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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spotlight Saturday: Author Interview and Giveaway with Michael West, author of Cinema of Shadows

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by Michael West. 

About Michael:
Michael West a member of the Horror Writers Association and serves as President of its local chapter, Indiana Horror Writers. A graduate of Indiana University, West earned a degree in Telecommunications and Film Theory, and since that time, he has written a multitude of short stories, articles, and reviews for various on-line and print publications.

He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their bird, Rodan, and turtle, Gamera. His children are convinced that spirits move through the woods near their home.

For further information, please visit Michael's site at

Author Interview:

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Michael! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Well, anyone who follows me on Facebook and Twitter knows I love two things: coffee and Horror. I’ve loved Horror as long as I can remember; as a child, I used to trick babysitters into letting me stay up late to watch Night Gallery episodes and Hammer films, I subscribed to Fangoria and read every Stephen King that came out, and I wrote my first novel while still in high school (A work that will never, ever see the light of day. Awful. *shudder*). My love of coffee didn't start until much later, but if you took it away from me...well, let's just say that would be a real Horror story.

Do you have a specific writing style? Do you write an outline, or do you write more “by‑the‑seat-of-your-pants”?

I do a little of both. I tend to have an ending in mind when I start. That's not to say that the ending doesn't change half a dozen times by the time I get there, but I need to have a goal, something to work toward. I don't tend to outline the novel as a whole, but when I get to the next chapter, I first jot down the key things that happen in it, then I fill in the prose. But even then, the characters really dictate what happens. I could do all the planning in the world, but the characters would just do their own thing anyway. LOL

Do you discipline yourself to write a certain number of words daily? Or do you ever have dry periods where you do not write?

I do try to set goals for myself. There are days when I will type a thousand words and other days when I'm lucky to string a sentence together. I have to admit that I hate writing that first draft. For me, that’s the most difficult thing in the world, just getting all the words out onto the page and giving the story a beginning, middle, and end. But once it’s out there, once I get into the editing process and the re-writes, that’s when I’m most happy. I’ve spoken to writers who feel just the opposite, they love getting it all out there and hate doing edits, but I view it the way a sculptor views a huge block of marble; it’s a pain, getting that stone into the studio, but, when you start to chip away at it, when it starts to like what you envisioned, or, in some cases, better than what you envisioned…there’s no greater feeling in the world than that.

What is your ideal writing environment? Do you prefer music or solitude? Is there a time of day (or night) that you prefer?

I’ve got a coffee mug covered in artwork from my short story “Jiki.” I usually fill that up and turn on music, either film soundtracks or 80s music, I can’t work when it’s totally quiet. I also like the room to be as dark as possible, so I will turn off lights or close blinds before I start. I write as much as I can whenever I can. I used to be a night owl, but now that I have kids who have to get to school, I tend to do more of my work in the mornings now.

I see from your bio that you have a Degree in Telecommunications and Film Theory. Did your interest in writing precede your studies, or did it come about as a result of your studies?

I’ve always loved telling a good story. Before I could write, I drew pictures to illustrate the tales that were spinning inside my head. Then, I wanted to be the next Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. Growing up, I would write screenplays for movies I would make with my friends and my parents’ video camera. When I saw the film Super 8, it really took me back, because that was me and my friends at that time. As I got older, and the stories that I wanted to tell outgrew my meager budgets, I turned them into short stories and novels.

Where did you come up with the idea for Cinema of Shadows?

I’m a huge movie buff, and I worked as a theater manager for a time. One of the cinemas I managed was haunted. If you walked in, and it was completely dark, you could see the glowing outline of a person sitting in one of the seats. Someone told me that it was the spirit of a man who had a heart attack and died right there in his chair.

Then, years later, I started going to classic films at an old movie palace in Franklin, Indiana. The Artcraft. It had fallen into disrepair, but now it is being restored to its former glory–the original Art Deco design, the neon, the huge marquee with the chasing bulbs. This is what theaters were like before the multiplexes, and now they are quite rare. Just amazing! 

So the more I thought about it, the more I wondered…if the theater I managed was fairly new and already had a ghost, how many spirits might be trapped inside one of these cinemas that had been around for decades? And that’s when I realized that a crumbling movie palace would be a unique and amazing setting for a Horror story.

Are any of the characters based on someone you know?

Not specifically. But as a writer, you do take elements and experiences in your life and fictionalize them to add depth to your characters and give your situations a shot of reality. Because you know how you felt when something happened to you, you can convey that through the eyes and emotions of your characters and make the entire narrative more believable and authentic.

I see that your next Harmony novel is entitled Spook House. Can you tell us a little about it, and any other upcoming writing projects?

In Spook House, the Harmony fire department works to turn an old farmhouse into a haunted attraction. Growing up, there was always that haunted house put on by the local Jaycees to raise money. So much fun! But, since this is Harmony, the house they've chosen sits atop a gateway to another dimension, and there are some nasty things on the other side of that doorway that have been waiting a long time to get out. Robby Miller (The Wide Game, Cinema of Shadows) really takes center stage this time out. He's been a supporting player up until now, but this is his novel, and we get just a little bit of set-up for the climactic battle of good vs. evil that will take place in the final Harmony novel, Field of Screams.

Spook House will be out next fall.

Before that, I have a dark, epic urban fantasy series titled The Legacy of the Gods that will kick off with the release of a novel entitled Poseidon's Children in March, 2012. Look for an announcement on that from Seventh Star Press very soon. And I am editing an anthology called Vampires Don’t Sparkle! for all those Horror fans who want to read gritty tales about vampires who don’t mope and brood about going to prom. That will be out in the first half of 2012.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I like going to movies and Horror conventions with my sons, and meeting my faithful readers.

Who is your favourite author and what really strikes you about their work?

Wow…I’ve had so many influences over the years—everyone from Clive Barker to Richard Matheson to Rod Serling—but, growing up in the eighties as I did, I’d have to say Stephen King is…well…king. I just love the way he can take a normal, everyday, real-life place or situation and make it into something horrific. Going to the grocery store? Well, you’re going to run into a monster. Oh, and that quiet little town you live in? Overrun by vampires. The hotel you’re staying in and the car you’re driving right now? Haunted. That’s something I try to do in my fiction as well, making the real fantastic and vice versa.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished re-reading all six volumes of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. I've read it several times, and it just gets better with each pass. Next, I need to pick up a copy of The Monster's Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes. My friend Gary A. Braunbeck has a story in it, and I just love stories told from the monster's point of view.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?

I just want to thank them for their support. Writing is a very solitary process, just you and your laptop with no idea how your work will be perceived. It's very gratifying for me that so many people enjoy what I do, that they're actually out there waiting for the next thing to come out, and I can't wait to give them more.

In the meantime, however, faithful readers can always get up-to-date information on me and my work at my website,

*Fun Facts*

Favourite horror movie? The Exorcist

Dog-lover or cat-lover? Snake-lover 

Vanilla ice cream or chocolate? Vanilla

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be? Stephen King

I can't live without my... Coffee

The craziest thing I ever did was... What happens at the 1988 Def Leppard concert, stays at the 1988 Def Leppard concert. Now I'm intrigued! Pssst! If anyone was with Michael at this concert in 1988, please do share what crazy thing that Michael did! Inquiring minds want to know!

If I could take an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, I would go to... Japan.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Michael! It was a lot of fun getting to know you better, and I am looking forward to reading Cinema of Shadows!


One lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of Michael's book, Cinema of Shadows.

This giveaway is limited to entries from Canada and the United States only (sorry, international folks!).


Welcome to the Woodfield Movie Palace.

The night the Titanic sank, it opened for business...and its builder died in his chair. In the 1950s, there was a fire; a balcony full of people burned to death. And years later, when it became the scene of one of Harmony, Indiana's most notorious murders, it closed for good. Abandoned, sealed, locked up tight...until now.

Tonight, Professor Geoffrey Burke and his Parapsychology students have come to the Woodfield in search of evidence, hoping to find irrefutable proof of a haunting. Instead, they will discover that, in this theater, the terrors are not confined to the screen.

To enter the giveaway, please complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is limited to entries from Canada and the United States only, and it will close on Saturday, November 5th at 12:01 AM EST.


  1. Hi Darlene,thank you for running the interview and contest for Michael!

    And those of you who enjoy Stephen King novels will likely love Michael's style! Cinema of Shadows is available in all eBook formats too (Nook, Kindle, iBookstore, etc)

  2. Great interview with Michael. Cinema of Shadows is a great read I'm sure the winner will enjoy it.

  3. Darlene

    I was over at Seventh Star Press website ... boy these books look really interesting!


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