The giant blue eye Ball and I would like to welcome New Zealand horror author Lee Pletzers to the blog.
First, Lee, you need to know basic emergency procedures should the giant blue eye suddenly flutter those lashes. (It’s akin to hurricane strength wind) In the event of a flutter please grab hold to something solid and hang on for dear life. It’s usually over fairly quickly – especially if you don’t hold on.
In case of a blink – well – it was nice knowing you.
Now that we have the emergencies covered let’s get to your writing.
1. I’m in rather a fortunate position here, having read an earlier version of your latest release, The Last Church – not everyone is so lucky. Would you be so kind as to enlighten the readers and share a bit about The Last Church and it’s setting?
Lee: First off, hello giant blue eye ball and to you too, Cat. The Last Church is an old fashioned slasher story with two timelines. The near future (2014) and the very distant future (2368), where technology has advanced, convenience is sweeter, drugs are deadlier, we’ve had a hostile encounter with aliens and the earth is governed by a single president. Not to mention, the world is on the brink of war instigated by a regime known as the German/Arabian Front. The future is not a Utopia.
In 2014 Peter is the man. Every wish of his fulfilled. Twenty years earlier he stumbled upon The Devil’s Wish Book, followed the instructions and created a ceremonial dagger from blood and an altar from the pit of Hell.
Every wish he wants can be gained by the spilling of blood and the collection of a soul. Peter has a lot of wishes. All the souls are locked inside the realm of the dagger and when it is his time to give his life, his soul also ends there also. This is his Hell. All those he destroyed are aware of his presence.
2368. A group of archeology students on a dig, enter a time slip and come into the year 2014. They find Peter’s home, are attacked by demons and one student Rachael finds Peter’s dagger and decides to keep it. Barely escaping with their lives. They enter their time frame two weeks later and WW4 has started. Attached by the German/Arabian Front, Rachael cuts herself on the dagger releasing a torrent of blood soaks Peter and fills the dagger’s realm.
An escape route appears, a tunnel of light. A tunnel for Peter to bring to the future a dagger and a powerful desire. A wish to introduce a prince from the realm of Hell into a world where Christianity is near extinct and no one has the power to stop him.
There is a lot of detail on my website: including advanced reviews.
2. As a reader: Is horror your preferred genre and who do you enjoy reading the most? As a writer: Have you always written horror? What is it about horror that captures your attention? (as both a reader, movie buff, and writer)
Lee: About 70% of books I read is horror. The love the genre. 20% would be thrillers and 10% would be fantasy/SF (although that percentage has been increasing recently). I am always asked, “Why horror” and I guess it comes down to a sense of excitement that well written horror, can give you. It is the build up to the act that I like the most. In movies, I love the gore and well played characters. In books, the gore is not needed as much -- we do not need blood flowing over the page; dripping to the edge of the page is enough.
Some writers go for the shock value, where I like the build up, the tension, the knowledge that shit is going to happen, but you don’t know where and when.
“Have I always written horror?” Yes, but they also included a mix of SF and present day. I’ve been blending genres before I knew what genres meant. When I was 9 and 10 years old, my friend and I couldn’t grasp the subject Social Studies, so our teacher sent us to the Jungle Gym in the play ground to write a short story. I usually wrote about vampires and sometimes my stories were read out in class. This cemented my need to be a writer, unfortunately there was zero support at home. My caregiver said, “You’ll never make any money being a writer.” Fuck, I had no idea she’d be right. LOL.
But I love it and I guess I’ll never stop.
3. How do you feel about chainsaw wielding maniacs, and ill-favored chicks with angle grinders? ( And are they scarier than the driving over the Akatarawa Road?)
Lee: That damn road was a nightmare. I would much prefer running from leather face than driving that road on anything other than a 4X4. Winding single lane roads are NOT made for two cars!
4. On that note – why do people always run down the middle of the god-damn road in horror movies when being chased? I’ve always wanted to know –it drives me batty – so I’m hoping you know.
Lee: Running down the centerline is good for cinematic view and gives the gives the chaser a sure target, all they have to do is follow the broken white lines.
Actually, I don’t know.
5. Describe yourself without using the word awesome. J (If you know Lee you know he is indeed AWESOME.)
Lee: It is near impossible to answer this question without using that fantastic word. LOL. I am not your average run-of-the-mill type of person. Ever since I was a kid, I liked reading and watching scary movies, King Kong (3D B&W), Godzilla, The Omen. At seven years old, I penned my first story -- no plot, no problem (as NANOWRIMO states) and when I was 14 I got a holiday job and spent the money on a typewriter. It lasted eight years and hundreds of moves. Even as a traveling salesman my typewriter came with me.
To be quite honest, I was a lazy writer (back in the day) and only wrote when the need arose. I wasn’t disciplined until I made my first short story sale back in 2001. Since then I’ve been going hell for leather trying to catch up and having a blast all the way.
I have two novels coming out this year from Black Bed Sheets Publishing, a small press in the US. I have over 40 short stories published and I review for HarperCollins and Hachette via SFFANZ (Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand), of which I am a member. I am also a member of AHWA (Australian Horror Writers Association). I have edited 4 anthologies, worked as editor and reviewer for Sinisteria horror magazine; I have translated one novel from Japanese to English and one novel for an Australian writer.
6. How do you create your characters? I know myself that all sorts of things can spark a character not the least of which are people we’ve come across in life. As much as I try not to use living people as my character models, it does happen. In The Last Church you have a character called Ami, who seemed rather familiar to me… is she based on your real life wife, Ami. (That would of course explain the familiarity.)
Lee: I’ll answer the Ami question first: Being a strong supporter of my writing habit, Ami asked if I could put her in a novel. She didn’t care if I killed her off and only had one line in the story, she just wanted to be in there. So, I added her. Almost the real her. I had to adapt her character to fit the story.
“How do I create my characters?” I don’t. Not really. I think about the current project and a name pops into my head. The name matches the part the character plays in the story. The name must match the character.
I have come across a few “how to create characters” sites on the net. They say roughly the same things: Name, age, height, appearance, discerning feature, favorite things they like to do, and not do. Their habits, backgrounds (some want full details, others only want stuff that can be related to how they perform in the story). More questions asked regards family, attitude, personality, traits etc. Personally I think this is a load of shite. A lot of people get into world building and character building and that’s fine if you are working on an Epic novel (Kevin J Anderson comes to mind) or a series (Dune anyone?) , but for me, I can’t put much worth into going through all that. I like to get on with telling the story. And surprises along the way are fantastic.
7. Is The Last Church your first published novel? If not – how many others are out there for our reading pleasure/terror. What are you currently working on?
Lee: Yes and No. How do you like that answer? Actually, it is my first professionally published novel. It was originally Self Published via POD as Re-Entry of Evil and it caught the attention of Nicholas Grabowsky, who now owns a publishing business. He has two of my books: The Last Church and The Game.
My current WIP is called, Genesis 2.0
Based in New Zealand. Wellington: Earthquake 9.0 strikes. Earthquake damages instruments in a secret lab. LHC Portal explosion. Many people dead. Abdiel, exiled by God, returns. People he kills awaken as zombies with thoughts and a cunning awareness and sense of Army order.
Adam (MC) befriends two teenagers and takes them under his wing as they search for a Civil Defence area -- all are empty so far. He decides to travel into Wellington central and try to find a CD area there. Someone is following them. One night, he spots her stealing food and water. She runs. He lets her go. It is up to her if she wants to join them.
On their search, Adam starts noticing a change in the people he encounters and comes face to face with Abdiel and some very intelligent hunting zombies. An army is being built.
Once again, brother must face brother in a final confrontation where Earth will become Hell and Eden a fantasy land. But the explosion has created something else...Genesis 2.0.
I am also reediting a novel looking to cut 6000 words at least so it will fit into publishers guidelines. I would like to get it around the 95,000 word mark, but this novel has been edited several times. It was originally 132,000 words. Now it is 106.000. This title is called: The Armageddon Shadow.
8. Do you write at a set time/ for a specific amount of time etc every day, or go with the flow as the mood strikes? When you’re working in a novel – do you outline or wing it? Do you write the story from the beginning or jump about working on whatever scene you fancy and tie them up later? (I’m a winger – but I always write beginning to end.)
Lee: I like to write when alone or when the wife is asleep (she’s asleep while I write this). I need to have full concentration when I sit down at the computer and start writing. I never go with the flow or write when the mood strikes and I don’t believe in going for a walk or taking a break when the Muse is pissing about and not giving me the words. I always force my way through, knowing the Muse will pop back once I’m on the right track.
I wing it usually and have different ways of writing when it comes to short stories and novels.
With short stories, I find an anthology and theme and stat writing. I just blogged about this actually. The blog describes a way to get the words on the page, especially if your not too sure where to go. This is how I get my short stories underway. This system could be used for a novel but I don’t think it would work for 100,000 words.
With a novel, I wing it again. I start with a central idea, for example: a dude sells his soul and becomes a slasher that enters the future, and go from there. The idea for Genesis 2.0 was very simple, an earthquake, CERN, LHC explosion, portal created, add characters, go from there.
It’s not the most advanced system out there and there are a few writers (real writers with many titles under their belt) that write books on writing, and some of them are very good and I recommend all writers to read the books. If you take only one thing from that book, then it’s worth it. Writing is a life long learning passage, and hopefully we get better as time passes. I also recommend writers to watch the movie: Finding Forrester. Fucking fantastic movie.
9. How do you approach editing and do you enjoy it? Do you refer to drafts? Or versions? (Draft to me implies a sketch or summary not a fully fledged story -so I tend to have updated versions rather than first draft, second draft etc.)
Lee: My completed draft is the book. It is the core and the life of the story. I just tidy it up a bit, check spelling, reword some sentences and that’s it.
I recently stumbled upon the secret to editing well. Read the story aloud. I had heard this before but never gave it much thought. Usually I finish a story and then let it sit for a couple of weeks, then edit it and tidy up and wait another week and then read it again. If good, Ami reads it. She’s a great second pair of eyes. But the other day a few weeks ago, I was at the deadline of an anthology and the edited said if I wrote the story and got it to him in 24 hours (and if it blew him away) then the story would get in, somehow. 24 hours for a short story. Not a long time. So, I wrote the story using the words on paper system and finished in one day. I gave it a few hours rest (mainly for my fingers) and then edited it by reading aloud.
It’s an amazing way to edit (and the story was accepted) and I do that now for all editing. Novels as well.
10. When is The Last Church available and where can we purchase it?
Lee: The Last Church is due out September 1st. It came be purchased online (Amazon / Barnes and Nobel / Fishpond and Trade Me (for NZ readers) and in several Indies stores, it can be purchased through a link on my site (click the last church cover), and I will have some signed copies to give out.
I’d like to thank you for dropping in Lee and letting me bug you with questions!
And that’s all folks!
Keep an eye out for The Last Church.