Please allow me to introduce fellow author Joseph Mulak, author of Haunted Whispers, Burnt Ashes, and Little Angels. He has had stories published in Death Be Not Proud, Dangers Untold, and Dark Things II, among other anthologies. He lives in North Bay, Ontario with his wife, Alicia, and five children. He is currently at work on several new writing projects.
Please Introduce us to your Blog. What is it all about? What sorts of posts do you lean towards? My blog is mostly about topics concerning the genres I tend to write in. Mostly horror. Anything relevant to the genre is fair game. One thing I really enjoy doing is promoting other authors’ work. So I post reviews of books I like in the hopes of garnering the authors a few more readers.
What Inspires and stirs your creativity? Just about everything. I get ideas from every aspect of my life whether it be work, family, friends, or even conversations I overhear in public. That and reading good fiction. Reading someone else’s work eggs me on to do better and finish whatever I happen to be working on.
Conversely, what do you find difficult to write about? If there’s something too difficult to write about, I haven’t found it yet. Over the years I’ve had several blogs covering various topics. I’ve written about politics, religion, social issues, anything is fair game. Although I’ve toned down more recently. Now that my work seems to be garnering more of a readership, I tend to stay away from the more controversial topics so as to not alienate my readers. As consumers of art, we often have a tendency to not separate the artist from the art. We can’t support someone that we disagree with. So I’ve put my opinions on religion and politics aside and focus on more general topics.
What Message, if any, do you hope to Share through your blog/posts? I don’t try to put messages in my work. Usually there’s a theme I deal with such as addiction, poverty, family, etc. But I don’t want to be preachy. As a genre writer, my job is to entertain, so I try to keep that in mind whether I’m writing fiction, a blog post, an interview, or a grocery list.
How has your blog helped you as a writer/Indie Author? What things have you learned along the way that you never anticipated? I’m not sure if it’s helped me. I hope some people have found my books through my blog, which is its main purpose. As for what I’ve learned along the way? My job, first and foremost, is to entertain. I always try to keep that in mind, which is why I keep certain opinions to myself.
Tell us about your book(s): I currently have four books in print. Flushed, which is about love and poker; Haunted Whispers, my short story collection; Burnt Ashes (soon to be renamed to Ashes to Ashes, brand new cover and everything) is a zombie novel; and I just recently put out a 10,000 word novella called Little Angels, which is more or less a ghost story.
What Inspired you to write your book? Depends on which book, I guess. Flushed came out of two failed relationships I’ve had and the fact that I stayed an irresponsible and immature person until my late 20s.
Burnt Ashes started out being about drug addiction and by the end of the first chapter (while keeping the drug addiction theme) turned into a book about my somewhat strained relationship with my older brother.
Haunted Whispers is a collection of short stories and it covers a broad range of themes and styles. It would take a long time to go through all the various influences.
Little Angels was influenced by a family trip to Nova Scotia when I was 12 or 14. My father and I found an old graveyard and everyone buried there was 12 years old or younger. It was also influenced by my lifelong battle with depression.
From what Point of View do you prefer to write? Is there a reason? My favourite depends on which best suits the story. I’ve written in both and there are pros and cons to each one. I tend to write in third person most of the time, because it’s less restrictive, though I do turn to first person every once in a while since I do like the reader only having the same information as the POV character. Makes the story that much more mysterious.
How would you describe your “Voice” or Style of writing? I’m told my voice is relaxed and conversational, which is great. People seem to enjoy it.
What genre do you prefer to write or are you truly eclectic? Horror. I only have one work outside of the genre and I’m pretty sure it was one-time thing. My mind just tends to go in that direction when I’m thinking up stories. But, within the horror genre, I’m all over the place. I’ve written zombie stories, horror-comedies, I’ve had one or two of my stories described as “torture-porn,” I’ve written creepy ghost stories. Readers never really know what they’re getting with my stuff. I love most of the horror sub-genres, so I tend to write in a lot of them.
Do you painstakingly plot out your story; are you a discovery writer or a bit of both? Why? I typically start with an idea, whether it’s a character I find intriguing or an opening scene, and go from there. I don’t usually know where the story is headed until I’m about halfway through. I like to think of it this way: When you get into a situation where your life is in danger, you have no idea what you’re going to do until you learn more about the situation, the antagonist, etc. That’s how I like to write. I like to learn more about the characters and the situation I’ve tossed them in before I figure out how they’re going to respond to it and ultimately win. Or lose, depending. I know a lot of authors recommend not doing this. I just read an article by John Grisham recently where he states that even authors who say they don’t outline really do. This isn’t true and I’m not sure where he gets this idea. But doing it this way seems to be working for me so far.
Do you have a favourite or least favourite character? And Why? Probably Todd Wright, one of the two brothers who are the main protagonists in Burnt Ashes. Todd is a musician, suffers from depression, is a recovering addict, is divorced, has a poor relationship with his brother, feels like a failure most of the time, and has a sarcastic sense of humour. These are traits Todd and I both share, so I relate to him more than most of my other characters.
Share an insight or secret about your book(s). Readers can’t put them down because I lace the covers with superglue.
HA HA HA Thats Great 🙂 What do you feel is your best advice to share with other aspiring authors? I really don’t like this question. When I first started out writing, I read a lot of how-to books on how to write bestsellers, how to get published, how to get an agent, how lace the covers with superglue so readers can’t put them down, etc. The one common thread I’ve noticed in all these books, is there is no common thread between them. They all have different advice. The reason for this is every writer’s journey is different. Some books that shouldn’t be bestsellers are, and some that should be, aren’t. It has nothing to do with talent (though talent is important), it’s not about hard work (thought that’s important too). It’s a lot about luck. Why is Stephen King one of only a handful of horror writers on the bestseller lists? He happened to write a book that filled a need and got it in the hands of enough readers. There are better writers than Stephen King who still have their day jobs. The only advice to give to aspiring authors is Ass To Chair, Fingers To Keyboard. Write. Write. Write. Edit. Edit. Edit. Work hard to write the best book you can then hope someone wants to read it.
Would you like to share an excerpt from the book or a poem or two to give readers an idea what you offer? Sure. Here’s a scene from Little Angels:
Gary hated hospitals under the best of circumstances. Nothing good ever happened in them. It’s where people went to die. Every one of his family members who went into a hospital didn’t come out until it was time to be transferred to the morgue.
The waiting was the worst part. He sat in the waiting room while the doctors examined Beth. He tried to insist on going in. No doctor was going to tell him to wait outside while his wife and child were in danger. But the doctor threatened to call security and Gary realized he was being more of a hindrance than a help so he reluctantly stayed behind, unable to find anything to occupy his mind except to imagine every worst case scenario his mind could conjure.
An eternity and three minutes later, the doctor emerged, walking straight toward him. The man’s face was deadpan, no sign of emotion to indicate to Gary what was going on until the doctor started to speak.
His mind was in such a fog, he barely heard a word the doctor said to him.
“….very sorry for your loss…these things happen…no way of telling the cause…be fine in a day or two…”
The one thing he did remember the doctor telling him was there would be no need for surgery in cases like this. The foetus would expel itself shortly.
Foetus. That very morning it was “the baby” or “our daughter.” Suddenly, it wasn’t only the child that had died. Its identity died with it and was now known as “the foetus.” Gary thought about how strange it was that people could distance themselves from something just by changing its name. “Child” was too personal. “Foetus” meant you got to sleep later that night.
But neither Gary nor Beth got to sleep that night. Or for several nights thereafter. Gary spent the late evening hours consoling his sobbing wife while he wished he could cry with her, but felt the need to at least appear strong for her. If they both lost it, who would be there to keep them together? Gary had to keep control of the situation, no matter how lost he felt.
The late night crying sessions went on for months. Gary had taken time off work to be with his wife, but he knew he would have to return soon. His employer’s patience would only go so far, but Beth’s mood was nowhere near improving and he had no idea what the couple was going to do once it was time for him to go back.
And still they waited for the dreaded day when the foetus would expel itself from Beth’s body, but after several months, that day still hadn’t come.
Gary felt they had waited long enough and took Beth back to the hospital to see what could be done. There was no way he could be sure, but he felt there was a possibility carrying a dead child inside of her could be affecting Beth’s mood. It was worth a shot, at least.
They arrived at the hospital and this time Gary didn’t bother trying to force himself into the room with the doctor and his wife. He already knew from experience what the outcome would be so when the nurse asked him to stay in the waiting room, he obliged and found himself once again feeling alone and helpless.
Gary was told he would have to wait until the doctors were able to remove the child from Beth. It was dead tissue and dead things encourage bacteria, which could cause Beth some serious problems.
Gary braced himself when the doctor came into the waiting room. He’d been bracing himself the entire time he’d been sitting there. But it was futile. He could have spent a million years preparing himself, but it wouldn’t have made him ready to hear what the doctor was about to say.
“There’s no foetus.”
“What do you mean there’s no foetus?” This wasn’t asked in a tone that expressed concern or curiosity. Gary was downright pissed off and was screaming at the doctor.
“Just that, Mr. Becker. We figure your wife must have expelled the foetus and either didn’t notice or didn’t tell anyone.”
“How does someone not notice they’ve expelled a foetus? I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of thing you fucking notice.”
The doctor shrugged.
Gary punched him.
And now for the hard part. Lets talk about you 🙂 If you had to describe yourself to someone who has never met you, what might you say? Short, bald, and ugly. Well, I’m a writer. I’m married. I have five kids, four biological and one step-son. I live in a town called North Bay, Ontario, which is in Canada, for the geographically challenged. I’m not sure what else to say about myself.
If you could meet one person from the past, who might it be and why? Anyone, just so I can tell them to quit living in the past.
When you are NOT writing, what is your favourite pastime? Spending time with my family. We play a lot of board games with the kids. I’ll play Mario Kart on the Wii with the boys. My wife and I spend our evenings on the couch binge watching TV shows. Right now we’re making our way through Republic of Doyle, which is about a family of private investigators in Newfoundland. We’re also watching the current season of Game of Thrones and we just got caught up on American Horror Story’s last season.
Describe Your Dream Getaway Destination. Have you ever been there? What makes this place Irresistible to you? Don’t really have a dream getaway destination, but my wife and I have talked about going to Ireland. Next year. The history of that country is amazing and she wants to see the castles.
Do you have a Mantra? Is that like a Pokémon?
LOL Not quite…lets try again. What “Charity” or “Cause” do you feel passionately about & Why? Autism. My step-son is autistic and there is still a lot of ignorance surrounding it because it’s difficult to understand. People with autism range from very high functioning to very low functioning (which is where my step-son falls), which is why it’s called Autism Spectrum Disorder. My wife was the president of the North Bay and area chapter of Autism Ontario and it’s an organization we’ve done a lot of volunteer work for.
Thanks So Much Joe for sharing your time and insights with BnV 🙂 It’s been great getting to know you and having some laughs!
Please be sure to look Joe up at his social places: