Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Dylan. We’re so glad you’re joining us today.
Hi, and thank you so much for having me here for a chat and to answer your questions. You guys run a great blog here and the coffee tastes great. I’m comfortable, so let’s begin.
–Tell us about your latest book, Blood War.
Blood War is a supernatural horror novel detailing a six hundred year-old war between vampires and werewolves. It’s not your ordinary conflict, as about four hundred years ago the bloodlines were crossed by lust-filled encounters between the two species and hybrids were born—mutated immortals with the combined strengths and weaknesses of vampires and werewolves. The hybrids entered the war two hundred years ago, in one night of global attacks, and ever since a violent, bloodthirsty conflict has raged across the globe, fought in the dark shadows of mankind’s existence.
The novel begins at war’s outbreak, in thirteenth century Romania, and continues through to the present day when all three immortal species’ come together for a vicious battle that will decide the fate of the supernatural world. Blood War spans the globe’s continents, transporting the reader to America, Europe, and even New Zealand. The plot unfolds in such exotic locales as Vienna, Venice, Rome, and London. The conflict even comes to Oslo, Norway, where I live.
Blood War hopefully takes the reader on a gore-filled, exciting journey, filled with rich characters and interesting locations.
–Now that sounds like an exciting read and I have to say I love the cover – it’s a bit terrifying . Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
Sure, no problem. I’ve just finished a new novel called The Dead Lands, but I doubt this will be available for publication until at least 2014. It’s a horror/sci-fi mix and I’m very excited about it. Filled with death and apocalyptic destruction, I’m hoping it’ll be a bit of a thrill ride for the reader.
I plan to release two new books in 2013. The first is likely to be a collection containing the majority of my short stories. I say the majority because some of the first ones I had published are so nauseatingly awful that I don’t want them to ever see the light of day again. There are some good ones, though, and as most of them were previously released in publications that have now become defunct I doubt many people have read them before. It’ll be like a collection of unread stories for all but my most loyal of fans (two people, at the last count).
I also aim to release another novel in the second half of this year. Titled Flesh, it’s a supernatural thriller about a Wendigo spirit terrorizing the isolated community of Vacant. I don’t want to give too much away at the moment, but Vacant’s police force are a bunch of guys I enjoyed writing and the book’s opening chapter is one of my most favorite pieces of fiction I’ve ever written.
–You’ve been busy and they all sound thrilling – exactly the types of books I liked to read. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
Love this question. My characters are in control, pretty much all the time. I give them a starting point, and I often tell them where they’re heading, but the journey they take to get there is decided and influenced by their decisions alone. I’m just there for the ride, most of the time, watching on as they struggle for survival against monsters and mutants, and sometimes against each other. I document their passage, elaborating on the trials they go through, and then I relay it to the public. I only hope the readers get as much of a kick out of the journey as I do.
–So many authors have told us they let their characters take control. As an author who does this as well, I find this really interesting. Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?
Read, or watch a movie, or do some other recreational activity that you enjoy, but that gives you the time to think. If the words aren’t coming then you need to stimulate them (which isn’t as sexual as I have made that sound). I’m personally of the opinion that writer’s block is a myth invented as an excuse for writers who can’t be bothered to stimulate their creative side. I’m a writer, I have to write, and looking for an excuse not to is not doing myself any favors. I’ve been there: playing too many video games, or other excuses, blaming it on writer’s block, but all I was doing was kidding myself. If the words aren’t flowing, take a break; read a book, watch your favorite movie, go for a walk. Easy.
–I think I tend to use that dreaded term as a way to self-sabotage and I really need to stop that. What’s your attitude toward the standard advice: write what you know?
It helps, it makes writing certain subjects easier, but it’s not necessary. My best selling book, Hosts, is about mutated parasites terrorizing a skiing community who are cut off from the outside world by the worst snowstorm in living memory. I know nothing about parasites, I don’t ski, and I haven’t been caught in a terrible snowstorm. Yet the story is a good one, and it’s selling well. Today’s age of technology really helps, though. If you live in America yet want to base a scene, or a chapter, or your entire book, in Paris you can go online and find out all you need to know. Being there, in the city to experience it first hand, would be ideal (in addition to a great vacation) but writing what you know these days isn’t as important as it once was. What’s more important is doing thorough research.
Twitter is my main tool for promotion. It’s fast, easy, and concise, and it gives my followers easy access to my latest news or releases. Just one shortened web link and they can be on my author page at Amazon, or my website, the main places where they can purchase copies of my book. I also use online communities such as World Literary Café and a number of horror forums in order to spread the word. You’re right though, it can easily be the most hated part of being a writer because it takes so much effort and takes so much of our time away from writing. There’s no point writing books if you can’t promote them to increase sales. I have four books available, so promoting four different works while editing other people’s work, my own projects, and writing my own fiction, takes up a lot of time.
–I imagine you stay pretty busy. I don’t utilize Twitter as much as I should. It’s good to know it can be effective. How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
I’m strictly fiction. I’ve written a number of non-fiction articles, mainly for my blog, and I do book reviews and the odd film review, but my main focus is fiction. Generally I write horror fiction, and I love monster horror best: werewolves, vampires, zombies, all those great things that go bump in the night. I have a novella out now called October Rain which is more Science Fiction than horror, although it does contain horror elements. It is set on Mars in the distant future, when the sun becomes a red giant and destroys Earth; it’s set at the end of mankind’s existence in this solar system and as such a large majority of the tale has strong Sci-Fi elements. The novel I’ve recently completed, The Dead Lands, is also set in the distant future, in a different galaxy to our own, and while it is an apocalyptic novel with strong horror elements, it also incorporates a decent dose of Sci-Fi.
–What a creative imagination you have. All your books sound wonderful and I’m a true-blue horror fan. Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas usually come to me as short scenes or freeze frame images. A few of them look nothing like they used to, as the writing process distorts my original idea and mutates it into something resembling nothing like the original idea. Blood War started as a daydream about a girl arriving home with her family during a heavy thunderstorm, and as she gazed out of the car window she could see bogeymen flittering in the shadows, following them home. That scene grew into a short story, and eventually a chapter in the book.
The idea for my Sci-Fi novella, October Rain, came from a dream I had. I was on the planet Mars and my daughter was on the planet Saturn (an impossibility, I know, but such are the power of dreams) and I was trying to save her as one of Saturn’s moons was about to collide with the planet. This scenario doesn’t play out in October Rain, but the story is based upon a father and daughter relationship and set on the planet Mars—it also involves death, destruction, mankind’s extinction and family betrayal. I mentioned The Dead Lands earlier, the novel I’ve recently finished, and this was inspired by the First Person Shooter video game Rage.
My ideas come in many bizarre forms.
–Dang. Your dreams are even creative. What a great concept. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing seriously for about a decade. In early 2003 I set out to get my first short story published and I achieved this goal in a relatively short period of time. I’ve only been seriously writing novel length work for about the last three to four years. I thought I could never have ideas solid enough, or the writing skill good enough, to construct longer stories capable of holding a reader’s attention, but when an idea about a bunch of skiers trapped in a lodge while being assaulted by mutated parasites ballooned into my debut novel, Hosts, I realized I might actually be able to do something constructive about my talent.
–And you certainly have. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
Getting a good review, particularly from someone I don’t know. Unfortunately my books haven’t received many reviews and I have no idea why that is, so any reviews I get are important to me. Even the negative ones are worth having because at least that means the reader cared enough about the book to voice their opinion. Writers all crave reviews and obviously we’d all like good ones but any review is worth having.
I’ve had a 1-star review by someone who thought my book contained too much bad language, which was enjoyable to see. Who would have thought an adult-themed horror book would contain swear words? Right? That same book received a 5-star review from a reader who had to put the book down because it caused him nausea such was its gruesomeness. It’s those latter kinds of reviews that are the most satisfying aspect of being a writer.
–That one-star reviewer reminds me of a story Elmore Leonard tells where he received a letter from a reader who told him she hated his books because of the obscene language he used and ended it by calling him a vulgar name. The way he tells the story is hilarious – he reads the actual letter. Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
Yes, I have a Kindle Touch and I love it. I’ve always loved reading and thought I’d always prefer paperback books. The Kindle has changed my opinion. I now live in Norway, so as you can understand English books do not fill the bookshelves; all the book stores have an English language fiction section but the selection is not broad. Having a Kindle allows me to purchase any book I want, by any author, and have it in my hands ready to read within the time it takes to download. Electronic publishing is brilliant, and it allows me to get my books out there to the public. Thanks to Amazon I am able to have full control over my product and keep track of my sales figures.
But self-publishing and electronic publishing still carries a stigma, unfortunately, so I feel it is important for any author wishing to publish their work electronically to do so in a professional manner. Hire a professional editor to go through your work and cull all the grammar issues, passive voice, plot holes and boring character development. Hire a cover artist to design a fantastic cover that will draw the reader to the book in the first place. Do not write a book, give it a quick once over, design your own cover using paint or Photoshop, and then put it on the market. It will die a long, slow, painful death if you do.
–Count me as a Kindle fan. Never though I’d take to ebooks but I love them. I agree with you about editing. Too many books today are not well-edited and it detracts from the read. Tell us a little bit about you; from the beginning until now.
I was born in Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, and lived there until I was 9 when my parents immigrated back to their home country of Wales, in the United Kingdom. I lived there for most of my life, until moving to Norway with my fiancée and our two beautiful daughters in 2003. Now I have a job as a warehouse manager, a short drive north of Oslo. I write at night, or early on the weekend mornings. I read a lot, and I watch movies with the family every Friday evening. I love playing video games, particularly The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Rage. I am a huge NFL fan, support the Dallas Cowboys, and hope that one day players the caliber of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin will return to the franchise so that we can once again win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. I am currently waiting with high expectations for the second Hobbit movie in December and feel this is too long a time to wait. I tweet.
Thanks for joining us today, Dylan. Really enjoyed it. For more information about Dylan and his books:
Links: Website/Blog – www.dylanjmorgan.com
Amazon Author Central Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008B42H5S