Oct 222013
 

BJ-coverAnd now, as promised, here for your reading pleasure from high atop Pulp Central Station… an interview with new author, Stephen Kozeniewski!

Queue applause track… queue cameras… WHAT?  No cameras?!?  All right, forget the cameras.  Sound only…. no sound either?  (sigh) All right, regroup,  Let’s just go with the written interview… queue interview… aaaannndd GO!

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Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”), is the author of the new Red Adept Publishing release Braineater Jones.  It’s the story of a man who literally wakes up dead and is determined to find out how he got that way.  I just recently had the opportunity to read it and I have to say, this book is a fantastic representation of pulp noir. Very well done, Stephen.

Stephen’s Bio follows:

Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife of 9 years and cat of 22 pounds in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into right now.

During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow.

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.

 

Stephen KozeniewskiJLB: All right Stephen, that’s the canned biography, but let’s step a bit past that.  First of all, thanks for your service in the military.  Do you mind if I ask about the Bronze Star? 

SK: Ha!  Thanks for having me, Jeff.   No, I don’t mind talking about the war, I just wish I had a sexier answer to give you.  First of all, my BSM was for service, not valor, which is to say that there was no thrilling act of battlefield derring-do I did to earn it, but rather a million mostly tedious acts of logistical support and record-keeping.  The easiest way I can describe how I earned it is that we started with about 50 people firing rockets from one location, then over the course of a year I was partially responsible (or at least responsible enough to be recognized) for having 200 people in 5 locations.  It was a lot of moving personnel, ordnance, and equipment, which is challenging and rewarding work (especially under fire) but not exactly Dirty Dozen stuff.

 

Felix Kozeniewski-2JLB: Something else in your bio caught my attention, as I’m sure it caught the attention of several other readers.  How do I put this delicately?  …YOU HAVE A CAT THAT WEIGHS TWENTY-TWO FREAKING POUNDS?!?!?!  Shock

SK:  Yes, indeedy.  We assume young Felix is part saber tooth.  We recently got a new kitten, Nibbler, who when we adopted her was 2.2 lbs, so he was literally ten times her size.

 

JLB: So how did your interest in writing begin?  Was there a specific event or time that gelled the desire for you to put pen to paper?

SK:  I recall writing as early as 7.  Perhaps the real impetus for me to start writing was when my father bought the family’s first computer ’round about 1992.  At the time I was just stunned to be able to open a word processing file and be able to go back and edit things without correction fluid and manually scrolling the paper.

 

JLB:  Well, congratulations on the release of your book.  Your first, right?

SK:  Yup.  I had a drabble (a 100 word piece of microfiction) published in the anthology ANOTHER 100 HORRORS.  But this is my first full-length solo novel.

 

JLB:  Why Pulp? … and zombies?  … and Nazis? … and … I mean that’s quite the combination.  What influences jumped into the blender to give you the world of Braineater Jones?

SK:  When my editors asked me to make a list of easter eggs and references in BRAINEATER JONES, I came up with over a hundred examples, and I’m not certain I caught them all.  The references were as diverse as Night of the Living Dead, Dolemite, Forever Knight, Mission Hill, THE SIRENS OF TITAN, Life on Mars, Army of Darkness, Unforgiven, Hamlet…the list goes on and on.  My mind and work at any given time is a bouillabaisse of pop and high culture references.

 

JLB:  You built an interesting alternate reality in Braineater Jones.  Zombies in a prohibition era, pre-WW2 America.  How did you approach your world building?  What train of thought led you to the world of the Mat?

SK:  My world-building for BJ was as close to unearthing a pre-existing fossil as almost anything I’ve ever done.  Almost as soon as I realized that the zombies in my world were intelligent and fueled by alcohol, the rest of it just fell into place.  Of course it had to be set during Prohibition, and of course the dead would have to live in their own ghetto.  As the intelligent undead they would be atheists, having seen the light at the end of the tunnel and come back.  It all just kind of tumbled into place like Tetris blocks.  I actually scribbled the entire world-building in a steno pad during smoke breaks at work over the course of a single day.

 

JLB:  So what is your writing process like?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SK:  I’m not a big fan of the P-words.  I tend to let things grow organically, but I usually know where a plot is going in a general sense.  I’ll write myself notes or do world-building when I have to, so it’s not like I totally eschew planning.  Recently I’ve taken to keeping a whiteboard on the wall to make physical charts, like character spectra or plot models.  For instance, in my upcoming novel I broke down the characters into each of the nine alignments from Dungeons and Dragons.  But I get most of my breakthroughs in the shower.  Is that pantsing or plotting?  I don’t know.  Claim me for your side if you must, word nerds.

 

JLB:  Are you disciplined about your writing? Do you have a set time and place where you sit and write, or do you just go when and where the mood takes you?  What’s your writing environment like?

SK:  Well, I wouldn’t say I have a routine or anything.  I like to sit down at my desk whenever I have a few hours, which is kind of whenever.  You can check out my office in any of the vlogs I’ve been doing this year.  I like to listen to my “kitchen sink” music mix and burn a candle when I’m writing (sue me) and in ancienter times I demanded a cup of coffee and a cigarette to get anything done.  But my house is non-smoking now.

 

JLB:  What are some of your favorite pastimes (besides writing)?  What does Stephen Kozeniewski like to do in his spare time?

 

SK:  Well, this year I’m reading all 100 books on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, which explains the aforementioned vlogging.  So, I don’t have a whole lot of spare time.  But generally speaking I like to do karaoke on the weekends and I’m a big fan of Warhammer.  Mostly painting, because I haven’t played in a good…seven years?

 

JLB:  Let’s have fun for a minute.  The movie rights are optioned, and the casting manager wants your input.  Who should play Jones?  Anyone living or dead… um, or undead? – Go!

SK:  Dead?  Humphrey Bogart or Gary Cooper.  Living?  Well…I didn’t really come up with one for that.  But I’d like the Old Man to be voiced by H. Jon Benjamin.  What I like most about this scenario is that, as we all know, the author of the source material is usually the first person the casting director goes to for advice… Wink

 

JLB:  So what’s next?  Are you going to continue Jones’ journey, or do you plan to try something new?

SK:  Well, I just signed with Severed Press to publish my magnum opus THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO and I’m about a third of the way through the sidequel to that.  (“Sidequel?”  How’s that for pretentious author talk?)  I’ve also got a couple of manuscripts in the can that need to be edited.  One is a sort of play on BRAVE NEW WORLD, one is a roman à clef about my time in the army, and the one I’m currently working on is what I and fellow RAP author Mary Fan refer to as “balletpunk.”  (That is, science fiction starring a ballerina.  Yeah, I don’t know what to make of that trend, either.)  Is Jones dead?  Well, not if you clap your hands and believe, folks.  But, yeah, if the fans demand it, I might continue Jones’s journey someday.

JLB:  As a last question, are there any last words you want to leave for your readers?

SK:  Thanks for reading my work.  I know you have a choice in books (an overwhelming choice) and the fact that you would pick up mine is, frankly, humbling.  And I’d also like to thank Jeff for having me.  This is a great guy.  He DDed for me the first day we met, and that’s a sacred bond I won’t soon forget.  (SACRED BOND!)

JLB: Aww… shucks.  ‘Twart nuthin’.  Besides, if you were inebriated enough to get into a motorized vehicle with me behind the wheel, you were obviously in no condition to drive, right?  (Just kidding folks – I was designated driver by simple virtue of the fact that I don’t drink much, and everyone else wanted to be extra safe.  I don’t recall anyone actually being all that schnockered.)  Party

So folks, if you are interested in picking up a copy of Braineater Jones, it’s available on Amazon, Barnes & NobleKobo, and iTunes.  Go check it out.  And oh yeah… Stephen and Red Adept Publishing are also running a Rafflecopter giveaway.  So click and enter to win Amazon gift cards.

Felix KozeniewskiWell, Stephen, it was a pleasure meeting you (again), and thanks for giving me the chance to interview you.  And I’d like to leave the audience with these words of wisdom…

If there is something you want in life, keep plugging away at it.  Who knows, perhaps with enough time, hard work, and a bit of genetic manipulation, you too can create a gi-normous, part-Pleistocene cat!

For anyone who wants to find out more about the twisted mind that gave birth to Braineater Jones, you can catch up with Stephen’s latest projects on his blog, Manuscripts Burn, or hit him up on Twitter where he goes by the handle @Outfortune.

That’s it for now.  So go out and write something.  And as always. stay safe. Bye

 

 

Jun 172013
 
my girls

Some of the family

Hope everyone had a great Father’s Day.  I know I did.  Of course, mine started a bit early… actually, a LOT early… like the week before.  It started Friday, the seventh, to be exact – when I got home from work and found my younger daughter’s car parked in the driveway.  A few hours later my wife walked in the door… with our older daughter and granddaughter.  My better half had arranged to fly them in from Utah in secret.  Later still, my son and his fiancé came by, and THEN my parents showed up from Oklahoma!  They had all managed to pull together a fantastic birthday for me without my knowledge.

I remember at one point I was sitting on the couch, just absorbing the fact that so many of my loved ones were sitting around me, talking, joking, laughing… it was almost overwhelming.  Then my mom saw me and leaned over. “As you get older, you realize more and more that this is the best gift you can ask for.”  Let me tell you, Mom is a very wise woman.  Smile

I won’t bore you all with every detail of the next week.  Suffice to say, I had a birthday that I will remember for a long, long time.

And then came the Red Adept-a-con.  Lynn McNamee, founder and overall head-honcho of Red Adept Publishing, hosted the RAP-a-con-01second annual Red Adept event.  I got to meet some folks that, until then, had been nothing more than faceless names and Facebook posts.  Let me tell you, these are some pretty amazing people, full of hidden talent – a homesteader, a trained opera singer, a combat veteran, a young woman who entered college at the age of fifteen, some great guitarists, and karaoke singers… these people were incredible.  Conversation ranged from nerdy grammar jokes, to the latest political scandals, and I am honored to have been a part of it.

Which brings me to the writing report.

Streets of Payne – Stick a fork in it. It’s done!  No more editing.  No more proofreading.  All that’s left to do is the formatting and cover art, and that is being worked on as I type this.

Chucklers – Of course the completion of SoP means that I’m back on Chucklers, the post-apocalyptic horror that Edward Lorn and I are working on.  I’m having a little bit of a problem getting back into my character’s head, but once I find the right voice again, I have little doubt that it will flow for me again like it did when we first began.

Y12 – The promised sequel to Half Past Midnight has been percolating quite a bit lately.  In fact, I recently had a bit of an epiphany on some of the plotting elements, and am chomping at the bit to get to work on this one.  So Chucklers first, then Y12 immediately after.  I think I have my projects lined up for the rest of the year.  Smile

That’s it for now.  It’s past time for my beauty sleep… by a few decades, but still.  Wink

Take care everyone.  And oh!!  Love you Dad!  Bye

 

May 112013
 

 

Yes, I’m still there.  Obviously, I haven’t been posting much, but I made the decision to spend less time on the blog, and more time on the actual writing.  Still, I owe you all at least a quick rundown of where things stand.

Streets of Payne – As you know, SoP was off to Red Adept Publishing for editing last month.  Well, I got the manuscript back about a week later and it needs quite a bit of work.  I had forgotten just how much work the editing process really is.  I’ve been through the first round, which for me simply consists of going through all the various notes and comments, and accepting or rejecting the proposed changes (and believe me, there was a lot more accepting than rejecting going on.)  Now I’m working on some rewrites, building up some characterizations, and shoring up a weak plot point or two.  Progress is slow but sure.

Chucklers – Not much to report here.  For the most part, Chucklers has been put on hold until I get SoP edits done.  My priority is going to be getting my next book out there, and Chucklers is going to be further down the line.

Zuko-01aOn the personal front, Baby Bird came in for a surprise visit this weekend.  You know, Mother’s Day weekend, and all.  Wink  And it seems she’s acquired a new mouth to feed, albeit a very small mouth.  He is a miniature dachshund, and his name is Prince Zuko (of the Fire Nation).  And of course, he’s as cute as he can be.  It took him a while to get used to Bella and Cricket, and a bit longer for them to get used to him, but the three of them all get along fine now.

What else?  Hmmm… well, we saw Iron Man 3 (liked it, but it wasn’t the best of the series).  I went to the NRA convention last weekend. It was a good experience, and I’m glad I went, but I think I’ll pass if they come to town again.  I don’t care for crowds, and wandering those aisles made me feel more than a little claustrophobic.  I think I’ll stick to regular knife and gun shows in the future. Smile

Oh!  We also finally broke down and bought the first two seasons of Game of Thrones.  It was fantastic!  I suppose that’s actually the best word for me, because I am truly a fan.

I suppose that’s about it for now.  Back to work for me. As for Zuko, he appears to be ready for a break.Zuko-02b

Apr 162013
 

I started this post back on April 9th and I kept getting side tracked.  Now, of course, most of what I was going to post is outdated.  That’s what I get for procrastinating.  Frown

So let me start over again…

fireworksStreets of Payne is off to the Red Adept for editing!  After a few rewrites, and going through a couple of beta readers, I finally turned it in for the professional hack-n-slash.  Then the real work begins. Wink  In the meantime, I’ve been working with Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics on the cover art.  After my extreme disappointment with my previous cover artist, Glendon has been a pleasure to work with.  He’s very professional, communicative, and prompt with his replies.  In fact, it’s usually him waiting on me for information, rather than the other way around.  He’s already sent me preliminary concept pieces for the new cover, and I think we’re rolling right along.  I can’t wait to see what the final artwork is going to look like.

In the meantime, Edward Lorn and I have begun our collaboration novel, Chucklers.  This one is starting out to be an incredibly exciting undertaking.  Ed and I Chucklers-01get the unusual experience of feeding off of each other’s writing, as each of us pens the story from the POV of a different character.  He writes a chapter from the perspective of Character 1, then passes the manuscript off to me. I follow with a chapter from Character 2’s perspective, and send it back to him.  We have our main plot in mind (insofar as we know where we start, what the main crisis is, what we want our characters to do in a broad sense, and where we want them to end up), but as for how we get from A to Z… well, therein lies the story.  Wink

Something I noticed right away is that working with a co-author allows me to avoid the author’s enemy, writer’s block.  It keeps the story fresh in my head, especially since I never know for sure how Ed is going to react to what I’ve written.  If I have my character decide to take the interstate to get to location XYZ, Ed might decide that it could be fun for his character to get lost and end up fifty miles away when his car breaks down.  It’s a subtle thing, but can change the whole dynamic of the story. Another big plus is how quickly the writing goes.  With two of us writing various interlocking pieces, we’ve managed to write more than twenty-one thousand words in less than two weeks!  At this rate, we should have the first draft done in a few months.

Assuming we actually manage to meet that relatively optimistic goal, that would mean I get to start Y12 (my planned HPM sequel) around July or so.  I’ve had several people ask me in various venues when the next HPM book is coming, and I’ve never really been able to say.  So here it is.  Third quarter of this year will begin my journey back into the world of Half Past Midnight.  And if it flows as well as I hope, I should be able to finish the first draft before the end of the year.  Much of the story is already laid out in my mind, though there are admittedly some key plot elements that seem to be missing (or maybe they’re already there, and it’s part of my mind that’s missing).  Wink

At any rate, that’s the quick update.  Now to get back to work.

Stay safe, everyone! Bye

Nov 202012
 

It’s coming up on that time of year again.  The time when we are supposed to reflect on what we’ve been given in life, and give thanks.  And while I may not be a terribly religious person, it has recently occurred to me that I am, indeed, a very lucky person.  There are times when I think I’ve really got it better than I have a right to expect.  I have an amazing wife and kids, friends of mine and friends of theirs that are like extended family, a decent roof and car, and a job that pays the bills.

With my writing, I have a hobby that I love that has added another layer to my life.  In addition to the obvious fact that it adds a supplemental income stream, my writing has introduced me to a new world of wonderful people – many of whom I would have otherwise never known.

There is Barry Begault, who I knew from work before I ever knew he was a writer.  Barry writes his Snack Reading line in a fun, quirky, “Twilight Zone”-esque style, designing most of his works to be read in about an hour or so.

When I got serious with my own writing, and I decided I was ready to try to publish, I had to find an editor.  In Lynn McNamee (the Red Adept, herself) I found not only the best editor a writer could hope for, but I gained a good friend.  Thank you, Lynn.

Through Lynn, I met fellow Red Adept writer Edward Lorn.  Ed is a kindred soul… and believe me, it isn’t easy to find someone as twisted as I am.  Wink

And the rest of the Red Adept family – editors, proofreaders, publicists, and fellow authors.  Jim, Stephanie, Imogen, Diana, Christine, Nell, Linda, Lauren, and so many other good people – I have learned so much from all of you.  You guys all rock!

And there will always be the Dead Robots’ Society.  There are far too many DRS members to mention, but I have to at least acknowledge the head robots – Justin Macumber, Terry Mixon and Paul E. Cooley.  You guys are truly inspirational to an aspiring writer.  Anyone who wants to learn about the new face of writing should consider the Dead Robots’ Society podcast as essential listening.

And there are others of you who I don’t know as well, but I have been impressed by your kind words and at times by your selfless generosity.  Some of you I’ve had the pleasure of meeting face to face, and others I haven’t.  Some of you I only know through your emails, or comments on Facebook, or on this blog.  Whether I know you well, or we’ve only exchanged a few emails, please know that I’m grateful to have made your acquaintance.  J. Antle, Lori, Rita, Mike, Jesse, Carol, Kristen, and so may others – thank you.  I’m a better person for having “met” you all.  Cool

Sometimes it floors me, just how lucky I am.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all.