Saturday, April 7, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Steve Vernon Author of Sudden Death Overtime

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

My name is Steve Vernon. I started making up stories back when short pants looked cute on me – about a hundred years ago.  It started with stories in school. I’d write a story and the teacher would put a good mark on it – say, maybe one of those big funky A’s in bright red ink – and then life would get easy for a while. Then I figured out that I could write a story for nearly every assignment imaginable. I figured out that essays were nothing more than stories with their facts straight. I figured out that book reports were likewise nothing more than stories telling all about how one morning Ernest Hemingway got out of bed and decided to write about a big old fish and a man in a rowboat.

The only course I had trouble in was math. There was no way I could manage to convince my math teacher – who stood about as wide as a pair of Toyotas parked side by side and was known by the nickname “Crusher” – that a story had any place in a math class – not even when we were dealing with word problems.

Then I figured out how to write plays and things got even simpler. I would write humorous satiric plays in which I would cast the school bullies. The school bullies loved it – because they turned out to be some amazing little actors.

Well, actually, there wasn’t anything “little” about the bullies in our school. Some of them could stare King Kong in the eyeballs – even if the big gorilla was standing on top of Godzilla’s forehead bone at the time.
In any case, the bullies enjoyed acting in my plays. It meant they could pass with good marks without actually having to put a pen to paper. Which meant they stopped picking on me – which they had done a lot of in the past on account of I was about tall enough to look King Kong directly into his left toenail – if I stood on tiptoe and bounced.

Yet through it all one thing remained. My love for horror. One of the first full length novels I ever wrote was Dracula, by a dude named Bram Stoker. It was given to me by my grandmother. Had a black and white photograph of Christopher Lee, leaning over the neck of some unwary virgin.

Cool, I thought. I want to be Christopher Lee.

(yes, I am old enough to say “cool” with a degree of authenticity)

My grandmother was likewise responsible for my love of horror movies. She used to let me go to bed early on Friday nights and then wake me at midnight for the once-a-month all-night horror festival that our local television station called FRIGHT NIGHT.

(not to be confused with the Roddy Macdowell – Chris Sarandon flick – and don’t you even dare talk about that crapfest of a remake).

Ptuey!


What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires that fascinates you so much?

We discover love at an early age in life.

Some of us learn to love sports. We chuck the football and our dad grins at us and we think to ourselves – cool, I love this feeling.

It was that way with me. I started watching those horror movies and felt like I had discovered my native homeland, after years of wandering around through some deserted wasteland.  Monsters were cool. Werewolves were cool. And vampires – especially – were cool.

Why?

Because vampires lived forever. They never grew old – which meant they never grew up. They had cavity-proof smiles – which meant no dentist, ever. They could turn into bats and fly through the night and they lived in coffins with no beds needing making.

Besides, vampires got all the girls. To a painfully shy, stammering little school boy the notion of just looking at a girl and having her walk over and loosen her blouse so that I could bite her on the neck was way wicked cool.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote this novelette because I am a great fan of good grade B horror movies. Those kind of fright flicks that just beg to be watched over and over. The no-holds-barred, no-pretenses-made style of horror that just makes you want to sit there and say booga-booga.

I’m talking about movies like Tremors and Silver Bullet. I am talking about stories where the good guy goes out with a few good buddies to unleash whoop-ape on a pack of back of the blackest-hat bad guys you ever laid eyes on.

I wrote this book because it was fun.

Please tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is called SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. Like I said, it is a tribute to B-movie splendor. It asks the question – “What would happen if a team of over-the-hill hockey players who did not how to spell the word “quit” – (seriously, I mean, they thought it was spelled with “kw”) – decided to take on a pack of wandering vampires.

I should tell you a little about these vampires. These aren’t your soft romantic glittering type vampires. We’re not talking Stephanie Meyer or Anne Rice – (no offence to either authors or fans of those particular series). We are talking more along the lines of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Mean, mindless bloodsucking freaks with a bus that is powerful enough to be called a character itself.

I wrote this book because I had wondered just how my grandfather would stack up against one of these vampires. He was the toughest man I ever knew. He worked the CNR Railroad and he stood about twelve feet tall to a ten year old. So I wrote this novelette about a few of these old boys who just don’t fuck around, deciding to do something about a pack of vampires who are laying waste to their town.

That’s who I wrote this book for. The old boys. I am very tired about seeing these poster-boy young types combing their hair while they use an automatic stake gun to nail vampires who go woosh when the stake hits them. I wanted to write something will a little more guts and gesundheit.

You pick this book up and read it and I dare you to tell me you haven’t met old men like these dudes.

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
I try and put a lot of thought into a character’s name. For example, the main character in SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME is called Sprague Deacon. I wanted a name that sounded both tough and righteous in the same breath and I believed I accomplished that. One of his buddies is named Leo Kiniski – named after Leo Burke and Gene Kiniski – two of the toughest old-school wrestlers I ever saw. I chose that name because I saw Leo as being this rough-hewn fireplug of a man without an ounce of give-up in his bones.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

Not in this book. These characters were small-town working-class types – the kind of people I grew up with. Slipping into their character was just as easy as slipping behind the wheel of an automobile that you have driven for the last ten years. Your foot finds the accelerator without even thinking about it.

Some characters can be tough to come up with – but generally I strive to imagine characters that I can understand. I try and think of people whom I have met or grown up with. I try and imagine them wild and brave and courageous. And then life takes over and everything becomes easy.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

I’d have to say that the character of Judith Two-Bear was the most enjoyable to write in that she presented the biggest challenge. It is always tough for a male writer to put on a dress, as it were, but I think I did a pretty job of planting my feet in this particular lady’s shoes.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

I’d have to say that my favorite scene from the book is when the main characters – Sprague, Leo, Rufus and Fergus – go out to the bus and “pick a fight” with the pack of vampires in their own true Canadian style. What those old boys do that bus-from-hell has got to be seen to be believed. I would love someday to see this book made into a movie – and I believe that it would be this scene more than any other scene in the book that would get people standing in the aisles and cheering.

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

A couple of years ago I wrote  a book called HALIFAX HAUNTS: A GUIDE TO THE CITY’S SPOOKIEST SPACES (Nimbus Publishing). I would have to say that I learned more about the city that I have lived in for thirty-five years during the research prior to the writing of that book – than I learned from any other collection. However, I’ve just turned in a collection of historic maritime murders to the same publisher that involved an equally massive amount of dedicated research.

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

Let’s face it. By and large, most writers are self-cannibalizing mad doctors, constructing our characters out of bits and pieces of their own experience. Oh sure, we might strain it through somebody else’s brainpan or pelvic girdle – but odds are most of us are either writing about who we are, who we know, or who we want to be.

The characters in SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME are old-school and hardcore and, being raised by grandparents, that is exactly how I see myself. I am a cultural caveman. I believe in corny old mottos such as “Do whatever you do as hard as you can.” or “Cheaters never prosper”. I come at life like every day was a brand new adventure – and so do most of my characters.

On the other hand, I truly sucked at hockey while I was a kid.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I deal with it the way I deal with any challenge at work. If a carpenter says to the man whom he is building a house for – “I can’t put up the walls because I have a case of carpenter’s block,” then odds are he is going to find himself looking for a brand new job. So if any sort of block arises in my writing I go around or over or under or right straight through it. Writing is a craft as much as it is an art. A craft has to be practiced. You have to get up in the morning , stare at your keyboard and ask yourself – “How badly do I want this?”

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

Only that I’m obsessed with it. I try to write something every day on the work I am attempting to complete. I gave up on quotas a long time ago, though. There are days when I write a hundred words and there are days when I write a thousand – but every day I do my very best to make sure that SOMETHING gets written.

Do you write in different genres?

In addition to my horror novels and novellas and stories – I also a writer of regional folklore.  Crossroad Press has released ten of my horror e-books in the last ten months. I don’t know if I can keep up that one-a-month rate for much longer – but the rush of production has been most satisfying.

My regional work is primarily released through a Nova Scotia publisher, Nimbus Press. I’ve released several ghost story collections (HAUNTED HARBOURS, WICKED WOODS, HALIFAX HAUNTS, THE LUNENBURG WEREWOLF), as well as a children’s picture book of legendary maritime creatures (MARITIME MONSTERS) and a middle grade reader (SINKING DEEPER – OR – MY QUESTIONABLE (POSSIBLY HEROIC) DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER).


Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

I don’t find it particularly hard. I read a lot of genres, so I feel I can write a lot of genre work. Mind you, writing YA is awfully tough. Kids don’t let you fart around. You need to cut right to the chase. However, I do live in perpetual fear that some harmless fan of my ghost stories is going to pick up one of my hardcore horror e-books and attempt to read it.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

The first story I ever sold hit the market in 1986. It was a Mad Max style scifi tale entitled “The Bridge” that I sold to the very first issue of HAWGS Magazine – one of those motorcycle magazines that are filled with pictures of bikes, big old boys with bushy beards, and women baring bosoms at every opportunity. They paid me $125.00 – which back then wasn’t bad at all. That was when I first felt like a writer.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

Potato chips, salt and vinegar, the kind that sting your lips and make your pucker where you ought not to. Old western movies. Ultimate Fighting Videos. Old school wrestling. Knife and fork beer. Pizza.

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

I love to garden – mostly perennials, because I suck at maintenance. I love to put something in the dirt that will keep coming back over and over – like a vampire.

What was the last amazing book you read?

THE WEDNESDAY WARS, by Gary D. Schmidt.

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

I love to find a quiet corner of a local food court. I’ll sit there with a cup of strong black coffee and climb into a book and not come out until I have to go to work. Barring that, I read on the bus.

What can readers expect next from you?

I am currently awaiting the release of TATTERDEMON – a big fat doorstop of a novel involving a town invaded by some of the nastiest scarecrow monsters you have ever seen. The book will be released sometime in the spring in e-book format from Crossroad Press.

Where can readers find you on the web?

They can check out my website - http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/stevevernon/
They can catch me at Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/stevevernon007
Or, finally, they can follow me at Twitter - @StephenVernon

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Sudden Death Overtime
Tuesday night 9pm.

                No one noticed quite exactly when the long black bus stole into the parking lot of the Anchor Pub. As far as anyone knew the bus just sort of drifted into the Labrador coastal village of Hope’s End like an unexpected snow flurry.

                Things happen that way around here.

                Judith Two-Bear leaned her elbows against the wood grain of the unvarnished table top. Her cigarette glowed like a lighthouse’s lonely beacon, bobbing as she nodded three beats behind the music of the static-ridden radio. She’d parked herself at the window seat since dinner time. She liked to watch the world go by from the sanctuary of the town’s only pub.

Several long slow warm beers later she found herself staring vaguely at the names and dates carved and inked into the table top. She knew some of them. She could guess at others and she wondered just who the hell the rest really were. How many lonely souls had made their mark on this table and then just sat here like so many half finished glasses of warm draft beer – just waiting to be swallowed but not quite yet.

Truthfully, she didn’t think of any of this. Not in those exact words, any way. She felt it, perhaps. She breathed it in with the stale pub air. Her loneliness, her growing disappointment and her unvarying boredom were as much a part of her as the blood that sludged through her tired veins. She had lived her life and had nothing but time left to her keeping. She had seen her kids grow up and run away, her lovers grow cold and run away, she had seen life pull up to the curb and wave gaily once or twice before passing her right on by.

(if you want to read more you’re going to have go and pick up the e-book)

Or you can enter to win a Kindle copy by leaving a comment on this post with your email address

5 comments:

Debby said...

Great interview. Your regional folk lore sounds quite intriguing as do your other books as well.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Kat Yares said...

Love the interview. Sounds like the kind of vampires I prefer. Also love the B horror movies. Better half and I are making short movies from some of my short stories. We both say that if we are ever compared to Roger Corman - we'll have fulfilled a dream. katyares@logap.com

AprilAlvey said...

Great interview I love that kind of vampire. I gotta have this book. butterfli262002@yahoo.com

Tore said...

I love reading about vampires. All different kinds. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

PaulDail.com said...

Awesome. Good to get to know you a little better, Steve.

I love that you mention "Tremors" and "Silver Bullet." I think for most dyed-in-the-wool horror fans, there are not that many "bad" horror movies. Each one has it's own element of fun, usually something we can appreciate (and those two particular, while perhaps not appreciated by many, have some great moments. And c'mon, it's Gary Busey, for hell's sake.)

Paul D. Dail
www.pauldail.com- A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

 
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