Published by Sinister Grin Press on 03/01/2016
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Recently, I had an opportunity to ask horror author, David Bernstein a couple of questions regarding writing and superheroes. Give David a few minutes of your time, sit back, and enjoy.
Hey, David. Thank you for taking time to answer some interview questions. (I’m more of a conversation interviewer, so having prepared questions is a new concept to me.)
I really liked Mixed Bag of Blood. It was the first book I’ve read written by you. Name three books that would best sum up your writing style that I should put on my reading list.
Thanks for reading my collection. The fact that you enjoyed it is great! If I had to choose 3, I’d say Witch Island, Damaged Souls and The Unhinged. I do like to write a variety of horror fiction as is evident with A Mixed Bag of Blood. Witch Island is a throwback to 80s supernatural slashers. Damaged Souls is more of an all-around horror book, one I hope would please a variety of people. It has scares and gore. The Unhinged is my first non-supernatural horror novel and meant to be extreme.
* Which is your least favorite book you’ve written?
That’s a tough one. I love them all. I can say that I wish I had done more character development in the Machines of the Dead books. It would’ve made them even better.
* Do you have anything coming out in the near future that you wanted to let readers know about?
I have a novel called Episodes of Violence being released from Sinister Grin Press. It deals with a group of young adults that play a game using baseball bats, machetes, cross bows etc. and from their vehicle, they see who can score the most points with what they chop off of bicyclists, joggers, dog walkers… or where they hit their targets and how much damage is done. It’s a revenge tale. I have a novella coming out called The Sludge from Great Old Ones Publishing. It’s a B-movie creature tale that involves a bank robbery, teens camping in a national forest, toxic waste and a monster. And then there’s a bizarre novella from Bizarro Pulp Press called Retch that deals with a man cursed to vomit every time he has sex.
* If you could have been the pen behind ANY book ever written, which would you choose? Why?
I don’t know. There are too many great books to choose. I know, it’s a copout answer, but it’s true. I mean, just off the top of my head, I could say anything by King. The novel It is like the perfect horror novel. I’ll pick that one because it’s so great. Now, if I could have been around for the writing of ANY book, I’d pick the Bible. It would sure be interesting to hop in a time machine and travel back to when each part was written.
* The small press world of horror writing is a pretty vast community. Who would you consider your peers? If you could coauthor a book with anyone who would you choose?
I’d like to think all the horror writers are peers. I don’t believe one writer is different from another except for the seniority and experience factor. Those who have been doing this for a long time, the authors who have come before are all people we can learn from. As far as co-authoring a book, I’ve already gotten that wish! No better group of guys than my fellow Jackpot authors! Next in line, it would have to be Stephen King of course. Who wouldn’t want to write with him?
* You write like some kind of banshee. How do you keep up your breakneck writing speed? What is your muse for writing?
The ideas keep coming so I keep writing. I’m not sure where they come from, but they keep appearing. It also helps that I have a lot of time to write at my job and to write even when I don’t feel like writing. You’re not always going to be in your Happy Writing Place. I equate it to going to my job. I go regardless of whether I want to, or if I’m tired or sick (Ok, I will take sick days if I’m really under the weather). It’s hard, but if you do it, you’ll see that you’ll get much more done. Plain and simple. There have been times when I wrote utter crap, but at least I was productive and the work I did could be shaped up later. First drafts are supposed to be ugly! And then there’s the whole I LOVE TO TELL STORIES part. I also wait until a project is completely finished before I move on to another one. I see too many people jumping from one project to another and nothing gets done.
* Who is the coolest comic book super hero ever? If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?
Damn, that’s just not fair. I’m so torn between the big 2—Batman and Spiderman. I think the scales might tip toward Batman when it comes to comics and movies (slightly) but when it comes to whose abilities I’d want, they’d be Spiderman’s. Both are great, and when I was younger I would have definitely said Spiderman. But now that I’m older I appreciate what Batman does without having super powers to rely on. Like Green Arrow. (Love that show) As far as any power at all I guess I’d have to choose invisibility. Being able to go places and not be noticed! Find out what really happens behind the scenes of government and other shady places. How cool would that be!
* I am just getting started in writing. Is there any advice or maybe some unwritten &rules& you would have for someone just starting out with writing?
Wow, where to begin?
1. Write, write and then write some more. Your craft will improve the more you do it. Also, learn to write in small snippets if that’s all the time you have. And like I stated above, learn to write when you don’t feel like it. You’ll be happy you progressed on your project. You can always fix it up later.
2. I think the first rule should be to accept criticism from editors, authors and anyone trying to help you. But also accept criticism from reviewers, professional or not. (Not the trolls, screw them) You can learn a lot from the right people, and from readers. You won’t please them all. It’s only natural that some people simply won’t like your work. NEVER respond to a bad review. This also goes for rejections. You’ll get a lot! Don’t let it stop you. Keep submitting that rejected piece, and once it’s out of your hands, start on the next project. Forget about it. Move on. I had three novels written by the time my first one was accepted.
3. Look at your favorite authors and authors who have been “successful” (relative term) and see how they conduct themselves. Most don’t pick a side when it comes to political content or controversial matters. Why? I think it’s because there is a time and place for that. They stay friendly, supportive and promote their work reasonably. For example: Don’t “friend” someone on Facebook and immediately ask them to “Like” your page or read your work. I can’t believe people do this.
4. Go to conventions. This has helped me a lot. I pitched editors, met other authors and networked. Oh, and I had a ton of fun. I am not a crowd person. I prefer small groups of people I know, but I made myself get out there and it’s paid off. And when you do go, don’t be the guy or gal who drank so much that everyone remembers you as an ass. It’s good to party at these things but keep yourself in control.
5. Make time to read. Your craft will improve. I can’t believe it when a writer says they don’t have time to read. Ridiculous. There are so many different styles and ways a book is written. Don’t you want to see them all, experience them and see what you like and what you don’t like? What you feel works and what doesn’t work? Plus, it’s like doing something fun that is also your job. You’re not sitting around relaxing, you’re studying!
Now for the review.
A Mixed Bag of Blood
This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.
My review –
Confession – I have never read anything by David Bernstein. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of his stories fly across my Facebook and Goodreads feeds, but then I saw a way to correct that – his story collection, A Mixed Bag of Blood.
A Mixed Bag of Blood is a great collection of short stories, each an individual horrific facet together making up a perfect, gory gem. I think that any horror fan would be hard pressed to not find a great story within. From samurai fighting zombies to a small town and their creature demanding sacrifices to the perils of unprotected sex, A Mixed Bag of Blood has a little something for everyone. Although not for the squeamish, this collection really showcases the writing prowess of David Bernstein. He has made a new fan out of this reader and I personally can’t wait to dive into some of the other yarns he has to offer.