Welcome to my Reviews and Interviews blog. I enjoyed reading “Death Masks” – well, except for the not-sleeping-well effect it had on me. I found it quite horrifying.
What first inspired you to write this novel?
I wrote the first draft while living in Ohio, across the street from a metro park. Having come from the wide open spaces of New Mexico, the dense trees of Ohio and steep areas struck me as places to dump a body. Often in the news, people were found days after driving off into one of these areas. I did talk with the park rangers near me and found out they try to keep any assaults or other problems occurring in the parks under wraps so that people will feel safe in coming there.
What is a death mask?
Throughout the ages, man often made masks of the deceased faces. It is a way of honoring the dead and, before photographs became available, to preserve the visage of the deceased person for the living to view. There are many in museums around the world including some famous people such as Agamemnon, Cromwell, Edison, Newton and Volaire.
I made a plaster cast of my own face to use for promoting Death Masks and the detail of the features surprised me. The death masks I had the opportunity to see also had great detail. FYI: the one I did of myself is technically called a Life Mask since I am still living.
How did you choose your protagonist?
I decided early on I wanted my protagonist to be someone different than those you find in a lot of thrillers. Bill is an IT computer support tech instead of a detective or someone with law enforcement experience. His curiosity keeps him on the trail but his lack of experience causes him to make mistakes.
Why did you decide to publish Death Masks with Eternal Press, an e-book publisher?
I find every path to publishing valid in one form or another. My first book came out as a print on demand format because I had the opportunity to do it free. I do editing for Eternal Press and so took the opportunity to try my hand at an e-book when it was offered. It may not be the best choice for every book, but I believe a good one for this story. I prefer to form my own opinions about such things with a little of my own experience.
Tell us about the book trailer.
My fiancé, William Gilchrist filmed it for me using ideas we brainstormed together. The music is from a death metal band from my hometown of Roswell, New Mexico. I wanted a rougher sound since this is not a happy, fluffy story. The neat thing is the band, Children of a Lesser God, and I are working together to promote ourselves. It’s opened up some interesting opportunities. They will be taking touring all summer and Death Masks goes with them. The trailer can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp2zpDNMfmM
What are you working on now?
I have a horror novel tentatively titled, Holy Blessed Homicide, which I am revising. It is also out in submission.
I am also in the first rewrites of a story about the Amazon warrior women from the region of Turkey. It was my 2007 nanowrimo project but I have two more in the series planned. The first of which is brainstormed and the first few chapters written.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Perseverance: wrap it around your shoulders and tie it tight.
Do you belong to a critique group? Do you believe they are beneficial to writers?
I strongly believe in critique groups. The trick is to find the one for you. I’ve learned so much from the groups I’ve belonged to both in-person and online. Currently I belong to one which meets online weekly.
Critique groups are vital to any writer. They often see things you overlook in your manuscript. You know what you want to say; only another person can tell you if you said it clearly. They also give you a sense of accountability. For me, I am embarrassed when I don’t have my submission ready or my critiques done. Many times, once I sit down to do them, a lot more comes out of the time at the keyboard.
You do have to take the critiques themselves with a grain of salt. Remember, these are one person’s perspective and opinion. You are not obligated to make the changes they suggest but if several people tell you the same thing, that’s a sign it needs to be fixed.
You learn your critique partners strengths and weaknesses over time and then have a better idea of which areas of their advice to heed or ignore. Don’t take any of it personally. It’s the STORY they are critiquing, not you and it is okay to tell someone getting personal that they’ve hurt your feelings.
Do you outline before you write, or do you dive in and see where the characters take you?
I outline in a weird way. I call it brainstorming but I make a ton of notes and arrange them in an order once I’m done. I usually start out with a “What if?” and go from there. I’ve found that the research stage shapes the characters and the world so that they fit one another and the situation. Many plots have arisen from elements uncovered in research.
It’s true that you do need to know how you want the story to end and it helps to know a few important crossroads in the plot but don’t be rigid because the story will turn out feeling unnatural or forced.
What do you love most about being a writer?
That it’s okay to be creative and enjoy what you do. I’ve done the get up and go to a job that I hate thing and it’s not good for your mental health, which then affects your physical health and relationships. Life is too precious to waste it that way.
You write mainly horror and fantasy, but you’ve also written sci-fi, children’s and non-fiction. Are there any others? Do you have a favorite?
I love reading fantasy most, though horror is gaining. I just find writing horror a little easier and science fiction the hardest. My children’s story started out as a fantasy for an adult fantasy magazine. It was a writer in my local critique group who recognized it as a children’s story. I also write erotica, though have not yet published any.
I’ve had people in my life ask me to “write something nice” and so I tried my hand at inspirational stories. They royally sucked and so I returned to where my creativity thrives. Non-fiction is a lot more work for me as well and I struggle with my own fears that I’m not enough of an expert so I don’t write much of it. Most of the non-fiction I have written involves writing, book and tv reviews, scifi/fantasy/horror. I’d love to write magazine articles but so far nothing I’ve written along those lines is interesting enough.
Can you share the links to all your networking sites, please?
Writers Chatroom (Chats, newsletter, forum) http://www.writerschatroom.com/
Pretty Scary (online community for women in horror) http://www.pretty-scary.net/
Broad Universe (women writers in sf/f/h) http://www.broaduniverse.org/
Good Reads http://www.goodreads.com/profile/Kim_Richards
Live Journal http://kim-richards.livejournal.com/
My Space http://www.myspace.com/kim_richards
Eternal Press (my publisher and where I work as a marketing manager). Here’s the blog link: http://www.eternalpressauthors.blogspot.com
The Muse Online Writing Conference (in October each year) http://www.freewebs.com/themuseonlinewritersconference/index.htm
I also belong to a ton of email lists for fantasy writers, horror writers, book promotions, book news, and more. I don’t believe in joining a group just to promote my work but do feel free to promote in the places I hang out. I’ve found mentors here and a lot of great friends.
The best way for fans to connect with you would be…?
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim, thank you again for stopping by today. I’d like to remind everyone who visits to leave a comment to be entered into drawings for a copy of Death Masks, cds, and tshirts.