Tag Archives: horror

Meet the Fictorians: Guy Anthony De Marco

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a crisp winter day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Guy Anthony De Marco

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Guy! How are you doing and what are you drinking today?

Guy Anthony De Marco (GADM): Coffee. Lots of coffee. Coffee with coffee on top. It’s a good thing I’m not a single-malt Scotch drinker because I’d be spilling my glass of Glenfiddich 40-year old single malt all over the carpet because of the caffeine jitters.

Sometimes I toss in an Irish Breakfast tea to mix things up, or I drink the really hard stuff — egg nog.

KL: Oo, Glenfiddich. I like Balvenie myself. Don’t even get me started on egg nog. Yum! Okay, back on subject… You’ve been a Fictorian for quite some time. When did you join, and could you tell the fine people what all do you do for us?

GADM: I was invited by Quincy J. Allen (link: http://www.quincyallen.com) to write a couple of articles a few years ago, and then I woke up months later and I was a member. Since then, I write the occasional article, post a comment or two, and poke around the back end of the website. I’m familiar and comfortable doing so because I have over three decades in the Information Technology field. I’m not the site admin, but I do keep a watch on things and install updates, plus the little things such as dumping the spam out of the comments. We get over 50 spam comments a day, so that’s a sign the site is spreading. If only the spammers purchased books, we’d all be millionaires. Or at least hundredaires.

I’m also the unofficial “I need a post by tonight” guy. If you see several posts with my byline, odds are there were spots that needed an article. I write fast, and I’m now even working with Dragon Dictate, which helped me to hit my NaNoWriMo 2016 goal in two days.

KL: Not only do you help us out with our website, you are downright prolific when it comes to how much writing you produce. When you’re working on a project, how many words do you average a day, and in a week?

GADM: I have a bunch of pseudonyms I write under, so they all need to be fed. I think my record was 48K words in 12 hours. My usual rate is 2.5K/day on a slow day to 6K/day on a “looming deadline” day. Dragon is boosting those numbers lately, but the first drafts are pretty horrific to look at. Between drafting and editing, it all balances out in the end.

KL: I’m in awe, really. So what’s some of the best advice you’ve received about being productive? What works for you that you could pass on to the rest of us?

GADM: I guess the best advice is just doing the basics. Place your buttocks in a comfy chair and write so it becomes a habit. Understand that your first draft is not a polished manuscript. Allow yourself to suck and tell the editor in your head that she will get her turn later after you’ve dumped the basics onto the digital page. That last piece worked the best for me as far as productivity.

KL: You’ve written short stories for anthologies along with long fiction. What’s your favorite short story you’ve written, what’s it about, and where can we buy it?

GADM: My favorite short story is “Sally the Baker” from the early 1980s. It’s long out of print, although I’m thinking about reworking the story. The original is about a group of adventurers who force a gent named Sally to join their quest to take on an evil wizard. Unfortunately, Sally is an amazing baker with no other skills. In the end, he does save the day when they burst into a high-level evil wizard conference and Sally tosses a handful of flour into the air and starts screaming “Death Dust!” at the top of his lungs. The wizards scatter, the adventurers recover the item they were looking for, and they all escape with their hides.

For a still-available short story, I’d recommend “Grubstake” from Supernatural Colorado or “The Fate Worse Than Death” in Unidentified Funny Objects 3, which I co-wrote with Kevin J. Anderson.

KL: You have a number of titles available on Amazon. Do you find that you like writing short fiction or long fiction better?

GADM: I like writing drabbles or flash fiction best because it takes a lot of work to hit the word count, especially the 100-word drabbles. It’s like writing poetry for me, which I dabble in. As far as prose, I like short and long fiction equally. I write novels like a collection of short stories. That’s how I outline long works…a series of short stories in a tight flying formation.

KL: What are you currently working on?

GADM: I’m in the midst of NaNoWriMo at the moment. I hit my 50K in a couple of days. My record is over 300K. I have a cyberpunk novel in work, plus two horror novels and a bunch of erotica novellas. I’m trying to get 20 erotica works done to launch a new pseudonym.

KL: Ambitious! Who are some authors that inspire you?

GADMTonya L. De Marco is always helping me by editing and finding more stories to write. Kevin J. Anderson inspires me to write more because he is almost at the point where he thinks of a story and it magically appears on paper. Sam Knight inspires me to treat others with respect and kindness. I also enjoy reading lots of classics from Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and the rest of the usual gang — plus digging up old pulps and enjoying forgotten speculative fiction authors.

KL: Yeah, that Sam Knight is good people! Other than advice on productivity, what advice have you received through your years of writing that has stuck with you?

GADMFind a group of like-minded individuals and work together, like a local writing collective. Seek out folks who know how to edit and are not afraid to tell you what works and what sucks. Find beta readers and treat them like gold. Always be nice to others, even if they’re not. Especially if they’re not…they need to see how a professional acts. Support everyone and never talk down or bad-mouth anyone. It’s easy to pick on authors, such as Stephenie Meyer, who wrote Twilight. I’ve been on several panels where they bash on her, but I always say she was laughing all the way to the bank. She wrote something that caught the attention of the reading public, and even though it’s not my cup of tea, it sold well and made her a household name. I’d like that to happen to me someday.

I would also recommend joining a professional writing organization. Some of them can help you on the way to greatness, sorta like Slytherin House. I’ve been impressed with what Cat Rambo has been doing with SFWA, so I’d suggest considering them first.

KL: And finally, what’s your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written?

GADM: To be honest, I don’t particularly have a favorite. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with “Putting a Fresh Clip in My Revolver,” “My Muse is Dead,” or DMCA Tools. All of those generated some good feedback from Fictorians readers.

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If you have any questions for Guy, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Oh, The Horror! How Horror Fiction Differs from Horror TV and Movies

I’ve already got a confession to make, and it’s the very first line of post. This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves: when people assume horror fiction is the exact same as horror movies. But can I blame them? Both are the horror genre, so why wouldn’t someone assume they were the same?


First, let’s take a look at horror movies. Georges Melies, a French filmmaker, created the very first horror film Manior Du Diable (The Devil’s Castle). It’s about three minutes long, and reminds me of a little bit of Jack the Giant Killer from 1962. Manior Du Diable is a quirky exploration of the magic of camera work and editing at the time, but it’s also a great frame of reference in which to see horror: horror deals with the supernatural, things in which we don’t quite understand, and the unexplained.

But the actual definition of horror is much different. Horror means a very strong feeling of fear, dread, and shock, or anything that causes feelings of fear, dread, and shock (Merriam Webster).

Unlike Manior Du Diable, more contemporary horror classics focus on the later part of the definition: shock. Friday the 13th. The Exorcist. Saw. We cringe in the theater seats at these movies saying, “Oh no. Don’t do that!” and “Oh no, don’t go in there!” We cover our eyes and peek out between our fingers. We see characters getting their limbs torn/ripped/chopped/pulled/blown off. Blood and gore are a cornerstone for many a horror film, in particular the B-movie variety. Some films even go so far as including triggering subject matter, like rape and violation. But most horror movies are going after the same effect: to make the audience jump in their seats, to scare audiences. A lot of thought, time, and care is put into production in order to achieve just the right music, lighting, and make-up effects for the big scary moments and the big reveals in order to make the audience all but pee their pants.

Horror literature seems to take the definition of horror more figuratively, deeply exploring the things we find scary or shocking, things we might not be able to explain, and examines them in depth. Instead of going for the screams, horror writers go more for effect. Where horror film may adopt the literal definition of the word horror (fear, dread, shock), horror literature seems to capture more of the thrill. Part of that could also be a byproduct of the medium. While movies are a more sensory experience with sight and sound, with books, the reader is allowed to imagine as much or as little as what’s on the page. It takes time to read a book, and the mind has more time to come up with possibilities and presumptions about what’s coming. More telling, popular horror literature deals with different subject matter. While a movie’s big focus may be the blood and gore, horror lit still needs to stand on its own two feet as a story. That means strong characters and character development, some element of the fantastic, whether it be a human hell-bent on murder or a vampire, and a bare-bones foundation of a story that is more than a cheap thrill.

I’d argue it goes much deeper still. It comes down to a question: what is the purpose of a horror movie and what is the purpose of a book in the horror genre? In movies, we are given very little time to empathize with our characters before the action begins. Because it isn’t necessary. When a moviegoer pays their money to see a horror flick, they are banking on the promise that they will get a good scare. When a book buyer pays money for a horror book, they pay for a more cerebral experience: they will spend hours with the characters, get to know them, and feel what they feel as the book progresses. In a horror movie, we are watching horrible things happen to the characters. In a horror book, we are experiencing the fantastic, the uncomfortable, right along with them.

I should note that I’m not trying to diss horror films. One of my favorite movies is a horror film (The Thing). And there are many exceptions to the points I’ve brought up here. There are some horror movies that I find downright artful (Let the Right One In and 28 Days Later… come to mind), and go beyond the stereotypical horror genre. And there are certainly horror books where the only purpose is to shock and cause dread to the readers. But I’d argue you’re going to find that those are the few and far between.

The horror genre is more saturated with books like The Shining by Stephen King that, while dealing with horror elements, also deals with Jack Torrance’s fear of succumbing to alcoholism. You care about Jack Torrance as you read The Shining. The Walking Dead, the long-running comic book series and the TV show, doesn’t just deal in zombies. The Walking Dead is about what happens to humanity and how humanity changes in the wake of near-extinction and the constant threat of death. I Am Legend (the book by Richard Matheson, one of my favorite books) is about the loneliness of being the last of your kind. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice has less to do with vampires and more to do with the question of what it means to be mortal. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is not about the monster, but what it means to be human, the power of science, and the power of creating life from death.

From Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein
From Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

Finally, the most notable difference between horror movies and horror literature has to do with who the bad guy really is. In most horror films, there is a clear line between the protagonists and antagonists. Us vs. Them. Predator vs. Prey. One force hunts the other force down. Horror books, I’d argue, more so examine the darkness that comes from within, and duality of our own nature. We can be both the good guy and the bad guy. We can have good intentions (just as Victor Frankenstein did in bringing back the dead), but instead create a monster of ourselves. What horror literature looks to achieve is to strike empathy within the reader in the most dire and uncomfortable of circumstances, not necessarily to shock or scare, but to say, “Here’s the darkness, let’s go in and look around together.”

Unicornado!

It’s a dark and pulpy night…a perfect time for suspense–terror—gore–and…

…unicorns?

Unicornado!Fossil Lake III: Unicornado! is an Anthology of the Aberrant that mashes up horror tropes and weather-disaster movies with….glittery, sparkly unicorns.

I’ve written about unicorns before–including in the two anthologies, One Horn To Rule Them All (A Purple Unicorn Anthology) and Game of Horns (A Red Unicorn Anthology), which raise funds for Superstars Writing Seminars’ Don Hodge Memorial Scholarship–but I’ve never written about unicorns quite like this.

One of the challenges I’ve had about being a writer who occasionally does horror stories is making sure my readers know what they’re getting from those stories. I’ve got a number of readers who are very excited about my science-fiction and fantasy work, but they’re upset by gore, or they can’t handle anything too scary. Meanwhile, I’ve got other readers who love the spooky stuff!

For those of you who write horror and self-publish, it’s a good idea to make sure your covers and blurbs reflect the content of your story, so people who don’t like the creepy stuff know what they’d be getting in your tale, and people who DO like the creepy stuff know that you’re someone they want to be reading!

I”m fortunate that my publisher wants to be absolutely sure that parents aren’t buying Unicornado! for their kiddies…unless their kiddies are Wednesday Addams!

The blurb makes it absolutely clear that these are not unicorn stories for the little ones.

So, how does one make unicorns scary?

In One Horn to Rule Them All, I wrote about a girl who strikes an alliance with a karkadann–a desert unicorn–and joins a group of unicorn warriors. Karkadanns are pretty scary–dangerous, aggressive, bloody, and hostile. If you’re not the karkadann’s ally, you’d be looking at a terrifying monster.

The mythological karkadann is thought to be based on the rhinoceros. When I was a child, I discovered that my grandma’s King James Bible mentioned unicorns, but my dad’s New English Version Bible translated that Hebrew word as “wild ox.” As a kid, I much preferred the idea that there had been what I knew of as a unicorn running wild in Biblical times.

So, a Biblical unicorn…of a very Old Testament variety. Mix in some of the storms and plagues that tormented Pharaoh when he refused to let Moses and his people go, and you have the makings of some very scary stuff.

My short story “Unicorn Prayers” is one of thirty-two tales of unicorn weirdness in Fossil Lake III: Unicornado! that range from the macabre to the bizarre.

Get your own unicorns here at

Amazon

or in ebook format on

Smashwords

And beware of the things that sparkle in the dark.

Two Great Genres That Read Great Together

Science Fiction and Horror – Two Great Genres That Read Great Together

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll get this.

Imagine a kid, tousled hair and freckles staring in horror at a book in his hand walking down the aisle of a library. From the other directions another kid, this one a girl with thick dark curls held up in two ponytails, as they peruse the aisles of their local library. They comically run into each other. The first boy recoils. “You got your science fiction in my horror!”

The girl looks equally aghast. “You got your horror in my science fiction!”

As an aspiring writer, I tried to write what I thought was purely science fiction while I wrote my first short stories. I knew that the novels developing in my head were more military science fiction and I was completely comfortable with that subject matter. I wanted to keep my learning curve within the bounds of “traditional” science fiction. In hindsight, I’m very glad for the opportunity to have had my mind changed for me.

In 2012, I joined the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group and became a regular member. While submitting short fiction for critique, analysis, and help, we had a contest to write a flash fiction story combining two dissimilar genres. To this day, I’m glad I did not draw Lovecraftian horror and “chick-lit.” Instead, I drew science fiction…and horror.

Horror was something I never expected to write. I’ve never been a huge fan of horror movies, and I very rarely watch them. Walking Dead? Nope. It’s just not my thing. So, faced with writing a 1,000-word story I panicked and wrote nothing until the weekend before it was due. I was hung up on two things. First, to paraphrase Ray Bradbury’s definition of science fiction – it is the art of the possible. Horror, to me, seemed like the art of the impossible. Granted, I’ve experienced a few crazy, unexplained things in my life, but horror seemed to be all about fear. How could fear and (at least to me) optimistic visions of the future be related?

The second thing standing in my way was failing to understand why we read horror. I am a dedicated Stephen King fan and I realized while I was trying to get past the blinking cursor of doom that I was not connecting the science fiction scenery to the emotional response from the reader. When that finally happened, I wrote the story in one sitting while waiting for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. I submitted the story “Poultry” for critique and was told I should find a place for it. Eventually, I did find a magazine for it, but without pay. In the last six months, I sold it again to Digital Science Fiction, where it recently appeared in their Quickfic Anthology.

Writing a miniature space opera with a horror element (and admittedly, a dark humor, too) was easier than I thought because I realized I wanted to elicit a response from the audience. I wanted there to be a moment of revulsion and a head-shaking chuckle at the end of the story. I’m hopeful I achieved that because that was the lesson I learned while writing the story.

We tend to think of prose as painting a picture for the reader. That’s part of the equation. We need to visualize the reader’s response. Can we do that for every reader? No. But, if we have that “target” in mind, we can deliver an emotional punch to the reader’s gut. That’s what makes stories memorable.

And, for the record, science fiction and horror are two great genres that work great together. (Insert head-shaking chuckle here)