Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series

Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series: David Perlmutter

This post is part of the Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series run by contributor Sati Benes Chock. For more about the book, please follow the link here.


Excerpt from David Perlmutter’s Story “A Murder in Time”

“So, Professor Fey,” the tall female reporter said to the all-too-human creature standing next to her. “How does it feel to be the first human scientist to travel forward in time?”

“It’s…not what I expected,” was the response. The Professor was trying to use diplomatic language, which was difficult for her since she’d long been accustomed to us dogs being her non-verbal subordinates, helpmates and what have you. Actually talking to them as equals was something she seemed not to have taken into account when she made her fancy calculations and came forward to our time. Nevertheless, she was giving it the old college try, far as I was concerned.

“We, honestly, were never expecting to encounter a real human being, either,” the reporter continued the conversation. “I mean, with them being gone from the Earth for three centuries and all…”


Can you tell us a little about how you became a writer?  Did you always know that you wanted to be one? And what about your background in animation?

I knew I wanted to tell stories from the beginning, as my family can testify to me doing them fairly early, although I didn’t know I was doing it then. Once I discovered that it was possible to get positive attention from doing it, as well as to possibly make money from it, it was something that I came to aspire to doing.

A lot of my stories involve my interest in animation. I have experimented with fan fiction, although, to get it published professionally, I have had to employ roman à clef pseudonyms for the characters. (That said, those familiar with the series will know exactly who is what if and when they read it.) My novel “Orthicon” and my story cycle about the para-military group known as the Cartoon Republican Army have been the biggest outgrowth of this. They allow me to have characters I admire experience situations that are morally thornier and more ethically complex than the producers of their series might want or like, and make them more “literary” in nature. However, I have discovered that many fiction editors look down on overusing italics and ALL CAPS to convey emotion in dialogue, and, since most cartoon characters would communicate that way in that fashion if their dialogue was written down, I have struggled to find the right way to convey emotion for them in the “right” way ever since.

The other side is that many of my original ongoing characters could easily be stars of animated programs if given the chance, given how many of them are anthropomorphic animals, superheroes, or supernatural adventurers of one kind or another. Animation is the only visual medium that offers those kinds of things true justice, in my opinion.

My research into the history of animation has made me greatly aware of how it has enacted and mirrored many of the great labor/management conflicts of the 20th century, particularly the rise and stagnation of unions in the entertainment industry. I also understand that many cartoon characters, if they existed in “our” world, would undeniably be victims of racial prejudice, particularly in the current heated environment for such issues in the United States. So these issues have become ones I have explored often in writing about cartoon characters.

“A Murder in Time” is a science fiction mystery with some unique characters–unusually dogged police officials. 😉 Was this an idea that came to you before writing the story, or did it transpire organically as you wrote?

It was a merger between the central idea of a story by Robert Bloch, about the murder of an extraterrestrial visitor from the moon with the personalities of a pair of characters from a television animation series from the past in the heroic roles. I do this kind of thing all the time. I see or read something I like, and I think about how it could be improved, or done from another angle. I used to be ashamed of this, thinking I was stealing, but I have since discovered that this is part and parcel of being a working writer, and so I don’t feel guilty about that anymore.

Who are your favorite authors? What is it about their writing that you admire most?

-Robert Bloch. (He was mainly known for writing the novel Psycho, but he was a prolific author of very good fantasy, horror, science fiction and mystery stories over the course of a long career. He showed me how not only to remain versatile, whatever it was you wrote, but how to maintain a high standard while doing it.)

-Jack London (The first author I really admired, and the first one I openly emulated. The themes and genres he addressed in his work remain big parts of mine.)

-G.K. Chesterton (He seemed to write a book or article about anything he thought about, and he always sounded like he knew everything about it.)

-Mark Twain (He made writing funny things and holding difficult opinions about the world in spite of opposition much easier than they really are.)

-Frederik Pohl (The Mark Twain of science fiction, whose work is delightful and inspirational.)

-H.L. Mencken (A difficult man who easily chronicled a difficult country in difficult times.)

-I.F. Stone (A doggedly accurate journalist able to do anything and everything in pursuit of the truth. We need his kind of person more than ever now.)

Do you find that you often return to the same themes in your work? And if so, what are they?

Friendship, loyalty, honesty and justified vengeance. People with Asperger’s Syndrome, which I have, probably hold these values in higher regard than other people, and are more easily disturbed by them being violated in public than other people. So I’m not surprised that my work often tends to come back to these ideas.

Some writers have rituals that they feel helps them with the creative process. Do you employ any rituals, or do anything regularly that helps keep you on track with your writing?

I wish I did. I try to work to a set routine when I’m at home, but I can’t always get exactly the amount of time I want or need. Since I recently got a job as a library assistant at an elementary school, time has gotten harder to find. But I can always find or make time if necessary to contribute to a project if I am truly committed to the idea or theme.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?

I am in the process of working on an encyclopedia of television animation programs produced in North America between 1948 and 2016, which will be published by Rowman and Littlefield, hopefully later this year, or early in the next one. This is a companion to my narrative history of television animation in North America, America ‘Toons In, which was published by McFarland and Company in 2014. I am also making final revisions on my novel Orthicon for its upcoming publication later this year by Linkville Press, and awaiting publication of my novella Honey and Salt by Scarlet Leaf Publishing, which will mark the first of my books to be published in my native country, Canada, as opposed to an American or British publisher.


About David Perlmutter

David Perlmutter is a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He holds an MA degree from the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg, and as a lifelong animation fan, has published short fiction in a variety of genres for various magazines and anthologies, as well as essays on his favorite topics for similar publishers, including SFF He is the author of America Toons In: A History of Television Animation (McFarland and Co.),The Singular Adventures Of Jefferson Ball (Chupa Cabra House), The Pups (, Certain Private Conversations and Other Stories (Aurora Publishing), and Orthicon; or, the History of a Bad Idea ( Linkville Press, forthcoming). He can be reached on Facebook at David Perlmutter-Writer, Twitter at @DKPLJW1, and Tumblr at The Musings of David Perlmutter (yesdavidperlmutterfan).

Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series

Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series: D.J. Tyrer

This post is part of the Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series run by contributor Sati Benes Chock. For more about the book, please follow the link here.


Excerpt from D.J. Tyrer’s Short Story “The Lying Dagger”

Gog recoiled in horror: the bloodied body of a man lay on the floor of the library. Perhaps most shocking: books lay scattered about him, blood splashed across their wooden covers. Gog let out a strangled cry and retreated out of sight of the scene.

He should, he knew, call out to the gods for protection, but his voice was silenced.

The Mistress of the Library came running. “What is it?”

He couldn’t speak, just pointed.


Hi DJ!

Can you tell us a little about how you became a writer?  Did you always know that you wanted to be one?

I’ve always loved books and stories and have written stories for as long as I could remember and would be doing so even if I wasn’t being published. I just can’t help myself.

Who are your favorite authors? What is it about their writing that you admire most?

Tolkien, because he had the same love for mythology and language that has driven a lot of my work. Lovecraft, for his breadth of vision. RW Chambers, for the enigmatic brilliance of The King In Yellow. Emily Bronte, for the dark beauty of her writing. Jasper Fforde, for his wit and wordplay. I could keep going – there are a lot of excellent writers!

“The Lying Dagger” begins with a murder in a library that could lead to war between two kingdoms if the protagonist, Gog, doesn’t act fast. Although this story is a fantasy, was it inspired by any actual event? If not, where did you get your idea?

Although it isn’t inspired by a specific event, history is littered with these sorts of situations, both ill-timed events and deliberate attempts at inciting conflict, and there are doubtless many more we never hear about. I find the behind-the-scenes machinations of nations fascinating.

You are a publisher as well as a writer and editor. If you could tell beginning writers one thing about the publishing process, what would it be?

Transforming a project into a finished product is just as difficult as turning an idea into a finished story. A good publisher makes it look easy, but there is a lot of effort going on behind the scenes. Understanding that can help the process of publication go more smoothly.

Do you find that you often return to the same themes in your work? And if so, what are they?

Identity, alienation and fear of the other are frequent themes in my work, being ones that resonate deeply with me, and these appear in “The Lying Dagger”: we have the mistrust between the nations of Kirim and Thrax, and Gog offering Braxis acceptance. Given that a lot of my work is dark, these themes tend to be dealt with negatively, but I do occasionally approach them with more positivity; “The Lying Dagger” lies somewhere in between with Gog, a little naively, attempting to bring about a happy ending.

Some writers have rituals that they feel helps them with the creative process. Do you employ any rituals, or do anything regularly that helps keep you on track with your writing?

I try to write every day, usually at night when it’s quiet and there aren’t distractions, and normally do so longhand. Otherwise, I don’t necessarily do anything the same thing each time. Some stories require a lot of planning or research, others flow freely from my imagination.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?

There are several booklets on my editing agenda for 2017. With regards to my own writing, I’m currently working on another ‘fictional non-fiction’ booklet for my Buxton University Press imprint, and a long-delayed fiction collection, The Nomads of the Time Streams. I have several novel and novella ideas on my ‘to do’ list, it’s only a question of locating some time in which to write them.


About D.J. Tyrer

D.J. Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such asDisturbance (Laurel Highlands), Tales of the Black Arts (Hazardous Press), History and Mystery, Oh My! (Mystery & Horror LLC), Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), State of Horror: Illinois (Charon Coin Press), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), and Sorcery & Sanctity: A Homage to Arthur Machen (Hieroglyphics Press), and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor).

Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series

Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series: Gregory Luce

This post is part of the Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series run by contributor Sati Benes Chock. For more about the book, please follow the link here.


Excerpt Greg Luce’s Poem “Report”

I inverted the crescent moon

for you so it would point

thumbs up to heaven.

You pulled down the shade.


You recently retired from the National Geographic Society. What did you do there? Did your work there ever provide inspiration for your creative writing? If so, how?

I was a Production Specialist in Pre-press, which involved many different duties: customer service to the magazine and book units, project tracking, and preparation of National Geographic Magazine features for printing. Among many other things, I extracted each story from the InDesign publishing system, converted it into individual page PDFs, and sent them to the printer. I would get occasional inspiration from an NGM story, but the real value of that job for me was that it kept me firmly grounded in the world and allowed me to meet and interact with many different kinds of people doing many different kinds of things. I believe my work reflects this.

Can you tell us a little about how you became a poet?  Did you always know that you wanted to be one? Do you ever write short stories?

I didn’t always know, but I became interested and began to write when I was a child. I’ve told this story in a different context, but it’s relevant here as well: The first poetry I was exposed to other than Mother Goose and the usual nursery rhymes, was A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson. My grandmother read the poems to me when I was very small. Even before I could read, the world he described seemed very real to me while at the same time, the prosody and language were highly appealing. As soon as I could read I devoured it many times. “The Land of Counterpane” especially spoke to me; though I was not a sickly child as Stevenson was, when I did fall ill, I would lie in bed and play with my toy soldiers. Somehow the fact that this other boy, who grew up, lived, and died long before I was born, engaged in the same sort of play that I did made a powerful impression. I think it must have planted the idea that poetry endures across time and continues to speak over many generations—not that I could have articulated that back then!

I can’t remember when I actually wrote my first poem, but I dabbled in poetry throughout childhood. By the time I got to high school, I considered myself a poet and wrote regularly, terrible poems of course, but in doing so I developed the habit of writing. Further, by then I was reading a lot of poetry, sometimes trying to imitate or write in the styles of the poets I particularly liked. My Senior English teacher introduced me to, among others, T.S. Eliot, the first Modernist I had encountered. When I got to college I prowled the poetry section of the library and read the literary magazines and eventually majored in English with the encouragement of a couple of my professors. I took a Creative Writing class as an undergrad and specialized in writing in grad school. My MA thesis was a collection of poems—still bad, but getting better. I kept writing and workshopping and eventually found my voice, as they say.

I have not written short stories since trying a couple in grad school, but now that I’m retired and have more time, I have several in the works. I’ve been reading a lot of Henry James’ shorter works and it seems to have lit a fire in me.

Who are your favorite poets? What is it about their writing that you admire most?

Walt Whitman. He demonstrates how one can include the entire living world in poetry and he created the first truly American poetry. Also his poetry has a profoundly spiritual—even at times mystical—quality that reaches beyond the literary into a nearly religious dimension. He is the grandfather of all of us American poets.

Rainer Maria Rilke. My remarks about Whitman’s spirituality also apply to Rilke. His poetry is profoundly moving and inspiring. He has not been a direct influence on how I write, but reading him reminds me of how high a calling writing poetry is.

Emily Dickinson. Her intensity and concision have had a profound influence on my writing and her powerful descriptions of her emotional and spiritual struggles give me strength and the courage to write about my own. She is as important to me as Whitman and has had a more direct impact on my poetic style,

W.C. Williams and Robert Creeley. Again, concision and intensity, plus a great command of modern American language. I found my own voice through my reading of Creeley, though I have moved beyond the tiny minimalist poems I first wrote under his influence.

“Report” is a lovely poem, but it is also a mystery. Is this the first time that you’ve combined these two things, or is this something that you’ve done before?

Thank you! I have never written anything quite like “Report” before. I was intrigued by the idea of crossing mystery with other genres, but didn’t really think I had anything to offer. But Kelly told me she really wanted more poems in the book, and she has this way of twisting your arm so that you feel like you’ve had a massage, so I decided to see if I could come up with something. Somehow, the idea of creating a mystery in which one never learns who the perpetrator, victim, or the actual crime are came to me. Once I had that in mind, I felt strangely free to indulge in the semi-surreal language the first speaker uses and to relate odd events and leave out any solution. I like to say it’s the first poem I’ve ever written on commission.

You are an award-winning poet who has published a number of chapbooks. If you could tell beginning writers one thing about the publishing process, what would it be?

First, be very patient and remember that the writing is the important thing. I was 55 when I published my first book, though I had been publishing intermittently in journals for many years. After the first, the others came in relatively quick succession. But it’s absolutely essential not to get fixated on publishing a book. Keep trying but the poems and stories are the real goal. If you are good and persistent, you’ll find an audience.

Do you find that you often return to the same themes in your work? And if so, what are they?

Love, weather, light, birds, the small overlooked phenomena of everyday life. The painter Paul Klee explains one of the functions of art brilliantly: “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.” I’ve tried to make visible things that are overlooked as people rush about their daily existence. The very first poem in my first book is as close to an ars poetica as I’ve written:


Just Look

Sunlight falls indifferently

among grass and leaves

and broken glass and gravel

but the radiance is there

anywhere you care to look,

sparks and dazzles

fly out and upward,

daytime fireflies glancing

off the sidewalk and

the puddles and the windshields

and, yes, your own eyes

when you catch glimpses

of yourself in the shop windows.


Recently I’ve had a flood of memories from my Texas childhood and I’ve been trying to get some of them into poems.


Some writers have rituals that they feel helps them with the creative process. Do you employ any rituals, or do anything regularly that helps keep you on track with your writing?

I don’t have rituals, but I do carry several notebooks so I can jot down images or phrases (or sometimes just a title). I also do a great deal of writing on buses and Metro trains. I don’t have a car so I use Metro frequently. Somehow the rhythm and maybe the ambient sounds on those conveyances often enhances my poems. I also like to write in cafes (as I’m doing right now!).

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?

Aside from the stories I mentioned above, I am attempting a series of short poems in the voice/persona of a character in one of the stories. He’s an older poet, sharing some characteristics with me, though the story is not at all autobiographical. One of his poems is briefly discussed in the piece so I thought I’d better write it. After that, a couple more came; they are different enough from my usual work to be both baffling and inspiring. I think I have a sense of his voice and sensibility, so it’s an interesting challenge to write as him.

About Gregory Luce

Gregory Luce is the author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line). His poems have appeared in numerous print and online journalsand in the anthologies Living in Storms (Eastern Washington University Press), Bigger Than They Appear (Accents Publishing), and Unrequited and Candlesticks and Daggers (ed. Kelly Ann Jacobson). In 2014 he was awarded the Larry Neal Award for adult poetry by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Recently retired from the National Geographic Society, he lives in Arlington, VA.


Contributor News!

Below are updates from my wonderful anthology contributors about the great work they’ve put out and other successes they’ve had recently!


Tanya Bryan’s story, “Death: A List,” will be reprinted in the upcoming Funny Horror anthology from UFO Publishing. She also has a poem forthcoming in the Compostela (Tesseracts Twenty) anthology from Tesseract Books (imprint of Hades Publications, Inc) this spring.

Arthur Doweyko’s short story, “Andrew The Last,” won first place as best science fiction short story  in the recently completed 2016 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. It was previously honored with an Honorable Mention by the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Competition.

David Haendler recently had a story called ‘The Hero of Magdeburg’ published in World Unknown Review: Volume III.
Anne E. Johnson’s humorous science fiction novel Red Spawn Delivery, third book in the Webrid Chronicles, will be released March 1 by Candlemark & Gleam Publishing.

Last year, Jessica Knauss’s paranormal urban fantasy Awash in Talent was published by Kindle Press after winning a contract though the Kindle Scout program. Her epic of medieval Spain, Seven Noble Knights, was published by Bagwyn Books in ebook in December and in paperback in January. She will be giving a reading from Seven Noble Knights at the Harvard Book Store on May 3. She has also earned a residency at the women writers’ retreat Hypatia-in-the-Woods.

Gabrielle Lee’s frst novel, COMFORTS WE DESPISE, will be released later this year from Zoozil Media. COMFORTS WE DESPISE is a choose-your-own-adventure, historical-fiction novel focused on the life of Cleopatra VII, and Zoozil Media is an educational publisher targeting reluctant readers. Her illustrated, serialized novella, JENNY & THE LABYRINTH, will be released later this year from Monthly Fiction. She has a poem appearing in DRYLAND this spring–“After Bruce Conner’s SEÑORITA.” This spring, she will be working on writing a music album in collaboration with Los Angeles-area producer and composer Ethan Castro, aiming for release this fall.
Bryanna Licciardi has been nominated for a Pushcart  by Inklette Magazine, a poetry project published and discussed on Fourth & Sycamore‘s website, and a collection of poems forthcoming this week on Peacock Journal. 
Greg Luce’s poem “April Haiku” was chosen for Moving Words in Arlington. It will appear on ART buses this spring and summer.  He will be reading in the Deaf Poets Society event at the Writers Center on Sunday 2/26, 2-4 pm. On April 28 he‘ll be reading in a resistance themed Hear at Martha’s.
Jason Steinhauer has been appointed the full-time director of Villanova University’s new Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest.
Katie Manning’s first full-length poetry book, Tasty Other, was published in November as the 2016 winner of the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award.
Jim Norman’s screenplay, The Case of the Tattooed Redhead, took the Grand Prize in the TV Pilot category at the Mountain Film Festival.  Another TV Pilot of his, Deli Takeout, set in 1925 Brooklyn, N.Y., took 3rd place in the same category.
Juliana Rew has a fantasy story, “The Twelfth Witch,” out in the new “Arcane Arts” anthology edited by Kai Herbertz. She’s excited that there are plans to translate the anthology into a German edition. It’s available on Amazon in ebook and paperback (shortly) at
Julia Rocchi’s first published short story just appeared in Issue 6 of Mulberry Fork Review! (Hot off the presses as of yesterday.)
Some of Karen Rockwell’s most recent publications include the following: Poem “Dad” was Ontario Poetry Month feature for Morel South&West online at; “Curious Connections,” her flash fiction chapbook, was published by Urban Farmhouse Press in April 2016; three poems in Latchkey Lyricality, an anthology of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS); her poem “Silencing Intimate Voices” was featured in Scattered Ecstasies, a collaborative arts project by Sho Art Spirit Performance; two haiku were published in “Haiku to F*ck To” an anthology by Spark the Word Press.
Alina Stefanescu’s new publications include the following: “About the Author”Menacing Hedge, Winter/17; “Holding“, Mulberry Fork Review, Issue 6, 2/17; “Pop-Ups“, New Orleans Review Online, 2/17; “All Those Love Notes Swarm Like Insects”Pif Magazine, Issue 237, 2/17; “Between One Refugee and Another”Spilled Milk, Issue 5; “When You Send an Email Asking for Money to Support That Mission Bringing Jesus to Romania“, Writers Resist, January 2017. She also has a new poetry micro chapbook, Ipokimen, out from Anchor & Plume.
Judy Swann has two new pieces:  “Talking Elizabeth Cady Stanton” in NY Votes for Women: A Suffrage Centennial Anthology and “Fool”  in The Mom Egg Review, MER 15. Forthcoming, April, 2017.
Sarena Ulibarri took over as Editor-in-Chief of World Weaver Press in March 2016. (They’re currently open to submissions.) Her surreal science fiction story “Astra, the Falling Star” was published by KasmaSF Magazine in February 2017, and her solarpunk story “Riding in Place” will be in the Biketopia anthology from Microcosm Publishing, which is Kickstarting now.
Tim Wendel’s 13th book, The Cancer Crossings, will be out early next year from Cornell Press.
Gary Wosk’s essay “Tom, Oscar and Jimmy” was just published by Dime Show Review in the anthology Dime Show Review, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2017. His work represents modern-day truth: beauty, pain, curiosity, and humor. The essay recalls his days as a teenager and early adult playing basketball along with his friends at the local community gymnasium against three much older men during three on three basketball.



Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series

Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series: K.T. Katzmann

This post is part of the Candlesticks and Daggers Interview Series run by contributor Sati Benes Chock. For more about the book, please follow the link here.


Excerpt from K.T. Katzmann’s story “Death’s Pale Blossom”

On the night he’d chosen to murder his girlfriend, Xander brought twelve cloves of garlic, a wooden stake, and a meticulously selected bouquet of flowers. After all, if it was going to be her last night on Earth, Xander resolved to make it a perfect one.

Emily was (he was already thinking of her in the past tense, he noticed) always very particular about her flowers. He slipped her apartment doorman the usual twenty to guarantee his absence from the man’s memory and walked past, wondering about those plants of hers. It seemed odd for a dead girl to be so concerned about growing things.

He pushed it out of his mind. After tonight, it was an academic question in any case.


Hi K.T.!

Can you tell us a little about how you became a writer?  Did you always know that you wanted to be one?

I always loved story-telling, and looked up to creators, adoring all of the behind-the-scenes information on the nitty-gritty of content production. In elementary school, I wrote and drew my own comics. I started a science fiction story in late elementary school, but gave up the craft entirely after my mother read the back cover blurb I’d prepared over the phone. The embarrassment kept my inner writer hiding inside, surfacing only for plotting elaborate role-playing games and high school journalism.

Then, years later, I hit an incredibly boring session of a Star Wars role-playing game. Rather than follow Luke Skywalker around to run his targeting computer, I opened Word and spontaneously dashed off the first chapter of a fan fiction I’d been considering. The resulting niche fame from the following ten stories made me realize people liked my style.

I was finally sitting in an IHOP, planning a story, when I realized something. “Wait,” I thought. “I’m writing a fan fiction story about two side characters that I’ll have to completely create new backgrounds and personalities for. Why don’t I just create my own characters so I can actually own them?”

You have a wonderful sense of humor.

Thank you! In Jewish culture, that’s usually only said as a condolence by your mother after you’ve failed to get a date.

Have you ever done comedy?

Once, terrified, at the teacher talent show.

Stand-up terrifies me because it’s an immediate audience reaction. It’s the equivalent to writing fan fiction and having your readers able to administer electric shocks after every sentence. Also, I need to be on the same wavelength as the listeners, and I worry about getting too niche. I’ll never forget the day I made a “First rule of Fight Club” joke in a professional meeting and had someone call it an obscure reference.

Just listening to Chris Hardwick on Nerdist talk about the difficulties and struggles of stand-up makes me queasy.

But I did it, full of fear inside, and I made a cafeteria full of seventh graders laugh while their parents laughed or blushed knowingly at the jokes their kids didn’t get. My vice-principal admits he goes to those things to see how far I’ll push the envelope. Once, I did a bit involving shooting marshmallows into kids’ mouths with a catapult. The instructions I gave them were, “Stay still, close your eyes, open your mouth, and if anyone else ever tells you to do this, find a police officer right away.”

Having confirmed that I could do stand-up on some incredibly basic level, I was free (following teacher talent shows) to go back to my staples of Minecraft parody karaoke and doing Joker monologues from “The Killing Joke.”

Your protagonist, Mildred, in “Death’s Pale Blossom,” also has a fantastic sense of humor. And she is brilliant, too. But she is an unusual detective–a Jewish vampire. What gave you the idea to make a female Jewish vampire detective? And did you find it hard at all to slip into that persona while writing, or does it come naturally to you? 😉

Playing her for weeks in a role-playing game first didn’t hurt. Except my throat, when I had to shout in character. Which I had to do occasionally, because, y’know, I was Mildred Heavewater.

The Jewishness made her more accessible to me. I started making her Jewish in the creation process as soon as I chose New York for a setting. I’m a child of New York Jews living in a part of Florida described as the Sixth Borough; Judaism and New Yorkers goes hand in hand to me. A lot of her Jewish experience is based directly on my life.

As a bonus, both Judaism and vampirism are about rules, and I wanted to see how those intersected. Can a vampire Jew keep kosher?

The vampire part wasn’t that hard once I got the mindset down. In a world with government blood dispensaries, I viewed vampirism as being like those serious diseases that you can live with (at least for a while) but still completely changes your life. Mentally, I considered the word “vampirism” to always be followed by “sufferer” or “survivor.”

Also, I really wanted to write a vampire so I could have them changed as a teenager. I love the idea of a woman who has looked like a high school student since the Nixon administration. The inspiration for that probably came from an episode of Buffy where a centuries-old demon looks too young to buy a beer without an ID.

Truthfully, it was the female part that was hard.

Over the years, I’ve heard from women about how aggravating it can be to have a female protagonist written by a guy who just doesn’t care about accurate representation. I wanted to avoid making Mildred an insulting caricature of womanhood, so I consulted female friends.

And then, after listening, I apologized on behalf of my gender and sat in the dark awhile, worrying for my daughter.

One of the things I faced writing Mildred stories and novels is the sexism a professional, outspoken woman would face in modern-day Manhattan. What I learned is that I could make up the most over-the-top, cartoonish, Captain-Planet-villain levels of misogyny and harassment I could think of.

Then I’d throw it at my female friends and they’d say, “Oh, yeah. That’s happened. They also tend to do this while they’re doing it.”

Still, despite all that, I identify with Mildred on a fundamental level because we both worry that we never really grew up and fear that everybody else will realize it. Also, we both love Columbo.

Have you ever encountered real-life monsters? If so, please tell us about them!

I stopped believing in ghosts after I saw one.

I devoured ghost and monster books in elementary school, reading so much Daniel Cohen that the librarian begged me to read fiction. I’d just finished “Ghosts” by Seymour Simon (which I blog about at when I saw a ghost in my room.

It was a flickering, static, man-sized image across the room from me, and I would have been terrified if it hadn’t been Batman.

Not just any Batman, mind you. It was the exact image used in the title screen in the NES Batman game, a common publicity shot of Keaton standing stiff as a board. I remembered some ghost book (The Simon one or World of the Unknown by Osborne) mentioning that spirits might just be images played back by our brain. Okay, I thought. There’s one puzzled solved. I never believed in ghosts an iota more after that day.

I still love reading and writing about them, though.

You’ve listed Terry Pratchett, H.P. Lovecraft, and Douglas Adams as favorite authors. What is it about their writing that you admire so much?

Terry Pratchett, as a fantasy writer, wrote the most realistic people I know. They’re not the Good-aligned or Evil-aligned cutouts from the cheap fantasy books I inhaled by the dozen as a teen. They’re full-fledged people that act like people.

From him and Douglas Adams, I learned that you can go for funny and sad at the same time. That’s the reason why, out of all of Adams’ work, my favorite is his travelogue about finding endangered animals, Last Chance to See.

I love Lovecraft because I adore his science fiction monsters. I got a real kick out of fleshing out shoggoth society in my upcoming second book.

As a final note, I love Roger Zelazny for, if nothing else, teaching me in the introduction to “Unicorn Variations” how selling a short story actually works.

If you could tell beginning writers one thing about the publishing process–or monsters–what would it be?

One thing about publishing: if you self-publish, you’re also going to self-market. Learn from others what to do. Get on the Kindle Writer’s Café boards! No one will discover your book if you don’t make a path to it.

About monsters: Keep some sesame seeds and silver handy, wear your pants inside out, and resist the urge to eat human flesh. That should keep you safe in most situations, barring certain parts of Miami I grew up near.

Do you find that you often return to the same themes in your work? And if so, what are they?

Jewish mythology is one. I once ran a role-playing game for my friends where I learned they were keeping some kind of betting pool. After the game, it turned out everyone was betting on how many sessions it would take me to have a proper Jewish golem show up in 1890s New York.

No one won. I was making an effort to try new things, and had already realized I used golems too much.

Bullying comes up a bunch, because I’m a teacher who fights bullying who listens to bullied kids at my Gay Straight Alliance club and went through bullying myself.

Also, the drama of functional relationships. I’m a comic book lover, and a married friend and I often discuss how the moment a superhero gets married, the writers break the couple up somehow. One writer once said in an interview that marriage takes away the drama. He had no idea how much fascinating drama and (how many) conflicts you get even in a stable, happy relationship.

Also, monsters. Every good monster is a metaphor I want to unwrap.

Some writers have rituals that they feel helps them with the creative process. Do you employ any rituals, or do anything regularly that helps keep you on track with your writing?

Ozric Tentacles. Writing sessions involve me blotting out the world with instrumental prog rock. I’m listening to them right now.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?

The second Mildred Heavewater novel drops this year, so I’m excited about that. In no particular order, I also have on the backburner a story about infernal foster care, a fantasy novel set during Babylonian times, and a humorous biographical look at Lovecraft’s Abdul Al-Hazred. You can find updates and craziness at @iwritemonsters

Also, I’m always working on future Mildred books. I have to. Neither she nor I are happy when I stop.

About K.T. Katzmann

K.T. Katzmann wrote a book about a Jewish vampire and a Bigfoot who fall in love while working for the NYPD. Despite all this, he is somehow still allowed to teach children. Florida’s like that. K.T. discovered mysteries from Howliday Inn and became hooked on monsters from the first hit of Godzilla. His favorite authors are Terry Pratchett, H.P. Lovecraft, and Douglas Adams, and he thanks years of boring public school classes for giving him the time to read them all. He lives in the lap of sunshine and insanity surrounded by Cthulhu idols, his ever-patient wife, and two toddlers who can already name all the Universal Monsters. He can be found at @iwritemonsters on Twitter or at Mildred the Jewish vampire girl detective’s further adventures can be found in the novel Murder with Monsters.