Shock Totem Radio
- Ugly As Sin—Now Available!
- Closed for Winter Break
- Star Road
- A Conversation with Voice Actor Georgie Leonard
- Cellar Door: Words Of Beauty, Tales Of Terror Review
- King Revives Our Favorite Demons
- A Conversation with Author Todd Keisling
- Ugly As Sin Cover Reveal
- Blood, Sweat and Drool: A Conversation with Director Jeremiah Kipp
- Chatting with Author Seanan McGuire
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Georgie Leonard is a playwright, screenwriter, voice artist, and actor from Bristol, United Kingdom. She was chosen to play the female roles in the audiobook Exquisite Death put out by In Ear Entertainment. She reads both of my stories in the audiobook, and she did a wonderful job on two very different pieces. I asked Georgie if she’d be down for an interview, and I’m so excited that she agreed.
Mercedes M. Yardley: So Georgie! Please tell us how you came into voice acting. And why audio books? What’s the draw?
Georgie Leonard: I’ve always loved the idea of voicing a character in a Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli (HMC’s Sophie is my spirit animal) or Disney film (ideally I’d play Belle in Beauty and the Beast, but I guess I’m a little late for that!) but even with that interest, my foray into voice acting was almost more of a happy accident than a planned move.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Mark on a couple of different voice-based projects in the past, which is how I became involved with this particular recording.
Why audiobooks in particular? I love, love, LOVE reading and I think getting to read books to people as part of my career is pretty damn awesome!
MMY: I’ll agree with you about Studio Ghibli. I think anybody who takes part of their work in any form would die happy!
How does an audiobook differ from other voice work?
GL: I’ve been lucky enough to have varying voice work over the few years I’ve been professionally working as an actor, with projects as diverse as session-singing to radio dramas. From my experience, audiobooks are different in that it’s just you and the mic—there’s no accompaniment in the form of music or another person in there with you. Whereas when you are working on a radio drama/online podcast drama, then you tend to have at least one actor in the room with you. Even if it’s just to deliver one line! Though it really does depend on the project!
MMY: Have you had any favorite projects that you’ve worked on? What made them memorable?
GL: Each project I’ve worked on has been so different to the last, and so it’s rather difficult to compare them to each other! As this is the first set of (hopefully many!) audiobooks I’ve worked on, it’ll always be special to me! But I always love projects where I get to work foley as well as act.
MMY:What do you do if you have a piece you’re not particularly excited about?
GL: I’m yet to have a piece of audio work that I’m less than enthusiastic about, but I suppose the trick is to treat it as any other job. If you’re that unsure about it before you perform it, then you shouldn’t take the job!
MMY:How do you prepare for voice work? Can you share any tricks of the trade?
GL: Plenty of water, and try to avoid dairy for at least a day before! If I have time beforehand, then I also try to run through a few vocal warm-ups- there’s nothing worse than sounding croaky when you’re supposed to have a light and clear voice for something.
MMY: Tell us what a basic recording session is like. (the room, the mic, what you do, etc.)
GL: Well, it differs from place to place. One recording I did for a songwriter had me standing in a booth made of mattresses and duvets for sound dampening!
For In Ear, the recording studio is pretty bare, but fully functional. It’s not like you need much in the way of anything other than the recording equipment, a chair, and something to rest your script on anyway, so it’s a good room without any distractions.
MMY: What projects do you have coming out, and how do we contact you? (this is the chance to pimp your stuff!)
GL: At the moment, I am currently working on a BBC drama production that will be televised next year, and have a few projects lined up to begin after that is done shooting. Plus there’s hopefully some more work with In Ear Entertainment coming my way!
When Shock Totem put out a call for filmmakers who’d like to have their work featured on the site, I bet that they didn’t expect to get anyone near as accomplished as Jeremiah Kipp.
Kipp, a short film writer/director, meshes art film heft and horror film content with a polish and style all his own. The combination seems to be working out for him as his work has been featured in festivals and garnered numerous awards.
Jeremiah sent us three films and was kind enough to sit down with me for some questions. Check out the films embedded below (WARNING: NSFW content) and then read on for our conversation.
Adam Cesare: The three films you sent to Shock Totem all share elements of genre films, but I wouldn’t call any of them genre. Are you a fan of the horror genre? How would you classify your work?
Jeremiah Kipp: I love horror movies and have found it to be a wonderfully flexible genre. What’s interesting to me is when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, they called it a romance, but not in the Hallmark sense of the word. Romance at that time meant it has sweeping elements of the fantastic. And how would you classify a movie like Don’t Look Now, the intensely dark story of a couple in Venice haunted by the death of their child and perhaps communicating with her beyond the grave? It feels like a drama and yet has a sense of tension and terror. I would call it a horror movie. I feel like the films I’m making might fall into that category. I’d be proud to have them called horror films, but am content if people find them to be beautiful and macabre.
Seanan McGuire (pronoun-ced SHAW-nan), is like having a conversation with a tempest. She is certainly a force of nature in her own right…and often described as “a vortex of the surreal.” The first thing you learn about her—kind of like the first rule of Fight Club—is that you never ask a question about a subject if you don’t want the lengthy, detailed, and very graphic answer. Take the Black Death pandemic of the 14th century, for example. Seanan can expound on the specific gory characteristics of the spread of the various diseases associated with the event…and will do so while enjoying a friendly dinner with friends.
“Most of them have learned not to ask questions they don’t really want answers to,” she says with barely-checked laughter in her spritely voice.
Seanan is the author of a popular urban fantasy series published by DAW (the science fiction/fantasy publishing arm of the Penguin Group) featuring her protagonist, October “Toby” Daye, in a northern California world where characters that Grimm and Disney once found a lucrative focal point—faeries, gremlins, trolls, and the like—reside in carefully concealed areas in the San Francisco Bay area. Oh yeah, and they’re a lot more sinister and unfriendly than either Grimm or Disney ever dared imagine. The series thus far contains Rosemary & Rue (9/2009), A Local Habitation (3/2010), An Artificial Night (9/2010), Late Eclipses (3/2011), Ashes of Honor (9/2012), and Chimes at Midnight (9/2013).
The idea for the series began with a fourteen-page short story she wrote on a whim, and which was inspired by the Tea Gardens of Golden Gate Park. Her friends kept insisting about the main character, “Toby needs a novel.”
Seanan says, “Apparently, Toby gets what she wants.”
Toby is a cross between Joan Wilder (Romancing the Stone) and a kick-ass – and beknighted – version of Seanan herself. Not that Seanan really needs such an adventurous alter ego. Her web-bio states that many of Seanan’s personal anecdotes end with statements like, “…and then we got the anti-venom,” or “…but it’s okay, because it turned out the water wasn’t all that deep.”
I first met Bracken MacLeod at Necon in 2011. After a day of just noticing this semi-scary tattooed bald man with a ferocious goatee, he endeared himself to me with his untethered audacity…making fun at the newly dead Amy Winehouse within minutes of the announcement she had passed. I saw hearts.
So before we delve into the shortish interview he was gracious enough to allow me to conduct, let me tell you what I have learned of the man in the years since Necon. His name is Bracken…that’s exactly like the terrifying sea monster loosed by the Gods in Clash of the Titans, but with a B. B for Badass! He is a very smart and very humble man, a father, husband and former lawyer. He also writes gripping fiction, not always horror but quite often visceral and dark. I’d been lucky enough to read several shorts before Mountain Home arrived at Shiney Acres and I could already count myself a fan. Mountain Home cemented it.
With no further dithering, let’s talk with Mr. MacLeod…
John Boden: I just reviewed your debut novella, Mountain Home, and I wanted to jump right in to discussing it. One of the reasons this novella works on such a personal and chilling level, is that it could have been plucked straight from the headlines. A week doesn’t go by where there isn’t some sort of gun violence, rampage…or some horrific event. Was there one thing in particular that inspired this tale?
Bracken MacLeod: Novella? They all can’t be Under The Dome. You’re right though, Mountain Home isn’t what the big publishers call “marketable length,” even though at fifty-six thousand words, it’s technically a novel. Part of what gave me the freedom to keep it that tight was a conversation I had with one of my literary heroes, John Skipp (who also told me I should never name drop), about a project he was putting together at the time. He was getting ready to launch a line of short novels designed to be all chiller, no filler. Books you could read in the time it took to watch a (long) feature film. I took that to heart, cut all of the padding, and I think that’s what made the rhythm and pacing of this story pop the way it does. But that’s not an answer to your question.
I find real world violence much more frightening than any monster or demon someone can dream up. Right before I started this book, Anders Brevik shot up that summer camp in Norway. I wasn’t inspired by that, but I can’t say that it wasn’t in the back of my mind when I sat down to write. I wanted to tell a locked room story and needed a way to keep a disparate group of people together and under constant stress. Given that in the last thirty years there have been sixty-two different mass shootings in America, it seemed like the most plausible scenario—and one that scares me a whole hell of a lot.
Stacy Scranton-Morgan is a popular photographer, and I’ve run into her at several different conventions. She’s not only great at taking pictures of the panelists and speakers, but also takes wonderful behind-the-scenes pictures of moments that wouldn’t otherwise be captured. Stacy also takes headshots, which is a necessity for every author. I tracked her down and asked for a little advice on how to take a decent author’s photo.
Mercedes M. Yardley: Hi, Stacy! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. As authors, we’re used to using words and phrases to convey nuances and emotions. As a photographer, you do things visually. It’s a completely different world.
Take the subject of author’s photos. They can be quite daunting to a writer. Suddenly one photo is going to basically encapsulate us as a person. They’ll be used online, on the backs of our books, and as promotional tools. The experience of taking an author’s photo can be terribly awkward. This is where your expertise comes in.
Is it possible to take a good photo if the author is extremely nervous? What would you suggest is the best way to calm down?
Stacy Scranton-Morgan: The first part of the question reminds me of the episode of Friends when Monica and Chandler were having their engagement portraits taken. Chandler was so nervous that he just could not get a good picture. So I would say there are those extreme cases. Most people, especially ones that are not used to having their photographs taken, do get nervous in front of the camera. The best thing you can do is try to relax and have fun with it. Take a few deep breaths. When I’m photographing people, I try to have fun with them. I like to joke around and get them laughing a little bit. By being a little goofy, it usually helps to loosen up my subject. Just remember, you have the easy job. You just have to sit there and be yourself.
Russell Hornsby has acted in films and television for well over a decade, appearing in shows like Lincoln Heights, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order, and movies such as Meet the Parents and After the Sunset. He now appears weekly on NBC’s Grimm, a show that is kind of hard to explain.
Matt Betts: I don’t want to be cheesy by starting out quoting IMDB, but I’m going to be that guy anyway.
Russell Hornsby: Okay, go ahead.
MB: According to IMBD, Grimm is an “American police procedural television drama series.” And they also categorize it in the genres of fantasy procedural, horror and mystery. Grimm is a pretty hard show to pin down and describe, isn’t it?
RH: Yes. I have a tough time myself and I don’t know if I always get it right. I’m glad someone is able to do it.
MB: Well, there’s just a little bit of everything in it. There’s action, there’s horror, there’s fairy tale, and it is all blended together so well.
RH: I think, as you said, they do it so well and I hope, sooner rather than later, that it would just be its own genre. You know what I mean?
MB: Absolutely. With all of that in mind, what made you want to take the role of detective Hank Griffin?
As some of you may recall, I doled out a high-praising review of Sarah Langan’s Bram Stoker Award-winning second novel, The Missing. I knew it was a semi-sequel to her debut, The Keeper, but that had no bearing on my enjoyment of the novel.
Having recently found a copy of the debut, I excitedly went to work devouring it over a weekend. Upon its completion, I was shamed at waiting so long.
The Keeper tells the tragic tale of Bedford, Maine, a small town built on the back of a paper mill. The Mill, now closed, employed most of the townsfolk and paid for its existence. But as the story unfolds and its deeply textured characters are introduced, we find that this small town is quite unlike others. It is haunted. Haunted in a very unique way.
A thickly veined historical horror that begins when the town does and continues throbbing and festering until it culminates in the events chronicled in The Missing. I will not give away any details, other than to say this book is packed full of so many deeply disturbing visuals and delightfully surreal flourishes, that to call it a haunted-town story, or a nod to “Ancient Evil in a small town” books, would be a white lie, true at its basest level but highly inaccurate at the same time.
Recently, I was lucky enough to have the chance to ask Sarah a few questions and she was kind enough to answer them.
JB: First, Sarah, allow me to thank you for taking the time to grant this little interview. I will get the giddy fan boy stuff out of the way and say I love your work. LOVE, in all capitals. I read the first two out of order and it had no impact on my enjoyment of each; both are highly effective and greatly visual novels. I also read and enjoyed Audrey’s Door. That was actually the first book I bought of yours, solely on the fact that John Skipp told me to. Then, when I was interviewing Jack Ketchum, he dropped your name, and I decided I was missing out on someone special.
I was right.
Could you give us a short encapsulation of your work, what you have out there in addition to these three wonderful novels? What is on the horizon? Do you think you’ll revisit Bedford again?
Anthony Rapino is a dark fiction author with a sense of humor. It was cool to interview him. Hope you enjoy!
MY: So, Anthony, thanks for stopping by! Why don’t you start off by telling me what you have out, and what you’re currently working on.
AR: Thanks so much for having me. I have to admit, my first impulse when you asked what I “have out” was to tell a vulgar joke. Let me just tuck that away. The vulgarity, I mean! Oof. What’s that they say about first impressions?
MY: Your first impression is shot.
AR: Moving on. I currently have a few short stories out in print magazines and anthologies such as the Arcane Anthology, On Spec #86, and Black Ink Horror 7. I of course also have the short story collection Welcome to Moon Hill available through Amazon, and my debut novel, Soundtrack to the End of the World available from Bad Moon Books. They put out a beautiful limited signed hardcover edition as well as a paperback edition.
I’m currently working on a two different super-secret anthology submissions. I’m also working on my second novel, which I published an excerpt of in Welcome to Moon Hill.