Monday, October 22, 2012

Mike Cress of The Scarlet Claw talks music and books

Hey Mike, thanks for coming by to chat. How did The Scarlet Claw come to be? Is it named after the Sherlock Holmes story?

Yes, the band is named after the very first Sherlock Holmes movie from 1944, we even used the slogan “New thrills! New terror!” on the very first image we released online. I was the vocalist of the industrial metal band ‘Gilo’ for  almost 10 years and when I parted ways with the band I decided to start a new band with my former band mate Niels Vissia, we found the rest of the line-up pretty quickly and released our first EP within 6 months.

Do you write most of the music and lyrics or is it a collaborative effort between band members?

I normally write all of the lyrics myself, guitarist/vocalist Mark Overmaat helped me write the lyrics for one song, “Revelation”,  which will be on the new album. The music is written by both guitarists and myself.

Your music is pretty hardcore, where do you find your inspiration for the themes in your music?  And the musical influences that helped shape the band’s sound as it is today?

 The lyrics from the new album are all about coming back from being defeated, threatened or suppressed by tyrants, dictators, religious leaders and fanatics. I get my inspiration from watching the news and basically everyday life. Also, as an atheist, I write a lot about religion. Not to convert people but just to give my opinion on the matter. One of my favorite quotes is one by Douglas Adams from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

Living and growing up in Europe doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll grow up listening to European bands, we don’t share that “patriotism” with people from the United States, however, the death metal bands from Europe have had such an influence on modern death metal bands from all over the world  that when you’re a metal fan you must own at least one album made by a band from Europe, in our case that would be At The Gates and In Flames. 

What instruments do you play?

I started playing bass-guitar at age 13, started playing guitar and drumming a year later. Found out I could growl like Max Cavalera from Sepultura, at a friend’s house when I was 17 years old. My friend had a metal cover band and the singer was late so I took the microphone and screamed my lungs out, everybody, including myself, was shocked! My first show as a vocalist was 2 years earlier at a Nirvana tribute night where I played bass and sang the entire Incesticide album.

Any favorite live music venues?

The city I live in, Hengelo, The Netherlands, has a new music venue with 3 different stages and bar. It’s only 5 minutes from my house and I’ve seen bands like Lamb Of God, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and many other there. My band rehearses in the same venue so it’s pretty cool meeting acts like Public Enemy while we take a break.

What’s a typical week for the band?

We have a weekly rehearsal, every Sunday 11 am – 3 pm, we usually get together once or twice a week for song writing. Our drummer has 2 other bands so he rehearses with them too. I own a booking/band-management agency so I’m quite busy with that plus I train MMA 4 times a week. Our guitarist Mark is also a booker for my agency and our other guitarist, Niels, has his own media company.  It’s quite a miracle that we play the amount of shows that we do and find time to record music.

Do you have a band that really inspired you as a kid, made you say “Wow, I want to do that!" One that you still listen to today?

More than one actually. First there was Metallica,  the ...And Justice For All album made me want to make metal myself. After that I discovered Biohazard, Life Of Agony, Pantera and many more. The first time I saw Pantera on stage at Dynamo Open Air in 1998 it really changed my life. I knew that being on stage is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I hear you are also a writer! What genre do you write in? If so, can you tell us a little bit more about the stories?

I started writing short poems and lyrics for my bands, most lyrics were short horror stories and I began wondering what happened after the lyric ended so lyrics and poems became short stories. I had a dream one night and the day after the same dream, that became a short story which kept expanding. Every now and then I work on the story and have done that for the last six or seven years. It’s a space opera , not many people know about it or have read anything, only a few and they were really excited to read the rest of the story. It’s a great way for me to escape every day pressure and get lost in the story. I think it will take me at least another six or seven years to finish it but I’m in absolutely no hurry. 

What book really inspired you as a child that still makes an impression on you today?

That would be Frank Herbert’s Dune and anything Douglas Adams and Stephen King wrote.

Lightning Round!

Horror movies or Comedies?

Favorite male-fronted band?

Favorite female-fronted band?
Lacuna Coil

Favorite guitarist?
Mark Morton (Lamb of God)

Favorite vocalist?
Phil Anselmo

CD you are listening to now?
There are two albums on repeat: The Hunter by Mastodon and Cognitive by Soen

Vodka or whiskey?
None, I’ve been sober for 9 months now

Pepsi or Coke?

What’s next for Mike Cress and what’s in the queue for Scarlet Claw?

I’ve just started the Leviathan Agency and contracted the first bands. The Scarlet Claw will record their first full-length album in December with a European tour starting in April 2013 and I’ll continue writing on my story. I need more hours in the day! 

Where can we find and buy the Scarlet Claw’s music?

You can download our first release “Black Orchard” for any price you wish to pay for it at

The Scarlet Claw on Facebook:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Who's That Guy? Crooked Fang revealed!

You've seen him peering out at you from both of the Crooked Fang covers, on interview posts and promotional spots for the book, but he's remained nameless. Carrie Clevenger has kept his name under her hat for a whole year almost to the exact day, which was when the photo shoot was done down at an Austin bar, aptly named The Tavern.

The time has come to reveal his identity and close the mystery of Who IS that guy?

Meet Greg Enkler, a real bassist for a real Austin band, Powderburn. Yes ladies, he's the genuine article! To give you an idea of what Greg is like, I asked him a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Greg. How did you come to be the "face" of Crooked Fang’s Xan Marcelles?

Behind the scenes at The Tavern - Austin, TX
Well, let’s see… I’m originally from New York, a town called Carmel about an hour north of New York City. I’m Irish/German/Greek. I’ve been a musician literally my whole life. There are pictures of me at the age of 3, sleeping on a guitar case, who knew 30 years later I’d still be doing that?
Other than that, I play bass in my band Powderburn, I ride my motorcycle, I’ve become a pretty decent cook and I’m gonna be marrying the only girl who’s been able to put up with my shit for the last 10 years.
Becoming the “face” of Xan, that was pretty much a fluke. I almost turned it down because I thought they were kidding. But it literally took an email and a phone call to get me to do it.

When you heard "Vampire Bassist” what went through your mind? I heard your fiancée had a good laugh…

EVERYONE had a good laugh at that. I asked my band, my girlfriend (we don’t use the term fiancée… it’s entirely too French) my family, my boss at the warehouse I work in, they all just started laughing, like genuinely amused laughter. Not at the book, or the concept, but at the thought of ME being a “model” for anything. But as I started telling them, “well, he plays bass, rides a motorcycle, chain smokes, hides in the back of a bar and just wants to be left the fuck alone.” Everyone pretty much had the same reply… “So… it’s you.”
At one point I was asked if Carrie had been spying on me. The similarities started to get a little weird.
As far as what went through my head, literally the first thing I said was “I’m not gonna fucking sparkle… I want that in my contract.” Apparently that made Carrie laugh as well.

All the ladies want to know, is the motorcycle on the cover of Crooked Fang yours?

Yep. And honestly, it’s probably the part of this that I’m the most proud of. I actually got the bike in the book changed to the one I ride. I had taken it to the photo shoot because at the time it was my only mode of transportation. And when I pointed it out to Carrie, well, I guess she liked it enough to run with it.   

You did a great job capturing the character of Xan in your photos. What were you thinking while posing for those shots?

 Honestly, nothing. I hate having my picture taken in general. But I’ve also got a lot of experience doing photo shoots with my band. But sitting in a bar holding a bottle of booze, or a bass, it’s all pretty much a natural thing for me. The strangest part was the bike, cause I had never had a bike for any other photo shoots.  

Will you be on the cover of more Crooked Fang books?

             That’s the plan. We’re currently working out the details for the next shoot.
Author Carrie Clevenger and Greg Enkler

Have you read any vampire fiction? If so, did you like it?
           The sum total of the vampire fiction that I’ve read is the first chapter of Crooked Fang and the Just My Blood Type story. And I liked the Crooked Fang stuff so far, now that the book is out I can read the rest of it.

Was there any book you read as a child that made a big impression on you? Still does?

If you ask my mother, it’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Apparently I used that for every book report I ever had to do until I got to high school. Unfortunately, High School and my twenties cause my childhood memories to be a little hazy.

How long have you been in the band Powderburn?
Roughly 12 years. 

What made you choose bass?
It was half necessity, half inevitability. I was always trying to start a band, and could never find a bass player. So I would do it, just so I could get the band going. In reality, I was always supposed to be a bassist. Guitars just look too small on someone who’s 6’3”.

You write a lot of Powderburn’s music, do you play other instruments?
I do. I play drums, they were technically my first instrument. My dad quickly taught me guitar so he wouldn’t have to have a drum set in our tiny apartment. So I still play guitar, I’m no guitarist, I just play enough to write the main parts to songs I’m working on. I kinda sorta half ass play piano. You can hear the peak of my piano ability on our song The Lights Go Down. It’s not much to write home about.

Where can we buy Powderburn’s music?

All the main online places, iTunes,,, Amazon, and I’m sure there’s more.

Lightning Round:

Favorite song of the moment?

The kids who wanna play with the dead. – Lordi. If you haven’t heard this band, you need to.

Favorite male fronted band?

Iron Maiden

Favorite female fronted band?

Drain STH. Remember them?

Favorite bassist?

Mike Inez – he’s played with everyone. Alice in Chains/ Ozzy/ Slash...

Favorite guitarist?


Favorite lyric?

“The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.” – Springsteen.

Favorite book?

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential
Favorite movie?

The Boondock Saints or Goodfellas. Hard to choose.

Vodka or whiskey?

Whiskey – Specifically Jameson.

So tell us what's next for Greg Enkler? What's in the queue?

        Who knows? I know I’m up for the cover of the next book. Powderburn is slated to release some new music later this year. And I get married in May. Anything past that, I have no earthly idea. I’m not big on making plans.

Thanks Greg for coming by!
As Greg mentioned, Powderburn is available in many digital formats:

Powderburn's Facebook page

If you still haven't gotten your hands on a Crooked Fang book, check out!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Building a better Villain, Tiffany Trent spills the Dirt

The same energy of character which renders a man a daring villain would have rendered him useful in society, had that society been well organized.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

When Synde asked me to write about villains for this guest post, I have to admit my wicked little heart grew a few sizes larger. Is it odd to admit that when I went to Disney’s MGM park as a kid, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the villains store? Or that I wanted to be Maleficent rather than Sleeping Beauty? Or that I was always making stories up for the villains because no one ever told their tale? 

I think it’s safe to say I have a bit of an obsession with villainy. 

And I find it very interesting what actually constitutes a villain. Someone who disagrees with others? Someone who manipulates others into doing what he wants? Someone who enjoys having power over others?  Turned just slightly differently, all those qualities are things we admire in leaders.  (And we wonder why leaders can often go suddenly, horribly wrong!)

Perhaps the distinction is that leaders hold these things in balance while villains don’t. A villain is often simply a person out of balance who tends to spread that unbalance throughout the world of the book. The protagonist must bring back the balance by whatever means necessary. This often means the villain has to die, but I feel strongly that it doesn’t always have to. 

In my latest novel, THE UNNATURALISTS, the villain is fairly obvious right away. For the entire book, he has an agenda that is never fully revealed to the reader. And for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what he wanted and why he plagued the main characters so.  It took actually writing a segment of the novel from his point of view to finally get it. As with other villains I’ve written, the kernel of his villainy is in something that should ultimately make him sympathetic. At some level, as Don Maass mentions in his The Fire in Fiction, the villain must be right. 

It’s so much easier to write a cartoon villain, a la Scooby Doo: “And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”  It’s fun, too. (I refer you back to Scooby Doo). But the problem is that real-life villains are seldom that simple. I think the same should be true of villains in books. Even if it makes my life harder as a writer, I will always choose the villain who is complex, who does what he does for reasons that are very clear in his own mind, and who often overturns his own humanity (sometimes quite literally) to accomplish his goal.  The villain never sees himself as the villain; he’s always the hero in a story that we never see (to paraphrase that infamous quote). I try to work from this principle, to make my villains both attractive and revolting, both pitiable and enviable.

It’s definitely a fine line to walk, but the rewards for the story are priceless. 

about Tiffany Trent~
Tiffany Trent is the author of the  young adult steampunk novel THE UNNATURALISTS and the HALLOWMERE series. Her first book, In the Serpent’s Coils, was named a BookSense (IndieBound) Children’s Pick in Autumn 2007 and a New York Public Library Book of the Teen Age in 2008.  She was also the recipient of the 2008 SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant, and has won awards and fellowships for her nonfiction. Her short story “Blackwater Baby” in Magic in the Mirrorstone was given Honorable Mention for the Year’s Best Horror 2008.  She is represented by Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Tiffany currently lives in the New River Valley of Virginia. When not writing, she plays with bees, presides over her avian army, and frequently gets lost in the jungle of her garden. 
where to find Tiffany~
on twitter
her website-

Monday, August 20, 2012

Crafting the Musician, Carrie Clevenger tells her secrets

When I set out to write Crooked Fang, I didn’t think about how difficult it would be. All I had was the idea of a vampire that lives in a tavern and plays the bass guitar. I could hear his dialogue and see his friends as clear as if they were standing in front of me. What I didn’t realize was that musicians are a different sort of artist, and not the sort of character you can write half-assed. There’s equipment, specific jargon and slang that a real musician employs. They generally can set up their own equipment and know the parts of their guitars. They experience something wholly unique performing on stage.

I am not a musician in any aspect of the word. Although I own three guitars, including the five-string blue ESP bass that my character plays in Crooked Fang, I can barely pick out a simple tune. But guitars are pretty and look lovely sitting there on their stands beside my desk. Call them expensive inspiration. It wasn’t until I hefted a bass guitar of my own that I got a feel for the piece. Asking questions from real musicians helped me get familiar with the bass guitar’s parts.

I subscribed to a few music magazines and bought singles of others that looked useful in my ongoing research. I started immersing myself in the rich live music scene here in Austin, Texas. I was lucky I already lived in a Mecca of music resources.

I never stopped asking questions. I watched tutorials on YouTube. I played tabs on both the guitar and bass. I watched friends set up their gear for live shows. And the whole time I listened to how they talked, both to me and to each other. A new language, casual and exclusive only to those in the real ‘know.’

A musician creates or emulates music, which means they have to know music themselves. As a result, my music library went from a paltry 30GB in my iTunes to the present size of 120GB. I explored not only classic popular hits but underground cult favorites as well. Bandcamp proved to be a fantastic resource for finding even more indie groups with either free or inexpensive downloads of fresh music.

I had a sort of mentor, and I mention him with great thanks and respect in my book, Stephen Canner, who answered a good deal of questions about music history and the not-so-magical routine of gigs and touring. He started the fire of my need to discover everything out there. And there is so much music that we humans have created, even in the past fifty years. Once one puts all of the progressions together in the mind, one can easily see the evolution of music in action.

Applying it to Crooked Fang was a breeze after that, and I only needed to double check a few terms because of all the exposure I’d gotten to the whole feel of being a musician. Again, I turned to friends in the industry to confirm I’d done a good job of representing their culture.

Another issue I came across was respectful reference to the Navajo, or Diné as they are called amongst themselves which felt like walking through a minefield. I managed with a little outside help but that’s a blog post for another day.

Crooked Fang is a vampire tale, but it’s not about vampires. Xan Marcelles is a bass player, kind of an asshole with a soft spot for women’s wiles and troubles and a vampire. Sequestered away in a tavern in teeny Pinecliffe, Colorado, he’s content to take up a chair, pluck a few strings, and keep a drink close to hand in order to stifle his darker nature.

When a blue-haired girl and her abusive boyfriend have a public spat after a Crooked Fang show on Halloween, Xan intervenes, not knowing that his gesture of chivalry will change his quiet lifestyle. With zombie-like creatures, faces from his living past, even possibly a ghost, Xan is forced out of his comfortable space and back into the world…at least for a little while.

Crooked Fang is an urban fantasy, first in the Crooked Fang Series, published by Katarr Kanticles (print) and contracted by Lyrical Press (ebook). For more on Xan and Crooked Fang, visit
Official Blurb for Crooked Fang:

Sometimes a vampire's past can bite him in the ass.

 Xan Marcelles--bassist for Crooked Fang, vampire and full-time asshole, is content with his quiet existence in the backwoods of Pinecliffe, Colorado. But life at the Pale Rider tavern is set to become a little more complicated when he gets entangled with a feisty, blue-haired damsel and her abusive soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.

 To add to his woes, he’s gone from hunter to hunted, and his past returns to haunt him when a phone call draws him back to New Mexico. With the help of friends from his living past, he must get to the bottom of a murder, and figure out where he stands with his lover and his band, all while keeping one step ahead of his enemies. Hiding won’t be easy for him, especially with a mysterious woman dogging him every step of the way.


Carrie Clevenger landed in urban fantasy when she couldn’t decide between humor and horror. She writes in multiple genres, often blending several just because she can. You can learn more about Carrie at

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Xan Marcelles of Crooked Fang talks, Are You Afraid?

It's a summer evening in Pinecliffe; and the sun is just setting, leaving the sky alive with vibrant orange and green hues. I'm sitting inside the Pale Rider tavern. Since it's Tuesday they're closed and the bar is filled with silence. I am waiting to interview Xan Marcelles, bassist for Crooked Fang and main character of the book by the same name. Xan has not made an appearance yet, however I am confident he knows I'm here. It's a well-known fact that he detests the Q&A game, so I sit patiently... waiting.

He appears in the doorway—a giant of a guy. DAMN he's tall! I'd forgotten how big he is, but his gait is relaxed and confident. As he crosses the room, he sees me sitting at a table in the corner, and smiles, showing just a hint of fang. A reminder of his vampire nature perhaps, or just recognition of an old friend. Still, I’m not taking any chances.
He sets a bottle of whiskey on the table and folds himself into a chair.

S- (Points at bottle) you gonna share that?

Xan – I suppose I can. Since you so kindly decided to come on down to my neck of the woods. What’s up?

S- For new blog readers, can you give me a Xan Marcelles recap...revamp? Lol

Xan – A recap? Like what, about me? Eh, I’m just a dude. I play bass for a cover band here at Pale Rider called Crooked Fang. There’s rumors that I might be a vampire. Nothing confirmed. Yet.

S- Why an RS? Why not a Chevelle or some other muscle car?

Xan – Well, it just kind of ended up being a lucky buy. Dad bought it off some guy who’d taken it away from his kid because he’d ragged the shit out of it. When we brought it home, we knew we had our work cut out for us. I worked a couple of jobs and rode an old dirt bike while I saved money and we fixed it up together. Why do I still have it? That’s in the book.

S – And why Pinecliffe, Colorado? Where would you live if you had the choice?

Xan – I ended up here because of the band job that gave room and board. Plus, Charlie and I clicked well. Charlie’s the owner of Pale Rider. I’m not really wanting to move just yet, but chances are, I’d head back down to New Mexico or even Arizona.

S – How does Charlie feel about you? Do you think he’s as attached to you as you are to him?

Xan – Hey now. I never said…okay fine. I’ll go with probably. Charlie did a piece in an old newsletter as a winning poll result. Here’s what he said:

Charlie speaks: from 7.3.2011 newsletter

I remember when I bought what I now call Pale Rider, and everybody
looked at me funny. But I ain’t ever been what folks call “normal.” I enjoy
the people comin’ ’round to partake of the drinks and the music. I love
music--most folks do, I’d think. ’Specially the guitar. Man, I couldn’t get
enough of that guitar. I still play her sometimes when I’m feeling blue, but
you ain’t here for that.

Business was slow at first. Got me a couple of locals and not much else.
Things were lookin’ bad for my place ’til I got this big idea of hiring me a
house band. I didn’t have a whole lotta money, ’cause I’d just sunk it into
the bar business, but what I did have was space. Place used to be a vacation
lodge and it had some rooms upstairs. I put me an ad in a couple of big
papers tryin’ to bring in some folks that knew how to jam.

I get a phone call one night from a fella interested in playing for me. He
like the idea of being able to stay there if he like. I tell him come on
down, where you from? He says “out west”. I’m thinkin’ I’m gonna have some
California square up in there. Man, was I wrong.

In come Xan Marcelles. Dark looking dude, all action, not much talk. Long
hair, tattoos and a scowl. He says he can run the band, hire up some
suitable band mates. I say okay. He looked all right, made me feel a little
nervous because he was a big dude, and I mean tall and looking like he is
ready for a rumble any day of the week. That’s how I brought in that boy. I
still call him boy, ’cause even though he’s big in looks, he’s still young
enough to do some stupid shit. You know kids, they know everything. Xan was
no different.

So he say he’s gonna call the band Crooked Fang or some shit. And I was like
“all right man, I’ll give you that. Bring me in some customers now. Make it
happen.” And you know what? He did.

His first pick was some kid named Serv. Never did ask if that was his full
name. By that time I knew Xan was all right ’cause he help some around the
place, movin’ heavy loads and cleanin’ up a storm. This kid Serv come in and
scream his damn fool head off. I say all right then.

Next two come in a pair. Two twenty-somethings, maybe twenty even--Joshua
and Jason. They best friends. Local kids. They come in and Joshua play them
drums like nobody’s business and Jason wailin’ on that Strat. You know, they
all right. We advertise. And business come in left ’n right. Right on.

That Xan though, he’s a troubled sort. Always drunk as a skunk and sulking
at his table with the light bulb pulled out. I say leave well enough alone
’cause he do a good job. He stay out of trouble, for the most part, and the
ladies love him.

Pale Rider is a happy place. A place where people come to have a good time,
listen to that loud music and share a few drinks. I see some first dates
sometime and I smile. I got me a woman now too, her name is Linda. Spanish
girl that sells some houses for a living. She’s a beautiful girl. I
couldn’t be a luckier brother. And that’s about it. You all take care.

S- Wow that's really special. I knew I liked Charlie for a reason. He's made the Pale Rider a great place!
Let’s talk about your bass Sasha for a minute. How long have you had her? How'd she get her name?
And why bass?

Xan – I’ve only had Sasha for a couple of years, about as long as I’ve played for Crooked Fang. I named her Sasha because that’s what she told me her name was, just is what it is, you know? Why bass? Couple of reasons. I like the instrument, I love the chords, and it’s easy work. I’m all about easy.

S- You have some rather “interesting relationships” in the book, what do you look for in a woman?

Xan – Depends on what I’m looking to look for. I don’t do relationships, never have done well with that since, you know…but I guess I really don’t have a type because the girls I’ve messed around with have all looked different. I’m a sucker for strong women, you know, the ones others might call bitches, but I am so turned off by snarky, catty, or bullying types. It’s a fine line. She has to smell good. I like long hair, but again, I’ve ran around with women with short hair so yeah…I don’t really have a definite answer for you there, Syn.

S – Tell us something about Xan, you, that we wouldn’t learn from the book.

Xan – Well, there a lot about me you’re not going learn about in the first book. But there’s a simple stuff that won’t matter.
  1. I’m left-handed but do just about everything right handed except write.
  2. I was in a band with Scott Barrows called RECALL back when we were in school. We were not a good band but liked to pretend we were.
  3. I died the day I had gotten up the courage to ask my girlfriend Jessica to marry me. Her ring was in my pocket.

S- Tell me a little about Carrie Clevenger your writer. What's she like to work with? You guys get along well?

Xan – Carrie…is one-of-a-kind. The kind of person you don’t know whether to choke or hug and she’s got a big heart, only it’s surrounded by electric barbed-wire fence and guarded by a pack of rabid, shaved wolverines with acid indigestion. But she gets me and she hears me.

In the very first version of my story, she fucking killed me! I still give her shit for that.

S- OK lets go for a music lighting round...
Fav song of the moment?
Xan-This second? Soen – Delenda

Fav female fronted band?
Xan-Concrete Blonde I love Johnette’s vox.

Fav male fronted band
Xan-Too many to list, but I’ll throw some names: Danzig, Iron Maiden, Opeth, Type O Negative. Billions.

Fav song you like to sing live?
Xan-I’m not much for singing lead, but I do some background stuff.

Fav video of the moment?
Xan-Oh man. There’s a vid that Slash did with Fergie called “Beautiful” that is hot:

Boxers or briefs?( had to sneak that in there)
Xan- [grins] No comment.

S- So what’s next for Xan?

Xan – Probably more trouble, from the looks of things. Considering who’s stuck with me now and the shit they already got me into, yeah. Trouble with a capital T.
I’m coming back with a new story probably next year if I can get enough non-trouble time to get it down. We’ll see how that pans out but I’ll tell you for sure that I’m not done yet.

I can tell he is becoming bored with the interview process. He pushes the whiskey bottle towards me and lights a cigarette. The interview is officially over, he's made his point. He stands and walks towards the entrance, looking over his shoulder to make sure I follow. We decide to walk out to the lake to talk about something we both love... music. The journalist in me shuts down.

A few hours later after much talk, whiskey and a bit of jamming, I make my way back to my rental car
and turn to wave goodbye to Xan. He stands like a statue on the stairs, only the glowing ember of his cigarette betrays his presence. Xan Marcelles is a vampire yes, but that is only scratching the surface of his enigmatic personality. Read the book. You won't be disappointed.

Crooked Fang is an urban fantasy, first in the Crooked Fang Series, published by Katarr Kanticles (print) and contracted by Lyrical Press (ebook). For more on Xan and Crooked Fang, visit

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crooked Fang jewelry Line Launch

I am proud to announce that on August 1st the newest addition to the Cemetery Cat Jewelry Family will be revealed. It's inspired by genre bending new book by Carrie Clevenger that comes out in Print today and in ebook on August 20th. I have designed a streamlined rocker look with the favorite color of the books hero Xan Marcelles. ( Xan will again be visiting the blog on August 4th) Each piece will also come stamped with the Crooked Fang hallmark!
Here are some pictures to tantalize you.  You can find more about these designs here~ Cemetery Cat Designs 
You can find more about Crooked Fang here~Crooked Fang

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Music is a Feeling, Stacia Kane talks music as inspiration

Music is a feeling.

Well, obviously it’s more than that. But it evokes feelings, and memories, and it does it more strongly than almost anything else can do. Think about it: you’re driving along and suddenly a song comes on the radio that you haven’t heard in ages. Years, even. And suddenly, for that one brief second, you’re right back where you were when you heard it the first time. Or maybe the fiftieth time that summer or winter. Or that road trip where you and your friend played the then-brand-new
Danzig II (on cassette!) over and over for three solid hours. Or when you sat in your then-brand-new love’s bedroom listening to the Buzzcocks and drinking beer and the whole world was out there waiting for the two of you to take it by storm. And now when you see how everybody and their brother is using “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” in their car ads or detergent ads or whatever else it’s almost like they’re stealing that time from you, like they’re turning it into something cheap, and it’s a physical ache in your chest. It’s a reminder of how that time is gone and you can’t ever have it back, not ever.

But luckily most of the time it isn’t so painful. Most of the time it’s sweet, or even funny. It’s nostalgic, which is pain, yes, but can also be warm and cozy.

The point is that nothing can transport you, nothing can inspire you, nothing can make you feel the way music does.

I try to do it in writing. I want my work to make people feel. I want it to make them remember, to think, to really dig deep. I want it to make them lose themselves. Just like hearing a song—not even a sad one or an old one or one full of nostalgia, just a really good, fun one, the kind that makes you want to roll the windows down even if it’s pouring down rain and turn the volume up really high—can make you forget where you are, what you were doing, so I want my books to do that. I want my readers to feel, even for only a few minutes, that they are my characters, too, that they live in that world. I want them to forget their troubles and just immerse themselves.

I’m not a musician, not really. I can play a couple of Ramones and Sex Pistols songs on the guitar; I haven’t played in years, but I’m pretty sure I still remember those, although I believe Buddy Holly’s “Rave On” is forever lost to my sad little fingers.

And honestly? Sometimes I hate that I’m not a musician. If the ticket is to make people feel, nothing does it faster or is more accessible than music. Any music. Hell, those of you who’ve reached a certain age can stop reading right now and think “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” I bet you just got all prickly-eyed, didn’t you? And that’s a commercial!

I can mention music in my books, and I do. Those who know the songs will hopefully feel they add an extra layer to the scenes and stories. Those who don’t, well, hopefully it doesn’t take anything away from the scenes and stories, and there’s always iTunes, right? I want that music in there because I want to set the scene. I want readers, in CITY OF GHOSTS, to “hear” those opening bars of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and know what they mean—what they mean to Chess, what they mean to Terrible—instantly, without being told. I want that music in their head to make them feel just the way the music in her ears makes Chess feel, before a word is said about why that song is important or when it was last mentioned in the story.

I’m always trying, you see, to evoke what musicians can evoke. I’m always trying to take that raw feeling and find a way to…to pin it down with words, to transmit it in a silent medium. I want to distill that emotion and sensation, and make the reader hear music even when there is none.

Because I think that’s the point of art, and it’s the point of storytelling, and I think when a writer does it well it’s like hearing that favorite song for the first time all over again. I can’t say whether or not I do it well or ever have, but I’ll keep trying.

Stacia Kane has been a phone psychic, a customer service representative, a bartender, and a movie theatre usher. Writing is more fun than all of them combined.
She currently lives with her husband and their two little girls. She wears a lot of black, still makes great cocktails, likes to play music loud in the car, and thinks Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made. She believes in dragons and the divine right of kings, and is a fervent Ricardian.

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Stacia Kane

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Stacia Kane

You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and at your favorite Indie bookstore.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Emotional Creature, Kevin Hearne talks music and writing

As emotional creatures (unlike, say, the Weeping Angels), we are influenced by music and, to some extent, driven by it. The argument that a single artist or song can make a person commit bunnycide or something else terrible is ridiculous—the capacity to commit bunnycide is a preexisting condition—but it’s probably not so ridiculous to state that some songs might put you “in the mood” to pursue certain behaviors over others. If you are inclined to bang your head, Pantera is far more likely to spark such behavior than the musical stylings of James Taylor.
Looking at it the other way, there are some behaviors I simply cannot consider if certain songs are playing in the background. I cannot wash dishes while listening to “Let’s Get It On,” for example. It would ruin both dishwashing and getting it on for me.
Likewise, my writing is influenced, for good or ill, by whatever music might be playing in the background.
Typically I’m fond of instrumentals because the words of lyrics can and do impinge on my subconsciousness, replacing my normal word choice with those of a wee skinny lad with obscenely tight pants. But once in a while I rock the hell out because I need the aggression to write fight scenes and make all the inside bits go ’splody and become red chunky outside bits.
The best example I can provide is what I do when I need to write a fight scene. I’m not much of a fighter. Like, I can wrestle a marshmallow into submission. Scrambled eggs don’t stand a chance with me. But real dudes? I don’t want to think about it. Unless, of course, I’ve got some heavy metal playing. Speed metal stuff. Megadeth, DragonForce, that kind of thing. Play enough of that with the knob turned up to 11 and you’ll pull out your hand-and-a-half bastard sword and get medieval on someone. And if you don’t have any medieval weapons handy, you’ll find yourself surfing the net looking for double-bladed axes and drinking horns and maybe a nice set of boiled leather armor.
Music helps me tap the emotions I need my characters to feel—and so I play it.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Psychology of Duran Duran Tiffany Trent Talks Music and Writing

When I’m writing, music is a requirement. Nothing will get me into the mood to work faster than the perfect song. Although I am perhaps not the most widely-listened of people (I’m always looking for new tunes!), I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to come up with the perfect playlist for my work-in-progress. Sometimes a book will simply require a soundtrack or two, and that’s wonderful. THE UNNATURALISTS (my steampunk YA scheduled for release in August) was such a book. I alternated between the soundtracks for “The Duchess” by Rachel Portman and “The Illusionist” by Philip Glass—which was fairly easy, if extremely repetitive over the course of three years of writing and revising!

But some novels are a bit more demanding. Some require a bit more effort and some just require every trick I know to help me finally get to a place where I can work again. For me, the go-to band that never fails me has always been Duran Duran. Go ahead. Laugh if you like. But if anyone taught me the value of a good lyric, it was Simon Le Bon. And if anyone taught me how to pull an entire story from a three-minute song, well, I think Duran Duran gets all the credit. (If any band can claim a more direct bloodline from science fiction, please tell me—they took their name from the science fiction cult film “Barbarella”, after all!)

Most people know Duran’s catalog from the 80s—“Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Save a Prayer,” “The Reflex.” (They also might remember the resurgence in the 90s with “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”). But it’s always been the band’s lesser-known songs that have spoken deepest to me. If you want to hear some really haunting New Romantic stuff, go listen to songs like “Waiting for the Nightboat” or “Friends of Mine” off of their eponymous album, DURAN DURAN. Or, on later albums like MEDAZZALAND, songs like “Out of My Mind” (highly recommend the video—I watched it endlessly when I was working on my HALLOWMERE series) or “Midnight Sun.” (And of course, there’s the lone album by Arcadia—the Duran that never was, according to some people--which has some lovely songs, but we won’t go there just now).

I’ve always loved Duran’s B sides and unreleased stuff best. See “Secret Oktober” for a taste of what I mean. I nearly died of joy when I first heard the song “Virus,” which was only released on the Japanese version of their ASTRONAUT album. With its slinky bass and spine-tinglingly morbid lyric drive, I’m still convinced it would have been a big hit had it been released worldwide. (Yes, I seriously should be given a PhD in the Discography of Duran Duran).

But I digress…

Even more amazing to me was when I discovered the album POP TRASH. I had avoided it for years because I’d heard it was truly awful. (And hey, everyone has a stinker in their history somewhere). But one day I decided that if I was a true diehard I would listen to every album. And this one was marvelous. The song “Starting to Remember” (which is only two minutes long) carried with it such a vivid, poignant scene that it’s now the basis for a series I can’t wait to write. Other songs on that album like “Playing with Uranium,” “Lady Xanax,” and “The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever,” also hearken back to Duran’s lush science fictional roots.

I’m not sure if one can psychologically wire oneself into inspiration via sound, but Duran Duran’s music does just that for me. If I am really stuck, I have a special playlist of all my favorite Duran Duran songs and that will usually move me along. Though I love many bands and singers—Snow Patrol, Silversun Pickups, Florence + the Machine, Sia, Muse, Ray LaMontagne—I still go back to the music of my adolescence when push comes to shove. I suppose that means I’m obsessed, but thank goodness for obsessions that don’t fail us.

If you’d like to play along some time, here are a few of my faves:

-Tiger Tiger
-The Chauffeur
-The Seventh Stranger
-Lonely In Your Nightmare
-Crystal Ship (cover)
-Salt in the Rainbow
-Someone Else Not Me
-The Man Who Stole a Leopard

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

In a Bad Space: From Lizzie to Ash

You don’t get more proper than Elizabeth Rae Perry. She was born in the late 1800s and lived through three major wars—the Anglo Boer War, as well as World Wars I and II. Life for a woman in the Union of South Africa was very different for those who were lucky enough to live later. Back then there were very few job options available for a woman, and you were either a housewife, a teacher, a secretary or a nurse.

Elizabeth or Lizzie, as she prefers to be known, went on to marry a man her parents thought was a good match. Richard Perry was a successful businessman involved in the railways. Little did they know that he was also a member of a highly secretive ancient Egyptian reincarnation cult, the Inkarna, and Lizzie was to be his next initiate.

And that’s also the point at which her life became a lot more interesting, as she soon found herself the soul custodian of House Adamastor’s Cape Town-based chapter house.

Richard assured her that death was not the end, and that through a series of rituals she’d be able to survive after death, and find her way to House Adamastor’s mystical “house of life” Per Ankh in the Tuat (or afterlife). Of course she had no way to prove his words, but being the ever-dutiful wife, continued to maintain his legacy after his passing.

By the time she popped off this mortal coil in 1966, the old lady could pack quite a punch, and was in possession of a formidable arsenal of daemonic powers, which included telekinesis and psychometry. On top of that, she was also hyper aware of the spirit world. While her body aged normally, as all humans do, she was equipped with power and wisdom beyond that of a normal person. A decent trade-off, if you ask me.

She trained up her own initiate to take her place once she died, before making her own journey through the Black Gate.

The scope of my novel, Inkarna, is such that I couldn’t cover all that transpired while Lizzie dwelled in the Tuat, but I can share this much that the Inkarna use this space to meditate and regroup. They are able to access the memories of the “Blessed Dead”—regular humans who have died—as they move toward the primordial chaos that is the Sea of Nun, and thereby keep in touch with changes that have occurred in the land of the living.

Surprisingly, Lizzie finds that she does have the next opportunity to return to the world of matter when her House needs to send someone new. But complications arise when she wakes in the body of a 21-year-old male instead of the three-year-old girl she was promised. To make matters even more uncomfortable, Lizzie has to pick up the pieces of the previous host’s life—and Ashton Kennedy really did make a hash of things.

Why did I do this to my main character? I asked myself, what is the worst possible thing I could do to a prim and proper lady? It doesn’t get much worse than sticking her consciousness inside the body of a virile male with long hair, who’s covered in tattoos and used to be a barman. It’s how she deals with her predicament that provided me with the most entertainment while writing. The contrast between the man everyone else thinks they know and the person Lizzie has become, is quite delicious, and results in quite a few unintentionally humorous situations.

At the end of the day, Inkarna explores the theme of love that transcends the boundaries imposed by gender, time and death. It’s a story about doing what is right, even though one’s actions might be considered morally reprehensible. It’s a tale of magic, myth and adventure, set against a backdrop of eternal conflict.

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Nerine Dorman

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