Movie Review: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel felt like a movie designed to wet audience’s appetites prior to the release of Avengers:End Game.  It was a good but not great movie that served its purposes.  Disney went to their game plan of plucking out lesser known characters and then making them a big deal to the masses, and based on the early success of Captain Marvel, the formula continues to work.


In this movie, Carol Danvers is a Kree warrior who has no knowledge of her past.  On a mission in their war against the Skrulls, who have the super cool superpower of being able to shapeshift and impersonate anybody that they see, Danvers conveniently finds herself on the planet Earth—convenient because she can discover her past where she was an Air Force fighter pilot who gained superpowers in an accident.  Not only does she find out about her past, but also that much of what she thinks she knows about the Kree-Skrull war is a lie.


Although this doesn’t break into my top ten Marvel movies, there was still a lot to like.  Brie Larson delivered a strong performance, bringing personality to the Carol Danvers character.  Samuel L Jackson did his typical strong acting job.  The plot had some nice twists to it.  There were loads of good action and fighting sequences.  There were parts of it that were a little too rah-rah and sentimental for me, but overall I give it the proverbial thumbs up.

Dirty Deeds by Armand Rosamilia

I loved the opening line in this novel.  It set the tone for the rest of it, and was absolutely perfect.  It was truly one of the best opening lines of any novel I’ve ever read.  All right, enough about the first sentence.  The rest of the novel was an intriguing, enjoyable read.  James Gaffney represents himself as a truly despicable person to his clients.  For an exorbitant fee, he will kill your child.  In reality, he abducts them and places them with another family.  Almost from the beginning of the novel, things unravel for James.  He had an FBI agent on his tail, someone hacking his information, a Mafia boss pissed at him because his dead son is no longer dead.  Through it all, James has to navigate these hurdles, keep himself alive, and try to do the right thing along the way based on his own moral code.


I really enjoyed the casual writing style employed in this novel.  It had an easy going feel to it, and the protagonist narrated in a self-deprecating style.  He’s not really a tough guy that one would expect for this type of role.  He’s not a good fighter, and doesn’t even carry a gun, although it would probably be a good idea to do so given all of the people trying to kill him.  The novel has many twists and turns.  The characterization is strong.  I guess the one thing that bothered me is that there were people willing to pay lots of money to have their children killed.  As a parent, it seems inconceivable.  I get that parents kill children, but it seems hard to imagine hiring a hitman to kill them.  At any rate, this was a top notch thriller that I would recommend reading. Get your copy on Amazon.

10 Questions with James Dorr
  1. What’s the greatest moment in your writing career?

Connections with readers are always great, but this time it was with a publisher.  I had sold one or two stories to Max Booth III in his capacity as an editor for other publishers, but now he was starting his own imprint and he approached me, asking if I would like to submit what would be Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s first fiction collection.  I would have virtually complete control (the only constraint being it had to come to at least 60,000 words) and the result was THE TEARS OF ISIS, certainly I think my best collection, and one that went on to be a 2013 Stoker® Award nominee.  So while I’ve had another book since, the novel-in-stories TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (Elder Signs Press, 2017), the trust that Max bestowed on me — not to mention its subsequent validation — will always make TEARS extra special to me.


  1. How do you approach writing poetry different than you would writing a short story or novel?


I’ve written a few long poems that had to be planned out like a story, but even then I’ve felt freer to use non-linear narrative structures. In general, though, I’m more apt to have a view of a poem as a whole in mind at the start, whereas with prose fiction it’s more a process of construction, putting together the various elements — character, scene, plot, mood — until the final work seems complete.


  1. If you could pick one other author to collaborate with on a novel or story, living or dead, who would it be?

I think Edgar Allan Poe would be amazing fun, just find out how he got his ideas.


  1. Of all the jobs you have held, what is the strangest and/or most interesting?


Co-editing an underground newspaper when I was in college (this was quite a few years back) was one.  Any editorial job can be wacky enough, but you also met such interesting people.


  1. Is there an overall theme to your writing?

That’s hard to say, but one that recurs has to do with people’s beliefs:  myths, legends, folklore, as well as varying interpretations of here-and-now events.  In TOMBS, for instance, set in a dying Earth and, hence, an increasingly death-centric society, certain common beliefs keep coming up about souls and fate and the possibility of love persisting even beyond death.


  1. What made you want to start writing horror?


I started off writing science fiction, but became more and more interested in people’s reactions to wondrous events than just in the events themselves.  Horror, in that it puts its characters under the greatest amount of stress, testing character to the extreme while still allowing that sense of wonder, seemed to offer a natural area for me to go to.


  1. What type of scenes do you most enjoy writing?


Whatever I’m stoked on at the moment, although for satisfaction afterward those that reveal character more deeply.  In a flash piece called “Casket Girls,” for instance, in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION a few years ago, I say of the main character, “she felt sorry for the girl she had left in the harbor [that is, dead] behind her, no doubt a good girl who deserved better treatment.”  The “she” is a vampire, but in that one line presumably one that has a conscience, a trait perhaps not expected in vampires.  But then I also enjoy, at times, detailed descriptive passages about a setting or a place if I can write them in a way that shows the “character” of that location, hopefully that makes the reader feel a part of it.


  1. What do you feel is the ideal length for horror fiction: a short story, a novella, or a novel?


“As long as it needs to be, and not a word more.”  Well, okay, but it does depend on what I’m writing at the moment and what I want it to achieve.  Edgar Allan Poe stated in his essay, “The Poetic Principle,” that the “degree of excitement which would entitle a poem to be so called at all, cannot be sustained throughout a composition of any great length.  After the lapse of half an hour, at the very utmost, it flags – fails – a revulsion ensues – and the poem is, in effect, and in fact, no longer such.”  He repeats this of literature in general in “The Philosophy of Composition,” of works “too long to be read in one sitting,” that artistic unity is lost, a longer work thus operating more as a succession of short works.  So, insofar as I believe horror at its best, of all genres, involves an intensity – an “excitement” – of emotion as well as intellect, I would go with the short story as the ideal form.


  1. Is there any subject that is off limits for you as a writer?


It’s hard to be absolute, but I would say I’m not fond of torture porn.   I think there’s a line separating horror, as literature, from sadism; that horror concentrates on people and how they’re affected and not just voyeuristic descriptions of gore and pain.


  1. If you could create a Mount Rushmore of the greatest horror authors, which four writers would you choose?

Edgar Allan Poe for juxtapositions of beauty and fear, of love and death throughout his work; Bram Stoker for use of the science of his day and a starkly realistic way of telling in his masterpiece, DRACULA; H.P. Lovecraft for his introduction of the “cosmic”; and Euripides (with fellow tragedians Aeschylus and Sophocles shadowed behind him) for having joined history, myth, and the gods with human emotion.





James Dorr is an Indiana, USA short story writer and poet, specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. His The Tears of Isis was a 2013 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses:  Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves:  Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all poetry Vamps (A Retrospective), as well as Tombs:  A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, a novel-in-stories from Elder Signs Press in 2017.  An Active member of SFWA and HWA, Dorr has more that 500 individual fiction and poetry appearances in books and journals from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Yellow Bat Review.


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Tombs:  A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth:

10 Questions with L.D. Colter
  1. What’s the greatest moment in your writing career?


I’ve learned that writing career graphs more often look like a mountain range than a rocket launch, so any high point in my journey is very validating. It’s still early in my career, but I’ve had the honor to win two writing awards so far and one of those came with the added bonus of meeting and spending time learning from one of my literary heroes, Tim Powers.


  1. Out of all of the jobs you have ever had, what is the strangest or most interesting one that you have held?

Wow. That’s a tough one. I’ve done a lot of jobs that fall into the category of strange, interesting, or both at once. I think one of the ones that falls under ‘both’ would have to be my first ambulance job. I’d just turned 18 and had left college after the first year (I graduated high school at 16) because I decided I wanted to be working in emergency medicine right then rather than wait 8 years to get an MD. In the 1970s we didn’t have paramedics where I lived, even though it was a city of about 200,000 people. The two EMT outfits in town were — let’s say — interesting back then, and I got hired at one with nothing but an advanced first aid card. I started working right away but was put into the next EMT class two nights a week while I worked. So at 18 and with my brand-spankin’ new advanced first aid card, I began working 24-hour ambulance shifts, sleeping in a dorm with the guys. And because new hires started out in the back of the ambulance with the patients and more experienced workers drove (to protect the equipment, I assume), I also jumped straight into patient care. I’d left college but I still got quite an education, and I’ll bet I saw things most 18-year-olds don’t see. A year or so later, I moved to San Diego where I became a paramedic and continued the adventure.


  1. What current writing projects are you working on?


My hope is that my novel “While Gods Sleep” (published 2018) will be the first in a series of stand-alone books based in different mythologies, starting with Greek mythology. The next book (working title “A Stranger Path”) is based on Maya mythology and religion and is already written. Hopefully, I’ll be getting the next book in the series underway soon, and I’m looking into Slavic paganism/myth for inspiration. I also hope at some point to get back to an idea I have for another epic fantasy, but contemporary fantasy holds a strong pull for me right now.


  1. Do you often use your home state of Colorado as a setting for your stories?

I did in my first novel, A Borrowed Hell, but so far that’s been the exception. As my other books have been a secondary-world fantasy (definitely no Colorado locales in that one), one that begins in 1958 Athens before descending into the underworlds, and one that takes place in Guatemala, Colorado hasn’t played a part again yet. That’s a great thing about fantasy, though, it can take you anywhere.



  1. How has your life changed since the release of your debut novel, A Borrowed Hell?


After many years of writing novels, three of my books came out quite close together between December 2016 and September 2018, sort of like an ice dam breaking. But that first book getting published and being well-received was very affirming. It let me know that, yes, I can write things that readers enjoy and I do have the potential to turn this from an activity I pursue in my free-time into the career I hope it will become.


  1. What made you start writing?


Genetics, I suspect. I grew up knowing that my maternal grandfather (a doctor and Church of England minister) won an award for a novel he wrote and that my brother wrote non-fiction. It wasn’t until I was partway through my first novel, though, that I found out my aunt had published two books, my brother secretly wrote fiction as well as non-fiction, and my mother had written stories off and on much of her life (she’s since been published as well). I am, however, the lone speculative fiction writer of the family.


  1. Is there any subject that is off limits for you as a writer?


I feel that the entertainment industry as a whole has the ability to influence the thoughts and actions of certain consumers, especially those young enough to still be finding their moral compass and those of any age whose moral compass is compromised for whatever reason. While A Borrowed Hell deals with neglect and emotional trauma in my protagonist’s past, I can’t see myself ever writing graphic animal or child abuse as a plot device and risking putting a specific idea in someone’s head. I know there are scads of books (and movies, of course) out there that don’t shy away from this, from literary to murder mystery to horror and everything in between, but for me, it’s a line I don’t expect to cross.


  1. What is your best quality as a writer?


My best personal quality as a writer? I think I’d say it’s persistence, something anyone choosing this path needs in plenty. My best quality in my writing? I’ve received nice comments on my worldbuilding in the past, but I like to think that I continually improve all the technical aspects of my storytelling from book to book.


  1. Which person do you most admire?


That’s another tough one to answer. There are people I admire for both their genius and for facing adversity, like Stephen Hawking and Srinivasa Ramanujan; athletes who are so far ahead of the pack that they have few equals in physical ability or courage, like Reinhold Messner and Alex Honnold; and political leaders who work for peace and change. I admire people who dedicate their lives to advocating for animals and young children. I admire pretty much anyone — including people I know personally and who’ll never be publicly recognized — who are kinder or more giving or more talented than I’ll ever be.


  1. If you could pick one other author to collaborate with on a novel or story, living or dead, who would it be?

I’m not a swooner or screamer, but I might do both if I were ever offered an opportunity to collaborate with Neil Gaiman, the author who has most influenced my writing and storytelling.

Movie Review: Glass

My expectations of Glass were sky high since I was a big fan of Unbreakable and Split, the first two movies on this trilogy.  For me, this was a tale of two movies.  The first two thirds of the movie was compelling and filled with tension, accompanied by strong character development.  I enjoyed the build up and was riveted.  Then the movie unravels in the last third of the movie.


The highlight of the movie was James McAvoy.  His not winning or even getting nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Split was the crime of the century.  Perhaps if he was more outspoken in the correct politics favored by Academy voters like inferior actors such as Christian Bale and Leonardo Dicaprio, he would have a closet full of Oscars by now, but I digress.  Anyway, McAvoy was terrific in this movie, rolling in and out of distinct characters as if he truly had a split personality.  He once more deserves an Oscar but will have to play second fiddle to one of the above named inferior actors.  The three lead actors were all excellent in this movie.


Now for the bad.  The secret society/conspiracy in the movie was really weak.  The movie promised this epic finale clash and didn’t deliver.  Not only did it not deliver, but the clash and ending they provided wasn’t remotely satisfying.  The epilogue, if you will, after this finale also didn’t make much sense.  All of that doesn’t sink the movie.  Overall, I would give it a thumbs up, but this movie could have been so much more, so in that sense, it was disappointing.

10 Questions with Jay Caselberg
  1. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?


Hum. That’s difficult. There are so many to choose from, but one for the rest of my life? Finnegan’s Wake probably. Trying to find meanings would probably occupy me unendingly.


  1. Of all of the places you have lived in or visited, what is your favorite place?

At last count I have visited, lived in or worked in 72 countries, and of course countless many more than that if you count cities. Each has particular charms. I am quite comfortable where I live now, in Germany. It offers many advantages, but it’s different living somewhere and visiting it. I am still always drawn back to Sydney. There’s so much beauty there. For sheer awesomeness though, it has to be Angkor Watt. One of these days I’ll go back.


  1. Who is your favorite writer?

So many to choose from, so little time. I don’t have a clear favorite per se. Gene Wolfe is a master craftsman. James Lee Burke for his crime touching on Magic Realism and his sheer descriptive prose and characterization. Very fond of David Mitchell too. Hopefully we’ll see something new from him again soon.


  1. What is your favorite genre to write in?


I don’t have a favorite. The story tends to dictate. I’m a lover of Noir, so a few of my tales have a Noir sensibility. I like crime, so that creeps in. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, they are all there or blendings of them. Generally there’s a dark edge to the fiction, but that’s just what’s in the back of my head.


  1. What current writing projects are you working on?


Any short story or poem that bites me along the way, but right now I have a couple of projects underway. One is a future noir space opera-ish kind of thing. The other is something pretty dark. I’ve realized that quite a few of my tales are ghost stories. Well, this is novel length, and it’s kind of a ghost story, but kind of not.


  1. What made you start writing?


I am not really sure. I read a lot as a kid. We moved around a lot, so many of my relationships growing up were transitory, so books became the constant friends. Maybe I just realized I wanted to do that too. Give that opportunity to people. Later, and this was part of my teaching career as well, it was wanting to be able to play with people’s heads. That’s still there….


  1. What is your best quality as a writer?


I’m maybe not the best judge of that. I am told it’s atmosphere and characterization. I’m not sure any writer can reasonably assess their own work. There’s stories I love that people hate. There’s stories that I think are okay, that people love. It’s also different at novel and short fiction length. But all in all, I’m going to stick with those two.


  1. Which person do you most admire?


That’s really, really difficult to answer. Not sure that I think of people in terms of admiration. I may admire an achievement, or a creation or an act, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to admiration of the person. Does that make me a misanthrope? Maybe.


  1. How do you define success as a writer?




  1. If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional) who would you invite?

Hmm. Interesting. Is it prompted by their characters or their foodiness? Hard to say which. Probably the polymath Einstein (as much for his movie work as for his brain). Marilyn Monroe (as much for her brain as her presence) Franz Kafka (cos you have to have a little weirdness at the table) Xenobia (Gotta love a strong woman) and Hannibal Lecter (because at least he’d appreciate the food and wine)

10 Questions with Martin Shoemaker
  1. Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?


The list is long; but if I have to choose only one, I would choose Jack McDevitt. After years of being so busy with work that I had little time to read for pleasure, A Talent for War rekindled my love for good old science fiction. And book after book, Jack has inspired me. And answered fan mail, inspiring me more.

Plus Jack started his career late in life, making his first sale at age 46. That convinced me that it wasn’t too late for me, leading to my first sale at 48. Jack gave me a cover quote for my novel, and I couldn’t be prouder.


  1. What was it like having lunch with Buzz Aldrin?

Heh. It was intimidating. I honestly didn’t recognize him. Our table at the ISDC luncheon was full of professionals in the space industry. They engaged in a lively debate about the best way to get to space; and there was one gentleman, very opinionated, who received a strange deference from the rest. Even when they clearly disagreed with him, they couched it very politely and carefully.

Then during the salad course, I leaned over my plate at one point to make sure I didn’t spill. I tilted my head sideways, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught his nametag: “Buzz”.

And I can tell you exactly what went through my head at that moment: Don’t drop the fork do NOT drop the fork oh PLEASE DON’T DROP THE FORK!


  1. What current writing projects are you working on?


I have promised Baen a story set in the Today I Am Carey universe for their web site. I’m working on edits for my next novel, tentatively titled Mutiny on the Aldrin Express (coming in September from 47North). And I’m 50,000 words into Ulla: Martian Song Book 1, a revision/sequel to War of the Worlds.



  1. What’s more difficult, writing programming code or writing fiction?


That’s a great question. I’m going to say fiction. With programming, there are rules and tests to help you know when it’s right. With fiction, you just cross your fingers and send it out.

(All right, sometimes it seems like programmers do the same thing…)


  1. Is there an overall theme to your writing?


Every story’s different, of course; but if I have a recurring theme, it’s identity. Who are you, and how do you find your place in life?


  1. What is the genesis of your Blue Collar Space series?


It actually started as a role-playing game campaign. We never played it, but I drew up incredibly detailed maps of the Corporation of Tycho Under, and I wrote a history for it and other Lunar cities. When I sat down to write a story, I “borrowed” that setting. Then I wrote more Tycho Under stories. Then when I started writing other stories in the near future, it was just easier to reuse the same setting and add to it.


  1. What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?


Readers telling me that when they read “Today I Am Paul”, they can feel that I understand them. Especially readers who identify with the character of Susan. When I wrote the story, I feared that I was kind of harsh with Susan; but readers tell me that Susan feels what they feel, and they thank me for understanding.


  1. How do you define success as a writer?


I’m tempted by the flip answer: “I’ll tell you when I get there.” But a more serious answer is what I often advise friends when they’re struggling with their writing careers. I call it the Five Years Ago You theory: if you could go back five years ago and show yourself where you are today, would Five Years Ago You be excited or disappointed? If the answer is “excited”, that’s success.

And that also means that success if a moving target. Five Years Ago Martin is pretty happy with where I am right now; but Today Martin has lots of new goals!


  1. Which person do you most admire?


There’s a doctor I know. For confidentiality reasons, he uses a pseudonym online, so I won’t identify him. He does psychological and medical care for really sick kids. Often terminal cases. He has to care for them and their parents in the worst situations I can imagine. He finds ways to keep their spirits up, to ease their pain, to console their grief. He watches little kids die, and then he goes out and does it again the next day because they need him.

I get tears just thinking about it. He’s stronger than I could ever be. Him and all the caregivers out there who fight battles they cannot win, but who refuse to give up. I admire them, and I’m glad they’re out there.


  1. If you could create a Mount Rushmore of the greatest science fiction authors, which four writers would you choose?


Only four? Grumble, grumble…

Let me start by taking the question very literally, meaning only science fiction authors. That means I’ll leave Tolkien off the list, even though I’ve read Lord of the Rings over twenty times.

First I’ll have to go with Robert A. Heinlein, for more titles than I have time to list here, so I’ll just hit two. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is so revolutionary (pun unintentional). It’s my go-to vision of life on a colony. And “Requiem”, sequel to “The Man Who Sold the Moon”, is a perfect gem of a story.

Second I’ll say Harlan Ellison, who was the finest stylist I’ve ever read. There have been times when I was reluctant to pick up an Ellison book because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down until it was done.

Third I’m going to cheat: Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle in collaboration. Together they’re just about the perfect writer.

And fourth I’m back to Jack McDevitt, for all the reasons I stated earlier.

10 Questions with Lillian Csernica
  1. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?


SNUFF by Sir Terry Pratchett


  1. You describe yourself as a Japanophile? What does that mean to you and what attracts you to Japanese culture?

The paradoxes in Japanese culture intrigue me. On one hand, they celebrate the ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossom. On the other, their educational system is so harsh and competitive that students who fail their exams often commit suicide. What I enjoy most about the history of Japan is its transition from the Tokugawa Shogunate period of martial law to the Industrial Revolution brought about by the Emperor Meiji determined to modernize Japan. This feudal archipelago in the Pacific became a crossroads of strategic interests for the world powers who already foresaw world war looming.


  1. Do you outline prior to writing your story, or do you work out the plot as you write?


It depends on the story. Novels require some thinking to sort out the cast of characters and their motivations. With short stories, I tend to get an idea for a main character or a scene and run with that, then build the rest of the story around it.


  1. What’s the most interesting, little known historical fact you have ever come across?

When the Tokugawa closed Japan to the West, a delegation of samurai on its way back from Spain were locked out of their own country. Some of the samurai ended up in Mexico. There is evidence to suggest that the samurai’s interest in Kabuki may have influenced the designs and colors of masks worn by lucha libre wrestlers.


  1. Is there an overall theme to your writing?


I am fascinated by cultural intersections, both in real life and in fiction. One of the most common points of meeting is the ghost story. Much of my nonfiction reading is about folklore and the supernatural elements found in other cultures.


  1. What made you start writing?


I needed somebody to talk to, so I started writing in an ordinary spiral notebook. I recall doing that as far back as first or second grade. Like many writers, I come from a dysfunctional family, my mother’s second marriage. When other family members were fighting, I was writing, running away from home inside my own head.


  1. What are your favorite things to collect?


Ghost stories. Wind chimes. Bookmarks.


  1. Is there any subject that is off limits for you as a writer?


I’m not sure how to interpret the question. Is there a subject I refuse to write about? Or is there a subject I can’t bring myself to write about? The deaths of children, especially babies, upset me terribly. I lost my first son to miscarriage. I have to limit my exposure to the daily news because the resulting rage and grief is very draining.


  1. What is your best quality as a writer?


I can be relentless about my research. I want to write for my most intelligent reader, the one who will spot it if I get an historical detail wrong. As far as technique, I like to think I’m good at dialogue.


  1. If you could pick one other author to collaborate with on a novel or story, living or dead, who would it be?

Tanith Lee or Seabury Quinn. They know how to put the “weird” in weird tales.

10 Questions with Mark Rossman

1.)  How did you get started as an audiobook narrator?


Several years ago I received an audiobook as a Christmas gift. While working out at the gym one day I decided to pop in my earphones and began listening. After a few minutes I thought to myself “Hey, I can do that!” So, that is when I first caught the itch to narrate audiobooks. The more I looked into producing audiobooks the more seriously interested I became.

Since then I have produced and narrated over 80 audiobooks in various genres, most of them can still be found on Audible and Amazon.

Actually, I have been active as a voice artist for a long time. I began by working for various radio stations while in college and producing commercials or voice ads as a freelancer for advertising agencies. I have also narrated numerous documentaries for a number of outlets, including the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, TLC, The History Channel and several others.

Audiobooks were an entirely new challenge for me. It was an avenue I had yet to venture into and I was anxious to give it go. Depending on the type of book, producing and narrating an audiobook though can be extremely time consuming and can get very involved. To be good at it you have to genuinely enjoy doing it, be devoted to the project and of course, it helps if you actually enjoy the book you are narrating.


2.) Is there any genre of fiction that you prefer narrating?

I enjoy narrating most all genres, both fiction and non-fiction. But if I had to choose one genre of fiction in particular, I would have to say I love telling ghost stories. I love the mysterious, the paranormal and the incomprehensible. That was what made “Battle of the Soul” such an enjoyable book to narrate. It was a book I probably would have read on my own anyway.

Since my voice sometimes comes across as being deep and dark I often get asked to do various voices for video games. And I almost always end up playing some dastardly bad guy, evil villain or gruesome monster type of character.

With audiobooks I always seem to struggle with the question: would the listener prefer the book to be read straight, absent of any hint of drama or interpretation?  Or would the listener rather enjoy hearing the elocution of a professional voice talent with all the little nuances and acting that entails? That is one of the first questions I try to answer before delving into the production of an audiobook.

That being said, with Carl’s “Battle of the Soul” I was able to make up my mind rather quickly. After reading through the first few chapters I knew right away how I was going to tackle the narration. “Battle of the Soul” was literally screaming for the drama and I could easily visualize the characters up to that point. But I also knew it was going to be a major challenge to carry it through to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed telling that story because it was so well written. It is a great story, with great characters, antagonists and protagonists. It is also full of compassion for the fellow man (or woman), which makes you as the listener feel good. I just didn’t want to screw it up. But I digress…


3.) What current projects are you working on?


At the moment I am working on the narration for another audiobook about the Kennedy family entitled “The Kennedy Curse: Shattered” written by Les Williams. The book is non-fiction which requires more straight reading rather than the previously described drama. It is about the various members of the Kennedy clan and the tragedies that befell them. It also delves into the conspiracies surrounding some of those tragedies.


Some people believe the bad fortune the Kennedy family endured was due to a curse. At one time Bobby Kennedy even said: “Somebody up there doesn’t like us.“ 

This particular book about the Kennedys, and there have been many, sets out to disprove ’the curse’ theory and shows us that Joseph Kennedy was, in many ways, the architect of his own terrible suffering. The book portrays the Kennedys as a troubled and dysfunctional family with a distorted view of the world and their place in it. It is full of interesting insights that are thoroughly researched and also very well written. The audiobook is due out in March 2019.

So much for the plug…


Aside from that audiobook I recently finished an image video project for Birkenstock – the nature loving shoemaker – which should go online soon. I also do a lot of narrating and voice work for the German auto industry on a fairly regular basis. New and equally interesting projects tend to pop up nearly every day.

So, you could say, the studio is almost like a second home to me. I spend a lot of time breathing that stale air in that soundproof recording booth.


4.)  Which person do I most admire?

That is a tough question to answer and I spent a lot of time thinking about this one. First, I must say, I admire many different people for many different reasons. But if I had to choose one present-day living individual – and I may be sticking my neck out here a little – I would have to say Vladimir Putin. Here’s why.

Despite all the demonization, vilification and threats that have been thrown at Putin and Russia over the past few years and all the unverified accusations he has been confronted with, Vladimir Putin has maintained a very cool head. Putin’s humanity and self-control, has maintained peace despite the aggression and provocative actions against Russia coming from the West. In my view that’s admirable. Vladimir Putin has accepted insults that in the past would have resulted in all-out war. That is the sign of a true leader.

Whether we like it or not Russia is a major world power and needs to be regarded and respected as such. Whatever happened to diplomacy?

I admire Putin for keeping his cool and for not losing it while under tremendous pressure and attempting to resolve issues rather than escalate them.

My grandfather once told me “if you can keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, you are a much better person.” If I am not mistaken, I believe my grandfather was actually attempting to quote George Bernard Shaw with that statement.

Let us all just remain cool. Remember there is no winner in a nuclear war.


5.) What is the most challenging type of accent to master?


I personally do not have too much difficulty picking up or copying a particular accent if I actually take the time to seriously study and practice it. To be honest though, I am not sure I have actually mastered any of them. Of course, some accents do come much easier than others and I can’t really explain why that is. For me I think it may be because I have travelled a lot and have been exposed to so many different regions, cultures, languages and peoples. In other words, I’ve been lucky to be able to pick up some accents and dialects through osmosis, if you will.

Each voice artist develops his/her own method of acquiring accents. My method is quite simple: I listen to them intently over and over and over, usually one or two sentences at a time until I feel comfortable with my own rendition of the same sentence(s).

But to get back to the original question, I find trying to do a good British accent is the most challenging simply because even though English is my mother tongue I am simply not British and there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of different British accents and dialects.

If I went into a pub in say Manchester in the UK and started using my fake British accent it would stick out like a very spoilt pint of lager and I would probably get laughed at out into the street. “You bloody well got that right, mate!”


6.)  What advice do you have for beginners in voice narration?

Understand what you are narrating and if you don’t understand it, then at least act like you do. If you don’t understand what you are reading then chances are those listening won’t understand it either.

The point I am trying to make here is ‘do your homework.’ Become familiar with the topic and practice reading it out loud to your self. Read it in front of a mirror over and over again or into a recording device and play it back and listen to it. Find things you can improve upon. Practice by toying with the different ways you can say things and find the one way that works best for you.

Anyone can read out loud, but not everyone can narrate. Like anything it takes time and practice. You have to really want it, desire it more than anything else and learn to trust your natural instincts when telling a story. Never talk down to people. Fine-tune and hone your communication skills by simply talking the story, talking as you would with people you know, like you are telling it to a friend or neighbor.

One of the biggest challenges in narration is trying to figure out what the author is looking for in a particular character or trying to capture the overall feeling for his/her work as a whole, in other words interpreting the text the way the author originally intended. That is sometimes a mystery and real guesswork. But it is also a big part of the overall challenge of narrating, especially audiobooks of fiction.


7.)  How did you wind up living in Germany?

The simple answer is…it just kinda worked out that way. I just sort of got stuck here. But that of course requires a bit more explanation.

I first became exposed to Germany, and Europe, as an impressionable 16-year-old exchange student when I spent a year living with a German family near the city of Cologne. Originally from Portland, Oregon and having spent most of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest I soon found myself in an exciting, but foreign place far away from home. But the experience of a year abroad turned out to be a life-altering eye-opener for me.

While at school I had developed a keen interest in world history and international affairs and had an insatiable appetite for learning more about it. Essentially I fell in love with Europe and at the time it seemed like the ideal place to be. Every nook and cranny in Europe was just oozing with history.

After my first year abroad came to an end I knew I wanted to return to Europe at some point. In fact, I did return several times, mostly as a backpacking student tourist. Then upon graduating from Washington State University with a degree in communications and journalism I applied for and received a grant to study in Germany for another year, which I did. This led to a number of great opportunities, one being in the field of international broadcasting.

To cut a long story short, I became a director and correspondent for an award winning European TV news magazine program (European Journal) that aired all over the English-speaking world, including on PBS for several years. During that time I also met a German girl who eventually became my wife. Our son is now an English and PE teacher at a German middle school.

Being where I was at that stage of my life everything just sort of happened the way it happened. I never planned it that way.


8.) What type of voice work do you find most enjoyable?


For me the most enjoyable voice work is being able to tell a story from beginning to end. The length doesn’t really matter. It can be in the form of a 30 second spot, 1-2 minute long image film or a 90-minute documentary. To me it is the art of story telling that I enjoy, grabbing the attention of the listener and not letting go until the end.

Even though I truly relish narrating audiobooks and documentaries I will narrate virtually anything at any length as long as it comes with a genuine storyline, essentially anything with a beginning, middle, and an end. To me narrating – telling a story and getting paid for it – is my personal dream job.


9.) What do you see for the future of audiobooks?


Wherever I go I see a lot of people moving about with headphones, with listening devices of some kind and earplugs stuffed in their ears. I view that as a very good sign for the audiobook industry. It is an industry that has shown incredible steady growth over the past several years and the trend seems to be continuing. I recently read that audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in the digital publishing industry and the United States continues to be the biggest market for the audio format. There is also a big youth movement when it comes to audiobooks and nearly 50% of all listeners are under 35.


That being said I often get the feeling that people don’t read anymore. Maybe this is due to the time factor involved here. Everyone has busy lives and no time to read. We are always on the go and multi-tasking has become a way of life. Why read it when an audio version is available? You can consume the same content while driving, walking the dog or working out at the gym.

I often get asked to lend my voice to material that is not traditionally suited for a voice artist. For instance, on numerous occasions I’ve been asked to record my voice to user’s guides and user’s manuals for assembling a piece of furniture, a home appliance or some newfangled gadget. That is what made me stop and think: “Don’t people read anymore?” That would have been unthinkable years ago. Nowadays following instructions read to you by a canned voice is not so uncommon.

So, I see that as a very good sign for the future of audiobooks, even if it is only a handbook or a user’s manual.


10.) If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional) who would they be?


1-Mark Twain, aka Samual L Clemens, American author, humorist and social observer. I love his perceptively sharp wit and keen eye for the obvious. I oftentimes even quote him when appropriate.

Here are two of my Mark Twain favorites:

‘Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.’


‘It is easier to fool the masses then it is to convince the masses they have been fooled.’

2-Peter Ustinov – writer, actor, director, raconteur and multi-talented voice artist. I worked with him briefly many years ago on a production for PBS commemorating German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. I was most impressed by his unique cultural versatility. He spoke 6 languages fluently – English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Russian – and he was proficient in accents and dialects in all of them. He was amazingly gifted and a true gentleman.

3-Walter Cronkite – a journalist, broadcaster and TV news anchor of the Edward R. Murrow genre who became the voice of truth for America. A TV journalist you could trust and always look up to and one who never talked down to you – an honest down-to-earth communicator. He is dearly missed in the mainstream media of today.

4-Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. He has written several books and internet columns which have attracted a worldwide following. He is known for his candor and integrity, a good citizen who truly loves his country.

5-Hugh Hefner – He is an amazing publisher whom I simply admire for his accomplishments. There is perhaps a smidgeon of envy mixed in there as well. What red-blooded testosterone-driven male wouldn’t envy his accomplishments? He founded his famous magazine for men with $600,- in 1953 and built it into a multi-million dollar entertainment empire. Actually, I would invite him to dinner just to see if he arrived in his pajamas… and to count – and ogle – the bunnies clinging to them.


Note: The invitations are in no particular order. Naturally, there are quite a few other individuals I could have easily added to that dinner guest list but I will have to save that for another occasion.

10 Questions with Carson Buckingham
  1. Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?

I guess that would depend upon which genre we’re talking about.  For my humor writing, definitely Mark Twain.  His Sketches New and Old are the most hilarious pieces of writing I have ever read.


For the children’s books I write, it would have to be P.L. Travers, Roald Dahl, A.A. Milne, J.M. Barrie, and Astrid Lingren.


Though I am primarily known as a horror writer, I hate to categorize my work as such; mainly because when most people think of horror they think of blood, gut and veins in the teeth kind of writing, and what I do is fairly far removed from that.  Not that gore doesn’t have a place, it certainly does—but not so much for me or my audience.  I write paranormal suspense, which is a bit more psychologically-based and thus somewhat more subtle. At any rate, biggest influences for me would have to be: Shirley Jackson—The Haunting of Hill House is a masterpiece; Bentley Little—our writing styles are similar; and Charles L. Grant.  But the writer from whom I learned effective character development was not a horror author at all—Maeve Binchey.  Read a book or two of hers and you’ll see what I mean.



  1. What do you prefer to write: novels, novellas, or short stories?


It’s sort of comparing apples and oranges and bananas.  I enjoy writing all of the above—and whether the piece turns out to be a short story, a novella, or a novel just depends upon how long it takes to tell the story I have in mind.  I never really know for sure when I begin.  All I know at the start is how I want the story to end, and I write to that.


  1. Who is your favorite writer?


Only one?  Here, in no particular order, is the list: Ray Bradbury, Michael McDowell, Terry Pratchett, Susan Hill, Sarah Blake, Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, Matthew Costello, T.M. Wright, Anne Rule, John Irving, Melissa Marr, Edgar Allan Poe, Dan Simmons, Michael Crichton, early Dean Koontz, early Stephen King, as well as the other authors I’ve previously mentioned.


  1. When did you first decide you wanted to become a writer?

When I read Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. If I were to aspire to write exactly like someone else, it would be Mr. Bradbury.  While reading his work, I will frequently come across a sentence or an entire paragraph that I will reread or read aloud, just to savor the beauty of the language he’s used.  He was such a maestro with words that they can absolutely break your heart sometimes—a consummation devoutly to be wished.


  1. What current writing projects are you working on?


I am finishing up my fourth novel.  I was stuck for a while, because I realized that the ending I had originally envisioned for it would not work—but now I’ve figured out how to fix it.  The working title is The Traveler and it is a paranormal suspense novel about evil and redemption.


  1. What type of scenes do you most enjoy writing?


Anything with dialog.  My work tends to be dialog-heavy, as I prefer to get my    point across with a conversation rather than laboriously spelling things out in     narrative.  This makes my work very streamlined and probably faster to read.


  1. What made you start writing?


I knew from childhood that I wanted to be a writer, and began, at age six, by writing books of my own, hand-drawing covers, and selling them to any family member who would pay (usually a gum ball) for what I referred to as “classic literature.”  When I ran out of relatives, I came to the conclusion that there was no real money to be made in self-publishing, so I studied writing and read voraciously for the next eighteen years, while simultaneously collecting enough rejection slips to re-paper my living room…twice.  When my landlord chucked me out for, in his words, “making the apartment into one hell of a downer,” I redoubled my efforts, and collected four times the rejection slips in half the time, single-handedly causing the first paper shortage in U.S. history. But I persevered, improved greatly over the years, and here we are.


  1. How do you define horror?


Horror is the aftermath of terror.


  1. Is there any subject that is off limits for you as a writer?


Extreme gore.


  1. If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional)

who would you invite?


Real people:

Nikola Tesla – a brilliant man who is one of my heroes.

Albert Einstein – another brilliant fellow who, when asked how it felt to be the    smartest man in the world, replied, “I don’t know—you’d have to ask Mr.     Tesla.” Einstein is another hero of mine.

Mark Twain – He’d be the life of the party.

Leonardo da Vinci – another genius who I suspect had a great sense of humor.

Earle W. Munson – my father, who has been dead since 1991 and whom I sorely miss to this day.


Fictional people:

Severus Snape (Harry Potter)—would love to learn to make potions

Dracula (Dracula by Bram Stoker)—so long-lived that he would be interesting to talk to from the historical standpoint.

Death (from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series) Again, long-“lived” and interesting.

Dr. Fingal O’Reilly  (Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series) A curmudgeonly physician who I would love to chat with about the world of medicine.

Owen Meany (A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving)  Read the book and you’ll understand why Owen would be most worthwhile to meet.