Friday, February 24, 2012

13 Questions with...Joel Arnold

1. You’re hosting a dinner party. What is the menu, and do you cook it yourself, or do you call a caterer?
I admit I’m not much into hosting parties. I would probably order pizza!

2. What is your beverage of choice?
Caramel Macchiato when I’m splurging, just coffee w/ sugar and cream when I’m not.

3. Physical book Vs an E-Reader. Your preference and why?
For most books, I enjoy my E-Reader – I love having all these books at my fingertips. However, there are coffee table books out there that an E-Reader is just not adequate for.

4. What kinds of books make up your personal library?
All kinds, although horror is probably the most pervasive.

5. How and when did you catch the writing bug?
I caught it at an early age – the 2nd grade, when I won a short story contest. The prize was a trip with my teacher, Mrs. Rosier, to the local A&W. She even said, “Joel, you’re going to be a writer someday.”

6. What is your writing routine?
I have a full-time day job, plus a wife and two kids, so we’ve worked it out so that I treat my writing like a part-time job. I have two nights a week set aside for writing, as well as about a five-hour block on Saturdays. Plus I’ll sometimes go write before work (on those days I can get my butt out of bed early enough.)

7. If you ever encounter writer’s block, what steps do you take to get past it?
I usually have multiple projects going on, so if I get stuck on one thing, I’ll go work on something else. Or I might just skip to a different scene in that particular piece. Sometimes – at least for me – I think writer’s block is just having this immense unknown in front of you, or at least a lot of work ahead of you – and you just don’t want to face it at the moment.

8. Do you have a hidden talent?
I know a disturbing amount of trivia about 1970s-era sitcoms.

9. What was your best subject in school?
Band. At least until I got into college, then it was sociology and literature. One of my favorite classes I ever took was one focused solely on the plays of Sam Shepard.

10. As in any entertainment, there are current trends. How much do these “current trends” influence what you write?
They don’t influence me much. I’m kind of a slow writer, so if I were to follow trends, I’d always be too late to the party, so to speak.

11. Mac or PC?
I use a PC.

12. Where do your ideas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. There might be a setting that really sparks something in me, or a newspaper article, or a person I met. But usually the ideas come more freely while I’m writing.

13 What advice would you pass on to an aspiring author?
I think persistence is the key. Writers who have achieved any degree of success are those who don’t give up after the first few dozen rejections, or after getting stuck in the middle of something they’re writing; they keep coming back to it, they keep trying, because they can’t imagine doing it any other way.
But another piece of advice is to take advice from writers with a grain of salt – probably 95% of our advice doesn’t apply to you. Writing is an individualistic journey. There are sign posts along the way left by other writers, but some of those signs – while well-intentioned – will lead you in circles, while others will lead you straight into a rock wall. When you get advise, sure – ponder it, consider it, swish it around in your mouth awhile to see if it tastes right – but if it doesn’t, then spit it out and keep on plugging away.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse

Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse
Joel Arnold
Available as an e-book on Smashwords and as an e-book from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Good afternoon constant reader.
In a nutshell, if you like a short story collection that is chilling and thought provoking, then this book is for you.

Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse is a tasty collection of stories, perfect for killing a little time, and getting a case of the heebee jeebees.

I'll hit a few of the high lights of this collection and allow you to discover the rest for yourself.

Shiners is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where something really bad has happened and it seems to have an not-from-this-world origin. We find out real quick what a "shiner" is and then are introduced to Gibson, a gent who is minding his own business and trying to get by. He meets a young lady and befriends her, only to have the experience backfire in a terrible way.

Padre Sapo, is the tale of a father who will go to any length to try to find a cure for the cancer that ravages his daughter. We meet up with the pair on the road, making their way to yet another "cure" this time from a priest, Padre Sapo, which when translated, means "Father Toad". Yes, from that name alone, you know this probably isn't going to end well, and you'd be right.

What if you started looking up something on the internet, and got x number of hits, only to look the next day and find out the number of hits had decreased, and decreased again the next day, until finally there were no hits at all? Which in turn leads you to start looking yourself up? That's what happens in Narcissus in Links. Makes you think twice about what it is or who it is you might be looking for on the internet.

Branding Day is one of the grimmest short stories I've read in a long time.
Children are involved. I think that, with the title, is all I have to say.

The stories I cited above are part of an overall collection that is written brilliantly. Horror excels in the short form and Joel Arnold shines in this medium.
But wait, there's more!
In the e-book edition of Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse I read, there is an excerpt for a full length novel by Joel Arnold called Northwoods Deep. For some reason, I missed the part telling me this and I thought I was reading another short story. As the excerpt progressed, I was drawn along, deeper and deeper into the story until I reached the end and realized I was reading a preview... and was wishing I had more to read.
That is the mark of a good writer, to leave the reader wanting more.

Look out for this Joel Arnold.
He's armed with a pen and his imagination and he knows how to use them.