An Interview with Author Joe Knetter

By Jason Harris

Author Joe Knetter holding Vile Beauty.

Author Joe Knetter holding Vile Beauty.

Author Joe Knetter started writing ten years ago after being a lifelong horror fan. His start came when he was online and found a publisher who was looking for stories.

“I thought it would be fun to give it a shot, so I wrote four and sent them in.”

All four of his stories were accepted, he said. Since then, he has written many more stories with interesting titles. His favorite title is “For the Love of Orson Welles’ Fat Black Ejaculate,” which can be found in his collection, Vile Beauty.

“It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” Knetter said about the title. “I was stoned one night. I just randomly said that. I can’t remember what about.”

He ended up writing that story for a gross-out contest. After submitting it and people started reading it, the contest organizers changed the rules so that his story was excluded, Knetter said.

Vile Beauty is really nasty. It’s more for shock value and over-the-top stuff. The other stuff is a little more mellow. Zombie Bukkake is obviously pretty out there.”

There are times Knetter will come up with the title first, then work the story around it.

He has a new story, “Crack in the Sarcophagus,” appearing in Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification, which debuts this month at Anthocon.

“I think it’s going to be a fun book.”

He loves attending horror conventions, and attends quite a few. When he first started out, he would attend up to 14 a year. This year he has only been to three, including Rock & Shock.

“Being that there are so many shows across the country, it kind of gets oversaturated a little bit.”

At his first convention, his goal was to sell one book. At one of the many conventions he has attended since that first one, he met his girlfriend of four years, Sarah French.

“The goal is always to make money, but it’s just as important for me to network,” Knetter said about conventions. “The shows are fun. It’s great to meet people.”

He did have a fan come to a show once whom he later found out was disturbed. This fan later arrested for putting bombs in vibrators, which is what Knetter used in one of his stories, he said. The fan was caught before anyone got hurt. He would have felt bad if someone had gotten hurt, but realized that if the fan didn’t react to something he wrote, he would have reacted to someone else’s work.

“Lucky enough, he was stupid enough not to do it right. Thank god. Horror fans are good people generally. They’re not troublemakers.”

He did have another fan buy one of his books that was poorly edited early on in his career. This fan highlighted his mistakes in the book then brought it back and gave it to him, Knetter said. “That was pretty comical, actually.”

Inspiration strikes Knetter everywhere. He has used an old mental hospital his mother worked at as a setting in a few stories. He has also written about a haunted hotel his girlfriend lived in while growing up. His story, “Room 17,” describes what happened at that hotel.

“I had to change the name of the hotel by one letter. Legally, I’m good to go now.”

He has been inspired by the early work of Clive Barker and is a huge Stephen King fan. His work has been compared to Wrath James White and Edward Lee.

His advice to writers is to just write, but don’t expect to make money, because writers don’t make much.

“Write because you have to tell the story and hope that you get lucky enough that it finds someone who likes it. You have to keep writing.”

You can find out more about Knetter on his website, click here.

Author Talks about First Novel and Writing

 

By Jason Harris

Dawn of Broken GlassGordon Anthony Bean recently published his first novel, Dawn of Broken Glass. It was released in June.

He has written two other novels, but shelved them since they didn’t feel right to him. He plans to revisit them at a future date.

Dawn of Broken Glass felt like a great story with fully developed [and] believable characters that the reader could identify with, so I decided this was the book I wanted to publish first,” Bean said.

Dawn of Broken Glass tells the story of Michael Carson, who witnesses the brutal and senseless slaughter of his family during Kristallnacht in the early days of World War II. The loss of his family has left him with deep emotional scars, and feelings of anger and hatred which become all-consuming to the young man. Years later, he seeks his revenge. Along with the mysterious Jason Froemmer, Carson begins a mission to eradicate the bloodlines of each soldier who partook in his family’s slaughter so many years earlier.

Bean wrote it over eighteen months. He spent the better part of a year doing multiple revisions on plot, characters, and writing style.

Bean is working on Bloodlines, a sequel to his first published short story, “From a Whisper to a Dream.” This story was published in the anthology, Sinister Landscapes, published by Pixie Dust Press. He does have a second short story, “Out of the Corner of His Eye,” in the Grinning Skull Press anthology, From Beyond the Grave.

“One interesting tidbit about my writing is that the stories are all interconnected. In my second novel, there will be an appearance of a central character from Dawn of Broken Glass. Basically, I’m creating a wholly contained universe where all my stories take place on the same earth,” Bean said.

His primary career is in finance, but he wants it to be writing.

“I’m trying to get my writing career to take off and hopefully be able to one day devote myself to it full-time.”

He has been writing his entire life. “In elementary school, I had a short story published in our school’s spring journal. In high school, my creative writing teacher told me that of all the students she ever had, she felt that I was best suited to be a writer.”

He belongs to the New England Horror Writers organization. He hopes to get exposure for his writing through the NEHW. This is what he hopes would happen with belonging to any writer’s organization.

“What I hope the NEHW or any other group would be able to do is help give exposure to this novel and future novels,” Bean said.

Bean has received good writing advice in his life, he said.

“The best I remember getting was to write for myself. Like most writers, I love to write. I am a huge horror fan and if I can leave a lasting imprint on a reader through my work, it’s all worthwhile.”

Besides writing, he enjoys reading. Michael Moorcock and Robert Heinlein were two early favorites and Clive Barker, who he loved when he was a teenager. He reads Christopher Golden, Brian Lumley, F. Paul Wilson, Joe Lansdale, Edward Lee, Jonathan Maberry, Dan Simmons, Richard Matheson, Douglas Preston & Lee Child now. His tastes vary, he said.

A Conversation with Author Jan Kozlowski

This entry appeared on author and NEHW member Kate Laity’s website.

Writer Wednesday: Jan Kozlowski

by Kate Laity

My pal and fellow Horror in Film and Literature lister, Jan Kozlowski, first fell in love with the horror genre in 1975 when the single drop of ruby blood on the engraved black cover of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot hypnotized her into buying it. She sold her first story, Psychological Bacchanal to the EWG E-zine in 1997. Her short story, Parts is Parts, won awards in both the International Writing Competition sponsored by DarkEcho’s E-zine and Quoth the Raven’s Bad Stephen King contest. Another short story, Stuff It, was sold to an independent film producer and went into production as a movie short called Sweet Goodbyes. Her short stories have appeared in: Remittance Girl’s A Slip of the Lip anthology, Lori Perkins’ Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance and Fangbangers: An Erotic Anthology of Fangs, Claws, Sex and Love.

She is extremely proud and excited to announce that her first novel, Die, You Bastard! Die! debuted February 7, as part of Lori Perkins’ new horror line, Ravenous Shadows, edited by the legendary John Skipp.

Q: What do you write on? Computer, pad o’ paper, battered Underwood? Give us a vivid picture.

I do the majority of my writing on my cherished MacBook Pro laptop. I tend to turn my MacBook on at 6:30 a.m. and don’t shut down until 9 p.m. or later most days [Ed: Hmmm, you can shut them down?]. If I either get stuck or get a jones to feel pen against paper, I’ll pull out my old white L&M Ambulance Company clipboard loaded with scrap paper and start scribbling. The board is a souvenir of my days as an urban EMT in Hartford, CT and I keep it around as a reminder of what I COULD be doing for a living.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it influence what you write?

I almost always listen to my local Dinosaur (Classic) Rock radio station when I’m working. Since Die, You Bastard! Die! is such an ultra violent story, I tried putting together a play list of heavier metal like Avenged Sevenfold (my granddaughter’s favorite band), Testament, Broken Hope, Disturbed, but I ended up distracted by the unfamiliar songs. Listening to the rock I grew up with in the 70’s like Bob Seger, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith, with a little Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Bon Jovi and Bacon Brothers thrown in via iTunes works best for me.

Q: Do you write in short bursts or carve out long periods of time to work? Is it a habit or a vice?

For me, writing is a business. I’ve been freelancing since I was about 12 and sold articles about raising tropical fish to my hometown newspaper. For the past 15 years or so I’ve run my own freelance writing shop doing all sorts of business and web related writing, editing and research work. Over the past two years, I’ve slowly been moving away from the business projects in order to focus on my horror fiction, but whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction my work style is the same….commit to the project and write until the client, the editor or I’m happy with the finished product.

Q: What writer would you most want to read your work? What would you want to hear them say?

That’s already happened…on one of the drafts of Die, You Bastard! Die! I think I managed to gross out my editor, legendary Splatterpunk King, John Skipp! Now if I can, one day, pay Dean Koontz back for the creeps he gave me with his novel Whispers, I’ll die a happy writer.

Q: On the days where the writing doesn’t go so well, what other art or career do you fantasize about pursuing instead?

When I was a little girl my grandfather used to tell me stories about his adventures working for a funeral home during the pre-embalming fluid days. I always thought I would have loved working in mortuary sciences, but when I was going to school women weren’t exactly welcomed into the funeral services industry. Now that times have changed and we have a first class Mortuary Sciences degree program at our local college, I’ve always thought that would make a fabulous Plan B, even now at age 50+.

Q: What do you read? What do you re-read?

I try to read a little bit of everything. I get some great ideas from newspapers and magazines. I just discovered and am now devouring Mad Money Wall Street guru, Jim Cramer’s books. I try and read as much classic horror like Robert Bloch, M.R. James, Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Edgar Allan Poe and J.N. Williamson as possible. I also try to keep up with who’s publishing today beyond Bestsellersaurus Rexes Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m a huge fan of Edward Lee, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Joe R. Landsdale, Jonathan Maberry, Elizabeth Massie, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Monica O’Rourke, John Skipp and Andrew Vachss.

I rarely find time to re-read anything unless I’m researching a specific writing technique, like how Jonathan Maberry handled the fight scenes in his Pine Deep trilogy or how Dean Koontz ramped up to the reveal of the cockroaches in Whispers.

Q: Where did the idea for Die,You Bastard! Die! come from? Do you have a surefire way of sparking inspiration? And is that an awesome title or what?!

The idea for Die, You Bastard! Die! came out of a lovely dinner Ravenous Shadows publisher Lori Perkins and I had during the 2011 Northeast Writer’s Conference, known as NECON. Lori mentioned she was looking for a story about an adult child coming home to take care of her abusive parent and it matched up with a story I had been kicking around for years about a survivor of childhood sexual abuse coming home to deal with her past. After the conference I got home, wrote up the proposal, Skipp green-lighted it and we took off from there. I realize that’s not the way most writers get a book deal but it goes to prove that if you consistently put the hard work in, you WILL find yourself at the right place, at the right time with the right story.

Writing inspiration and story/character/plot ideas are everywhere if you’re open to them…and my motivation for being open to them usually is based on my memories of being paid $5 an hour to be projectile vomited on as an EMT or waitressing at Friendly’s for .60 below minimum wage.

John Skipp raves about this book:

Die, You Bastard! Die! is one hard-as-nails crime story indeed, with a crime at its core so heinous it boggles both mind and soul. That said, it is also a horror story, a mystery, and an insanely taut suspense thriller. Categories are funny like that.

But human monsters don’t get more humanly monstrous than Big Daddy. And it don’t get much rougher and tougher than Jan Kozlowski’s violently matter-of-fact, emotionally ass-kicking, downright incendiary son of a bitch.
I love this book, and stand behind it 100%. Hope it blows you away, as it did me. And has you coming back for more.

Drop by Jan’s blog or website and follow her on Twitter. Find her on Facebook and check out her Amazon author page. Thanks, Jan!