Recently, Lisa Vasquez’s novel, The Unsaintly Chronicles, The Anti-God came out. I had followed the pre-release buzz around it and thought I might just have to give it a read. I caught up with Lisa shortly after the release. We sat down for a little chat that Sunday afternoon. Folks, this is Lisa Vasquez.
AJ: You’ve been on vacation the last week or so? How was it?
LV: My vacation was amazing. I needed to decompress after the previous month’s events.
LV: It was the day before. Right up to the very minute. Seems like I’m always burning the candle at both ends.
AJ: Sometimes publishing can be like that, right down to the last minute with all the fine details that need to get worked out.
Can you tell me about the book?
LV: Sure! The book is about the journey of Isabel. She’s pretty oblivious to the fact that there’s this plane where God and his “family” of angels (Lucifer, included, of course) walk alongside the humans. So God and Lucifer are talking, enjoying the weather…a game of chess and discussing things. Isabel is pretty Renaissance for the times. She has decided that she doesn’t want to marry and that her duty will be to serve God and her people. She convinces the Pope to grant her permission to pursue this path and not marry her intended. This obviously puts her in God’s favor. Lucifer gets pissed (again) and decides to wage war and corrupt Isabel. With these two distracted, the audience is introduced to a new nemesis, Heresy. And she’s the “Void” that has been there since the beginning of time.
The book is a true tug at someone’s faith…I mean we always ask ourselves…am I doing the right thing? What happens if this isn’t the right path? What if the other religion is right and we’re wrong?
AJ: Interesting concept. What type of research did you do for this story?
LV: Well when I started, I was already on a journey to finding my peace. What I mean is, I was born Catholic, I went to a Baptist Church. I then shifted around a bit to a Lutheran church and I never felt “at home”. I didn’t feel the “rapture” and I didn’t feel my soul was at rest. So my research was honestly me sitting down and studying religion. Then as I got through part of it, my father died and then my grandmother, who was my best friend, followed by my step-father, who I was also very close to. I was angry. I was closed off. And then I met a woman, whose name I credited at the end of the book, and she was a former nun. How cool is that?? And she told me all kinds of things about her time on that path.
AJ: I’m going to ask this because I think you bring up a good point here. I believe everyone asks themselves (at one point or other) if they are on that right path or if they are going to Heaven or Hell (even those who I believe would deny such thoughts). I know I have wondered this before–plenty of times. Was there any time before, during or after, writing The Anti-God that you thought this?
LV: Always. But to be frank…
AJ: I would prefer you being Lisa, but if you want to be Frank, go right ahead. I hear he’s a good guy. (and the drummer goes, bah dum dum dum).
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
LV: Ha! There was a Lisa Frank! She was the sticker lady…Wait, scratch that! That’ll give away my age!
AJ: Too late. I’m so researching that! You were saying?
LV: I don’t believe in God or Heaven or Evil in the same way as I did. I think I relate more to a spiritual path…maybe even a Taoist …but not the poly-deity worshipping kind. I know…It’s confusing.
AJ: Do you consider The Unsaintly Chronicles, The Anti-God, a journey into the spiritual world?
LV: I consider The Unsaintly a Dark Fantasy, based on a real life person’s (Isabel) spiritual journey.
With a twist of horror. I’m making my own genre. Dark Horror Fantasy
AJ: That’s a great description. Dark Horror Fantasy? That sounds like a great genre mashup.
LV: I think so too!
AJ: This isn’t your first foray into the publishing world, right?
LV: No, I actually published just the prologue to this story before because I felt it was so different from the rest of the story that maybe folks would “get me” if I took them in baby steps on the journey. Turns out, it wasn’t that bad! I did very well. But then when I took a look at the finished product… I kind worked it out that I could put it back in. I experimented. So now anyone that has the first The Unsaintly book, has a collector’s item because I am no longer selling it that way. I also did a short story that was published. I have had several poems published (years back) and I’m working with Burning Willow Press, helping them out.
AJ: If I’m correct, one of your stories appears alongside one of mine in the anthology The Gathering Hoarde.
LV: You’re correct! Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down.
AJ: Tell me about Burning Willow Press and what you do with them.
LV: Ah, yes. Burning Willow is a publisher that is very much about its authors. They have a lot of say in the end result of their stories. So in essence, they’re selling themselves, and have the power to do so, rather than the publisher creating who they are. We are very close knit. My position with them is Cover Designer Head uh..Person or some such. Haha! I dunno my official title, I just know I fix, create, and help design the covers. I also did their logo.
AJ: I’ve seen your work. It’s well done.
LV: Thank you! I think practice makes perfect and I’m learning a lot as I go.
AJ: Speaking of your designs, am I correct in saying you have (or will have) your own design business?
LV: I do have my own. Darque Halo Designs. I’ve been doing graphics for a pretty long time, but book covers are a new thing. Started with my own and people really liked my style, so I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work on other covers from amazing authors.
AJ: Did you do the work on Unsaintly?
LV: I did. For both of them, yes.
AJ: If those are examples of your work, then they are great examples for the public to see.
LV: Thank you! I appreciate that, very much.
AJ: How did you end up working with BWP?
LV: I ended up working for Burning Willow when I did Kindra Sowder’s cover for her Executioner Series, Follow the Ashes (book 1).
I think they had seen some of my other work and really wanted me on the project. Then it seemed a natural progression to work for their company
AJ: It’s always interesting how people meet one another and then help one another and that leads to working together.
Along with your writing and design work for BWP, you are also Editor-in-Chief of Inked Muse Press Magazine.
LV: Yes that’s correct. I wanted a magazine that didn’t follow the imprint of other horror magazines. I wanted a magazine that addressed horror but also focused on the writing.
AJ: With that in mind, is IMPM taking submissions from writers?
LV: Always. I want big house authors and small press authors alike.
AJ: What types of work does IMPM accept?
LV: We take short stories, editorials, interviews, reviews, just about anything related to the horror genre
AJ: Do you have a link to the website, so if writers would like to look into IMPM they could find it?
Anyone that wants to submit something for consideration is welcome to. Right now the magazine is quarterly but if the demand calls for it, we may change the frequency.
AJ: Sounds good to me. Thank you for that information.
AJ: I want to change gears for just a second and ask a couple of short questions. Why horror, as opposed to other genres?
LV: I love the thrill of horror. I believe that without embracing darkness we cannot embrace the light. I was raised on horror, my father and my step father were very big fans and I learned to appreciate the genre from them. Also, growing up, I had friends that had the same interest. One of whom is still my best friend and partner to this day, Paul McVay.
AJ: This is awesome: I believe that without embracing darkness we cannot embrace the light.
Favorite horror author?
LV: Ohhh that’s hard. I change with my moods. I’m such a Libra. I mean there’s the standard, Stephen King. But I love Thomas Harris, Joe McKinney, Jonathan Maberry, Mark Tufo. OK, I can’t decide.
AJ: Fair enough. How about your favorite horror movie?
LV: The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, and Dawn of the Dead (the newer version)
AJ: Nice. Great choices.
Okay, just a couple of more questions and I’ll let you go rest up from your vacation.
You said you’re creating your own genre: Dark Horror Fantasy. Ideally, what type of story would that encompass?
LV: First, I want horror to be epic. A mix of real experiences and things that “could” happen. But I love epic stories, real fables. I’m part Greek so I embrace that whole theatrical, tragedy, Clash of the Titans type of story. Things that make your imagination stretch. Things that you never WANT to see if they exist. I have entire worlds inside my head. I love developing them and the people. And that’s part of the inspiration for The Unsaintly. I mean what’s scarier than Revelations?
AJ: Nothing is scarier than Revelations if you are a spiritual person (other than Hell).
LV: I’d probably bang on Hell’s door if I saw a dragon and riders in the sky
AJ: How can readers get ahold of Lisa Vasquez?
AJ: Where can readers find your work?
LV: My books are on Kindle and Amazon. I believe online I have global distribution. And if they want signed copies, they can order them off my website. Also, they can find me through the Horror Writers Association. They’ve been a huge help to me as well. So I’ve been giving back time to them and the genre
AJ: You brought up the HWA. I have been reluctant to join the HWA. What made you join them and, if you don’t mind, tell me about your experience with the HWA?
LV: HWA went through a rough year. They lost an integral part of their organization with the passing of their president. Lisa Morton stepped up to the plate along with the other officers. I came to the HWA because I read that you should join writers groups for support and to learn about your trade. Joe McKinney is part of the HWA, Jonathan Maberry is also a part of the HWA. People forget that it is entirely volunteer, so they criticize the sometimes lengthy wait in replies, etc… Hey these guys work hard, they work full time jobs, and they are writers too. They have to balance all of that and then keep answering the questions of all of us fledgling, aspiring writers. They offer free help. They offer mentorships, they help with contract questions and back up authors being taken advantage of. I’d say it’s a pretty good deal.
AJ: Thank you for that information. I knew Rocky Woods had passed away after a brave fight with ALS and I knew he had been working hard with HWA for a while. And I saw where Lisa Morton had stepped in.
I’m a reader. Convince me to buy your work
LV: Convince you? I think you or anyone who wants something different should buy my books. If you want to be drawn into the world, if you want to think and have your ideas tested. I’m all about pushing the line and experimenting. People who give my books a read usually end up loving what they read.
AJ: I love that type of confidence. You have me convinced.
One more thing. As a writer, what do you wish to accomplish with your work?
LV: I’d love it if people read my books, as simple as that sounds. And I’d like to bridge the gap of men vs. women in this genre. I don’t want to write romance, so please read, share, and review! My readers are everything to me. I love hearing their thoughts. I love the fact that a few people have said they have had crazy dreams after reading my work. Most of all, I would love to keep hearing “I can’t wait for your next book”.
AJ: I am the same way with wanting folks to read and enjoy and want my work.
LV: If you’re in it for the money, you’re not in it at all.
AJ: Is there anything else you would like to say, Lisa?
LV: If you’re interested in finding out what was really in the beginning, or what happens when you cannot enter Heaven or Hell, then check out The Unsaintly Chronicles: The Anti-God, the first book of a series.
I can almost assure you, that if you love stories about angels, demons, and other frightening creatures, without the same ole stories told a different way, you’ll love this book.
AJ: Lisa Vasquez, thank you for hanging out with me for a little while. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.
LV: Thank you very much for taking the time to have me!