Interviews

What made you guys decide to become filmmakers?

Sylvia: Jen and I have loved films since we were little girls. Being identical twins, we could try out for the same role and with child labor laws play the same part making the production’s life somewhat easier. As we grew older, the roles available went from cutesy with little substance to ultra sexy with little substance. There’s nothing wrong with sexualized roles, but there’s a big difference from what, for example, what Michael Fassbender did in SHAME and the roles of half naked actors that are there purely for mastubatory purposes with zero character development. After doing these roles for a few years, we decided that we would quit acting and use our extensive martial arts background to try stunt work. We might still be half naked, but at least we’d be kicking ass. That led us to an excellent outsourced stunt program at a place that claimed to be a film school. After the stunt portion ended, so did anything that resembled a school.

 

The final annoyance came when the budget for our final project was cut and we were told to merge with another group. Thank God that GRINDHOUSE was in the theatres at the time. We had been going to the theatre to watch the flick constantly. We came out of the theatre that day and Jen said, Dead Hooker in a Trunk. It would be the name of a fake trailer and we would make it on our own – doing the stunts, writing, directing, producing, and acting in it and we would include everything that the school forbid in their projects. We presented it at the end of graduation with half the audience walking out and the other half cheering so loud that you could barely hear the crude dialogue.

 

After the screening, we were asked about the feature and we bullshitted that we were totally going to make it into a feature. We went home, wrote the script, and then maxed out our credit cards to get the flick made. We really walked ass backwards into filmmaking. We were frustrated with the projects being made in the industry and decided to make our own.

 

Jen: Not enough women are encouraged to be filmmakers. Usually they’re told they could grow up to be actresses, or models, or singers. We’ve loved films all our lives and it’s the stories that really got me. It’s the same reason we both adore Stephen King. His books just take you into this unique and wonderful and terrifying world. That had a profound effect on us as children reading his novels. I like to, at least in part, blame him for the way we turned out. It was always the story telling that had the greatest appeal to us. We couldn’t figure out what we didn’t like about acting until we got older. It was the total lack of creative control. Actors never get to create their own characters and until you get to a certain level in your career you find yourself more often than not chasing after roles you don’t really want.

We have this strange set of skills that never seemed to go together. In our lifetime we’ve done acting, modelling, been fitness instructors and personal trainers, taught martial arts, done promotions, managed retail outlets, waitressed, bar tended and it’s never felt quite right. We draw, paint, sketch, sculpt, write, can talk with anyone on any subject for any duration of time, can read people easily, can make up stories in a heart beat, and none of that stuff really worked well together or allowed us to use all of our abilities. When we found filmmaking it just all fell into place. It felt like coming home.

You’ve become a real sensation since the critically acclaimed Dead Hooker in a Trunk, how hard was it to get where you are now?

 

Sylvia: We started DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK at the end of 2007 and it wasn’t until January 31st, 2012 that the film got it’s US DVD release through IFC Midnight, Bounty Films released it in the UK and Australia May 23rd, 2011. It’s been a long process. We’ve dedicated all of our time and money to getting the film made and released. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of time, but it has been totally worth it. Not being able to afford food and being broke at Christmas are parts of it that really suck. Losing people in your life because they don’t understand why you are spending all of your time working sucks, too, but when you are pursuing something that means so much to you everything is worth the end result.

 

Jen: It’s a common misconception that we achieved this level of success with the film over night. Ha ha, so not true. It may seem like that because the film now has its world release and is readily available. It was years of hard work, social media, emailing reviewers and bloggers and film festivals asking them to check out the film. You’d be surprised how many people were put off by the title alone. We worked full time jobs and would wake up, get online, mail screeners out, follow up with people, work on promoting the film, go to our jobs, come home, work on the film as long as we could, sleep, and then wake up and do it all over again. You really do get what you put in. I’m very surprised when independent filmmakers complain that no one’s checking out their film. You’ve got to make them see it. There are so many independent films made out there that you have to take the initiative and get the word out yourself. If you don’t take the time to, why should anyone do it for you, you know?

Tell us more about Dead Hooker in a Trunk, what was the inspiration behind it?

 

Sylvia: Jen and I have been huge Robert Rodriguez fans. We grew up watching and rewatching his films. Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo’s EL MARIACHI was a big inspiration. They made it for next to nothing and it was spectacular. The cool thing is not only were those movies cool, but the filmmakers let you in on how they pulled them off. The making of EL MARIACHI first hand account book – ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ – gave us a lot of insight about truly independent filmmaking. It made us feel like we could make our own film and we did.

 

The story of following in Robert and Carlos’ footsteps even reached Carlos who makes an appropriate cameo as God in the film. There’s nothing like following in your heroes’ example and then having them to talk to for advice while you are making your film. It was a very fucking cool experience and Carlos is one of the most generous filmmakers out there. He truly cares about independent artists.

Jen: GRINDHOUSE was a huge inspiration at the time. You can’t keep us out of the theatres when there’s a Robert Rodriguez film playing. The trailers inspired us to make an over the top, Grindhouse inspired faux trailer of our own. The best thing about doing a trailer is you only have to shoot the very best parts, only the cool shit. The trailer itself as well as the film ultimately were very laden with our sense of humor. We re-write movies often while we watch them, like, “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if this happened?” It rarely works out that way, though, so with our own film we finally had the opportunity to do exactly that.

Aside from Robert and Carlos, who were the most profound influences on DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, we took from things we loved. We’re huge gamers and comic book lovers so you can see those influences in there. We intentionally never had our characters change their outfits to give them that super hero costume look and effect. We also never named them because we wanted their character types to speak for them and make them larger than life. By the end of the film, anyone can tell you what Badass wears. We would have to thank Stan Lee and his outstanding creations for that.

 

 

What is it about horror that you find so compelling?

 

Sylvia: It’s weird because we’ve always been so drawn to it. Maybe it’s partially the taboo of little girls not being supposed to like horror – which is utter and complete bullshit. Jen and I would go haunt our local video store and hang out in the horror section. We would look at the movie cases for the best monsters and gore. If we found a ‘good one’ we’d call the other over to share. Sometimes, because we weren’t always allowed to watch the films, we would make up what we thought the film was about – like if there was a monster with bloody teeth and a guy without a face, we would assume that the monster eats people’s faces.
Jen: It’s hard to say. We didn’t wake up one morning and go, “hey, let’s watch a whole load of horror movies.” We’ve loved it our entire lives. Scary stories, scary movies, Halloween. We’d see something scary, scream, and seconds later we’d be erupting in laughter. Foolishly friends would tell us what they were afraid of and, ourselves not having any irrational fears, would capitalize on them and scare the shit out of our friends.

Our mom had a massive collection of Stephen King novels, everything he had written, and we’d see her reading them and naturally wanted to read them as well. We were still in Elementary School and she had even said if we could read the book we could watch the film adaption. As a result, we began reading them and developed this love for horror and humor. Stephen King has this incredible way of having you terrified in one instant and laughing despite yourself in the next. We just came to believe that that was what horror was supposed to be like. We still feel that way. I love a little joke thrown in there.

 

 

What has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome on your journey?

 

Sylvia: My grandfather taught me something very important when I was younger – if you treat people with kindness and respect, the whole world opens up to you. On HOOKER, almost no one got paid, so if you’re asking people to work for free, you better treat them kindly and work your ass off to earn their time and effort. It’s worked very well for me and I won’t ever change that, but some people who I have encountered in this industry misunderstand my kindness for a form of weakness. I don’t treat people that I work with like shit, some people don’t get that. The newest thing that I’m actually really shocked by is the treatment I have received by people regarding my age and gender. I’ve had people act incredibly disgusting towards me and my sister – completely inappropriate sexual advances that range from being told that ‘these things are expected perks’ to getting grabbed at meetings to being referred to as a ‘little girl’ and ‘girls don’t know anything about filmmaking.’ It’s bullshit and I don’t tolerate it, but it’s sad to see that kind of ignorance exist in any industry.

 

Jen: I agree with Sylv completely. Before experiencing it myself I assumed that blatant sexism was a thing of the past. I mean, it is absolutely ridiculous to think that someone would be more or less capable as a filmmaker based on their gender. I’m not a little girl. I’m almost thirty. I have a hard time believing that a man my age would be called a “little boy”. Seriously. It’s disgusting. Unfortunately these people somehow seem to find a way to survive in this industry like cockroaches, no offense of course intended to cockroaches. There are men who get into this business and somehow claw their way into power purely to take advantage of girls by being able to say, “I’m a producer” or “I work in the film business.” They are the same kind of men who will clumsily come onto you promising they (and they alone) can help you get further in your career and the moment you shoot them down, they try to make your life a living hell. A good friend told me that some men in this industry, if they can’t fuck you, will do everything they can to fuck you over. Dealing with these people has been the greatest challenge.

When you’re not making kick-ass movies, what are you generally doing?

 

Sylvia: I’m almost always working – it’s a pretty fucking awesome job and I have no complaints. I’m a complete nerd – I love playing video games, reading comic books, and I collect tarantulas. There are fourteen currently in my collection. I adore horror movies – Jen and I try to watch at least one new movie a day, often three movie marathons.

 

Jen: ha ha, working on the next one! We love what we do and find ourselves even working during our down time. We love writing. We’ve got a stock pile of scripts with new ones being worked on all the time. I collect weapons. I love playing around with them, it’s a great work out. Video games are a huge love of ours. If we truly are taking time off we game. Hard. Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, and Silent Hill are our favorites series. We’re playing Skyrim right now. It’s awesome.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career so far?

 

Sylvia: It’s a very rewarding experience to tell stories and share them with people. We get messages from people all over the world who have seen DEAD HOOKER and are looking forward to AMERICAN MARY. When someone writes to me about seeing my film and that they really dug it – that’s the best thing ever.

 

Jen: The people. Definitely the people we’ve met. We wake up every morning to emails, tweets, and facebook messages from people who have loved the film. We’ve also met some incredible artists because of it. I feel truly privileged. Especially when someone sees DHIAT and reads about our story and tells us that they’ve always wanted to make a movie and we’ve inspired them to. It makes us so happy.

 

 

Who or what do you class as your main inspiration?

 

Sylvia: Amusing Jen. If an idea I come up with doesn’t disgust or make Jen laugh, then it’s not worth my time. We’re really brutal with each other’s ideas, but I think that’s why only the best shit makes it through the process. Some people have our same sense of dark humour and they are going to enjoy the projects we make.

 

Jen: ha ha. We totally amuse one another. I like to put that “what would I want to see happen” quality into our work. After all, we’re horror fans ourselves. We are our own demographic. Horror has fallen into the wrong hands and some of the work released is just plain insulting to the audience. Horror fans aren’t morons. You can’t just throw some blood around and say it good enough, but that does seem to be the case.

 

Tell us more about American Mary, and how you came up with the idea

 

Sylvia: I was dating this guy who showed me something online that disturbed the fuck out of me. When something scares me, I look into it – usually fear is associated with a lack of knowledge about something. I got obsessed and learned as much as I could just for my own amusement. Years later, we make DEAD HOOKER and we send the trailer to all the directors involved in GRINDHOUSE saying, you inspired us to make this. We didn’t really expect to hear back from anyone, but Eli Roth got back to us within a couple days and gave us a lot of advice with the film. Then he asked about our other scripts. At the time, there were none, so I lied and pitched some ideas that I thought I could write with Jen pretty quickly. He liked the one about the medical student based on the internet thing. We wrote it in two weeks and sent it over. I’ve since came clean about it. Eli’s a great guy and nice as hell – he has been an amazing friend to us and the movie wouldn’t have happened if it were not for his request.

 

Jen: AMERICAN MARY is the polar opposite of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK in so many ways. Whereas DHIAT is chaotic, MARY is calculated, and deliberate, and just beautiful. I’m really excited to share the film with the world. Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) is pitch perfect as our Mary Mason. She’s going to blow people away.

 

 

Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming projects Bob and The Man Who Kicked Ass?

Sylvia: It’s funny because we were trying to get AMERICAN MARY made and it is a very different horror – it got passed on a lot. It got passed on so much, that we thought we would have to make a few more films before someone gave us the opportunity to make MARY. We wrote BOB and even got into early prep for the film when we got green lit on MARY. BOB is the most humorous and vile scripts we have ever written. It’s very much a horror comedy unlike anything that’s ever been before, we’re getting back to him as soon as we’re finished up with MARY.

 

Sylvia: Yeah, I love BOB. I love MARY, too, of course. BOB is hilarious and vicious and again something completely different from us. Well, maybe not completely different. Horror and humor will always be in our work. THE MAN WHO KICKED ASS? Oh, that’s a special one. It’s epic. I don’t imagine we’ll get a chance to do that one for a while, but it’s this legendary, gorgeous story that really shows our love of fantasy. It’s a beautiful blend of extreme violence and the most artful story telling. It’s got some of the best dialogue and characters we’ve ever written. But, that’s so cruel of me to say because that one won’t be made for awhile. It’s a much bigger scale and will need a bigger budget. Of course if someone comes along and says they want to make it, we’d make it tomorrow, ha ha

 

If you were to set a goal for the future, what would it be?

 

Sylvia: To get to a point in my career where I can not only finance my own work, but give new filmmakers an opportunity to make their films. I feel like there is a lot of talent out there, but it’s the same recycled soulless shit that keeps getting made. I want to be a part of changing that.

 

Jen: Of course, I share that goal. I would love to continue to build Twisted Twins Productions. There are so many films and side projects we’d like to do. I would love to one day have our names synonymous with horror.

And finally, who is your favourite horror icon?

 

Sylvia: Stephen King introduced me to horror. My mom had a rule, if we read the book; we could watch the flick. She tricked us into reading at a high school level at nine and it was some of the best experiences of my life. I love his mix of humour and horror – it’s had a lasting effect on me.

Jen: Stephen King! He’s had a real influence on us and the work we do. I’d love to one day meet the man. It would be a dream come true to do a film adaptation on one of his books, but only with his blessing.

 

Well there you have it folks. Keep an eye on The Twisted Twins! Chances are their movies will be hitting the big screens near you in no time at all.

 

What made you decide to become an actor?

Acting is all I have ever wanted to do. I’ll be doing it till the day I die. I’m not always good, but I have done over 70 projects in the last 4 years (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2454994) so I am at least getting a lot of practice. I am secretly delighted that people call me a “horror genre actor.” I read a quote from Vincent Price who said, “Sometimes I feel I am channeling the dark soul of the whole human race, and I love it!” I can understand where he was coming from. It’s a great feeling.

What is it about horror that appeals to you?

I am (like all humans) afraid of a lot of things. Horror allows me to face my own fears, and to give people who watch the chance to face theirs. Good horror is cathartic. I’d even say good horror is good for the soul, because it is like a thunderstorm: afterwards there is a cleansing rain and everything is refreshed. Pretending that we are not afraid is not good for us. Horror lets us stop pretending and still keep our facade up, because we can feel the fear vicariously. Afterwards, we are stronger. I am speaking of good, intelligent well-made horror, of course. Some of it is just silly garbage. And I’ve done my share of that. But we all hold out hope for the rare film that scares the hell out of us…and makes us like it. ‘The Exorcist’ still gives me nightmares.

Your popularity is constantly growing, how hard was it to get where you are now?

Well, it’s not physical labor so I am not gonna bitch about how hard it is. I get paid to pretend to be other people. But yeah I do work hard at it. I came to Los Angeles 4 years ago from a 13-year east coast stage career. It’s a tough town and a tough business, but if you work hard and pay your dues, you’ll eventually get noticed. The German in me doesn’t mind the hard work and the discipline. There’s a 98% unemployment rate in this business; I’m grateful to be working. I work a 12 to 14 hour day every day whether it is on set or off set. There is never a moment when you can relax. It’s a very uncertain life and it can get stressful, but I trust God and I trust my manager (in that order.) I am learning to be patient and to wait for the good roles. Lord knows I have done enough bad ones. But you know, when something like the trailer for ‘Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies’ comes out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tFaQYSFLuE   and it gets 8,000 views in 7 days and people write me and day, “Dude your Lincoln is badass!” that makes all the hard work more than worth it. That’s what it’s about: making people smile and entertaining them. That’s what it is all for and that’s the reward.

What has been your favourite experience so far in your career?

Touring with the show ‘Jesus Of Nazareth‘ as Jesus. I did a thousand performances in churches all around the country. I met wonderful people who prayed for me and who fixed my Jeep when it broke down and who fed me at their tables. I wouldn’t trade the experience for an Oscar (not that anyone has offered one.) When I started down the path of horror films 4 years ago, the experience of having played this role and now scaring people for a living gave me lots to think about. I wrote a blog post on the subject of horror and faith and I get a lot of mail about it, all of it positive. http://www.billoberst.com/2012/01/and-it-was-night-thoughts-on-horror-and-faith/

What has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome on your journey?

Making peace with my face; my appearance; my overall creepiness on camera. Onstage I played all types of people but when I switched to camera the darkness and the creepiness were what the camera loved. I had always been ashamed of my scarred face and my weird body and had covered them up with make-up and padding and costumes onstage. And suddenly on film, with a camera right in my face, I was naked, so to speak…I mean, there’s nothing to hide behind. You can’t lie to the camera. So I was forced to stand in front of the mirror and to say “This is me. This is what I look like. This is what I have to offer.” And the moment I did that is the moment I started working regularly in film. It seems the more I embrace that, the more I work, so I haven’t looked back. There’s a whole section on my new website devoted to that topic. It’s called ‘The Anatomy Of Fear‘ and I’m proud of it because it is who I am, not some image bullshit. There’s a freedom in saying “God made me a little weird, but here I am.” http://www.billoberst.com/anatomy-of-fear/
When you’re not acting, what are you generally doing?

I work out a lot. I’ve got this whole lean creepy body thing going as a part of my brand and it takes a lot of work to keep defined. Naturally I am just a skeleton. So there’s protein powder and the gym a lot. I love to hike in Griffith Park. And I love to read. My tastes in books are towards the old and the odd. I am re-reading Washington Irving’s ‘Sketchbook’ from 1820 right now. ‘The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’ is in there, and I scared myself reading it before bed the other night. Beautifully written. I’m a huge Ray Bradbury fan, also. I’d recommend his short story ‘Pillar Of Fire’ to anyone who loves Halloween. I never get tired of it.

Who or what do you class as your main inspiration?

A couple of guys who died before I was born: Lon Chaney Sr. and Boris Karloff. Offscreen both were good and decent men who treated others well. Onscreen both gave their monsters a touch of humanity, so that we always saw a bit of ourselves in their eyes. I aspire to this. My sympathies have always been with the monster. On a few occasions I have been compared to these gentlemen. I pretend to brush it off, but it makes me pinch myself. It makes me happy. It makes me hope their ghosts aren’t laughing at me.

Do you have any upcoming features at the minute?Yeah I have 7 features due out this year and am filming 4 more in a row between now and September. I would invite folks to visit my IMDb page to see what’s up: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2454994/I have lead roles in 3 horror projects that will be out soon and about which I am pretty excited:

– Richard Schenkman’s ‘Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies,’ which has a release date of May 29 from The Asylum,

– Jourdan McClure’s ‘Children Of Sorrow‘ which is so disturbing that the 1st composer quit because watching it make his skin crawl, &

– Michael Emanuel’s ‘Scary Or Die,’ a wickedly fun horror anthology film co-starring Corbin Bleu of the ‘High School Musical’ films.

Each of those has the potential to do very well. I am also doing lead roles in Gregory Blair’s thriller ‘Scare Tactics‘ and Trevor Juenger’s art-house horror film ‘Coyote‘ this year, and am in talks with director Mark Savage about his next horror project.

On the non-horror front I am doing the lead in a gritty New York drama called ‘The Little Matchstick Boy‘ for director Heather Ferreira next month and the lead in Micheal Bonomo’s hitman thriller ‘Assassins‘ in August. Oh and I just wrapped a reprise of my role in The Hallmark Channel TV-movie, ‘The Shunning‘ for the sequel, ‘The Confession,’ again directed by Michael Landon Jr. I think that’s all. It has gotten kind of busy since Jason Zada’s ‘Take This Lollipop‘ became a viral phenomenon and made internet history. Playing The Facebook Stalker was good for me. I am very grateful for all these chances to do what I love for a living.

If you were to set a goal for the future, what would it be?

When I was a kid in South Carolina, and a man would die in our small town, I’d hear the people in church talking about it the next Sunday. There was one phrase that stuck in my head: “He was a good man.” If they said that, it was the highest praise they could offer. I think that by “a good man” they meant that he had met his responsibilities, worked hard, taken care of his family and treated others the way he wanted to be treated. That’s a tall order and I have not always lived up to it. But at the end of life, I’d like them to be able to put that on my tombstone. “He was a good man.” I think that would be enough.

And finally, who is your favourite horror icon?

The Wolf Man. He’s tragic. He’s tortured. Yet, he’s going to rip your throat out. What’s not to like?

 

And that’s a wrap. We hope you liked our feature on Bill Oberst Jr, because he is going to be joining us as a guest blogger real soon! (And you say we don’t treat you!)

Keep a look out for future updates of when The King will be joining us!

I’ve got a real treat for all my readers today.

This week I interviewed The Daddy of Demonology himself. Sean Hayden! Author of the critically acclaimed Origins; part of the Demonkin Series!

Here we go!

 

What made you choose horror as your primary genre?

Believe it or not, I didn’t. With Origins I was shooting for Urban Fantasy. Things got out of control, there were blood and guts everywhere, and the next thing you know, the main character is lying on a morgue table with nothing but a rib spreader to show for it.  

 

What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved reading. Even more so than watching television. The last time I went to a bookstore, I bought a whole series of books at once that caught my eye. I cracked open the first one and read about fifty pages into it. I’d like to say I did something noble like donate them. I didn’t. It irked the hell out of me. I threw all of them in the trash and said, “I can do better than that crap.” So I gave it a shot! 

 

You’re a published author now; how hard was it to get to where you are?

I wasted six months of my life trying to find an agent. I spent another two months trying to get a big publisher to even look at it. That was a waste. I found a website called duotrope.com that lists small publishers. I sent it to the first one that sounded familiar to me and they accepted it. Hearing some of the other horror stories out there, I assume I came out relatively unscathed! 

 

‘Origins’ is the first book in the Demonkin series. Can you give us more details as to what it’s about? 

In the world I created, everyone knows vampires, werewolves, mages, and elves exist. They work, play, and die beside them every day. What no one knows is that every breed of vampire and magical creature out there is the offspring of either a demon and a human, or an angel and a human. I used this to explain why there are so many different kinds of vampires. The main character, Ashlyn is the newest breed. Her father is a major demon lord. Humans had lost the ability to summon demons, but Ashlyn’s mother found a way to do it. Let’s just say she didn’t enjoy the experience. Nine months later Ashlyn came about. She’s a vampire, but different. She can only survive off the blood of other magical creatures. It gets her into a heap of trouble with the head vampire of Chicago. Right when he’s got her, she’s saved and recruited by the FBI. They want her to work for them to take care of the vampires who get a little frisky. Her first assignment after Quantico? Yup. Head back to Chicago and take care of their crazed, prohibition era, gangster master vampire.

 

What about the next books in the Demonkin series? What direction will they be going in? 

The sequel, Deceptions, is written and under contract. It should be out in October. Ashlyn’s back and The Great State of California have elected themselves an undead governor. Needless to say, neither the vampires or most of the human population are too happy about this. Somebody tries to make him totally dead. Ashlyn needs to keep him alive and find out who’s behind the attempts before it’s too late. 

 

It’s clear that you’re influenced by demonology, what do you find compelling about demons?

I like things with pointy nails and wings that drool. Okay, just kidding. I do like the Idea that demons are fallen angels. They chose to be what they are. It’s the ultimate fight against good and evil. The demons in my story aren’t charming, debonair, suit wearing demons. They’re slash your face off and dance in your entrails demons. Way more fun to write. Believe it or not, in the story I chose Asmodeus to be Ashlyn’s father. What’s creepy is I made his main rival the Angel Rafael. What’s REALLY creepy is if you do a little research, you’ll find that Asmodeus and Rafael have been going at it since the dawn of time. Totally unresearched and unintentional. I didn’t know till i was watching a special on Angels on the Discovery Channel after my book was out.

 

Do you have any plans to write a completely different novel from scratch?

I have already! LOL. I’ve moved on to steampunk and YA. I just finished my very first full length YA novel. It’s the first of a series too. My Soul to Keep is the first of the Soul Survivor series and is about a teenage kid who inadvertently writes a binding contract to sell his soul for his fondest wish. When the demons show up to make it happen, he panics. When asked for his greatest wish, he asks to be a demon himself. As it is a binding contract, the demons have to honor it. Things go downhill from there, but he saves not only his soul, but falls in love along the way. 

 

When you’re not writing or working, what are you generally doing?

Editing, blogging, networking, marketing, promoting, and a WHOLE bunch of other things that end in ING. 

 

Angels or Demons. Which is better?

Know that thing we all have as humans? Free will? How much free will do you think an angel has? Do this, do that, smite him, collect that. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. Now imagine how much free will a demon has? He’s pretty much turned his back on everything and everyone. As characters they’re just chock full of limitless potential. Plus it would be cool to have big leathery, bat like wings. Just saying.

 

If you were to set a goal for your future what would it be?

I want to be as big as an author as anyone. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a conceited bone in my body. I don’t think I’m the greatest author that’s ever lived. I’m just saying that having the name recognition of some of the greats would be absolutely friggin awesome.

 

And finally who is your favourite horror icon?

Clive Barker, baby. If you ask him what the greatest influence on his work is, he’ll say, “The Bible.”  

 

Click on an image for further details

 

 

Want to know more? Here it is

Sean Hayden works in South Florida as a Fiber-optic Engineer for a cable communications company.

Born in the Suburbs of Chicago he relocated to Florida as a child, where he grew up and attended school at a small Catholic elementary and high school. It was there, in literature class, he fell in love with books. Vampires especially fascinated him as well as the realm of possibilities of the urban fantasy genre. This fascination gave birth to his first novel, Origins.

He lives at home with his wife, children, and a plethora of pets.

Visit Sean at http://www.seanhayden.org/

or follow him on Twitter @shaydenFL

 

Ania Ahlborn

 

Yesterday I was lucky enough to  interview a great horror writer; Ania Ahlborn!  Author of the debut novel Seed!

Here we go!

Okay so we know you’re a horror author, but why did you choose that genre?

I like to think that the genre chose me, not the other way around. I’ve always been drawn to the darker things in life. Even as a little girl, I was more interested in things that went bump in the night than, well… things little girls are into. Don’t get me wrong, I was afraid of things that went bump in the night; I didn’t sleep with the lights off for what seemed like years after I watched The Exorcist. And yet here I am, writing horror. It seems that horror has been pulling me toward it since I was a child.

What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Writing has always been something I enjoyed. I discovered writing when I was nine or ten, and I knew I had a knack for it–but to say I decided to be a writer at that age is pretty silly. I had no idea what I wanted to be, let alone what I was going to wear the next day. I think I really decided I wanted writing to be my career my freshman year of college. My major was psychology, and I was enjoying it quite a bit until one of my instructors said something that turned my stomach. He said that in psychology, you legally couldn’t ‘help’ anyone–psychology was all about getting the person to help themselves. That sat really badly with me, and a week or two later I visited my adviser to switch my major from psych to English. That little push assured me that I was trying to resist something that I shouldn’t have been resisting. I was a writer. There was no use hiding from it.

You’re a published author now. How hard was it to get to where you are?

I’m published, but that in no way means I’m making a living off of what I’m doing–at least not yet. My journey has been a long one. It’s been nearly fifteen years since I sent out my first query letter. I tried the traditional publishing route over and over only to be beaten down and rejected, but I can’t say I’m sorry it happened. Without the experiences I’ve gone through, I doubt I would have ever written Seed. I wouldn’t be as driven, and I certainly wouldn’t be as independent as I am when it comes to publishing. Swallowing all those rejections kills some people’s spirit, but it just made me that much more defiant. I’m of the opinion that nobody can tell me what I can and can’t write, and with Seed’s relative success, I’ve only assured myself that I can do this. It’s been a hard uphill battle, and I still struggle with moments of self-doubt, but I’ve taught myself to sit down, shut up, and write… the rest will come in due time.

Your first book was released recently. Can you give us more details as to what it’s about?

Seed is a novel about a rural Louisiana family. Upon coming home from little Charlie’s sixth birthday party at a pizza place, the Winter’s get into a near-fatal car accident. After the accident, Charlie’s sweet demeanor starts to shift and her father, Jack, knows all too well what’s going on. He begins to relive his own childhood nightmares as he watches his little girl transform into a stranger.

Seed is subtle horror. It verges on psychological, and it’s a throwback to the good old days when not all horror was zombies and vampires. It’s deeply rooted in place and family, and it’s character driven. It’s a bit like The Exorcist meeting The Omen, but rather than spinning heads and pea soup, you’re forced to watch a deliberately slow transformation of an innocent child into something monstrous.

What has been the most rewarding part of your writing career so far?

My first reward was when Seed actually went live. Those first few days were amazing because so many of my friends, be it from Twitter or Facebook, really banded together to support me. For the first few days I had incredible sales, and it was all because these wonderful people wanted me to succeed. That was an amazing feeling, and I’ll be forever grateful for their support.

The second best part of this whole experience has been listening to people’s reactions to the book. The reviews have been stellar–better than I could have ever hoped, and as I write this response Seed is ranked #10 on the Kindle Top Rated Books in the horror/occult category. I try not to pride myself too much on rank because it’s ever-changing, but it’s a pretty fantastic feeling to know that the people who are reading Seed are loving it as much as they are. There’s pressure with that, of course… but it’s been great.

What has been the least rewarding?

I wouldn’t say that there’s been one particular thing that’s been least rewarding, but there have been some disappointments, some things that have been hard to come to terms with. When you publish your first book, you expect that everyone will be supportive and excited for you, but that isn’t the case. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but you turn the other cheek and move on.

Do you have any plans of writing a sequel to Seed or is your next book going in a different direction?

There will be no sequel. I think it would be easy to write one, but I’m not a fan of series. I feel like authors today do too many series books and not enough stand-alone novels. Stand-alones are harder. You have to start from square one each time. You don’t have pre-established characters, there’s no formula you follow for each book. I may do a series one day, but at the moment it isn’t something that interests me.

My next project is completely different from Seed. It’s even more subtle, even more heavily rooted in character and back story. I’m a little nervous about it because the vibe is quite different from Seed. Seed is dark and gritty, this next work feels more airy, more prim… but there’s a method to my madness. I just hope it’s as well-received as Seed has been.

If you could change one aspect of your past what would it be?

I don’t believe in changing things about my past. To do so is to erase the present me.

If you were to set a goal for your future what would it be?

 My goal is to stay on task and write two novels a year until I have enough funds rolling in to quit my present job and do this full time. It would be a long-time dream come true.

And finally who is your favourite horror icon?

That would have to be Jack Torrence from The Shining. Talk about the quintessential psychopath. I love the slow build, the subtle changes in Jack as he shifts from father and husband to raging lunatic. It’s perfect because it’s plausible, and I love plausible. Plausible is one of my favorite things

Great right? See below for more info on Seed  and Ania!

Click on an image for more details

 

Want to see a cool promo trailer? Here it is!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9qOplAtULM]

 

Want to know about Ania Ahlborn – I got that too. Check it out below!

Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and sometimes morbid sides of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from the large wooded cemetery next door. She’d spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so that everyone had their equal share.

Beyond writing, Ania enjoys gourmet cooking, baking, movies, drawing, and traveling. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and two dogs, Beau the Scottie and Galaxy the Yorkie.

Learn more about Ania on her site, www.AniaAhlborn.com, where you can sign up for a direct-from-the-author newsletter on new releases, promos, and more.

Want to connect?

Follow Ania on Twitter @aniaahlborn

or Facebook at www.facebook.com/aniaahlbornauthor.

I’ve recently been lucky enough to interview the great Jen Wylie! Author of  the newly released novel Sweet Light, short stories including Jump and The Forgotten Echo and the highly anticipated series Tales of Ever.

Here we go!

 

Okay so we know you’re an author, but what type of genre do you write? And why did you choose that genre?

I write fantasy, both urban, paranormal, romantic and for adults and young adults. I grew up reading sci fi and fantasy book so it came naturally for me write that genre as well. I also have a very vivid and sometimes crazy imagination!

What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

For the longest time (since public school) I just wrote because I loved it. Writing was something I enjoyed doing, needed to do. I never really seriously started to consider publishing my work until my parents started bugging me to try a few years ago. I don’t always do what my parents tell me, but they had a good idea this time!

You’re a published author now; how hard was it to get to where you are?

It was a long road, as they say. First I was very nervous and spent probably a year editing my book, researching etc. Once I finally got up the nerve to query agents I then collected rejections for about a year and half. I then discovered a great small publisher and was thrilled when they requested to see the full MS. Of course I then had to wait to hear back…but I did get a contract for my book, and also for two short stories I’d also submitted. The journey didn’t end there, next came building my web presence, edits and so on. Marketing still takes up a good part of my time.

Your first book came out a few weeks ago. Can you give us more details as to what it’s about?

Sweet Light is a romantic fantasy, or a fantasy where a good part of the story involves relationships. It’s not a bodice ripper LOL, more of heart wrenching story of love and choices within my fantasy world. There are princes and warriors and healers, some fighting, intrigue, mysteries and magic. Though I originally thought its intended audience for women I’ve heard from some who really enjoyed it as well-so I’m thinking there is a good balance between soft romance and emotions with action.

Description:

When fate conspires against you and gives you three loves to choose from, what do you do? What if you make the wrong choice?

Shara is a healer, raised and trained from childhood until her unique gift manifests itself. When she gains the rank Journeyman she is hired to serve as the court healer for the barbaric kingdom of Glendor.

Untrained for war, she is thrust unmercifully into its bloody arms when the kingdom is invaded. Ordered by her king to the front lines to tend the wounded, she is forced to flee when their camp is attacked. Happening upon a wounded soldier in the forest, every mile back to the capital is a struggle, and breaking the healer’s code, she falls in love with her charge.

If Shara thought that to be the least of her troubles, the appearance of a fierce warrior captain who appoints himself her protector, teaches her differently. Trouble comes in threes at the appearance of a former love and fellow healer. Faced with decisions of the heart and the sudden manifestation of her gift, there is little room for anything else to go wrong. Or at least that’s what Shara thought.

 

What about the short stories you have written, can you give us some details on those?

My first published short story, Jump, came out in Dec. It is a humorous urban fantasy (and the sequel has been contracted!)

Description:

If you were told to jump off of a bridge would you?
Perhaps it would depend on who was doing the asking. Our heroine has spunk and a sense of humor, however suffers from an extreme case of inappropriate clothing. When things take a turn from dangerous to worse what will she do when fantasy becomes reality? Warning: May include hot leather clad men, singing and demons.

My next short is part of my Immortal Echoes world. The Forgotten Echo has been a huge hit and is my most popular short story. It is a paranormal about Echoes, which are more than just ghosts. Sometimes death is only the beginning…

 Lastly, my current baby is my new series Tales of Ever. It will contain 6 instalments (one out per month until Aug) and is a paranormal fantasy. It is part of Echelon Press’ Electric Shorts program – creating short stories specifically geared toward reluctant young adult readers. Tales of Ever is about a young firestarter who is banished to the land of Ever, which is a prison of sorts. It is a deadly place, where almost everything can kill you. Throughout the series she struggles to learn to use her power, survive and searches for her father. She meets many interesting characters, and a lot of strange creatures too! The first three, Banished, Fire Girl and Shadow Boy, are out now. The 4th, The Lost Tree will be out by the end of june.

 All of my short stories are available only in eBook formats at this time. You can find them on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and OmniLit (where they are currently all on the Top 10 List!)

 

What has been the most/least rewarding aspect of your writing career so far?

The most rewarding is having my stories published, in eBook and in print and hearing from readers(other than my mom) how much they enjoyed them. I wouldn’t really say anything has been least rewarding – though it is a lot more work than people think!

 

Do you have any plans of writing a sequel to Sweet Light or is your next book going in a different direction?

The sequel to Sweet Light has already been written. It is called Dark Madness and I’m just doing some touch ups to it before submitting. I’ve also finished a YA fantasy novel called Broken Aro which I’m working on finding a publisher for as well. 🙂

 

If you could change one aspect of your past what would it be?

I’d be born somewhere warmer. Canadian winters last forever! Just kidding (well partly) I’m one of those who doesn’t dwell on the past. Everything that happens has made me who I am today, and I’m fine with that 🙂

 

If you were to set a goal for your future what would it be?

Why to eventually be able to make a living off of my writing of course! That would fantastic 😀

And finally who is your favourite horror icon?

Stephen King

Ebook Available at:

Omnilit:  http://www.omnilit.com/product-sweetlight-550231-143.html

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/62461

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Light-ebook/dp/B0052ZB0O8

B&N: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sweet-Light/Jen-Wylie/e/2940012590046/

 Sweet Light available in Print at:

Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/3623402

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Light-Jen-Wylie/dp/1590808495

 

Author Bio:

Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel published in 2011 by Echelon Press.

Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

Click on an image for further information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Jen at www.jenniferwylie.ca

Follow her on twitter: @jen_wylie

Or check out these further links:

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4499919.Jen_Wylie

Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wylie/151266004895266

Smashwords author page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jenwylie

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jen-Wylie/e/B004HQ9XD8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Jen’s blog: http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/