La legado vivo! With Lysabella Barrett!

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Ryan Lieske: Thank you for doing this interview! Why don’t we start by having you introduce yourself to the readers.

Lysabella Barrett: Hello! My name is Lysabella Barrett and I am an author and artist from Chattanooga, TN. I have been a writer all my life, but I have only recently begun to publish my work and cultivate my career, and I am always interested in finding new ways to share my creativity with people. I primarily write paranormal fiction, but I also like to write about travel and theological ideals. You can check out what I do at my main website, and if you sign up for email I’ll gift you two free chapters of my first book, Stricken, or swing by and say “hello” at my new author page on FacebookIt’s new and needs some traffic, lol!

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RL: What is the first book you remember reading, or having read to you? 

LB: I would have to say my very first favorite book was Mystery in the Night Woods, by John Peterson. My mother used to read it to me and animate it with her voice. I loved it!

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But I have always loved to read. I started reading mythological tales at a very early age and I was hooked from there!

RL: I was exposed to Greek mythology at a young age, as well, after my dad took me to see Clash of the Titans in 1981. After seeing that, I became obsessed! Especially with Medusa. What were your favorite mythological tales? 

LB: I love Medusa too, she’s a badass! Her story is actually part of a larger tale of Perseus, one of Zeus’s many illegitimate sons, called The Gorgon’s Head and it is one of my favorite tales. I actually have an old paperback version of just that tale. It was also the basis for Clash of the Titans.

RL: I used get kids on the bus to help me act out the scene where Perseus kills her. And a neighbor friend let me borrow this life-size Barbie head she had, and I taped paper snakes to it—I think I was trying to stage a production of that scene for all the neighbors, or something. I was always trying to stage plays as a kid.

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Parents are all like, “Oh, but books and movies nowadays are so violent and gory. We must protect the children.” Meanwhile, Greek mythology’s all like, “Pshh!

LB: I also love the tale of Ares bedding down with Aphrodite and getting caught in a trap set by her husband Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the Gods. Turns out, the other Gods envied Ares’ conquest so much they didn’t punish him for it. I actually love all mythology. These tales are Greek of course, but there are equally great Egyptian, Hindu, and Norse tales as well as many others including the Myan, Incan, and on and on. When it comes to Norse myths Thor has always been my favorite, even before Stan Lee got a hold of him, and now I love Chris Hemsworth just as much, lol! Myths were written to teach—legends are lessons, you know? I love the moral implications, the supernatural creatures, the magic. It’s powerful stuff no matter which culture it comes from and it gives us a deeper connection to humanity. I’m pretty passionate about mythology, I could go on and on for days, so I’ll stop here, lol!

RL: What are the books that sealed your fate as a lifelong reader?

LB: The Man, Myth, & Magic Series edited by Richard Cavendish, The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, and Star Wars by, of course, George Lucas. See a theme here, hmmm? I have always followed a more archaeological trail of reading. From the beginning I always loved folklore, mythology, theology, and supernatural tales the best. Enough to where I made a full study of it in college. But these three books have remained at the peak of my top ten all-time favorites list since the moment I first cracked their covers.

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Lysabella’s bookshelf.

RL: I had the Star Wars novel, too, as a kid. It was the first movie I ever saw in a theater, back in 1977. So I just gave away my vintage. Did you see the movie first, or read the book first? Lucas truly did deliver a new mythology to pop culture, with strong roots in traditional mythology. Do you feel there’s been any series since that has done that the way Star Wars did in the 1970s?

LB: I saw the movie first too, so your vintage is safe with me, lol! I believe the Marvel Universe is coming very close, and of course all the Tolkien stories and Harry Potter. But I don’t think anything will ever impact popular culture or the human psyche quite the way that Star Wars did. It still enchants people even now, new audiences and old, with the same powerful fervor. It just has that legendary mythological element to it that other things can’t seem to match.

RL: I definitely think that the Harry Potter universe is pretty close to having the same impact on Millenials as Star Wars did for Gen-x. The other two you mention were, for the most part, around before Star Wars. But Potter came out of nowhere and entranced the whole world, children and adults alike. I’m sure there are those out there for whom Potter had even more of an impact than Star Wars. Yes, one could argue that without Star Wars there might not be a Harry Potter. Then again, without Flash Gordon, Joseph Campbell, and Kurosawa movies, there might not be a Star Wars. However, in terms of global and cultural impact, Potter is, in my opinion, right up there with Star Wars.

LB: While I still feel Star Wars is ranked number one among its contemporaries, I do think Harry Potter comes closer than any other at rivaling it. I personally enjoyed all the books and movies and have really enjoyed all the merchandise that rolled out from that franchise almost as much as I did the Star Wars line. Don’t get me started on the Bertie Botts Jelly Beans! Me and my girls love them and we are constantly pranking our friends and family with them, lol! But for me, Star Wars is timeless and will always remain so. I guess I’m just a die-hard fan!

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If you’ve never tried them, trust me when I say the “dirt” one tastes exactly like a clump of dirt. You’ll be spitting the taste out of your mouth for hours. Blech.

RL: A lot of people tell me that, even if they were a voracious reader as a child, it was their middle-school and high-school years that had the most impact on the reader they are today. Would you say this is true for you?

LB: Since I have always been an avid reader and book lover, it is hard to say that applies to me 100%. Though this would be where the Star Wars trilogy came into play for me and many other Sci-Fi influences. I am as much of a movie fan as I am a book fan and I had paperback copies of all my favorite movies: The Lost Boys, Indiana Jones, Cujo, Blade Runner, Cat People, Wolfen, and more—and all were read more than once. I still have them all too, preserved in all their well-read glory!

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I wonder if this guy’s backstory is told in the “Lost Boys” novelization? If anybody deserves to have their story told, it’s this dude.

RL: Likewise. Movies are every bit as vital to my bloodstream as books. Also, I collect movie novelizations. Sometimes they’re quite fun to read, as a lot of them are written based on the screenplay, before the movie finishes production, so there are scenes in the books that aren’t in the films. The Goonies and Videodrome are two examples I always cite when asked why I read novelizations. Then there are the dull ones, that are pretty much just the screenplay reformatted as fiction, without any attempt to make it stand on its own as a novel. Scanners, I’m looking at you!

LB: Me too, me too! Like minds, it’s a very cool thing, right? I’m also a big geek for soundtracks. I have some really old ones like Raiders of the Lost Ark on vinyl! I used to read the novelization and listen to it on my turntable, lol! The Goonies is big, big favorite. Videodrome is a super cool movie, though I haven’t read that one or Scanners, love the movie though. I’m also prone to binge-watching Supernatural episodes back to back on rainy days, but I haven’t found the time to read any of the books. I think I’m a little afraid it might ruin Sam and Dean for me, lol! 

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RL: Not too get too far off topic, but I also collect film scores on CD and vinyl. I have the Raiders, as well. When I was kid, though, mine was E.T. I would listen to the score while reading the picture book of the movie I’d gotten from a school book order. I don’t really like noise around me when I read now, but I always write to music, particularly film scores. 

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Had this as a kid, but it’s been lost to sands of time…

LB: Oh, I love E.T.! Yeah, that is a good one, but then anything by the John Williams orchestra gets me where I live. I have one of the anniversary editions of the E.T. DVD and it includes a copy of the movie playing above a live orchestra pit where John Williams is conducting the score in real time with the film—it’s awesome! I also love any soundtrack that includes any of these composers: Giorgio Moroder, Henry Mancini, and of course, Vince Guaraldi. I listen to music a lot too when I write. Most of the time it’s hard rock, punk, etc., I’m a bit of a metal-head, but it depends what I’m writing about. Some days African Tribal Music or Sci-Fi Themes are all I need to inspire a clear vision in my head. 

RL: Oh, man, I loves me some Moroder. I need to stop before I derail this interview. Haha. Let’s get back to books. Speaking of this time period, were you one of those kids who went rogue from the curriculum and read whatever you wanted, sometimes even ignoring what was assigned to read altogether? 

LB: Oh, hell, yes. I was never one to follow orders. I was an adventurer, a leader, and a rebel, all the way!

RL: Yes, rebels unite! What were some of the books you read while you were supposed to be reading others? Anything in particular that left a lasting impact on you? For instance, I put off two different books reports so I could read Clive Baker’s Books of Blood. I’m not sorry. They obviously had a huge impact on me, and I can’t even remember what the books were I was supposed to be reading.

LB: Yes! I’m all for rebel unity! Sometimes stepping off the path is more influential to your personal and creative growth, you know? I almost always had a new Stephen King book on me in school for when things got dull. King was a staple in my reading and movie library, always. Oh gosh, like you I can’t remember a lot of what I was supposed to read, but there was one significant incident where I was assigned to read Little Women, which I just could not get into at all. This was probably ninth or tenth grade. We were supposed to do a report on it at the end of the semester, but I did mine on Vlad the Impaler instead. You know, the real-life Dracula? Hahaha! That was well-received—not! But did I care? That’s a big nope! I love that kind of history. Vlad Tepes is one of my favorite research topics even now. Specifically, the details of his war against the Ottoman Empire which a lot of the modern folklore and Stoker’s writing was based on. Little Women, though I have respect for it, could never have imbued that kind of long lasting impact on my personal evolution both as a creator and a scholar.

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No offense, Ms. Alcott, but you can’t compete with The Impaler.

RL: Reading is inherently a solitary activity, so did your reading life ever supersede or cause conflict with your social life growing up? Were you more apt to hide out in the library at school, or stay home on a Saturday night to read a book?

LB: Staying home with a good book was common for me but never a problem. I would even entertain my friends by reading to them—they loved me enough to enjoy it with me, lol! I also read to my pets, still do.

RL: In my group of friends, I was Gordie from Stand By Me. I got asked to tell stories all the time. However, I quickly realized I was terrible at ad-libbing stories. But if I could write them down? That was where I got ’em. So I took to pitching and teasing my stories to my friends, so that by the time I finished writing it, they were anxious as hell to read them. That was certainly good encouragement to keep pursuing my ambitions to be the next Stephen King or Clive Barker. Took me awhile, but at 42 I finally got there! (Thank you, Burning Willow Press.) I’ve been known to read parts of whatever I’m working on—screenplay or novel—to my cats. They aren’t very good beta readers.

LB: Oh man, we are so alike! I love Stand by Me and I read to my pets too, hahaha! I’ve also always been better at writing my stuff down. Winging it just doesn’t usually work for me. However, me and my daughters play a lot of Mad Libs and these are no-holds-barred, wit-on-wit, skills tested, midnight marathons usually, so believe it or not my instant story-telling has improved thanks to that, lol! I’m also pretty quick at goofy shit, like making up some b.s. tall tale to freak strangers out when I’m sitting in waiting rooms or in line at the grocery store. That’s always fun, it’s just Mad Libs expanded edition, lol!

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RL: I have a funny story about Mad Libs, that’s sort of Stand By Me-esque. When I was about 15, some friends of mine and I built a tree house deep in the woods behind our school. One of us brought a Mad Libs book, and another one of us brought a Penthouse Letters magazine they had stolen from an older brother. We would sit around in the tree house playing Mad Libs, but we could only use words we got out of the Penthouse. I won’t repeat any of our “work” here, but you can be damn sure I’m putting that in a book someday!

LB: OMG! I’m sure those are priceless! I am down for a copy of that book if you ever write it, hahaha! We have a few similarly censored versions as well. Not quite Penthouse Forum raunchy, but as my daughters got a little older the dialogue got a lot looser and subsequently we would just blurt out any verb, adjective, or noun that popped in our heads and sounded funny. A lot of times that meant exceedingly inappropriate content that only we could read, lol!

RL: And then comes college. What new books, literary styles, or genres were you exposed to in college? 

LB: Actually, a lot of the books I read in college were already on my playlist, ya know? In fact, there were a few required reads I already owned, like Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Homer’s Odyssey. If that makes me a nerd that’s fine, nerds are all the rage these days!

RL: Talk to me about your early book store experiences.

LB: Libraries were more within reach for me than book stores. Even in grade school, I loved them—and don’t forget the book fairs, those were awesome! I still go to those with my daughters. The greatest library, and the one I spent the most time haunting, was an actual haunted library in Cleveland, TN. It has been converted into law offices now, otherwise, yes, I would definitely still make the trip to visit it. As for book stores, I do love those to. Especially the ones hidden and kind of off the grid. You can find some great things in those!

RL: Did you find, as you grew older, that the books of your youth began to mean less to you? Or do you still enjoy all the types of books you’ve been exposed to throughout your life? Are there certain authors, genres, or books that make you cringe remembering how you used to love them?

LB: None that make me cringe. I still have great love for all my favorite books and love to share them with others—no shame at all. I often go back and re-read my old faves. There are probably a couple that would not be considered all that popular by some, but I don’t care.

RL: Which ones do you say would be considered unpopular, and why?

LB: Mostly the geeky stuff, like The Bunjee Venture by Stan McMurty (I’m a big kid at heart!), or my beloved old paranormal history books I got from library sales on the Loch Ness Monster or the Bermuda Triangle. Even some of my movie novels have been brought under scrutiny before, like The Amityville Horror and Cat People. I think just because they are not the mainstream norm, or because they’re old and outdated. To me they are classic favorites.

RL: How has your reading life survived adulthood? Careers, families, etc. can take a toll on one’s free time, and I talk to a lot of people now who “wish they had more time to read, but can never find the time.” Is this a problem you face? How do you work reading time into your life now?

LB: I read anytime I have the time. I believe the way to be a better writer is to read more. I also feel that all of us read more than we realize. Magazines in waiting rooms, cookbooks, Facebook, Kindles and I-phones, all provide reading that most of us are unaware we are even doing. But sitting down to read the Sunday paper, a novel, or comic books, is a great luxury we all should enjoy. Read to your kids (or your pets), in the tub, before bed, on a rainy day—if you really look, you can find the time.

RL: I concur, 100%. What types of books are you mostly drawn to now?

LB: I’m a true bibliophile. I can be just as entertained by an encyclopedia as I am a graphic novel, so I really enjoy philosophical or literary staples that broaden the scope of the mind and raise intuitive and cognitive awareness, and I have always loved a good ghost story. But I would have to say my current addictions are paranormal or supernatural tales and sci-fi—love them, can’t read enough of them!

RL: What supernatural, paranormal, and SF books have you read recently that you really liked?

LB: The newest thing I am reading is my author’s copy of Crossroads in the Dark II, by none other than Burning Willow Press! It’s amazing. There is truly some undiscovered talent in that collection and I am thoroughly enjoying it!

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RL: I have the two CRITD anthologies, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet. Definitely looking forward to it. I have a story in the next edition which I’m pretty excited about!

LB: I have also recently gone back and started re-reading some classics that have collected a little dust, one at a time, of course! In particular, The Book of Were-Wolves by Sabine Baring-Gould, The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I also have the best of Poe on Audible so I can listen to it in the car between the constant stream of hard rock and heavy metal that keeps my spirit aligned.J These types of stories are some of my favorites to read in between writing. They inspire me. There are others, but these are on my most-popular list right now mainly because they keep my head in the right atmosphere for the stories I’m currently working on.

RL: How do you share your love of books with others?

LB: I am a member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild, but I have hard time making it to meetings and events because my schedule is so overloaded at present. But I would like to join more book and writer’s clubs and do more with that. I have a handful of close friends who love books like I do, so we often share and recommend new finds to one another. If I get really excited about a book I will shout it out from the hilltops—or post it on social media, whichever comes first, lol! As far as gifting books, I prefer to buy blank books and journals for the people I love.

RL: I’m one of those people who reads several books at a time. I’ve been called a “reading polygamist.” Are you? Or are you pretty monogamous when it comes to reading?

LB: I like to be engulfed in the environment of the story, totally immersed in the world the author created. So, no, I usually go one book at a time. I feel the only real way to become a part of the story you are reading is to hunker down and tune out any other outside influences. I will read an entire series back-to-back-to-back though, and sometimes read them over again, and if I’m really psyched about them – read them one more time!

RL: It can occasionally feel a bit schizophrenic. I’ll be reading a book and thinking, “Where the hell did the Space Fish go? And I thought there was a guy trying to assassinate Bob Marley?” Strangest thing that ever happened to me was that somehow I managed to end up reading two books at the same time that featured characters with vestigial tails—Geek Love by Katherine Dunn and Pig Island by Mo Hayder, if anyone is interested. I haven’t had synchronicity like that since. But I’m adept at separating all the books I’m reading. 

LB: Hahaha! As long as you’ve got a system that works, that’s all that counts. You could combine some of those screwy things into one ripping tale though. You should try it, I’d buy a copy, lol! I can switch back and forth between my own writing, but for reading, I like to be engulfed.

RL: Ha! I’ll think about it. Could make for a cool version of Cards Against Humanity. Now, I’m not a big fan of the term “guilty pleasure.” However, for want of a better term, what are your literary guilty pleasures? 

LB: Dogman stories, lol! I absolutely love them! There are so many of these online and on YouTube they never run dry and find them utterly addictive! Hahaha! I guess I like them for both the paranormal aspect and the scientific possibility of them. I believe in the possibility of anything and I truly believe a lot of things exist just because we believe in them. All myths and folkloric legends are based in fact, after all. It fascinates me, I love that there are still so many undiscovered things in this world.

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I live in Michigan, and I’ve never seen this dude. But if I do, you’ll be the first to know! 😉

RL: Mine are Robin Cook and John Saul. I’m not ashamed. 

LB: I get those. I like Coma by Cook, Saul is major long-running bestseller, no shame there at all! My Dogman stories are mostly encounter stories, but as for authors, mine would be Whitley Strieber. Poor man has lost his mind, but I love The Wolfen and Communionboth the books and the movies are among my oldest faves. 

RL: I’m glad somebody finally brought up Whitley Strieber! I’m a big fan of his. I’ve been wanting to discuss Communion. That book had a huge impact on me when I read it at 16. It was probably the first book I read that made me question a lot of what I had been raised to believe, mainly in terms of religion. Now, I obviously don’t know Mr. Strieber, and I wasn’t there, so I can’t vouch for the veracity of his claims. However, after reading all the books in that series, I’m definitely convinced something preternatural happened to him. I take it you don’t feel the same way? I’m interested to know your thoughts on that. 

LB: Actually, I do believe his claims. Communion is an amazing book for reasons above the writing. I think the content is a fascinating account of extraterrestrial contact and from a scientific perspective it deserves more acclaim than it received and should probably be considered an historical record. It is clear something, as you said, preternatural happened to the man. I love his writing. I must have read The Wolfen, which Strieber was writing when the events of Communion happened to him, half a dozen times and it still creeps me out! I only say the poor man has lost his mind because of his demeanor in his podcasts. I think because of what happened to him, and rightfully so, he has an altered perspective of reality. I think it damaged him. Have you ever listened to his podcasts? They are called Whitley Strieber’s Dreamland and they are interesting to say the least, but he doesn’t sound credible or sound anymore.

RL: I am familiar with his podcast and website—I’m also a nut for Coast to Coast, if that tells you anything. I haven’t listened to any of Strieber’s recent podcasts. I can only imagine, though, what experiences like his would do to someone’s mind. I mean, hell, my mind is always a bit screwy when I read those books, because he recounts the experiences so damn well. He says his experiences with the “visitors” influenced his work before he was even aware of them. You can definitely see it when you read those pre-Communion novels. I recently re-read The Night Church, and I could really feel it in parts of that book. I actually asked him about it on Facebook at the time. Can’t remember what he said, other than confirming that yes, looking back, the books was influenced by them. Every once in awhile, out of the blue, he comments on my posts. Which always geeks me out. I had to have some minor surgery a couple of years ago, and right before the anesthesia hit me and everything went dark, I was thinking about how when I woke up later in recovery it would feel like “lost time.” Which of course started me thinking about Communion. And while I was out, I kid you not, I dreamed that Whitley Strieber and I were hunting vampire cows. I posted about this experience on Facebook later that day, and tagged him, and he was amused. I would love to interview him for this series, but I haven’t worked up the nerve to ask him yet.

LB: Oooo, I totally forgot about The Night Church! I’ll have to buy that one and read it again, it’s been years, and let’s not overlook, The Hunger, which is another of Strieber’s bests. I should have known you would be a Strieber fan based on the fact we have so many other things in common. I don’t know, I may be judging his current mindset a bit too harshly, I just feel as the years have rolled by and the more his life was consumed by alien encounters, the more it affected his writing and his demeanor. As a writer he has such a unique vision, but as an abductee, his imagination seems to have been somewhat hijacked. Does that make any sense? As I said before though, it’s understandable. Who wouldn’t be altered mentally after something like that? It would change your entire view of everything you thought you ever knew. I truly do love the man’s writing, The Hunger is one of the best vampire tales of our generation. I think he is a truly fascinating individual, all kidding aside, and how cool is it that you talk to him on FB?? You must interview him for this series—you absolutely must! I am certain he would be down with it.

 

 

RL: I will definitely reach out to him soon.  I would love to know about his Reading Life, and what books shaped him throughout his life. Fascinating man, and writer. One of my heroes. 

LB: The real shame is that there are other accounts of abduction that get a lot more reverence than Whitley’s story does. Travis Walton’s story, Fire in the Sky (The Walton Experience), for instance, was equally as powerful and frightening and true, but Whitley was made fun of and termed “abductee-zero” for making the term “probing” popular, while Walton’s story is considered one of the most pivotal accounts of extraterrestrial abduction in recorded history, and that is a shame because I do feel Strieber deserves more respect than that.

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I personally believe in the possibility of anything, that’s my motto. Not that I believe everything I hear or read but I have myself experienced the paranormal and the otherworldly and while I have never been abducted or possessed or anything that invasive, I have had some powerful experiences that cannot be explained by contemporary means or readily dismissed. As for religion, I feel ya! I have spent a lot of my life investigating world religions, cults, creation myths, and that type of history. It goes hand-in-hand when studying the origins of myth and folklore in fact, it’s impossible not to explore one without researching and investigating the other. So, let’s just say I learned enough to reach my own conclusions about religion without the aid of alien influence, lol! But that’s another favorite topic I find fascinating and could spend days prattling on about so I’ll spare everybody and stop for now, lol, can you tell I’m passionate about these topics? 

RL: Absolutely, and I love it! Like you, I maintain an open mind. A) Because despite what anybody says, we’ll never truly know, and B) it makes life so much more interesting to wonder. Geesh. Don’t ever get us in a room together, we’d talk everybody’s ears off!

LB: The vampire cows, by the way, must be written for all mankind to enjoy, lol!

RL: Though I wish I could, I cannot take credit for that. They come from the movie The Little Vampire. I have no clue as to why I was thinking about them as I lay waiting for surgery, but I was. 

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This actually happens in the movie. No joke. 

Now, this one could apply to all art, really, but in terms of writing, what are your thoughts on “genre?” 

LB: I think it’s only real purpose is for the sake of finding what you’re in the mood for, ya know? For cataloging purposes, finding the right publisher, or in terms of screening out inappropriate content, etc. Beyond that, no, I don’t care about labels much. I think it is okay to like what you like. “Genre” simply gives us a term to define what we prefer.

RL: My predilection leans toward horror, but my mind remains forever open to any good read I can find. Like when The Road was released. It won all these major literary awards, so I was intrigued. Had never read Cormac McCarthy before. I read the book, loved it, and thought, “Damn, that was a horror novel. But no one is ever going to market it that way.” So, I’ll always take a good story over whatever category some marketer thinks it belongs in.

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Oprah or no Oprah, this is horror, folks.

LB: I agree with your conclusion. I have favorite categories, but I am always open to something that will broaden me intellectually or emotionally. I haven’t read The Road, but now I’m intrigued. It sounds like it falls under that simple category of “Good Read,” despite its labeling. I feel like some things are ambiguous no matter what genre they are labeled under. What scares you, might not necessarily scare me, so horror could technically be a broad-scope label anyway. For instance, I think there is a fine line between horror and slasher movies. Often, these are grouped together under one genre, but to me horror is monsters, aliens, or the paranormal side of things while I perceive slasher-flicks as psychological thrillers. It’s point-of-view a lot if the time, ya know? Some things affect us in our own individual ways despite how they’ve been marketed based on our own histories, upbringing, likes, etc.

RL: Oh, I totally agree. Are you a physical copy person, or do you prefer other ways of “reading” books, such as e-books or audio? Does the “delivery system,” as King calls it, matter to you? 

LB: I think as long as actual book lovers exist so will actual books. I’m enough of a techie to enjoy the usability of digital content and its devices, but if I had to choose, the Indiana Jones in me would prevail and I would always choose paperbacks. I will always be an advocate for the preservation of physical books. I love everything about them and where they are kept, and the older the better. I love the way they smell, the feel of them in my hands, and the idea that they are the physical incarnation of an author’s creative thoughts is unequivocally magical to me.

RL: Yes! That’s a beautiful way of putting it, and I completely agree. Speaking of King, he’s often been seen at baseball games reading a book during rain delays or between innings. Says he never goes anywhere without a book. Do you take a book with you wherever you go?

LB: A lot of times I do. This comment proves my earlier point about finding time to read. If Stephen King, whose life is obviously extremely full, can find time to read in the middle of a ball game, then the rest of us have no excuse, right?

RL: Hell, yes, and amen!

What are your favorite books of all time, and why? Which have influenced you the most as an artist, and as a human being?

LB: All the items in questions one & two have had a great positive impact on me. Influentially though, and bearing in mind I have been shaped by experiences more than books, studying creation myths, folklore, and theologies have probably enlightened and refined me the most. Oh, and The Art of War

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is at the top of my list. I have read these stories so much in my life I have them memorized, lol! I have always been a sort of “Ellie Mae” about animals and I have had many pets, so I admired Mowgli’s life among the animals. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnette would be next because I completely identified with the protagonist Mary’s strong will and free spirit. This story always overwhelms me with emotion. Simply put—it is wonderfully powerful writing. Go girl power! Of course, The Star Wars Trilogy for the same reasons that Joseph Campbell loved it; for its classic mythology factor—but also because it fulfills my spirit’s daily dietary craving for adventure! The Amityville Horror, partly because of the controversial nature of the events surrounding it and partly for the creepiness factor that accompanies the equally intriguing back story. My newest favorites are the Harry Potter books and Jurassic Park I & II; in the Rowling series, I love the creative imagery, the magic and fantasy, the mythological aspects, and of course I have immense respect for the author. In the Crichton books, I am in love with the extraordinary possibilities and the moral conflicts those possibilities generate—not to mention I am a sucker for anything dinosaur or creature flick related! Finally, anything in the Marvel Universe. I know it sounds nerdy but I already unleashed that monster, lol!

RL: I like to tell people who ask me what kind of movies I love, I always say, “If it was made in the 50s or 60s, and has a monster, spaceship, or dinosaur in it, I probably own it.” We are kindred spirits there! Like Ray Bradbury said, “If you don’t like it, I’ll just pick up my dinosaurs and rockets and go in the other room.”

LB: Hahaha! Exactly, go Ray! I am definitely a “show me the monsters” kind of girl! I feel I’m in good company here!

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Hero. Plus? Loves cats and weird watches.

RL: Lastly, just for fun, what is the one book—be it a widely lauded classic, or bestselling popular phenom—do you find absolutely unreadable? 

LB: To be honest—my own stuff, before I developed the skills to properly proofread and edit, lol! I would not want to slam anyone else’s work even those deserving of some heavy critique. I believe art is beholden to the artist first and foremost, so barring major grammatical errors, I think content is arbitrated by personal taste. Anyone who takes the time to write and structure a story, and are bold enough to put it out there, gets a pass. Strictly speaking, however, I have read things I could not finish they were so badly structured and illiterately written. I recently read an excerpt of a book reviewed in a blog, I won’t name names, that was terrible! I’ve also read things where the content had potential but the editor was sloppy. My advice—an editor is worth every penny, provided they are worth their salt—if the story is good it will hold up to scrutiny. Case in point: Jurassic Park, (I know I namedropped!), has some very distracting editing flaws, but it is a renowned work by a notable author and it is still one of my favorite stories of all time. So, it gets a pass.

RL: Yeah, I have a lot of my older work stored in boxes, and I like to take them out once awhile to give myself a good cringe. And, yes, editors are vital. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the editors I’ve been privileged to work with. They pretty much helped me relearn everything I’d forgotten from my English classes over twenty years ago! Anyway, thank you so much for discussing your reading life with me! Hope you enjoyed, because I had a blast talking with you.

LB: This was a lot of fun! Thank you for inviting me to participate. It was certainly a fun way to self-evaluate and promote my weirdness, lol!

RL: That’s what I’m here for! My life has been dedicated to the promotion of weirdness. 🙂

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