MDBT Guest Post – Mark Carver

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A while back, I read an article that admonished writers to stick to one genre. Of course my initial reaction was, “How dare he tell me what to write!” but I soon realized that the article was largely correct. The most successful authors are those who write in one genre, since their fans know what they want and the authors are happy to give it to them. Of course this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule, but the fact remains that an author has to establish themselves as a brand and this means carving out one’s niche, rather than diluting their brand by dipping their wick into too many genres.

Mark Carver headshotI’ve come to realize that my primary genre is dark supernatural fiction, and I’m comfortable settling into this genre. But writing is a lot of work, and every author needs a vacation now and then. The question on my mind was: how can I branch out into other genres without throwing my readers for a loop?

As I pondered weak and weary, I came up with a simple solution, which I call “Two On, One Off.” Basically, I will write two books in my primary genre, and then one book in a different genre. By following this schedule, readers can know what to expect and when, and it gives me a chance to stretch my legs and exercise different muscles of my imagination.

My first two books under this plan were The Age of Apollyon and Black Sun, both of which were extremely dark and intense. I definitely needed a break after being submersed in this grim world for nearly a year and a half. Thus, Indelible was born.

While my previous books contained Christian themes and elements, Indelible is a completely secular book. That’s not to say that it’s full of four-letter words or graphic descriptions of sex and violence, but it does contain some mild language, casual sex, partying, drug use, etc. But it’s actually a pretty light and easy read, at least compared to my earlier work. There’s not a single act of violence in the entire story, though there is plenty of tension and drama. I won’t give away any details about the story, but if you’re a fan of tattoos, heavy metal, or fantasy weapons, I guarantee you’ll love Indelible.

Writing this book was an absolute joy, and I had the entire manuscript cleaned and polished in just over three months (half the time it usually takes for me to complete a book). Of course I hope that it will attract a whole new market of readers to my corner, but my main purpose in writing Indelible was just to give my mind a breather.

And it worked. Almost immediately, I launched myself into the final book in The Age of Apollyon Trilogy, entitled Scorn, which I’ve nearly completed. I don’t think I could have written the entire trilogy back-to-back-to-back, and writing Indelible gave my imagination the rest and rejuvenation it needed to finish strong.

Indelible cover

So if you’re looking for something a bit different from my usual fare (or anyone else’s, for that matter), check out Indelible when it releases in just a couple of weeks. I think you’ll be very surprised, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping for.

Author Jess Hanna: Mega-Dark Blog Tour #2

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Next Installment of the Mega-Dark Blog Tour. Now up: Jess Hanna


More about Me
This is a continuation of my first post on the Mega Dark Blog Tour. In that post, I focused on where I came from, when I knew I wanted to be a storyteller, and the origins of my fascination with the supernatural. This second post will continue along that vein, providing further insight into what motivates me to write. But before I dive in, I would like to thank Patrick Todoroff for hosting me on his blog.

After I got saved, I saw the world with an alarming new clarity. The supernatural things that interested me before now took on a more sinister tone. I found that the majority of it (Ouija boards, the occult, ghosts, aliens, etc.) was meant to lead me away from the truth of God. Don’t get me wrong, I was still fascinated by these things, but the way I viewed them was not longer with fascination, but as tools of the enemy.

It wasn’t too far into the future that I stopped writing altogether. While I had an interest and felt I could write well, I didn’t see it as a viable career choice. I allowed ‘real’ life to crowd out my love of writing. I even stopped reading for many years. To fill the void I lived my life the best I could, moving from one unfulfilling job to another. It wasn’t and hasn’t been terrible, but spending a career climbing the corporate ladder is just not all that appealing to me.

Everything changed when I turned 32. While floundering in questioning what to do with my life, I felt a strong urge to get back to writing. I hadn’t written anything in so long that I wasn’t sure I could still do it. I tried to push the feeling away, to be practical, but the tug was strong. I knew I had to write, regardless of whether or not I felt the tangible benefit of it in this life.

I also started reading again and re-read my copy of On Writing by Stephen King. After I finished it, I took his advice and just started writing. Within a few months, I had written the first draft of my first book, The Road to Hell. I was so happy to just finish a full length novel at all, and let that elation carry me until I started the second draft. I found it was hard work, taking what I had written and scrutinizing it with a critical and grammatical eye.

To find out more about my experience writing my first book, along with details about my motivation and the painstaking process of multiple edits and the submission process, check out my next stop on the Mega Dark Blog Tour with Mark Carver.

Don’t forget to check out my website for more about me and my writing.

Blog Tour with Author Michael Brookes

Mark Carver, Overlord and Grand Anarch of the Mega-Dark group at GoodReads organized a Blog Tour for August. So in the coming weeks here at HSSJ, I’ll feature posts from five other authors. First up is Michael Brookes.


Writing An Odd Quartet

‘An Odd Quartet’ is my first collection of short stories, the next, ‘An Odder Quintet’ will be revealed later in the Mega-Dark Book Blog Tour. In this post I’m going to talk about what motivated me to write each of the stories in the first book.

As the name implies there are four stories in the book. The first is called ‘The Yellow Lady’. This story is based on a tale I heard around a camp fire as a young boy. The origin story of the ghost, the grave with the metal spikes and the legend of Heartbeat Tree are all true. I remember being terrified sleeping in the tent with a few other boys in the night, our tent right next to the graveyard with the corroded metal cross with spikes through it.

The scary thing about ghosts is that they keep coming back. With this story I wanted to do something a little different and that comes from the main character, a young man who makes his living by grave robbery. He’s also heard the story of the Yellow Lady and of the secret treasure. Naturally that brings him to the attention of the ghost, but he deals with the situation in a most unusual manner.

The twist in the tale is the central theme to the stories. I enjoy reading a story that ends in an unexpected way. I like writing stories like that even more!
In second story, ‘This Empty Place’ the inspiration came from the H P Lovecraft (one of the greatest horror authors) quote “And with strange eons even death may die”. I imagined what it would be like for an entity charged with the task of death and what they would feel as the universe drew to a close.

‘Forced Entry’ was an idea I’d had for some time. The idea was to have a hostage rescue team, highly trained soldiers, enter a house and encounter an evil way beyond what they were trained for. I decided to tell this story in a slightly different way. I wrote it as a series of radio communications between the soldiers.
Interestingly this story has divided many readers, some love it, others no so much. It’s also one of the stories that will be continued in the new collection.
‘The Reluctant Demon’ is possibly my favourite story in the collection. Previously I’d written a story for an anthology called ‘A Splendid Salmagundi’ about a demon taking his wife on holiday. Holidays take place within unwilling human hosts. It was a slightly comical look at Hell and one I wanted to develop.
For this story I wanted to feature a young demon who like other young demons wanting to become the best, have to become a possessor. To gain this they have to pass an exam. He doesn’t really want to become one, but is forced to by his father. Naturally the story doesn’t quite end as you’d expect.

So that is the history of how I wrote ‘An Odd Quartet’, if you haven’t read it yet, than I hope you’ll do so.

An Odd Quartet
A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words total) each with a twist in the tale. The drabble enhanced edition also contains some of my favourite drabbles (100 word stories).

The Yellow Lady
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it’s not always treasure to be found.

This Empty Place
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.

Forced Entry
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.

The Reluctant Demon
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.


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About the Author
Michael Brookes considers himself a fortunate man. By day he works as an Executive Producer making video games for a leading independent developer, and by night he writes fiction in the horror and science fiction genres.
He is also very active is supporting indie authors from all genres through interviews and guest posts on his blog. He also runs a monthly short fiction contest that is open for everyone.

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