Sunday, April 10, 2016

Interview with Author Jeffrey Stagg- A Campfire Nightmare

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

-       Well, my home has been Utah my entire life, but I spent weeks and months each year traveling through Idaho and Montana. Lots of time to kill on the road as a kid, so I started reading. I was really into fantasy novels. So, I began imagining on my trips mysterious things happening, like monster attacks or finding something magical. I got into Urban Fantasy because I always was in my own world of imagination trying to think of what modern weapons could do against different creatures or how society would react if they found out monsters were real. Honestly, how cool would it be watching someone fight a werewolf or a vampire with a machine gun? But, Urban Fantasy also allows me to blend old world fantasy with new world technology; two things that are contrary to one another.

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

-       This is a little bit of a spoiler, but my vampire doesn’t appear until the very end of my book. In A Campfire Nightmare I mostly use monsters known as “warwolves”, like a werewolf, but with subtle differences. But, I will admit, in book two, which I hope to release soon enough, I have a pair of vampires, one of which I have never seen the likes of; I draw him from a real, old legend, from an ancient people. He is going to be fun and that’s all I’ll say about him. I like using these monsters because they are an amazing representation of corruption. I only use that in a general term, but the corruption of the human soul and becoming like the darkness humanity fears is incredible and terrifying. They are just fun to write about!

What inspired you to write this book?

-       I started this book more than four years ago as I worked full-time in a cheese factory, went to school full-time and tried to juggle a social life. I would daydream at the cheese factory I worked in, thinking about my favorite place on earth, Flathead Lake, Montana. Finally, I decided I should start writing it down. Whenever I found time in-between classes, or even during some classes, I would write. I came up with odd ideas, wanted to create something new in the world of fantasy, and I realized that my little story was becoming more than just a short story. I accidentally wrote a book. I literally wrote a book on accident, but I loved it.

Please tell us about your latest release.

-        So, my latest, and only so far, release is ACampfire Nightmare. It’s an Urban Fantasy aimed to draw new readers into my world. It is described as a YA since my main characters are around 16 years old, but it really was written for people of anyone older than fourteen to enjoy. So, let me tell you a little about it:

James “Jimmy” Downs is your typical sixteen year old boy. He wants to be popular, have a lot of friends and just be happy. But, there is one problem for Jimmy, his family is on the low end of the income scale. Apparently, money is everything to the kids at his school.

Jimmy and his best friend, Michael, believe they hit the jackpot when both of them are accepted into the most prestigious music camp in the world; Colman’s Amateur Music Program, also known as C.A.M.P. The camp is located on the shores of a glacier fed lake in western Montana. What the two boys don’t realize is that their families’ economic statuses will put them on the low end of the food chain in C.A.M.P. as well.

The two boys believe that bullies would be the worst thing at C.A.M.P., but the land on which the camp is situated has a deep, dark secret. At night, monsters haunt the forest, trying to get to the campers and the only thing stopping these beasts are two guardians. One little mistake and the balance of the guardians are tipped against them. Jimmy and Michael find that their dream camp, is really a nightmare.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
-       My favorite character to write about is Michael. All my other characters are awesome, but Michael is my comic relief. He is the perfect tension breaker. So many times in this series I get to have him make jokes at inappropriate moments and odd comments. I can always rely on Michael to, not only do the right thing, but to make jokes about it as he goes. His humor will never change.

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

-       Once more, Michael, but also Jimmy. I have a strange sense of humor and I make inappropriate jokes at the worst moments. Plus, Michael and I don’t really know when to shut our mouths sometimes. That’s why he is one of my favorite characters, but these are also the reasons why he isn’t my main character. Jimmy and I both have serious natures at times. He and I are the same that we need to think some things through. When my Michael personality is gone, it is Jimmy’s thoughtfulness that appears.

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

-        My favorite scene in the book is definitely the legend of the Flathead people. Here is just a tiny piece directly from the chapter, no spoiler in it!

Like now,” Rox said, pointing toward the mountains across the lake, the sun dipping behind the mountain, but strangely, it gave a little light from its hiding place, “the sun withdrew its protection from the people and unleashed the hounds from their hiding places. “Their howls could be heard from miles away, and by this point, the poor Flathead people knew what that meant. It was time to go to war. Women and children ran to hide in their tepees, as if the weather-proven deer hide could really hold back the shredding power of the warwolves’ claws. The men, young and old, prepared for a night of chaos and death.

“Horsemen sat astride their mounts with massive, stone-tipped lances, and archers were scattered through the woods, some in trees and others crouched on the ground. All had been anointed by their families and the medicine man with war paint, giving them a ghastly visage. Hatchets and knives had been prepared for this moment, a war that would never be known about in the outside world.” A scream in the crowd drew everyone’s attention toward Stephanie, Janie, and Peter, but the three of them were looking elsewhere, behind Jimmy, Michael, and Kylee, into the forest. As soon as everyone realized the direction of what had frightened Peter and the two girls, the massive group shifted to stare into the woods. Some of the people gasped immediately, but it took a few moments for some of their night vision to sharpen enough to see the men lining the woods. Ten massive men stood in the shadows of the trees, all staring at the campers. None of them made any type of movement. They were dressed in deer chaps, headbands, and moccasins, and one had a massive headdress of feathers sitting atop his head like a crown. Each held weapons: hatchets, bows with arrows notched but not drawn, and knives, and a couple held large lances adorned with eagle or osprey feathers. It was clear that they were native Flathead Indians by the way their foreheads slanted up sharply. The paint they wore gave them an intimidating look. All were muscular men between the ages of nineteen and thirty, and they had the steely look of soldiers on their countenances. “Don’t move!” William shouted as campers began to get up. “They are only echoes; they cannot hurt you.” As the group calmed, the director spoke softly, with reverence in his voice. “Look at them. They represent what the idea of honor and human determination really is. They are heroes and deserve nothing but respect.”

-        I hope that caught a little interest!

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

-       While I was writing this book, I looked into several different legends of monsters and found incredible links between tons of countries and their versions of vampires and werewolves. A few of which I am hoping to use.

Something super interesting I get to do for my next few books is learn about cultures not just long dead, but some in which little is known about them. One particular place I have found is supposedly somewhere near Russia, and is a harsh, cruel land. Now, what do you think could come from there? Something super tough and scary. How cool is that? Add their legends into it and you have a crazy Molotov cocktail.

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
-       I love this question because my world isn’t really any different. I mean, sure, there are monsters and a couple secret societies, but, for the most part, these are normal kids. I created creatures that only come out during the night. Mankind as a whole is scared of the dark; not because of the lack of light, but that there is something there that they can’t handle. Monsters that lurk in the dark is our greatest fear and I just played that up.

The differences, I can’t give any real details because that’ll spoil bits about book one and two. They may be subtle in the first book, but they hit you like a freight train in book two.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

-       Before I write, I have to find music that will set the mood for a scene. If I am writing for my villains, I need dark creepy music, for my fights, I need crazy rock, you know, for a good ass kicking theme song. Whenever I write something sad, I choose mostly slow violin music, it really helps break my heart.

Also, some of my best writing comes around 10:30 p.m. until about 1:30 a.m. when I shut off all the lights, so all I can see is the screen of my computer. Nothing will distract me at that moment. Plus, I am generally dressed in a hoodie with the hood up and headphones on. I rock out in the dark like your typical shut in. If I don’t have my surroundings like that, I can’t focus and have a hard time writing even a single page.

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
-        One of my favorite interests, besides writing, is nature photography. Too long do I spend inside, writing as fast as possible or working. I like to get outside and hike through nature, taking photos as I go. I have seen some amazing things. I have photographed eagles around lakes, quail scurrying across paths, ducks landing on water, moose with their young and so many other animals as well as all four seasons, waterfalls, mountains and fires. It’s amazing what you can find as long as you leave the road behind you.
Another interest of mine is working with my puppy. I have a Liver-Spotted Brittany Spaniel. She is amazing! I got her when she was just a little puppy and we are hard to separate. She is smart and learns quickly and we enjoy hiking everywhere together.

What can readers expect next from you?
-        Honestly, great and new ideas when it comes to Urban Fantasy. I am working to release two more books this year (2016). I have so many more in mind, and I plan to even delve into other genres as I go. A Campfire Nightmare is the start of, what I hope to be, a long and creative career as an author. I hope that my followers will enjoy watching my characters grow and reach their potential, going from picked-on kids to legends.

Where can readers find you on the web?

-        You can find me on Facebook as Jeffrey Stagg, Stagg Literature, LLC
o   Or you can visit my website:

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