Saturday, March 29, 2014

I asked a high-schooler: Do teens use e-readers? (and other observations)

Young Adult is a huge genre right now. Hundreds and hundreds of authors are whipping up books written about teens for teens, hoping to create the next Twilight or Hunger Games. Publishers and agents are placing their bets, and readers are delighting in the cornucopia of new stories. It's raining YA!

But how many of these readers are actual teens, and how many are grown-ups in age but youngsters at heart? I, for one, find myself reading far more books for kids than books for adults (though despite the office job and car payments, whether I count as an adult is debatable). It's hard to know. And while e-books are a force to be reckoned with, do kids actually read them? Or are all those Kindle downloads of Divergent coming from older readers?

I could speculate all I want, but I'd have no way of knowing whether my interpolations and extrapolations and prognostications meant anything. So instead, I asked my high school insider (my teenaged sister) for a report from the ground. Here's what she observed about teens and books:

  • Teens prefer physical books. Reading as a hobby is almost retro at this point, and teens are all about appearances. So if a teen is going to read, she wants to be seen with her tome. Also, these teens value the experience of curling up with a cup of coffee and turning paper pages. Again, because it's a kind of retro oasis from the blinking and beeping of the modern world.
  • E-readers are only owned by the most hardcore of teen bookworms. This is the rare sub-species who devour story after story for their own sake, not to keep up with what everyone else is talking about. These hardcore readers may prefer paper books for the feel and such, but e-readers are more practical because of limited space and budgets. Also, e-readers are expensive, and most teens can't afford to buy one, so only the most hardcore of readers beg their parents for a birthday or Christmas Kindle.
  • Teens don't read on their phones. Very rarely, they'll read on an iPad. But there are too many distractions on such things.
  • Not many teens read books in the first place. Sad, but true. They read plenty of words on their smartphones, but, excluding communications and social media, these are usually in the form of Buzzfeed lists, trashy guilty-pleasure fan fic, and short articles
  • Teens are busy. Between schoolwork and the million overachiever extracurriculars they throw themselves into, they just don't have time to devote hours to reading books. Even if they wanted to, they're so spent that when they do have spare time, they want something brainless - like TV. 
  • Teens are poor. Most don't have credit cards, and they consider themselves too old to still drag their parents to shops to buy them things (other than necessities). So they spend what little cash they have (from allowance or small-time jobs) on clothes, snacks, movie tickets, and video games rather than books.
  • Teens see reading as work. This is because schools assign so many textbook chapters and hefty classics to analyze that books are associated with drudgery. So when they take a break from homework, the last thing they want is more work in the form of a book.
  • Most teens want to read books they've heard of. And they want to read what everyone else is reading. Teens will often read a book just to see what all the hype is about - and so they can talk about it with their friends. Since teens read so few books in the first place, most won't read a book they haven't heard of.
  • Hardcore readers want to read books they haven't heard of. This subset of teens have a hipster mentality: they want to read things before they're cool and look down on mainstream stuff.

This is probably the most unscientific study of all time, since it's the observations of one teen at one high school, but I thought it was interesting. What do you think?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Top Five Elements of the Sci-Fi Thriller


I have recently released my first thriller, Acts of Violence, which is also sci-fi and semi-noir. This led to me being asked what the top five elements of a sci-fi thriller are. One book doesn’t make me an expert on the matter, but I had a think about it:

When you consider it, the sci-fi thriller is a little more common than you might initially think. Inception, Blade Runner, Outland. These were the first three to pop into my head (yes, I know they’re films, not books, but the most important aspects apply to both mediums). The latter two even have strong noir elements.

Is there a big difference between what makes a good thriller and what makes a good sci-fi thriller? Not really. Or at all, in fact.

As I said, I’m certainly not an expert, but to me the most important elements of sci-fi thriller are:

- Action and Excitement
- Suspense
- Plot Twists
- Strong Antagonist
- Setting

Action and Excitement

The adrenaline pumping aspect of a thriller is arguably the most important. The biggest challenger for the top of the list is suspense. The two could also be combined, but I decided to separate them here.

In the written word, action is less effective than in film, but if written right, it still has impact. The hero, or someone they (and so by proxy, you) care about is trapped by gunmen! They’re out of bullets and their aggressors are closing in. They have a matter of seconds to think of a way out or it’s all over. You can feel your heart rate increase; your eyes suck in the words quicker;  you’re suddenly sitting on the edge of your seat (turns out that’s a real occurrence); who cares that the dinner’s burning?!

If it’s the hero, then we all know that he/she will find that way out, or the writer/director will seize that opportunity to bring in an unexpected ally. But that doesn’t lessen the excitement. It doesn’t lessen the adrenaline pumping through you. You should do some exercise to burn that off, it’s unhealthy.


As I said, this could easily be tied in with the action and excitement. But in a thriller, it’s such an important element that it would be a disservice not to mention it as an element all to itself. So yes, in the above example, suspense should be strong as the gunmen close in and you don’t know what’s gong to happen, but that’s just one side to the suspense in a thriller.

The story itself, not just some scenes, should be suspenseful. Perhaps the hero’s daughter has been abducted to be sold off at auction, and he only has so much time to track her down before she disappears forever. Perhaps the villain has released a particularly nasty virus and, again, there’s only so much time to find said villain and obtain the...whatever it is you need for viruses. The cure. Vaccination. Whatever. Or perhaps the hero is accused of something he/she didn’t do and has to try to prove their innocence (or just run like hell).

A thriller has to be – and don’t be too shocked – thrilling. The action and excitement is one aspect to that, and suspense is the other. It keeps you guessing. Who’s the real villain? Will the hero make it in time? What the hell is going on (hopefully this is due to good writing, not bad – it becomes a little different then)?

Plot Twists

This one can be overdone. It’s also hard to write a good plot twist these days. Most twists can be seen coming a mile away. Perhaps the best thing a writer can do now is acknowledge that the reader/viewer will know the twist is coming, and play on that.

The best example of this that pops into my head is actually the end of an episode of Sherlock. You know what’s coming, you know what he’s done, but the show lets you think you’re wrong. Then it lets you think that, actually you were right. Then that you were wrong. Then, finally, at the very last second, it shows you that you were right. But you don’t care that you knew it, because the show made you doubt yourself and your theory, and the twist did its job.

Sticking to the twist endings, I personally like happily-ever-after endings. But, these are much better when right up to the last second, you think it’s not going to happen. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, but I watched a film not long ago that had, to me, the perfect ending. It was a tragic ending, and it let you wallow in the sadness and whatnot for a while, right up until the last second, when you realise that actually, all is well. Done right, this allows you to feel all kinds of emotions, but leave the book/film feeling good. Not everyone likes a happy ending, of course (don’t be rude), but as long as it’s not contrived, this method can work very well.

Strong Antagonist

A strong(ly written) hero is a given, but writers often give less thought and character building to the antagonist, because they have less screen/page time, usually. A strong villain is important to a thriller, though, because much of the excitement and suspense revolves around them, directly or indirectly.

Of course, some thrillers pit the hero against something inhuman, but whether disaster movies really count as thrillers is perhaps debatable so we’ll ignore that!

The villain has to be scary, unpredictable, or perhaps scary in his predictability, because we know exactly what he’s going to do and how bad it’s going to be. However strong and capable the hero is, the villain has to at least match that, if not exceed it. Sticking with the Sherlock train of thought, that’s why Moriarty is such a good villain for Sherlock Holmes – no one else can match him.


This one is kind of obvious. You’ll notice that I haven’t, so far, mentioned science fiction. That’s because, as I said at the start, what makes a good sci-fi thriller is, to me at least, the same things that make any good thriller.

But the setting is often more important in a sci-fi thriller than a normal thriller. For example, Outland is set on a space station, and the cramped, overpopulated corridors help with the atmosphere (pun semi-intended). Equally, the occasional space-walk adds a silent eeriness, and the unending space around the character/s reminds the viewer how trapped the innocents are.

The theme can probably be shoved in here too. Is it the future gone bad? Some kind of invasion, an outbreak, dystopia? Usually, the focus of a sc-fi thriller is not the science. The sci-fi just floats in the background. That’s why setting is last on the list.

Many more elements are poured into this mix to make a good thriller, but these are the most important ones to me. Or at least...the ones I could actually think of.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Author Steven Vincent, author of Dawn of the Knight, talks about his latest writing venture.


Hi! Welcome back to Zigzag Timeline. What’s new since the last time you stopped by? 

Thanks for having me back, Mary. Everything is new; I've gone from fantasy to science fiction, and here I am writing tales of pirates on the high seas!

So, why pirates this time around? 

To be honest, I was just randomly struck by inspiration to write this book for the fun of it, and by the time I put the ending on I realized it was one of my best books so far!

How was writing Jollier Roger different from writing Dawn of the Knight? 

It was a lot more fun. Dawn of the Knight has such a serious and gripping story, whereas Jollier Roger is really a bunch of craziness that somehow forms a thrilling adventure.

What was the first idea you had for Jollier Roger, and how did the story grow from there? 

I had just finished watching At World's End, and as far as Pirates of the Caribbean goes the story was terrible. I started to plan out all sorts of scenes if I had produced the movie; sword fights, sea battles, ghosts, and just about everything rushed into my head in one morning! Then, I decided to make a book out of it.

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her? 

I think Captain James Roberts is my favorite. There is no way to put a finger on him; you might say he's a handsome young sociopath with a few screws loose, and yet as the story progresses you see he's right more than he's wrong. He's brash, but I think he means well.

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it? 

I think my personal favorite scene is when James Roberts is confronted by his former ladylove, who is out for revenge. The fight winds up on the rooftops of Port Royal, there's a fire spreading, and just when you think the flamboyant sword fighting can't get any more intense, his enemy receives some unexpected help from one of his own allies.

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns? 

The entire book surprised me, and I call it a gift from above that it turned out the way it did. Why? Because I started off knowing nothing about pirates, other than that I wanted to write about pirates! As I researched, things just fit right into place and I found myself just as surprised as my test audience. On top of that, the characters wound up so unique (and strange) that I never know what to expect.

Thanks for stopping by! 


Author Bio:

Steven M. Vincent is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and sea adventures, born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since 2008 he has been on a self-proclaimed mission to create unique and exciting stories that bring smiles and make memories, while also passing along what he's learned since then. He considers every day a gift from God.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

REVIEW: Dawnflight (The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 1) / Kim Headlee

TITLE: Dawnflight (The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 1)
AUTHOR: Kim Headlee
PUBLISHER: Self-published
AVAILABILITY: Amazon (e-book), Amazon (paperback), Audible (audiobook)

Romance - Historical

Dawnflight is a vivid re-imagining of the tale of King Arthur and Guinevere. In this version of the tale, which makes more historical sense given that King Arthur supposedly lived in the Dark Ages (and not the Renaissance, as most tellings depict), Guinevere is Gyanhumara (called "Gyan"), a Caledonian chieftainess, and Arthur is a Roman general who has recently become the Pendragon, supreme commander of all armies in the British territories.

Gyan is a spirited young woman trained as a warrior, though she has yet to see real battle. Her mother was the chieftainess before her, and she is looked up to by her people as a strong and capable leader. For the sake of peace, Gyan agrees to marry Urien, son of the leader of her clan's deadliest rival. However, though Urien is plenty strong and handsome, he proves to be a controlling brute who, unaccustomed to Gyan's more egalitarian culture, is appalled by her boldness and determined to put her "in her place."

Not long after the betrothal, Gyan meets Arthur, whose good looks, aura of authority, and intelligence steal her heart right away. What's more, he actually respects her strength, and he falls for her just as fast. But his own treaty with the British clans states that Gyan must marry a British nobleman, and he doesn't qualify. What's more, breaking the betrothal with Urien would mean civil war.

Lushly written and vividly described, Dawnflight brings Gyan and her world to life that had me believing every word. The language is beautiful, and each scene was visible in my head as I listened to the audiobook. Dorothy Dickson's narration is mesmerizing and perfectly captures the gorgeous descriptions and the internal monologues of each character.

The strengths of this book really lie in the setting and the characters. Each one is believable, and it's clear that Headlee did a lot of research to put this tale to paper. It reminded me of a combination between Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon and the 2004 King Arthur movie starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. Gyan is an intelligent and independent woman who is easy to sympathize with. My one issue with her is the sheer amount of time she spends agonizing over her Urien-or-Arthur dilemma. 

Dawnflight is a romance at its core, with the bulk of the story focusing on the Gyan-Arthur-Urien love triangle. That there are political implications to Gyan's choice raises the stakes somewhat, although the fact that she has the right to marry whoever she wants and that Arthur, being the supreme commander, can rework any treaty he puts down, lowers the danger element. Still, Headlee is very good at describing emotion, and while I personally ran out of patience with Gyan a few times (being more of an action/adventure reader), lovers of romance will eat it up.

Arthur is portrayed as an upstanding yet open-minded leader. Charismatic and good-hearted, he is the ideal romantic lead for this story. His slight arrogance and unwillingness to express his true feelings make him human enough to be believable in this context. And his concern for the people he leads make him an admirable character.

Other notable characters are Gyan's fun-hearted half-brother Perador (or however you spell his name - audiobooks have that as a disadvantage), the young warrior Angus, who follows Gyan like a loyal puppy, Arthur's scheming sister Morge (again, apologies for misspelling), and the wise Merlin, who is a bishop in this story. Angus was my personal favorite - I found his genuine loyalty and desire to be the good guy absolutely adorable and was more distressed when he was in danger than when the bad guys attacked Gyan.

As for the plot - this is one of those slower-paced books that takes the time to really show each setting to its fullest. Toward the end, there is an attack by Scottish raiders on the island Gyan is staying at, which gives both her and Arthur the opportunity to show off their combat skills, but the bulk of the book is very calm when it comes to physical action (although plenty tumultuous in terms of emotional turmoil). The ending wraps things up nicely enough that this book could be read as a standalone, but definitely leaves room for more.

The historical setting of this book is what makes it stand apart from a lot of the other retellings of the King Arthur tale that exist. The book tells a "what if it really happened" kind of story, taking out all the fantastical and supernatural elements in favor of plausible "real world" explanations (such as Merlin being a bishop rather than a wizard). 

All in all, Dawnflight was an enjoyable read, especially with Dorothy Dickson's narration bringing it to life (I credit her with saving me from road rage, as I was listening to this audiobook while stuck in rush hour traffic on the NJ Turnpike). This book will appeal to lovers of Arthurian retellings, fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley, and those hungry for romance.

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins -- the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century -- seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of 20th century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles. She also writes other romantic historical fiction under the pseudonym "Kimberly Iverson."

Friday, March 7, 2014


An interview with Alisha Howard, author of The Two Worlds.


Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?

Thanks for having me! I’ve been writing fiction since I was eight years old…my first story was a sci-fi adventure. My mother was a fiction writer and an avid reader, so she definitely played a huge role in my love of writing. My first poem was published when I was 16 by a small published in an anthology and my first novella, The Two Worlds, was self-published last year.

What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

You know, I totally write books just to read them. I know it’s silly, but sometimes I’ll be lying awake and wonder what would happen if Character A did something to Character B or got into some wonky situation. Once I’ve thought about what could happen, I have to know how the story is going to end! Honestly, that’s how all of my stories have gotten onto paper…I want to see what happens next so I write it. J

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

I love the main character, Kay. She’s so spunky and she has a lot of growing to do, which always resonates with me because I have a lot of growing to do as a person as well (don’t we all?).

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

My favorite scene is when Kay figures out how to Awaken her house, Dia. It’s so funny! I had a lot of fun thinking of how Kay could use her powers on Turgor.

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

Reading, haha! Seriously, I’m so impatient while writing, I just want to get to the juicy stuff right away.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

Oh geez, it took me seven years to write The Two Worlds. I had a lot of growing to do as an author and kept trying to make The Two Worlds a full length novel instead of acknowledging what it really was. I think it’s important for newbie authors to take their time and really learn about their own individual writing process…there’s so much information out on the internet and you start to question the way you do things. My current writing process is now: think of an idea, write an outline, write the book, edit and edit again and then publish. That’s it!

What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?

YA novels had a special place in my heart for a long time. Like many readers of my generation, Judy Blume’s writing spoke to me and inspired me to create books like her. Then when I received my first copy of Harry Potter…oh, man. I was hooked.

I think when you’re young (as in before 21), the world is your oyster. Right? You can believe in absolutely anything (dragons, fairies, life on Jupiter) because you’re not jaded by ‘real life’ yet. And that’s why I like putting my characters through fantasy situations. I get to live out these wild adventures through them so in a way, I’m still that same teenage girl who would look up at the stars and wonder ‘what if?’ .

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?

All the time. (laughs) I totally didn’t see The Two Worlds being what it is today. I wrote a few chapters for my kid brother and he loved it so much he asked me to finish it. Even now he still likes the story! Once I dove into the world of Death Walkers, Awakeners, and Creators I knew I had to keep going. I was addicted to the colorful inhabitants that kept popping up in this new world.


Alisha Howard lives in Southern California with her husband, dog and two cats. She enjoys watching old Charmed episodes, finding new ways to use Google and writing epic adventure series. If you are interested in receiving emails when she releases new books, please sign up for her email distribution list by visiting her website and clicking the "contact" tab: Be sure to join Alisha's online community where you will find fun info from her books, news and announcements!

Find Alisha Howard Around the Web:

Thanks for stopping by! 

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


An interview with Stephen Paul, author of The Perfect Game.


Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?

Thanks for having me, Mary! As with many authors, I’ve always had an affinity for reading, writing and just creating stories (I think my first book was titled “Super Bear,” which I wrote when I was six or seven).

Once in law school, I focused my energies on my career and never seriously picked up writing again until I’d already been practicing law for six years. At first, I started taking film classes at NYU, but the time constraints were too much to juggle with my career obligations. So I turned to writing novels, where I could fix my own schedule and shelve a project when work obligations became too pressing.

My first book was an accomplishment simply because I was able to finish it. For my second, I landed an agent. The book was well received by editors, but didn’t fit their lists. My third was also well received and garnered second-reads, but also missed the cut. For my fourth, I’d already made up my mind that I was going to publish independently if the book was well received again but didn’t land with one of the big publishers, which is what happened and here we are.

What got you into writing?

I love to create and find writing to be the best outlet for molding and shaping the ideas and thoughts that continue to pop up in my mind. I’ve also dabbled in inventions and some entrepreneurial ventures, but only as a loose hobby. For more about my thoughts on imagination, I’d love for you to check out the guest post I wrote for my editor’s website. Here’s the link -

What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

I hate to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say that the first idea came from a rather popular controversy in the sporting world and snowballed from there.

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

I don’t know if he’s my favorite character in terms of liking the guy, but Eddie was definitely my favorite to write. He’s a wisecracking tough guy with a heart of gold who, in an odd way, is a cross between Jiminy Cricket and Tony Soprano. His scenes are definitely some of the more colorful ones in the book.

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

My favorite scene is only a few lines long. It’s in the second half of the novel at the very end of one of the chapters when Kyle, the main protagonist, receives the worst possible news he could have ever imagined. I compare the scene to someone taking a hammer to a window. It shatters everything and starts a thrilling race that doesn’t let up until the very end. I love everything about it; the emotional impact, the new direction, the flood of twists, and the break-neck pace from that point until the end.

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

I love creating the story. I love when the ideas flow so fast your fingers can’t keep up with your brain. I also enjoy the research stage. I feel like I’m taking a college course on a new subject every time I go through it. Just learning about things I never would have otherwise known makes the process worthwhile.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

It depends on so many factors; life events, work obligations, the particular plot I’m working with. On average, taking into account the research, first few drafts, beta reading, editorial feedback, agent input, and proofreading, it usually takes a good few years for me to fully complete a novel from an idea in my head to final form.

What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?

The genre encompasses all of what I love in books; real-life characters thrown into thrilling and suspenseful stories with an incredible supernatural twist.

Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?

I think every writer and book I’ve read has had an impact on me. Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff taught me how to make non-fiction entertaining to the point of thinking you’re reading fiction and so many thriller writers, such as Michael Crichton, Dan Brown, Greg Iles and many more taught me how to thrill while teaching at the same time. I’m also in the club that believes Stephen King’s On Writing should be mandatory reading for every single writer. It’s a gift to authors.

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?

I always surprise myself when writing as I don’t start with a firm ending or a detailed plot, and the loose plot I do start with always deviates from its course.

Thanks for stopping by!

Twitter: @StephenPaulTwts

Saturday, March 1, 2014

REVIEW: The Ghoul Archipelago / Stephen Kozeniewski

TITLE: The Ghoul Archipelago
AUTHOR: Stephen Kozeniewski
PUBLISHER: Severed Press
AVAILABILITY: Amazon (Kindle e-book), Amazon (paperback)

Horror - Post-apocalyptic

Once upon a time, there was a planet called Earth. Then, for some reason, the dead started rising again, becoming vicious, flesh-eating ghouls. Zombies. Walking dead.

Reactions range from "Hallelujah, the Second Coming of Jesus is nigh!" to "Whatever, how can I turn a profit?"And, of course, there's "Holy f***, there are ravenous corpses everywhere!"

The first of these comes from Reverend Sonntag, a religious zealot who sees the zombie apocalypse as a Biblical event. The second from Rand Bergeron, a businessman who made his fortune selling machines that whisk users into virtual reality sex dreams. And the third from pretty much everyone else.

The Ghoul Archipelago follows the mad power struggle between Sonntag, Rand, and a lunatic politician (not that Sonntag and Rand aren't lunatics as well). Caught up in all this is Captain Henk "Howling Mad" Martigan and his scrappy freighter crew. Sailing through the South Pacific, Martigan and company combat pirates, ghouls, and each other in an effort to survive.

If the above plot description sounds a bit windy, that's because the book itself is anything but another straightforward "oh no, the dead are rising" zombie novel. At first glance, it's a tale of horror that delights in shocking its audience. Look past the worm-filled eye sockets and limb-tearing scenes, and you'll see a clever sci-fi political satire.

Now, admittedly, doing so is very, very hard, especially if you're squeamish like me. I know the author (full disclosure: Kozeniewski's Braineater Jones is published by Red Adept, who's also my publisher for the Jane Colt novels), and as I was reading Ghoul, I found myself regularly Facebook messaging him to let him know just how traumatized I was. If Professor X were to listen to my thoughts as I was reading, he would have heard something like this:

"AAAAAAHHHH!!! Why, Steve, why? That's gross! Okay... just breathe... moving on... okay, that's kind of cool... WHAT THE HELL?! Steve, what's wrong with you?! *inhales* It's just a book it's just a book it's just a book... HOLY $#@*!!! Did that really just happen? There's an image I'll never get out of my head... Hey, that's interesting... whoa, WHAT! I need a drink..."

The definition of "horror" is to, well, horrify people, and Kozeniewski has a special knack for that, it seems. Just when you think you've seen it all, he thrusts another scream-inducing, lunch-losing piece of madness in your face. After I post this, I'm going to message Steve again, this time asking what I did to deserve this trauma. Steve, whatever I did, I'm sorry!

Moving on from all that...

If the fabric of Ghoul is a worm-eaten, bloodstained black sheath, Kozeniewski's unique, tongue-in-cheek writing style is the glitter sprinkled across it. Even the most violent scenes of horror aren't without their witty quips and snappy comebacks. And he bestows each of the book's many characters with sharp dialogue that rings true. This book really comes to life on the page, which could be why I required hours of cat therapy after reading it...

Ghoul is not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy the dark and twisted, then I recommend you give this book a try. 

Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into right now.

During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow. 
He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.