Today I’m fortunate to present Pamela Morris author of the horror novel No Rest For The Wicked.
Hi Pamela, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thanks for having me, Jason. My background is pretty mundane. I grew up in the Finger Lake region of Upstate NY in a town with a population of less than 2000. I have two grown children and am on Husband #2 with whom I just celebrated our 1st anniversary on August 27. I love crows and ravens, miniatures, motorcycles, fake food, and all things paranormal.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing and making books for as long as I’ve been able to write! The earliest document I have dates back to 1974 so I would have been eight at the time. It’s nothing more than a thin, spiral notebook that I drew pictures in and labeled each picture. The odd part of it is, I broke it down into specific subjects like people, foods, houses, etc. and finished it off with a full table of contents.
What inspired you to start writing?
I think writing is in my blood. My mother worked in a library for almost thirty years, which is the same library I work in now. Books were everywhere for me growing up. I have several ancestors who were writers. My great, great grandmother kept a diary for over 25 years and wrote in it almost every day, up until about ten days before her death. Another great grandmother kept a travel journal when she made a trip out to Ohio to visit with family. One of my great uncles wrote a children’s story. In fact, the first story I wrote (and illustrated) was a children’s book called “Bill: The Worm Who Ran Away”. I was all of nine. At ten I wrote my first ghost story, “The Strange Well”.
Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?
I’m in the very early stages of my next novel. It’s part two of a two-part series called “The Witch’s Backbone”. These two novels are part of my Barnesville Chronicles. The Chronicles center around the small town of Barnesville and the surrounding towns where many strange things happen. The first two are murder-mysteries, but “The Witch’s Backbone” is more about a local urban legend, how it came to be, and whether any of it is real or not.
What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?
Though I was first published in the erotica market, I tossed that all aside about six years ago and dove into my first and greatest love of Horror and paranormal Murder-Mysteries. I love anything that has that Twilight Zone, Outer Limits feel to it.
What authors influenced you?
Believe it or not, Carolyne Keene was a huge influence. I was a massive Nancy Drew Mysteries fan. Later, I grew to love Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, Tanith Lee, Shirley Jackson and Anne Rice. Tanith Lee probably sparked my writer’s imagination the most, though, with her short story collection, “Red As Blood” which is all about very, very twisted fairytales. I love those things and her writing style is incredibly unique.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading “The Selection” by this guy named Jason J. Nugent. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Haven’t gotten too far into it just yet, but liking it so far. I’m also listening to Dean Koontz’s “77 Shadows Street” on audiobook.
Do you write every day? A few days per week?
In my dreams, I’d write every day. That doesn’t happen. I shy away from writing after work unless there’s a particularly powerful scene going on. I want to be on my best game when I sit down to write. I try and spend a few hours on my weekend mornings, otherwise.
Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?
I’ve discovered I am most productive when I have the Blues on. I think it’s because I find the Blues very emotional to listen to. It’s something you feel deep inside you and when I write, that’s what I am trying to get across to my readers, not just the plot, but the emotions my characters are going through, good or bad.
How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?
Well, I’m 40+ years older now than I was then, so… But seriously, I’ve gone back and read my earlier stuff, and I think I’ve become a lot better at description. I’ve grown better at SHOWING my readers what it going on, instead of just TELLING them a story. I am much better at incorporating all the senses into a scene and placing my readers right there with the characters. I want my readers to feel like they are participating in the action and experiencing whatever is going on.
The covers for The Barnesville Chronicles were all designed by my husband and myself. At first, I’d just draw up a quick pencil sketch of what I had in mind and give it to him, then he’d work his creative magic on the computer. Now, I’ve learned a bit of the program he uses and can create a much better jumping off point for him to finish up. He fine tunes it and makes it into something that works. The cover for “No Rest For The Wicked” was created by the publisher with a few suggestions and ‘must-haves’ from me.
Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?
Definitely! I grew up being enthralled by Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Night Gallery programs. Love Alfred Hitchcock Presents… along with the In Search Of… series hosted by Leonard Nemoy. The 1963 horror movie “The Haunting” based on Shirley Jackson’s novel “The Haunting of Hill House” is my all-time favorite scary movie. I also grew up always believing in ghosts, something my grandmother instilled in me. She was also the person who first introduced me to the Ouija Board.
Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?
No Rest For The Wicked is available on Amazon in both paperback and eBook. You can also find it at Kobo Books. Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon and That’s What Shadows Are Made Of can be found on Amazon, too.
Where can we find you online?
My website is www.pamelamorrisbooks.com. I post a weekly blog and have some freebie short stories posted there along with links and info on all my novels, even the erotica, if you’re brave enough to go down that dark avenue. I’m @pamelamorris65 on Twitter and over on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PamelaMorrisBooks/. If you’re intent on a thorough stalking, I can also be found over at Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/908656.Pamela_Morris
What is your favorite book and why?
Oh, jeeze. That’s impossible to answer! I love so many for different reasons. Tanith Lee’s “Red As Blood” stands out because through it I was first introduced to the concept of taking a common fairytale and turning it into something bizarre and almost unrecognizable from the original. Certain parts of Shirley Jackon’s “We Have Always Lived In The Castle” apparently stuck into my head a lot more than I realized which only just occurred to me when I was enjoying it the second time around a few months ago. But, if you go by the book I’ve read the most often, that’s Bram Stoker’s classic and unforgettable “Dracula”. I’ve read it no fewer than ten times. Why? Because it’s awesome!
How do you market your books?
Mostly on Twitter with the little book ads I post and also through my author page on Facebook and the kindness of those who share my page and any ads I put up. I have done a few signings and sales events and have my books available in a small, local bookstore.
Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?
Sure. This is from the soon-to-be released third book in The Barnesville Chronicles, “The Witch’s Backbone – The Curse”.
The square and its fancy gazebo were all well and good, but that was a place Tara went to practically every day. Today, however, was Saturday and Saturday was garbage day and garbage day meant a trip to the county dump with her dad and, in this case, nearly getting her teeth knocked out by the open mouth of her soda bottle.
The station wagon came to a smooth stop as they waited their turn in line behind a pick-up loaded to the gills with bagged trash. Bob Gunderman, who ran the gate and took the dumping fees, was a talker.
“Can I get out here?” Tara asked.
John nodded. “Just don’t go too far. Stay where I can see you.”
“Cool.” She didn’t wait for him to change his mind, not that John ever had in the past, but he knew as well as Tara that her mother would have a fit and fall in it if she knew he was letting Tara run wild, as she called it, among the mountains and pits of trash. The last thing either of them wanted was for Tara to fall into some forgotten mound and get buried alive. That might be a little hard to explain back home to Mom.
“Watch out for the seagulls,” he shouted just before Tara’s door slammed shut.
She gave him a thumbs up in reply.
The results of last night’s storm squished under the rubber soles of her boots, sucking and splatting her way to where the gate attendant leaned against the battered doorway of the dump station’s shelter, Tara slid on a pair of yellow dishwashing gloves. “Hey, Mr. Gunderman!” She saluted.
He shook his head and chuckled. “Heading in?” he asked, saluting her back with a tip of his Texaco ball cap. When he wasn’t tending to trash, Bob did small engine and appliance repair out of a rusted and lop-sided metal shed set up behind his equally akimbo and well-maintained mobile home. They’d passed on the left, halfway up the road. Tara suspected he got a lot of parts from the dump.
“Yes, sir. Got anything good this week?”
“I’m sure you’ll find a treasure or two. Stay clear of the back west though, it’s been shifting a lot lately.”
“Ten-four, good buddy.” She strode past the pick-up truck, ducked under the wooden security arm that had probably been white once, but now was more a mottled grey-green, and made her way into the refuse-littered landscape beyond.
It stank. It stank a lot, especially after last night’s rain, but it wasn’t anything compared to how it would be once the late August sun rose high and hot. Sometimes John wasn’t so early getting the trash around and that’s when coming here wasn’t as much fun. How Mr. Gunderman could stand it, Tara didn’t know, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“You get used to it,” he’d told her once.
The pick-up passed by at a crawl; the side-to-side motion created by each muddy rut threatening to toss one bag or another of garbage out the back end. Tara paused to watch as it made its way around to the left of the ever-growing ring of refuse. In the middle of it all was The Pit, the massive hole in the ground that was slowly being filled. The road circled all the way around The Pit, which was further ringed by a section devoted to dead washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators next to a heap of lawn mowers and a bunch of vacuum cleaners. Another was nothing but discarded tires. A section of small appliances; lamps, toasters, blenders, small radios and record players lay jumbled together in a mound at least six feet high and twenty feet around. There was a vague sense of order to the place. Tara tried to decide what sort of something she wanted to look for today.
She could use a new tape player, but if it was here, chances were it didn’t work and she didn’t know so much about fixing those. Tara wandered off to the right, away from the man and boy hurling bag after bag into The Pit from the truck bed. Their actions had sent the flock of gulls into a dive-bombing, screaming frenzy overhead. Rats with wings, that’s what Mr. Gunderman called them.
“What are sea gulls doing around here anyway?” Tara wanted to know. “We’re not even close to the sea or a lake or anything.”
“There’s Meyer’s Pond,” Bob had offered. “And Miller’s Pond and …”
“Then these are pond gulls,” Tara interrupted with a laugh.
“Or trash gulls. Just rats with wings, Tara. That’s all they are, rats with wings. If there’s a free meal to be ‘et, that’s where they’ll be.”
Strolling from pile to pile, Tara kept an eye out for just about anything. Sometimes there was hidden treasure. Sometimes there was nothing. Today felt like a nothing day. She’d reached the furthest point from the front gates by now. Her dad’s car was parked near the pick-up whose occupants were finally done and climbing back into the cab. Dad only had a few bags so he wouldn’t be long. It hadn’t really been enough time to look the place over very well, but Tara could always ride her bike up to come back later in the week. Maybe she could even get a friend to come with her. Maybe Danny as long as it was just him and not his annoying brother or, God forbid, his whiney girlfriend, Susan; not Sue, not Susie, but Susan.
With her hands on her hips, Tara looked out across the piles towards the slope of weeds that ended abruptly with a thick line of shrubs and Birch trees a couple hundred feet out. The wind, thank God, was blowing in her favor, lifting the feather of her bangs off her forehead just enough to feel a tiny bit cooler. Something moved along the tree line. It was low and slow and brown. Probably a deer. Nah, too dark to be a deer, she immediately determined. Not much else could have been seen this far away. Its back was hunched up, pausing as it maybe nibbled on some grass or wild berries along its path. Maybe it was a bear. A bear would be a lot more exciting to see than a deer. Whatever it was pivoted, displayed a flash of dark brown or black fabric and a feather on top of its head and stopped. Tara’s jaw dropped. She saw its eyes, small, black, and glistening, staring right at her.
It wasn’t a bear. As Tara turned to run as fast as possible back to the station wagon, she prayed it wasn’t what she thought it was. If it was, she was as good as dead.
If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?
My first murder-mystery was accepted and released by a publisher, but a mere six months after the release, they went out of business. That was a huge punch to the gut. After a year of searching for another publisher and with readers of the first book hounding me about getting a second one out, I gave in and decided to self-publish. I got a lot of encouragement from a fellow writer in regards to “No Rest For The Wicked” so when I saw HellBound Books accepting manuscripts, I sent it out, even though I’d already released it myself six month earlier. They took it in and gave it a new home, so I’m pretty happy about that. I’ll continue to put out my Barnesville Chronicles myself as they are just too near and dear to my heart to hand over to anyone else at this time.
Any parting words for writers?
First, don’t write about what’s popular right now, chances are whatever the current fad is today, will be fading away by the time you get that novel done. Instead, write what speaks to you. Tell the stories that come to you in your daydreams, or nightmares, whichever the case may be. Second, listen, truly listen, to the characters that approach you out of nowhere. Tell their stories. They won’t always go where you think they should, so follow them along and try to keep up as best you can. Lastly, don’t worry about that first draft being a mess, just get the story down as fast as you are capable of doing. Tell the story first. Fix the mess it will be after.