Unmasking Joan Mauch

Interview by Michael McCarty

Joan Mauch’s background ranges from teaching and working for nonprofit organizations advocating for the poor, selling real estate to a career in marketing and public relations. Over the years, her nonfiction has appeared in a variety of publications. She has bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in urban studies.
She is the author of five novels: Halifax, The Mangled Spoon (later renamed Unmasking Miss Jane), The Waterkeeper’s Daughter, Escape from Ambergris and Leon’s Wall.
When she isn’t writing, Joan enjoys visiting her son in Tampa, Florida or just hanging out with family or friends.
Visit her website: joanmauch.com

Myself (as Jason) and Joan Mauch with LAUGHING IN THE DARK

MICHAEL McCARTY: Why did you decide to become a novelist in the first place?

JOAN MAUCH: As a lifelong lover of reading, from an early age I wanted to write a novel but when I first sat down (under a tree by Lake Michigan) to write, after the first page, I ran out of words and discovered there was more to it than I thought. Years went by, life intervened and I put that desire on the back burner. Finally, after retiring, I had some free time and my desire to write a novel resurfaced along with the realization that I didn’t know the first thing about novel writing. At the time I was living on Chicago’s North Shore and found out about a fiction-writing class in which I promptly enrolled. The rest is as they say, history.

MIKE: Your book “Halifax” is set in both Florida and Canada. Was there any particular reason from going to extreme hot to extreme cold locations?

JOAN: Before even thinking about writing the novel, I had gone to Nova Scotia on vacation and visited all the locations mentioned in the book. When I came up with the idea for the novel, and the protagonist was going to flee, I thought Halifax would be the perfect place for her go. Like me, I assumed most of my readers had heard of Halifax but were unfamiliar with where it was or what it was like, so, in my mind at least, the setting added an element of interest to the novel. By the way, when we were there, which was in the fall, the weather in Nova Scotia was similar to autumn weather here, which is to say, delightful.

(Joan Mauch at the Book Rack, Davenport, Iowa)

MIKE: Why did you change the name of the title from “The Mangled Spoon” to “Unmasking Miss Jane”?

JOAN: Truthfully, I never cared much for the title, “The Mangled Spoon”. Although it reflected a key element in the novel, I didn’t think it reflected the true nature of the book the way the new title and book cover do. I don’t know about other authors, but for me, coming up with the right title and book cover is difficult because there are so many factors to consider.

MIKE: If we are unmasking Joan Mauch, what would we find?

JOAN: A person who is somewhat conflicted. I am a very private person who avoids the spotlight and enjoys solitude, but at the same time I love excitement. For example, I went skydiving with my son a few years ago, ran two half-marathons and someday would like to go bungee jumping. On a more normal scale I enjoy hanging out with family and friends.

MIKE: What is a waterkeeper? And why did you choose to write about that profession?

JOAN: A Waterkeeper is someone who is a member of the Waterkeepers’ Alliance, an international organization solely focused on clean water. It is dedicated to preserving and protecting water by connecting local Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates worldwide. Their goal is drinkable, fishable, and swimmable water everywhere. They achieve this by monitoring our waterways and going after polluters often filing suit to stop them when they can’t do so by persuasion.
I had read a story in the Dispatch-Rock Island Argus about Quad-Cities Waterkeeper, Art Norris, and it captured my attention. The more I learned about it, the more I thought it would make a good subject for a novel since, like me, I assumed most people were unfamiliar with the term, “waterkeeper” and would find it facinating.

MIKE: Of all your books. What was the hardest to write? What was the easiest?

JOAN: “Escape from Ambergris Caye” was the most difficult because the book’s plot focuses on human trafficking. I had to do extensive research on that horrendous subject. There were times that it was so depressing that I didn’t think I could continue. However since the problem is so widespread and people generally unaware that it takes place virtually under their very noses, I felt it was worth any discomfort my research caused me.
“Halifax” was by far the easiest and most fun to write. Eleanor “Ellie” Hurley, the main character was so quirky and unpredictable, I often broke out laughing as I wrote about some of the things she said and did. It’s also special because it was the first time I was offered a publishing contract by a traditional publisher.

MIKE: You did a sequel with “Escape from Ambergris” and “Leon’s Wall”. Any thoughts of writing another book and making it a trilogy?

JOAN: I have considered writing a sequel focused on Zac Taylor, Jackson’s free-spirit brother in “Escape”. I think he would make an interesting subject for a novel since, like Ellie in “Halifax” he’s so unpredictable. Unfortunately it will have to wait because I’m currently in the middle of a stand-alone novel that I hope to release sometime next spring.

MIKE: You started out with a small publisher and went into self publishing. Why did you choose that route?

JOAN: I had three novels published by two traditional publishers and while I was grateful for the confidence they showed in publishing my work, I wanted more control in terms of promotion, editing and cover design. Self-publishing isn’t for everyone as in essence you become not only the writer, but also marketer and publisher as well. It’s a lot more work but, for me, it has also been more rewarding. In recent years, self-publishing has come into its own. With more well-known writers taking the plunge, it has lost the reputation for poor writing it formerly had. Also, Amazon’s KindleDirect publishing arm has made it easier for writers to self-publish, something I never would have considered without it.

MIKE: Any advise for beginning writers?

JOAN: Writing a novel is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. What I mean by that is, as a young woman I thought I could just sit down and whip off a novel. After all, in college I always got A’s in creative writing courses and was often told I was a good writer and should write a book. Well, as I mentioned above, when I sat down to actually write, I quickly discovered after only a page, I couldn’t think of anything more to say. So, if you’re a new writer just starting out, I would advise you to take a few courses or workshops on novel writing. If that’s not possible, read some books on the topic. Then you need to accept the fact that novel writing is a life-long pursuit, it is hard work that requires discipline. It’s not a weekend activity to pursue when you’re in the mood or have nothing better to do. Only then will you succeed. I hope this doesn’t discourage any of you who, like me, longed to write a book, but you do need to face the reality of what’s involved.

MIKE: Last words?

JOAN: Yes! Would-be writers who are reading this blog also need to know that most published authors are kind and more than willing to help struggling writers, so don’t be afraid to ask. I, myself, have emailed famous authors for their input on various topics and received responses. Authors are human too and most have at one time struggled to get their work published so they know what you are going through.
If you’re a reader, be sure to look up my work on my website at joanmauch.com or on Amazon. And after you read any or all of my novel, please leave comments or reviews. They needn’t be more than a few words. Those are gold for writers at any level and much appreciated!
Thanks to Mike for the opportunity to participate in his blog.

(Joan Mauch’s book signing for Halifax, Joan on the left, Mike on the right, photo by Cindy McCarty)

If you like this interview or any of my other blogs, please check out my book MODERN MYTHMAKERS by Michael McCarty

Available as Kindle or Nook for .99 cents …
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2cpr637


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Written In Blood: A Fictional, Factual Vampire Interview with Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin by Professor LaGungo

(Professor Artemis Theodore LaGungo is known worldwide as an author, scholar, mystic, entrepreneur, and the proprietor of Professor LaGungo's Exotic Artifacts & Assorted Mystic Collectibles, a quaint shop filled with second-hand horrors and near-new abominations. He was first encountered by the world in a poetry collection by Mark McLaughlin entitled – what an incredible coincidence!

(Professor LaGungo)

Professor LaGungo's Exotic Artifacts & Assorted Mystic Collectibles.
Professor LaGungo is one of the world’s most renowned experts on … well, practically everything, from antiques to Egyptology to vampire lore. He is also a fictional character who has appeared in stories by that McLaughlin guy and his collaborator, Michael McCarty. The Professor hasn’t written anything in a while – he’s too busy being a fictional character – so he decided to return to the world of authorship by interviewing his old friends, Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin.)

PROFESSOR LaGUNGO: Welcome, gentle reader, to Professor LaGungo's Exotic Artifacts & Assorted Mystic Collectibles. I am Professor LaGungo, and today I will be interviewing my creator, Mark McLaughlin, and his frequent collaborator, Michael McCarty. I will now let them introduce themselves.

MICHAEL McCARTY: I’m Michael McCarty.

MARK McLAUGHLIN: I’m Mark McLaughlin.

Michael McCarty, Mark McLaughlin & their book DRACULA TRANSFORMED

PROFESSOR LaGUNGO: Well, that was easy! I’ll be talking with them about their story collection, Dracula Transformed & Other Bloodthirsty Tales, published by Wildside Press as a trade paperback, and also as Kindle and Nook ebooks.

Gentlemen, be sure to talk into this tape recorder so I can accurately capture each sacred word, each pearl of wisdom that falls from your lips! Now let me see, where did I put my interview questions?

MIKE: Maybe in that notebook? The one you’re holding in your hands? The one with the words INTERVIEW QUESTIONS on the cover?

LaGUNGO: Oh yes, so it is! I’ll try to get this interview wrapped up before my favorite soap opera starts. It’s the one about that witches’ coven – All My Cauldrons. Now, is Dracula Transformed your first vampire book?

Dracula Transformed

MIKE: It’s the first vampire book that Mark and I have written together. I’ve written the solo vampire novel Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack, which is actually composed of two short novels. I also co-authored the Bloodless series with Jody LaGreca: Bloodless, Bloodlust and Bloodline. They are available as trade paperbacks, as well as ebooks published by Simon & Schuster.

MARK: I haven’t written a solo vampire book yet, but I did write a collection of zombie stories entitled Beach Blanket Zombie: Weird Tales of the Undead & Other Humanoid Horrors, from Wildside Press.

LaGUNGO: What was your favorite story to write in Dracula Transformed?

MIKE: That’s a tough question, because I like all the stories in Dracula Transformed. I really liked writing all the collaborations with Mark: “Dracula Transformed,” “Lucy Transformed,” “Incident in the Back of a Black Limousine,” and “Dracula Has Risen From The Sofa.” I also enjoyed writing my solo stories, “Dracula, Inc.” and “Wanted: Undead or Alive.” But I can’t pick just one story. They’re like potato chips, you can’t have just one!

MARK: Like Mike, I love all the stories. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be “Dracula Transformed,” since it presents an incarnation of Dracula that the world has never seen before. In the story, Dracula has been brought back to life by a Greek witch, who has given him some astounding new powers, straight out of ancient mythology. I’m half-Greek, so I’ve always been enthralled with those classic myths and monsters.

(Michael McCarty as Count Mike-ula)

(Mark McLaughlin seeing red)

LaGUNGO: What are some of your favorite Dracula movies?

MIKE: I’m a big fan of Dracula, so it’s a big list! I enjoy Dracula (1931), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), and Dracula (1979). I’m also a big fan of Christopher Lee’s Hammer films about Dracula: Horror of Dracula, Dracula Princess of Darkness, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Dracula AD 1972, Scars of Dracula, and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. I also like Nosferatu and Nosferatu the Vampyre. For laughs, I like Love at First Bite and Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula.

MARK: I love all the movies Mike mentioned, but I have to say, I’ve always been especially amused by John Carradine’s quirky portrayal of Dracula in Universal’s House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula. He’s so polite and charming, and also so tall and skinny! And he has a mustache. Doesn’t he worry that he’s going to be walking around with blood in his mustache? Sometimes I get soup in my mustache. The struggle is real!

LaGUNGO: I have forty-seven other in-depth topics listed here, but it’s about time for my soap opera, so this is going to be my last question. Who is your favorite character in Dracula Transformed – besides Dracula, of course?

MIKE: That would be you, Professor LaGungo! You’re the one who helped the Greek witch in the beginning of the story, “Dracula Transformed”! If it weren’t for you, Dracula couldn’t have returned to the world of the living, to terrorize and slaughter innocent souls!

MARK: Yes, I would also have to say you, Professor LaGungo! You did a great job of betraying the human race – for cash!

MIKE: Thank you, Professor LaGungo, for doing this interview! It was certainly very thoughtful of you to– Hey, where did he go?

MARK: He’s in the back room, watching his stupid soap opera. Let’s sneak out and go get a drink!

MIKE: Sound good to me!

DRACULA TRANSFORMED & Other Bloodthirsty Tales by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty.

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1479422991/
US Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K815A3C/
UK Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01K815A3C/
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1124326237

Introduction by The Amazing Kreskin. Afterword by C. Dean Andersson.

DRACULA TRANSFORMED & Other Bloodthirsty Tales’ features eleven vampire stories by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Mark McLaughlin and Bram Stoker Award finalist Michael McCarty. In these stories, they reveal many of the secrets of the bloodthirsty dead. The novella ‘Dracula Transformed’ is a modern-day sequel to Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, in which the vampire is brought back from beyond the grave in a manner that gives him startling new powers. Using these powers, he begins a bloody campaign of vengeance. In ‘Lucy Transformed,’ you will learn of the relationship between Dracula and his daughter Zaleska, as well as his growing fondness for Lucy Westenra … a fondness that will seal Lucy’s doom. Even more vampiric horror awaits you in the remaining nine tales.

Also check out this blog:




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Interview with Igor’s Bistro’s owner: Rick Lopez

By Michael McCarty

Igor’s Bistro is a Halloween-themed restaurant opened all year next to the Saukie Golf Course in Rock Island, Illinois at 3055 38th Street. The menu offers a tasty variety of entrees including The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, a chicken breast sandwich with ghost pepper sauce, melted provolone, Pico de Gallo and lettuce; The Goblin a 6 oz. brat burger; and Igor’s Italian Beef and Vampire Bite appetizers (mini pretzels). Plus they have wine and “spirits.”

Here is a link to their menu and website: http://igorsbistro.com

MICHAEL McCARTY: Why did you decide to open Igor’s Bistro?

RICK LOPEZ: Because the construction industry was giving me way too much stress and I felt that it was time to go back to what really makes me happy…cooking and all things creepy.

(Left to right: Rick Lopez, Michael McCarty & Cindy McCarty) (Photo by Mark McLaughlin)

MIKE: Ganson’s was a popular spot in Rock Island (2009-2016). What kind of feedback have you gotten from the old clientele from the old restaurant?

RICK: It has been a pretty positive transition from Ganson’s to Igor’s, but we still have our naysayers. Hell, we even have a neighbor who lives down the lane who really believes we are “Satan worshipers”. But she hasn’t even been in here to see what we are all about which is great service and good food made with love. But all in all, we feel the community likes us and we are slowly building up our clientele.
We have people who come in every other day, once a week, every two weeks and we’re proud of that. We take a lot of pride in what we do. We try to make everyone happy, so I hope people get a chance to stop by and enjoy our creepy atmosphere. You won’t be sorry! Your taste buds will thank you!

MIKE: You have many cool monster movie and horror posters and other Halloween memorabilia. Where did you acquire all that stuff?

Frankenstein Movie poster

(Photo by Michael McCarty)

RICK: This type of place has always been on the back burner while I was working in the construction industry and that was for twenty-five years. You can acquire a lot of stuff through the years! Just ask my wife. She was always asking why the hell do you need that. My answer always was you never know when we may need it…HA HA!!

MIKE: There is a story posted on the wall you wrote. Can you tell us more about that? And do you have any longer works of fiction in the works?

RICK: Well, that is the story of the jack-o-lantern and I was fascinated with the way Halloween progressed through the years, particularly the jack-o-lantern. I always had the painting that goes with the story in my mind as a mural but with the building we ended up being smaller than anticipated, so we commissioned the painting and there you have it…the story of Stingy Jack. As far as any works of fiction goes, I think I will leave that to you Michael, as you are the professional writer. My skills lean toward building stuff, cooking and scaring people!!

MIKE: Recently Igor’s Bistro had a run in with the City Council. Can you elaborate on this?

(Photo by Michael McCarty)

RICK: Yes, apparently we have some neighbors who absolutely hate life. They have been against us from the start. They did not like our little 18” x 24” signs in the yard so they contacted the city and we had to take them down because it was not in the special use permit or in the ordinance about signage on this particular building so we had to take them down. When I asked them to explain why, these little tiny signs were such an issue
(we were just trying to draw a little more attention to us so we may have a better chance to succeed.) I was told the special use permit only allowed a certain amount of square footage of signs on the property. I even asked them about the signs they put up when it is re-election time and if they had to go through the process of obtaining a special use permit to display their signs but was given no answer(imagine that). Needless to say there are plans in the works to remedy this.

MIKE: Is it true that if you mention, “The Monster Mike Discount,” you get .13 cents knocked off your bill????

RICK: ABSOLUTELY! You mention the Monster Mike discount and you will receive 13 creepy cents off your bill.

(Wouldn’t you give your hand to a fiend?
or those darn zombies are always asking for a “hand-out”…. LOL)

MIKE: Last words?

RICK: Like I said I hope all of your followers will come check us out and support us fellow horror fans who want to bring you excellent service and spooktacular food in a unique atmosphere. Who knows — you might even get to meet ‘Toby’ our resident ghost. Thanks for having me on your blog and I hope we will be seeing you and yours soon at Igor’s Bistro 3055 38th Street, Rock Island, Illinois.
Stay spooky my friends!!

Here is another link about Igor’s Bistro:


If you like this interview or any of my other blogs, please check out my book MODERN MYTHMAKERS by Michael McCarty

Available as Kindle or Nook for .99 cents …
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2cpr637

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Creepshows by Stephen Jones (Book Review)

Book Review by Michael McCarty

I have been a big fan of Stephen King’s books and movies long before I could even shave. I am reprinting this book review which was featured on Science Fiction Weekly, the official website of the Syfy Channel

Creepshows: The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide
by Stephen Jones
Billboard Books, 2002, trade paperback, 192 pgs., $19.95, ISBN: 0-8230-7884-1
Rating: ***1/2

With Stephen King movies, you get the good, the bad, the ugly, and the endless Children of the Corn sequels.
With this feature film guide, British editor Stephen Jones chronicles all of King’s cinematic and television adaptations. Stephen King once said in an interview, “Here’s the story. If somebody wants to make it into a movie – I love movies.” That love for the cinema might account for the fifty-plus adaptations of his work.
Here are some highlights from the book:

Carrie was made into a movie by Brian De Palma only two years after King’s paperback publication of the book. The movie launched his career onto the bestsellers list.
Two days after Rob Reiner began directing Stand By Me (from “The Body,” a novella from King’s Different Seasons), the studio was sold and the project was dropped. Norman Lear, producer of TV’s All in the Family, personally came up with $8 million so the film could be made.
Director and screenwriter Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile) once made The Women in the Room as a student film. King sold the rights to him to make the video for one dollar. Three years later, Darabont and producer/art director Greg Melton completed the short film for $35,000. It was one of King’s personal favorites.
The first film for which Stephen King wrote a screenplay was Creepshow. The first screenplay he wrote based on one of his own books was for Silver Bullet (a.k.a. Stephen King’s Silver Bullet).
The first movie filmed partially in Maine was Creepshow 2. The first movie to be filmed entirely in Maine was Pet Sematary.
Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile weren’t marketed as Stephen King films, but were some of the highest-grossing King movies.
Two Stephens create one kingly book. A book on Stephen King’s films was inevitable. What makes Creepshows a delight is that it fell into the hands of Stephen Jones, someone who knows the genre inside and out and who is one of Britain’s most acclaimed anthologists of dark fantasy and horror, with more than seventy books to his credit. He is a thirteen-time recipient of the British Fantasy Award who has also been honored with two World Fantasy Awards, three Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards, and two International Horror Guild Awards. A horror expert with his expertise is more than capable of handling such a monster project.
The award-winning media maven of the macabre does a fantastic job dissecting Stephen King’s cinematic work. He uses over sixty sources of material for Creepshows and includes content from horror artists Bernie Wrightson, directors Darabont and Mick Garris, and authors Peter Straub, Harlan Ellison, Dennis Etchison, and David J. Schow.
Jones gives the book’s source material more respect than most mainstream critics would dare. He remains objective most of the time, never getting too heavy-handed, even considering the number of lame sequels. The book also includes an in-depth interview with King, focusing on his films and television productions as well as his books.
Rounding out the package are a report on forthcoming King films, a section on unproduced projects, a list of all the cameos that King has made in the films (fifteen at the time), a listing of behind-the-scenes players, and an index to the stars of King movies.
Jones also includes plot summaries for the films, production histories, cast listings, an introduction by film director and screenwriter Mick Garris, and “Fact File” trivia in the margins.
Did I mention that this definitive guide for the legions of King fans out is jam-packed with over 200 photos? Creepshows is like an all-night Stephen King film festival – scary, fun, and often surprising.

My other blog about Stephen King: https://monstermikeyaauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/stephen-kings-the-stand-and-me/

Stephen King is mentioned several times in my book: MODERN MYTHMAKERS … right now, the ebook and nook are only .99 cents. Links are below:

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2cpr637


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Summer Reading (Top 10 List)

Summer Reading (Top 10 List) By Michael McCarty

“Summer turns me upside down. Summer summer summer. It’s like a merry go round” – The Cars.

Sweet Summer: BBQs, Bikinis and Books … yes books.

Of course everybody is already talking about that new Stephen King book, or that novel that is the latest rave by Joe Hill or anything by Jonathan Maberry.

But what about Michael McCarty’s works?????

And if you are looking for some recommendations of Michael McCarty books to read for your summertime pleasure, here is my Top 10 Books for the summer.

1) LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE by Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty (Grinning Skull Press)

Snakes, Lakes and Skinny-Dipping … what more could you ask for during the summer

2) I KISSED A GHOUL by Michael McCarty (Curiosity Quills Press)

This YA book is about the horny Mayor’s son who tries to score every chance he gets, but fights monsters instead

3) DRACULA TRANSFORMED & OTHER BLOODTHIRSTY TALES by Mark McLaughlin & Michael McCarty (Wildside Press)

Stories and novellas about Count Dracula and other vampires as well.

4) The BLOODLESS series by Michael McCarty & Jody LaGreca (Simon & Schuster)

100 year old vampire Daniel Peck survives the sinking of the Lusitania and the Hindenburg disaster … but can he survive raising a family in the 21st Century? On the way the vampire meets up with both Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol….


35 Interviews with the likes of Ray Bradbury, Elvira, Dean Koontz, The Cast & Crew of Night of the Living Dead, John Saul, John Carpenter, Laurell K. Hamilton, Richard Matheson, Joe McKinney, William F. Nolan, Christopher Moore and many more.

The ebook is only .99 cents too

6) CONVERSATIONS WITH KRESKIN by The Amazing Kreskin & Michael McCarty (Team Kreskin)

A nonfiction book look at The Amazing Kreskin’s amazing life

7) A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS by Michael McCarty (Wildside Press)

A terrific short story collection … you will love it. One of my best: tales about zombies, killer robot musicians, invisible scientists, vampires and more.

8) FEAR & DESIRE by S.A. Gambino & Michael McCarty (Wilder Publications)

Adult themed poems to send shivers down the spine and warm the heart

The ebook is only .99 cents too

9) MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL by Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin (Medallion Press)

A haunted car novel with zombies… scary, sexy and some dark humor too

10) LIQUID DIET & MIDNIGHT SNACK: 2 VAMPIRE SATIRES by Michael McCarty (Simon & Schuster)

If you like vampires or INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, be sure to check it out

The books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble …. etc etc etc. Below are the links for Amazon ebooks, trade paperbacks on their site too

(I Kissed A Ghoul)

(Lost Girl of the Lake)

(Modern Mythmakers)


(Conversations with Kreskin)

(Monster Behind The Wheel)

(Liquid Diet)

(Fear & Desire)

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Bibliography: Michael McCarty

I’m sure there are other Bibliography or Bios other there of my work, but I was really impressed by this one:


This is my own Bibliography of my books:


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Interview with Douglas Clegg

This year marks the 15th anniversary of my first book GIANTS OF THE GENRE.

I’m reprinting the interview of Douglas Clegg for the celebration. (I did the same thing a couple of years ago, with my Dan Simmons interview and that is still a popular blog today).

Enjoy! GIANTS is no longer in print. But if you like the interview, the link of my other mega book of interview MODERN MYTHMAKERS is on the bottom of the page and right now, the ebooks are only .99 cents….

Check out Douglas Clegg’s website at:

Sometimes my interviews are more an organic progress. I read in the writers’ market publication Scavenger’s Newsletter that a new magazine called Darkling Plain was being formed and they planned on doing nonfiction. I contacted editor David Cox and he thought it would be great if I could do some interviews for his magazine. David and I batted a few author names around. Then I thought of Douglas Clegg – Bentley Little had talked about him for years – and he sounded like an interesting person. I mentioned doing an interview with Douglas Clegg, and David Cox (a huge Clegg fan) happily gave me the assignment.
I contacted one of Clegg’s publisher and he set up an interview. That interview was published in the debut issue of Darkling Plain.
I meet Douglas in person in Denver at the World Horror Con where he won the International Horror Guild award and the Bram Stoker award two days apart. Although he won the equivalent of the horror’s Oscar, he was really down to earth and quite humble for winning such a pair of prestigious awards.

News break: this is the website for Douglas Clegg’s signed books:

An Interview With Douglas Clegg

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, but having shared space in Hawaii, Connecticut, Washington DC, California, and other places that he has already forgotten, Douglas Clegg is getting around.
Douglas Clegg began writing in his late twenties and has already published twelve novels, a short story collection and over thirty short stories. His novels include THE CHILDREN’S HOUR, THE HALLOWEEN MAN, THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE, NAOMI, THE ATTRACTION published by Leisure Books. Cleg has worked as a teacher, editor, journalist and a bum. He is a graduate of Washington & Lee University with B.A. in English Literature. He has a border collie mutt named Randy and a tailless black cat named Sophie.
He is a survivor of the Los Angeles riots, has lived through one mother of an earthquake, and has survived a near crash in a jet. He is a survivor.

GIANTS OF THE GENRE: In May 2000, you won the International Horror Guild and the Bram Stoker award. After struggling for almost a decade this must have made you feel great?

DOUGLAS CLEGG: Well, I never saw writing novels for ten years before winning an award as a struggle. I was paid well for the books, a couple were optioned for movies, I enjoyed my editorial relationships, and readers, thankfully discovered the fiction. The two awards THE NIGHTMARE CHRONICLES received were an honorable recognition of which I’m proud – less for me than the book. But to write for an award would be foolish and destructive.
I felt in my gut that Tom Piccirilli’s DEEP INTO THAT DARKNESS PEERING was the truly outstanding collection of short stories from 1999 – like a prism of a writer’s talent. But even feeling that, I didn’t want to give the awards back – I really was touched and honored, since I don’t see my books as award-winning, just as stories and novels I write as my life goes.
Every time I get a novel finished, I consider that a sign that I’m not dead to the world; and then, when it is published, I’m happy to know that the book is out there for the readers. But an award? It was a glowing moment, no doubt, but it’s not as if my entire career changed as a result. I mean, I wish there “were” magic wands that changed everything for a writer, but there aren’t. You’re only as good as your last book, and the only thing that’s going to save you as a writer is the book you’re writing now.

GIANTS: NAOMI was the Internet’s first publisher-sponsored email serial novel. You did the same thing with THE NIGHTMARE HOUSE. What are your thoughts on the future for publishing on the Internet? Is the Internet going to replace traditional booksellers – or will they go hand-in-hand?

CLEGG: The future of publishing on the Internet is no one thing. I think the strongest candidates for Internet publishing will be the writers themselves, as well as the publishers who transform from distant parents to the writers (hanging on to the keys to the car) into partners with the writer.
Regarding booksellers, which is the second question you’ve asked: I don’t know. I would guess that each industry affected by the Internet will change with the times.

GIANTS: Your book BAD KARMA (written under the pseudonym Andrew Harper) was recently filmed for a movie. What can you tell us about the movie? It was filmed in Ireland and in the book it was set on Catalina Island, in Southern California – how do you feel about that? Also is there any plans to re-release the book under your own name now?

CLEGG: I don’t know known when the movie is coming out – I only know they finished principal shooting last fall. I would guess that would mean, assuming it makes it out of the editing room, that BAD KARMA the movie will be out in the summer or fall of 2001. I’ve had no involvement in the movie-making process, so I don’t have much news.
I’m pretty happy that it was filmed in Ireland – Catalina Island, particularly the town of Avalon, looks a bit more like a Mediterranean seaside village than an Irish village, but I’d guess they changed locales and ended up with a good setting. Any new element a movie adds may either make the story wonderful or wretched, but it’s all second-guessing at this point. I used to work a bit in Hollywood, and the only thing I learned: the last person needed on the set of a movie was the novelist.
Of anything to do with the movie, I’m probably most excited about Patsy Kensit playing the main character from the book – she will be wonderful, especially when she kills people. Patrick Muldoon plays the other main character from the book, and who knows? Maybe the two of them together will create some hot chemistry between the murderous rampages…
Regarding plans to re-release the book? I’ve spoken with people at Kensington, the original publisher, but I haven’t gotten much in the way of yeses or nos or even maybes from them. Of course, they have that terrific editorial director now, John Scognamiglio, so I’m sure he’ll take some good action regarding this, since he seems to have fine instincts for horror and suspense fiction and a real sense of honor when it comes to dealing with (and fighting for) writers. He’s a prince among men.

GIANTS: On the same lines, you published BAD KARMA under a pseudonym. Why? And was it hard to take – being a best-seller when the book is not your own name (á la early Dean Koontz syndrome)?

CLEGG: I wrote BAD KARMA under a pseudonym for the fun of it. I wanted to try a different kind of novel, a mainstream thriller, brutal though it was. I wanted to indicate to readers of my supernatural horror novels that this was a bit different. It really was a lark, but for some reason, everyone wanted to know if I was hiding or if I changing direction permanently. Neither of the two. I just wanted to try a different name.

GIANTS: Let’s talk about some of your work, starting with THE INFINITE.

CLEGG: Well, THE INFINITE is the last book about Harrow – and, as with MISCHIEF and NIGHTMARE HOUSE, it lives independently of the others. You don’t have to have read MISCHIEF to “get” THE INFINITE.
Several people gather at Harrow to study the potential haunting. These include a woman who has psychometric abilities, a guy who hears voices that predict slightly into the future for him, a guy who has some untapped ability that comes and goes and generally involves what might loosely be called telekinesis.
They’ve each grown into their lives in various ways – the woman has become a psychic investigator on homicide cases, the guy with the voices has become a bit of a bestselling author (writing about his own psychic phenomenon and predictions) and showman despite the gambling habits that routinely deplete his savings, and the young guy with the teleknetic ability is really just starting out into adulthood – he’s 19. One of them may also be a murderer.
A women named Ivy Martin has, for obsessive reasons, bought Harrow, and through an investigator into the paranormal, restored it to some of the original glory, and has set up video cameras and various measuring instruments for documenting the haunting. But of course, nothing goes the way anyone wants it to, and then the horror begins.
If I tell more, the story will just start to unfold too much and that will ruin all the fun. I really just wanted to stay with these people for awhile. It’s not really about the house per se, but about the journey of people’s lives through the secret abilities and talents we all hide away from the world. The house, more than anything, is the catalyst for unleashing their own instincts. It gets a bit violent, but we live in a culture of violence, there are violent tendencies in all us – so, why not go with it for fiction?
I’m pretty excited that’s the first trade hardcover of mine to come out under my own name – and that Leisure Books has created a hardcover line, as well. They’re a pretty amazing publishing house right now.


CLEGG: It’s a big sprawling novel of four teenagers growing up in 1980 on the high desert of California, and the demon that ends up possessing them. The story follows them for twenty years as the horror within them continues in one way or another. It’s also a bit of a tenement cathedral of a novel – an unsound structure, full of secret chambers and corridors that lead to precipices. As with THE HALLOWEEN MAN, rather than go with linear and chronological reality, I followed the psychological reality of the four main characters. I have been writing and revising (and cutting) this novel for over a decade, which means I have no perspective on it. It might suck; it might be good. But I do think that it’s a kind of horror novel that no one is writing at the moment, and I hope readers enjoy the experience.

GIANTS: Why did that book take you ten years to write?

CLEGG: Well, mainly because I really didn’t want to publish it. It feels like the novel of my life, yet it doesn’t resemble my life much. I wanted to create – don’t laugh – a cathedral of a novel, a cubist novel, a story that could be moved forward or back through and still all the elements could be picked up. I actually believe you could read this novel backwards and still maintain suspense and momentum. Perhaps I’m insane.
Originally, YOU COME WHEN I CALL YOU reached a maximum of two thousand pages, but this was because I was living the book. I destroyed relationships around it; then I grasped what was more central to the story, and I brought it down into readability. Plus, I was writing other novels, too. so I’d set the book aside for six months at a time. And I think I needed to mature before I could see the story clearly. The ten years helped. I wasn’t ready to serve the vision I had of this story when I was twenty-eight and began writing it. I never thought a novel would take so much of my life; it almost hurts to let it go.

GIANTS: What was the inspiration for NEVERLAND?

CLEGG: When I was a bit younger, I went with a friend and his family to their summer place on Sea Island, Georgia. The place – desolate but beautiful at the time – had a profound effect on me. But my main inspiration was that I wanted to detail how I felt about childhood perspective, and then the horror just came through. There is a bit of a homage to “Sredni Vashtar” if you look for it in that novel – the story by Saki, one of my favorite writers.

GIANTS: In THE NIGHTMARE CHRONICLES, you said in the dedication that writing is like being held hostage. What does that mean?

CLEGG: Storytelling is a form of kidnapping. I really believe that if the story is right, then the reader is captive. It’s a way of drawing attention into another world – kidnapping the reader into another realm of experience. I like that about stories.

GIANTS: Was THE BREEDER turned into a movie?

CLEGG: Nope. I think there were several cheesy horror movies called THE BREEDER or BREEDERS. It’s a popular title, I guess. I’m pretty sure my book came first – in 1990, although it was written and in to my publisher in 1988.

GIANTS: Is the horror midlist writers getting more attention and respect these days? Is the midlist going to be the Dean Koontzs of the future (who was once a midlist writer too)?

CLEGG: If there were a way to predict this, I’d be a multimillionaire consultant for all the major publishers. Bestsellers often come out of nowhere; or they come from carefully planned and extremely expensive marketing campaigns; or they come from years of building a backlist; or a movie gets made and propels an author’s name forward; or any number of other ways.
But regardless, you can’t force a book on a readership; if the readers don’t want the book, it doesn’t matter how much money or time you spend trying to convince them otherwise. As a writer, all you can do is create the best story possible.
The midlist is something of a myth: it’s all the books that are not national bestsellers. So, to me, it’s a meaningless term in this context. My guess is what you mean to say is “horror writers are getting more attention and respect.” I agree with that. I find it more interesting when Brian Hopkins, who has primarily come from the independent press, wins a (Bram) Stoker despite the fact he has no mega-marketing campaign behind him, or a writer who doesn’t have a large publish behind them distinguishes themselves. In other words: when the writing speaks for itself, and people listen, that to me is an amazing event. And I see it happening more and more.
I do think the future of horror fiction innovation is going to come from the independent press, mainly because high profits are not their main goal, and therefore they can publish less mainstream horror fiction, and horror that goes outside the boundaries of what a Wal-Mart or a Safeway might carry. In fact, an indie press might carry something that would go in UnSafeway. I do think Leisure has straddled this a bit, because Don (D’Auria) has been bringing in writers from the independent presses who have taken the road less traveled, and come through with some really stunning work (Gerard Houarner comes to mind, as well as Michael Laimo and Tim Lebbon).
And yes, I think horror writers are gaining momentum right now mainly because sales of the books are going up in general. Publishers respect sales – so if a writer’s sales go up, regardless of genre, the writer’s work will generally be more visible to the public because the publisher will make money by facilitating this.
However, the function of the HWA (Horror Writers Association) in many ways is to recognize quality in fiction through their awards nominations process, to connect a community of horror writers, and to promote that community wherever possible, regardless of sales figures or current popularity of the writer. So, regardless of whether a novel is considered top of the list, lead, mild, or category by a publisher or
bookseller, I think books is books and should be accorded respect based on what’s between the covers.

GIANTS: Why do you write horror?

CLEGG: I write horror because it seems to be my perspective, at least fictionally. Writing novels is really what I do – and some novels of mine may not be called horror, some will. I just write what I write, and I don’t really think about genre, nor do I sit down to write a horror novel. I just sit down to tell a story, and the stories thus far have come from a horror respective.

GIANTS: Did you always want to write, or was it something you sort of fell into and liked?

CLEGG: I knew I would write fiction for a living since I was about nine years old, when I began typing out stories. Most of them I kept hidden because I knew they weren’t right. I began writing nonfiction and editing for a living in my early twenties, and I didn’t finish a novel until I was about twenty-eight, and this novel was GOAT DANCE, which came out in 1989. I still edit and write nonfiction, too – these are the things I enjoy doing, so I just go with it.

GIANTS: What’s the hardest part of being a professional novelist?

CLEGG: The hardest part is the galleys – I hate this stage in writing when I see all the flaws in a book and must figure out how to love a book again after I’ve spent years writing or thinking about it. Frankly, I don’t think there’s a hard part to being a professional novelist; the hard stuff for me would be wondering what people do who don’t write. Life would seem empty to me without it, it would be like life without music.

GIANTS: Do you think you’ll ever venture into another genre?

CLEGG: Maybe; I really can’t predict this. I go where the story takes me, and if one day I come up with a romance or a science fiction tale, then I’ll follow where the story leads. The only label I want is “storyteller.” The story is the most important thing; someday I’ll be dead, and the story will still either exist or not, without me being there. I’m just a servant (and not a humble one – I love being able to tell tales).

GIANTS: What sort of reactions do you get from people when you tell them what you do for a living?

CLEGG: I don’t tell too many people. Generally, when people find out, I don’t get any interesting reactions – I wish I had a better answer, but it’s the truth. Americans generally don’t care about writers unless the writer just signed a $100 million deal, then suddenly Tom Clancy becomes a fascinating person. Luckily, we all care about stories. Stories feed us. So I’ll let Clancy have the interest at cocktail parties, and I’ll just keep writing stories, which are always more important than writers, anyway.

GIANTS: What advice would you give to someone who just published their first novel?

CLEGG: Be patient, enjoy the process, don’t believe everything you’re told, and hang on to as many rights to your work as you can – they do become more valuable as time goes on.
From my own experience, I’ve found that if you feel an editor or agent is holding you back from doing the work you were meant to do, move on – your writing and your creativity comes first in that equation, and if you feel stunted, get out and find a way to publish where you can flourish with your fiction. I’ve had at least one editor who had no idea how to work with a writer, and it was one of the worst experience of my professional life, and of course I blamed myself at the time. Looking back, I think this is a personality type that probably should be avoided: the editor who enjoys making a crisis out of the editing process (and it’s always good for the writer to not enjoy that crisis-making thing, also). Most editors are not like that; certainly, my current ones aren’t.
Conversely, when you find an editor who really loves your work and is a joy to work with – think carefully before leaving that person, even if another deal for more money is staring you in the face. Sometimes what looks like a lot of money on paper is not all that much. Better to put yourself among the advisors and nurturers who are going to help you get to the best book you have in you than to be bought off by someone who would be just as happy if your book failed another on the editor’s list succeeded.

GIANTS: Last words?

CLEGG: I guess my last words are: aim high whenever you write. Don’t write for your friends, for the markets, for the glee of grossing people out. Write because your story demands that it be written.
Then, if it grosses people out beyond horrifying them, well, you can probably get a little glee from that.


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