Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 19: Kopas' Character Has Spoken


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Trevor.  Welcome to The Gal.  Some of my readers have yet to read your story.  What should they know about you?

Trevor:
I mean, what's there to say?  Once upon a time, my life sucked, so I tried to kill myself and I wasn't even good at that... or at least that's what I thought.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you believe in?

Trevor:
I believe that the average American consumer is a living, breathing piece of fecal matter.  Everyone's entitled to something and us chumps in customer service, well, if they're the shit, then we're the bowls.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What haunts you?

Trevor:
The fact that, at twenty-nine years old, my life really never amounted to anything... until now.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any phobias?

Trevor:
Honestly, as a child I watched one of those zombie films and ever since then I had a horrible fear of being eaten alive.  Not really a phobia, but it's hilariously ironic, wouldn't you agree?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

Trevor:
I mean, asking me this question is like asking a parent who their favorite child is.  (Hint: it wasn't me.)  Seriously, now, the better question would be, what's the best thing that's ever happened to me?  Well, that, my friend, would have to be the end of the world.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you lying to yourself about anything?

Trevor:
Look, we're all lying to ourselves about something.  Right?  I don't think I have been lying to myself, I'd just say maybe recently here I've been slow to catch on to a few things.  We're not all geniuses first thing in the morning.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What was your childhood like?

Trevor:
I was the youngest and least successful of three boys.  I accepted the fact that I was the accident long ago.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Were your actions the result of freedom of choice or of destiny?

Trevor:
Some might say Destiny.  I say it was just another bad decision amongst many bad decisions in my life.  But, hey, things seemed to have worked out for the best... I mean, for now.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could go back in time and change anything, would you?

Trevor:
I think I'd like to go back and kill my cheating ex-girlfriend again.  I think my head wasn't exactly clear at the time, and now that I know which parts taste the best, I'd probably dive in for seconds.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does your name mean to you?

Trevor:
I think the name Trevor is Celtic or some shit meaning big village.  My last name is Fink.  So my name basically translates to Big Village of a Thoroughly Contemptible and Unattractive Person.  Fuck me, right?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What scars, birthmarks, tattoos, or other identifying marks do you have?  What stories lie behind them?

Trevor:
None.  I'm literally that boring.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What was unique about the setting of your books and how did it enhance or take away from your story?

Trevor:
Books?  What books?  Is there a book about me?  If there is, I think I'm entitled to some sort of pay out... oh, great, now you just made me sound like one of my old customers.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you see yourself?

Trevor:
Am I a good person?  No.  Am I a bad person?  No.  Am I even a person?  No.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How does your enemy see you?

Trevor:
I'd say I'm mildly mediocre and non-threatening, until you're dead and Tim is eating your flesh.  Oh, Tim is my best friend, btw.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How does the author see you?

Trevor:
The author... hmmm... is this someone I should have put on "the list"?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why do you think the author chose to write about your story?  Do you think they did a good job?

Trevor:
Listen, Lady, I don't know who this author is that you keep referring to, but I write my own story.  I'm not some puppet with strings and there's no ridiculously attractive woman pulling them.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think about the ending?

Trevor:
I don't hear any fat ladies singing, pal.  Things aren't over until I say they're over.  Except for the world, that ended on its own.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?  Would you change anything about the story told? Did they miss anything?

Trevor:
Sheesh, here we are with this author business again.  Look, if anybody missed anything, then  yeah, there's more to the story to tell, there always is.  If there is an author, that'd be me, and guess what?  I'm ready for action.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Have you read any of your authors' other works?  Any good?

Trevor:
This author probably sucks.


About the author:
Stevie Kopas was born and raised in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  She is a gamer, a writer, and an apocalypse enthusiast.  Stevie will never turn down a cup of coffee and might even be a bit of a caffeine addict.
            Stevie is the author of The Breadwinner Trilogy.  Books 1 and 2, The Breadwinner and Haven, were originally self-published in 2013 and 2014.  The Breadwinner Trilogy was picked up by Permuted Press in May of 2014 and the second editions of both the first books were released in March and April of 2015.  The third and final installment in The Breadwinner Trilogy, All Good Things, debuted in May of 2015.  In June of 2015, The Breadwinner was the number one bestselling dystopian novel on Amazon.
            Her fourth book, Never Say Die: Stories of The Zombies Apocalypse, was released in May 2016, then rereleased by Permuted Press earlier this year.
            Her fifth book, co-authored with Stephen Kozeniewski, SLASHVIVOR, was released September 2017.
            Kopas also participated in the At Hell's Gates horror anthologies and all profits are donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  Her short stories, Nefarious, Patient 63, and Spencer Family Tradition can be found in the first three volumes of At Hell's Gates.  Her other short story, Camp Counselors Wanted, can be found in Man Behind the Mask, a charity anthology that donates all proceeds to breast cancer research.
            She currently resides in Panama City Beach, Florida, and tries to spend as much time as she can soaking up the sun.
            Stevie is also the Managing Editor of the website Horror Metal Sounds and a writer for the site.  Offline, Stevie is a telecommunications professional.
            You can visit the official website, connect on Facebook, and also follow Stevie on Twitter.


About the book:
Family, friends, lovers...
            Those are just a few examples of the strong bonds that hold humanity together.  But when the dead begin living, and the living start to die, who will remain connected, and who will be torn apart?

Never Say Die: Stories of the Zombie Apocalypse, explores how different relationships are put to the ultimate test when the end of the world comes crashing down around them.
            Some will live, some will die, but one thing is for certain: Some bonds don't break.

Jack: Years after the zombie outbreak decimates the population, Jack's sister is mysteriously taken.  Will he be able to find his sister, or better yet, once he finds her, will he be able to accept what she has become?

Gordon & Elena: The morning of an estranged couple's divorce is about to get a lot more stressful when a mysterious illness turns out to be more dangerous than anyone expected.  Will the two be able to set their differences aside before their journey's end?

Patient 63: After a terrorist attack, civilization crumbles when a lab-created virus infects over half the world's population.  Dr. Henrick Kennedy has found the vaccine in his sixty-third patient, a former infected, but his intentions are anything but good.  Graham, a lonely janitor, has fallen in love with the imprisoned Patient 63.  But is love enough to save the world, or will love be the means to an end all over again?  (Previously released in At Hell's Gates, Volume 2: Origins of Evil.)

Rosie: A little girl is given a vaccine to protect her from the impending zombie apocalypse, but when things don't go as planned, Rosie and her mom must find a way to escape their home and make it to the evacuation zone alive.  The human race may depend on it.

Trevor: A troubled young man makes the decision to end his life, but when the dead come back to life and his city is overrun, Trevor has suddenly found the will to live again, only this time he realizes he has a found a new purpose in life: Revenge.

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 19: Among the Stacks with Stevie Kopas


Stevie Kopas is one of my favorite female horror authors and a real inspiration.  Her talent is amazing - her characters draw me in every time and hook me throughout the entire story.  If you have not read a Stevie Kopas story, please, go over to Amazon and get one now.  You will not be disappointed.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Stevie.  Thank you so much for coming back to The Gal.  It's been awhile since we sat down together.  What's been going on since we last spoke?

Stevie Kopas:
Thanks for having me back on The Gal! 2017 has been a real rollercoaster, in the writing world and otherwise. My zombie book, Never Say Die, was picked up by Permuted Press and is actually being rereleased in first quart 2018. It’ll have a new cover, some new things changed up a bit in the stories, and more! I’m really excited for the new release. Aside from that, I co-authored a novel with the awesome Stephen Kozeniewski called Slashvivor. That came out in September and it’s been received with open arms from readers. Personally, it’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever written.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Who are you outside of writing?

Stevie Kopas:
Outside of writing, I am a hard-working lady with a love for caffeinated beverages, specifically iced Americanos. I play video games, I love my doggos, and I watch a lot of horror movies.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?

Stevie Kopas:
Honestly, it depends. Of course, you want everyone to read everything that you write, but that’s totally impossible. I don’t think my writing is for everyone in my social circle or everyone in my family, so if they read it, they read it. If not, I’m not mad about it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Stevie Kopas:
It’s a bit of both. I think it’s a gift in that I have the ability to create worlds and tell stories that people actually enjoy. On the other side of that coin it’s a curse because I’m so judgmental of my own work that a lot of the time I scrap a WIP if I don’t like it so essentially, I’m just creating extra, unnecessary work for myself and delaying the delivery of new content for readers. I’m the worst.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

Stevie Kopas:
I’m from New Jersey, I think that’s a nightmare in and of itself, so like, yeah, that explains it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?

Stevie Kopas:
Off the top of my head, I think it might be “how long would it take for a penis to fall off a rotting corpse?”

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?

Stevie Kopas:
Beginnings and endings are easy, it's the meat in the middle that's hard.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you outline?  Do you start with characters or plot?  Do you just sit down and start writing?  What works best for you?

Stevie Kopas:
I start with outlining of characters, but generally my rule is that I don’t outline because it’s just the way my mind works. If I force myself to follow some guideline of creativity then I’m just placing myself inside a small box and then I get creatively claustrophobic.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you do when characters don't follow the outline/plan?

Stevie Kopas:
You just have to like, go where your characters take you, man.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?

Stevie Kopas:
It’s generally a voice in my head that says “It’s time to sit the f*ck down and write, woman.”

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you an avid reader?

Stevie Kopas:
I used to be.  Like I said earlier, this year has been a roller coaster, so unfortunately, I have had to set a lot of hobbies aside.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?

Stevie Kopas:
Post-apocalyptic and dystopian are my go-to genres. Horror mixed in is a win and will definitely pique my interest. I will definitely get turned off to a story if there’s too much romance or a plot line with a bunch of children that need to be taken care of, that’s just not my cup of tea. That’s why the Judith plotline in TWD comic is miles better than the television show.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you feel about movies based on books?

Stevie Kopas:
Not all of them are good, but I do enjoy them because some books I’d have never heard of or looked twice at if it weren’t for a film release.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Have you ever killed a main character?

Stevie Kopas:
Oh yeah, almost always.  It's a necessary evil.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

Stevie Kopas:
Suffering, another necessary evil. Nobody lives a life free of suffering, unless they’re on FB or IG, of course. (Ha!) Anyway, I’m a big fan of stories with horrible endings or neutral endings even. The “oh yay we’re all happy and will live happily ever after” doesn’t fit in every story and bores me. Cabin in The Woods was a great example of this. (Not a book, I know.) You have a story where the characters suffer incessantly and then at the end it’s like, well, cool, our suffering will end, but not in the way that will be happy for anyone.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the weirdest character concept that you've ever come up with?

Stevie Kopas:
Weirdest? I don’t know, I would say most interesting… that would be Trevor. He’s a character in a short story in Never Say Die, titled creatively as “Trevor.” I’m actually working on a series based on him. He is a self-aware zombie torn by his morals and doesn’t want to kill all humans. So, think of maybe Dexter, but as a zombie. If we’re talking weirdest, then I’d say every character in Slashvivor! fits that bill. They’re all psychotic weirdos.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the best piece of feedback you've ever received?  What's the worst?

Stevie Kopas:
All feedback is great. I love it, give it to me, don’t ever stop giving me feedback. The worst piece of feedback I ever received, though, was that I hated women because of the way I wrote Moira and Michelle in The Breadwinner and Haven. I could laugh for hours about it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do your fans mean to you?

Stevie Kopas:
They mean the world to me, seriously.  Why else would I write?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?

Stevie Kopas:
I would steal Cersei Lannister from Martin. I don’t think I need to explain this since she is just next level awesome and probably my favorite character in any series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?

Stevie Kopas:
I’d return to the Hunger Games universe and Katniss would leave that awful little dude Peeta, face her PTSD, and go live the life she deserved and have adventures. She wouldn’t chill out all boring-like and fall into the clutches of domestication.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

Stevie Kopas:
I honestly would love to dive deeper into the characters of Slashvivor with Stephen Kozeniewski. I think we could tell awesome tales and origin stories based on Charming Charlie, Dr. Feelbad, and Raze. They’re my three favorites from the book. Especially since Doc and Feelbad are sort of like psycho-killer BFFs. It would be fun to explore.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Stevie Kopas:
Well, Never Say Die: Stories of The Zombie Apocalypse is getting that rerelease under Permuted, so be on the lookout for that. I’m also currently working on Trevor: King of Zombies, based on fan favorite Trevor, from Never Say Die. There will be a sequel, but I can’t give away the name, because that’s a massive spoiler.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

Stevie Kopas:
Yay!  Who doesn't love stalkers?
            Come like my page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, check out my terrible website and blog, read my reviews, and give my author page a like and follow.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview or the last?

Stevie Kopas:
Make sure you support indie authors and leave reviews. They mean a lot to us authors. Share when you can, spread the word to your horror loving friends and family when you really enjoy something. Most importantly, thank you so much for taking the time and reading anything I’ve ever written whether it be one of my short stories in an anthology or one of my novels. I’m not worthy!


About the author:
Stevie Kopas was born and raised in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  She is a gamer, a writer, and an apocalypse enthusiast.  Stevie will never turn down a cup of coffee and might even be a bit of a caffeine addict.
            Stevie is the author of The Breadwinner Trilogy.  Books 1 and 2, The Breadwinner and Haven, were originally self-published in 2013 and 2014.  The Breadwinner Trilogy was picked up by Permuted Press in May of 2014 and the second editions of both the first books were released in March and April of 2015.  The third and final installment in The Breadwinner Trilogy, All Good Things, debuted in May of 2015.  In June of 2015, The Breadwinner was the number one bestselling dystopian novel on Amazon.
            Her fourth book, Never Say Die: Stories of The Zombies Apocalypse, was released in May 2016, then rereleased by Permuted Press earlier this year.
            Her fifth book, co-authored with Stephen KozeniewskiSLASHVIVOR, was released September 2017.
            Kopas also participated in the At Hell's Gates horror anthologies and all profits are donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  Her short stories, Nefarious, Patient 63, and Spencer Family Tradition can be found in the first three volumes of At Hell's Gates.  Her other short story, Camp Counselors Wanted, can be found in Man Behind the Mask, a charity anthology that donates all proceeds to breast cancer research.
            She currently resides in Panama City Beach, Florida, and tries to spend as much time as she can soaking up the sun.
            Stevie is also the Managing Editor of the website Horror Metal Sounds and a writer for the site.  Offline, Stevie is a telecommunications professional.

            You can visit the official website, connect on Facebook, and also follow Stevie on Twitter.


About the books:
The end of the world is not glamorous.
            In a matter of days the human race was reduced to nothing more than vicious, flesh hungry creatures.
            Criminal defense attorney Samson struggles to keep his family safe and his sanity intact when the world comes apart at the seams.  Veronica, the high school track star, races to get her brother out of their doomed city.  Ben, a military veteran, is forced to come to grips with the end of the world as he fights the undead.  Andrew, a police officer, struggles to maintain some sort of humanity in a world overrun by death and destruction.
            There are no heroes here, just survivors, and they all have one thing in common: who you once were can no longer determine who you will be in the face of catastrophe.
            The Breadwinner, book one in The Breadwinner Trilogy, thrusts you head first into post-apocalyptic Northwest Florida and will leave you craving more.


Having barely escaped the clutches of the undead, the survivors of The Breadwinner are headed into the unknown to continue their search for solace in the post-apocalyptic landscape.  Once a paradise for the living, the city of Haven is now crawling with flesh hungry creatures - yet it could be their only hope.
            Veronica, Samson and the others take a chance on the promises of Gary, a solitary survivor.  Is the light-hearted newcomer all that he seems or are there sinister motives hidden behind his hospitality?
            Can Michelle and Lulu, two ordinary women faced with extraordinary horrors and obstacles, make it to safety?  Or will they each become just another undead face in the hordes roaming the streets of Haven?
            When tragedy strikes, worlds collide, and the survivors must band together against their common enemy.  But remember, who you were does not determine what you will become in the face of a catastrophe.  The dead may no longer be their greatest threat.
            Welcome home.  Haven is hell.


Locked up safely behind the walls of their glamorous beach resort, our survivors have grown comfortable, almost forgetting that the undead are still on the prowl in the streets below.  But when the group loses one of their own under mysterious circumstances, they begin to question whether or not staying at the resort is their best option.
            Friends turn on one another and once again, the group finds themselves back on the apocalyptic streets of Haven, battling the dead.  The biggest threat yet emerges and a traitor is revealed, proving once and for all that the flesh hungry creatures infesting the city are not the group's greatest foe.
            Will our survivors be able to make it out alive one last time?
            The final book in The Breadwinner Trilogy is a non-stop, post-apocalyptic race to the finish line.  Murder, lies, capacity, and a seemingly never ending onslaught of the dead are just some of the challenges our group will face.
            Fates hang in the balance but once thing is certain: the end of the world is not glamorous, and All Good Things must come to an end.


Family, friends, lovers...
            Those are just a few examples of the strong bonds that hold humanity together.  But when the dead begin living, and the living start to die, who will remain connected, and who will be torn apart?

Never Say Die: Stories of the Zombie Apocalypse, explores how different relationships are put to the ultimate test when the end of the world comes crashing down around them.
            Some will live, some will die, but one thing is for certain: Some bonds don't break.

Jack: Years after the zombie outbreak decimates the population, Jack's sister is mysteriously taken.  Will he be able to find his sister, or better yet, once he finds her, will he be able to accept what she has become?

Gordon & Elena: The morning of an estranged couple's divorce is about to get a lot more stressful when a mysterious illness turns out to be more dangerous than anyone expected.  Will the two be able to set their differences aside before their journey's end?

Patient 63: After a terrorist attack, civilization crumbles when a lab-created virus infects over half the world's population.  Dr. Henrick Kennedy has found the vaccine in his sixty-third patient, a former infected, but his intentions are anything but good.  Graham, a lonely janitor, has fallen in love with the imprisoned Patient 63.  But is love enough to save the world, or will love be the means to an end all over again?  (Previously released in At Hell's Gates, Volume 2: Origins of Evil.)

Rosie: A little girl is given a vaccine to protect her from the impending zombie apocalypse, but when things don't go as planned, Rosie and her mom must find a way to escape their home and make it to the evacuation zone alive.  The human race may depend on it.


Trevor: A troubled young man makes the decision to end his life, but when the dead come back to life and his city is overrun, Trevor has suddenly found the will to live again, only this time he realizes he has a found a new purpose in life: Revenge.


Try Not to Die

TV-XXX (Salty language, Sexual innuendo, Vomit-inducing ultraviolence)

TBA.  Pirate transmission.

North America's number one reality television show returns with instant fan favorite Dawn Churchill, a plucky, hometown girl from the irradiated ruins of the former United States.  Will she survive the night in the electrified, booby-trapped arena or will one of the serial killers pitted against her come out on top?
            Returning slashers include evil animatronic Abraham Lincoln, eight year old "Daughter of the Devil" Abadonna, and all-time undefeated champion Denney the Killer clown.  (Plus surprise appearances by mad surgeon Doctor Feelbad, silver-tongued "Charming" Charlie Whitmore, and steel-clawed firebrand Razortooth.)
            A night of chills, thrills, and endless buckets of blood.  A must-see for Dawn's innovative use of a shotgun alone.  Fun for the whole family!

Host: Mark Winters

Producers: Marisol Martinez, Amy Green, Jacob Graves, Derron James

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 18: Among the Stacks with Steven Wynne

Photo by Hannah Carroll

I met Steven Wynne earlier this year at Scares That Care, and he was part of the big group I hung out with on Friday night.  I knew then that I definitely had to have him on the blog.  His passion for writing is contagious, his personality and sense of humor made me know that he's 'my kind of people,' and I look forward to reading some of his work.  


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Welcome to The Gal, Steve.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Steven Wynne:
I was born mid-Reagan in Central Pennsylvania. Moved around a bit, but still haven't escaped. Started writing and submitting short stories in early 2016 after years of writing aimlessly and never finishing anything. I'm happily married, and I have a cat named Tubbycunt.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Steven Wynne:
I love Indian food. I have deep roots in punk rock, and played in a band that opened for Catch 22, Murphy's Law, and a number of others I can't remember. I didn't smoke, drink, or do drugs until well after I graduated high school. I've been homeless, and have lived in what was basically a squat/crackhouse for a year. When I was a tiny kid, 'The Brave Little Toaster' was my favorite movie, and I can still remember large swaths of dialogue and songs from it by heart. I hold this in large part accountable for why I'm so fucked up.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Steven Wynne:
Probably one of the Goosebumps books. The Barking Ghost stands out in my memory, but I know I read tons more than that before I got around to that one, none stick out in my memory though. Apart from Goosebumps, though, the first book I read that resonated with me heavily was Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Steven Wynne:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Steven Wynne:
I fucking loved the entire Harry Potter series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Steven Wynne:
I wrote stories when I was a little kid, trying to emulate the Lone Wolf role-playing books I loved. They all sucked, all of which ended with the protagonist literally finding a literal switch that would literally fix everything.
            I was a stupid fucking kid.
            I didn't write too much between then and my early twenties, apart from stuff for school. Whenever I did start trying to write in my second run, it was just blatant pastiches of Chuck Palahniuk that I never finished. Took me until maybe about 28 years old, a few years ago, to actually write a whole story, from beginning to end. After I'd done that a few times, I started writing and submitting out in spring of 2016.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Steven Wynne:
Eh, just my desk.  Nothing too fancy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Steven Wynne:
I like to stare at the blinking cursor for a good 20 minutes or so before stopping what I'm doing and moving the mouse a bit.  Repeat.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Steven Wynne:
Just trying to convince myself that what I'm writing isn't a bunch of derivative hackneyed bullshit.  Sometimes, I don't succeed.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Steven Wynne:
That's a tough one. I think my short story I just sold, 'Song of the Soil'. It's the first story I've really written that isn't entirely autobiographical. Almost none of it is; it's the first story that is just a story that I made up, and still feels real. I'm really proud of it, and I got some really good feedback on it from my friends who did beta read it for me. Everything I write I initially think is pigshit, and it takes me a while to go back and look at it for something other than a sad, meandering piddling attempt at narrative. This one took much less time to get me to liking it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Steven Wynne:
Chuck Palahniuk is probably the first author I read as an adult(ish) that really hooked me. I absolutely loved the sheer nihilism and depravity of books like Choke and Invisible Monsters, but I kinda fell off after Rant. It's been a good long while since I've read anything of his, but I'm pretty sure I've never been able to scrub his lingering influence from my sleeve.
            In more recent years, with my pull towards Horror and Weird fiction, the biggest influence on me has been, without a doubt, Gary A. Braunbeck. I had woke up stupid early one December morning to get my wife out the door for her terrible fucking warehouse job (which she's escaped from, hail Satan), and I picked up In Silent Graves on my Kindle. I read it over the next few mornings, and it blew my head off and tore my guts out. It was the first book to blow me apart like that. The sheer emotion and beauty and poetry is kinda what made me decide that this was a genre I could explore and do whatever the living hell I wanted, and be myself to the fullest extent.
            I've devoured everything Braunbeck I've been able to get my hands on since then.
            Now, for some other authors who have been hugely influential (but won't get the fanfare, my humble apologies): Laird Barron's style of writing has always amazed me, as well as his ability to flip a story on it's head three quarters of the way through and change the entire dynamic. Livia Llewellyn, for all the same reasons. Mary Sangiovanni is great for blood and guts flying. Joe R. Lansdale, for his incredible characters. I could go on, but I'll leave it here.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Steven Wynne:
Characters. Heart. Humor. Personality. Pain. In order for me to be sucked in, the characters need to have flaws. Everything needs to be real. It doesn't have to be a mind-blowing original concept, it doesn't need to be a sprawling dystopian sci-fi landscape with strange nuances of some speculative futurism. It's not about the idea, it's about the execution.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Steven Wynne:
Humor and wit definitely help. I can't ever boil things down to a simple set of things that will always work, because again, it's all in the execution. Billy Butcher from Garth Ennis's The Boys is cocky, witty as all hell, smart as fuck, and funny. Also, he guards what leaves him vulnerable, and when you see him open up, it can be heartbreaking. He's a great protagonist, and (spoiler) an even better villain at the end. When I'm writing my own stories, I try to just be honest and make you relate to the characters. They just need to be real. I have a difficult time writing witty characters who are smart and know everything and have the best quips because I'm just not that smart. Still, I try.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Steven Wynne:
Probably the ones who are specifically me. Billy, from my story 'The Absence of Souls', for example. A good deal of that story is pretty autobiographical. As well, Abby from my novella 'Mackenzie's Rose' is pretty much like me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your books cover?

Steven Wynne:
Sometimes, maybe? Won't kill my interest outright, but it won't help. Thus far, I've had no books published, apart from the anthologies that my short stories will be appearing in. Neither of those have come out yet, but I'll be having no say in those covers either, I'd imagine.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Steven Wynne:
With what I've written so far, the most important thing I've learned is to not be afraid to reach and do unbelievable shit. Sometimes, just having the courage to listen to where my head is saying the story should go, and following through.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Steven Wynne:
A short story called 'Two Bedrooms at the End of the Hallway'. There's a scene where a character confronts a terminally ill parent about their lifetime of abuse. I've never done a revision or an edit on that story because it hurt too much the first time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Steven Wynne:
*puts on pretension helmet* I'd like to think my stories (no books of my very own yet, apologies) give a worldview unique to me, and maybe that's something people might enjoy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Steven Wynne:
Story titles usually come to me while I'm writing the actual story, but every so often, the title comes with the first sentence I type. For example, stories of mine like 'Song of the Soil' and 'Escape Velocity' gave up their title in the first paragraph. However, my story 'The Absence of Souls', let me get through a good 7K words before the title came. The actual phrase itself came from an argument I'd had with a friend years ago when I was a fucking idiot conspiracy theorist woo-woo subscriber (I actually bought a David Icke book or two. I humbly beg forgiveness.) I was arguing with a skeptic/atheist friend about souls, and trying to be a smarmy douche, I told her I didn't believe in souls, rather the absence of souls.
            Seriously.
            Ten years later, I've been able to revisit that painful memory and cherry pick the one phrase out that sounded somewhat cool. That's about the only good thing to come out of that particular phase of my life. Most of the memories still make me want to crawl into a cave and paint the walls with my cerebellum out of shame. Don't feel bad, if you were there and saw how many people I tried to make watch Zeitgeist, you'd sell tickets for the event. You'd be owed.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Steven Wynne:
I've written one novella thus far, and I'm working on another that might get to novel length, but I've written a good deal more short stories. I love short stories. I love writing them, I love establishing characters, creating a situation and world, and getting out in a brief period of time. I always feel much better when I finish a short story. When I finished my novella, my general feeling was along the lines of “Jesus. I'm glad that's over with.” It's taken a year for me to get back to it; I finished the last one in NaNoWriMo, and I'll probably try to do the same thing this time around.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Steven Wynne:
I try to write between horror and weird, much like my favorite authors. I have no clue who my 'target audience' would be, as the two anthologies I've sold stories to haven't yet been published. I'd like to do my part to maybe influence some friends of mine by guilting them into buying the anthologies I'm in and maybe have them read some of the other stories and get them into the genre as well. Plus, I just want my friends and fellow authors to like what I do. As for what I'd like people to take away from my work, I'd just hope they like it and would maybe like to read more.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Steven Wynne:
As previously stated, much of my work is lifted directly from life and is very autobiographical in nature. I've gone back and cleaned things up a bit from time to time to make the “this is a work of fiction” line in the contracts and front pages of books much more palatable and convincing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.)

Steven Wynne:
I've got a few things started that have been kinda collecting dust that I may or may not get back to. Some of em, I think, have cool ideas in 'em and might serve as decent story fodder in the future. Also, sitting in an unopened file in my computer for the last few years, is a sprawling, sci-fi/horror dystopian story that I got 60K words into before abandoning due to a complete lack of direction and plot. I thought I had some cool ideas in it, but I've since come across those 'totally cool and original ideas' in other books. C'est la vie.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Steven Wynne:
I'm always working on short stories, and am in talks with some friends at Orb Weaver Press to do a chapbook with them. I'm also working on this novel/novella right now, of which I don't want to say too much, apart from it deals with heroin and a serial killer. Also, expect my first few anthology pieces out sometime in 2018, hopefully?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

Steven Wynne:
Facebook is the best place to get at me. I'm also on Twitter, but I still haven't figured out how to use it. I'm one of the shitty millennials who had too much Gen X beaten into me by Baby Boomer parents.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Steven Wynne:
Keep an eye out for “Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull Volume 3” from Grinning Skull Press, and “Death's Garden” from Lycan Valley Press Publications. I have some flash fiction in the December 2016 issue of The Siren's Call E-zine.


About the author:
Steven Wynne was born mid-Reagan in Central Pennsylvania and has yet to escape.  He lives with his wife and pain-in-the-ass cat off a back road surrounded by neighbors who keep to themselves.  His work has been published by The Siren's Call E-zine, and will be appearing in upcoming anthologies from Grinning Skull Press and Lycan Valley Press Publications.

  1. 27.Steven Wynne was born mid-Reagan in Central Pennsylvania and has yet to escape. He lives with his wife and pain-in-the-ass cat off a back road surrounded by neighbors who keep to themselves. His work has been published by The Siren's Call E-zine, and will be appearing in upcoming anthologies from Grinning Skull Press, and Lycan Valley Press Publications.

Photo by Hannah Carroll.

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 18: Among the Stacks with Tim Majka


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Tim.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tim Majka:
You're going to post my bio I'm sure, and you can find out all about me there.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Tim Majka:
I have a collection of 7000 comic books, I am legally blind in my left eye, I play NCAA Football 2014 more than I should, I love to sing in the car (and I can't sing), and I enjoy most of the classic musicals.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Tim Majka:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Tim Majka:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Tim Majka:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Tim Majka:
Always wanted to, finally decided to stop thinking about it and actually do it.
            First wrote and illustrated my own comic book at the age of 6.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Tim Majka:
In my office at home.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Tim Majka:
I need to have a rough outline before I can start.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Tim Majka:
Getting over the fact that my first drafts are always trouble.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Tim Majka:
My debut novel, Prey.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Tim Majka:
Everything by Jonathan Maberry and Michael Harvey.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Tim Majka:
Pacing.  Making the reader want to turn the page.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Tim Majka:
Once I find their 'voice' they are mine
            Great fleshed out characters can help push a story along.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Tim Majka:
Eric Archer has a lot of me in him.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Tim Majka:
I sent my publisher, Devil Dog Press, a rough sketch and description of what I wanted for the cover and the cover artist knocked it out of the park.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Tim Majka:
That writing is DAMN hard work.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Tim Majka:
A torture scene.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Tim Majka:
I'm not sure about different, but it is a fast, fun read that makes you think just enough to have a good time with it.  I like to think of it as a book version of a summer blockbuster.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Tim Majka:
I have only had to title one book, and it was with me from the start.  I'll have to let you know with book two.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Tim Majka:
I have never written a short story before.  But completing my novel and holding it in my hands after such a long process was exhilarating.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about yourself about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Tim Majka:
I am going to refer you to question 18 (What makes your book different from others out there in this genre?)/  As for takeaway, I want my readers to put the book down and have to take a breath and say 'WOW.'  Then clamor for the next one.  

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Tim Majka:
There wasn't anything that made it to the cutting room floor with my book.  As I work with the amazing Rob M. Miller during the editing process, we pulled more out of my book than I knew was there.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your "trunk"?

Tim Majka:
I have an idea for a series of novels I would also like to see as a comic book series.  I have about 12 pages of the first issue written and pull it out once in a while and work on it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Tim Majka:
I am writing book two of my Blood of the Ancients series, which will be a trilogy.  After that, I hope to start on a sci-fi/suspense series called State of Emergency.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?

Tim Majka:
Anyone can find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.  Just search my name.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Tim Majka:
Read, read, and read some more!  Get as many young people into reading as you can.  It will benefit them so much in life.  And, as always, be kind to each other.


About the author:
Tim A. Majka teaches high school social studies along the shores of Lake Erie, in his hometown of Dunkirk, NY.  He resides there with his best friend and bride, Bridget, their college-age sons, Jacob and Alex, and two rescue cats, Stanley and Corky.

About the book:
The Other Side Has Broken Through

Following the mysterious death of his parents, Detective Eric Archer goes home to the idyllic Western New York town of Chadwick Bay.  There, he joins old colleagues and making new acquaintances in Jessica Benitez, Eliseo Gomez, and the enigmatic Dr. William Dirk.
            They uncover decades-old family secrets that shakes the foundation of their reality.
            Alliances are formed, friends become foes.
            An ancient entity's plan to enslave the people of Earth is about to be unleashed.  With the fate of humanity at risk, Eric Archer and his friends must race to unravel the mystery of how to defeat a God-king.