Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Interview with humorist short story writer Kathy Bryson

Short story writer Kathy Bryson is here today and we’re talking about her funny new collection of fantasy-horror-zombie shorts called Giovanni Goes to Med School (The Med School Series Book 1).

Kathy Bryson knew she wanted to be a writer when she finished reading through her school and local children's libraries. She honed her writing skills on marketing brochures, websites, and several unfinished manuscripts before going into teaching and finishing award-winning books where she happily skews convention. Kathy lives in Florida where she caters to the whims of spoiled cats and wonders what possessed her to put in 75 feet of flower beds.

Welcome, Kathy. Please tell us a bit about your new collection.
You don’t have to be a medical student to know the dead do not get up and walk around. Anyone who’s buried a pet in the backyard knows the dead don’t walk. They don’t even lurch.

The night-shift in the morgue was supposed to be a chance to study in quiet and off-set ridiculous student loans. Giovanni is stunned when his patient sits up and starts scolding. Now he’s got to convince an unbelieving medical community to take action, so he can get back to learning about the dead – not the undead!

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
At first, I wasn’t crazy about short stories or novellas. I like to curl up and read the afternoon away. But life gets crazy, so reading and writing short lets me still enjoy stories while keeping up with work and school and the house and, and, and! Writing short stories really lets you play with the suspense as well!

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
I’ve read a few, but the one series that stands out in my mind is Cynthia St. Aubin’s Disordered: The Complete Case Files of Dr. Matilda Schmidt, Paranormal Psychologist. Each stands alone but they add up to a hysterically funny look at Greek mythology.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
I like to read mysteries and romances, but I write fantasy. This may be because I grew up on Piers Anthony and Robert Asprin, but it could also just be that I have a twisted sense of humor. I love being able to poke fun at and explore life by throwing in those unexpected contrasts – like zombie invasions!

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m well into the next installment of the further adventures of Giovanni and The Med School series. Not only does he still have 7 semesters to go, I’ve only just started exploring the world of B-movie monsters. Zombies and vampires and werewolves are only the beginning!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve loved stories since I learned to read. I didn’t even consider another major besides English when I went to college. Somewhere along the way, I realized I was writing a lot more advertising copy than story, so I made the conscious effort to finish a book. Then I concentrated on not being a one-hit wonder, and the whole thing snowballed from there. Now I can’t go more than a day or two without writing at least a paragraph or I get really twitchy.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I am very fortunate to work with some lovely, creative people who are at least as twisted and snarky as I am. I just take requests. Yes, Giovanni Goes to Med School is based on a true story with some fact-checking on the decomposition process thrown in.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
The part I find most quirky about writing is that it’s regarded almost with awe, but really it’s a slogfest. Writing is hours and hours of typing and retyping and staring into space trying to think of another word besides ‘looked.’ I end up migrating around the house from sofa to chair to bed to floor, hunting for a comfortable position for just one more hour of typing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A jockey. I was the little girl who loves horses, only I wanted to win the Derby. The problem was I can’t ride and I didn’t stay small. Oh well!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that I hope you enjoy the story and would really like to know what you think! Leave me feedback. Like all writers, I’m better with feedback!


Thanks so much for being here today, Kathy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Interview with Mirta Ines Trupp about Becoming Malka

Welcome, readers. My special guest today is Mirta Ines Trupp who is talking with me about her historical fiction/fantasy novel Becoming Malka.

Mirta is a second generation Argentine; she was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 and immigrated to the United States that same year. Because of the unique fringe benefits provided by her father’s employer- Pan American Airlines- she returned to her native country frequently- growing up with “un pie acá, y un pie allá” (with one foot here and one foot there). Mirta’s self-proclaimed life’s career has been raising a family and creating a home, alongside her husband of over thirty years. 

She returned to the world of the gainfully employed late in life; currently in a position which doesn’t require one iota of dramatic flair - just common sense, organization, and attention to detail. Rather than being self-deprecating, Mirta lightheartedly concedes that her paper pushing makes a number of people happy, as that bureaucratic busywork ensures that payroll is met and invoices are processed. Besides being an avid novel reader and a devoted Beatles fan, Mirta most enjoys singing choral music and researching family genealogy.

Welcome, Mirta. Please tell us about your current release
In pursuit of her Master’s degree in Imperial Russian History, 24 year-old Molly Abramovitz is heading to Moscow for a week long seminar. Never one to miss an opportunity for genealogical research; methodical and meticulous Molly plans a side trip to Ukraine. Intriguingly, her mother, Judith, evokes a favorite Yiddish adage, ‘Man plans and God laughs.’ 

If Judith had her way, her daughter would still be dressing up in fairy wings and princess crowns- collecting wild flowers and connecting with her spiritual energy, but for Molly; making plans and compiling data came as second nature. She and her father had delighted in spending long, cozy, afternoons cuddled in the library studying ancient family history. David Abramovitz began recounting tales of great-grandparents trekking across Mother Russia when his daughter was still quite young. 

Captivated, Molly learned how her relatives boarded a ship and sailed across the ocean to reach the shores of Argentina. Now, at last, Molly’s plans are coming to fruition. Her trek to her ancestral home leads her to an accidental discovery of a mythical tarot card. Will the life lessons revealed on this enchanted journey shake up her staid and uncomplicated life? Only time will tell.

What inspired you to write this book
I had written a Creative Non-fiction in August 2012 entitled, With Love, The Argentina Family. This first book was written to honor my parents and my heritage- and to explain my rather unique upbringing. The idea of Becoming Malka literally came to me in a dream- in a feverish dream! I left work early that particular day sensing an oncoming cold or flu. I went straight to bed and when I awoke; I had the whole concept for the book! Talk about fantasy! 

The vision combined bits of “Fiddler on the Roof with "Lost in Austen" and “The Wizard of Oz.” In addition, I incorporated elements of history and genealogy, subjects which are of great interest to me. Molly’s journey rings true- except for the time travel, of course- as I am a Jewish, Russian, Argentine, American immigrant myself. The inspiration for both books actually stem from the same base. I wanted to honor my family- this sturdy, loving, enduring stock made up of Jewish values, Russian ancestry, and Argentine culture. As an immigrant, having the good fortune of growing up in the United States of America, I wanted to honor the sense of pride and gratitude, as well.

Excerpt from Becoming Malka:
Molly leafed through the book until she came to page marked with a playing card. Decorated in a highly stylized manner, the purple card reminded her of the fileteo designs so popular in Argentina. At its center, a large, oak tree was surrounded by a variety of esoteric images. Turning the card over, she found another captivating image- a picture of a fairy holding eight spears in her right hand.

No, she’s not a fairy. Wouldn’t you know it? She’s a queen- complete with her royal crown.

Molly held the card up to the solitary light source in order to read the faint writing around the edges. Her head was pounding as she began sounding out the words; she had to blink a few times to think through the pain. The light seemed to be getting stronger and she thought it strange that such a small, worn out bulb could produce such a powerful stream of energy. She tried to hold the card up once again, but was blinded by a spark. Closing her eyes made things worse as the room now began to spin. A burst of wind crashed through the fragile, cracked window and she heard the bulb shatter. Molly felt an odd sensation in her hand; her fingers were burning, as if she was holding a flickering match. She felt something tugging on the card, but she couldn’t open her eyes to see who or what was causing the sensation. The last thing that came to her mind before fainting away was Galina’s comment about unwanted guests.

Slowly coming around, Molly gently rubbed her temples and blinked a few times to clear her vision.

Man! That was the worst migraine ever!

“I wonder how long I’ve been lying here,” speaking aloud, her parched throat cried out for water. She tentatively sat up and reached for her belongings, but found them missing. It was then that she heard a soft gasp.

“Who’s there?” she said, instinctively switching to Russian. “Whoever you are, you better show yourself.”

Remembering the odd sensation of someone tugging at the card she held in her fingers, she suddenly became concerned. Wishing she could find her metal water bottle, but settling instead for a bronze candlestick she found on the desk, Molly prepared to strike.

“I’m ready for you, so come out!”

Cautiously looking about the room, she saw the book of Kabbalah- tossed off to the side was the scorched card. She went to reach for them as a young boy jumped up from behind the trunk and tried to reclaim the card from her hand. Molly let out a small shout, more from being startled than from fear. The boy was about eleven or twelve, she guessed, and he seemed to be dressed in a period costume- in her professional estimation, it was quite good. He must be playing a role, she thought to herself. Maybe Galina sent him over to add to the historical drama, but then, maybe not. He looked pale and frightened.

Maybe it’s his first gig. He is too shy to do this kind of work. I’ll introduce myself and see if I can’t get him to say his lines.

“Hello,” she said, hoping her forced smile was not too frightening. “My name is Molly Abramovitz. I’m here to do some research on my family.”

There was silence- crickets even. Molly waited a moment, and then continued.

“My guide- my escort, Galina Alexsandrovich, brought me here so that I might look through the family’s belongings…you know, things that they left behind when they moved away.”

She paused and waited for a response, yet the boy was still.

“Something happened during the storm,” she continued. “The window burst and the light went out…”

“Liar!” the boy finally cried out.

“Excuse me? What did you say?”

“You are a liar! We did not leave anything behind. We have not gone. This room is my secret place- my- my reading room and furthermore, I do not believe a word you have said! I do not know a Galina Alexsandrovich and worst of all, you…you…YOU APPEARED OUT OF THIN AIR!”

The boy stood shaking and breathless; Molly, in a complete state of amazement, simply stared at him. A moment passed before they realized they both now were holding on to the main object of interest -the tarot card.

“It began to burn my fingers,” he whispered, “and then I saw a bright light and then- then, you appeared.”

“Look little boy, the show is over. Let go of the card please. I would like to inspect it further.”

“I am not a little boy! I am thirteen years old- I am a Bar Mitzvah.”

Molly rubbed her eyes and let out a deep breath. “I’m so not up for this…Fine. What’s your name?”

“My name is Duvid Abramovitz.”

“O.K., enough is enough. I just told you that my name is Abramovitz. You don’t have to copy me. What is your name?”

“I am Duvid Abramovitz. My parents are Moishe and Dvora Abramovitz. This is the home of Solomon and Malka Abramovitz, my grandparents. We all live here together, all my aunts and uncles: Sara, Aaron, Rivka, Avram, Yaacov, Naftali, Ysroel, Efraim, Benjamin, Yosef, and Leah.”

Spreading his arms out wide, trying to encompass as much space as possible, he continued, “This room is my secret place. I -I am not supposed to be here. I am not supposed to be studying the Kabbalah. But you…you are a thief or a sorceress…I’m not certain which. I will have to let you go, if you promise to leave now and not tell my parents.”

Molly, feeling weak, felt her knees give in as she sank back down to the floor.

What exciting story are you working on next
Currently, I’m playing with the idea of a sequel. Many readers have expressed an interest in finding out what happened to Malka and the family, so unless I experience another inspirational ‘fever’, I have some work cut out for me!

When did you first consider yourself a writer
Besides being an English major in high school and Mrs. Doyle’s darling, I never truly considered myself a writer. I simply had NO IDEA how difficult it would be to write, to publish, to promote, or to merely get people to “Like” my book’s page. I did know, however, I had the material- fifty years’ worth at least- but I struggled. Boy, did I struggle! I struggled with first person vs. third person, real names or fictitious, copy right regulations and the oh-so-beloved Chicago Manual of Style. I struggled to appease family members who wanted to be removed from the story line and then, complained when they were not included in the memoir. I struggled with researching Tarot and Kabbalah and the Space-Time Continuum (are there any Trekkies out there?) I struggled with the “traditional” publishing method versus the self- publishing route. And then of course, I struggled with the term “author.” Am I truly an author? As it turns out, the answer is very simple…I write ergo I am a writer. 

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write
It is my long term goal to write away the hours, but for now- and until I retire-I am a full time employee of a local government agency. During the day, I manage to scribble a few lines here and there during breaks and my lunch hour. I usually keep paper and pen on hand for when I am inspired and suddenly come up with a great line. I was caught unprepared once while traveling on a plane. I had an urge to write a thought- a conversation between two characters- but I didn’t have my tablet or even a scrap of paper. Tired of waiting for the overwrought flight attendant, I reached into the back pocket of the seat directly in front of me and pulled out the handy-dandy airsick bag and wrote an entire scene. Just goes to show, if you really want to write, you will find the time!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
See the above answer! I will write down a thought, a line or an entire chapter in the worst possible chicken scratch on any scrap piece of paper, and then spend hours trying to decipher what I wrote.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up
I wanted to be Maria van Trapp when I was five, Florence Nightengale when I was eight years and Laura Ingalls when I was ten. I didn’t become a nun…being Jewish and all, but I do sing! I worked as a Medical Assistant for many years and studied to be a teacher, so all in all, I stuck to my childhood ideals!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers? 
I’ve written a Creative Non-Fiction and a Historical Fiction/Fantasy. Both books speak to Argentine and Russian history, Jewish culture and mysticism. Some people might think that a book about a particular culture or faith would only attract a specific group. But on a deeper level, of course, we are all human beings; we can relate to various universal themes such as tradition, assimilation, acceptance and personal growth. When readers can see beyond the label and see themselves, that’s when the author has truly accomplished something of worth. Once you peel away the labels, whether they are self-inflicted or imposed by society, you end up with the human experience and that makes for interesting reading.


Thank you for being here today, Mirta!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Interview with Junk Talk Poet about new chapbook

I’m chatting with Junk Talk Poet about his poetry collection titled, Navigating Nightmare Ecstasy.

The Junk Talk Poet is an anonymous poet from the Black Country in the West Midlands of the UK. His debut collection was released at the end of January 2016 and is entitled Navigating Nightmare Ecstasy. The poet also enjoys writing fiction as well as poetry and is set to release a new collection at the beginning of 2017 entitled No Rhyme, No Reason. He also creates poetic short films and audio recordings in an attempt to make poetry accessible to all. The poet is heavily influenced by writers such as William S Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski.

What do you enjoy most about writing poems?
I feel as though writing provides me with a psychological outlet that allows me to declutter my mind. If I am not writing for a lengthy period of time I feel sometimes that life has its ways of creeping up on me. My biggest aspiration regarding the writing of my poems is to make an impression on my readers that allow them to look at something from an angle they may not have seen it from before.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your poems – perhaps a couple of your favorites?
One of my favourite poems and a poem that has been very well received is Face the Wall, a poem from my latest collection. The poem explores under achievement in schools and combines personal experiences with the subject matter.

Face the Wall

I’m sorry sir but boredom took hold
He kicked my shin beneath the table,
And with that I suppose
You deem me unfit and academically unable.
But I’ll turn and face the wall.

Have you heard the cry of the laid off men
Who queue for bread to feed their own?
They’ve exchanged their heroes for ghosts
For keep sake we’re chained to your thrones,
But I’ll turn and face the wall.

Are you just humans turned into beasts?
Butchering the tradesmen’s hands.
The blood on the torn out carpets
Will we live beneath where Dorothy stands?
But I’ll turn and face the wall.

Tired of lying beneath the rays of the sun
I would much rather feel the rains,
Than the empty wave of boredom
Can you not see my face taste my pain?
I have read what is wrote on the factory wall.

Another of my favourites is The Bucket Shallow which is a shorter poem that explores mental health issues and the way that modern life contributes to its development.

The Bucket Shallow

Buckets so shallow,
Carrying castles
At arm’s length
For Kings to pass through,
For seas to crash through.

Buckets to wallow
Within, holding hearts
At arm’s length
For love to bleed through,
For blades to cut through.

Buckets for memories,
Carrying like bad scents
Of a potent strength
For anxious thoughts to cripple you,
For sadness to defeat you

What form are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
There is no particular poetic style that inspires me, I think subject matter resonates with me more. My favourite poets in Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski strike a chord with me due to their ability to dissect modern life and their unconventional way of describing it.

What type of project are you working on next?
My next project is a follow up poetry collection entitled No Rhyme, No Reason which takes some of the subject matter from the previous collection to that next step. Some of the poems will appear rather controversial and will provide alternative views of society, politics and the world.

When did you first consider yourself a writer / poet?
I don’t think you can ever consider yourself a writer, I still don’t now if I am honest. In my opinion we all have things to say and people who are able to craft their views of the world into poetry and fiction develop a platform in order to disperse their message.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for not-yet-published poets?
I think the best way to research the market for your work is to limit your correspondence to the people who are able to help you and are interested in the genre you are working with. Marketing is a big part of getting your work out there so ground work is imperative if you want to disperse your message far and wide. Make sure you are doing something every day or at least every other day because you only get out what you put in.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not many people are aware that the work I produce comes from me as I decided a while back that I wanted to go off radar and anonymously spread my beliefs and views.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At one time I did want to be a vet and I still have a big passion for the welfare of animals but after being inspired by a secondary school teacher who mentored my writing for several years I found that I enjoyed writing more than any other activity.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am not all that interested in making money from my work as I find getting my voice heard as a more important motive for my writing. Anyone interested in reading my latest poetry collection are more than welcome to message me via Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads and I will happily send a PDF copy to them free of charge.

Other links:
Youtube Poetry Short Films –

Thanks for being here today, Junk Talk Poet!