Sit back and have a cuppa and read yet some more interviews!


INTERVIEW with Lori S. Maynard, The Carnival Poet

conducted by Lucinda MacGregor

Lori developed an interest in writing at an early age. Her main interest is poetry but she also writes songs, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She has a background in carny work and it has influenced her writing. Lori is a new talent worth watching.  Her first poetry book, Poetry Carnival, is published in 2004.

Visit The Carnival Poet at



Q)  What inspired you to be a writer?

To tell the truth . . . I don't know.  When I was in elementary school, I loved writing these long stories (about 20+ pages).  Each year, I would participate in the "Young Author's Program."  My 3rd grade year, I would not go because the assignment was to write a book of poetry.  I couldn't rhyme anything at that time.

Somehow, a switch got flipped in my head when I was in 6th grade and started writing poetry.  I contribute it to my time spent in the hallow near my house (which I later found out used to be visited by James Whitcomb Riley).  My very first poem was about a huge tree in the middle of this woods that a stream changed its course around.  It was a hokey poem, but it rhymed :o)

Q)  Since you write poetry, fiction and nonfiction you obviously have a broad range of interests.  What type of writing do you enjoy the most and why?

I've been known as a poet now for quite some time.  The fictional works, I'm just now getting back into these since I stopped writing them in grade school.  Nonfiction -- this is new for me as well. I would have to say fiction right now.  I'm enjoying writing my horror story "Carnival Nights" I like to write fictional stories because I can interject some real-life experiences in them.

Q)  Where do you find your ideas?

For as long as I can remember, I've suffered from depression.  I guess that is what has developed my poetry (I can write a poem that will make a grown man cry).  "Carnival Nights," this was inspired based on my travels with a carnival.  I wanted to write a horror story that does not paint the carnival in the negative light.  Believe it or not, it is society that is far scarier than the carnival will ever be.

A poem that I wrote entitled "Roses on the Ground" was inspired through the death of a new friend of mine.

I was very ill when he passed away and when I got to his burial, it was right when the caretakers were placing the flowers over his grave.  Real life inspires most of my words.

Q)  How does your interest in carnies influence your writing?

Ah, now we get to the carny question.  Not so much as an interest in them as I am one (still a member of IISA - International Independent Showmen's Assoc.)  I traveled with a small show for a couple of years and that greatly swung my poetry in a new direction.  When I sat on my game counter, the town's people treated me horrendously.  I was called names, accused of multiple false things and had been robbed as well.  They skewed my vision on society and life for here it is, I was this "evil" in society (the evil carny image) and yet, it was those who had viewed themselves as "normal" terrorizing me.  It was as though because you traveled with a carnival that we must have been these heartless beasts with no souls.  Here is one of my carnival poems that I wrote while still on the road:

Scorned and Loved

Now I sit and dully wonder
at what my eyes now discover.
Is it truth or is it fiction?
I seem to make this acquisition
every time the lights flicker on
that bornes a legacy that won't live on.

No one cares to learn our names--
but that's OK, we're just the same
as those who taunt us in our place . . .
We're just like you . . . the Human Race.

I guess for now, I'll stay unanswered
as I work in this colorful lure.
To you, these words may seem absurd
and my destiny . . . unsure.

So, pass your judgement on my face
and never learn that I have a soul.
And cast me from out your race
because I work at the Carnival.

©July 1997 Lori S. Maynard

After being on the other side of the looking glass in society, so to speak, the carnival has allowed me to become more introspective of myself and to feel more.  It allowed me to see the world as many never get to see it.  I saw the greed of adults and children, I heard the accusations of trouble seekers and I've felt the ebb and flow of society all around me.

Q)  Reading your biographical piece one cannot help but notice your strong talent for observation of yourself and others.  How do you think you developed that ability?

I wish that I had an answer for that.  I have lived a lot of pain, and, being a poet, I feel that I can describe pain pretty well :o)  To tell the truth, I must say that the carnival helped me to be a better observer -- to allow myself to "step out of the box" per se and view things.  Definitely has been an interesting life and I wouldn't change a thing, even if I could avoid the pain.  That is what drives my works.

Q)  After all the bad times you have experienced, do you feel a sense of accomplishment in completing your poetry book?

Actually, I haven't had time to feel that sense of accomplishment.   My present job keeps me so busy, that I haven't even found time to proofread my final draft!  LOL

Q)  What motivated you to create your Poetry Carnival website?

I was new to the Internet -- Saw that it was free to start a site using voyager systems.  I was not familiar with a lot of poetry sites.  However, the site is currently dying.  No one is posting.  I hope those who read this will visit and revive the site.

Q)  How do readers respond to your writings and how do their comments help you?

I've been asked to write poems for people all over the world.  Most of these have been for them to give to their significant other.  Their comments have been generally positive and have made some e-friends who know the pain that I have described.  I've only had one negative comment about a poem called "My Epitaph" but it was posted by an anon who wanted to heckle me and used some foul language in their response.

Q)  Besides your poetry book, what are your future publishing plans?

I have no other future plans at this present time.  I'll wait to see how this first book does.  After all, that was my dream to have just one book published -- don't want to get greedy :o)  I'm happy being an Internet poet.

Q)  What are your interests when not writing?

I ride a motorcycle, play pool, draw, and work in my yard.  Oh, I'm also working on a 1954 Buick Century.

Q)  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don't try to conform!!  Yeah, advice is nice when it comes to structure, flow; however, a cookie-cutter poem doesn't move someone as well as an open and honest poem that contains human emotions and not forced iambic pentameter.  I once had an English Lit teacher tell me that I was too philosophical and that I would not amount to anything!!  Well . . . I never took her advice.

Q)  Any final comments?

I have a song "Time has its Moments" that will finally be finished recording on Monday, April 26.  I welcome all e-mails so long as "poetry" is in the subject line.

I was born on May 10, 1979.



INTERVIEW with POPPY Z. BRITE                              

conducted by Sharida Rizzuto

Q)  When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer and why did you decide to concentrate on the horror genre?

I've been writing since I can remember, submitting stuff for publication since I was twelve.  I sold my first story at eighteen, several more in the next five years, my first novel at twenty-three.  I didn't consciously decide to become a horror writer, though I have always loved reading horror.  I happened to make my first sale to a horror magazine, and the genre seemed receptive to the work I wanted to do.

Q)  How difficult was it to begin writing, complete your work, and find a publisher?

The first two were things I had no choice about; writing and completing my work has always been instinctive to me.  The difficulty of finding an agent and a publisher was eased in part by the kindness and help of other writers who liked my work, including Brian Hodge, Dan Simmons, and Harlan Ellison.

Q)  What inspires you to write about vampires?

Nothing anymore, and I'm not sure what ever did.  Lost Souls is the only vampire story I've written or intend to write.  I am proud of it, but I feel I have said all I have to say about them.            
I've often wondered why I chose to make my first novel a vampire story.  I certainly don't regret it, but I was never especially fascinated with them before I started the book, though I liked them.  I think it was because I was interested in and involved with the Gothic subculture at the time--the music, the clothes and makeup, the affinity for graveyards, the bloodletting.  That was what I wanted to write about, and vampires are an essential icon of that culture.  Those kids are beautiful, alienated, at once craving wild experience and romanticizing death.  Is it any wonder they identify with vampires?
Also, I have edited Love In Vein, an anthology of erotic vampire stories published by Harper Prism. (NOTE: Since this interview was conducted we have learned that a second anthology with the same name is available.)

Q)  Do you think people (as readers) in New Orleans are receptive to vampire fiction?

Local newspapers and bookstores have certainly been kind to me.  The store people tell me both my novels sell well.  (NOTE:  Since this interview was conducted a collection of short stories, Wormwood, has been released).  As far as I can tell, they seem to like vampire fiction as well as any other kind.  I have a strong gay readership, too, which I cherish.

Q)  Since you're living in New Orleans, do you think the locale will play an ever-increasing role in your writing?  How about the strong local influence of voodoo?

New Orleans is my hometown.  I lived here until I was six, visited a lot, and returned to live in early 1993. So it has always been important to me, but living in the French Quarter certainly gives me a different perspective.  Some of my earliest memories are of wandering around the Quarter with my parents.                               

I've written some short stories with a voodoo element, but I don't have plans for any novels concerning it.
I've felt like writing non-supernatural fiction lately.  But I never know what I'm going to do next.  And I certainly don't rule out going to see the Chicken Man for a bit of gris-gris when necessary.

Q)  How do vampire enthusiasts respond to your books?

They either seem to love them or consider them utter heresy.  Some were disappointed that Drawing Blood, my second novel, wasn't a vampire book, and that I won't be writing any sequels to Lost Souls.  Too bad; I have little interst in readers who only want to read one kind of book.  But there seems to be a cool vampiric underground scene, and I appreciate the word-of-mouth publicity they have given me.

Q)  Do you think vampire fiction and the horror genre, in general, will always have a loyal following?

Sure seems that way.  Doomsayers keep trumpeting The Death of Horror, and it keeps refusing to lie down and die decently.

Q)  Do vampire readers often attempt to compare you to Anne Rice or Nancy Collins since all three of you have used New Orleans as a setting for vampire tales?

I've heard such comparisons, but they mean little to me, as I am fairly unfamiliar with both writers.  I've read and enjoyed Collins' short stories, but none of her novels yet; and I haven't read Rice at all.  For me, New Orleans was one of the places I had to work with; it's my hometown, and I have written all sorts of fiction set there.  But it does seem like a natural place for vampires.  It has everything they could want: wild parties and pickup spots, beautiful graveyards, all colors and flavors of people.  And a natural disposal site:  the Mississippi River. After a corpse has been floating in that toxic soup for a few days, who's going to look for two little holes in its neck?

Q)  What horror writers have you always enjoyed?  How have they influenced you?

I cut my teeth on Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, Harlan Ellison, William S. Burroughs, Ramsey Campbell, Dylan Thomas, and Sylvia Plath.  Some of my most recent favorites are Dennis Cooper, Kathe Koja, and Thomas Ligotti.  For the record, my favorite vampire novel is Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin.  I love its lush settings and beautiful writing, and applaud the fact that its vampiric and its human characters are equally complex and interesting.                          

When I find a writer whose use of language, I admire, I read their work over and over.  Sometimes I read the dictionary.

Q)  Do you think the horror genre will become more widely accepted in the future?

Not necessarily, but I think the lines between genres will become more blurred.  There's already a lot of crossover.

Q)  As a horror writer, what do you think frightens and entertains readers the most?

I've never felt capable of frightening a reader.  I admire writers who can, but I never thought I could write scary fiction.  When it dawned on me that I could write disturbing fiction, I realized I could be a horror writer.                                                      

I follow my obsessions, start with my characters, and let them tell the stories they have to tell.  I'm glad it turns out to entertain the reader or provokes a strong emotional reaction.                         

As for what frightens me:  mundane things, same as most writers, I think--especially horror writers.  If a big spooky hotel was all that scared Stephen King, The Shining, wouldn't be such a disturbing book.  Its real terrors are the fragility of family, the descent into madness, the inevitability of hurting those you love.  But the hotel and its various tricks are really scary too, because most horror writers are pussies about bodily harm and the supernatural.  I don't trust ones who like rollercoasters or claim not to believe in ghosts.  If you want to know what grosses me out, it's centipedes and mucus.

Poppy Z. Brite was born in 1967, spent her early years growing up in New Orleans and since then has lived all over the South.  She returned to her hometown where she presently resides. Poppy has worked as a gourmet candy maker, a cook, a mouse caretaker, an artist's model, and an exoric dancer.       Her earliest short stories appeared in The Horror Show starting in 1985.
Since then he stories have been published in Borderlands, Women Of Darkness 2, Dead End:  City Limits, Still Dead, Borderlands 3, Gauntlet, Year's Best Fantasy And Horror 5 and 6, Best New Horror 2, 3, 4, and 5, The Definitive Best Of The Horror Show, Young Blood, and Book Of The Dead 3 plus many more.  
Poppy's first novel, Lost Souls, was published by Delacorte Abyss in 1992.  It was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate, and was nominated for a Lambda Award and A Stoker Award for best first novel.  Since then foreign rights were sold to several European countries.   The paperback edition was published in 1993.         
Her second novel, Drawing Blood, was published by Abyss in 1993.  A limited edition has been published by Borderlands Press.  Dell purchased the paperback rights and foreign rights went to Great Britain.  
Love In Vein, an anthology of erotic vampire stories, was published by Harper Prism in 1994.   Wormwood, a collection of horror stories was published by Abyss in 1995. Exquisite Corpse, a horror novel about two cannibal-necrophile serial killers on a murder spree down in New Orleans, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1996.   The latest novel just published in '98 is entitled, The Crow:  The Lazarus Heart.  It's available in trade paperback.  It's set in New Orleans.  Poppy also had a role in "John Five," an erotic film directed by Georgia artist, Jim Herbert (he previously directed some videos for the band, R. E. M.).




conducted by Sharida Rizzuto

Q)  How did you develop your interest in writing, and when did you first know you should become a writer?

I started composing short stories as soon as I physically learned to write.  At school I was called The Master Storyteller.  I won prizes for composition and was given special aptitude tests.  But I grew up in a home without books and without writing paper, in which I was expected to take a factory job and then become a wife.  I just wasn't raised with the belief that I could do anything else professionally.  I worked as an office junior, a postal clerk, a dental nurse and various other things before going on to college and then to university as a mature student. I didn't write for publication until I was twenty-six or twenty-seven.

Q)  How difficult was it to establish yourself as a writer (as compared to the U.S.), and what other books, etc., have you written?

It wasn't difficult to establish myself as a writer in the magazine world.  I mean, I had lots of rejections but each month I'd also have some successes.  Sometimes this was just readers, letters, prizes or these readers' slots where you write a page about your health success story, something like that.  Later I sold short stories and features to womens', teenage, literary, horror and erotic magazines.  I also worked as a book reviewer and a writing tutor and wrote part of a writing correspondence course.
But trying to get a mainstream book published was hell.  There were when I virtually gave up and just concentrated on short pieces of writing.  Shrouded was written when I was thirty and was finally published when I was thirty-five.  The problem is that it's easier for big publishers not to take a chance with a relative unknown.  They'd rather bring out an inferior book by a name than publish a better book by a newer author.
Gradually I realized that only smaller independent publishers were giving newer writers a fair chance.  I then sent the book to The Do-Not Press and they accepted it within a month.

Q)  Having experienced such difficulties, how do you think it influenced your writing?

I suspect that the isolation I felt during these formative years is what gave me the ability to write.  I had no one to share most of my experiences with so turned almost every thought inwards.  Moving from a working class background into the middle class world of the university probably helped me to see the bigger picture, which is invaluable in writing terms.  Many writers only write about--say--a working class subculture or about middle class values.  I've been able to observe both, though I fit into neither camp.  I feel privileged that I can write for a living (albeit a very underpaid one).  It makes me feel that I can share my thoughts and ideas rather than just doing repetitive manual work for cash.

Q)  How has the market for magazine writing changed during the time you became familiar with it?

 Most of the early markets I had articles published in were weekly alternative reads which have now folded--Spare Rib and Everywoman are the two feminist titles which spring to mind. Many of the literary outlets I had fiction in have also folded--Tees Valley Writer and Scottish Child.  So have the teenage titles I once provided short stories for regularly such as Jackie, Loving and Catch.  The British market now supports many more up market glossy monthly magazines but few of them will give the fledgling writer a start.

Q)  Have you written for only UK publications?

Until recently I'd only written for the UK but after I set my website up I was approached by editors from various countries.  As a result, I gave an interview to a Hungarian journalist and had a noir short story accepted by an Italian anthology.  I also had a short article in Alaska People magazine (both Internet and print version) and have interviews forthcoming in two American crime magazines.  My chapbook, Expiry Date, was published by the New York publisher Dark Raptor Press in May 1998 and premiered at the World Horror Convention in Phoenix, Arizona in the States.

Q)  How long does it take for you to develop a book idea, do the research, and complete it?  Then, how long does it take the publisher to print it and have it distributed?  How does it compare with the U.S.?

I think it took me about five months to research and write Shrouded, but I was also tutoring most days in order to survive financially. The Do-Not Press brought it out within five months of acceptance.  That's unusually quick, though I've known friends wait a year to eighteen months for publication of a book. When it came to distribution, Shrouded was widely available throughout the U.K. within two weeks of publication. Six months later it was on sale in the United States.  (Sorry, I've no idea how this compares to US publishing.)

Q)  What advice would you give aspiring writers in their attempts to develop their writing skills and locate publishers?

Read, read and read again.  The best writers are usually the most voracious readers. And have a life outside of your writing, at least for the first few years. When it comes to finding suitable publishers there's no easy answer--the conglomerates tend to ignore new voices whilst the smaller ones are often desperately overworked and cannot afford to pay you a living wage.  I know that some writers view writing competitions with great suspicion but that they are a way for a writer to get used to meeting deadlines and if you win they do bring in some much-needed cash.

Q)  What research was needed for Shrouded?

I read masses of material on death and the little that I could find on necr-phil-a (this should confuse any search engine spider--wouldn't want to get listed with websites for that subject) before writing Shrouded.  I also went into the mortuary and interviewed a funeral director about how a corpse is prepared for viewing before that last lonely trip to the grave.  I saw round the Preparation Room where the bodies are washed and injected with preservatives and their orifices plugged.  I was also given copies of all the documentation which surrounds death.  For example, the funeral directors have to know if the deceased is wearing a pacemaker.  If so it has to be removed in case it explodes in the fierce heat of the crematorium.  I also contacted a Marine Institute to verify the aquatic information I planned to include in Shrouded and I set up an aquarium plus two smaller tanks.

Q)  Considering that researching can be difficult, do you recommend that aspiring writers stick with what they know and save writing projects requiring research until they have acquired more experience?

I think you have to do a bit of both.  Yes, write about what you know, but it doesn't always mold itself into fully functional short stories. You often have to add a subplot, which is where research comes in.  The Internet makes such research much easier though it's costly for we Brits as we are charged for local telephone calls.

Q)  Have you done many book tours?  Do you enjoy them and why?

I've been asked to give signings and appear at writing conferences but I haven't actually been asked to undertake a book tour.  I suspect I'd find it daunting as I'm somewhat shy.  I hated having my photograph taken for interviews at first but I've now grown used to it.  But I feel that it's the words and ideas that should be of interest, not the writer herself.

Q)  What are your impressions of the current horror markets?

There are still horror novels being produced, but the publishers aren't calling them horror.  They are being marketed as dark crime thrillers, or as noir literary books.  Sadly, the few books that do appear under horror's aegis often look sadly dated with black backgrounds and grinning skulls.  Horror is often the footstep behind you on a deserted street or the sudden billowing of the curtains. It's a cheap shot to visually portray fear in crass skeletons-and-zombies terms.

Q)  Since you have some experience with the Internet, how do you think the Internet will influence writers and publishing?

The Internet has already given many new writers a voice, though after reading some of them you wish that they'd remained silent! Seriously, it will mean that anyone with access to webspace will be able to produce a vehicle to make their fiction known.  After that, it's really up to the publishers to contact new talent, though it's my experience that they rarely take a chance on a new novelist.

Q)  Do you have a new novel planned?  What about other projects?

My next novel, Safe As Homes, is under consideration at a publisher.  It's about a s-xual (lets hope the search engine doesn't spider this, put this site on a list of nasty sites and then the  "powers that be" don't come knocking at the door!  it's just a matter of time and one can't be sure nowadays where the Gestapo is lurking--what happened to our free speech anyway??) sadist who customizes a derelict outhouse and abducts women and keeps them there.  His wife wrongly suspects that he's having an affair and starts track him down.  She innocently thinks that she'll confront him and his mistress and save her marriage, and has no insight into the horror she's about to face.  I've also recently finished a noir story collection.  It's a mixture of new dark stories and those which have previously been placed in competitions or published in magazines.  I'm also writing various short stories that I've been asked for from magazines.  And I'm interested in writing another chapbook as I had fun writing Expiry Date for Dark Raptor Press.

Q)  What response has your book received from readers?

I thought that the moral majority might have been shocked, but the response has been really positive. Shrouded received masses of good reviews (excerpts of some are on my website) and a couple of very bad ones.  I was wounded by the bad ones but all of my writing friends told me that virtually every book that's published receives some bad reviews.  Several readers wrote or emailed me to say that they'd read Shrouded virtually one sitting as they couldn't wait to see what happened next.  You are alone when you write a book, and so few publishers seem to read unsolicited manuscripts that it remains a lonely and sometimes almost impossible journey.  It's uplifting when complete strangers like your work and care enough to contact you. It makes it all worthwhile.

Visit Ms. Davis' website at


From MIXED BAG #8:


conducted by Sharida Rizzuto

Q)  How did you become involved with Sisters in Crime?

I joined SinC in 1994 after talking to the then Chesapeake Chapter president.  I met her at the 1994 Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda, MD.  When I found out that it was open to readers as well as writers I joined right away.

Q)  When and how did you develop an interest in the mystery genre?

My parents were avid readers and mysteries were always available around the house.  My father liked Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie, and Ian Fleming.  My mother read EarleStanley Gardner, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Daphne DuMaurier.  I started with Sherlock Holmes injunior high and then moved to Perry Mason and anything else I could get my hands on.  I majored in English in college, so I read lots of classic and current fiction, too.  But, around 1986 I just decided that there were as the saying goes, "too many mysteries, too little time," and went to mysteries exclusively.

Q)  What are some of your favorite mystery novels? Favorite authors?

The Thin Man, any of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, and all of the Sherlock Holmes series (for the classics).  My three favorite authors are Anne Perry, Sue Grafton, and John Sandford, and there are so many first-time authors every year that have the potential to  become my favorites.

Q)  Do you think the current mystery market is thriving?

I think mysteries are soothing like comfort food, especially the continuing series characters.  Youcan escape with them, return to them time after time, and each time the problem is solved with most of the loose ends tied up.  I think more authors are latching onto this need in people and are jumping onto the mystery bandwagon.

Q)  Why did you go on-line with a mystery website?

It started as my own set of bookmarks.  It was a way of keeping track of the sites that I wanted to visit. Then I saw it as a way to share my interest with others who might have the same interest.  I see it also as a way to let others know about a book or an author that I think they should try.

Q)  Tell our readers about some of your selection of links.

The links are divided by interests.  Television is another of my hobbies, so I wanted to feature sites that tell you about mystery based TV programs.  I also wanted to include sites that could be used by others for research into the genre or to help writers find information.  I'm always looking for new authors to add to the links.

Q)  What type of mystery websites would you like to see on the net?

I like the ones that center on a particular type of mystery and those that list mysteries by topic or locale.

Q)  What type of response do you receive from people viewing your website?

I've had a limited, but very positive response.  Most of those who've emailed me have said I give them a great starting place to find what they're looking for.  My best response was from a junior high school student who used my site to help her research a paper on the mystery.
She also asked me some questions to include in her paper.  That was fun!

Q)  How do you plan to update your site in the future?

I would like to start doing more reviews--maybe weekly, feature an author each month (or week),and also reviews of mystery TV shows.

Mysterious Strands can be reached at--


From MIXED BAG #8:


conducted by Sharida Rizzuto

 What made you decide to create your on-line zine?

It was the successor to a project in which I put my stories up in poster form, on lamp posts, in pizza parlours and laundromats--wherever people had a couple of moments to read.  After Rudy Giuliani became mayor of New York, the streets were kept much cleaner, and my posters kept getting taken down.  That was just as the Internet was coming into its own. I taught myself basicHTML from a book, and put up a site.

Q)  Have you ever had any experience with print zines prior to going on-line?

My day job is in journalism, so a lot of experience with newspapers.

Q)  How difficult was it to create your site?

At the beginning, very difficult.  I have no programming background, and I remember literally pounding my fists on the floor with frustration.  Now, it's a lot easier, but I don't bother with high-tech stuff like Java. The site is intentionally very simple so it will be easy for everyone to download.  The focus of the site should be on the stories, not high-tech gizmos.

Q)  What type of submissions do you seek?  And, how often do you change the material on your site?

I change the material once a month, on the first of the month.  Since the site serves to showcase my work, I seek submissions mostly in the form of reader feedback. Readers have also translated the site into several different languages--for example, the new Hebrew version which went online in June.

Q)  Has the response to your site been mostly positive?

Yes, but not entirely, and I like it that way.  The reader feedback contains some highly critical comments. Having been a journalist so long, I'm pretty thick- skinned about criticism.  I actually find it helpful--if a lot of people are saying the same thing about a piece, I really consider whether they might be right.

Q)  Do you think you will expand your site in the future or perhaps create another site with a different publication?  And, how long do you think you will remain on-line?

The site has expanded a lot as it goes along--it's got archives all the way back to 1996!  I have to keep asking my ISP for more storage space.  I've thought of creating other sites--for example, I'd like to do a fan site for my favorite choreographer, Christopher Wheldon.  He's only 25 and a big web person, so I think he might like it.
I couldn't say when I'd no longer want to be online!  I like the idea of my site being a historical thing, being online forever.

Q)  Does your site mostly appeal only to New Yorkers?

No, most of my readers are from other places.  New Yorkers are too busy to web surf!

Q)  Have you made any good contacts on the net (to exchange ideas, etc.) with other publishers or contributors?

I've made a lot of good friends on the net, and even managed to score a few dates!
And the "Web Writers In the Flesh" reading series--which featured only Internet writers--was arranged almost entirely through e-mail, and was very successful. Some of the readers I had neverseen in person until they turned up for the event!

Q)  What are some of your favorite on-line zines?

I like The Onion ('s published out of Wisconsin, which is where I'm from. Also, Web Del Sol (

Q)  What do you do when you aren't working on your zine?

I'm a financial journalist by trade, which is something I enjoy, but do strictly for the money.
Also, I have to write the stories before I put them up, and that takes a lot of time and effort!

Q)  How do you think on-line zines will change in the future?

They'll change as the technology develops.  The Internet now is like movies were 100 years ago--just beginning to find its own style.

Q)  What advice would you like to give to aspiring writers seeking publication on-line?

Put up your own site--design it yourself, and fumble around until you find a style that is uniquely your own. And design it for the pleasure of your readers, not your own ego.  Nobody but you wants to see a picture of your cat!

Xander Mellish can be visited at

To see her photo go to


From MIXED BAG #8:


conducted by Sharida Rizzuto

Q)  What motivated you to create your on-line journal?

When I discovered the web I really wanted to have a website of my own, and I wanted to think of some kind of format that would force me to update it on a regular basis, not just make a static page that would stay the same from day to day.  So I hit on the idea of a daily journal which would somewhat mirror the journals that I had kept for a number of years--a daily journal, a dream journal, and a journal of the books I had read.

Q)  Has the response been mostly positive?

Absolutely.  I have had almost no negative reaction at all.  I receive lots of mail from readers and it's almost always positive.

Q)  How difficult was it for you to create your site?  Technically?

I'm always growing and learning.  I taught myself everything I know about web page design, mostly from reading books and from researching things on the web.  It certainly hasn't been easy, but I've been motivated by wanting to do a good job and wanting to put up a quality product.  I hope to do web design as a full time job soon, so I've had a good reason to learn how to do it well.

Q)  What type of readers enjoy your journal?

All kinds.  I think the majority of my readers are women, but there are quite a few men as well.  And all ages, from teenagers to senior citizens.  I think the appeal of my journal is pretty widespread.

Q)  Has your journal inspired any readers to start their own journal?

I have had quite a large number of readers write that they have been inspired to start (or re-start) writing journals of their own, both online and privately.  In fact, that's quite a common response, as you can see from reading the Guestbook entries.

Q)  What are your future plans for the journal?  Any major changes?

Nope.  I plan to keep doing what I'm doing, at least for the foreseeable future.  It seems to work, and people like it, and I still enjoy it, so I can see no reason to change.

Q)  What are some of your favorite on-line zines?

I don't really read any of them.

Q)  How do you think on-line zines will change in the future?

No idea.

Q)  What advice would you like to give aspiring writers?

Write.  That's the only way you can get better.  Just like anything else, it takes practice.  And writefor an audience.  Feedback lets you know whether you're doing something that other people will want to write.  You can't always tell yourself.  Obviously, people like different things and you won't always please everyone, but writing for an audience is certainly one way to find out if you have what it takes to write.  And the web is a wonderful place for that--the ultimate place to self-publish.  For little or no money, anyone who has something to say can say it and let the world know about it.

Q)  What do you do when you aren't working on your journal?

I work full time as a legal assistant for a large corporation, although I just quit that job to devote myself to looking for a job in web design, and to start doing some freelance web design work on my own.  I'm married, no children, I spend quite a bit of time gardening and reading, and writing other things besides the journal.  I'm working on a series of articles about my adventures as I lookfor work in a new field, and I'm also working on collecting some my essays for publication.

To visit Willa's Journal (photos included) go to




conducted by Lucinda MacGregor

Q)  How did you develop your interest in vampires and Lord Byron?

Well, I have always been fascinated with monsters, but it took me a while to appreciate vampires in particular.  But I can pinpoint exactly when it was late one night at a friend's house, watching "The Lost Boys."  I love that movie to this day, even though it has many detractors.  My interest in Lord Ruthven (and consequently, Lord Byron) stems from my interest in vampires.  I find it interesting how the image of the vampire has changed from antiquity to present day.  The modern vampire of literature seems to bear more in common with the incubus/succubus than the bestial vampires of the dark ages.

Q)  What inspired you to create your website and how difficult was it to put it together?

I looked on the Internet and couldn't find many resources on Lord Ruthven.  I thought that it was a shame because, while there are many sites about Anne Rice or Dracula, there were only a handful of sites that dealt with the character responsible for the modern vampire archetype.  I've always been a "give credit where it's due" kind of person.
Also, I got really sick of people who acted as if the vampires people actually believed it bore a resemblance to Lestat or "Vampire:  The Masquerade."  I felt that if more people knew about Lord Ruthven, then they would gain insight into how the current image of the vampire developed instead of sniping at me because I told them that "Clan Toreador" didn't exist.
The site wasn't very hard to create and put together.

Q)  What is the background on Lord Byron and the "Lord Ruthven" story?

Lord Byron had begun a story but never finished it.  Some time later, his former friend John Polidori decided to finish the story, but he used Byron as the model for the villain, Lord Ruthven.  When the completed story, now entitled "The Vampyre," was published, it was a great success because everyone believed it to have been written by Byron.  Of course, it wasn't and the situation caused a great deal of distress to both Polidori and Byron.

Q)  What other works of literary vampire fiction would you recommend?

I am--very--picky about the vampire fiction that I like.  It has to be different in some way to keep me entertained.  Now, I don't want everything I read to rewrite the rules every time, but "Forever Knight" fan fiction with the names changed to create a "whole new universe" just doesn't appeal to me.  And don't even get me started on vampire "bad girl" comics . . .
So what do I like? I like older works like "Carmilla," since those tales define the modern vampire.  I am interested in the goth scene, so the newer works I enjoy tend to draw from that aesthetic. I am a really big fan of Nancy A. Collins, and I also like Poppy Z. Brite to a degree.  I also enjoy Laurell K. Hamilton's "Anita Blake" series.  I loved Anne Rice's first three "Vampire Chronicles," but I really, really hate her imitators.  There are exceptions, but they are rare. For a complete change of pace, I recommend Christopher Moore's delightful Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story.
I sometimes enjoy historical vampire novels.  I have found Kim Newman's "Anno Dracula" series to be consistently fun and inventive.  I thought that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Hotel Transylvania was entertaining, and I also enjoyed Tom Holland's Lord of the Dead (a.k.a. The Vampyre in Europe).  Fans of Lord Ruthven, in particular, are encouraged to seek out the latter novel.
I enjoy vampire movies, but as with literature, the bad far outweigh the good or even passable.  I am sick of the "slap-fangs-on-someone-we-have-instant-vampire- movie" many low-budget film makers have made.  I have recently rediscovered the great old Hammer films, which in many ways have never been equaled.

Q)  What are some of your favorite Lord Byron or vampire websites on the net?

The best general interest vampire site is Pathway to Darkness (  Another great site is graFIXer's Draculeum
(, which receives my highest recommendation.  The best Lord Byron page that I have found is located at (

Q)  What future plans do you have for your website?

The Lord Ruthven page is a static site.  I put it up to educate people, but past that I don't think there is a whole lot more that I can do with it.  I may give it a design overhaul when I get the time.
I am currently designing a website devoted to werewolves, a subject that has very little exposure on the Internet.

Q)  Any other comments you would care to make regarding your website or vampires in general?

I have many comments concerning vampires--unfortunately, most of them are not very nice.  But it's important to note that my often virulent criticism comes from my deep love for the subject and respect for the writers who I feel "get it."
The most deplorable trend in current vampire fiction is what I call "Vampire Lite."  This trend is typified by the numerous works where the vampires are depicted as misunderstood nice guys (sometimes with "evil," fanatical vampire hunters stalking them).  A vampire completely divorced from the darkness is nothing more than a superhero with an aversion to sunlight and a drinking problem.  To me, even the most virtuous vampire needs a dangerous side if he or she is going to stay entertaining.  A thinly-disguised romance novel hero with fangs is boring.
It sounds harsh, but I think that popularity is oftentimes the undoing of the vampire.  I remember the vampire boom of the mid-90's, and how the handful of good works were swallowed by an outpouring of dross that choked the genre.  I suffered severe burnout.
In conclusion, if you write a piece of fiction (or make a film) concerning vampires, do it because you love the subject.  Not because it's trendy, not because it will make you money.  Do it because you respect the subject matter.

Thanks for talking to us about your website and your serious interest in vampires.  It's nice to see a site devoted to the literary vampire aficionado instead of the modern day goth-vampire genre.  There's much too much of that already available.

To visit the Lord Ruthven website go to:




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