfit. The story behind Frankenstein
— the famous rainy vacation in the country and the challenge to write ghost stories for friends —became the genesis for my mystery. From Mary Shelley I went directly to Bram Stoker and then on to Poe. Once you’re on that train, it’s hard to stop. Each novella is a singular story written in a different genre, but the roots are solidly in the original soil. Jeri: What themes predominate your work?
Candy: In my Candy’s Monsters
series, and in most of my other fiction, the theme of unintended consequences seems to crop up. In The Mary Shelley Game
choices made years ago, and with the best of intentions, come back to haunt the party’s host and his guests. The protagonist in Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet
has suffered a romantic body blow. She’s rethinking all her choices and that leaves her vulnerable and easily influenced. Because it’s a dark comedy, she rockets between scary and silly notions, until she finally determines a course of action that shakes her from the inertia of a broken heart. In Poed
and my upcoming variation on Jekyll & Hyde
, there is a clear backlash from dark choices and secrets. Expedient deals made with the devil linger on and on.
I also explore friendship in most of my Monsters-Poed
is the notable exception. Unlike romantic love, I think there are many unexplored or barely touched opportunities for writers in creating the elastic and sometimes treacherous bonds of friendship. Jeri: How has living in New York City inspired and shaped you as a writer?
Candy: YES! I love to travel and virtually everywhere I go turns up in one story or another. Living in a huge city, rich in history, culture and a crazy quilt of neighborhoods, is like handing the key to the candy store to a child with a sugar addiction. New York’s iconic buildings, museums, galleries, theaters, stores, restaurants, bars, parks, subways, stadiums… are full of stories. Everywhere I look, I find inspiration.
Using real places in fiction helps me anchor my stories. The real places also lend credibility to the fantasy aspects. The institution in Poed
is pure fiction, but its location is real. It overlooks the pier where I dance Tango on summer nights. Setting Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet
in an East Village apartment and at various locations in Manhattan gave the story a realistic backdrop and, and according to a few readers, it was a summer tour of the city.
New York is a character in most of my work. The energy of the city, the way it draws people from around the world and the dichotomy between the image and reality —all inform my stories. My monster-in-making — The Strange Case of Dr. Hyde and Her Friends
— is also set in the New York area, with characters in various city neighborhoods and out on Eastern Long Island, too. Jeri: In what ways has your writing style has been influenced by master story tellers?
Candy: Master storytellers SHOW more than they TELL. I aspire. I try. And sometimes I even succeed. I’m a work-in-progress. It’s difficult for me to read without being conscious of the structure, character development and language choices made by the author. Except in the midst of a masterpiece and then I lose all sense of the building blocks and only see the story. Those are the writers that influence me the most. Jeri: How will the experience of reading POED differ for readers who know Edgar Allan Poe’s work well versus readers who may only have a passing familiarity with his work?
Candy: That’s a great question! I’m honestly not sure. I do know that Poe’s work — in one form or another —permeates our popular culture. The old Vincent Price movies, the wonderful version of “The Raven” on The Simpsons
TV show, and the countless references to the “The Black Cat” and his other famous stories are part of our world. Will a non-Poe person appreciate how I snuck in obscure allusions? No. But will that reader enjoy spending a night in The Usher Clinic? I certainly hope so.Jeri: Thanks again to Candy Korman by sharing with Underground Reviews today. Readers can connect with her on the following sites: Candy’s Monsters Blog
Candy’s Monsters on Facebook
, and Goodreads Candy Korman Author Page on Amazon You can also connect with the interviewer, Jeri Walker-Bickett, on her twisted book blog, What do I know?