13 Questions with Nancy Collins

This week on HA we are doing things a little different, our featured author for this week Nancy Collins will not be sharing a story with all us fans. Instead, we will be listening in on an exclusive interview with Nancy.

Professionally, Collins has been writing for 25 years and has “22 novels and short story collections published. Many of them are available both in print and as e-books.” Nancy also wanted to add, “I am in the process of making my back catalog available via e-books.”

Nancy has been “published in all formats: major traditional publishers (Penguin, Harper Collins, New American Library), small press publishers (White Wolf, Cemetery Dance Publications, Biting Dog Publications, Gauntlet Press, Overlook Connection Press), e-publishers (Premier Digital Publishing, Biting Dog Publications) and self-epublishing (Hopedale Press).  [She prefers] traditional major publishing, if for no other reasons than [getting] paid an advance for [her] work and [she doesn’t] have to be responsible for everything, thereby giving [her] time to actually write book. However, [she does] enjoy some aspects of self-publishing, such as designing the e-covers for [her] novels and short stories. That’s not to say [she’s[ good at it, mind you–just that [she enjoys] it.”

As I mentioned, Collins has several books published and some of her well noted novels include those in her Golgotham series. And the series is so popular that it has it’s own “city” website: Golgotham Online. Nancy explained that “Golgotham Online is dedicated to my Golgotham series of urban fantasy novels, set in New York City’s supernatural ghetto. It’s designed to resemble a Chamber of Commerce tourism website, like those for, say San Francisco’s Chinatown or New Orleans’ French Quarter. All the restaurants, bars and shops listed are those from the books. There are restaurant menus, a FAQ for visitors to the area, and the like available. I generated all the copy myself.”

Now all of you Collins fans out there…get ready for some interesting insight into the growth of the author’s lover. “I’ve always enjoy the horror genre’s ambiguity, as well as its ability to unnerve, not just horrify. I like stories and movies that make me think, and are not afraid to have an unhappy/unconventional ending…As a kid I always had a fondness for vampires and werewolves. They’re the essential building blocks of gothic horror, really. The biggest problem with werewolves, though, is that there are only a handful of decent movies about them: The Wolfman, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Howling, American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Ginger Snaps. That’s about it. On the other hand, there are plenty of excellent vampire movies out there, ranging from the traditional, like Horror of Dracula and Nosferatu, to unconventional stuff like Near Dark, The Hamiltons, and Martin. ”

Nancy then shared another childhood “horror” story with me. “When I was a kid the Dr. Seuss story The Pale Green Pants scared the living daylights out of me.  It’s a story about a guy who sees an empty pair of pants walking down the street, and is so frightened he runs away, and the pants chase after him. Not only that, they stalk him. At the end of the story the guy realizes the pants just wants someone to wear them, and doesn’t mean any harm. But in my mind, the pants were trying to kill him. (Don’t ask me how I came up with that interpretation) I had nightmares about being chased by the empty pants, and became so upset that my mother finally had to sit me down and tell me that it was impossible for pants to run around without anyone inside them. Then I saw the original INVISIBLE MAN, where he runs down the street, stripping off his clothes–and lo and behold there’s a *pair of empty pants running around with no one inside them!* On TV!!! Therefore it *must* be true.  My mother cursed poor Claude Raines for weeks.”

Collins’ goals for the future are simple: To get all her back catalog (that includes 50+ short stories and novellas) formatted and available for sale in ebook format, while still being paid to write.

Be sure to be on the look out for Nancy Collins’ upcoming projects: “I’ve got the third book in the Golgotham series, Magic and Loss coming out in 2013 from Penguin/Roc. Premier Digital Publishing (PDP) will be releasing the revised and updated ebook edition of In The Blood, the direct sequel to Sunglasses After Dark, before the end of the year.  I’ve just signed a contract with Overlook Connection Press to release the Sonja Blue trilogy (Sunglasses After Dark, In The Blood and Paint It Black) in a series of limited collector’s edition hardback. I’m also working with artist Stan Shaw to release the Sunglasses After Dark Graphic Novel via IDW. I’ve also got original short stories appearing in the forthcoming Clockwork Fables and Exotic Gothic #5. I also expect to have a series of audiobooks, produced via ACX, available in time for Christmas 2012, to be made available via Audible.com, Amazon & iTunes. So far, the audiobooks under production include Sunglasses After Dark, The Thing From Lover’s Lane, Return to Hell House, Hell Come Sundown, Lynch and Walking Wolf.”
For more information on Nancy Collins, check out these websites!

http://www.golgothamonline.com/
http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/c/nancy-a-collins/
http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/32665/Nancy_A_Collins/index.aspx
http://truesonjablue.blogspot.com/2012/08/sunglasses-after-dark-now-on-kobo.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FGobLc+%28True+Blue%29

Photo Credit: Tommy Boulden
Sunglasses After Dark/In The Blood/Paint It Black art credit: Sean Hartter

Biting Dog Press

Since Biting Dog Press was nice enough to arrange for me to interview Nancy Collins for episode 81 of Horror Addicts, I thought I would write about who they are and what they have to offer. Biting Dog Press is a small independent book publisher that specializes in producing limited edition collectable books and e-books. All of their collectable books are handmade and limited to no more then 300 copies.

One of the collectable books they have includes  The Resurrection And The Life by Brian Keene which was limited to 250 signed hardcover copies. The book was produced in the style of a medieval manuscript and tells the tale of a shocking twist from the Book of John. They also have limited edition books from Edgar Allen Poe, Neil Gaiman and Jack Ketchum.

Biting Dog also has quite a few e-books available. Among them is Through Darkest America by Neal Barrett  Jr. Which I reviewed earlier in the season and its sequel Dawn’s Uncertain Light. The sequel follows a young man named Howie Ryder as he travels to Silver Island which was meant to be a symbol of how America was recovering after the great war. In reality the island is a concentration camp where genetic engineering is being done and his sister is being held captive.

Some other books from Biting Dog Press includes: The Transformed Mouse by Jack Ketchum which is a fable aimed at adults but not for people that fear mice. Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman which is about an angel who was murdered in heaven before the fall. Then there is Suffer The Flesh by Monica J. O Rourke which tells the tale of a woman named Zoey who was kidnapped in Manhattan and is about to learn what ecstasy and pain is really about.

Another good book that I just finished reading from Biting Dog Press is Knuckles And Tales by Nancy Collins. This is a collection of gothic short stories and novelettes all set in the South. Some of the things you’ll find in  this anthology include a half catfish half woman that lives in the Mississippi River, a half alligator half man that attacks fishermen, a traveling sideshow with a snake charmer, a geek that bites the head off of chickens, a voodoo priest who is leading his undead family out for revenge and an old witch who can turn your luck around for a price.

One of my favorite stories in this collection and really there isn’t a bad story in this anthology is Billy Fearless. Billy is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and hes not exactly stupid but he does have a tendency to take everything at face value and is immune to fear. Thinking that he is an idiot his father sends him away with some money and tells him to go out into the world,  make your fortune and never return. Billy leaves and comes to a little hotel in front of a haunted mansion on a lake. Billy gets dared to spend three nights in the mansion. Several people have been brave enough to enter the mansion but none have lived to tell the tale . Billy is not a normal guy though and the evil spirits that haunt the house may have met their match. I loved how Billy is presented in this story, hes a  nice person that wants to help people but because he is a little slow and never scared, people get the wrong idea. The end of the story is hilarious and I loved it when the evil spirit in charge of haunting the mansion confronts Billy. This story teaches that being righteous does have its rewards.

Another great story from Knuckles and Tales is The Two Headed Man. This is kind of a bizarre love story with an equally bizarre sex scene. It all starts when a man shows up at a diner just before it closes, he unzips his coat and the waitress and cook are surprised to see that he has two heads…or does he? I don’t want to tell any more about this story because it would ruin the surprise. What makes this story good is that it teaches that even people who are a little different can find love and never judge a book by its cover. Also the characters were beautifully written, I could relate to all of them and wanted to see them have a happy ending.

Nancy Collins makes the rural south come alive in Knuckles and Tales and I enjoyed the fact that three of the stories uses a traveling carnival and sideshow as its settings. If you like horror with a mix of comedy and old legends then you’ll want to check this one out.

Werewolves and Vampires

For this review we have to get in the time machine and go back to 1980 and take a look at  Moondeath by Rick Hatula. Moondeath was Rick Hatula’s first novel and was originally released by Zebra books. From 1977 to 1994 Zebra books was a major publisher of horror novels, but as the horror boom of the 80’s died down, Zebra books died with it. So for several years you probably couldn’t find a copy of Moondeath until late 2011 when Evil Jester Press re-released Rick Hatula’s Moondeath.

Moondeath takes place in the picturesque little tourist town of Coon Falls New Hampshire and follows the story of divorced teacher Bob Wentworth. Bob is looking to make a fresh start and has just moved to town to take a job as a teacher. Bob meets an unhappily married woman named Lisa and starts a relationship and things look good for Bob.

Things change though when a car with a young man and a woman he was having an affair with,  goes off of a bridge and into the river. To the people in town it looks like an accident but the young man was married to a woman named Julie and Julie has some dark secrets. After the accident people start dying on nights when the moon is full. The local sheriff and townspeople think there is a large dog or a wolf doing the killing, but Bob believes the deaths are the work of a werewolf.

Like Julie, Bob also has a dark secret and the townspeople are not willing to believe his story. The townspeople try to hide the fact that they have a werewolf problem but the bodies keep stacking up and secrets don’t stay buried forever. There is something evil in Coon Falls and there may not be a way to stop it.

If you read Moondeath remember that it is a product of the early 80’s because the story seems a  little dated. For one thing there is a scene where a werewolf is terrorizing a man in a phone booth. Also the story reminded me a lot of the slasher movies that were so popular in the early 80’s. You have people dying off in a beautiful small town one by one and no one in town seems to worry about it, until the bodies really start to pile up.

Another thing that makes Moondeath a little dated is the lack of strong women characters. One of the villains in the story is a woman named Julie. She comes across  as slutty and very one dimensional, I think if the story focused on her more and how she feels,  it would have made the story better. The other main female character, Lisa comes across as hateable because she is married to an abusive alcoholic and does nothing about it even though she knows who her husband is cheating with.  I also didn’t like how she wouldn’t  believe what is going on in Coon Falls despite the evidence that is in front of her.

I can forgive Moondeath for having weak characters because in a lot of books and movies in the early 80’s, women were not presented as strong unlike today.  My other complaints was that the book was a little slow moving and there was a couple  unanswered questions that annoyed me.

That being said there was a quite a few things that I did like about Moondeath. Rick Hatula does a great job of using forshadowing. For instance when Bob and Lisa meet for the first time, you see Lisa playing with her wedding ring which tells you right away that this couple is going to be more then friends. Also there is a point after a fight between two boys in a high school takes place and after being beaten up, one of the boys stomps down the hallway, you know we haven’t seen the last of him. Another scene that I liked was one day when Bob is showing up at the high school he sees an ominous looking cloud passing over the school and he thinks that something evil is coming.

I  loved how Rick Hatula describes the death scenes in the book and the parts where black magic is being performed. I also thought it was a nice touch how there we’re scenes in the church where what the preacher was saying was a metaphor for what was going on in the book. Lastly, I did like all of the  male characters in the book but would have liked to have seen more from the villains point of view. All in all I did enjoy Moondeath and would recommend it to anyone who liked horror in the early 80’s.

Also recently I read a short story from Biting Dog Press called Search and Destroy by Nancy Collins. Search and Destroy follows vampire hunter Sonja Blue as she goes to investigate why homeless people are dying at an alarming rate outside a small town in Washington.

If your not familiar with Sonja Blue, she was created by Nancy Collins in 1989. Sonja has had 5 novels written about her and several short stories. Search and Destroy is the first new Sonja Blue adventure in 10 years.

Sonja was only 18 years old when she was raped and fed on by a vampire. She was left on the street to die but miraculously survived and became a living vampire.  She now spends time hunting vampires, ogres and demons. Think Buffy but more powerful, funnier and a lot scarier.

My only problem with Search and Destroy is that I wish it was longer. Despite how short the story is, Nancy Collins does a great job of creating some characters that you quickly grow to like and she gives a good commentary on what its like to be an outcast from society. This is a fast paced story with a lot of action and is very well written, but I wanted more.  Hopefully we will see more of Sonja Blue in the future.

1990’s books

The first book I want to talk about is by one of my favorite authors, Tamara Thorne. I was first introduced to Tamara through an interview on horrorworld.org. In the interview, Tamara mentioned that for easter she was planning on painting some mice to look like Easter eggs,  so her cats could enjoy the holiday also. I liked her sense of humor and ran out and bought her book Moonfall. Moonfall was written in 1996  and is centered around Sara Hawthorne and John Lawson.

Sara Hawthorne has been away from the small town of Moonfall for a long time. She was a student at Saint Gertrude’s school for girls but left town after the suicide of her best friend. She has now returned to teach at St. Gertrude’s or St Gruesome’s as the townspeople call it; but not all is well in Moonfall. There have been quite a few unusual deaths and suicides lately and some of the bodies are being found on the grounds of  the school.

Certainly the priests and nuns at the school couldn’t be involved in the murders, or could they?  The local sheriff: John Hawthorne is investigating the murders and he has experienced some tragedy at St. Gertrude’s himself. On Halloween night as a child, 24 years ago John and his friends made an after hours trip to the school to spy on the girls. No one knows for sure what happened that night, but one of the boys was found dead at the bottom of witch falls and the rest were scarred for life.  This school may not be what everyone thinks it is, and those gargoyles around the school might not be stone after all.

Its been a long time since I’ve read Moonfall but I remember thinking  it was a little like Dario Argento’s Susperia with a few laughs and some good sex scenes thrown in just to mix it up a bit. The book also has a couple of good love stories going on and I remember liking how the witch’s masses were depicted in the book. The story deals a lot with the occult and it was interesting to see how the school mixed pagan and christian beliefs without either one overpowering the other.

The next book is by another one of my favorite authors, Richard Laymon. This one is called In The Dark and was released in 1994. Jane Kerry, the city of Donnerville’s librarian lives an average uninteresting life but that all changes when she finds an envelope containing $50 dollars and instructions saying “look homeward, angel,” signed MOG, Master of Games. Soon MOG starts to give Jane tasks to complete and keeps giving her more and more money. The tasks keep getting more crazy and more dangerous and now Jane is forever changed and obsessed with the game. Will she survive or will she fall victim to Mog’s games?

Once again I read this book years ago, but I remember enjoying watching the character of Jane change through out the book from a  normal person to a tough as nails woman who will do whatever it takes to complete Mog’s tasks and get more money. I also loved how the excitement in the books builds, you never know if Mog’s games will be dangerous or just simple and easy to give Jane a false sense of security. For instance one night Jane just has to spend an evening eating dinner with a stranger while the next night she has to find a treasure in a house where a serial killer is torturing his victims.

My favorite scene in the book  managed to make me shudder and laugh at the same time. I don’t want to give it all away but at one point Jane is being chased by a female cannibal with only one leg, holding a knife and a fork  and screaming “I’ve got the hungeries.” Richard Laymon’s books are usually very hard core and definitely not for everyone.

One thing that every Richard Laymon book that I’ve read has, is a rape scene. I’ve also seen where some people have said that Laymon hates woman because there is so much violence against women in his books. I have to disagree with the people saying that Laymon is a sexist, because if you pay attention to his stories you will see that the female characters in his books are smarter, stronger, more compassionate, more resourceful and all around better characters then the men. Also the men who commit the violence against women always end up suffering much more then the women do. I also have not read a Laymon book where the main hero wasn’t a woman.

Last but not least I want to mention Midnight Blue: The Sonja Blue Collection by Nancy Collins which was released in 1995. This book is a compilation of three novels(Sunglasses After Dark, In The Blood and Paint It Black) that follow the adventures of the living vampire Sonja Blue. Sonja was only 18 years old when she was raped and fed on by a vampire. She was left on the street to die but miraculously she survived, sort of. She becomes a vampire but she never died, making her a living vampire. Now her goal is to find the vampire that changed her, kill him and get her life back.

In Sonja’s world she not only has to deal with other vampires but she also has to battle ogres, demons and religious zealots. The thing that sets Sonja apart from every other vampire character that I’ve read about, is that she is not conflicted about who she is. She is an anti-hero, she is out to kill vampires she also hurts innocent humans in the process but doesn’t feel guilty about it.

In this book Sonja has opportunities to be happy and falls in love but because she is obsessed with revenge she doesn’t get what she truly wants. The only thing I didn’t like about Sonja Blue was how it ended, but if you want to read a fun, blood soaked vampire book then check out Midnight Blue.