Author Interviews

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Monday, 29 April 2013

Author interview with Michael McCarty & Jody R. LaGreca (revisited)

Back in March 2013, I interviewed authors Michael McCarty and Jody LaGreca for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with writing duo Michael McCarty and Jody LaGreca. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello Jody, Michael. Please tell us something about yourselves -- how did each of you come to be writers.
J. R. LaGreca ...Jody: I have been writing since the age of seven when a poem magically came into my mind and I have continued writing ever since. By the time I graduated high school I wanted to be an author since writing has always been my passion. I have a BA in Writing / English from Queens College University of New York. Consequently, I am an award-winning poet and the author of six novels with two more on the way.
I met Michael McCarty on the Horror Café, (a group for authors on the internet) and was intrigued when he asked me to co-author Bloodless with him. Coincidentally I had just finished reading Twilight and wanted to write a vampire book which was steamier. Michael had the same inspiration so we created our own unique brand of a vampire saga.
Creativity and being a deep thinker is inborn since I come from an artistic family with notable celebrity, political and historical figures. In the late 1900s my Great Aunt Ida Primoff, dubbed “the little girl from Hester Street” by the New York Times wrote the lyrics to The Song of New York celebrating the birth of the City of New York. The song was sung in New York elementary schools after The Star-Spangled Banner.
Vampire MikeMichael:  I am a fiction and nonfiction author of over 30 books. My fiction includes novels such as Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack: 2 Vampire Satires (Whiskey Creek Press), Monster Behind The Wheel co-written with Mark McLaughlin (Medallion Press) and Out of Time which is now out of print.
I have co-written three novellas: Lost Girl of the Lake with Joe McKinney (Bad Moon Books) and Night of the Scream Queen with horror actress Linnea Quigley (Dark Moon Books) and the sequel Return of the Scream Queen with Linnea Quigley and Stan Swanson (also Dark Moon Books) and a slew of short story collections including: Dark Duets (Wildside Press), A Hell of A Job (Damnation Books), Partners in Slime co-written with Mark McLaughlin (Damnation Books) and Wildside Press is going to publish two of my short story collections called A Little Help From My Fiends in 2013 and Laughing in the Dark in 2014.
My nonfiction books include Modern Mythmakers (BearManor Media), Masters of Imagination (BearManor Media), (also by BearManor Media) and Conversations with Kreskin (Team Kreskin Productions) co-written with The Amazing Kreskin.
I was originally going to do the Bloodless novel with the late, great Michael Louis Calvillo. We wrote a short story together, but he was doing his thing and I was doing my thing and the project never materialized. I decided to do the book anyway and after reading Jody R. LaGreca’s Suburban Weird, I thought she would be a good person to do Bloodless with.
Morgen: You’re clearly on the same wavelength. Individually, is there a genre that you generally write?
Jody: I am an eclectic author who writes in multiple genres with equal ease. Romantic Suspense is my niche which I have incorporated in Historical Fiction, Modern Fiction, Mainstream Fiction, Romance, Horror and Historical Vampire Fiction. I enjoy the diversity of exploring different genres. I have a collection of Horror Poems, some which are published in anthologies, and I have been told I have a powerful dark voice which gave me encouragement to continue in that vein with Bloodless, literally! Being a fan of scary movies growing up transcended into exploring the Horror genre and I have enjoyed the transition. Michael and I have also collaborated on Bloodlust the sequel to Bloodless, and I have gone on to publish a solo Historical Vampire saga, Forever In Vein, both coming out spring 2013.
All of my titles have sub-genres of Mystery and Romantic Suspense with a lot of twists and turns. The first book I published, Afternoon Tea, is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It is a flowery tale of forbidden love which takes place during the Victorian Age. I went on to publish Suburban Weird, Modern Fiction with a flair and then I continued with my other titles, each completely unique from each other.
Michael:  I write both fiction and nonfiction books --- in the science fiction and horror genres. I did a kid’s book Rusty The Robot’s Holiday Adventures co-written with Sherry Decker. And a YA book I Kissed A Ghoul, Noble Young Adult – but I stick within those genres for now. By the way, I Kissed A Ghoul was on the Final Ballot of the Bram Stokers in 2012 for Young Adult book.
Morgen: You’ve mentioned a few titles there, what have you had published to-date? Can you remember where you saw your first book on the shelves?
Jody: I have published Afternoon Tea, Suburban Weird, The Gloaming, FleshpotSeduction, Will Of The Soul(a poetry book) and Bloodless co-authored with Michael McCarty. I have recently published a super-sized ebook with smashwords (Premium Status) which includes my first five novels titled Romantic Suspense Collection.
This March I have a release titled Forever In Vein, a Historical Fiction / Vampire, published by Whiskey Creek Press. I am the co-author of the upcoming release of Bloodlust coming out in May 2013, the sequel of Bloodless. My poetry is internationally published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Midstream and World News Forum. My novels are available in soft cover; two are available in hard cover also, and as ebooks on all the major online bookstores.
The first time I saw my books on the shelves was when I did a book signing at a local bookstore which had an atmosphere like a coffee shop. It was an incredible feeling, though nowadays with the change in the market Ebooks have become more popular than physical books, which is beneficial since it conserves trees and I am all for protecting our natural resources and big on recycling.
Michael:  I’ve written over 30 books over the last 10 years. I still remember the excitement of seeing Giants of the Genre on the bookshelves of Barnes & Noble.
The day Giants of the Genre arrived at my home was the same day that The Amazing Kreskin (who is also in the book) was performing in my hometown at Circa 21. Before intermission, Kreskin talked about Giants of the Genre. He introduced me from the stage and had me stand up to take a bow. Kreskin clapped, and everyone in the audience clapped. I felt like I had just won an Oscar. I do interviews. This is my job. No need for applause.
Morgen: Do either of you write under pseudonyms? Do you think they make a difference to an author’s profile?
Jody:  For Bloodless and my other Horror titles I published under Jody R. LaGreca. My first five books are published under J. R. LaGreca. I thought J. R. would be catchy and stands for my first and middle name, Jody Riva. Although J. R. LaGreca is not a pseudonym in the true sense it is still different from my name. At this point in my career I plan on continuing to publish as Jody R. LaGreca or Jody Riva LaGreca, which I think it sounds more soulful. Yes, I think a pseudonym can make a difference to an author’s career especially if their name is not pleasing to the ear or difficult to pronounce.
Michael: Nope, just Michael McCarty. Sometime magazines and newspapers run my byline as Mike McCarty, but I prefer Michael.
Morgen: :) Who designed your books’ covers?
BloodlessJody: The cover of the book is always very exciting to me. I designed the covers of my five solo novels incorporating vintage images; this imagery was perfect for my varying themes. It was an intricate process which required a lot of patience and thankfully I have gotten a lot of positive feedback.  After all the hard work of the text, to me the cover is truly the icing on the cake! For the cover of Bloodless, Michael and I worked on it together with the help of Noel Hall, a talented Whiskey Creek artist. We gave her our ideas and then she interpreted them and worked out the cover. We absolutely love it since it is extremely striking and fits our theme. When we created our Bloodless fanpage and posted it on Facebook it immediately made quite a buzz.
Michael:  I work with all the artists for all my book covers very intently. I have a lot of ideas that I bounce off them --- they give me a lot of feedback. It is a very collaborative effort. I’ve been happy with my covers for 30 books. The artist for Bloodless was Noel Hall, a very talented young lady -- she also did the artwork for Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack: 2 Vampire Satires (also published by Whiskey Creek Press). I worked with Mark McLaughlin on several of my covers, Larry Nadolsky and Sandy DeLuca has done a couple of them for me as well.
Morgen: What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Jody: Being accepted for Bloodless and my other vampire titles was a thrill since it was a new genre, especially when Michael and I got such positive reviews on the Bloodless galleys. Publishing my other books was also such a thrill initially and still is especially when a reader contacts me about how much they enjoyed a book. The most thrilling part for me was when I received my first review for Afternoon Tea, a five star review from Midwest Book Review, which made me feel my efforts had been given credibility. Thankfully I went on to get other five star reviews for my books which have received a lot of positive feedback verbally as well. I have also received wonderful recommendations on LinkedIn. Below is an excerpt from my first review for Afternoon Tea.
“LaGreca brilliantly develops her characters to be graceful and elegant. Even though this is a by-gone era, the book enchants you from beginning to end. The author laces a romantic triangle that will tug at your heart with a surprise ending. J. R. LaGreca has captured the Victorian Era exquisitely, like a fine painting or a glass of aged wine. A must read for the amorous romantic.” --Midwest Book Review, Five Stars * * * * *
Michael:  I remember my first acceptance to a magazine for a record review I wrote in the early ‘80s for “The Prairie Sun” and they paid me … money, I was paid $10 (a copy of the check is my scrapebook). That blew my mind. Ten years later, Starlog Magazine one of the biggest science fiction magazine paid me $150 to do an interview with Frederik Pohl and that zine was published all over the world. Six years after that, I did an interview with a big name genre writer for a men’s magazine and was paid four figures for it.
And I remember when Wildside Press said “Yes,” to Giants of The Genre, after ten years of trying to become a published book author, I ended up getting my first book published, it was on and upward from there.
Morgen: My first acceptance was a flash fiction for Woman’s Weekly and that was £10 so not far off yours, Michael. A question some authors dread: where do you get your inspiration from?
Jody: My inspiration for Bloodless and my other books comes from deep within my subconscious and the stories enter my mind when I least expect it. I never have a plan which is why my books are unpredictable since I enjoy being surprised with how the storylines evolve. I write everyday when I am involved with a book. After I have completed the first draft I go back and edit the book over and over again, and polish it. I am a perfectionist and spend a lot of time smoothing out each and every sentence. As a poet my words have to have a melodic sound. I have a program called Text Aloud that reads the book back to me.
Michael:  My inspiration for Bloodless was this --- I wanted to write a vampire book that featured a 100 year-old vampire that survived both the sinking of the RMS Lusitania and the Hindenburg disaster still around the 21st Century. After writing Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack: 2 Vampire Satires I wanted to write a darker tale this time. I am really proud of the Bloodless and Bloodlust books.
Morgen: Do you write poetry? If so, do you write to form or free verse? What would you say is the difference between a piece of prose and a prose poem? Why do you think poetry is so popular and yet so poorly paid?
Jody:  Since I started out as a poet I find writing poetry deeply rewarding. Michael suggested I add a verse from my Horror poems at the beginning of every chapter of Bloodless to create a mood. Here is a sample verse from Chapter Fifteen:
There shall be no lullaby
For the lost and sleepless.
Who shroud the night with a cry.
Earth shall prove no fortress,
Death will don no disguise.
When the wiles churn the demons,
And the wicked are the wise.
“The Lullaby” - Jody R. LaGreca
The difference between prose and a prose poem is basically the format. To me it all depends on the writer’s intent. I have written all types of poetry including narrative poems and have many poetry collections which I plan on publishing in the future. My poetry book titled Will Of The Soul was inspired by The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam (1048–1131), a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer. Will Of The Soul is written in quatrains, a verse containing four lines which alternately rhyme. This formula brings the reader into a deep, spiritual state akin to an open eye meditation.
I think poetry is underpaid because people are very hectic nowadays and don’t have the time to reflect on its deep meaning. Although poetry is still popular in certain circles, there is such abundance and the classic favorites are still holding strong. I hope a resurgence of poetry will be forthcoming since it is an art onto itself which has a lot of merit.
Morgen: I love seeing chapter intros. And Michael, do you write poetry?
Michael:  I was a Bram Stoker Finalist for Outstanding Poetry Collection in 2008. Mark McLaughlin and I wrote a poetry book called Revenge of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster which will be published this year (2013) from Elektrik Milkbath Press.
Morgen: Congratulations. Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
AFTERNOON TEA by J. R. LaGreca ...Jody:  In the beginning of my literary journey I used to write everything out by hand and then type it into the computer. My first book, Afternoon Tea, had been written out completely before I typed it. Then one day it dawned on me maybe I could just type it into the computer instead of writing it out first, and that has saved me so much time. In fact, I sometimes still type slower than I think, but writing freehand it was much more apparent.
Michael:  I started out on an old Underhill manual typewriter. It looks like something out of the Superman TV series from the ‘50s. In high school, I learned to type on IBM Select Typewriter and in college I bought a Smith Corona Electric Typewriter. From there I moved to Word Processor and from that, I moved into the computer. I do miss the words actually click-click-click on the page, to me that is writing.
Morgen: <laughs> Maybe you could just type heavily. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Jody: My favorite time to write is in the morning after breakfast when my mind is fresh and full of energy. I write in a pink room with lace curtains which I have claimed as my computer room. I prefer to have quiet and if need be I can shut the door. In general I enjoy silence so when I write I appreciate it all the more.
Michael:  Theo’s Java Club in Rock Island, Illinois is Michael McCarty downtown office. I meet fans and other writers there, do book signs and drink tons of delicious coffees and cappuccinos. I write at home at my office, always have and always will. I like to listen to music when I write, silence when I edit.
Morgen: Are all your books available as eBooks?
Jody: All of my books are available as eBooks on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and as Premium Distribution on Smashwords, so they are available with all the major distributers.
Michael: Most of my books are available as Kindle or Nook. But I’m not really concerned about if the book is a “paper or plastic” publication, because I consider myself the scriber for the brain. I am writing for your memories to be cherished forever. There are several medias to explore my worlds – you can do so via trade paperback, hardcover or eBook – as long as my words crawl into your cranium – that is what matters to me. Right now all my books can be purchased as trade paperbacks, eBooks and some hardcovers. In the works are graphic novels, audio books, a movie and a play. The best place to find my work is here: Barnes & Noble also carries my books at:
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Jody:  Bloodless is one of my favorite books because it is my first Horror and is infinitely interesting. Plus having a sequel in the wings adds even more intrigue. It was an honor to collaborate with Michael McCarty, a three-time Bram Stoker finalist, and an extremely talented author who has achieved a lot of acclaim.
Bloodless would make a wonderful movie since the main character, Daniel Peck, would be incredible as a psychic vampire on the big screen. I could envision Johnny Depp being perfect for his persona since he has the same charisma and sense of drama as Daniel, and can adapt to any time period with ease. There is a lot of history intrinsic in the book as well as the sequel, which could be incorporated. Daniel is a modern-day vampire who is over a century old. He succumbs to his transformation on the Lusitania when Veronica, Queen of the Undead, beguiles him. Daniel survives when the ocean liner is sunk by the Germans, as well as when The Hindenburg explodes.
In Bloodlust, the sequel to Bloodless Daniel Peck, lives on with Marilyn Monroe as a central character. The dark side of Marilyn Monroe’s untimely demise and more is revealed in this twisted tale of revenge and seduction — which bears the curse of Daniel. Since vampires have always been so popular Bloodless would be a timeless movie to draw devotees of both yesteryear and today!
Michael:  I’d think Johnny Depp playing Daniel and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe would be awesome. I like to write complex characters that you love to love and love to hate – all at the same time.
Morgen: I love it when we do that. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jody: Right now I have three other novels I am looking to publish with the right publisher or perhaps find a literary agent to assist me. I have received several offers for publication for them, but they were not a good fit for me. One novel is a Detective / Police / Crime Fiction titled The Good Daughter which is about how a death brings a twenty-one year old secret to the forefront. Another novel is titled Love Edward and is a Mainstream Fiction / Romance. It is a saga which explores the power of eternal love and the mystery of fate. I have also written Winter Horrorland, a Horror novel in the spirit of Stephen King, which would appeal to an audience who enjoys dark sagas.
I have a lot of other collections on the back burner such as a series of children’s books, several poetry collections including narrative poems, horror poems, love poems etc. I am going to look for homes for my work in the future and will continue to promote myself. I have started a Historical Fiction which I plan to continue when things calm down for me.
Michael:  Linnea Quigley, Stan Swanson and I just finished the sequel to Night of the Scream Queen called Return of the Scream Queen. Will there be a third Scream Queen book? Perhaps. Mark McLaughlin and I just finished a YA apocalyptic adventure. And Mark and I are working on a Dracula book too. I have another YA book in the works and a memoir too, various reviews and articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m always working on something, no rest for the wicked, so I must be very wicked.  
Morgen: A real mixture from both of you. I also write a variety which for me keeps my brain fresh. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Jody: When I am involved on a particular book or project I write every day and I’m very committed to the task. In fact I have to control myself from not starting something new since it becomes somewhat of an obsession which can have the power to take precedence over everything else. It’s sometimes hard for me to find a happy medium when the story is flowing.
Michael:  I write a couple hours everyday and several hours on the weekend. I don’t think of it as “writer’s block,” for me, it is usually “writer’s obstacle”  -- which needs the problem to be solved.
Morgen: Time, in my experience. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Jody:  My website:
Morgen: Thank you very much for joining me today. It’s been great chatting with you both.
I then invited Jody and Michael to include excerpts of their writing…
Jody: Excerpt of Fleshpot by J. R. LaGreca, Chapter One:
Ray Brent scanned the room from velvet couch to corner, seeing only his heartache, diffused by the display of tawdry flesh. Until suddenly the bead fringed divider between the office and the sitting room swayed and Maria Cezaro entered. She touched a cord of sympathy within him.
Wearing a taupe shawl with pink and burgundy flowers intermingled with greenery; she eyed him seductively as she opened a large fan decorated with roses. She slowly closed it and enticingly removed her shawl, revealing her scanty attire of black lace panties, thigh high stockings, and a red garter placed high upon her thigh. Dark and beautiful, contrary to her attire, Maria’s face looked as otherworldly as the Madonna. Her almond eyes beckoned Ray with beguiling persuasion, and stole his sensibility in an instant. Black, silky strands of hair framed her face in fleeting innocence. Crimson lipstick marred her flawless complexion, while her dark eyes were alive with luminosity. Maria, the girl with the red rose pinned strategically behind one ear was only eighteen.
Ray Brent studied her girlish form as his heart filled with the desire to spare her from her demeaning lot. In spite of the fact Maria was for sale, to Raymond Brent she was untouchable.
“I must tell you, you’re beautiful, far too beautiful to be here. What’s your name?” Ray asked in instant adoration.
“I’m Maria.” She coquettishly looked at him through the corner of her eye before captivating him with her radiant smile.
Michael: Excerpt from Bloodless Michael McCarty & Jody R. LaGreca:
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Peck. You can call me Veronica.”
Odd, palatable electricity sizzled between them. Veronica continued to smile, the faintest blush pinking her pale cheeks. Daniel’s mouth filled with more water as a fine sheen of sweat sent cold chills up and down his back.
He wasn’t the type to swoon over strange women. He liked women, thought they were fine for heat and passion, but after the moment his discharge tingled, it cooled his inner thigh, and lust waned, all his energy and interest curdled. He wanted out of their bed, out of their arms, into the streets where a man could run unfettered.
This beautiful creature, this angel, this Veronica, was different. She had a devastating effect upon his constitution. Having only just met her, he felt he’d follow her anywhere she asked – to the ends of the world, hell – to the ends of the universe if it suited her fancy. In fact, she didn’t even have to ask. All she had to do was part her mouth – the tip of her pink tongue just visible between perfect teeth, and flutter her eyelashes, and take his hand, and walk him toward her cabin. Daniel followed, no questions, no hesitations, as if in a trance.
No words were exchanged that night, no pleasantries, stories, or sweet nothings were whispered, no coy games of cat and mouse, instead, Veronica, the Goddess, the mysterious beauty of fog thick night, led Daniel to her opulent stateroom and took him to her bed.
Jody Riva LaGreca was born in Sea Gate, Brooklyn, New York’s first gated community. She is an award-winning poet and the author of six books, including Afternoon Tea, Suburban Weird, The Gloaming, and Bloodless. She has a BA in Writing / English from Queens College University of New York and graduated Phi Theta Kappa Magna Cum Laude in Fashion Apparel Design from NCC, State University of New York. Jody R. LaGreca has been a featured author at the International Women’s Writing Guild, Big Apple Conference in New York City. You may visit her website at
Michael McCarty has been a professional writer since 1983 and the author of over thirty of fiction and nonfiction including I Kissed A Ghoul (Noble Young Adult), Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack: 2 Vampire Satires (Whiskey Creek Press), Monster Behind The Wheel co-written with Mark McLaughlin (Medallion Press), Lost Girl of the Lake co-written with Joe McKinney (Bad Moon Books), Night of the Scream Queen (Dark Moon Books) co-written with Linnea Quigley, Modern Mythmakers (BearManor Media), Dark Duets (Wildside Press) and A Hell of A Job (Damnation Books). A five-time Bram Stoker Finalist, he received the 2008 David R. Collins’ Literary Achievement Award from the Midwest Writing Center. He lives in Rock Island, Illinois with his wife Cindy and pet rabbit Latte.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog,, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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