It’s the last day for our Blogger Book Fair Resort, so of course we’ve save one of our best for last. Not only does our next guest dabble in writing in the darker aspect of the fantasy of the written word-both short and long lengths, he has spread his touch among the comic realms. He possesses the good taste to have awesomely named main characters, such as Xander Stryker the gun-toting, self-destructive bad-ass vampire of his CRIMSON SHADOWS SERIES, but he also takes us on tour with the frightening mix of the Bloodtones in his DEATH METAL SAGA. Seriously, who wouldn’t enjoy a concert with a werewolf, warlock and one vulgar vampire? I’ve got tickets to the next concert!
Without further ado, Ladies and Gentle Germs may I give you the Literary Dark Emperor himself, Nathan Squires…
If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each? Your guests don’t have to be alive and if you really want to make it fun, you can use favorite fictional characters.
Guest list & questions for each:
~Selene (from Underworld) – Do you wanna go out? My fiancé doesn’t need to know! I won’t bite… but I hope you will.
~Kurt Cobain – What really happened? It was it Courtney Love, wasn’t it??
–duh, of course it was, silly!
~Marilyn Manson – if you were a comic book character, what would you want your super power to be and what sort of adventures would readers find you in with each issue?
~Blade (from Blade) – Can I throw your glaive? Just once? Pleeeeeeaaaasseee!!
~Alucard (from the Hellsing anime) – *giggling like an idiot* How are you so cool??
~Dante (from Devil May Cry) – Where do you get your coats??
–if you find out, you have to share with me…
As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten. Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?
To be honest, I’ve always aspired to be some kind of a storyteller. For a while I wanted to write and direct movies, then I turned my focus to comic books, and then I decided that I liked the idea of being a novelist (but never really gave up on the movies or comic books either).
–Nowdays, you don’t have to, dear sir. Have you noticed how many of us are now doing graphic novels! Boo-yah, baby!
We all have favorite characters, either main or secondary, and there are always bits and pieces of them we don’t share with our readers, but keep close to our hearts. Choose your favorite from your cast of characters and tell us a couple of things that you haven’t shared in your books/writing.
Xander Stryker from the Crimson Shadow series has always been close to my heart from the get-go. It’s no secret that I was suicidal when I started writing Xander’s story—hell, I started writing his story BECAUSE I was suicidal; I had no intention of surviving the process—and, in writing his story, I found the strength to live. In a lot of ways, Xander saved my life (it’s for this reason that I have him tattooed to my arm; a constant reminder to stay strong and be a fighter). However, it’s a little known fact that Xander’s love interest in the series, Estella—his childhood friend and a powerful witch—was adapted from my future wife and fellow author, Megan J. Parker. Because I wanted the dynamic of Xander to be a brutal and callous bad boy while “on the job” as a supernatural bounty hunter but still maintain a sense of humility and civility, I portray his and Estella’s relationship in much the same light as Megan’s and my relationship. In fact (and here’s something I’ve never told anybody, including my fiancé [SURPRISE, BABY!!]) there’s a monologue that Xander extends to Estella while she’s sleeping in book #2, “Sins of the Father”, that I tailored as an indirect love letter to Megan.
–What a way too express yourself. Bravo!
Growing up, what was your favorite book, comic, game or movie and did you create a character/player that might resemble you?
My favorite books as a kid were R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” and K.A. Applegate’s “Animorphs” (I can’t really choose between the two), and my favorite comics (again, I can’t pick) were Marvel’s Spider-Man and DC’s Batman (though I always gravitated towards the side-kick, Robin, because of his acrobatic fighting style), and while I was in middle/high school, I really got into the Devil May Cry games (I loved the over-the-top action and fighting visuals). All of these elements actually had a large impact on my writing, which (among other things) is a hybrid of the morbid horror/outlandish oddities from “Goosebumps”, the action-drama and conspiracy of “Animorphs”, the dark & often-aerial setting of the Spider-Man and Batman comics, and the visually stunning and superhuman gun-and-sword fight sequences from Devil May Cry.
–I’ll have to join you with Batman, however I have to add in Wolverine, Gambit and Deadpool…and who can forget The Walking Dead?
Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere? Inquiring minds want to know: what was your first attempt at writing and how old were you?
For nearly a decade, Crimson Shadow was that stashed-away novel. I will say here-and-now that, as I’ve been writing for FAR longer than I’ve been published, there’s a fair share of pieces that have yet to see the public eye and even more that never will (mostly because they were doomed to be terrible from the get-go). However, my first attempt at writing was the piece that would later become “Noir”, book #1 from the Crimson Shadow series, and I began writing that when I was 15.
–Well done, I have to say I’m impressed by your courage…
Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys. Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting). Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? We’re you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?
Yes I have indeed hit this snag, but, no, I wasn’t battered, bruised, or bloodied by it. I’ve actually been blessed to have been mentored by some incredible literary minds over the years (minds that have taught me things that I, in turn, pass on to my own writing apprentices when I take them on), and one of the first lessons I learned was that the process of writing is saturated in dead ends. It is something that every writer comes to face at some time or another, and when they do they have the option to feel crippled by it—to see however many hours or days or years they’d been working on something that just does not pan out as a total waste of time and regret every second of it—or to shrug it off and, if they’re so inclined, learn from it. Marilyn Monroe once said that fear and regret are stupid, and wiser words in such regards have never been spoken. Fear of hitting a dead end can outright halt a writer’s progress, and regretting when it happens is a waste of the opportunity it presents. Those moments can be educational, even to the most adept writers; we can analyze why it failed, where things went sour, how to avoid it in future attempts, and, even better than all that, we can salvage bits and pieces from that ONE “failure” and use them to enhance any number of future pieces.
–Nicely said, and I have to agree with you. Writing is about exploring options, running into dead ends is part of that exploration!
Share one uniquely strange experience you’ve had that remains crystal clear to this day.
Uh… okay! Here’s a weird one for ya:
Earlier I mentioned the Devil May Cry franchise and what an inspiration it was to my work when I started it over ten years ago. Well, about four years ago—well after I’d finished “Crimson Shadow: Noir”—I saw a trailer for a Devil May Cry reboot featuring a totally re-created Dante. The game (which has since then been released) has a great number of eerily familiar elements that are reminiscent of Xander Stryker and the Crimson Shadow series. A few are as follows:
- Xander’s/Dante’s appearance: inherently “emo”—black, unkempt hair; scrawny/wiry; punkish swagger—a red jacket (in the initial trailers the jacket was almost EXACTLY what I’d envisioned for Xander, but the developers altered this for the release to be slightly different), and wearing a red pendant necklace (bestowed upon both characters by their murdered mothers).
- Xander/Dante’s backstory: a non-human character who, unaware of their lineage, has gone through life as an outcast after their mothers were killed by a vicious villains named Kyle (no lie, the demon character in the game goes by the Earth-name Kyle and Xander Stryker’s mother is killed by his abusive stepfather, also named Kyle).
- Xander’s/Dante’s female companion: though the origins for the companions vary between my books and the game, both characters roll with a socially awkward-yet-self-confident slender & blue-eyed, brunette witch whom both go through near-suicidal lengths to protect.
Again, let it be known this DMC reboot was announced YEARS after I’d completed not only creating the Crimson Shadow series and its characters, but written over THREE books of the series. Furthermore, as my work had YET to see publication, there’s no way that my work was any direct inspiration to the game-makers. So there you have it; a reboot of an initial franchise that helped inspire a few low key elements of my books nearly perfectly overlaps with that series.
Strange enough for you?
*cue the eerie music from Dark Shadows here…*
What’s some of the funniest/sweetest/strangest things you’ve heard from your readers?
After I released “Noir” in May of 2012 for the first time, I was contacted by a reader (who for obvious reasons will remain anonymous) who told me that the novel saved their life. As it turned out, Xander’s story—which, along with ALSO representing my own survival story against my previously suicidal self, donated a portion of the proceeds to the anti-suicide/self-harm group To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA)—struck a chord with this reader, who confessed that they were close to killing themselves. In their message to me, they confessed that reading of Xander’s struggle and overcoming of his tormented past to be a buttkicking badass inspired them to turn their own life around, and shortly thereafter checked into a hospital to get the treatment they needed.
It’s sort of hard to top knowing that a dark urban fantasy/horror novel helped to save a life.
–Yet how humbling to know that you and your willingness to share something most won’t, helped another.
What is some of the best advice you were ever given? What is the best advice you can share with others?
Writers write. If you want to be a writer, you can’t let anything stop you from doing just that. Fear, self-doubt, and the guttural spouting of naysayers will always compel you to stop writing, but there’s no way to advance or improve if you don’t continue.
Share if you dare, one of your favorite research experiences. Did you join a ghost hunters group? Did you step outside your comfort zone and into the wild world of your characters?
Last year I was a vendor at a paranormal convention in Indianapolis that had as a special guest Aaron Houdini (yes, THE “Houdini”; Aaron is the sole performing descendent of the great Harry Houdini). During his performance, Aaron not only did me the honor of joking in front of the audience that I looked like a “serial killer” (still makes me blush to this day), but also having me assist him in an escape act. Later on in the show, Aaron performed an escape from a reinforced straightjacket that required him to dislocate BOTH of his shoulders to slip free. In order to achieve this, he had to repeatedly slam both of his shoulders into a door frame (that I was mere inches from at the time) to pop the joints free. Later on (after one of the videographers fainted from the sight/sound of his shoulders dislocating), I bought the performer a bottle of water and had the honor of talking to him about his performance, his experiences, and the sensation of having a joint dislocated (something that I’ve never experienced but often depict in my writing). Aaron was an absolute gem during the interview process—answer my questions and even posing for a few photos—and, when it was all over, I was able to gift him a copy of my novel, “Curtain Call: A Death Metal Novel”, wherein I accompanied my signature with “to the most magical member of The Legion” (The Legion being my readers; I HATE the word “fans”).
–Seriously? Houdini? I’m jealous!
Now it’s time for our favorite…the bullet list…Ready, Oh Dark One? I promise there’s no silver or wood involved! Take it away…
Blades, guns, fists or feet?
All at once (along with magic & auras 😉 ).
Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?
Red Riding Hood (favorite color, gnarly story)
Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?
“Slashback” and “All Seeing Eye” (both by Rob Thurman), and the limited edition copy of “Scarlet Night” by Megan J. Parker (yea, I’ve already read it, but I want to re-read it ‘cuz it ‘effin’ ROCKS)
Greatest one liner of all time?
I’d have to say that goes to the kill-scene from the first Blade movie: “Some motherf***ers are always trying to ice skate uphill!” (no idea what it has to do with the movie/scene, but it’s compelling nonetheless).
–Doesn’t matter the context, only that it was in Blade!
Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?
If I have the choice, all three (a sarcastic, geeky Southerner with a passive-aggressive wit?? Priceless!!)
*evil laugh* Well played, sir, well played indeed!
Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?
A Deadpool action figure from the Marvel Selects line that I have mounted on my wall in a suitable badass pose.
Favorite supernatural creature?