Author Interview with Shawn Burgess

Shawn Burgess is a dark fiction author with a love for the dark, chilling, and unusual, whether that be in his own writing, or in his reading of the works of others. His debut novel, The Tear Collector, was published in 2019 and its sequel, Ghosts of Grief Hollow is due out in 2021. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife and two sons.

Author portrait by Georgia Geis 
Follow Georgia @atomicnumber14

How do you come up with ideas for a project?

Every project is different. The Tear Collector was born from a string of dialogue with main characters Brooks, Robby, and Tee that I created on a flight to California. It ultimately ended up becoming Chapter 2 in the book. That simple dialogue exchange helped me define who each of those characters were, and I ultimately built the plot around them.

As a project for my oldest son, I wanted to create something that reflected my experiences growing up while simultaneously making it relatable to him in the modern day. Happily, he loved the book and even went dressed for Halloween as the character who shares his name, though it was certainly not age appropriate.

For the sequel, Ghosts of Grief Hollow, I started with a beginning and end in mind, plus a few key scenes. I wanted to keep the tone of the original book alive by still capturing the mystery, intrigue, and horror of its predecessor without repeating the same experience. 

Other projects I’m working on, like Deity, started out with a “what if” proposition. Some novel ideas in my notebook even start out with something as small as a piece of microfiction, but with every project, I want readers to experience right alongside the characters and almost feel as if they are there inside those pages.

After you have a new idea, how much research do you do?

The amount of research depends upon what each story demands. For The Tear Collector, there were some hypothetical scientific elements I needed to work out, which led me down a path of researching DNA and reading some academic papers so I could figure out how to best bastardize the science to fit the direction I wanted to take the story.

I find myself researching odds and ends throughout any manuscript, but sometimes it requires a deeper dive. In Ghosts of Grief Hollow, I had to do quite a bit of research on the colonial history of Saint Domingue (modern-day Haiti). I spent hours researching it, though the information gleaned only appears in a few lines of dialogue and one scene.

Still, other research is best acquired hands-on. I had my first tarot card reading (virtual because of the pandemic) and had a lengthy telephone discussion with another author who is familiar with readings and about the significance of each card. I took pages of notes. From there, it’s manipulating what you’ve learned to reach a desired outcome.

For my novel Deity, I’m still trying to find an industry resource for some very specific questions I have on raw material procurement for fracking that can’t be readily answered through Google searches.

I think most people don’t realize how much research goes into writing a fictional novel. I always do my best to prevent any plot holes and make the story as believable as possible.

Do you research things throughout your creative process or just at the beginning?

I’m not big on thorough outlines, or formal outlines for that matter, so my books typically demand at least some level of researching throughout the creative process. When taking unplanned diversions from what I have in mind, it almost always requires I do at least some additional research. It’s part of the writing process. What amazes me is the writers that came prior to the Internet Age and the amount of time they must’ve spent digging for answers that can be readily accessed in the modern era.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve researched for a project (go check that Google search history)?

There’s a running joke among authors about telling the FBI, don’t worry about my internet search history, I’m a writer. That said, I do find myself searching some very unusual topics: rate of decomposition in different climates, how that differs depending upon the manner of death, police tactics and procedures, seasonality of birds in different areas, the paranormal, the occult, and the list goes on. In my opinion, that inherent curiosity and thirst for information is one of the things that makes writers uniquely suited to this craft. I don’t know what my readers will know, but the safest assumption is to assume that they know more about any given topic than I do. That caution hopefully serves me well in avoiding writing something that will pull them out of the story and disrupt the suspension of disbelief.

When you write, do you try to stay close to the Actual Factual or are you fast and loose with Handwavium (a term used when a writer waves their hand at reality for sake of the plot)?

I fall somewhere in between. I try to ground my stories in relatable characters and facts, so that the more fantastical elements are easier for a reader to accept. However, I don’t think there’s a wrong strategy. So long as you can keep the reader humming along in the story, either can work, but I’m careful to make sure I include enough believable elements so I don’t go full-on Alice in Wonderland as that’s not the type of story I’m typically telling.

Have you ever stopped reading a story to go look up how factual something was? 

Absolutely. Who hasn’t? It typically comes from a place of genuine curiosity versus trying to disprove an element of a story. I enjoy getting lost in a book. I don’t ever want to feel like a critic as I’m reading. As a reader, I’m much more focused on the story and the enjoyment I get from that.

Do you create with music, other background noise or complete silence?

I can go either way. With The Tear Collector, I listened to a preselected playlist of alternative rock music because it was mostly written on planes and in hotel rooms. I needed something to block out the distraction. Lately, I’ve been doing most of my writing in silence, save for the owl in my tree outside who apparently keeps the same hours as I do.

Do you have any pet helper?

I grew up with dogs, but we don’t have any pets. With our hectic schedules, it would be a little cruel to own a dog as they would have to be crated and wouldn’t get any interaction during the day. My youngest son and I are also very allergic to cats, so that’s a nonstarter. 

Do you create better at 5am or 5pm?

I do my best work from 10PM on. However, I’ll write when I have the time and do no matter the hour.

Which team apocalypse are you on: zombie, asteroid, or alien invasion?

Great question. With an Asteroid, it’s one big bang and over, so then it really becomes a question of do you want to stick around for the misery. If aliens developed the technology to get here, we don’t stand a chance, so that’s going to end pretty quickly if they’re not here in the spirit of exploration. Sometimes, looking at the state of the world and near continual conflict, it’s hard to imagine them wanting to make nice. I’m going with Team Zombie. They’re slow and dumb as dirt. Obviously, the hordes make survival tricky, and the worst part would be seeing a friend or family member turned, but I think I could deal with commandeering a boat, loading it with fishing supplies, finding a small island, and living off the sea.

Shawn, you write mostly dark twisty thrillers, have you always written in this genre, or did you start in another genre and found your way to horror? 

I started writing horror stories when I was in elementary school, so this is definitely not breaking any new ground for me. I’ve always loved books and movies with those type of elements. 

I struggle with what to label myself because the stories I’ve written and ones I intend to write don’t always fall neatly into a genre; they tend to mix elements of a few. I’ve resorted to calling myself a dark fiction author lately, though I suppose the only time it matters what you choose to call yourself is when you need to market your books or write a bio. 

I’ve seen readers peg The Tear Collector as horror/psychological horror, psychological thriller, general fiction, coming-of-age, supernatural thriller, mystery, Adult, YA, fantasy and even sci-fi or any combination thereof. What matters most to me beyond the labels is that readers find and enjoy my stories, no matter what me or my publisher ultimately arbitrarily decides to call it. I’m working on “what I call” an urban fantasy/mystery, but even that has those twisty and darker elements, plus a touch of the supernatural and paranormal.

Do you read outside the genre you write in?

Yes. I read a wide variety of fiction and occasionally some non-fiction. If a story and its characters are compelling, I’d never exclude it from my reading list, but I do tend to gravitate toward darker works. 

You mentioned being inspired from living in Florida and other towns throughout southeastern US, how does that translate into your writing? (The local legends, creepy woods/trails, or just because they had a diner with good coffee and pie?)

Growing up in various spots in the southeast, I explored the woods with friends. My most vivid memories are from Birmingham and Nashville. In both places, we lived in the suburbs. At the time, there wasn’t the suburban sprawl there is today. There was still a large amount of undeveloped land in the area. For us kids, that became our playground. I found abandoned structures that predated the Civil War, small coal mining operations left to decay, hidden caves with albino fish, and secret lakes in the middle of the woods. That sense of exploration and wonderment leaves a lasting impression, and I try to bring some of that mystery to my writing.

In addition, I love bits of local legend and lore. The Tear Collector takes place in small-town Appalachia. I wanted to create that sense of being in a small town, the free-range approach of parents letting children explore the woods as was commonplace at the time. Though The Tear Collector definitely features some local legend prominently, its sequel, Ghosts of Grief Hollow, leans more heavily in to those aspects to give the reader a more holistic view of local beliefs and backstory, how those different story elements are interconnected, and how they helped create the antagonist while simultaneously sealing the fate of the town of Harper Pass.

Like most small towns, Harper Pass has its share of skeletons in the closet. Ghosts of Grief Hollow brings those into the forefront to reveal the ugliness that can exist in humans as well as in monsters of a more fantastical variety.

If you got to use some “Handwavium” and send younger Shawn one note about writing, editing, or marketing, which would you chose and what would you say?

I’ve learned a great deal since starting this journey. The most important lesson it’s taught me is that there are always new things to learn. When you’re going through the publishing process for the first time, everything is new. It’s easy to feel like you’re drinking from a firehose, especially if publishing is not something you’ve even been following closely from the sidelines prior to diving in. I consider myself fortunate for finding a publisher who believed in my story as much as I did. There are so many things I wish I knew about each of those aspects of publishing a book and everything that surrounds it. But you don’t know what you don’t know until you realize you don’t know it.

But to answer your question, the biggest piece of advice I would give to my younger self would be about writing and simply put, don’t wait. I kept putting off writing books because I was always waiting for that right moment. I should’ve realized there was never going to be a perfect time. Now, I prioritize writing among my other responsibilities, and that balance appears to be working.

The Tear Collector is your latest novel, and I know you are working on a sequel, can you share any details? 

I am super excited about Ghosts of Grief Hollow. I’m currently in the editing process, so I’ve been spending a ton of time with the manuscript. It’s very fast paced and should quicken the pulse of readers. It’s the darkest, most twisty thing I’ve ever written. Some new characters are coming into the fold in addition to a return of Brooks and his friends and Detective Holt. I think it’s a book that people can enjoy whether or not they’ve read its predecessor. Early readers have described it as gritty, scary, and intense, so I’m hoping that when it finds a wider audience, they will find a similar experience in its pages. I hope to have some more details soon as far as a release date, but I expect it will be in the fall of 2021.

Shawn, thank-you for your time. Is there anything else you’d like folks to know about you, your work, or your research process?

I think we covered most of it, Jotham. Thank you so much for interviewing me. I really enjoyed chatting with you. Hopefully, we can meet in person one of these days and grab a pint!

Awesome! Look forward to it. You can pick up The Tear Collector now and you can follow Shawn across the internet at the links below or signup for his Newsletter at https://t.co/5M3RU7KILM

Tear Collector Available now!

Follow Shawn on Social Media.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Bookbub /
Instagram

Science Quick Hits: June 12th episode

Before I jump in I want to take time to thank everyone who wrote to me or commented on my last episode on the science of cryonics (if you missed it, here is the link: https://mailchi.mp/e762b3f1d4b4/jothams-monthly-newsletter-cryonics). A couple readers wondered why I said cryonics and not cryogenics like you read in books and hear in movies.

Definition time:

Cryogenics is the production and behaviour of materials at very low temperatures

Cryonics is the low temperature-freezing (usually at −196 °C or −320.8 °F or 77.1 K) and storage of a human corpse or severed head, with the speculative hope that resurrection may be possible in the future.

Similar words, but in movies and books cryonics is the term they should be using, but Handwavium need not obey definitions. 

Okay, on to the 24,000 years and sex in space.

Okay, I’m not going to make you wait, let’s talk birds and bees or in this case mice. Remember, a long time ago when I first started this newsletter I explored the ins-and-outs of getting busy in space, or the difficulties (you can reread that episode here). One of the issues was space radiation and what it could do to sperm during space travel. A recent study was just released (check it out here) that in short frozen mouse spermatozoa stored on the Interntional Space Station (ISS) was not affected by space radiation and produced viable and genetically healthy offspring. This is good news for space travelers that one day want to reproduce. 

Next, a story straight out of science fiction, a 24,000 year old organism was revived from frozen Siberian Permafrost. Wasn’t this how The Thing got started—put the flamethrower down MacReady—oh never mind.

This is cool, but this group also discovered and revived a 30,000-year-old nematode worm, Arctic moss and some plants. “Now, the team adds rotifers to the list of organisms with a remarkable ability to survive, seemingly indefinitely, in a state of suspended animation beneath the frozen landscape,” the press release stated. 

Understanding how these multi-cellular organisms can be frozen and revived will be important in future space travel and cryonics (see what I did there).

That’s two quick hits of science. Hope you enjoyed and I’ll try to keep you up to date on the science that dosen’t make the headlines (like morphing pasta noodles or two new species of woolly flying squirrels discovered)

June Update

Where has the time gone? May zipped by and we are smack dab into June. I spent some time getting plants in the garden (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) and relaxed a bit and tried a new gin at 18th Street Distillery!

I was interviewed by fellow author Katherine Soto this month, you can read it here: https://buff.ly/3piJ357


        

In writing land, I finished the first draft of the two Novellas that will be published this fall. Also, I got three manuscript requests (two full and a partial) for my novel “The Cost of Us,” a cyberpunk thriller.

As many of you know, my debut novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ was released on February 23rd 2021. Still haven’t read it, go check it out here. Hopefully, with COVID restrictions easing (folks are getting vaccinated which is good) I may be able to do book signings and other fun things, stay tuned for details! I do have books in the wild at Paul Henry’s Art Gallery in Hammond, IN and at the Green Witch Cafe in Highland, IN.

Preorder for ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ is now available here


Yes, I will have a novella in this anthology! The first draft of the novella about Eve who is a werewolf (And yes, I did a science of werewolf episode) looking to protect her pact, but finds love along the way. So, last episode I had a longer working title, but after some though I am leaning to just “Eve” as the title. There is an awesome lineup of authors so click the link and preorder now

And, you read correctly, I said two novellas are being released this fall. The second will be in the Emerging Worlds Anthology. I am doing a post-zombie novella titled, “The Cure”. They promised the Cure would end Zombie and return life to normal, but nobody promised normal would be easy. I’ve wanted to write a zombie story for some time, and looking at post zombie life is fun. I just finished writing this one, but I will have to do a Rabbit Hole of Research on Zombies!!

And don’t worry, there will be a new issue of Rabbit Hole of Research on June 26th, and I’l going to get in the weeds! If you want to read past issues, check them out here

Follow me online, and feel free to Email me with questions, comments, questionable science, or who you’d like to see interviewed.

May Update: What happened to April?

Not much personal news to update you with, so I thought I’d share a photo from a project I was working on at work, modeling limb development in embryos. On the big screen, the green is the nucleus and the blue is the outline of the cell body. On the little screen you can see the all the electron micrograph of the cells that I’m modeling. 

As many of you know, my debut novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ was released on February 23rd 2021. Still haven’t read it, go check it out here. Hopefully, with COVID restrictions easing (folks are getting vaccinated which is good) I may be able to do book signings and other fun things, stay tuned for details! And I’m working on two new Novellas releasing later this year. Check out the cover:


Preorder for ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ is now available here. The first draft of the novella about Eve who is a werewolf (And yes, I did a science of werewolf episode) looking to protect her pact, but finds love along the way—is hot off the keyboard and will let in cool off before I start editing. Working title is “All Your Stars Are But Moonbeams in My Hair.” What do you think about the title? Email and let me know.

And, you read correctly, i said two novellas are being released this fall. The second will be in the Emerging Worlds Anthology. I am doing a post-zombie novella titled, “The Cure”. They promised the Cure would end Zombie and return life to normal, but nobody promised normal would be easy. I’ve wanted to write a zombie story for some time, and looking at post zombie life is fun. I’m about 14K words in (Whoa, I’m half way there…now that song is stuck in your head).

And don’t worry, there will be a new issue of Rabbit Hole of Research on May 29th, and it’s going to be frosty! If you want to read past issues, check them out here!

Follow me online, and feel free to Email me with questions, comments, questionable science, or who you’d like to see interviewed.

March Update: Launch Day and Everything After

Here is a picture of me on release day morning for my debut novel, ‘Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ (still need a copy, click here). I didn’t know what to expect (like a ballon drop when the clock struck midnight or something), that didn’t happen, but it was exciting to get congratulations from friends and family.

It is often hard to take time and appreciate all of the hard work, dedication and sacrifice that goes into writing, editing, and marketing a book. And after all this effort I was holding my breath waiting for reviews. Did I have a typo? Did I tell the best story that I could? Will people get all the twists, turns, and clever writing that I put into the story? Did I— I had to stop and enjoy the moment and accept the fact that my baby is out in the world being read. I finished my coffee, didn’t set anything on fire, and went to work.

By the time I got home, my wife and boys had planned a surprise dinner and carrot cake (my favorite). I also promised myself a glass of Writer’s Tears Whiskey. I have saved this bottle to open once my first novel was published, and I’ll not have another drink until my second (It was delicious). I was all smiles as I reclaimed some of my tears on this long journey from idea to 406 page novel! Cheers!

Launch day was very different than I imagined. I had planned to throw a party and sign books, but that didn’t happen (you know—Covid and all). I am still waiting for my books to arrive from the printer so I can sign them and send them to folks who would have been at the launch party book signing event (the delay is all Covid’s fault). I am sure many creatives had to change their plans and release their work in the electronic vacuum of Zoom congratulations. I am thankful for all the friends and family that made the day special.

I thought the anxiety had been released, but the strangest thing was the next day, self-doubt and imposter syndrome started to creep in. As I held a copy of my book in my hands I felt overwhelmed with dread that people are reading this thing. Is it a good book? Will people like it? Will they throw tomatoes at me? Why is my Amazon sales rank going up and down like a yo-yo? What, I’m 9th on the New Release Metaphysical Fiction list? Is that good? What does that mean? Arghhh—

All day Wednesday I was tormenting myself with these type of thoughts, even as the congratulations were rolling in. It all came to a head on Thursday morning as I was waiting in my car for my dental checkup and cleaning. My phone dinged with notifications that 2 editorial reviews from Readers’ Favorite had arrived. My heart thumped loud in my chest and the voice of self doubt was screaming between my ears, preparing me for one star reviews and negative comments. My trembling finger pressed the link and all the air in the car was sucked into my lungs—I saw the reviews—Both 4 stars and gushing with praise on the construction, the story, how the characters moved them. I had to stop reading the reviews because my vision blurred with tears, and, thankfully, I started breathing again. I wiped my eyes with the heel of my hand and the call for me to go into the office came—

Why was I so effected by this? I had dozens of friends and advance readers already tell me the story was good. My publisher and editors said the story was good. And I knew I had written and put the effort in to craft a great story I’d be proud to release to the world. But in that moment in the car, holding my breath, that was the sum of my anxiety—

I am still waiting for more Editorial reviews to come in, I’m not holding my breath, but breathing easy and getting started on the next projects—details on these soon!

Also, my mom read my book and sent me a text with her review of the novel (it has some spicy parts in there), but she really enjoyed it, here is part of it: “…found your novel intricate and sultry…With a touch of interludes of one’s mind…your novel…is mind boggling and Captivating… I couldn’t put it down till I reached the end…Congratulations!!”

And now I’m really breathing easy! Am I the only one that feels this way? Let me know, send me a note, I’ll write back!

Not to fear, Rabbit Hole of Research will be dropping on March 20th! Also, the back issues of Rabbit Hole of Research are posted on my website, and If you missed an issue (or you are new to my newsletter) go check them out here. They are a fun take on the quirky science in Fiction books and movies. And I’ll be back in March with an exciting new episode. I have gotten a few reader requests—plasma arrows, Independence Day, Tenet—I am making a list and checking it… You have an idea of quirky science in fiction, let me know


Personally, I never imagined that my writing career would start to lift off as it has, and I’d be worrying about marketing, Newsletters or launch dates for novel’s and stories. Thank you all and Hopefully one day soon we can all hang out and chat over beverages! Until then—

Follow me on the internet for updates: Social Links

February Update: Snow, Snow, more Snow and the Release of My Debut Novel

Since the last time we chatted it has been nothing but snow, snow, snow, and more snow. My trusty yellow snow shovel has gotten a lot of work in the last couple weeks. I hope everyone that’s been getting snow and cold are staying safe and healthy.

In all of this wintery wonderland fun, my debut novel, ‘Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ releases on February 23rd. Click here to check it out!


I have realized that once I start shoveling and am half way through clearing the driveway an idea for a story, a scene, or a great thread of dialogue between two characters pop up in my mind. And by the time I’m finished shoveling, the idea is—poof—gone to the wind!

Does this ever happen to you (shoveling, in the shower, landing a rover on Mars)? Let me know!

The Rabbit Hole of Research, will return next month, and I’m cooking up something special for these Modern Times!

Print by atomicnumber14

Not to fear, the back issues of Rabbit Hole of Research are posted on my website, and If you missed an issue (or you are new to my newsletter) go check them out here. They are a fun take on the quirky science in Fiction books and movies. And I’ll be back in March with an exciting new episode. I have gotten a few reader requests—plasma arrows, Independence Day, Tenet—I am making a list and checking it … well that’s a different story. LOL

Debut Novel Released on February 23rd 2021

The official release of my debut psychological technothriller novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?” is less than 2 weeks away—FEBRUARY 23rd!!

Preorder ebook version from major retailers around the world (only 99 cents, the price will go up after release):

Preorder Here

I will have paperback copies and bookplates that I will sign and ship off to you for sale on my website soon!

Keep your eyes out for a virtual launch party, where I’ll read an excerpt and you can ask me anything.

Check out my author website for preorder links, updates, events, links to my books and newsletter signup.

If you have read an advance copy of “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?” —thank you for taking time to read it—You can start posting a review on Goodreads and BookBub, I’ll be sending a reminder email to ya with links to add your review.

I’m super excited to finally get my novel into your hands! Thanks for your continued support!

Picture of bookcover with illustration of a man’s face sith interconnected faces erupting from the top the title is in red brushstroke font that reads will you still love me if I become someone else? And author name Jotham Austin
Preorder Here

January 21st 2021 at 8pm CST: I’ll Be a Featured Author on Romance Happy Hour

I’m a featured artist on Romance Happy Hour and will be reading an except of my Rom-Com novella, ‘Tomorrow May Be Too Late”, during the January 21st Romance Happy Hour at 8pm CST! There are some amazing cocktails on the website for you to make and bring along to the reading.

Join us here!

My novella will be released in the Askew Ever After Box-Set, January 19th 2021. This will be a limited release, so mark those Calendars, or better yet you can pre-order at your favorite e-book store here! If you already placed an order, thank-you. Preorder is 99 cents, this will go up after release!

January 2021: Updates

Here is a picture of my desk when I turned the lights out on 2020– and 2021has started with a bang!

I was working hard to get you the next edition of the Rabbit Hole of Research, but it’s not quite finished. It seems I have a bi-monthly newsletter now, one with updates, promos and another traveling down the Rabbit Hole of Research. Next month there may not be a Rabbit Hole of Research offering, because a lot of my time is being dedicated to marketing efforts building up to the release of my debut sci-fi psychological thriller, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?

Not to fear, the back issues of Rabbit Hole of Research are posted on my website, and If you missed an issue (or you are new to my newsletter) go check them out here. They are a fun take on the quirky science in Fiction books and movies. And I’ll be back in March with an exciting new episode. I have gotten a few reader requests—plasma arrows, Independence Day, Tenet—I am making a list and checking it … well that’s a different story. LOL

Speaking of marketing, I have been reaching out to fellow writers and influencers asking for blurbs and endorsements for my debut novel. I’ve had two great interactions after sending request email out.

I have been following an awesome comic writer, Jon Parrish. I meet him at a comic con a few years ago, and there is a long story about the mystery of a truck with a ClusterF@#K sticker (ClusterF@#K is the title of one of his comics). Turns out it was my truck—mystery solved. I signed up for Jon’s newsletter and reading his musings was one of the inspirations for me to start Rabbit Hole of Research. Jon’s newsletter is like looking into the mind of a creative—the successes, the struggles and everything inbetween. Jon wrote back to me and passed along some good newsletter advice and his motivations, “a newsletter should inform, educate, and/or entertain, and I try to do one of these with every one.” Please go and check out Jon’s work and sign up for his newsletter: Secrets and Shadows

The second interaction from my promotional efforts was from Mary Mcann! Mary is many things, a talented poet and story teller, performer, radio host, pioneer of internet radio, voice talent on audiobooks, and supporter of writers like me. I meet Mary while I was living in Tempe, AZ (late 90’s early 00’s) and she inspired and gave me sparks of confidence that people would enjoy and want to hear my words. There is always a longer story, but not only did Mary give me a platform to share my words, but through a series of performances after that, I met Georgia, my wife!

It was exciting to reconnect with Mary after many years, and after a year with no Cons connecting with Jon. I am looking forward to getting their feedback on my debut novel (and the other folks that are reviewing my novel—thanks in advance). Got my first five Star review on Goodreads!!

Personally, I never imagined that my writing career would start to lift off as it has, and I’d be worrying about marketing, Newsletters or launch dates for novel’s and stories.

Thanks for reading! Stay Healthy and Sane!

Follow me on the internet for updates: Social Links

December 2020 Newsletter: Bugs, How Big Can They Get?


Movies/books like Them!, Eight Legged Freaks, Starship Troopers (book and movie), Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series (giant spiders), James and the Giant Peach (book and movie), Empire of the Ants, Invasion of the Bee Girls, the Wasp Woman, The Fly (1958 & 1986), AntMan (not the man in the suit, but there was a giant ant playing the drums) and many others have giant terrifying arthropods.


I know what you are saying, “Jotham, it’s holiday season, where’s the holiday Rabbit hole of Research.” Bah humbug. Lol. Okay, don’t throw any snowballs at me. You want a holiday tie in to giant insects, never fear the internet rabbit hole always delivers: Edmund Gwenn, best known for his role as Santa Claus in the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street, plays Dr. Harold Medford in “Them!”—Now that we have that matter settled, how big can bugs get.

So, I like to think there are three categories of giant bugs in fiction: 1) Human to insect experiment gone wrong—i.e The Fly; 2) assisted evolution (chemical, nuclear fallout, etc accelerates growth): Them! (A-bomb testing in desert), Let The Ants Try, by Frederik Pohl (a great short story combining time travel and giant insects); and 3) giant insects from outer space—Starship Troopers (a great mix of military satire and giant insects, “The only good bug, is a dead bug…”
***
On a personal note, “Let the Ants Try,” originally published in the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories, was one of the first science fiction stories I ever read (and no, I’m not that old). It was in an anthology (i couldn’t remember the name) my dad was reading and he thought I’d like the story. I had forgotten about this until writing the newsletter. And the internet never fails: the anthology was edited by Robert Silverberg “Mutants: Eleven stories of science fiction” and yes I ordered it); back to the giant bugs—
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So, should we be investing in giant fly seater technology or is giant insects just a fiction fantasy? Let’s go down the Rabbit Hole of Research and find out. Click here to read more

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