Posts Tagged ‘zombies’

Angela Misri

Angela Misri

Twice already I’ve had the great fortune to talk to my friend Angela Misri about her detective character Portia Adams, and the books she’s written with her. I’ve also had the pleasure of reading and reviewing both books, and I have to say, Angela knows how to tell a compelling mystery story in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes.

Which is why I’m glad to welcome her back and talk to her about the third Portia Adams book, No Matter How Improbable, which I’m sure will be as excellent as the first two books.

RU: Welcome back, Angela. It’s good to see you here again. Now, in the first book, Jewel of the Thames, Portia comes to London, starts a new life, and realizes her heritage. In the second book, Thrice Burned, Portia makes a big decision about her life and her career, as well as facing new challenges in her life. What can we expect for her in the third book, No Matter How Improbable?

AM: Where the first and second books were very much about discovery and building confidence, book three has a central theme of loss. Loss of friends, loss of family, loss of the comfort of anonymity. This book will force Portia to develop as a person amongst all the other humans around her. She no longer doubts herself as a detective, but she finds herself doubting her relationships, which for a highly intelligent introvert can be debilitating.

RU: I bet. And speaking of Portia, characters often change between books. How has Portia changed between Books 2 and 3?

AM: I would say that she has grown to have more confidence in her abilities, she’s more grounded and she knows what she wants to do with her life. She is also starting to see the value of friendship and relationships, something she never had as a child.

RU: Moving onto the mystery bits of the book, can you give us a hint of what sort of cases Portia will be handling?

AM: Ha! I can indeed! One of the casebooks will involve an Italian Princess (hence the beautifully designed book cover by Emma Dolan), one will harken back to a story from the original Sherlock Holmes canon and the last casebook will cause Portia to lose not one, but two of her close friends. How’s that for a hint?

RU: It seems that Portia’s growing more popular every day. Can you tell us about some memorable fan experiences and the growing fan base around the character?

AM: I have been very lucky in my fans who show up again and again for each book event, and bring their friends, and take my books to their classes and do book reports, and so many other things. It’s hard to pick one interaction, but I recently got an email from a woman in Texas asking for a signed copy of Jewel of the Thames for her daughter’s birthday. She said her daughter read it cover-to-cover and it’s her favourite book. I wrote back suggesting I instead send her a birthday card containing a signed bookplate sticker that she could just put in her daughter’s book (to save them a bit of money). She wrote back to say she needed a new copy of Jewel because her daughter had ‘worn out’ her copy. That is such an incredible compliment to an author.

RU: Will there be a fourth book, and when can we expect it?

AM: There will indeed be a fourth book, but I’m currently negotiating the contract, so I am not sure when it will be out. I can tell you that the first casebook in the fourth book comes back to Portia’s roots – it’s set in 1932 Toronto, Canada.

"No Matter How Improbable" by Angela Misri

“No Matter How Improbable” by Angela Misri

RU: Ooh, I love those sorts of stories. They tend to dredge up so many memories! So with Portia’s growing popularity, can we expect a Portia Adams TV or movie adaptation? Anything like that coming out anytime soon?

AM: My agent continues to look for those opportunities, but nothing yet – keep your fingers crossed!

RU: What are you working on besides Portia Adams these days?

AM: I have a zombie book and a contemporary detective novel (not YA) too that I am working on. I also have a chapter in an upcoming Sherlockian anthology that I just sent in to the editors.

RU: Are there any subjects or characters you hesitate or refuse to write about in your stories?

AM: I’m not big on sex scenes in books (either that I am reading or writing) and I will never write a rape scene because I think it’s too disturbing. I also will probably never write about the death of a child because as a mother, I can’t imagine putting those words on a page.

RU: What do you do when you’re not writing?

AM: I’m a digital journalist, so I freelance articles, build websites and digital strategies for clients and I teach at various universities in Toronto.

RU: Is it difficult balancing time between being a full-time writer and a full-time human being these days?

AM: No more so than any other kind of balancing – no stage of my life has had just ONE thing in it. From student to mother to writer, I’ve always balanced my main focus with other things I needed to do. I will say that it took me nearly 6 months to establish a routine as a writer that worked for me.

RU: Finally, let’s assume you got the chance to collaborate with any writer of your choosing on a story or a series. Who would you pick? (And if you say me, I will squeal like a teenage girl at a One Direction concert.)

AM: You, of course Rami, if I had the ability to write horror like you do, I would pitch you an idea so fast your head would spin. Or if we could collaborate on a story where I write the basic mystery and you write the horror… I don’t know, I think it could be neat.

I’d probably pick the same person you’d pick – Stephen King. Or Mark Gatiss in my case, but I’d probably be way too intimidated to string a sentence together. Thanks for asking!

RU: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *cough* Excuse me. Well, thank you for joining me Angela, and I hope to see you back here soon.

No Matter How Improbable will be available for purchase in Canada on March 22. For all those outside of Canada, please email the author herself for a copy. Also check out my interviews for Jewel of the Thames and Thrice Burned to get links for those books. If you’d like more from Angela, you can visit her website, A Portia Adams Adventure. Trust me, it’s well worth checking out.

And if you’re an author wanting to do an interview, check out my Interviews page and leave a comment. We can discuss it there.

Have a good one, my Followers of Fear!

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Recently I was contacted by Man Crates, a new company that “ships awesome gifts for men in custom wooden crates that he has to open with a crowbar!” Don’t worry, I think they send the crowbar with the crate. Anyway, they asked me to come up with what I would include in a crate to survive the duration of horror movie, especially since it’s October and this is the month for that sort of stuff. I was intrigued, so I decided to take up the challenge and see what I could come up with.

Turns out that list is actually pretty exhaustive. The thing about horror films, what you need to survive them besides wits and luck really depends a lot on what you’re facing. You can’t use a weapon for a werewolf on a ghost, and an exorcism for a demon won’t do much good on a serial killer. If I tried to prepare for every possible situation, I would need an entire house to stalk my supplies rather than just a crate.

So I made my list with this thought: “If I knew I was going to be in a horror movie but I didn’t know what I’d be facing or where I’d be when it happened or how long I’d be in this situation, and I could pick items to bring with me to help me survive, what would I bring?” Thus resulted my list, an entire catalog of supplies that would apply in just about any horror situation without being too specific.

I’m not sure if Man Crates were to actually compile everything from my list if they could fit it all into one crate, but I think they’d find it very helpful no matter what the situation is. So without further ado, here’s what I would want in my crate for surviving a horror movie:

Machetes: as deadly as a gun, as silent as a knife.

  • Weapons. Obviously, I need weapons. Chances are, most of what I’d likely face would be susceptible to some sort of weapon, and I can think of a few that would be helpful. First, a shotgun. Werewolves, zombies, serial killers, and occasionally vampires and some kinds of ghosts can be killed or injured by firearms, and if I needed to hunt for survival, a shotgun would be helpful. I also would like an ample supply of three types of bullets: regular, silver, and rock salt. The first two are obvious, they can kill most creatures, human, supernatural, or other. The rock salt is special, though: according to many traditions, salt can cleanse or keep away impure beings like ghosts and spirits. I figure a rock salt bullet might weaken a spirit if I’m attacked, and if I’m not facing a spirit, then rock salt might hurt or drive away anything else.
    I also would benefit from a machete and a hunting knife. If the shotgun fails, then a machete and a hunting knife would be helpful in close quarters combat or against a horde of zombies. They can also be used in stealth attacks, unlike the shotgun, and the knife in particular would be helpful in hunting. Obviously I’d need something to make sure the blades stay sharp and clean, and something to keep the shotgun in working condition, so add those to the crate.
  • Survival gear and supplies. When I saw author Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z) at Ohio State a couple years back, he pointed out that besides weapons, you need supplies if you’re going to survive any long-term terrors. While I’m trying to be more general here, I have to admit he has a very good point, and I should plan in case my survival needs happen to be longer than until the sun rises.
    A lot of what I would need are also things that I might consider taking with me on a camping trip. Flashlight and extra batteries would be the first things I’d pack. If I’m going to be fighting for my life at night, a light source will be important. Lighter fluid and matches would also be helpful. Even if I’m not in a situation where I need to assemble a cooking fire in the woods or something, some things can only be killed with fire, which means I need something to get the fire really going.

    Sometimes the simplest things will save you.

    And speaking of cooking fires, put some water bottles and energy bars into the crate. Keeping yourself hydrated and energized is important if you want to stay alive, so better have something that is easy to transport, lasts awhile, and can carry your nutrition needs. A first aid kit with the works–gauze, disinfectant, antibiotics, needle and thread, etc.–could also mean the difference between life and death, so I’d want one of those.
    Finally in this category, I think we could include an outdoor survival guide–I am not the most outdoorsy sort of guy, so having a guide would be very helpful–as well as a portable cell phone charger to call for help if things get too crazy and maybe a satellite uplink device in case I’m in an area with poor or no cell reception. Hey, you have to be prepared for as many situations as possible.

  • Other. These don’t fit into the other two categories, and I can’t think of a proper name for them, but they would be handy in a horror movie. First, night vision goggles: good ones are usually a little expensive, but if the situation becomes such that you wouldn’t want a flashlight because then someone or something might see the beam, then it’s worth it. Also, bring along The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Even if you’re not facing a zombie apocalypse, it has some very good tips to survive out in the world when the stuff hits the fan, so it might prove useful. And a thick notebook and a supply of pens would also be pretty handy, especially if you need to be on the road for a long time or you’re facing something unseen before in human mythology or history and you want to record its weaknesses.

    Get me something slightly smaller and less clunky and cumbersome, and I think I’ll be good.

    Finally, a pack or something to make carrying this all easier would be nice. I mean, this amount of gear might be heavier than the suitcase in my hotel room, I would like something to help make carrying it all a little easier.

That wraps up my list of things I would have in my crate should I find myself in a horror movie and I’d like to survive till the end, especially if the end is several months or even years away…ooh, I hope I don’t end up in any of those movies! Anyway, thanks to Man Crates for inspiring the post. I had a fun time coming up with this list. Check out their catalog, you might find the perfect gift for a guy you know to indulge in his masculine side.

And beware of monsters! They’re everywhere this month.

What would you want in your horror survival kit? Anything here that I missed?

Nice to meet you.

I finally sat down this evening, after finishing a whole lot of biology homework, and I watched the movie Warm Bodies. It’s amazing when people can take a tired, old plot and make it seem fresh and new. If you don’t get what I’m talking about, just see the movie. You’ll get it.

But it put me in mind of a zombie story I’ve written myself. Well, it’s not exactly a zombie story. Zombie-like or zombie-ish. If I call it a zombie story, it seems like it gets categorized into a larger body of work that people see as overused these days…and increasingly getting as dumb as its main antagonist. But my short story, “Buried Alive”, actually features some zombie-story elements. And even though I’m satisfied with the ending, I feel…I feel like the story could continue after it finished. And, I realized, I kind of wanted it to continue.

Just one problem: I don’t want to make a bleeding novel out of this story. I’ve got enough on my plate without another novel at this point.

Looks like Sean Connery in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

But then I thought of an old high school memory: in some of my English classes, particularly the AP courses I took when I was an upperclassman, we read a lot of Ernest Hemingway. My teacher just had this thing for Ernest Hemingway. Don’t know why. I didn’t particularly care for him, but we read quite a bit of him. Indian Camp, I think we read twice in my four years of high school.

And I remember, there was a character in many of Hemingway’s stories, a guy by the name of Nick Adams. This guy appeared everywhere, sometimes a kid, sometimes a teenager, sometimes an adult. I once asked my teacher about this guy, and he replied that Nick Adams appeared in plenty of Hemingway’s stories. Two dozen, to be exact. What made Nick Adams so appealing to Hemingway? He was supposedly based on a lot of Hemingway’s personal experiences, so maybe that had a lot to do with it.

In any case, I thought, “Why can’t this short story be my Nick Adams?” It would be short stories I write every now and then, featuring the same world and the same protagonist, all originating from “Buried Alive”. I could even release them in a collection someday, far, far in the future. Who knows what could happen?

In any case, I’ll see what I come up with when I have the time and the energy to write some short stories. There are definitely possibilities here for a series of interconnected stories.

Have you ever written a short story and wished you could write a sequel/spin-off/related story to it? What happened?

Yesterday I finished one of the first books on my new Kindle, and I’m happy to say that it was by a friend of mine. And since Matt’s done a lot for me and I for him, I thought I’d give him a review of his novel. So Matt, know that what I say here, I say as a friend giving his honest opinion. And I know you wouldn’t want me to just give a gushing review if it wasn’t truthful, right?

So my friend’s novel, Whiskey Delta, is about a world terrorized by zombies. Sounds familiar, right? But there are some key differences between this novel and other works featuring zombies. For starters, the military is actually giving an adequate response to the zombie threat. That’s something you usually don’t see in the zombie literature/films/movies. For another, something about these zombies makes them very different from regular zombies, though I won’t reveal what because that would be a huge spoiler alert. The book itself follows a group of soldiers sent into Los Angeles on a covert mission in order to retrieve something important for the war effort. What happens there will change each and every soldier profoundly.

I thought the story was an entertaining zombie novel. It’s rare to show the military doing anywhere near a good job in a zombie story, so I commend my friend Matt for doing so. Also, I thought the twists in this novel were very interesting, especially in terms of what we thought we knew about these zombies–known as Whiskeys in the novel–and what the truth of the matter turns out to be.

I did think that certain characters such as Kobayashi and Saunders were introduced so quickly that I didn’t even have time to process them into the group before they were in the group, and that the main focus of the novel seemed to shift between characters rather than focusing on one character and saying “Here’s our protagonist”. But it’s a military team, so I’ll let it pass.

I also thought that more character development would’ve been nice, as I seem to know supporting character and all-around hillbilly Whitman better than I know main characters Braun, Dezba, and Saunders, which doesn’t seem right to me. And all the military terms were hard to follow. I’m not overly familiar with the military, so things like claymores, SCARs, and Stryker left me a little confused and I had to rely on my imagination for most of it.

However it was an entertaining story and by the end of it I was glad I read it. For Whiskey Delta, I award it a 3.9 out of 5. I’m looking forward to what the sequel, Papa Zulu, will produce.