Cate: Please welcome Arlene Webb. Arlene, will you please share a short bio with us?
Arlene: My writing career as sophomore in high school came to an tragic halt when parents received the phone call urging counseling over a perfectly crafted essay titled ‘How to Kill Your Gym Teacher in 10 Easy Steps.’
In college, Creative Writing was an easy credit, but the thrill remained buried in the excitement of breeding drosophila, abnormal psych, and the stress of writing unique reasons why parents or siblings should send money for vodka…er, school books.
Now, I slave daily in a florist shop counting the seconds until I flip the Open sign around. Rather bored with Hallmark cards and the messages Dick and Jane add to the condolence bouquet when Spot gets run down by a Mack truck, the saner solution over finding a new line of work is to warp reality and thrust full throttle into the world of words.
I grabbed a blank notebook, realized I couldn’t read my handwriting, and progressed to the keyboard. From an inspirational writing class, a star critiquer for over three years on an Internet writers group, I’m really happy Shadowfire Press opened the door for me.
Cate: I couldn’t live without my critique partners either.
Tell us about Love Grows Wild in the Dark and where it's available.
Arlene: A three story anthology available, you guessed it, from SFP.
Cate: Such a cool title! Please tantalize us with excerpts from your anthology.
Arlene: In Lieu of Flowers
Tormented by flowers, stalked by non-existent fiends, will a youth with an overactive imagination ever find happiness?
Hate my mom. Hate my life. Hate my mom.... The words looped in my mind, a mantra of misery. Top of the food chain, a nineteen year old Caucasian male, and here I was thrown back into reliving high school years. Surprised the old bat hadn't made me skip grade school to help for holidays. Come home from the intern gig for one lousy weekend, and it's Joel to the rescue--again.
"The cooler needs restocking. Red carns, alstro, delphiniums. There's another pack of pink roses in the back that aren't done yet."
"Yeah, yeah." I flipped my knife to a path parallel to the stem contaminating my other hand and pointed upward, my elbow braced for liftoff. "If I stab my eye out, can I leave?"
Mom burst out laughing. One thing about the woman, she did appreciate my sarcasm. But I seriously doubted she understood how deranged I was. I loathed flowers, almost as much as I hated running into dolts from my past.
Brad frickin' Norris. The vision of splattering crimson, the clank of enamel teeth hitting the sidewalk orchestrated with the lovely sonata of his girlish sobs and deep grunts begging for mercy--I sighed, my fantasy concerning punching Norris in the face had encouraged me to strip every thorn, and then some, off the rose in my hand.
"Maybe you should check the availability of Braille keyboards first." Mom slapped the final touches on yet another arrangement I'd have to cart across the street. Fingers moving in a blur, she peered up at me. "Forget the roses and take this. Careful. It's pricey, and I'll see you at home, kay? Honestly, son, I'll lose it if you drop that one."
Can an untamed lover distract from the desire to bring down the human race?
It hurts, having your head cut off. I don't care how lovingly the man crooned as he snapped me between his thick fingers. Pain ricocheted through my vascular system. With every fiber of my being, I hoped my fluid burned his fingers.
"Bastard human." My loud curse started a ripple from my cringing little ones. Heads bent in submission, they gulped their distress, murmuring soothing words to no avail. In a matter of hours I'd be sealed, callous formed, on my way to splintering into more suckers for the bipods to torture. I shook, using all my strength to turn from my loving offspring trying to raise their disfigured faces to the light. The devil had pinched them too.
Time to concentrate on settling the score between Plantae and Mammalia. The book lay at my base. I bent my mutilated crown, covered the page, and continued reading where I left off before the monster had stomped in on two horrid legs to mess with me.
When darkness soothed my injuries, blackness cloaked my hungry mind, and I swore again. Not happy with twisting me almost dead, forcing me to branch into a form they found ‘pretty’, lights went out at sundown like I was a simple seedling.
I snickered. Stupid human still hadn't found his bible. Soon, I'd have opportunity to take down his fascist regime.
"Mommy, why does he keep doing this?" my youngest whispered.
"Shh, my love. Someday you'll become so perfect the cruel man will stop." I didn't elaborate. No little sprout wanted to learn about hell day, and I didn't want to upset my offspring this vengeful night. I'd keep them in the dark as long as I could. "Sleep now. Dawn will break, it always does. And I promise you, we'll have a new light for breakfast--soon."
Circle in the Sand
Fallen angels, a handsome blue-eyed officer... How can a female geek concentrate?
I never thought it'd be so annoying being the lackey for a narcissist serial killer, but the angel rising from his chair had me gnashing enamel.
"You lost your marbles?" V growled. Like a trench coat around him, his dark hair flowed past his knees.
"Yes." Despite telling him that six times already, I didn't dare flip him my human backside and skedaddle before he dismissed me. The last thing I wanted was to squirm beneath a fallen one, his fist down my throat. His eyebrows snapping into killer angles encouraged me to elaborate. "Without my balls I can't blast brains to pulp. Searching the office, that's all I was doing."
"Balls? You sure look double X to me." He snorted, jerking his gaze from my chest. "Cease demoralizing your co-workers. Playing the ‘I'm nuts card’ won't negate a contract. If I don't make tomorrow's headlines, Rissa, my love, I'll hunt for lost items in places the sun doesn't shine. Get back to work."
My heart regained its beat as V stopped shaking feathers everywhere and his hands unclenched. It'd be easier to scope that red dot without my eyes swollen shut. I traded my urge to curtsey for a nod and retreated. It'd serve our molting slave master right if I did spread loss of mojo through his minions. With three women including me and five men dysfunctional thanks to the willies, the big oaf would have to do his own retribution. Unfortunately, the angel had me by the short hairs. I'd signed in blood. Two more foreheads to go, a total of seven bodies and he'd leave me and mine alone.
Cate: Those are very cool! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Arlene: The editor at SFP, a good guy whom I’m positive was drunk at the time, said he’d publish the short story, Rebel, if I had something a bit more conventional in the romance genre. So I sent him another short and (gulp) he asked me for a third, which I didn’t have so I splattered blood whacking the keyboard.
Cate: He obviously liked what he read. That’s great.
Any specific inspiration for your characters?
Arlene: My characters are rather unique. I don’t know where they come from, how long they plan to stay, or what torture they have in store.
Cate: Characters with surprises in store make the best kind! How do you pick their names?
Arlene: Word generator, people’s signatures at work, stealing from fellow writers, and sometimes characters step up and label another.
Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Arlene: God yes. Day is the best. The rare moments I’m driving while daydreaming and no one’s yammering at me, I get a lot accomplished and I even remember some of it when I get to a keyboard.
Cate: What's next for you?
Arlene: Filling the blank page, and starting another. I also have a series to polish and shop.
Cate: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Arlene: I suspect the first writing, inspiring outrage, was my younger sister’s name carved into my older sister’s dresser. I didn’t start getting serious about this path until five-six years ago.
Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Arlene: ‘Weird and wonderful.’ Quote from a published author and editor who taught a writing class five years past.
Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Arlene: Whenever people will leave me alone and I can keep my eyes open.
Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Arlene: The drudgery of forcing the words out, getting past the boredom of polish after polish. The most rewarding would be that first draft done, pages filled. That’s the hardest for me.
Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Arlene: That my quirky voice comes across clearly. I lose myself in the point of view of the character, human or non, and if I can make someone care about a wolf, plant, photon of light, how cool is that?
Cate: Extremely. Your love of your characters definitely comes across to readers.
So who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Arlene: Harlan Corban. Kurt Vonnegut. Frank Herbert. Tolkein. Bill Patterson (Calvin and Hobbes)…the list goes on and on. Right now I’m reading a work in progress by an exceptional published author in my writing group.
Cate: What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors? Or in people/the environment in general?
Arlene: My mom was diagnosed with cancer recently including some vision problems. The Kindle is awesome, with its read outloud feature. The benefit to the environment is a no brainer, and for authors it seems a sweet way to get out there with the publisher not having to spend a fortune to do so.
Cate: I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Glad she was able to get one of the Kindles with audio before they stopped selling them.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Arlene: I sob, am on a blog with three amazing authors http://takeittothestars.blogspot.com/ and I don’t contribute much at all. I need to get a blog of my own in the works. I’m also on twitter, tweeted twice, but forgot my password and am too lazy to figure out what it was.
Cate: I’m not much of a tweeter either, but I’ll follow you if I find you.
I’m so glad you could be my guest, Arlene. Best of luck with Love Grows Wild in the Dark!