Tell us a little bit about yourself, Don.
Well, Debbie, I am a wrangler of sugar weasels and a writer of tall tales. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Actually, the former is a running joke and the latter is a lot closer to the truth! Add to that, I am obviously a joker.
On a more serious note, I like writing horror, though I am not stuck to any single genre. When I was a kid, my father used to watch a show called Creature Feature, which played classic horror movies. As it came on, Henry Mancini’s creepy, electric-guitar-driven theme from Experiment in Terror played. Though the images of Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Boris Karloff were scary enough, the music alone was enough to make me want to jump out of my skin with fright. My father thought this was funny.
In my teenage years, I became fascinated with the same types of monster flicks, which played on The Son of Svengoolie television program (I grew up in Chicago) every Saturday afternoon. I guess I was more like my dear old dad than I thought.
As an adult, I took to writing like a fish to water. Up until my mid-twenties, I’d done more drawing than writing. I decided to change filling my sketchbooks to transcribing the short stories I’d handwritten in dozens of spiral notebooks. That was the beginning (though my mother says I was trying to manipulate language to tell stories before most babies could even speak, so I guess I was born to this!) of me getting serious about writing.
Once, I wrote a story that featured a very surprising and disturbing twist ending. The folks who’d read it were in awe. I got more questions about how I’d come up with that tale than any other I’d penned up to that point. The horror bug had bitten and the rest, as they say, is history.
Who are your favorite authors?
Though I think I’ve read more Stephen King than any other novelist, I also love Elmore Leonard and Walter Mosley’s crime fiction offerings. I also love Octavia Butler’s take on sci fi. However, it is the drive, determination and great storytelling by my fellow scribblers in the Fiction Writers, Scribbling Siblings, and Authorpreneur’s Corner groups that keep me inspired and let me know I’m not completely crazy. I have much respect for established authors, but the independent ones deserve special recognition.
Tell us a bit about your Sins of the Past story, Blood Tribe.
Gladly. There is imagined horror and real horror. I took the realistic monsters of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and added a creature of my own. Nameless and vengeful, she metes out some much-needed justice.
As a kid, I remember seeing the Roots miniseries and was mentally blown out the water. How human beings could kidnap, enslave, and dominate other humans was beyond me. As I considered writing, I wondered what would happen if the slavers never got the chance to leave the harbor in one piece. After that, the story just wrote itself.
If you could travel back in time to any place and period in the past where and when would you go?
In a romantic sense, I’d like to travel back to the times of the Malian Empire, the glory of Timbuktu, and witness the marvel of the Great Pyramid right after the beaten gold had been applied to its capstone. I’ve been to Rome in modern times and would be interested in spending a few days in the Eternal City in its heyday. I’d check out Greece, Babylon, and the Olmecs in Central America. I’d spend a few days in each place, so I could have some questions answered. When my time machine was done with seeing the ancient world, I’d probably just go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, when I was a kid and play that on a continuous loop. I had a happy childhood, for the most part. But there were even some real monsters to be found there…
Tell us a bit about your novel, Dead Assets.
Ah, good ol’ Assets. I wrote the original, eponymous story while on holiday break from a crazy college class schedule. When I showed the story to my wife (who is NOT into horror at all), she challenged me to expand the entire thing into a full-fledged novel. I decided to create a book that told several stories of an introduction of zombies to a metropolitan area. Turns out, the city still finds a way to function under quarantine, though the undead are not the worst monsters on the block…
I released my book quickly—maybe a bit too quickly. When I reread it, I found that it needed editing (Note to Independent Authors: GET YOUR WORK PROFESSIONALLY EDITED IF YOU WANNA BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!!!).
A few months later, I was nearly jumped at a function where a certain former classmate stalked me, demanding to know when a sequel was going to be produced. She was one of the first to purchase a copy and give a review, not long after it debuted. I pay homage by immortalizing Rhonda when I released the expanded second edition; she is the basis of the main character in a wraparound story I added to the mix during the next go-round.
When I entered my book into Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, I was surprised that it made it through the first round of eliminations and began hoping I would win the grand prize. When it didn’t make the next cut, I was almost devastated. My darling wife, ever bluntly supportive, asked if I thought it would really be that easy. She told me to pick up my bottom lip, learn the lesson, and continue forward motion. I haven’t looked back since.
Oh, and the rather handsome, though blood-splattered ghoul on the second edition cover is none other than Yours Truly!
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a wonderful independent novel called Anchors No More by David Edward Wagner. There are two problems with that: (1) I am, by nature, a slow reader; (2) I have so much other stuff going on in my little world that it’s hard to find time to read in the first place. Crazy, right? Anyway, his sci fi novel is about two time travelers who take a leap with some rather interesting and potentially deadly results. Good stuff and I suggest that everyone check it out! Next up will be Fatima Stephens’ Doppelganger. I have a serious backlog going on…
Are you planning to write a story for Sins of the Future? Any hints about your story?
I am going to contribute to Sins of the Future, though I am not sure what I will cook up for it yet. I promise you it will be good, though!
What do you like to do to relax?
I rarely have time to relax. I think it’s unfair that I am forced to sleep each night. That’s four or five hours (because I never sleep long—a holdout from my past military career) I could be doing something else. I am a family man, so I spend much of my spare time in direct support of that. I occasionally get to do something fun, like play a video game or watch a really interesting TV series. Currently, The Walking Dead and Empire have my undivided attention, whenever I can sit still long enough.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently compiling several of my horror stories to release in an anthology of my own. I have several other projects in development, including a detective series and two YA storylines. Also, if I can ever finish it, I also have a sci fi novel I’m coauthoring. All this while on the verge of pursuing higher education, setting a new career path, and possibly relocating. As I said, not enough time to get it all done.
How can readers connect with you?
Even with my busy schedule, I check my Facebook account throughout the week. I am ALWAYS eager to hear from my readers, as I wouldn’t be a storyteller without an audience! To find out what crazy little story ideas I come up with, check out my blog (www.donmiskel.wordpress.com). That’s where many potential projects of mine will get their start. Fans should feel free to share their thoughts and opinions. As I said, I love hearing from my readers!
Want to read a little Blood Tribe? Sure you do!
I was perched atop my favorite palm tree, basking in the glow of a bright moon, sampling the different scents on the salty coastal breeze. What came to me nearly singed my nose hairs with a sharp, long-forgotten stench. The tribal members in my village were too caught up in their activities which focused on sitting around a fire and listening raptly to the griot’s tale. The children guffawed and hung onto every word that filtered through his cola-nut-stained teeth as he spun tales of the trickster spider god, Anansi, and of creatures like me…
But I’m getting too far ahead too quickly.
It is true that I am not quite human, but you’ll learn more about that as I unravel the tale. Where was I? Oh yes, the smell that hung in the air… The villagers were more concerned with libations brought in calabashes by beautiful dark ladies whose breasts hung free. The men stood around in the background, also bare-chested, sharing rumors and tales of their own. Nobody else had picked up on that smell.
My senses are keener than those of humans. Not to say that I am not human at all. I am just something…more.
Want to read more? Pick up your copy of Sins of the Past today!