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An interview with author Brian Kirk

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 A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Kirk during pitches at World Horror. I was helping out a small press at the time. I was immediately impressed with his presentation, personality, and sincerity. When I looked over his manuscript, I was even more impressed. I’m thrilled it landed at Samhain and is gaining much well deserved accolades and publicity. Here’s a short interview with Brian. 

JP: Can you tell us a little bit about We Are Monsters?   

BK: Certainly. We Are Monsters is my debut novel, literally making it a dream come true. Although all books are basically dreams that have come true when you really think about it. I mean, isn’t a book basically the end result of someone extracting the contents of some subconscious dream-state into the material realm. But that’s off topic, and perhaps too esoteric for this early on in the interview. My apologies.

We Are Monsters is a story about a brilliant, yet troubled psychiatrist named Alex Drexler who is working to create a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.

JP: What inspired this story?     

BK: I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness. The idea that our own brains can turn against us is terrifying. It’s the ultimate enemy; it knows our deepest secrets and it’s something we can’t escape.

I also have a great deal of sympathy for people who suffer mental heath disorders. I’ve dealt with OCD all of my life, which produces chronic anxiety, negative thought loops, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell you. And I feel that mental disease is misunderstood by our society at large. In fact, many people who are mentally ill are often labeled as evil or deranged, which I feel is unfair, and precludes us from exploring proper treatment options.

I suppose I found the subject both fascinating and deeply personal, and I wanted to explore it further, so I wrote about it.

JP: How did you get started writing?    

BK: Reading and writing have been the two things I’ve enjoyed above all else for as long as I can remember. And I realized I had somewhat of a talent for telling stories early on, as students started looking forward to hearing my stories read aloud in class. My English teachers all encouraged my writing, and I won a poetry contest in 5th grade from a homework assignment that my teacher submitted on my behalf.

But I always considered it frivolous fun and knew that one day I’d have to get serious and find a line of work that I could turn into a career. So I studied marketing and took a job at an ad agency. But the urge to write stories never left. In fact, it grew stronger the farther away from it that I strayed. I returned to it a few years after starting my “big career,” writing short stories in the evenings and on the weekends, and then I began submitting them for publication. After accruing a massive stack of rejections for a couple of years, I finally sold one. Then another.  After a while I decided to quit my full time job at the ad agency to work freelance and write a book. That’s how We Are Monsters came about.

JP: What was the path to publication like for you?    

BK: Publishing my first short story and first novel were two entirely different experiences. For one, my writing was understandably amateurish when I first started out. With each story, my work got a bit more refined. The only way to learn how to write is by writing, which unfortunately results in the decimation of story ideas that could have been good if written with more skill.

And rejection stings, no matter what. Two straight years of generic rejections slips is humbling and will make you question your ability. But that just makes that first acceptance that much sweeter, I think.

Short stories helped me to refine my craft, but I didn’t really find my voice until I started writing We Are Monsters, which took about a year to write. And then I spent another five months or so rewriting, sharing with readers, and rewriting more. I considered pursuing agents, but didn’t feel like it was the right book for a large, traditional publisher. It’s a bit too unconventional. So I decided to seek out the proper fit on my own.

I knew about Don D’Auria, the head editor for the horror line at Samhain Publishing, from his work at Leisure Books, and was intent on pitching him. I flew from Atlanta to Portland for a ten minute pitch session with him at the 2014 World Horror Convention. The pitch went well and he asked to read the manuscript. I sent it to him and two weeks later he offered a contract. I was so excited I almost threw up in my lap.

JP: What’s in the future for you?    

BK: I’m excited to have We Are Monsters out in the world. Early reviews have been encouraging and very kind. It has the potential to be a polarizing book, but the people who get it really seem to enjoy it. So I know it fundamentally works, which pleases me.

I’m currently writing the second book in a planned trilogy of dark thrillers. The first book is complete and currently being considered by various agents. I hope to be able to share exciting news on that soon. We’ll see.

JP: What would people be surprised to find out about you?    

BK: Aside from writing fiction, I’m a father of five-year-old identical twin boys: the rarest form of human offspring (a very technical term for kids). Only fraternal twins are hereditary; identical twins are a random anomaly. So it came as quite a surprise. In fact, the first thing I did when I found out was Google search the phrase, “The best thing about having twins.” I needed a pep talk.

Fortunately, it turns out I didn’t. We were blessed with wonderful boys. Raising them has been a special privilege.

JP: Where can readers find and follow you?

BK: Thanks for asking. Anyone interesting in learning more about my work or striking up a virtual friendship can find me through any of the following channels. Thank you very much for having me.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Monsters-Brian-Kirk-ebook/dp/B00VNK4PL6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434202454&sr=8-1&keywords=we+are+monsters

Website: http://briankirkblog.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brian_Kirk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brian.kirk13

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142176.Brian_Kirk

 

Spotlight On: John Palisano #SummerofZombie

Originally posted on Dying Days:

Summer of Zombie 2015 SPOTLIGHT ON: John Palisano

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What is your latest zombie release?

DUST OF THE DEAD

Quick description of it (no spoilers)

Reboot the apocalypse!

For a while, it looked like the living had won.

The war against the walking dead lasted almost a decade, but it’s mostly over.

There are only a few straggling zombies left to take care of.

Los Angeles has returned to its lattes and long commutes.

It’s up to a small Reclamation Crew to clean up the Zoms left behind.

But when the undead dry up, their skin turns to dust.

Now the hot Santa Ana winds deliver a new threat…

because the Zoms were only the beginning of something far worse.

Something unique about it.


It’s after the first zombie apocalypse has mostly ended, and a small group works to cleanse the few remaining reanimates. The story is not centered…

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Alessia Giacomi – Summer of Zombie 2015

Originally posted on Dying Days:

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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A. Giacomi is the author of the wildly entertaining Zombie Girl Saga, a four part series from Permuted Press. Eve Brenner: Zombie Girl is A. Giacomi’s debut novel. You can catch the latest updates about her writing on her blog: http://www.poeticzombie.com

A. Giacomi is a wife, and mother to one small human child. She is a Canadian born writer, educator, and artist. She proudly waves her York University Alumni flag and continues to thirst for knowledge and devour books. She is a zombie enthusiast, lover of all things Tim Burton, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Marvel, Star Wars and just generally just loves film, essentially she’s a fangirl.

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Jack Wallen – Summer of Zombie 2015

Originally posted on Dying Days:

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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Jack Wallen is a seeker of truth and a writer of words. Although he resides in the unlikely city of Louisville, Kentucky, he likes to think of himself more as an interplanetary soul … or so he tells the reflection in the mirror. Jack is the author of numerous tales of dark, twisty fiction including the I Zombie series, the Fringe Killer series, Shero, The Nameless Saga, and much more.

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Claire C Riley – Summer of Zombie 2015

Originally posted on Dying Days:

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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Claire C Riley is a #1 Best Selling British Horror Author, whose work includes: Odium The Dead Saga, Limerence (The Obsession Series) and several other full length novels including Thicker Than Blood co-authored with USA Today Best Selling author Madeline Sheehan.

She writes dark twisty words, is a lover of epic romances, and an eater of cake!
She writes characters that are realistic and kills them without mercy.

She lives in the UK with her three young daughters, husband, and scruffy dog.

https://www.facebook.com/ClaireCRileyAuthor
http://www.clairecriley.com

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Jessica Robinson – Summer of Zombie 2015

Originally posted on Dying Days:

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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I am an editor by day and a zombie-killer by night (at least in my books). Since the first time I watched Night of the Living Dead, I have been obsessed with zombies and often think of ways to survive the uprising. In addition to my nonfiction book, under the pen name Pembroke Sinclair, I have written YA novels about zombies and the tough teens who survive the apocalyptic world. I have also written nonfiction stories for Serial Killer Magazine and published a book about slasher films called Life Lessons from Slasher Films.

You can learn more about me by visiting http://pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com

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Jay Wilburn – Summer of Zombie 2015

Originally posted on Dying Days:

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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Jay Wilburn is an author of horror and speculative fiction that lives in coastal South Carolina near Myrtle Beach. He taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full-time writer.

He is currently working on a series of zombie novels based on the world of Dead Song. Each book will be accompanied by a soundtrack of songs recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novels.

Follow his many dark thoughts @AmongTheZombies on Twitter, the Jay Wilburn author page on Facebook, and at JayWilburn.com. Jay Wilburn does video readings on his Patreon page at Patreon.com/JayWilburn

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Samantha Gregory – Summer of Zombie 2015

Originally posted on Dying Days:

Meet one of the many zombie authors on the #SummerofZombie blog tour (coming June 1st and running all month!)

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Samantha Gregory was born in Northern Ireland in 1985. She is the author of several series of books including Daemon Persuasion, which was published by Mockingbird Lane Press.

She loves horror movies, reading and archery. All of her works are available to purchase through Amazon.

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“The Show Must Go On” to appear in The Healing Monsters anthology

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Psyched that my short story “The Show Must Go On” will be in the forthcoming anthology THE HEALING MONSTERS. It takes place at an Iron Maiden/Judas Priest concert in the 80s. And there’s lots of zombie mayhem involved.

Fangoria has done a write up: http://www.fangoria.com/new/cover-and-details-the-healing-monsters-unites-horrormetal-authors-for-a-good-cause/

From the press:

We’ve been busy-busy putting The Healing Monsters together, and by “monster,” I really mean monster. We’re looking at thirty-one authors, and over thirty-one stories and poems–as it stands, we’re looking at at least 450 pages. Should it have been this huge? Probably not. But here’s a fact: too many people wanted to be part of this in order to help out Dustin and Katherine. And when something like that happens, you just don’t cut stuff out for the sake of brevity. Screw that. So, when this puppy goes up sale, and you drop your hard-earned cash for it, you’ll be doing two things: 1) You’ll be contributing to helping out Dustin LaValley with his healthcare costs and Katherine Ludwig’s family in support of her son, Max, and 2) You will definitely be getting your money’s worth. You’ll be getting righteous stories by the horror authors you know, discover some you don’t, and you’ll get a literary taste of some of your favorite metal folks’ writerly pursuits. Let’s just take a look back on that Table of Contents:

Dustin LaValley (Human Wreckage,  Despumation 1)

Katherine Ludwig (Metal Maniacs)

Mike IX Williams (Corrections HouseEYEHATEGOD)

Adam Cesare (The First One You Expect)

Sean Frasier (Hipster MassacreDecibel)

Brian Serven (Backstabbers Inc)

Mathias Jansson (Despumation 1 & 2)

Jesse Bullington (Brothers Grossbart, Despumation 1)

Dean Swinford (The Inverted KatabasisDespumation 1)

JR Hayes (Pig Destroyer)

James Newman (Ugly As Sin)

Shawn Macomber (FangoriaDecibel, etc.)

Stephanie M. Wytovich (HYSTERIAMourning Jewelry)

Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)

Shane Mehling (Decibel)

Marc Ciccarone (Blood Bound Books)

Ryan McKenney (Trap Them)

Matthew Widener (Cretin)

Kriscinda Lee Everitt (Despumation Press)

John Boden (DominoesShock Totem)

John Edward Lawson (Tempting DisasterRaw Dog Screaming Press)

Andrew Bonazelli (Decibel)

Jeremy Wagner (The Armageddon ChordBroken Hope)

Karyn Crisis (Gospel of the Witches)

Dutch Pearce (Decibel)

Billups Allen (Razorcake)

K. Allen Wood (Shock Totem)

John Palisano (Nerves)

Jessica Pimentel (Alekhine’s GunOrange is the New Black)

Lewis Dimmick (This Music)

Larissa Glasser (Hekseri)

http://www.fangoria.com/new/cover-and-details-the-healing-monsters-unites-horrormetal-authors-for-a-good-cause/

http://despumationpress.com/2015/03/20/the-healing-monsters-cover-reveal/

“Splinterette” Nominated from Bram Stoker Award® in Short Fiction

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“Splinterette”
has made it to the Final Ballot of the Bram Stoker Awards® in Short Fiction. I’m very surprised, and I’ve got some amazing company, which is great, because now I’ll be able to enjoy to Stoker Awards without being afraid I’ll have to go up to the podium and say words like, “Honored,” and “Humbled”, and I can just do that here.

I share the category with Hal Bodner, Sydney Leigh, Usman T. Malik, whose “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” is also up for a Nebula (WOW!), Rena Mason, and Damien Angelica Walters. They’ve all produced stellar work.

“Splinterette” is about a man who is lost in a whiteout only a short distance from his home, and is seemingly rescued by a creature made of branch and sharpened bark. To me, it’s very Lovecraftian. Your mileage may vary on that one. Others have mentioned it may be metaphoric about my last few years. The jokers!

The story will be available to read here for voting members until the ballots close in a few weeks. Thanks a mill for this, everyone. It means so much to be acknowledged by my peers in horror fiction in this way.

Also, “Splinterette” appeared in the WIDOWMAKERS anthology, benefitting James Newman, who was severely injured by an immense falling branch. All proceeds help James and his family during his recovery.

http://horror.org/final-ballot-bram-stoker-awards/

Splinterette PDF download

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