A Whole Other Approach: Jeff LaSala on Music and Writing

Jeff LaSala is the author of The Darkwood Mask and the editor of the forthcoming Foreshadows, a cyberfiction anthology inspired by the music of Very Us Artists.

I first met Jeff when I interviewed him for Kobold Quarterly a few years ago. I had greatly enjoyed his novel, as well as his gaming materials. After the interview, Jeff and I kept in touch and often had strange e-mail exchanges in which he talked about the band Rush and I talked about the Grateful Dead and neither of us every listened to the other’s favorite band but we pretended to in order to be polite.

Last spring, Jeff invited me to participate in a project that has grown into Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero. The official blurb describes the project as a “a 19-story anthology of dark science fiction intertwined with a 19-track album of songs and soundtrack music, created collaboratively by a veritable shadow gallery of speculative fiction authors and musicians, under the banner of the Very Us Artists, to be published by Blindsided Books.”

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Breaking Work Habits & Trying Something New

First my computer started making a grinding noise, then it wouldn’t boot up. I didn’t panic, though. There are computer at both Montessori and the college where I teach. Surely, I thought, dripping with fear-sweat, I’ll be able to use those computers to get posts prepared and to finish up other writing assignments.

Alas, my Computer Access Problem got worse and worse. Not catastrophic like the time my PC exploded in the middle of helping my brother write his medical school application essay or the time that the school-issued laptop went Blue Screen of Death and chewed up 150 pages of a novel-in-progress or when my iMac told me there was something seriously wrong, gasped, and died… No, the Access Problem wasn’t nearly dramatic as these past incidents.

But it was bad enough.
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The Writing Parent is Using Booklife

Check out this great blog post about the Working Parent’s use of Booklife. An excerpt…

BookLife makes you think strategically and tactically about your creative works. While The Writing Parent’s Five Ps (Passion, Perspective, Priorities, Process, Present-mindedness), help you keep writing center-stage on a day-to-day basis, BookLife provides a larger context for your writing dreams. The Five P’s keep you focused, help you navigate through the storms that rise in life and make it possible to keep all the things that are important in you life in your life, without feeling burned out. The strategies and tips in BookLife bring you deeper in your perspective, priorities and process because it forces you to look at your creative work in a much larger context.

No One Is Safe: Jonathan Maberry on Martial Arts & Writing, Part 2

In part 1 of this interview, horror novelist Jonathan Maberry discusses how his training in the martial arts informs his writing. Below he focuses more specifically on writing fight scenes in horror fiction using his Pine Deep Trilogy as a case study.


Can you discuss all this about fights and fight scenes in terms of writing horror stories?


Jonathan Maberry: Horror stories, no matter how fantastical, are distortions of the real world. A vampire hunter squaring off against a hungry bloodsucker is not all that dissimilar to a small woman trying to defeat an enraged and muscular male rapist. The differences in size, the presence of violent intentions, the certainty of a committed aggression by a more powerful enemy define the situation. We have to start with what we know of the combatants and then build the most logical possible scene around that.

What do we know about the vampire? If we take the standard pop culture view, then the vampire is immortal, it is considerably stronger than a human being, it’s faster than a human, it can withstand virtually any ordinary injury, it doesn’t breathe, it doesn’t bleed in any useful way, and it’s very hard to kill. Its weaknesses are few, but they are there: the vampire fears holy objects, can’t abide sunlight, is repulsed by garlic, and will die if beheaded, set ablaze or pierced through the heart with wood.

In good horror stories the vampire hunter comes prepared to this encounter as often as possible. Hammer, stake, garlic, cross. Maybe a torch and an axe. The tension of the scene will generally be built around a series of attempts to do things the right way and then the introduction of complications that spoil the easy fix, and finally a desperate struggle against seemingly impossible odds. All good in theory, but also potentially very trite.

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