Come on in, sit down and take a load off as you enjoy my interview the Saturday before Christmas with author of the popular Venom Valley Series; author Hank Edwards;
Where do you live?
A suburb in nnorthwest Detroit, MI, the Motor City!
Writers rarely like to toot their own horns, so what would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
Publishing 16 stories while holding down a demanding Evil Day Job, staying involved with my family and partner, and watching way too much TV. Of those published stories, I’m especially proud of the world I built in my Venom Valley series that combines vampires and zombies with Native American spiritualism and plunks it all down in the American Old West.
Without getting too personal (well, you can get personal if you want to!), can you share a little about your home life?
My partner and I just celebrated our 18th year together, and it just keeps getting better. We have two cats that we rescued via friends who found them as strays, and we treat them like our children, naturally. My partner enjoys cooking, so he pretty much decides the menu and prepares the meals (yes, I am that lucky), which gives me time to work on my writing. He got me to switch from a PC to a Mac, and I love it. When I’m writing, I’m either in my office/kitty room (where we have two kitty condos and a two kitty beds and a big box filled with kitty toys) working on my iMac or sitting in the living room listening to movie scores and writing on my MacBook.
What inspires and challenges you most in writing?
The biggest challenge/inspiration is to come up with something new, something unique, but familiar enough to pull the reader in. Also, to keep finding words after having written so much already! My friends in the Story Orgy group help with that. We’re a group of writers who used to post stories, either serial stories or flash fiction, to our blogs every Monday that have been written off a common prompt. We have a private group where we share information, gripes, plot bunnies, etc. and help each other through the tough times. We’ve been a “family” now for going on three years and I love them all dearly though I’ve only met two of the five in person!
You’ve probably answered this question a hundred times, but please indulge as our readers and fellow writers) would like to know: Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines?
I used to be a big pantser, I just started writing and had no idea where the story would go. I’ve tried to become more disciplined with my writing by writing out notes (which is really easy to do with Scrivener, the only way I like to write these days), but even with notes, I still suddenly veer off course when a character decides to do something completely surprising, and then a whole new opportunity opens up in the story. I trust my characters enough to simply follow along and see where they take me. So, I guess I’m a pantser by nature, though I’ve tried to tame myself.
You currently have two popular gay mystery/thriller series, one mainstream romantic and the other speculative fiction, known to fans as the sexy “Trouble” series and the paranormal series, “Venom”. Do you find it difficult and challenging to sustain serialized, continuing characters? What do you find rather easy; what aspects are the most difficult?
Good question! The difficult part in an ongoing series is to make sure the characters fit within the story, and what they will take out of it. In my Up to Trouble series, now with three books, I decided in the third book to move the action to the island of Barbados where Mark winds up being kidnapped by a group of sex slavery thugs. He goes through quite an ordeal, and that will affect him in the next book or two, once I can get myself to sit down and write the next two ideas I have for that series. In Venom Valley, I saw a complete story arc that I knew I could wrap up in three books with the possibility of extending it to more if I thought the characters warranted something more. To me, the easiest aspects of any series are also the most difficult, which would be writing the same characters which is easy because you know them and the readers know them, but then again it’s difficult because it’s the same characters, and you have to be very careful not to become stagnant in their relationship or drama.
If one of your novels/series was opted for a screenplay next week, which would you like to see on the big screen; what makes it so special to you?
OMG … I would LOVE to see one of my books on the big screen. . I love movies, I grew up going to see a lot of movies and they fed my imagination. It would be such a high to see something I wrote projected up on that big screen. I am a very visual writer, I pretty much see everything happening in my mind and write it all down as if I’m transcribing a movie. To see that brought to life on a big screen would be … wow, that would be awesome. As long as I got to have script and casting approval. I’m not high maintenance, nooo
Have had you ever had to deal with homophobia after your gay novels are released, and if so, what form has it taken?
I have not had to deal with any homophobia directly, thankfully, but I’ve heard of some writers whose families have shunned them because of the material they write. I have been fortunate not to have been exposed to that sort of treatment.
What are your guilty pleasures?
TV, way too much TV. I like comedies and scripted dramas and movies, lots of movies. I watch way too much TV and my biggest guilty pleasure of the shows I watch is Glee. That show amazes me every week with the production numbers and song choices and acting and all of it. Wow, there’s a lot that goes into every episode and, sometimes, it’s like they saw right into my head and brought a musical sequence to life. And I love how it’s breaking down gay and lesbian barriers for the younger generation.
Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?
The third book of my Venom Valley series is currently in my editor’s hands at Wilde City Press, but I can share a bit of it with you as long as you’re kind and remember that it’s completely unedited. This book is titled Blood & Stone: Venom Valley Book Three, and this part takes place early in the story. The group of survivors has taken shelter in the church of Belkin’s Pass, which has been overrun by vampires and wolves. An attack has set the church ablaze and the group must evacuate, but they will be vulnerable to attack. This chapter is told from the point of view of Glory, the ex-saloon girl who is protected by a Native American spirit named Ohanzee. Here you go, first look at Blood & Stone: Venom Valley Book Three, coming in early 2014 from Wilde City Press.
The warm pulse of Ohanzee’s protection surged around Glory, and she could almost feel his arms around her. She relaxed her muscles as she had learned to do for the many years Ohanzee had been protecting her, and allowed him to move her out of harm’s way. Ohanzee tipped her away from the fangs of a snapping wolf, but then she felt a sharp pain burn up her left arm. Blood, warm and sticky, flowed along her skin, and she turned to see an Army man—the youngest of the group, Private Kirby—staring at her with wide eyes, a sword shaking in his grip as he stared at the cut he had delivered.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Glory,” Kirby said. “I was just holding the sword like so and you moved all sudden like and your arm grazed the blade.”
“Move!” Glory shouted to him. Kirby jerked his head back in surprise, and then jumped in front of her to cut down another wolf rushing through the doors.
More wolves swarmed through after that one, and behind her, Glory felt the heat of the fire swell as it grew larger. Ohanzee helped her dodge left and right, and Glory stabbed one wolf through the chest, and then used her foot to push it off her sword. Before she could try for another, Ohanzee seemed to shove her aside, back from the doors. A second later, the horses bolted past, trampling several of the wolves and, from the cry that arose, one of the Army men, as well.
Once the horses had cleared the door and were fleeing along the road with the wolves snapping at their hind legs, Glory turned to find the young Private Kirby lying on the floor clutching his right foot.
“Soldiers!” Sergeant Maxwell shouted above the noise. “Solider down! We leave no man behind. Stay together in tight formation!”
Two other soldiers grabbed Kirby roughly beneath the arms and dragged him out the doors of the church. Glory ran out the door behind Beatrice, keeping both hands tight on the handle of her sword as blood ran down her arm. Ohanzee’s presence strengthened around her, and she knew they were not yet safe.
The vampires came for them fast. Before she knew it, one of the soldiers had been yanked screaming out of their group, and the cold burn of panic filled Glory’s chest. She was protected by Ohanzee, the spirit warrior her father had called to guard her when she was a child, but these creatures were numerous and moved so fast and were so strong. Could Ohanzee keep her safe from all of them? She was determined that she would not become food for these monsters, nor would she join them. As long as she could draw breath she would fight to clean the land of them.
On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.
Find Hank Edwards on the web: