Small-town life can be hard for a dead girl…
For Veronica Fischer the night to night life of a bloodsucking madam in Middle America is tough enough before she adopts Rachel Gregory, an eight year old ghost.
After her house is set on fire, and Rachel disappears, all signs point to foul play. When she finds herself with a hit out on her unlife, and warrants for her arrest, it becomes clear she’s going to need help.
Now she has to contend with horny zombies, violent spirits, and murderous grave robbers if she’s ever going to find Rachel and discover the awful truth of the coming storm.
A raucous ride through the dangerous lives of the lecherous undead.
I used to like True Blood but for some time now I have found the market for Vampire stories oversaturated and did not expect too much from the book. I was pleasantly surprised when from the first few pages the quality of style and content showed a confident and purpose-driven manner of writing. A short prologue introduced the background of the main character with great sensitivity, something which I also often find over-done or over-dramatic. Here it sets the scene in an understated way.
Forward to the present the little child is now a grown up Vampire who sells sex so she can feed on the blood of her clients. Veronica Fischer (great name btw) is an odd character with many quirks that is not your usual heroine of a vampire story and I am grateful for that.She has taken an eight year old ghost under her wing who disappears after Veronica’s house is set on fire. It becomes transparent that someone out there is targeting her and trying to set her up. Together with some friends, a love interest, who is also a Vampire, and her protector she sets out to get the girls back, fighting a malicious and vile Zombie and his associates.
The side characters are just as lively and colourful as Veronica, in that respect the book did remind me of True Blood, the TV series that I loved because the characters were playing with stereotypes but remained rather unique. I loved to hate the Zombie as much as I enjoyed seeing Veronica mess things up here and there and then succeed at other times.
The overall picture and the title of the trilogy refers to ‘unquiet’ activity of minions associated with Veronica’s enemies.
The story has a lot of action going and is never dull. One of the things I liked most about the book was the skilful dialogue which sounded lifelike but never too simple.
Vampire stories aren’t for everyone but as a casual visitor to the genre I would recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good helping of the genre.
Interview with Dennis Sharpe:
I was quite impressed by the high quality of your writing which is unusual in the horror and vampire genre. What is your background in writing?
Well, first of all, thank you for being impressed. I don’t tend to think of my writing as being of particularly high quality. It’s awfully nice of you to say though.
I will note that I do not write exclusively in the horror and vampire genres. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to find the “genre label” that best suits the story I’ve just written. More than once I’ve spent more time worrying about what genre a story best fits in than I spent actually writing it. My writing is really all over the place. I mean… I write sci-fi, horror, vampire, paranormal, suspense, thrillers, fantasy… I even write poetry, song lyrics, and articles.
I actually went to school for screen writing, if you can believe that.
What made you chose those genres? How do the stories come to you? Do you plan the stories or do they come to you naturally?
I never choose a genre, I tell a story… The story that’s in my mind to be told dictates the genre. Often times when I’m writing I feel as though I’m just along for the ride. My characters are telling me what they’re going to do and what they are not going to do… At those times I’m more of a spectator, a chronicler of the events that are unfolding in front of me, in my own mind.
There have been more than a few times when I had an idea in my mind of where I thought the story was going to go, only to have everything turned upside down in front of me by fictional characters (seemingly) of my own design. It’s almost as though they are the masters and I’m their pawn.
Wow! When I see it written out… It sounds kind of crazy. Right?
Do you identify with any of your characters and if so, what aspects of them?
I guess you could say identify a little bit with all of them. The protagonist as well as the others. If I didn’t I don’t think I could write them. Every character right has certain aspects of me in them. At the same time, though, no one character is “me”. I don’t know, I guess it’s kind of hard for me to explain. Am I making any sense?
For some characters I write, I identify with their heart. For others, it’s their drive, or ambition. I’m never going to be as cool as any of the characters I write, at least not in this lifetime, but there are bits of me in all of them.
You read a lot of literary fiction in your own time. Do you ever feel like you want to write something like that yourself?
Oh, I’d love to. First, however, the story would have to be in me to write, and I just don’t know if it’s there. I have all sorts of characters talking to me all the time, telling me little bits and pieces of their lives… and I try to write down as much as I can as fast as I can… but it’s mostly just me struggling to keep up.
If there ever is a work of literary fiction that comes out of me… some master work… I’m quite certain everyone I know would be shocked. They wouldn’t be nearly as shocked, though, as I would be.
I’ve heard over and over again “write what you know.” What I know has never seemed worth it to me… not entertaining enough, ya know? I do inject what I know of people and their behaviours into my work, but I prefer to write what I’d want to read. You see, I’m a bit of a nerd… so my writing reflects my interests (at least to a degree).
Who are your literary influences? Which are your favourite books?
Good grief. That is a seriously broad question.
Authors that have influenced me are all over the map…
Neil Gaiman, Kurt Vonnegut, Frank Miller, Chrissie Pappas, Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, Issac Asimov, Graham Greene, Douglas Adams, George Orwell…
Favourite books? That’s a really long, long list. I’ll give you a few off the top of my head…
Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Bachman Books by Stephen King
1984 by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
The Gravity Soundtrack by Erin Keane
Recent favourite reads are…
Inhale by Kendall Grey
Amaretto Flame by Sammie Spencer
Alice Will by Ashley Chappell
Justice by Rhiannon Paille
The Luck of the Weissensteiners by some chap whose name I can’t recall…
A lot of your writing is quite thoughtful and almost philosophical.
Awww… Thank you. That’s so nice of you to say.
Do you find people appreciate that aspect of your writing or do you get more feedback for the story lines and the characters you create?
I get all sorts of feedback (but it’s never enough for me). I don’t often hear words like philosophical used to describe my work. I’m afraid that if I did it might go to my head a little.
Most of the feedback I receive from my readers concerns my characters… and that makes me happy. It seems that I have succeeded in putting the voice in my head on a page a least skilfully enough that someone else can read what I’ve written and hear the same voice I did when I wrote it.
Really, I don’t think there is higher praise that a writer can receive.
You produced a youtube trailer. How did you manage to produce that?
I put together a crew… lucked out and got a really talented DP… translated some scenes from my book into sides… did some casting… and shot it over five days with no budget, and a big pile of borrowed props.
I’ve found that if you want to do something… you should do it. Don’t let anything hold you back. Just find the best way around your obstacles, don’t give up, and just keep plugging away…
What are your next projects? Where could we hear about them?
There are many.
Fantasy, Fairies, Sci-fi, Terrorist thrillers, and time travel… Vampires, Zombies… Aliens… Love stories… I write a lot, and I’m not ever locked into a style or genre, so…
I talk about all of my works in progress (and post art, screen caps, and snippets) regularly on my Facebook page and on my blog.
All of my links, covers, everything really… can be found here:
How is your experience in the independent publishing industry?
That’s a question with a lot of different answers. I’m not sure which one you were looking for, so I guess I’ll just guess… and answer that one.
By way of a history lesson that you may not want… In the last week of April, 2011, my 4th book ‘Blood & Spirits’ became available through Amazon (KDP & CreateSpace) as well as Smashwords. I had previously released three collections of spoken word poetry and experienced more success with those books than I likely had a right to, but I was completely unprepared for how to try to make a paranormal fiction title sell.
First, I started by looking at all the book blogs I could find. I read their reviews and looked for a style and critical voice I felt I could agree with and get behind. Based on my observations I sent out 30 copies of my book, in eBook format, to be reviewed.
I think it is important to note my ignorance here. I didn’t send these eBook copies out months in advance so that the reviewers would have time to get to them for the release date. (That would have been sensible… so, of course, I didn’t give that a thought.) Once I had the eBook copy of my book on my desktop ready to send I began to look at the guidelines set forth by the bloggers on what they would accept. If I had it to do over again I would do very things differently, but that’s hindsight for you, right?
My friends all over the world were informed as soon as my book was available to purchase. I sent email and chats, all over the internet, to everyone who had ever shown the slightest interest in the story I was writing. A few of them stepped up to the plate, and brought may April sales totals to a whopping 14 Kindle copies, 6 print copies, and a big nothing from smashwords.
I was really pumped at the take off of ‘Blood & Spirits’ and I was starting to get some really wonderful reviews and feedback leading into May. I assumed the sales trend would continue, or get better. It didn’t.
I watched the sales grind to a complete halt after 3 copies in early May, and I was pulling my hair out that Smashwords took so long to get copies to outlets like Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store, and that Amazon took so long to list title on Amazon.uk. I felt like the big start of the title was going to lead to noting.
That’s when I discovered the power of Goodreads, Twitter, and a Facebook page.
Thanks to the dedication, retweets, support, and love shown from the community of readers and authors on Twitter and in the Blogging world, I saw a late month surge in sales. Reviews started to pop up on Amazon and Goodreads. People were retweeting plugs to buy my book. It was being recommended, and believe it or not…that showed up in sales. I gave away a few more copies to fellow authors to read and review for me, and that coupled with the reviews I had requested starting to come in, my sales weren’t depressing at all. Then, finally, smashwords came through with sales in the Nook and the Sony eReader stores.
Because of all of that I found myself going into the first week of June, with a bit of momentum built up, and the knowledge that there were now hundreds of copies of my first fiction novel floating around all over the world. If I’m honest, I have to say that it was a thrilling realisation.
Since then I’ve managed to distribute many, many, many more copies… and then there were short fiction releases. All told, I’m overjoyed.
It’s really been a learning experience… but now I have eight (or so) projects almost ready to release, and now I’m a bit wiser on what to do (and not do)… and I have faith that I am building a loyal readership. It’s a very satisfying feeling.
Was that what you were asking?
Which aspects of writing and publishing do you enjoy the most and which ones the least?
The only aspect of writing that I don’t enjoy is editing. It is a necessary evil and I realise that. It doesn’t make me like it any more. Not at all, in fact.
Past that, however, writing (being my love and passion) is the most enjoyable thing I do. So…
Publishing… well… I think the most enjoyable part is that my words can be read by a wider audience than I’d likely ever be able to put it physically in front of (hand written in notebooks). So, I enjoy that…
The worst part of publishing? For me? I think it’s because I chose to publish independently I have the stigma attached to my work that it is amateur, subpar, or that it was universally rejected (or not good enough) for traditional publishing… so I’m seen more as a hobbyist than an author by a good many of my family, friends, and peers. Most people don’t seem realize that a lot of indie authors chose to be indie authors, or that they do hire their own editors, and actually do worry about putting out a quality product.
I find that bothersome. I am put off by it a little. That’s the part of publishing that I have (thus far) enjoyed the least… and it’s really not that bad… not even a little.
I, personally, have a fierce desire to write the story I want to write, so I never queried my work… because I never wanted to be asked to change what I didn’t want to. Because of that I’ve never had a rejection. (not because I’ve never merited one, mind you. It’s just that if you never ask, you are never told no.)
Can you describe your writing environment and habits?
Well, I’ve talked about this a lot before… so I guess this may be a bit of a rehash, but here goes…
It took me a long time (read as: more than 20 years of fighting with family, significant others, and myself) to figure out what time of day and what locations were most conducive for my writing. I am an insomniac by nature, and have a profound addiction to coffee, so it only seems natural that I would write at night. Also, to feed that coffee addiction I just mentioned, I find that diners, dives, and holes in the wall in the middle of nowhere are often helpful for attention to detail, and lack of distraction.
I’m a bit of an odd duck, in that I don’t sleep every night. Sometimes I don’t even sleep for a few nights at a time. I have children and a full-time “daytime” life, which means that I don’t have much time during the day to work on my writing. I generally do all my creative work at night. This is natural for me, as I’ve classically (since childhood) done the best job of using my imagination when the sun was down.
My best writing, in fact, usually comes between 1 and 4 in the morning. I don’t know why this is, but I know that at that point of the AM my mind is flooded with ideas, and I can barely write, or type, fast enough to get them all out. I didn’t just magically “know that” one day, it took years of writing at all different times of the day and night to discover that that was the “sweet spot”. Once I figured it out though I was cranking out 10-100 pages a day without even thinking about it.
Now, done with the “habits”, I’ll move on to the “environment”…
When I lived in Chicago it was the Denny’s in Schaumburg, When I lived in DC it was Amphora. Now that I live in the middle of nowhere (Kentucky) again… it’s often one of three places: Huddle House, Waffle Hut, or the recliner in my garage.
What do these places have in common? They are open and available to me 24 hours a day, they are low key, and since I go there regularly I tend to “know” all the staff (or I’m used to the solitude of my drafty garage), and the coffee flows cheap and easy.
In the diners there are characters walking in and out, conversations happening nearby, and all I have to do is be an observer of the ‘human condition’ to find aids to keep me moving past any sort of writer’s block. Once I’m actually “on a roll” I can write totally alone for hour upon hour without even noticing that time has passed.
Does that answer what you were asking, or was that just a rambling journey with no purpose?
Who does your editing and how do you control the quality of your writing?
I actually laughed aloud when I read this question.
As far as the editing goes… I have worked with six editors, and it looks as though I’m about to start working with a seventh. I also have a wonderful group of peers who read over drafts for me and give me notes and feedback. So… it’s usually an evolutionary process.
As far as the “quality” goes… I just write what is in me to write. If you find quality in that, then I thank you for finding it. I only see, when I reread my work, a story I really enjoyed as it was being told through me. I am no judge of quality… in my own work, anyway.
Thank You Dennis for a great interview!
Thanks for your time, and your interest, and most of all… your great questions.
There are sometimes larger and more powerful forces at play in the universe than those that could end all of existence. Even the seemingly most insignificant of lives can have an enormous impact on the world, and every living creature on it. Death isn’t always the end, and to some even an apocalypse can be little more than a means to an end.
“Destroyer of Worlds” by Dennis Sharpe is the story of David, a man who lost his daughter all too soon, a man whose marriage has ended and a man who drinks way too much. With great insight in to the human psyche and with a deep and almost philosophical narrative Sharpe shows us how David’s small world has fallen apart.
Then one day, due to extra-planetary events, it comes to light that the inevitable destruction of the world is at hand
This short story is a well written and cleverly constructed piece with great command of the language and despite its dark theme it has a great life-affirming message about the importance to keep going in one’s life.
The title character refers to a mystery woman that David meets and who is responsible for the impeding Armageddon. Loss on a small and on a bigger scale – this comparison between the personal life and life in general is cleverly explored and showcased in this short story. The individual life which can be the entire world for every one of us and the placing of it in the larger context – and vice versa – are well set off against each other.
I am not a huge fan of short stories but this one does make an important point in a great way, yet it is enjoyable for the fantasy aspects of it too. The language and the writing are flawless as ever, making it very easy to recommend this book with a deserved 5 stars.