12 October, 2012

BOOK TOUR - Hellfire & Damnation II - AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Welcome back to the Hellfire & Damnation II Virtual Book Tour! Hosted  by 
 Don't forget to comment on this or any other post on my blog for a chance to win a digital copy of the book. Competition is open internationally and closes on the last day of the tour - October 31.
Click on the tour link on the right hand side to see the rest of the tour dates and places.

 Today I have the privilege of sharing an interview with the author of Hellfire & Damnation II - Connie Corcoran Wilson!

About the Author
Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (MS + 30) graduated from the University of Iowa and Western Illinois University, with additional study at Northern Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. She taught writing at six Iowa/Illinois colleges and has written for five newspapers and seven blogs, including Associated Content (now owned by Yahoo) which named her its 2008 Content Producer of the Year . She is an active, voting member of HWA (Horror Writers Association).
Her stories and interviews with writers like David Morrell, Joe Hill, Kurt Vonnegut, Frederik Pohl and Anne Perry have appeared online and in numerous journals. Her work has won prizes from “Whim’s Place Flash Fiction,” “Writer’s Digest” (Screenplay) and she will have 12 books out by the end of the year. Connie reviewed film and books for the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) for 12 years and wrote humor columns and conducted interviews for the (Moline, Illinois) Daily Dispatch and now blogs for 7 blogs, including television reviews and political reporting for Yahoo.
Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and cat Lucy, and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their three-year-old twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, recently graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, as a Music Business graduate and is currently living and working in Australia.
So, grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee, or if you prefer, a glass of wine and welcome Connie Corcoran Wilson to Little Black Marks!

Kylie: In his introduction, Jason V Brock says when he first met you, you were "a bit of a blur: Fast-talking, fast moving, on the run." Is this an accurate description of you? If yes, do you struggle with sitting down to write?
Connie: I have a terrible time tearing myself away from all the fun distractions of life (movies, dinner out, etc.) with the husband (of 45 years), so I bought myself a Writer’s Lair in Chicago, which is quite near my son’s home there (with his wife and three-year-old twin daughters.) When I really need to get something done, I have to shut myself away and go there to write…I mean, if I have A LOT to get accomplished. I’m working on being able to write anywhere any time, but I can, right now, only do that when I write “short” (i.e. Yahoo pieces, blog pieces, etc.) I tend to multi-task and, even when watching television, I have my laptop on and am doing something or am playing ‘Hanging with Friends” on my cell phone. There are only so many hours in your life, and I don’t want to miss a thing (as the song goes.) Plus, I started writing fiction late (2003), although I’ve written for pay for 57 years, just not fiction.
K: Obviously you took inspiration from Dante's Inferno for Hellfire & Damnation II. I thought some of your writing was reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe (who I love). Was he an influence? What other influences do you have?

C: I LOVED Poe’s work, too, and visited his grave in Baltimore, because the franchise system I was a member of for close to 20 years (Sylvan Learning Systems) was headquartered there. I remember reading “The Collected Works” of Poe while sleeping on the floor of the lounge in Currier Hall on campus at the University of Iowa in 1960, where I was visiting my older sister. [She was supposed to get me a bed, but failed in her task, so I stayed up all night reading.] I also enjoy Stephen King and Philip K. Dick and William F. Nolan (a mentor, of sorts)---especially Bill’s short stories--- and Dean Koontz and Peter Straub---plus many others too numerous to mention. Two new names you should check out are Jason V Brock and Pete Giglio, both very good new writers.

K: My favourite stories in this collection were Limbo (First Circle) and Letters to LeClaire (Circle six). Do you have a favourite?

C: I have a wicked sense of humor (appropriate term, don’t you think?) so I like the semi-funny ones “M.R.M.” and “Room Service,” but I think one of the best, in terms of plot, is “The Bureau” and I also liked the non-stop dialogue of “Oxymorons.” But, then again, I like “The Champagne Chandelier,” which was the last one I wrote. I’m glad you like “Cold Corpse Carnival,” however, as my Norwegian Grandfather Monson inspired that one. And, as for “Letters to LeClaire,” that one was one of the most interesting to write, because of the research that went into it. In the paperback (which is slightly different in its illustrations) the publisher (John Teehan of The Merry Blacksmith) really did a masterful job of inserting certain REAL documents I had ferreted out. It also was written for a good cause, to benefit the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire (his hometown) and “M.R.M.” in “Slices of Flesh” anthology also was contributed for a good cause (literacy, my life’s work).

K: Having read Hellfire & Damnation II I have now downloaded Dante's Inferno. Do you hope to encourage people to read more of the classics? What else would you recommend for those who were interested in exploring this genre further?

C: I would recommend that they IMMEDIATELY order “The Color of Evil,” the first novel in my trilogy, which was released in January AND order the first “Hellfire & Damnation” book. (Interviewer's note: I have taken this advice and ordered both books!) There’s a website up now at www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com which will give you an idea what sort(s) of stories are contained in the first book. So, run, don’t walk, to that website and, while you’re at it, check out www.TheColorOfEvil.com. Let’s drive these puppies to the front page of Kindle! You can do it! Who’s with me? (Imagine John Belushi now leading people from the room, who do not follow, a la “Animal House”)

K: Many of the stories appeared first in other anthologies or as flash fiction. Did you review or rewrite and of them before publishing them in this collection?

C: Actually, not that many appeared anywhere else before this book. I think that, out of 11 stories, only “M.R.M.” and “Letters to LeClaire” and a version of the Resurrection Mary story that is totally different appeared elsewhere. I try to keep nearly all of the stories in the “H&D” series as new and never seen before, if possible. It is true that I submitted a couple to a local writing prompt contest, but those never saw the light of day so those don’t count. So, 3 out of 11 is, I think, the previously published number and 2 of those 3 are among the very shortest stories (“M.R.M.” and “Tempus Fugit: Resurrection Mary”) in terms of words. I rewrote “Tempus Fugit” about ten times; it kept getting (slightly) longer each time. And, as I mention in the “From the Author” portion, I rewrote “M.R.M.” to change the name of the protagonist and, also, to lengthen it. But, if you were to figure up the actual word count of the “already saw that” stories, I doubt if it would even be as high as 15% of the 53,000 words. (Of course, somebody mathematical will now do that and prove me wrong, but I do think that most of the stories are “new.”) I did post “The Bureau” on Kindle for 99 cents as a “teaser” and a publisher in Germany has contacted me about publishing it and/or the entire book, but I don’t know if that will happen. (Dr.Bodo Polzer, if you’re reading this: call me).

K: Can you describe your writing environment?

C: As I mentioned earlier, when I really need to “Bear down Chicago Bears,” I go to my Writer’s Lair in Chicago, which is located within a small brick building I refer to as “the baby building” at 1250 S. Indiana (Lakeside on the Park) because it is only 14 stories with 168 units, while the 5th tallest building in the city is across the street and to the left in the Central Station District. I used to have a totally unobstructed view of Lake Michigan from the side bedroom (my writer’s room) but then the Big Glass and Steel Buildings began to be built, so now I can (still) see a sliver of the Lake with sailboats, the fake dinosaur outside the Field Museum and, as a special treat, the blue top of the Shedd Aquarium, which is lit up at night. But I used to be able to sit in the living room and see the fireworks from Navy Pier and it is truly a treat to visit there, even if I am working. It is at the end of Grant Park, right across the street from where Obama accepted the nomination in 2008 (I “live blogged” all night from that location), on Indiana, one block off Michigan. I love it and that’s where most of my writing gets finished.
It’s either that or the basement of my home in the Illinois Quad Cities, which is crammed with books and drifted over with papers. Which would you prefer?

K: When you're not writing, what do you like to do?
C: My husband and I are leaving for Hawaii (August 30th) as I will be a presenter at the Hawaii Writers’ Conference now known as www.SpellbindersConference.com. I’m very excited, as Jane Smiley, John Travolta, Jacqueline Mitchard, Gary Marshall (of TV sit com fame), the gentleman who wrote “The Book of Eli” and a host of other famous names will be there. Then, I was planning on attending KillerCon in Las Vegas (Sept. 20-23), because the IHeartRadio show is going on down the street at the MGM Grand (Aerosmith and Bon Jovi on Saturday night). I went last year. We plan a cruise to New Zealand from Sydney for a month in January, as our daughter is there, living and working, and we will go to Cancun at Easter, as we have for 2 weeks every year for 18 years. (*Note story “The Shell”). We own time shares there and in Mazatlan. I like beaches and reading and movies and fine dining and politics as a spectator sport and was the Content Producer of the Year for Politics for a 400,000 member blog which was bought by Yahoo, so I now write for that 600000 member group. I will be covering the Chicago Film Festival for 2 weeks in October (as I have for at least 5 years) and I’ll be writing many of my adventures up on www.WeeklyWilson.com. We also drove all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier in 10 days back in 2008 and attended the Fort El Reno Ghost Tour to write 3 volumes of short stories about “Ghostly Tales of Route 66” for a small press in Iowa (very “G” rated). So, I like to travel, go to concerts and movies, write about them, socialize, follow presidential politics (Romney will be here at 12:30 tomorrow and Obama was here in Davenport, Iowa, last week) and I covered the NATO demonstrations in Chicago for Yahoo. I think I have something like 850 articles “up” on that blog. I also play 4 musical instruments and enjoy music, and the daughter is a Music Business graduate of Belmont in Nashville who worked for Taylor Swift (briefly). I am a person either in constant motion or in a deep coma. I also like to write at night and sleep late, so there are some conflicts that I need to work out, but, so far, it works for me.

I'd like to say a big thank you to Connie Corcoran Wilson for this interview - my very first.

 Bev over at The Wormhole, also has a stop on the tour today - go check it out!

Want to know what other stops are on the tour? Click on the Tour link on the right hand side of the page.