Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Interview with Edwin Stark.

Full Name:
Edwin Stark
How often do people ask if you’re related to Tony Stark?
About two or three times each month; more often now since the Iron Man movies started to roll out a few years ago.
So… are you?
Maybe I’m the black sheep of Tony’s roommate’s uncle’s cousin’s best friend, thrice removed and once reinstated.  I probably should call him and ask him to “search your feelings, Tony Stark” in a wheezy asthmatic voice.
I love that answer!  You’re okay in my books!

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?

Caracas, Venezuela

Current hometown:
A tropical rainforest located on the outskirts of Caucagua, a small hellhole of a town 50 miles away from Caracas.

Favorite city and why?
New York… one of the craziest places in the world.  Gotta love it.

Birthday / Age:
46 years

How would you describe yourself physically?
5’ 8” (and a half), dark blond hair thinning on the top, a bit wiry in the muscle department, nondescript Caucasian guy who has to wear reading glasses.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Reddish, clay colored skin, horns protruding on my head, smells like brimstone…
You sound like a friend of mine.
I hung out with a lady friend of mine at a convention last fall.  We slept in separate beds to keep it kosher.  She told me that the next day my bed smelled like cloves.  So I guess that cloves is my brimstone.  But why was she smelling the bed I slept in?

Now you got me thinking… Maybe we should find out why.  If it’s some special charm emanating from our bodies, perhaps we should try bottling it up and test it in the aftershave market…
I think I’ll do a bit better with my clove scent than you will with your brimstone scent in the men’s fragrance market, but the field’s wide open.  May the best body odor win!
I’ll toast to that… by the way, your shoelaces are untied.

The first thing people notice about you is…
Nothing.  They just steer their eyes away from me.  I never bothered to stop them and ask “Why?”.
Maybe next time you should.  There might be a story in that.
I’ll keep that in mind for the next time I meet someone who averts their eyes.

Religion, if any?
I don’t practice any kind of organized religion.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
Not that I can recall.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
No. Social drinker.  Having an extreme self-deprecating sense of humor is something I want to get rid of.  But I haven’t found a Self-deprecator Anonymous group that can help me.
I don’t think that’s a thing yet.  Maybe you can start one up?
With the current state most Egos are in these days, I’d find it hard to believe that there would be many members.  But if I organize such an organization, we’ll save a lot when leasing location to perform any group meeting.  A janitor’s closet somewhere would suffice, I guess…

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Initially, barricade myself with plenty of supplies.  Later, when I got rid of the horde besieging me, then I’d start going out of my shelter to do a throughout clean up of the neighborhood.  Mental note to myself: stockpile a lot of ammo.
Yeah, a lot of people are all like “Machete!” and “Crossbow!” and “Katana!” but spend a day splitting wood or hammering nails and let me know how tough you feel.  Yes it’s true that firearms run out of ammunition, but there’s a lot of fucking ammunition out there and zombies don’t use firearms last I checked.
As someone who uses a machete on a daily basis in real life, I concede that.  But it’s a zombie apocalypse, come on!  Who really wants to get that personal to a super-fast infected / undead thing from Hell bent on gnawing your earlobes?  The farther you can drop them without getting close, the better.

Weapon of choice:
M4 Benelli shotgun.  It can really make big holes in things.

Do you have any special skills?
I’m a fast learner.  I consider myself a walking and talking Swiss knife.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Nope, I wasn’t able to attend college.
You didn’t miss much except a lot of drugs and alcohol and promiscuous sex.
Okay, maybe you did miss out on a bit.
Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark.

What is your favorite animal?
Cats. I like to hang around with my superiors.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Stupid people.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
Macte animo, generose puer sicitur ad astra.
“Be spirited, kind child; it’s with tribulations the way you earn the stars”… that, or just a badly phrased order for a double-pepperoni pizza with mushrooms…
I’ll take it either way
Tell you what.  Let’s call Domino’s Pizza and say my motto aloud.  We’ll wait and see what they ship us.
I hope they deliver a spirited kind child and a double-pepperoni pizza with mushrooms!  It’d be a win/win!

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer? Several times.  I posted about a couple of them, particularly the more soul grinding ones, on my personal blog.
Not a bad pitch, sir.
I agree wholeheartedly.  Or broken-heartedly.  Whatever.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
No.  And no.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I started writing sometime around 2005.  A big tropical storm killed my TV antenna, disconnecting me from the outside world.  To avoid going insane, I started to jot down all the ideas for short stories that I had been accumulating inside my head since I was a kid.  Surprisingly, a few ones were consistently good enough to become really good short tales.  I haven’t stopped writing ever since.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Just don’t get started; it’s a harsh, unrewarding job.  Save yourselves a lot of aggravation and take a course on plumbing.
There’s a lot more rewarding ways to spend your time and effort.  And the millionaire world-famous bestselling authors people idolize are like people that won a lottery, and then won another lottery that only pervious lottery winners were allowed to participate in.  Whenever someone asks me how to do what I do, I tell them, “Don’t.  It’s a huge waste of time and effort.” and if they’re all like, “Fuck you!  I’m going to do it anyway!” they’ll probably do alright.
Who is gonna stop the fools?  Personally, I’m glad that the revolution in self-publishing finally came along.  If you think the publishing industry is hard over there, down here in Venezuela is Byzantine, where book piracy is running rampant and a bestseller is just something that sells about 5,000 copies.  I’d have never found out that I’m a competent writer if the revolution didn’t happen.  I’d have suspected it for the rest of my life.  That I sell a few books now and then and I’m getting 4 and 5-star reviews from strangers is an affirmation of that suspicion… 

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.
Cuentos – This is the short story collection that started it all; I had to put all the vampires, zombies and creepy sci-fi stuff I wrote somewhere, didn’t I?
AI Rebellion – My first novel.  Cyberpunk.  Wordy.  Didn’t know what the $#&! I was doing.  The e-book version is adequately priced at $4.99 to drive away people from it. It’s more like an archeological artifact these days; sort of “This the way Edwin wrote circa 2007”…
Eco Station One – Well, this is more like it.  This book was quite liberating, as it helped me discover the vein of craziness so characteristic in my later writing.
The Clayton Chronicles – Two cookie-cutter vampire novellas with a twist lurking within them.
Aftermath and Other Zombie Shorts – This is the book that got me started in the zombie genre.  (Of course, author friend David Forsyth shares a lot of the blame.)
Of course he does.  Let me ask you a question that I like to ask authors working in the zombie genre.  Why zombies?
While other of my fellow zombie writers seem to be obsessed in these creatures just per se, I see them as catalysts to the interactions between my characters.  I never liked zombies much since a friend invited me to a showing of Dan O’Bannon’s “Return of the Living Dead” in 1984.  It scared the crap out of me, though it was a very amusing film in retrospective, and I had nightmares for three days.  But years passed and I matured, and my writer’s mind couldn’t help but marvel at how prodigious zombies are as a plot element: they can work as a situation backdrop, a threat and sometimes even as Deux Ex Machinas if you want to get really sneaky enough while writing.  My zombie series, curiously enough, doesn’t deal with the start of a zombie outbreak, another staple in the genre, but with how the zombie epidemic ends.  Yeah, yeah, the world has been zombified and there’s zombies, zombies everywhere and no real safe place in sight.  What happens to the survivors after five years have passed since the zombie apocalypse?  After eight years?  How about a decade?  What changes has the world experienced during those ten years?  And more important: how much have those survivors changed themselves?  As you see, I couldn’t resist the temptation and began to get my hands dirty… 

What projects are you working on now? 
I’m currently serializing my “Aftermath” books.  Now I’m working on Episode 3

What are you watching?
Nothing.  In the middle of the rainforest there’s no movie theaters, TV reception is abominable and I no longer have a TV, anyway.
But you do have internet.
Sigh.  Nowadays almost every cellular and/or smart phone has some form of Internet connectivity and ways to plug a PC into them.  Don’t get fooled by my capacity of reaching the outside world; most people say: “But he has Internet… he must be OK, isn’t he?”.  No, I’m not okay.  Life is pretty harsh down here without this foolish assumption.  I live 100 hours out of each week without electricity, supplies are hard to get, and I have to walk back and forth fifteen miles with fifty pounds of groceries strapped on my back every week.  And don’t get me started on toilets.  But if you are curious about this last part, let me tell you that the joke about banana leaves that Robin Williams makes in “Jumanji” didn’t work as intended with me.

What are you listening to?
Mostly “The Best Of…” records from several artists.  Saves a lot of money in the long run.

What are you reading?
The Complex – Book 1 by Julie Rudolph.  Interesting premise on how a Zombie epidemic might start.
I’m working on an interview with her too.  Her book’s been getting some decent buzz so I guess I’ll have to check it out sometime.  Unfortunately I’m so busy working on my own stuff that I don’t have the time to read anyone else’s stuff.  Maybe after I finish the ten books I’m working on I’ll be able to check out some of the books by the authors I’ve been interviewing and start writing up reviews for my book review blog, to tie in to the interviews on my interview blog, but it’s looking like that’s going to have to wait until at least the spring thaw.  The good part is, I should have ten books self-published by then.
Yeah, her book was great.  But I had some misgivings about the way she conceived the plague that created her particular zombie universe.  Something didn’t quite click with me through the beginning of her book.  I guess I saw a few of the nuts and bolts of her writing engine not quite properly tightened, but her capacity to conjure suspension of disbelief is astounding; very soon I forgot all about it and I started to care about her characters and what happened to them… She’s gonna be something out there.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
Twitter: @TheEdwinStark

About the Interviewee:
Hello, my name's Edwin Stark, and I was born in Caracas, Venezuela.  That's South America for the few geographically-challenged ones out there.  I suppose that somehow the stork had just stumbled out from a pub while it was delivering me, (it was confused to say the least) and mishandled my humble persona, leaving me stranded in this unlikely place.
Having German ancestry, I spoke that language as a toddler, but my Mom had the misconception that I'd fit better here if I spoke Spanish, so that tongue was lost during my growing years.  I grew up dreaming crazy tales and was my teacher's pet when it came to composition class--but not in deportment: that was for certain--and as I grew up I tried to get noticed as a writer by submitting to every magazine and writing contest available in my home country.  No such luck; the publishing market in Venezuela is utterly locked out: you can only see your words in print if you're already a notorious politician or a TV celebrity.  Since I wasn't in the inclination of becoming a serial murderer to achieve notoriousness and get published, the need to rethink the approach to my writing career became a must.
Eventually, I decided to switch languages and start writing in English. I was already proficient in that language... but was I good enough to tell stories in that fashion?
I then started to write short stories, effectively dumping my native language.  I wrote nearly 200 short stories during a period of about eighteen months, slowly learning the nuances of story-telling in another language than your own.  I already had the benefit of having the knack of telling a tale; I only had to adjust. 190 of them short tales certainly sucked; 10 were really neat, but the important thing was the learning process.  These ten tales eventually made it into Cuentos, the short story collection which became my third book.  I succeeded so well in tearing myself apart from Spanish, that almost everyone I meet online says: "I CAN'T BELIEVE ENGLISH ISN'T YOUR FIRST LANGUAGE!"
So far, I have written four books: AI Rebellion, a rather preachy cyberpunk thriller that still shows the struggle of switching languages (and I only recommend people to read it if they're on an archeological mood, as in if they're interested in seeing my progress as a writer), Eco Station One, a very bizarre and funny satire, the aforementioned Cuentos, and The Clayton Chronicles, a rather cookie-cut vampire tale.  All these are available for the Kindle reader on Amazon, in paperbacks and all e-book formats in Smashwords.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his videos at:
Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at:

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