Jason Horton interview

I had the honor of interviewing Jason Horton, the owner of multiple music sites, check out his awesome sites!

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you or your websites, tell us some about you and your websites
JH: It all began back in 1995 when I was looking for software to record and edit music and discovered there were no websites at that time dedicated solely to this topic so I started a webpage called “Shareware Music Machine” – unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of that original webpage, but there is a copy of the website from 1997 which I built with my best friend and now current business partner, Daniel Barnett, at https://web.archive.org/web/19970206092048/http://www.hitsquad.com/smm/

We’re both musicians, we used to play in a band together back then, and since then, we’ve gone on to create a business around providing information to other musicians.

We’ve created many websites over the years and these days our main focus is on these sites:
http://www.guitarsite.com/ – where we provide news and information about guitar related products.
https://parlor.guitars/ – we’re huge fans of the instrument and this is our attempt to help popularize this 19th to mid 20th century guitar.
https://www.gearank.com/ – something we’ve been working on since October last year and quietly made available to the public in December. We realized that a lot of the advice we give on our other websites is biased by our own personal preferences so we created the Gearank algorithm to objectively uncover which items of music gear are best for the task at hand – it’s only in the early days now, but we hope other musicians will warm to the idea over time.
http://www.hitsquad.com/smm/ – we still maintain our original music software directory, although the need for a service like this isn’t as relevant as it was 20 years ago before search engines became as effective at surfacing music software as they are now.

Me: Very awesome!, what’s your history as a musician?, and what was the process like going from being in a band to running websites?
JH: As a musician, I dropped out of studying physics and mathematics to become a rock star – that side of things didn’t quite work out as my band’s debut single only sold about 27 copies and I’m pretty sure my family and friends bought 26 of them.

For me, the path from playing in a band to producing websites was quite natural because I was really into computers and computer networks (local point to point modem networks before the internet was officially publicly accessible) and my day job at the time was working in print media – industry magazines in the retail sector, then I set out on my own with a print publication for musicians in my local area. 

Also, at the same time, as I was playing gigs around town I started to manage other bands in terms of both live work and recording and publishing. I went on to work in music, radio and television, produced recordings of other bands,  and was a founding member of the peak body for the music industry in Queensland, Australia – QMUSIC. I was always drawn to the business and media side of the music industry.

But once you have the musician bug – it started for me as young as I can remember but really hotted up at about age 15 – it never goes away. To this day, I still play and write music, albeit for my own pleasure rather than for a public audience now.

Me: Did the stuff you learned in print media and music management help the success of your websites or was it a learning time in the beginning?
JH: Oh, the experience I gained working in business, both music and otherwise, played a huge role in being able to produce successful websites for musicians.

Anyone can create an online resource for musicians, but only a small percentage of those will attract an audience, and a smaller percentage still will be able to turn that into a viable business. 

The mathematics are very similar to creating a successful musical act.

The big difference between becoming successful as a performer in music or business is that in business you can use your experience to break through at any stage in life – as a music performer you generally have to do it before you hit 30, otherwise, you’re washed out as far as mass media and public attention is concerned. 

That’s not to say you can’t establish a successful niche audience as a musician when you get older, but it’s rare that anyone becomes a pop or rock star at the age of 30 or more – but it does happen in business much more frequently.

Me: Very awesome!, so your first website is guitarsite.com, where you provide news about guitar products, how has that came about and evolved?, and how do you stay up to date on news?
JH: Actually, GuitarSite.com was our second major website after Shareware Music Machine. We initially launched GuitarSite.com in 1999 by merging two websites we bought for a total of $10,000 (a massive sum for us back in those days) – you can see a brief history of the site at http://www.guitarsite.com/news/other/guitarsite-v40b/

GuitarSite.com is now very well known to the management and publicists who work at all the major guitar related manufacturers and brands, so as the editor of the site, my inbox is flooded with information from them on a daily basis.

Me: So they email you when stuff happens?, that must be great!
JH: Yes – I get to know about products before they’re officially announced – it’s a lot of fun!

Me: And then there’s parlor.guitars, which is a 100+ year old guitar?
JH: The Parlor Guitar became popular with social elites in the latter part of the 19th century – it was one of the few portable social instruments at the time and began to rival the Piano at social gatherings which were often held in wealthy people’s parlors. Mark Twain is perhaps one of the best known people who played one at the time.

It’s popularity began to drop off in the early 20th century, but due to it’s portability and affordability, it had a resurgence with the less socially mobile members of society, particularly African Americans who played it as a “blues box”, and then later, with serving personnel during World War II.

It’s popularity seemed to drop off after the war, but it has become more popular again over the last 10 years or so – I personally bought one back in my teenage years – and all 3 of us that make up the key editorial team here are huge fans of the instrument.

I can’t say that we launched https://parlor.guitars/ as some sort of genius business idea, but we are quite proud of the fact that we have spent the last year or so building one of the most up-to-date databases of the modern representation of the instrument.

If you’ve only every played full sized guitars, then they take some getting used to, but they have a retro tone that modern full sized guitars simply can’t replicate.

There is some disagreement over the definition of what a Parlor Guitar is, so we have attempted to explain the instrument as best as we can at https://parlor.guitars/blog/what-parlor-guitar

Me: Awesome!, what attracted you to it?
JH: When I was a teenager, it was the relatively low cost of the instrument that drew me to it.

That’s an important point.

The history of western music is dominated by the wealthy and the elite up to the early 19th century – you had to have a lot of money to be able to afford musical instruments and lessons.

Then the rise of the guitar during the 19th century began to democratize music and the parlor guitar played a role in that. Here was an instrument that was more affordable, easier to learn, more portable and more sociable that most other instruments.

Even today, if you have a cheap parlor guitar, you don’t mind throwing it around and letting others have a go at playing it at parties and get-togethers with friends.

Me: So parlor guitars are cheap but great, and that’s what attracted you and brought about the website?

Me: The low cost initially attracted me to parlors, but it’s the shorter scale and lower string tension which I quite like these days.

The three of us which make up the core editorial team here at Hitsquad all really like parlors and we had talked about starting the site for months before we did it – finally, we found the time to create the site almost exactly 12 months ago.

Me: Oh nice!, do you do anything to celebrate anniversaries with any of your sites?
JH: We have done in the past, but we’ve been so busy getting https://www.gearank.com/ ready for its official launch, and working on our NAMM coverage, that we haven’t really done anything to celebrate https://parlor.guitars/ first birthday.

We opened https://parlor.guitars up to the public on January 21st 2015

Me: Awesome!, can you tell us more about gearank.com?
JH: The concept behind Gearank is to analyze ratings and reviews of individual pieces of music gear by users, customers, experts, and analyze the sentiment in forums, to produce a score out of 100. It provides musicians a measure of user satisfaction with individual items without having to read all the reviews, articles and forum threads themselves. If it succeeds, we hope we’ll do for music equipment what metacritic did for film and TV. 

We also pull all of that information together to produce Gear Guides which provide a summary of the best pieces of gear for a particular purpose, based upon all the information we gathered when processing items for their Gearank score. For example, you might be looking for a good condenser mic under $100, hopefully after reading “The Best Condenser Microphones Under $100 – XLR & USB” you’ll have found what you’re looking for.

We’re only in the very early stages yet – the site’s only been available to the public for 1 month so far – you can see most of the pieces of gear we’ve processed so far and what their Gearank score is at https://www.gearank.com/gear

An explanation of how Gearank scores are calculated is at https://www.gearank.com/how-gearank-works

Me: The metacritic or IMDB of music gear, sounds very awesome!, so we’ve mentioned everything but hitsquad?, can you tell us some about that?
JH: Hitsquad is the name of our business which we started nearly 20 years ago.

Although we did a little bit of consulting in the early days, we were building our own websites from the beginning with Shareware Music Machine being the first one.

Me: Seem to have alot of awesome stuff going on!, thank you so much for this interview!
JH: Please let me know when you publish the interview and I’ll spread the word with our followers, thanks Bryan!

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Amelia Eisenhauer interview

So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your music.
AE: My name is Amelia Eisenhauer, I’m a student at Nashville School of the Arts and I’m 16 years old. I started playing violin when I was six. I started out playing classical music in a Suzuki string program. I started taking fiddle lessons in addition to classical when I was eight. By the time I was nine years old, I was offered a spot in my first band, The Pickin’ Chicks, we were an all-girl traditional bluegrass band. The oldest girl was 13, I was the youngest at 9. At the same time, my brother Andy was also learning to play music. He plays the banjo and several other instruments. I left that band when I was 11 to play with my mom and brother when I was offered a job in a country cover band called We Got it Covered.  That band was made up of a bunch of guys, most of them old enough to be my dad! We played many local shows, benefits, weddings and even opened for big names like Lee Greenwood, Thomas Rhett, Daryl Worley, and most recently Trace Atkins. When I was 13, my parents made the decision to move me and my brother Andy to Nashville. The plan was for me to learn more music, acting and take a shot at becoming a recording artist and for my brother, acting or a studio musician.
When we got to Nashville, we had been playing together, me, my mom and brother, but not with the intention of performing and definitely not with the idea of making a run at music row. We didn’t really know about the Americana music scene in Nashville or the popularity of family bands until we played an open mic one night at Pucketts of Leipers Fork. The owner, Rob Robinson asked us if we would consider booking a show. At the time, we could only play 6-7 traditional bluegrass songs. So, every week from there on out, we went to the weekly open mic. It was our incentive to learn new songs and try things out on folks who became our Nashville Family. They gave us a lot of honest feedback. We became a band on that stage, we grew and developed our sound. We also crashed and burned a lot too! However, we grew, so did our sound and our following. Once we were introduced to bassist Bryan Ward, who also happens to be a recording engineer, we were up and running towards recording our first record. 

My music is really a blend of Americana, blues, jazz, alt. acoustic. This past year I have really gotten into recording my own music. I play violin, guitar, bass, viola, mandolin, cajon, and piano, so it’s really fun to lay my own tracks and be able to record what I’m hearing in my head. I have had so many people ask me if I write. The answer is finally yes. When I was younger, I homeschooled so I could focus most of my time on studying music which meant my childhood experiences were very different from most kids. I use to tell people, I had not had enough life experience to really have anything to say. After a relationship or two, three years of high school, playing in multiple bands and being on the road with my mom and brother, now I do.

Me: What are your current/upcoming projects? You’re obviously on American Idol, but anything otherwise?
AE: My band, Eisenhauer Band has a completed original album waiting to be released pending my results on American Idol. The name of the Album is called Fortune Cookie. We came up with the name while out to lunch during a recording session. We went to an Asian place in Oxford, MS called The Noodle Bowl. We were opening our fortune cookies and making up funny fortunes when we decided it was the perfect title to our first original record! We plan to produce our “special” brand of Eisenhauer Band fortune cookies complete with fortunes we wrote ourselves.

Me: What encouraged you to try out for American Idol? and what advice would you give to others wanting to try out for similar shows?
AE: For several years, people have been asking me why I haven’t auditioned for American Idol, and the answer was I wasn’t old enough, and looking back, I would not have been ready for this level of competition. I was 15 when I auditioned in September. I turned 16 Oct. 16 (yay! my golden birthday!) My mom encouraged me to do it. She knew this was the last season. She said everyone remembers the first winner, Kelly Clarkson, and everyone will remember the last one, Amelia Eisenhauer.
As far as advice goes, I would tell kids to really study music, learn to play an instrument. It really helps if you can accompany yourself. Try other styles of music that challenge you and make your sound different. Get out and perform, perform with others, don’t just be a one man show. Music is a team sport, you will have to learn how to communicate your musical ideas with others, like a house band, at some point. I think the most important piece of advice, which is the advice I keep getting from other past Idols like Joey Cook and Tyanna Jones, be yourself. Don’t try to “one up” others, just be the best YOU.

Me: What has the reception been since you were picked?, both in your hometown and nationwide
AE: I like to tell people, Nashville is my home, but I’m from Southern Illinois. I am back in Illinois as I write this and the support I’m getting here is absolutely reaching insane levels! It’s hard not to get emotional with all the love that is just pouring out from everyone. As far as Nashville goes, our friends and family are so excited for me! I think doing Idol will be a really good opportunity for Nashville to discover me. I’ve been there three years now, but I feel like I’ve been flying under the radar so to speak. My circles have been small, but with really great, knowledgable people. I was 13 when I moved there. I came to learn all I could from master musicians and veterans of the business before I made the next step.

Me: What can we expect from you next?
AE: Hopefully you can expect for me to be the last American Idol!, and if I have any say in it, as the last American Idol, you can expect my music to be an Americana original sound. Some of my lyrical idols are Robert Plant and John Mayer. I am very driven by lyrics. The songs I chose to compete with on Idol were chose based on lyrical content. It’s everything to me. Win or lose, music is my life, it’s what I am and what I do. I will continue playing, touring, writing, and recording music, hopefully as the last American Idol.

Me: Is there anything you’d want to tell your fans?
AE Please follow me on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! Don’t forget to watch me on American Idol!
http://www.facebook.com/AmeliaEisenhauer

http://www.instagram.com/amelia_eisenhauer

https://twitter.com/AmeliaJE__

I will do my best to be true to you, myself and my music, and I can’t wait to share my original music with you! 

Other fun facts!

I drive antique tractors.

I have 5 cats, three of which are named after the judges.

I love sci-fi movies, Star Wars, Star Trek and Dr. Who to name a few.

I do cosplay and I love Anime. My current favorite is Tokyo Ghoul.

I hate soda.

Mikal interview

I had the honor of interviewing musician and filmmaker Mikal, check out all his awesome stuff!

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your movies
M: For those who aren’t familiar with me, my name is Mikal. I am a musician, a filmmaker, and I run a Halloween event called The Masquerade Of The Red Death.

Musically, I just released a song called ‘The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call’, which is enjoying success on college and independent radio. It’s #1 on a few stations’ charts, and is also charting well on many others. Hopefully it keeps climbing! I released the single with a 4 song EP to radio only, and will soon be releasing it publicly, but, you can buy the single right now.

In the film category, I’ve only became involved with making films over the past couple of years, but I’ve so far filmed 2 feature length documentaries, which are both in the editing process right now, hopefully being released over the next 6 months. The first one is “EXTRAS: The Movie”, a doc on the Michigan film industry, focusing specifically on people who work as extras in high-budget films in Michigan, like Superman vs. Batman, Transformers, etc. The other is called “CARNIVAL: The Movie”. It follows a family owned carnival throughout their season in a reality-style format, to give a better look into what goes into running a carnival.”

Me: Very awesome!, tell us about The Masquerade Of The Red Death
M: The Masquerade Of The Red Death is a Halloween event that I designed around Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Mask Of The Red Death. My birthday is a few days after Halloween, so I’ve always had Halloween themed birthday parties, starting when I was a little kid. A few years ago, I decided to try and turn my annual party into a huge public event. I was watching the 1964 film adaptation of Poe’s story, and realized that it would translate to a perfect live event. The original story takes place at a masquerade ball, so I decided that I was going to place my guests directly in the story. The guests witness the story taking place around them throughout the night. I’ve done it twice as a single event, but am now working on turning it into a touring event, sort of like The Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Me: Like a murder mystery dinner theater?
M: Not really like a dinner theater, but maybe a little bit like a murder mystery. Although, it’s not a murder mystery. Just imagine – It’s the 12th century, the medieval period, and there is a deadly plague (The Red Death) sweeping the countryside. As a friend of the prince, you are invited to stay in his castle during the plague, with the purpose of avoiding a grizzly, untimely death at the hands of the plague. At the 6 month point, the prince decides to hold a masquerade to raise the spirits of his guests. This event, The Masquerade Of The Red Death, is that masquerade that the prince is holding for his guests. Everybody shows up in appropriate masquerade wear, and avoids wearing the color red, at the request of the prince. You don’t show up and watch, you are actually part of the story. There’s a live orchestra and tons of other forms of entertainment that you’d find at a masquerade ball, such as dancers, musicians, mind readers, hypnotists, magicians, etc. The guests roam the 7 rooms of the castle to partake in whichever entertainment they please. Until, of course… The Red Death arrives.

(Side note – There are videos that you can see from one of the events at http://MasqueradeOfTheRedDeath.com, just click the video link)

Me: Sounds very awesome!, and those interested in attending, can find out more at the website?
M: Yep! There’s plenty of info on the event at MasqueradeOfTheRedDeath.com.

Me: Very awesome!, so you mentioned ‘The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call’ is #1 on a few stations, and a 4 song EP will soon be releasing publicly. Can you tell us more about that?, and for those that aren’t familiar with you, can you describe your music for us?
M: My new single “The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call” went to college and indie radio a few weeks back. I had it delivered as an EP with a few other unreleased tracks, so they could choose to play the other songs if they want, as well. It’s doing pretty well so far. It’s been added to rotation by a lot of stations, is charting on several, and has hit the #1 spot on a few stations in Massachusetts and Indiana. I’m hoping to keep it climbing the charts by asking people to request the song from the stations who have it. I’ve even listed all of the stations (more than 250!) on my website, to make it easy for everyone. The goal with college stations is to get your song high enough on the charts that when they report to CMJ (College Music Journal, they do charting for indie music), you end up on the main CMJ and Billboard charts as well. 

The single “4 A.M…” is already available on iTunes, Amazon, etc., and the official video is online, but I will soon be releasing the song as part of an EP, along with the other tracks that are on the radio-only EP. The other songs are “Star”, which will be the next video and single that I release, “Jane, Jane” – a brand new remix of a song that I released a few years ago, and an acoustic version of the lead single, The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call. The title of the EP will be “Soundtrack From A Happy Ending, Part 1”.

For those who haven’t heard my music, I usually describe it as indie rock or modern rock. My writing is influenced by acts like The Foo Fighters, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, Fall Out Boy, etc. But, when I ask others to compare my music to others, they either say a bunch of completely different acts from what I think, or they say that it doesn’t really sound completely like any other specific artist. That’s my favorite description when it’s coming from other people.

(Here’s the video to 4 A.M., if you haven’t heard the song: https://vimeo.com/128567066)

Me: Are bands like The Foo Fighters, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, Fall Out Boy, your inspiration?, who else inspires you?
M: They are a few of them, but, naming my biggest influences and current favorites would make you wonder why my music sounds anything at all like it does. I’m a huge fan of Rob Zombie, Portishead, Devin Townsend, Butch Walker… the list goes on, and I’m pretty sure that I don’t sound like I’m even in the same genre as any of those. 

Me: Very interesting!, have you ever considered making those genres?
M: I suppose I could, but, no, I don’t really try to make music in any particular genre. I just write what I want to write, and hope that it turns out somewhat unique.

Me: I see, that’s awesome!, so what about concerts or touring?
M: I mainly play colleges, universities, etc. I don’t do a lot of local bar shows or anything like that, because those usually end up costing you more money than you make. I’m currently working on setting up shows in support of the new music, and will hopefully have a show schedule posted soon!

Me: Definitely looking forward to that!, and more about your music can be found at your website or via twitter?
M: Yep! Most info can be found on the website at http://mikal.us, but I post all the latest updates on facebook at http://facebook.com/mikalmusic, and twitter at http://twitter.com/mikalg

Me: Definitely worth checking out!, and in addition to those 2, you’re also a filmmaker and actor?
M: Filmmaker, yes. Actor, not really! I have been an extra in some movies, and am “acting” in a friend’s film right now, but I wouldn’t call myself an actor. I prefer to be behind the camera when it comes to filmmaking. I began getting involved in film making about 3 years ago, after being influenced by being on large budget sets as an extra, and seeing a few specific films that made me want to try doing it myself. So far, I’ve filmed two feature length documentaries, and a few of my own music videos. I figured documentary style film making was an easy way to get started and start learning what I’m doing, before tackling any fictional narrative style films.

Me: Awesome!, can you tell us about those 2 documentaries?
M: The first of the two documentaries is called ‘EXTRAS: The Movie’. It’s about the film industry in Michigan, but focuses a lot on the people who work as extras within the Michigan film industry. Most of the time, extras are ignored, and even tossed in a figurative garbage pile by wannabe actors seeking to elevate themselves above others. However, without extras, every movie would look like a Twilight Zone episode – Not a living soul to be found in the world, other than your principle actors. I decided to flip the table and turn the extras into the main attraction, and shove the principle actors in the background for this documentary. Although, it focuses on the extras, the film does interview those on the business and political side of the Michigan film industry as well, following the ups and downs of the business in Michigan.

The second documentary is called ‘CARNIVAL: The Movie’. I’ve always been fascinated with the beauty of carnivals – the lights, the rides, the delicious, non-healthy foods, etc. I started out wanting to showcase just that aspect, but quickly learned that the most interesting aspects are two fold. One, the sheer amount of work that goes into constructing these small cities and taking them back down again every single week in a different city is astounding. Two, the interaction between the public, who loves going to carnivals, and the workers who run them, is very complex. The very people who pay to enjoy the attractions will turn around and speak negatively about those who are providing them with that enjoyment as soon as the carnival leaves town, and, from what I’ve witnessed, the real problems at carnivals are mostly caused by a small number of patrons, not the employees. I’ve personally witnessed people trying to steal prizes from game booths, people trying to start fights with workers, and in one instance, a woman throwing a half-full beer can at a 16 year old game operator as she walked by. It’s going to be an interesting film, that’s for sure. It may even ignite a demand for a reality series on a carnival.”

Me: Very awesome!, what inspired them?, and where can people find them?
M: EXTRAS: The Movie was inspired by my love of film, my experiences as an extra, and the tumultuous ride that the Michigan film industry has been through over the past few years. 

CARNIVAL: The Movie was inspired by, well, as I said in the last answer, my love of the beauty of carnivals – The lights, the rides, the food, and the anticipation and fun that come along with them when you head out for the night with your friends to visit the local carnival that’s only in town for 3 days each year. They can be like a friend that you only get to see once/year.

They can be found at http://extrasthemovie.com and carnivalthemovie.com. You can also visit my main film site, http://mikalfilms.com!

Me: Some awesome music and movies to check out!, and the red death event sounds awesome!, what else would your fans be interested in knowing?
M: Everybody should make sure to check out the official studio & lyric video to ‘The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call’ on https://vimeo.com/mikal, or http://mikal.us! You can get the song on iTunes and Amazon
Also – 
http://facebook.com/mikalmusic
http://twitter.com/mikalg
http://instagram.com/mikalcg
http://vimeo.com/mikal

Me: Definitely alot to check out!, so one final question, what all can we expect from you in the future?
M: After the next 2 single releases and the EP release, I’ll also be releasing an acoustic EP. With film, the two docs will be coming out in early 2016, and I’ll be working on some horror films after that. Also, I’m working on turning The Masquerade Of The Red Death into a touring production, so, watch for that!

Me: We’ll definitely have to do a follow-up interview next year about your acoustic EP and your horror films!, thank you so much for this interview!
M: That would be great! Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you, Bryan. Good luck with your new film.

Scott Laudati interview

I had the honor of interviewing poet, writer, and musician Scott Laudati, check out all his awesome stuff-

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your writing
SL: I grew up in Staten Island, and then the New Jersey suburbs, which are all about the same if you’re within an hour or so radius of Manhattan. New Jersey produces an unbelievable amount of talent, though I’m not sure how. We seem to all just hang out and drink in 7-11 parking lots. When I was growing up, it wasn’t cool to be into books or punk rock and also football, though that seems to have changed, so all we did was hang out at 7-11. Then eventually, the cops would come and throw us out. We’d end up in somebody’s basement or garage and pick up our notebooks and guitars and try to find interesting ways to sing about hanging out at 7-11. I realized early I was a much better lyricist than guitar player, so focusing on writing was the move.

I had a book of poems published about a year ago called Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair (Kuboa Press). The guy Pablo, who runs Kuboa is the man. The experience went so well with that book they’re going to put out my novel. It’s called PLAY THE DEVIL. I locked down an amazing editor, so whenever she’s done, it’ll be out. 

The poems are mainly about a girl, though there are other things like pizza, my dog, aliens, etc, but mainly a girl. PLAY THE DEVIL is about work, and love, and New Jersey, I guess, but the slow drowning of having to ask a boss you want to kill how his days are, and then, pretending you’re interested in his answer. That sort of thing that builds up the anger and takes years off of your life. That’s what the book is mainly about. 

Me: So you write alot of poems about everyday things?, what got you started in poetry?
SL: The poems in Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair are all very terrestrial, even the one’s about extra-terrestrials. They’re short and they tend to be about one topic. Most of those I wrote in my mid-twenties about things that dominated those years, like confusion, women, drugs, but also this feeling that it’s not going to all work out, and we aren’t all going to end up OK. I started following politics very closely right after 9-11. My father was a NYC firefighter (he survived). The evil seemed to creep in from all sides after that day, especially from our team. That, coupled with all my friends and family getting addicted to oxycontins, really cemented this feeling of doom. 

I started writing poems in college because I never slept, and on my college’s cable, we only got, like, one HBO channel. For two semesters, they endlessly played Schindler’s List. I’d sort of pass out and wake up each day and night to the horror of that movie. For whatever reason, that really facilitated poetry. I never wrote poems before that.

If you see my poems, they’re formatted in a certain way. That’s because I had to slide my textbook over my notebook to keep it hidden from my teachers. That allowed space for one or two words on each line. I’d thought about going back and “correcting” them, but that’s the way they came out, so why mess with it?

Me: Very awesome!, and professional poetry was a couple years after college?, and how’d that come about?
SL: After college, I started submitting everything I wrote to every publication on earth. I would get these massive lists of magazines/zines/websites that ran poems/stories and mailed my work to every single one. Even the ones that had nothing to do with my writing. Like, say they were focused on “all things Appalachian”, I would send them poems/stories anyway. I’ve been rejected by every magazine at least once, I would say. 

It all changed when I got a hand written rejection letter from an editor at The New Yorker. He was very encouraging and pushed me in the right direction. I got my first poem and short story published at 24. I still get rejected 9/10 times,  but that’s the hustle.

An editor at Thought Catalog, Stephanie Georgopulous, was also very encouraging and published a lot of my early stuff. I probably would have quit or gotten really depressed if I hadn’t ended up finding her.

Me: Very awesome!, so your advice to those wanting to make it, would be, just keep pushing?
SL: Yes. Keep pushing, but for the right reasons. I never agree with the people who say “if you can picture yourself doing anything else, do that”, because nobody’s ever pictured themselves holding open doors in hotels or cleaning pools in 100 degrees for $9 an hour, but everyone has to do some version of that work. You should do it because you’ve got about 80 years to prove that you matter, and then you’re gone. If you have that feeling, that there’s something in you that you don’t see in anyone else, then it’s your obligation to keep fighting. At the end, you’re either a legend or forgotten, but it’s only 80 years, why not give it your best shot? 

Me: Awesome!, so we talked about your poetry, but you’re also a musician?
SL: I play guitar and sing in a band called American Inc. We’re currently in the studio, down here in Maryland, recording our second record.

Me: Oh nice!, can you tell us some about your musical and lyrical styles?, and where can we find your first CD?
SL: The first record can be downloaded off our Facebook page. http://www.Facebook.com/AmericanIncMusic

We were much younger during the first record and pretty insane. We all drank like crazy, we recorded the entire record in 5 straight days with zero sleep, which is pretty amazing now that I think about it. We played, like, 40 shows around Baltimore in the following two weeks. We never had a bass player. Someone just filled in or we played live without one. Then we drove out to Covington, KY to open up for a band called Pumpkin Slut. Our drummer got arrested on the way home because he wasn’t allowed to leave the state. He had double digits drunk driving arrests, so when we got pulled over, he went to jail. We played the show in KY, there were only 5 people there and Pumpkin Slut played completely naked. We called it quits on the way home.

We’re a rock and roll band. We love the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. My favorite band is Bright Eyes, but besides them, I only started listening to music other than punk a few years ago. Our first record is pretty punk. We’re a little more grown up now, I guess, or less angry maybe.

Me: Sounds like a pretty wild time!, naked reminds me of red hot chili peppers, how does this album differ from the first one?
SL: Haha, yea, too bad it was nothing like that. It was just a couple sweaty dudes in gross clubs and half of them were naked. 

The first album was all about a moment in time. There was this energy that was happening across the world the last time. It was right after the Arab Spring. #Occupy was in full effect. There was this feeling that the good guys were going to win, and we were right in the middle of all of that. We were protesting. Our other guitarist even officially registered as a communist because he was so sick of everything the government was doing. Some of our friends were getting shipped to Iraq, telling us they didn’t believe in what they were doing, but still going. So the first album reflected a lot of that, lies, consumerism, anger, etc.

Everyone has gotten really in to gear. So we’ve crafted a lot of parts of the new songs around what kind of pedals we can get our hands on, and vintage/boutique toys. It just sounds like the right progression from your early 20s to late 20s. 

Me: So a more mature and progressed version of your previous album?
SL: Yes. We turned the power chords into bar chords. It is definitely more mature, bigger choruses. My mom will probably still want me to write pop music, but I think she’ll like this one better. Haha. 

Me: That’s definitely a plus!, so alot of poetry and music to check out!, is there anything else your fans would be interested in knowing?
SL: Lots of stuff on the horizon! I have a website- http://www.ScottLaudati.com and I’m on instagram more than anything else @scottlaudati. So if anyone is interested in my poetry or the novel that’s coming out, all the links are in those places. Thank you!

Me: One last question, what all can we expect from you in the future?
SL: As long as Kuboa will keep publishing my books, I will keep writing them. The publisher, Pablo, has become sort of a mentor. This whole thing would’ve stopped being fun a lot time ago if it wasn’t for him. 

Play The Devil will be out by summer. The new American Inc. record will be out before then. After that, I don’t know

Me: Definitely alot to look forward!, thank you so much for this interview!
SL: Hey Bryan, thank you so much! you ask the right questions to get people rolling, so much fun!

Richard Thomas interview

I had the honor of Christian singer/songwriter/guitarist Richard Thomas, formerly of operator and rev theory, check out all his awesome stuff!-

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your music

RT: Well I used to be in major label signed bands as Rikki Lixx. Operator on Atlantic Records for a couple years, then Rev Theory for about 5 years. 
I used to be a soldier for satan, although I didn’t know it at the time. 
Now, I am a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. All 3 of my solo records are dedicated to praising Jesus. 
Truth, King Of Kings, and Spiritual Warfare. All of them are solely to praise The Most High God. Also, the single Sinners Prayer feat Tyler Thomas. 

Music was created to praise God. 
That’s music’s only purpose. 
Before satan was kicked out of Heaven, he was the chief musician. 
That’s why most music in the earth is demonic and made to curse people and mock God’s Will and Jesus Himself. 
Once I was saved on 1/13/13, The Lord started revealing these things to me, through The Holy Spirit and reading God’s Word, The Bible, non stop. 
I write, record, engineer, produce, mix, and master all of my music (Christ’s Music) in my home studio. 
Just me and The Holy Spirit of The Most High God. 
I am truly blessed to be able to do this as part of God’s Will for me. 
It is an honor to honor Jesus Christ with every song I write and record.

Me: Very awesome!, and in addition to all this, you also have your own coffee company?
RT: Ha, yes, well, it’s not my company. I partnered with The Friendly Coffee Company, “Heavy Roast” is my first release, more to come.
 The best part is that a lot of the money goes to veterans. We are also working on donating even more of the money to different charities. Working on donating to K-Love radio, Angel Tree, Feed My Starving Children, etc etc. 
It’s not about the coffee, it’s about doing God’s Work, following Jesus Christ and doing what He would do. 
Helping people and spreading love to everyone in the world. 

I also have a book/record coming out worldwide through VIP Ink Publishing early 2016. 
http://www.vipinkpublishing.com

Me: Awesome!, what can you tell us about your new book?
RT: Well, it’s an autobiography, it’s just a book of my life. All the bands I’ve been in and started since I was in 2nd grade. From my elementary school band “Twilight’s Misery” all the way to major label touring on the highest level with Rev Theory on Interscope Records. 
All the struggles I went through with drugs and alcohol from age 10 until I left Rev Theory, tried to commit suicide twice, several rehabs, then finally getting saved by Jesus. 
There are many, many special guest interviews from musicians that I became friends with while touring for those 7 years. 
M Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold, Paul Phillips from Puddle Of Mudd and Operator, Greg Upchurch from 3 Doors Down, etc etc, just to name a few. 
The point of the book is to tell my story, but ultimately, to bring people to Christ that are in the same demonic bondage that I was in. The goal is to set people free through the power of our Lord, Jesus Christ, save souls, help people that are literally drowning in addiction, among many other sins. 
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can be free of sin and the demonic bondage of the enemy. I used to live my life for myself. Now, I live to help others and sing praises to The Most High God. 
I didn’t deserve to be saved, none of us do, but Jesus loves us so much that He gave His Life so that we could be free. 
By The Blood of Jesus Christ we are saved!

Me: Amen!, so how did you go from rev theory to Christian?, was there somebody on tour that shared the gospel or something?
RT: Not at all. The industry, for the most part, is a black hole of demonic devil worship. Most people have no idea that is what’s happening, but that’s why we call the devil the great deceiver. 
The drugs, sex, and rock and roll in excess thing is 100% true, at least for me it was. I got whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. For a kid, it’s a very dangerous thing to have that kind of power. It all started for me around 24 years old, major label touring I mean. Million dollar tour buses, etc etc. I was no match for the demonic temptation out there. Looking back, it was just awful, a terrible, sinful way to live, but for some reason, everyone egged me on and glorified me the more evil things I did and the drunker I got. It truly was hell on earth. 

Now, by The Grace of God, I live Heaven on earth, on earth as it is in Heaven, by The Will of God. 

So, to answer your question, no, there were absolutely no Christians out in my touring world. 

It was actually my Uncle Joe Tomasi, who Jesus used to bring me to Him. I was always very close with my uncle Joe. Honestly, he was the only person I ever considered listening to or taking advice for anything my whole life. So, it was perfectly a part of God’s Divine Plan to use my Uncle Joe to help me give my life to God forever. Of course, it took a whirlwind of leaving my music career, suicide attempts, overdoes, and several rehabs to get to the place of rest in our Lord Jesus. 

Me: Definitely!, so I’m sure others have compared you to Brian “Head” Welch, do you feel like God is using people like you 2 to reach that whole rock n roll lifestyle community?, and what has the reaction been like since you’ve started releasing Christian music?
RT: Well, you are the first to compare me to Brian. I very much respect him for how forthcoming and open he is about his relationship with Jesus Christ. I am positive that his rejoining Korn is God’s Will for him or he wouldn’t have done it. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to know Brian Welch, because when I played with Korn in Operator and Rev Theory, he had already left to follow Christ. I would love to tour with Brian in Love and Death, or with Korn, as a Christian Rock artist. The Lord most definitely called me to go back into the secular music industry for His glory, to spread The Gospel of Christ, to reach the unreachable kids in bondage that currently worship the bands they like. They need to be worshiping Jesus, as He is the only one worthy of praise and honor. As far as the reaction of fans of Operator and Rev Theory to my new music being Christian is a positive one. 
I get nothing but positive messages on social media, with lots of love since the change. I think it’s because what I project now is Jesus, and since Jesus=Love, I get love back for my works, and of course, my works are works of Christ through me. God knows what He’s doing and I am simply blessed to be a part of God’s Will. I am finally happy now in the loving arms of Jesus Christ, and I am very excited for all the amazing things The Lord has in store for me. These days, I don’t lean toward my own understanding or my will. I simply trust in Jesus for all things and He gives me Divine Protection from the enemy. Everyday is a blessing now that I have Christ Jesus in my life.

Me: Amen!, hopefully you’ll get a chance to tour with Brian!, 2 popular mainstream artists that the Lord has saved!

So what are your current/upcoming projects?, we mentioned your music and book and coffee, can you give us more details about what to expect from those and where we can find those?
RT: Amen brother, I would love to tour with Love And Death or Korn for the glory of Jesus. 

As far as my “Heavy Roast” coffee, it’s out now and available to order- http://www.thefriendlycoffeecompany.com/product/heavy-roast-the-richard-thomas-coffee/ Like I said, by buying the coffee, you will be helping veterans in need, as well as various charities that are being put into action right now. 

My book will be out early 2016. It will be available on my publishers website-
http://www.vipinkpublishing.com ,also, physically, in stores worldwide, as well as digital retailers everywhere, Barnes And Noble, etc etc. You can also find links to buy my music, coffee, and book/record on all my social media-

http://www.twitter.com/richardthomas81 

http://www.facebook.com/richardthomasmusicpage

http://www.facebook.com/richardthomasmusic 

http://www.instagram.com/rtguitar 

As for me, I am getting ready for possible touring, that is in the works. 
Also, I will continue to work hard recording the 5 records I started that I will be releasing as I finish them. 

Me: Alot of awesome stuff!, so for those that are more familiar with rev theory or operator, how does your music differ?, other than being about Jesus
RT: Well, each record is different. I just follow The Holy Spirit. “Truth” is more rock with a little pop in there. “King Of Kings” is more rock, and “Spiritual Warfare” is heavier rock leaning towards metal. Who knows where the next records will go. I really don’t do much planning like the normal record making process. I literally record as I’m writing each part. Whether it’s rhythm guitars, guitar solos, vocal melodies, drums/programming, and even the lyrics to a certain extent are improvised. So on all my songs, you are hearing either the first or second take, sometimes a third take if needed, but for the most part, first takes. The fact that I am able to engineer myself recording totally changes the process. It goes much faster and there is no one to argue with, haha, but seriously, the more cooks in the kitchen, the more difficult it is to get things done. Trust me, I’ve been in every single possible band situation over my 24 years of playing, and at this point, I can honestly say that being a solo artist and only having to answer to Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to my music career, I love it!!! Before, it kind of use to be a chore recording, it used to be something that I didn’t really look forward to and had to be very high and very drunk to do it, but that has all changed since giving my life and will to Jesus Christ. Life is simple now. The Lord does everything for me and through me. I don’t take any of the credit. I give all glory to God in Jesus Name. I think people look at it as some sort of loss or something they’ll have to deal with, but the truth is, that accepting Christ into your life, not only gives you Divine Protection, but it just makes life fun. It actually gives you Heaven on earth through The Holy Spirit. It’s like God has always said, “On earth as it is in Heaven”. He gives us the free will to deny Him, to have a difficult painful life. The best thing I ever did was sellout eternally to Jesus Christ. 

Me: You keep mentioning recording alone being best, what about the Ecclesiological people that ask about the accountability process when it comes to recording?-Ecclesiasties 4:12-“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”, is it not better to have other Christians to keep you pointed towards Jesus?
RT: Well, I have that, I talk to my Uncle Joe all the time, among other men of God, as well as attending my church as much as possible, Calvary Chapel in Philadelphia- http://www.ccphilly.org/ 
Also, sorry, I forgot to mention that my Uncle Joe co-wrote all the lyrics on “Truth”. A family friend, Jim Redmile, co-wrote the songs “The Messiah” and “Lord Of Lords” on my record “King Of Kings”. Also, my very good friend and former lead guitarist of pop evil, Anthony Greve co-wrote “Power Of Christ” on my record “King Of Kings”. Anthony Greve is now a full time pastor and servant of Jesus Christ. He was going to be the second lead guitarist in my band, but for now, God’s Will for Anthony is to strictly spread The Gospel in church and other events, etc.- http://www.facebook.com/evangelistanthonygreve 

The few co-writes that I did do were through email or text messaging.
Physically, it was just me and The Holy Spirit, and yes, one can chase a thousand but two can chase ten thousand is true, but like I said, I’ve tried it 100 different ways and the way I do it now works the best, but the most simple way to answer your question is that it is The Will Of God to record the way I am recording, and since I live to do His Will, that is what I will continue to do. Everything is working perfectly for His glory. Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t write in person with other men or women of God, just for now, The Lord has me doing exactly what He wants me doing. 

Me: That’s very awesome brother!, so what can we expect from you in the future?, you mentioned a couple more CDs, will there be concerts or a tour?
RT: The future holds a book/record, more coffee, more music, and lots of touring. I can’t say when or where the touring will be yet, but it’s definitely in the works, and of course, all for the glory of Christ.

Me: Definitely worth keeping an eye on!, so one last question, you have other musicians in your family, I saw Tyler Thomas on a song, how’s he related to?, and do any of them have their own music out?
RT: I am one of seven and am second to oldest. Tyler Thomas is my older brother’s son. He has been apprenticing under me for some years now as a guitarist, but mainly as an engineer/producer/songwriter. I’m teaching him Protools and the means to do it all, and for the glory of Christ. All my siblings and extended family are musically inclined. I recorded, produced, and co-wrote for my younger brothers band, “The New Borns”, nothing was officially released. Mainly, because by the time it was close to being ready, I left for Hollywood to join Operator on Atlantic Records before joining Rev Theory. Awhile back, after being saved, I did record a song with my brother Bryan called, “The Longest Kiss Goodnight” http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/bryanthomas3
Bryan Thomas (who was the singer/rhythm guitarist in The New Borns) and I are actually just starting to record an EP of his.

Me: A few other talented artists for your fans to check out!, thank you so much for this interview!
RT: Thank you and all glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ!!!, Amen!

http://www.cdbaby.com/m/artist/RichardThomas

https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Richard_Thomas_Spiritual_Warfare?id=Bzykgrjoywo3hlykcthfrv4xipu

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00RO0NQIM/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?qid=1420158810&sr=8-4

Steve Kaplan interview

I had the honor of interviewing author, teacher, and theater director/producer
Steve Kaplan, check out his book “The hidden tools of comedy”-

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you, your writing, and your comedy
SK: I was born in Queens, NY, and grew up in a suburban area of Queens called Fresh Meadows, which was most notable for a distinct absence of meadows of any kind, but the good people of Fresh Meadows, Queens, must have been an optimistic bunch, the street I lived on was very near to Utopia Parkway, a street, I might add, that failed to live up to its name.

I started in the theater. With a couple of friends, we opened up a theatre in New York called Manhattan Punch Line. It was a theatre completely dedicated to comedy, where we presented comedy on stage in all its forms: plays, stand-up, improv, and sketch. 

A lot of great people came out of the theatre: David Crane, Michael Patrick King, Lewis Black, Oliver Platt(etc). When we started, I thought I knew a lot about comedy, but once we were going for a bit, I discovered that there were some things I didn’t know about comedy, like everything.

I began to wonder why something that was incredibly funny on Thursday night would get no laughs on Sunday. Why sometimes the funniest performance of a play was at it’s very first table read? What was going on here? That’s when I started seriously exploring the art and the science of comedy.

At the time, I was teaching an improv class. Without telling the actors, I started experimenting with them, devising improv games to get at the core of comedy: how it works, why it works, what’s going on when it stops working, and what the hell can you do about it?

These experiments led to the discovery of a series of techniques, which in turn led to a forty week Master Class in comedy. The work can be boiled down to this: comedy tells the truth. More specifically, comedy tells the truth about people. 

When I moved to L.A., I started teaching the same philosophies and techniques, but adapting it to writers as well. The workshops proved very popular and soon I was invited to bring the workshops to London, Sydney, Singapore, among others, which led to my book, The Hidden Tools of Comedy (now translated into Russian, Chinese and French!)

Me: Very awesome!, were the theater and classes how you also got involved with film courage?
SK: No, I had been doing writing workshops for some time, and my good friend Derek Christopher (who runs the very successful Story Expo) thought we’d be a good match and suggested we touch base with one another, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Me: Very awesome!, and in addition to all that, you’re an author, which you mentioned, your books are based on your workshop/intensive?
SK: Yes, my first book, The Hidden Tools Of Comedy is based in part on my workshops, and my workshops represent my decades of work in producing, directing, consulting and teaching comedy.
 
I’m currently working on a new book, tentatively titled “The Comic Hero’s Journey” which explores story structure in comic film. 
 
Me: So hidden tools covered several aspects?, as journey is focused on just writing?
SK: The Hidden Tools talks about why comedy works, how it works, what’s going on when it stops working, and what can you do to fix it. The Hidden Tools are tools to fix comedy when it doesn’t work.
 
The Comic Hero’s Journey uses Joseph Campbell’s metaphor for story telling to explore the story structure of comic films, and how that structure and development differs from the Hero’s Journey in Chris Vogler’s book (who is a friend, by the way.)
 
Me: Very awesome!, so is there going to be a 3rd book?
SK: Please, let me finish my second book, first! In fact, let me finish the first chapter of my second book, first!

Me: So we’ll see!, lol, so what made you choose to write these types of books?
SK: I’ve been teaching, in one form or another, since 1977. The books are just another form of that.
 
Me: So you just started writing your second book, when can we expect?, and is there going to be workshops or anything to go with it?
SK: If my publisher gives me the go ahead, I’d expect the new book to be finished anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half. Publication usually happens about 6 to 9 months after you turn in the final draft.
 
Our next webinar on Dramedy is on November 4th, and our live 2-day workshop is scheduled for January 30-31, 2016 in Los Angeles. Information on both is available on our web site, http://www.KaplanComedy.com.
 
Much of the material for the second book will be incorporated into my ongoing two-day workshops.
 
Me: Oh I see, that’s awesome!, so you teach ALOT on writing and comedy, are you ever going to make your own movie?, or is teaching your calling?
SK: My whole career has been finding and developing new talent and teaching, mostly comedy. I come to it not from writing, but as a director. I started out as a director and producer in the theatre.

I still occasionally direct for the theater, but right now, teaching, writing my book and consulting with other writers is my calling.

Me: So what all can we except from you in the future?
SK: Well, more lectures, more workshops, more webinars, starting online courses, and, of course, at least one more book.
 
Me: Online courses?
SK: We’re in the planning stages for a roll-out of ongoing online classes, but I think the actual launch will happen sometime in the spring of 2016.
 
Me: Teaching the same stuff as the seminars?, definitely worth looking forward to!
SK: Yes, some of the same material, but some new content, as well!-
 
Comic Hero’s Journey –Comedy Feature Story Structure
and
Comic Premise –Creating and developing your comic idea.
 
as well as others.
 
Me: Alot to look forward to!, anything else you’d want your fans to know?
SK: Our next Comic Intensive workshop is scheduled for January 30-31, 2016 in Burbank-hope to see you there!
 
Me: You definitely have alot to offer!, so one final question, being someone influential in the screenwriting community, what would be your advice to someone interested in being a writer?
SK: Read as much as you can, hang out with other writers, and when you’re not reading or hanging out, you should be writing. And then write some more.

Me: Great advice!, thank you so much for this interview!
SK: You’re welcome!

Steve Kaplan’s Comedy Intensive
KaplanComedy.com
Follow on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/KaplanComedy
Twitter at Twitter.com/skcomedy 

Nick Brown interview

I had the honor of interviewing author Nick Brown, check out his upcoming book this Halloween-

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your books
NB: I have an archaeological background and have worked, written and researched archaeology, as well as teaching and lecturing in it. For twenty years, I was Principal of Oldham Sixth Form college, which I opened as a multi-racial college in the center of a segregated town with racial tensions. The college was highly successful and oversubscribed, which seemed to indicate that not only could the students get along with each other, but that they were capable of great things if given the right encouragement, I was awarded an OBE for this. Since 2009, I have been writing fulltime. I’m married with three sons, have degrees from Leeds and Manchester, am a Fellow of the Royal society of Arts and review books for a series of periodicals.
I am writing two series of novels: A supernatural thriller series “Ancient Gramarye”, and The “Luck Bringer” cycle which is set in ancient Greece.
Luck Bringer and The Wooden Walls of Thermopylae are set in the Persian Wars of the 5th century BC and I try to fill in the gaps in the story based on years of research. I’ve always loved this period of history and wanted to try and bring it alive to give a picture of the richness and danger of the early days of democracy. I have used real people, such as the dramatist Aeschylus and the politicians Miltiades and Themistocles and tried to picture them as they were. “Luck Bringer” was the editor’s choice of the Historical Novel society and has been nominated for their book of the year. The next in the series is “The Sacrifice of Athena”.
The first two in the supernatural series are “Skendleby” and “The Dead Travel Fast”. The third, “Dark Coven”, will be published at the end of this month. These seem more popular despite the fact they are quite strange books being a mixture of ghost story, quantum science, thriller, love story and exploration of faith. They have an archaeological basis with some strange experiences of my own, (I live in a very strange house), blended in and the direction they take surprises me. I am working on the next, and probably last,  in the series to be called “Green Man Resurrection”, although, depending on how it develops, it may not be the last.
My ambition is to write a novel based on my experiences of racial politics and murder in Oldham and Manchester, but because of the sensitivity of the subject matter, I want to hone my writing skills so that I get it exactly right.

Me: Very awesome!, why the jump from running a college to being an author?
NB: I’d always wanted to write and I didn’t want to become too comfortable or complacent at the college. After twenty years, it was in a good place and I felt it would benefit from a new leader who would see it from a different perspective. It was a bit of a wrench to leave, but in a way, having to start again from the bottom was good for me, was tough at first and I miss working with people, but I’m glad I did it. I love writing and the research that goes with it.

Me: Very awesome!, you mention research, is that a big part of your writing?, and what kind of research do you do?
NB: For both series of books, I like to walk the ground so that what I write feels authentic. For the Luck Bringer cycle, this involved spending time in Greece, where I’ve also done field work, in fact, some of the material from the Samos based chapters came from an archaeological walking guide to the ancient city of Pythagorio, which I wrote. I find that spending time on battle sites allows you to feel yourself into the event and draw your own conclusions with regard to troop dispositions. For the Skendleby books, I spent time on a number of Neolithic and later sites and drew on my own experiences of field work and excavation.
I also read all the primary historical sources, these are few in number and leave many gaps, to try and fill these, I investigate other sources including modern historians. In the Greek books, I researched the literature. The plays of Aechylus the dramatist and a major character in the books was particularly fruitful. Aeschylus fought at Marathon and Salamis, he was there and the historians were not, and what his plays tell us differs from the historians and I find him a very useful literary barometer.
I think if you immerse yourself in research, then the books can come to life with integrity, also, I enjoy it.

Me: So you go to the ancient sites and study alot of history for every project?
NB: Yes, most of my writing has an archaeological or historical theme and you can only really get the feel a place by going to it.

Me: Very awesome!, so what are your other projects?, you mentioned 2, can you tell us more about them?
NB: I’m currently writing “The sacrifice of Athena”, the third in the Luck bringer series, which covers the period from the battle of Salamis to the battle of Mycale after which the Athenians took their first step towards building the empire that eventually led to the collapse of Sparta and Athens. I’m researching the 4th book in the Ancient Gramarye series “Green man resurrection”, which will take me to some of the stranger Neolithic sites. Then I may take a break and do a little practical archaeology.

Me: Can you tell us more about the 2 aforementioned series?
NB: I think that the Ancient Gramarye series was my outlet for the horrors of the two murders I encountered and their violent aftermath. It was kickstarted by a few strange experiences and I wanted to write about the legacy of the past in a modern landscape. The first book “Skendleby”, features a series of flawed characters coming up against something far above their capacities to cope, from the feedback I’ve received, I think it touched a nerve and elicited a strong reaction. Skendleby is a made up name for a fusing of several components of the place where I live, it begins when archaeologists find a hidden Neolithic burial mound meant never to be opened, they open it.
The very strange thing about this is that long after the book was published, a reader wrote to me from a real Skendleby in East Anglia where there actually is a Neolithic burial mound!!!
The second in the series, The Dead Travel Fast, is based on the Greek island of Samos which I know well. It deals with the original source of the evil contained in Skendleby. It also takes a dystopian view of what could have happened during the Greek financial crisis. I think it is an original and strange book.
The third in the series, Dark Coven, returns to Skendleby and is published this October on Halloween.

The origins of the Luck Bringer cycle go back to my first classics tutorial at university. I became fascinated by the curious rise and fall of the Athenian leader at the battle of Marathon, Miltiades (the battle which saved democracy). How did he manage to become a leader, win the battle and then two years later die in disgrace? I have researched it ever since and decided that the best way to tell the story would be through a research based novel. Luck Bringer is editor’s choice for the Historical novel society and shortlisted for Book of the Year.
The second in the series is The Wooden Walls of Thermopylae which takes the story forwards to the battle of Thermopylae and the burning of Athens by the Persians. I have always been interested in the myths about Thermopylae and the three hundred and have attempted to write what probably really happened, I have tried to bring the politics and culture of ancient Greece to life, as well as the war.

I am currently writing the third in the series, ‘The Sacrifice of Athena’.

Me: Sound like very awesome books!, you were unaware of the real Skendleby and the actual Neolithic burial mound?
NB: Yes, it was very strange, but I checked it out and he was right. Skendleby is a small place in rural Lincolnshire, where there is a Neolithic long chambered cairn burial mound. It has been excavated, and the excavation report was published, there are still a couple of copies available through Amazon, so I looked it up once, as unaware of both the place and the cairn.

Me: That’s ironic!, how did your Skendleby and burial mound differ from that one?
NB: It is a much bigger version of the one I invented for the Skendleby books. Mine was a much smaller one put up in shorter time scale to keep buried something that frightened the tribe. Unlike the known ones, which were designed to be seen, it was hidden in a remote part of the country with a bad reputation where no one would willingly go.

Me: Very awesome!, so alot of books are turned into movies, do you think any of yours will ever be movies?
NB: I think they would make good movies; Mr. Depp would be great as Theodrakis in the Skendleby books, a Greek detective who first appears in “The Dead Travel Fast”, and Russell Crowe would be perfect as Miltiades in Luck Bringer.

Me: Both awesome actors!, has their been any interest?
NB: No, I’ve not really had any time to push the idea, but it’s a plan for the future.

Me: Awesome!, what else can we expect from you in the future?
NB: Dark Coven in October this year, Sacrifice of Athena in 2016, Green Man Resurrection in 2017 if everything goes well. After that, something different.

Me: Awesome!, and what can you tell us about those?
NB: Green Man resurrection is the last, I think, in the Skendleby series; despite being a supernatural /horror thriller, it also deals with serious and moral themes. This has a surprising climax, although the clues were planted in the other books. I hope the end will satisfy the readers who have enjoyed the journey. When you reach the last pages of Dark Coven, out later this month, however, I doubt if you will second guess the end of the series.
Sacrifice of Athena ends with the climax, not only of the Persian War, but also of some of the back stories involving Mandrocles, Aeschylus, Lyra ,Themistocles and others. It sees Cimon, son of Miltiades, come of age. I think there will be more in this series.
Having decided to accept a commercial publishing contract however, I’m not sure of the frequency of the next books following Green Man and Sacrifice.

Me: Was it self-publishing before?
NB: It was a mixture before, a commercial publisher with some self-supplied services. However, once the books attracted attention and good reviews, I was given options. In many ways, being an indie author was a good experience. I review books for a series of publications and find the balance of quality between indie and commercial pretty even. The publishing industry seems unwilling to take risks and the market has become increasingly bland, TV tie ins, celebs etc. Whereas, there are some excellent indie authors, who take risks and who deserve more coverage.

Me: Very awesome!, what advice would you have for a new author?, or an indie author wanting to get signed?
NB: It is a hard world, and I think the best advice is to write because you love your subject. Write about what you know, so the book has integrity and you will be pleased with it. That gives you a book worth a publisher taking a risk. After that, it’s the ability to take criticism and continue to improve, but to keep sane, you must write to please yourself, if other people like it, it is a bonus.

Me: Very awesome!, is there anything else your fans be would be interested in knowing?
NB: Only that it is a source of great joy to me that people enjoy my books, it’s the reason I publish.

Me: Well that’s always good!, thank you so much for this interview!
NB: Thanks very much to you Bryan!

F.J. Gouldner

I had the honor of interviewing author and spoken word artist F.J. Gouldner, check out all his awesome stuff!

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us SOME about you and your work
FG: Well, my name is F.J. Gouldner and I’ve been writing for what seems like forever. In actuality, it’s been about 30 years. I’m 48 and I’ve been writing to publish since I was 18 or so. My early career got somewhat derailed after publishing about 50 short stories, poems, and essays. I relocated to France with the dream of being a starving Writer who finds fame and fortune, but instead, I found the bottle and opiates. I never stopped writing, but I moved back to the States and became a professional bartender in New York, yeah, not a fabulous idea for an alcoholic and drug addict. My writing career remained stalled except for a few stories getting published here and there in small lit. journals. It’s a familiar story really, no need to go into it here. At 35, I got clean and sober, and have since published 4 books and my 5th is being released this December. The titles in order of release are:

Mindscreams 

Escape the Landscape

Porcupine Skin

Miniature Symphonies 

And my next release:

Holidays with the Ripper.

Me: It’s awesome that you’re sober now and staying busy!, what advice do you have for former/current addicts/alcoholics trying to get their life together?
FG: Cut the shit, you’re not fooling anybody. Everyone knows you’re a drunk or a druggie. Be a true Warrior and live life as it is, put the booze and/or drugs down, stop taking the ones you love hostage, and grow up, you know this shit is getting really old.

To the former ones? Take it slow. That’s why they say one day at a time. Stay healthy in body and mind. Exercise, eat right, meditate and stay connected with other recovering people, having a good network is so important for a healthy recovery.

Me: What are your current/upcoming projects?
FG: As I said, my next book is entitled Holidays with the Ripper, and I’ll be doing a tour of the East once it’s officially released. I also do spoken word storytelling and have some gigs coming up throughout this fall. 

Me: Very awesome!, tell us some about holidays with the ripper
FG: Ah, this is by far my best work as far as I’m concerned, but I always love my current work best. Holidays is about a serial killer that uses the American National Holidays as the backdrop for his macabre killings, it’s brutal and beautifully violent. Coming this December, no more spoilers! Hahaha

Me: What’s your history with spoken word?, and are you touring with that too?
FG: I used to do quite a bit of spoken word in the 90’s, but that went by the wayside like everything else in the maelstrom of addiction.

I’m currently just getting my chops back with that and am doing a bevy of open mic stuff throughout this October, November, December in New Jersey and New York.

Me: What all can we expect from you in the future?
FG: Holy cow!, my mind NEVER stops firing so there are going to be many, many books in the future, no shortage of ideas here. I’d also eventually like to put together a one man show, get on stage, and let the audience see what I can do.

Me: Awesome!, what’s your idea with a one man show?, and when can we see that come to fruition?
FG: I’d like to put together an autobiographical theater piece and perform it at a small space for artistic types in recovery like myself, but of course, all would be welcome. 

It’s gonna be a lot of work, so I’d say sometime in 2017/18.

Me: Is there anything else you’d like for your fans to know?
FG: Well, any and all info about me and my projects can be found on my website:

http://www.fjgouldner.com 

and I truly appreciate all of the continued support from all of my loyal readers and spoken word folks. See you out there for the 2015/16 spoken word shows and book tour.

Me: All good things!, so I thought of one last question- So alot of books are turned into movies, any chance any of yours will be adapted?
FG: I mostly write in the short form, but Raymond Carver’s short stories were made into the great film ‘Short Cuts’ by Robert Altman, so you never know. If my newest book ‘Holidays with the Ripper’ is made into a film, people will probably run from the theater screaming. Hahaha.

Me: Scary and disturbed movies are great!, thank you so much for this interview!
FG: It was my pleasure Bryan, thank you. Always a pleasure to talk about myself, lol, not!

Ani Keating interview

I had the honor of interviewing writer Ani Keating, check her out and look forward to her upcoming book-

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your book
AK: For some reason, I always want to start with favorite foods (cheese) and favorite book characters (Brothers Karamazov), but that won’t get me anywhere. So here is the short version: I’m a lawyer by day and a writer by night. I was born and raised in a different country, which I have chosen to keep anonymous for now. I came here by myself at age 18 (wearing a bad pair of coveralls, which were considered fashionable at the time in my homeland).  Before I knew it, I was going to college, then law school, and then falling in love with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, All-American boy and the rest is history. Now, the U.S. is my home, and I consider myself very lucky to have love, support, and strong connections in two countries, as different from each other as it’s possible to be, and I do my best to provide the same support to newbie lawyers, newbie Americans, and newbie writers that I was given by so many here during my very, very long journey.

I live in Portland, Oregon, which means that most of my weekends are spent in the Mecca of book lovers, Powell’s Bookstore, and after I finish either a long day in court, or a long evening drafting briefs, I come home and for reasons that remain a mystery to my husband (and me for that matter)—I write some more. Writing has always been part of my life, but it wasn’t until I figured out how to survive billable hours that I finally put pen to paper and started my first novel, Thirty Nights.

Thirty Nights is new adult fiction, some call it romance, some call it “new adult with an old soul.” I think of it more like a love story with social conscience. 

Me: Awesome!, so what is thirty nights about?
AK: It follows the tormented relationship of Elisa Snow, an orphan from England, and Aiden Hale, a U.S. Marine with total recall who suffers from PTSD. Elisa and Aiden are burdened, not only by tragedy in their pasts, but also by the laws of the very same government that they want to serve. Elisa, as a foreign student, is given thirty days to the leave the U.S. after her visa is denied. Aiden, now a wealthy businessman, can never escape the memories of his tour in Iraq. Drawn by their invisible wounds, the two start a passionate affair as they race against the clock to defy their pasts and fight for their future.

Me: Awesome!, so foreign student, was it written from personal experience?
AK: No, it’s not a true or autobiographical story, pure fiction. However, a lot of the legal constraints that appear in the book are inspired from various aspects of U.S. immigration law.

Me: I see, and when’s your book coming out?
AK: The book is scheduled to be released on November 17, 2015.(just announced)

Me: Definitely awesome!, are there any other current/upcoming projects?
AK: Yes, there is the sequel to Thirty Nights, currently titled Ninety Days.  Separate from this, I have another book in the works based on legends.  That’s all I can say about that one.

Me: So no hint on legends?
AK: The legends book covers certain ancient myths from various countries, as viewed from the descendants of those mythical heroes in the modern world. I am still in the outlining stage of that one.

Me: Very awesome!, so what else can we expect from you in the future?
AK: As for my future plans, they involve a lot of writing. Now that the words are finally finding paper, they can’t stop. After the sequel to Thirty Nights, Ninety Days, and Legends, I am toying with a fairy tale, Young Adult story, and after that, a psychological thriller. I love romance, but I don’t discriminate: I will write whatever characters, voices, or stories take root in my head. Usually, it’s a character first, and once they come alive, it’s hard to stop.

Me: Alot to look forward to!, you mentioned the character comes first, what was the writing process like on your current book?
AK: That’s a good question, and believe it or not, one of the most common ones I get. I don’t know that there is only one way to write, and I’m by far not an expert, but for me, it starts with an idea of conflict or a character, nothing complicated, just a “what if?”-“What if you had to choose between your family or your love?”, “What if you were an orphan who had a second chance at a family?”, “What if you could never forget anything?”, then, I develop it with “then what?”, until I have a two-three paragraph summary, which almost always involves three main points: 1) where does a character start? 2) what happens to change that starting position? 3) and where do they end?  Once I have a vague idea of this, I research, and then, I research some more- places, times, history, legend… I jot down my main research findings by each point, color-coding the ones I like for character, for plot, for mood, for voice, etc. (That part is a little nuts, I recognize that.), and then, I outline.  Loosely at first, until the characters are fully developed and determine their own path. Once the characters are set, then I truly outline. By then, I also know the way the story will end, and because I know the ending, I often write/work backwards, which helps me plug in plot clues. Once it’s finished, I step away from it for a week or so, and then go back and edit like crazy. That’s it in a nutshell, at least so far. The Legends book involves a lot more plotting, so for that one, I am now in the language-development and map-drawing stage, very different approach.

Me: Sounds like an extensive and intense methodical process, was it learned somewhere or is it how you did and found works best for you?
AK: The writing process – I’m glad it makes sense to someone! No, I didn’t really learn it anywhere, I’m not a trained writer, it just worked best for me. Although, the color-coding is something I inherited from law school days. I used to color-code part of legal briefs (issue, rule, analysis) so maybe, that method of work has stayed with me during research these days, lol.

AK: I see, since you were a lawyer, are you ever going to write anything related?, like the legally blonde or Erin Brockovich of books
AK: Ha ha, I love both of those movies, but right now, I am not planning on doing anything law-related. Perhaps because I do so much of it in my day job. That doesn’t mean it will never happen – it would just have to be the right character or the right story. 

Me: Very awesome!, so what all can we look forward to in the future?
AK: I plan to finish the American Beauty series because my readers have waited for it (very patiently) for a quite a while. In fact, ever since the first book was originally posted online. The American Beauty series includes Ninety Days (the sequel), and most likely, a separate third book covering the journey of another character in the story.  

After American Beauty, it will be the projects I mentioned above, and hopefully, some sleep. The writing and publishing process is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had, but it is also one of the most exhausting, really late nights, ungodly early mornings, take-out, frozen shoulders, you-name-it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because there is nothing better than typing that one last word on a page and seeing the story come to life.  (By the way, I obsess a long time about what the last word should be in a book.)

Me: Very awesome!, so same world but a different character?, which character this time?
AK: Book 3 will likely be the story of Javier Solis, but first, I need to have Aiden and Elisa’s journey completed. 

Me: Sounds like alot going on!, anything else your fans would be interested in knowing?
AK: I just want to tell them that I’m really thankful for their support. This story started as a small experiment online, first on fan fiction, then on my blog, and my readers followed it everywhere, spread the word, encouraged me, and ultimately made this possible. I want to thank all of them, from the very first follower to the last reader. Without them, the story may have never been finished.

Me: Thank you so much for this interview!
AK: No, thank you for giving me this opportunity to interview with you. I really appreciate it.

Dielle interview

I had the honor of interviewing singer, songwriter, musician Dielle, check out all her awesome stuff!-

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your music
D: My name is DiElle and I am from a tiny village called Wickham in Hampshire, on the south coast of England. I have been in love with music for as long as I can remember and gave my first solo performance at the age of 8 years old. I have a reputation for writing emotional songs that seem to be tear-jerkers!, but my most recent single is much more light hearted! http://diellemusic.com/bio/ (for more)

I have written two albums and have a series of singles coming out this year.

Me: Awesome!, and genre-wise, what would you consider it?
D: My music seems to have been bizarrely difficult to pigeon hole by myself, bloggers, promoters, and managers!, I put this down to the changing nature of pop over the last few decades. I grew up listening to the more acoustic/folk pop style of my dad’s record collection and think that has hugely influenced my style. Sometimes, it has leaned more towards folk, sometimes, more pop over the years, but now I have settled on ‘acoustic singer-songwriter with jazz/blues/pop flavourings, I do have the occasional folk flavouring that floats through as well! 

Me: Where do the jazz and blues influences come from?
D: My Dad loves blues and always encouraged me to sing it, but I was introduced to jazz by my vocal coach from the tender age of 11. I distinctly remember learning Georgia On My Mind and Summertime during my training years and they remain two of my favorite jazz standards. I didn’t really start listening to jazz for pleasure until much later, but once I listened to some Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James and Louis Armstrong, I was hooked. Great stories, challenging melodies, ultimate romance, gorgeous harmony and chord progressions, never ending variety, improvisation … all the good stuff! 

Me: Awesome music!, and lyrically?, what inspires you?
D: Wow, everything inspires me lyrically. I love words, stories, pictures, landscapes, and images – all of which can inspire me to scribble something, but I do write from life experience as well – not necessarily just my life, but observations of relationships and other people I come across in life .. 

Me: Awesome!, so what is your most recent/upcoming project?
D: My latest single is The Nesting Song, which is currently available on bandcamp- http://www.dielle.bandcamp.com 

I am touring The Nesting Tour, in the UK, in September 2015 in celebration of this new song.

Me: Is it going to be on a CD or EP?
D: No, just single release, it will be on iTunes and global download platforms. 

Both of my previous albums are available on CD at gigs or direct from me.

Me: Awesome!, what was your latest CD?, and is there going to be a third?
D: My last album was Fearless, released in April 2014, I’m sure there will be a third one day, but I am currently working on individual single releases, which gives me much more autonomy.

I grew up listening to vinyl, so my love of album craft is deeply ingrained.

Me: Why the shift from albums to singles?, just the autonomy?
D. Producing an album in today’s climate is self-indulgence from the artist, I feel there’s little call or market for full albums, and I am enjoying working on a couple of songs at a time and releasing them straight away. I will return to album craft, but it’s an unnecessary pressure at the moment. 

Me: I see, so what else can we expect from you in the future?
D: I’m touring the UK this September, and working on Tapestry, my side project, where I play Joni Mitchell and Carole king songs with some great friends that I call the Tapestry Band.

I’d like to get out to the U.S. To tour in the next couple of years, since over half of my fanbase is in the states. I’m booking house concerts now and really enjoying getting to know my fans.

Me: We definitely look forward to you coming to the US!, can tapestry be heard anywhere?
D: There are a couple of clips of Tapestry on my YouTube account, but here’s a montage of the last gig we did at The Ashcroft Arts Centre in Hampshire-

Me: Very awesome!, are you touring with them also?
D: No, we’re not touring, but we’re enjoying the odd arts centre gig here and there (and are available to hire also)

Going back to what you can expect in the future – in an attempt to grow old gracefully, I’ll probably increase the jazz influence, which will be more becoming of me when I’m older! 

Me: So do you think you’ll record a full jazz song or album?, or just jazz influenced?
D: I’m thinking about a jazz infused album with some standards, jazz influenced/fusion tracks of mine.. but this is just an idea right now.

Me: That would definitely be awesome!, is there anything else your fans would be interested in knowing?
D: I give private house concerts for my fans – this is really big in the states, and is a lovely, civilized way to enjoy live music. If anyone would like to book a concert, they can find out more information here-
http://diellemusic.com/house-concerts/

Me: Thank you so much for this interview!
D: My absolute pleasure!