1. What inspired you to become an author?
As far as I can remember, I've always told stories. Most of my childhood in Jacksonville, Florida, I grew up alone, so I depended on my imagination to get me through the day. I lived with my grandparents, and I remember when I was nine-years-old, my Nana took me to see The Apple Dumpling Gang, and the Godzilla movies. Those films impressed me deeply, made me want to tell stories. Also, I was big into action figures, so I'd have my Evel Knievel figure ride his stunt cycle into my miniature Bat Cave, where Batman and Robin would rendezvous with Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man. I had a ton of action figures and wrote my own stories everyday with full dialogue from each character.
Comic Books were a big influence on me, too. I used to collect Spider-Man, Howard the Duck, and many other Marvel Comics and recreate my own comics, drawing them in panels featuring my own heroes from my imaginary world. Not-to-mention that whenever my cousins, or nieces visited during the holidays, I was the one telling ghost stories at night when we were too excited to go to sleep. Ask my nieces about the Monkey Man. The first novel I ever read was Escape from Witch Mountain by Alexander Key. After that, I only wanted to write stories in the science fiction, fantasy and horror realms. I've always loved telling stories.
2. Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
Both. Sometimes, a word or a catch-phrase or an experience gives me a title to drive a story onto the road of ideas. However, it isn't until I've actually finished the story that the real meat and potatoes of the book gives me the real flavor of what it's about. That's usually when the title changes, and fits more with the theme and plot of the book.
3. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think every writer has some subliminal message buried into their story. Some are more easily to find than others. Basically, I just want to scare people, and let them have fun in the process. I love reading Stephen King, and Laurell K. Hamilton. I also loved Robert J. Sawyer's novels. So many times, my messages have to do with people learning how to overcome their prejudices to survive some terrible horror, or how a female must rise above sexism and empower herself to do what a man couldn't or wouldn't do, or how our conscious minds are the most powerful tools in the universe.
What I couldn't get into was messages of racism. I hated Mark Twain, and although I know he's regarded highly as a great writer, I'm not a fan. My college professor explained to me when I refused to read his book that a true writer captures the essence of that character to fully flesh out the culture, attitudes and times of a piece. Okay, I get that, but maybe because my father was an extremist in the area of black advocacy, I don't want to touch issues of race and prejudices. I may be overly sensitive about works that deal with those issues.
On second thought, I digress. Perhaps, I may delve into how race and religion affects all the different types of undead creatures on Realm Evergreen in my Skateboard Xombies trilogy. My trilogy deals with many varieties of vampires and sentient zombies, hence the title of the first novel in that series. The other two novels to follow will be Skateboard Xamurai and Skateboard Xen.
4. Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
There's a costume ribbon I see all the time at the writer conventions, “Be Careful How You Treat Me Or You Might End Up In My Book.” I've been in the classroom environment for over thirty years as a student, and then as a teacher. So maybe a lot of my experiences and all the students I've learned with, worked with, dealt with, spills from my heart and pours onto the pages of my YA novels in little facsimiles of the real people I've known.
For the most part, all of my characters are a montage of someone I've met or have been exposed to, at some point. There's not one character who was drafted from a person in my life, no. However, there have been many people who have rubbed me the wrong way that could've easily been one of the zombies Sylva beheaded, or slashed into tiny bits of frustration.
5. What book are you reading now?
Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Although my TBR list is stacked high and working on the ABC show How To Get Away With Murder as a stand-in actor for Alfie Enoch takes up a majority of my weekdays, I buy more and more books knowing that I may or may not get to them that year. I'm always reading and re-reading. I read to inhale, write to exhale, and am a student of writing, so in the middle of me reading the Necroscope by Brian Lumley, I'll read Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton for the umpteenth time because I love her pacing and the voice of her character, Anita Blake, and it gets me fired up to write a Sylva Slasher novel. A friend of mine, Mike, who works boom on HTGAWM just gave me a bag of Jack Reacher books, so I'll somehow squeeze in reading some Lee Child novels as well.
6. What books are in your to read pile?
Too many to name. I still have about seven Stephen King novels to read like The Dead Zone and Insomnia, among many others. I want to finish Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's the Strain series, Brian Lumley's Necroscope series. I have a couple of Heinlein, and Niven novels sitting on my desk and there are a few YA novels, and oh, I still keep looking at Interview with the Vampire, sitting on top of my refrigerator. I have stacks of TBR books everywhere in my place.
7. What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
I'm currently working on a horror thriller (that may or may not be a part of the Sylva Slasher Universe) called [sic]: An Aspen Harp Story about two bored female thrill-seekers that ring in the New Year at an extreme-terror theme park and get more than what they bargained for when suicidal bombers carrying an infectious disease take them hostage and threaten to start a pandemic.
I set a couple of rules with writing this book: no vampires or zombies, everything has to be completely believable, and the pace must be like a ride through an Indian Jones theme park ride bringing a thrill every few beats. The novel is a set up for a TV pilot idea I've had for a year now.
8. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
An excerpt from Skateboard Xombies. This is a scene where Sylva (first-person narrative) is being attacked at the high school by soldiers.
He's pressing the trigger, I thought.
Grabbing his arm, I grappled his wrist, spun away from the muzzle of the gun and twisted backward into his body. I threw an elbow into his jaw before he even knew what happened. He dropped the gun, probably surprised a high school girl could take him like that. I back-kicked him into his groin with the heel of my shoe. He doubled over, released a low grunt, and just when I bent down to grab the gun he dropped, a bullet tore through my arm.
I let out a shriek of pain and went down.
Half-Pipe pushed out a grunt of her own. I rolled over on my back in time to see her sling a skateboard into the nose of the soldier who shot me.
Rising on my feet, I held my shoulder, and winced. It burned like crazy, but I knew it would heal soon; especially if I got a little human blood to speed up the process.
The soldier; standing outside the passenger's side turned and started shooting at Half-Pipe who hid behind an old black Lexus. I ran toward him, leaped in the air and slid on my knees across the hood of his vehicle. He turned and shot at me. The bullet whizzed past my ear like an angry wasp. I grabbed the corner of the windshield, lifted myself up, and straddled his neck with my legs.
We fell to the ground. I stood up in a low crouch and I jabbed him hard in the throat with a half-closed fist. He gawked, and I leaned down, biting into the side of his neck. He fought to get me off, pushing, shoving his knees into my back, but there was no way I was not feeding off of him.
Confessions of Sylva Slasher
A Zombie Novel
Ace Antonio Hall
Publisher: Montag Press, April 2013
Genre: YA Horror
THE LOVE OF HER LIFE BECOMES THE DEATH OF THEIR LOVE
Sylva Fleischer is a teenager who works as a necromancer for a living. Wanting to get away from raising the dead for police investigations and demanding grieving families for a while, she goes on a cruise for spring break. Her vacation from the dead is short-lived when passengers on the ship turn into flesh-eating zombies. These are not the same simple-minded harmless zombies she raises and can control, so Sylva and her friends are trapped on the Pacific Ocean. Their only escape comes from a guy Sylva thought was dead: Brandon. It just so happens to also be the anniversary of his death, and she's still hurting from his loss!
Why didn't he call to say he's alive? All those tears … for nothing.
Sylva doesn't normally hold grudges, but when someone plays with her heart they have to pay. However, with the fate of the human race on the line, Brandon convinces Sylva to join him in a secret mission, yet she can't shake the feeling that he's hiding something.
It didn't take long for her suspicions to hold true when it's revealed that Brandon has been romantically involved with the very enemy he now wants her to destroy. To top that brutal betrayal, the villainous female would rather kill Brandon than let Sylva have a chance to patch things up between them. Sylva is not the kind of girl to walk away from love without a fight, but with a strange virus threatening extinction of human life, she shoves her own feelings in her back pocket to face her greatest nightmare, and that nightmare starts with something that is eerily growing right inside of her own mind and body.
When The Heart Bleeds, Sometimes Your Friends Are All You've Got
Available at Amazon
Praise for Ace Antonio Hall and Confessions of Sylva Slasher
“A treat for Buffy fans—but 100% Ace Antonio Hall's own twisted vision. Breathes new life into the living dead; run, don't shamble to get a copy.”
—Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the WWW trilogy
“In a vast sea of zombie tales, Hall's tale is more than a cut above. He brings the entire genre to heel and treats us to one Hell of a ride.”
—Art Holcomb, writer of Professor Xavier and the X-Men vs. The Avengers, Marvel Comics
Excerpt Chapters 1 and 2
PART ONE SILVER KISSES
For since death came through a man,
the resurrection of the dead
comes also through a man.— I Corinthians 15:21
YEAH, THE WHOLE STINKING PLANET WANTED ME DEAD, and they got their wish. I tried to move but couldn’t. Not with a broken back. Breathing slow, uneven, I stared into the undead woman’s eyes that dripped an ominous glare down onto my helpless body.
Maybe if I hadn’t gotten dreamy eyes for this really cute guy (I mean jerk), the weight of the human race wouldn’t be sitting on my shoulders. I would’ve easily given my life so my best friend, Emily, wouldn’t die. Too late.
The full moon draped around the undead woman’s shadow that climbed up my broken body like ghosts of death. The island soil, thirsty for moisture, welcomed my blood. Terror wrestled me into a stone cold chokehold—I forgot how to scream. The scent of rotten corpses gripped my nostrils. A horde of the walking dead moaned and hovered over me like starved coyotes as the undead woman crept forward on all fours to kill me, again.
Several hours prior:
I HATED THAT I COULDN’T TELL REALITY FROM MY NIGHTMARES. Maybe, just maybe I spent one too many nights raising the dead. My parents named me Sylva Fleischer, but most people knew me as Sylva Slasher (I’ll get to why later). I made a pretty cool living as a necromancer for The Silver Kisses Aerial Ash Scattering Company. We raised zombies for mourners to say their last goodbyes. A lot of times we did it for police investigations, occasionally for corporate disputes, and then we cremated the deadheads and scattered the remains over Hawaii’s beautiful waters. As a matter-of-fact, some guy from the military base in Honolulu kept leaving messages on my cell phone that he wanted me to raise some dead soldier for a case they were investigating. But I had other plans. Look, I just turned eighteen, so if I wanted to ditch some lame colonel for something way more hella-fun, I would. What? Can’t a girl have priorities?
Twilight peeked over my shoulders as I looked for my friends while aboard the Sea Queen a.k.a. The Ship of a Thousand Corpses—the best freaking zombie-themed cruise in America. Imagine being in one of those magnificent hotels in Las Vegas during spring break; the golden elevators, escalators, walkover bridges, restaurants, and stores, filled with tons of thrill-seeking college kids and adults. You could call the Sea Queen one of the world’s best luxury hotels but on water.
A woman hired me to do a raising on the ship. Emily, and her boyfriend, Beckham, or Flip as he liked to be called (Hawaiian-born and Japanese-descended like Em), were going to help me. After I finally got dressed, I saw Emily’s wacky picture that she posted on Facebook and her bitchy complaint that she and Flip were waiting on me (I’m always fashionably late) in the bar on the Nightwalker Deck. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a clue where to go. The captain was escorting me up, but some kind of urgent call came in and he dashed out of the elevator speaking radio codes into his walkie-talkie.
One of my all-time fave videos, Sweet Dreams, played on the inside of the elevator doors via a hi-tech projector system. I loved it that I could watch a music video (albeit, one I’ve seen a kazillion times) inside of the elevator. A volume control knob sat beneath the red emergency button. Marilyn Manson crawled out of the rundown fireplace wearing black boots, a dirty tutu, and a torn bodice that showed off his skeletal bare chest. Alright, that’s enough. I turned the sound down so I could briefly gather my thoughts for the raising.
The elevator doors eased open. I stepped out, immediately folding my arms and shivering. I wore a black mid-riff tee shirt, tight leather pants, and some five-and-a-half inch knee-high Gothic boots. I sighed, berating myself for not wearing a warmer top. The ship’s fake fog blanketed the air so I could barely see anything. Already late, I didn’t want to waste any more time so I stopped to ask a person dressed like a zombie nun for directions. She sat on the bench in front of the ship’s THEATRE UNDER THE STARS, rocking back and forth. A broken dog leash dangled in her hand. The closer I got, the more I realized her hunched feeble posture.
“Lady, are you okay?” I asked.
She didn’t answer but kept rocking. Her abrupt movements made her wimple flap around her neck and chin. I glanced up at the speaker mounted on the wall above us, creeped out by the spooky organ music streaming out into the foggy air.
The lady made a gurgling sound.
“Miss, hey? Are you okay?”
Her head lifted slowly. The yellow rays from the moon crept into the shadows under her headdress. I stepped forward slowly, swallowing unease.
A name spilled out of my mouth, slow, whispered. “Malena?”
I remembered admiring the blind woman’s seeing eye dog when we embarked the ship. I couldn’t resist petting her wolfdog. Emily and Flip were so occupied looking for their tickets that they didn’t even see Malena and her dog.
She made another gurgling sound. I took a step back, peering into her cloudy-white eyes.
“Um, okay, I get it,” I said. “You were hired by the ship to scare people. Right?”
I swayed a little to the left as the ship went over choppy waters. The blind woman stared past me with a vacant stare, and then her head rolled over to her right shoulder.
“Hey—hey—hey. You’re not okay,” I said, extending my arm, ready to catch her if she fell off of the bench.
Was she having a seizure?
Malena muttered something. Saliva ran down her mouth and dripped down her chalky white face.
“Are you having a allergic reaction?” I glanced to my right, then left. “Maybe I should get the ship’s doctor.”
Her body started to convulse and she dropped the dog’s leash on the deck’s floor. She moaned, curling up into a ball on the bench.
“Okay—okay—okay, I’m going to get help,” I said, taking a quick step toward the stairs. “But, uh, shoot, I don’t want to leave you alone.”
A sign directly above her read nightwalker deck maze; another, near the elevator lifts, pointed to the bathrooms. Someone had to be coming by, any second. Another gurgling noise came from the blind woman. She coughed and blood spurted out of her mouth. I shielded my eyes with the back of my hand and something wet splattered on my forearm.
“Oh, my God, Malena! You’re, you’re hemorrhaging.”
I wiped her blood off my arms, onto the side of my top and pulled out my iPhone to call 911. No reception.
“Somebody, help. Call 911!”
I heard someone giggling and saw shadows approaching me through the fog. Two Asian girls, maybe in their late teens, dressed in shredded jeans and pink tee shirts passed behind me.
I gestured to them. “Can I use either one of your phones to call 911? This lady is totally sick!”
“Nice try,” one of them said, revealing the braces on her teeth. “But you only try to scare us.”
“No, please, really. Are you getting reception out here? I’m not getting reception.”
They laughed and pointed at the bench. “Maybe she pull your leg,” the same girl said.
I turned around and glared at an empty bench.
Where did she go?
The girls giggled and walked toward the bathroom, shaking their heads.
“What a moron,” the other one said.
“Miss? Miss, where are you?” I called out, a little irritated by those stupid girls who didn’t believe me. I looked toward the bridge then back at the girls. “Where did she go?” They ignored me and went into the bathroom. Seriously?
“Maybe I am a moron,” I said, under my breath. There were a few droplets of blood on the bench, but I couldn’t find a trail showing me which way she went. She could’ve only gone but so many places—the elevator lift, the stairs, across the bridge (which she didn’t because I would have seen her), overboard, or into the Nightwalker Deck Maze.
If that old, blind lady thought I was going to play her game and follow her into the maze, she had another thing coming. Whatever. Time to do this raising and then try to have some fun for a change.
I took one step and the thought of Malena sent a chill creeping down the nape of my neck. Where did she go? Aw, Who cares? I shook it off, folded my arms, again, and walked toward a bridge that led to the highest deck on the ship.
Someone screamed. I turned quickly, and blew out a long breath as a wolf man in tattered clothes chased a screaming girl across the bridge and through a door. Music blared from out of the place and I knew that Emily and Flip would be in there. That must be the bar, Lipstick Zombies.
I walked over the bridge, glancing back every few seconds for Malena. The instant I crossed halfway over, I heard the music thumping behind the bar’s door. When I saw the neon sign, I got a little excited. Maybe with a little partying, I thought, I’d feel better and forget about everything that sucked in my life—for a while.
About the Author:
Ace Antonio Hall is an actor, former music producer, and ‘retired’ educator with accolades as a Director of Education for the Sylvan Learning Center and nearly fifteen years experience as an award-winning NYC English teacher. He has a BFA degree with a concentration in screenwriting and has published poetry, short stories and fiction in magazines, anthologies, newspapers and novels.
Inspired by his father, Chris Acemandese Hall, who penned the lyrics to the Miles Davis jazz classic, “So What”, sung by Eddie Jefferson, and his sister, Carol Lynn Brown, who guest starred in the 1970’s film, “Velvet Smooth”, Ace spawned his creativity into developing the beloved but flawed teen character, Sylva Slasher.
Ace was the Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (2009-2011), and continues to head the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror (ScHoFan) Critique Group as Co-Director of critique groups within the society. He is also a member of LASFS and the International Thriller Writers.
On April 14, 2013, Montag Press published his YA zombie novel Confessions of Sylva Slasher. His next release, Skateboard Xombies, is coming out later this year, and he has already begun working on Skateboard Xamurai for the third installment in his Sylva Slasher series.