Monday, September 5, 2016

Raising Mary: Frankenstein by Ace Antonio Hall @JGBookSolutions @SylvaSlasher

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“When you get some free time, write. When you get some lazy time, plan. When you get down time, world build. When your time comes, shine.”
–Ace Antonio Hall

In 2006, Ace Antonio Hall became part-owner for the Hollywood Actors Academy for Performers (HAAPS) in Hollywood; contributing as an Acting Coach. He has acted in principal roles for a few independent films, including playing the role of Prince Thun in AFTRA’s Radio Play: Flash Gordon, and day-playing as Vanessa Williams’ date in ABC’s show Desperate Housewives.

Although, he has strong acting chops, Ace Antonio Hall has spent the past few years working as a stand-in for various TV shows and films, mostly for the actors, Damon Wayans, Jr., Alfie Enoch and Pharell Williams for Happy Endings, How To Get Away With Murder and The Voice, respectively.

INTERVIEW

How did you start your writing career?

I started out when I was about four, drawing stick figures and telling stories. After I saw my first Godzilla movie, I started making comics about Godzilla and monster island. In my tweens, I made super hero comic books, and in high school started learning how to write and tell stories with a better structure. A friend of mine, David Gerrold, told me that it was all practice until I wrote a million words. I'm a little over 800,000, now. I'll have a million done by the end of next year!

One of the reasons, I honor, write and champion the female species is because I grew up with my grandmother. I saw all the trials and tribulations she went through, and being that she took me into her home when she was seventy-years-old, I saw many of her challenges. That's why I fall in love with stories or games with strong female protagonists. Take for instance, the video games Tomb Raider or Resident Evil, which both feature female characters. I will always tell stories that deal with the terrible conditions women go through and the triumphs they overcome. It speaks to my heart.

My grandmother introduced the Rat Pack to me, and so Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, & Sammy Davis, Jr. left an imprint in my makeup, as well as Fred Astaire. They all came from vaudeville-like backgrounds, singing, dancing and acting for audiences, so it was inevitable that I got a degree in film making, while I produced and performed music. I taught school and became an actor, and translated my many experiences in drama, and love for horror, into writing.

Truth be told, my real middle name is Nzondi, an African name given to me by my father, and growing up, many of my friends called me zombie. It's true what they say about being careful how you treat authors because many of those who teased me have become horrible decapitated zombies in my novels. (insert Vincent Price laugh here)



Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

A literary agent told me to read in the genre that I wrote so that I would understand the tropes of zombie fiction, so I set out to read over 50 stories and books to get an innate sense of what was relevant, ridiculous, outdated, trendy and paying homage to the genre. However, and perhaps most crucial was my focus. After Ray Bradbury told me to visit the library daily and write, write write, I went from writing 1,500 words a day to 3,000 words. My focus got so strong, I woke up at 4 a. m., every morning and wrote before going to work, and I buried myself in the library and/or corner of a Starbucks from opening to sometimes closing. On many, many Saturdays, I went to Starbucks and put in 12-15 hours of work in one painfully, butt and back-burning sitting to get my writing done.


Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

Part of getting Confessions of Sylva Slasher published by a traditional publisher, was my involvement with a writing society that introduced me to award-winning authors, and their informative panels on writing. Also attending conferences, continually crafting and polishing my writing with classes and workshops, in which I learned how to write effective query letters, and networked with people who shared their personal experiences of success and inspirations.

I also joined a critique group that was instrumental in my writing process. Here's a link to an article I wrote as a guest blogger.

When I first started, I was just a volunteer, but my role soon grew to events chairman, to a critique group leader, to vice president of the entire organization. After about two years, of spreading myself thin, I re-calibrated my focus and worked solely on finishing the rewrites of my novel. Because of all the people I met and learned from, I was able to make my novel a fun, page-turning story with characters that come off of the page and into the reader's living room. I never would've been able to write the book I did and get so many wonderful reviews without having joined GLAWS. 

I recommend writers to seek out professional writing societies in their area or online. The networking, events, panels, and conferences are extremely valuable. Authors should congregate with other writers every available moment he/she comes out of their cave. Every great writer has a contemporary he/she shared ideas, drinks, and laughs with, I believe. It helps the author to truly evolve and create circles that are bound in success.

There was a time when members of my critique group or even an editor may ask a question that intimidated me. That was before I learned to make choices, and I understood that as long as the choices I made were true to my story, were credible or backed by sound ideas, I no longer was intimidated by a question for my motives. I answered with a certain confidence that came from developing my characters and strong world-building.


How do you describe your writing style?
Reading my novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher, is like drinking a large exhilarating can of fun, with an added lemon twist on the end! It's a coming-of-age story about a young girl who has to realize that she doesn't need any guy to validate her, the power comes from within. Once Sylva gets that, she faces her fears with courage and is able to overcome her “undead” challenges she calls deadheads. Listen, I grew up enamored with Alfred Hitchcock stories, and watching the Twilight Zone, so speculative fiction, and creating page-turning cliffhangers have become a part of my DNA.
To me, zombie stories speaks on different levels outside of horror: the state of the world, humanity's fear of the unknown regarding death and the future of our society. Many undead stories are commentaries on the way corporate and government machines literally have us stumbling through our daily lives like mindless zombies while their economic power stumbles our ability to speak out or resist quick enough to gain any true momentum in our own lives. Then again, I want my readers to finish the book feeling satisfied, and happy that they bought a Sylva Slasher novel, and for me, writing about zombies allows me to do that.

In fact, many people who didn't really like zombie stories before have come back after buying my novel and said they can't wait for the sequel because they enjoyed reading a story that was fun, yet touched on other issues. It reminds me of the commentary I hear about the AMC show The Walking Dead, where people say the plot is not about the danger of the zombies but the danger between the survivors and how they deal with the apocalypse. That's exactly the way I tried to write a Sylva Slasher novel.


What do you think makes a good story?

A friend of mine once said, “I read to inhale, write to exhale.” Reading is the number one motivator to writing a good story. After finishing a good horror novel, it makes me want to write the best story that I can imagine.

Sure, any good novel may have elements of a variety of genres, but the core story is driven by one particular kind. I started reading novels only in the genre I wanted to write in so that I could gain an innate sense of tropes, clichés, themes, tones, mood, what was overdone, and what was spoofed.

I’ve always been a storyteller. Even when I had shoulder-length blond dreads and sung as a front man for an alt rock group, my lyrics were essentially stories. I love being imaginative and coming up with strange circumstances to put a character into.

I think at this stage of my writing, I can’t help it. I hear characters running dialogue in a scene I’m working on, when I’m driving or going for a run, and I awaken most mornings with an idea or scene to flesh out in my stories.

What motivates me is the process. God, I love the process of coming up with ideas, doing a bit of research for places, people or things I don’t know much about. And man, do I love seeing a finished product of my writing. I love words. Especially, if they tell a good story!


What books have most influenced your life?

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, The Stand by Stephen King, Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton, Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, and The Holy Bible.



Do you play any sports?

I used to play football, and on occasions, have joined a flag football team, but mostly, I work out. I love running, so whether I’m doing a nice six-to-eight-mile run, or doing full speed wind sprints, I try to run every day. I hit the gym 28 out of 30 days a month. I’m very passionate about fitness.


Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Never, ever give up, even when all hope is lost. Like I infer in many Sylva Slasher stories, your old self may have to die before finding out what your true purpose in life is, but once you are reborn, you will be more powerful, more beautiful, like a Monarch butterfly. A friend of mine, David Gerrold, told me that it was all practice until I wrote a million words. I'm a little over 800,000, now. I'll have a million done by the end of next year!
I quit my job as an educational director for the Sylvan Learning Center, got a more flexible job in entertainment, tossed out my social life, and spent 10-11 hours a day on the weekends writing, I woke up every morning at 4 a.m. to write during the weekday prior to work.

I joined a writing society and critique group and went to many writing conferences and workshops. That was in 2008. Three years later, I sold my novel, and the next and fourth year of that journey, my YA zombie novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher, was traditionally published.

Of course, I might add that I was on an accelerated track because I had a degree with a background in writing. Without that, I’m sure it would’ve taken double the time.


“The day I become a New York Times Bestseller, I will run ten miles shouting hallelujah and then run home to eat an entire bag of Snicker chocolate candy bars. So, I’m looking forward to breathing my passion into words and bringing them to life.”
-Ace Antonio Hall



ABOUT THE BOOK



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Title:  Raising Mary: Frankenstein
Author:   Ace Antonio Hall
Published:  August 26, 2016
Publisher:  Bards and Sages
Genre:  Horror

Synopsis:
Down in the Catacombs, No One Can Hear You Scream But the Dead.
Sylva Slasher has a unique job for a high school senior: she raises the dead for criminal investigations…and parties. Her latest client is a seven-year-old dying from Leukemia who has requested that she raise Mary Shelley. Sylva wants to make sure the event goes perfectly for her special client, which, of course, means things go horribly wrong.




Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

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Excerpt from Raising Mary: Frankenstein by Ace Antonio Hall:

For more than nineteen hours, I inhaled death. Darkness crawled around my soul and ripped jagged holes in my sagging heart. The death I inhaled spilled out of my lungs, oozing acidic poison so damaging to my spirit, it was scarred for life. I pressed play one last time before getting off of the plane which had just traveled from Bournemouth to Hawaii.
A warm hand came down gently on my shoulder.

Her voice eased out a gentle tone. “Are you ready to go, “Sylva?”

My best friend, Emily. She knew not to utter another sound, for I had no voice in which to answer. The moving image began again, and almost for an instant, I smiled. But seeing that sweet little girl in the video again—those tiny dimples, that heart-warming smile, and hearing her cheerfully sing, dancing like a ballerina on that small airplane monitor only reminded me that I would never, ever see her again.

As I watched, my thoughts drifted ominously like black clouds floating into the stormy memories of the past downpour of chaos, the last forty-eight hours. I knew for certain that I wouldn't study for my AP necromancy exam for Monday, tomorrow. Mom would chew me out because I'd miss yet another day, or two, of senior high school.


I wouldn't eat. I wouldn't sleep much either. I'd spend that dreary time obsessing about how, for a seven-year-old girl named Dresette Swansea, raising Mary Shelley from the grave sealed her walking papers in an envelope marked death.


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About the Author:

Ace Antonio Hall is the author of the horror novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher (Montag Press, April 2013). His short stories They, Raising Mary: Frankenstein, and Bated Breath have been awarded Honorable Mention for the Writers of the Future Awards 2013, 2014 and 2016. He published his short story Dead Chick Walking in Calliope Magazine Fall 2013 #141 and The Eldáling in their Spring 2016 issue.

In 2015-2016, Hall sold his short stories to be published with Weasel Press/The Haunted Traveler, Bride of Chaos/9 Tales, Pure Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vol. 4, Jitter/Prolific Press, Calliope Magazine, Bards and Sages, Bloodbond Alp and Night to Dawn Magazine #29. Hall received a BFA from Long Island University and taught English for more than a decade. He is a native New Yorker who now resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Follow Ace on Twitter @sylvaslasher, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Tumblr.





Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A signed, print copy of Confessions of Sylva Slasher by Ace Antonio Hall
Giveaway is US only.

Ends September 18th at 11:59 PM EDT

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