Monday, April 23, 2012

Jacqueline Howett interviews Kris Bock

I’m happy to announce we have Guest author Kris Bock of Whispers in the DARK here today.

Now on with the interview.

Q. Where do you come from?

I was born in Illinois, but I’ve lived in 10 states  and one foreign country (Saudi Arabia, in an American camp as a child). I went to high school in Alaska, college in Rhode Island, grad school in Boston, and I lived in New York City and the Seattle-area before settling in small-town New Mexico. I’ve lived here 10 years, the longest I’ve been anywhere, and it feels like home.

Q. What made you write this book?

I didn’t read classic romance for most of my life, but I loved “novels of romance and suspense” like those by Barbara Michaels or Mary Stewart, where an ordinary woman gets caught up in something unexpected and mysterious. I paired that with my love of the Southwest and interest in archaeology. The specific story in Whispers in the Dark was inspired by a visit to Hovenweep National Monument, a small ancient site in the Four Corners area, which seemed like the perfect place for a romantic adventure.

Q. What other books have you published?

As Kris Bock, my first book was Rattled, another Southwestern adventure. It follows two women friends who head into the New Mexico desert in search of a long-lost treasure cave. But they’re not the only ones who want the treasure, and they face dangers from wild animals, wilder humans, and the wilderness itself.

I also have 16 books for children published under the name Chris Eboch. The Eyes of Pharaoh is a mystery set in ancient Egypt. In The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan girl in ninth-century Guatemala rebels against the High Priest who sacrifices anyone challenging his power. Read excerpts at or visit my Amazon page to learn more. I recently released Advanced Plotting, a guide for writers, based on my years of experience as a writing teacher and workshop leader.

Q. Which authors have had a significant influence on your writing?

The authors I mentioned above provided inspiration. My brother, Doug, has helped me a lot. He’s a scriptwriter – the original writer on the screenplay for Sweet Home Alabama – and he has a great blog about writing at Let’s Schmooze. I learn a lot from his blog and also from the conversations we have about our work whenever we visit.

Q. Do you like to listen to any music while you write?

I don’t mind having music playing if it doesn’t have words (which can distract me from my own words). But I rarely play music, because I dictate my manuscripts with voice recognition software, and music could confuse the system.

Q. What do you think of the changing world of electronic books?

I think it’s exciting! I know some people mourn the death of “real” (paper) books, but I like the choices offered. As a reader (especially one in a small town with no bookstore and a small library), it’s nice to be able to get a huge variety of books any time.

As a writer, I love that I can reach out to readers directly. I spent years in traditional publishing, and had some wonderful experiences, but I also know how many great books don’t get published, and how much writers can get hurt by bad contracts, publishers going bankrupt, and changing market trends. And I love that now I can make my books available for a few dollars and still make money.

Q. Do you have any other books you can talk about that you’re writing?

I’m writing another romance/mystery that was inspired by my own experience stumbling upon a crime scene. The current title is What We Found, but that might change. It’s set in a small town in New Mexico and involves falconry, a current interest of mine. I’m also considering releasing a writing craft book on Voice, since Advanced Plotting has been well-received.

Q. If there were three books you could only take to a desert island what would they be?

Tough question! Can’t I take a well-stocked e-reader? I guess I’d be tempted to take some really big collections, like The Complete Works of Shakespeare. If they could get the complete works of Nora Roberts into one book, I’d take that, since she’s published 200 titles, but it would be hard to choose just one. One of my favorite books is Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a comedy about the end of the world. It’s packed tight with jokes and thought-provoking ideas, so worth multiple reads.

Q. What do you have to offer other aspiring authors out there?

It’s a wonderful time to be an author. You have more options and control than ever before. However, with power comes responsibility – in this case, the responsibility to make sure your work is really ready for the market. Self-publishing is another path, but it’s not a shortcut. Work on your craft first: take classes and read advice books (like my Advanced Plotting, hint, hint) or writing craft blogs (like mine), and get professional feedback. If you do decide you’re ready to publish, hire a professional editor and proofreader, so you can do it right. But if you just want to write as a hobby, that’s wonderful – enjoy it and don’t get caught up in the drive to publish.

Q. Is there anything else  you would like to say about your self and your work?

I enjoy connecting with other writers and readers, so please feel free to contact me via any of the ways listed below!

Thank you Chris for visiting with us  today.
Q. How can readers find you and follow your progress?
Whispers in the Dark Amazon book page
Website with blog and contact button or for children’s books
Write like a Pro! blog:
E-mail: krisbock (at)

Description from Whispers in the Dark by Kris Bock.

A young archaeologist seeking peace after an assault stumbles into danger as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. Can she overcome the fears from her past, learn to fight back, and open herself to a new romance?

Here is a free excerpt from the novel

Chapter 1

What had I gotten myself into?
I closed my eyes. Yes, I was driving, but a moment of distraction seemed safe enough, since I hadn’t seen another car in half an hour. Even the jackrabbits and rattlesnakes were hiding in the shade, leaving the road clear of everything but rocks and ruts.
I was starting an adventure. I had to remind myself of that—an adventure. I wanted to be here. I wanted to get away from the city, the classroom and office, the people. You couldn’t get much farther away than this, a tiny cluster of seven-hundred-year-old ruins in the Four Corners area of the Southwest. I had found the middle of nowhere.
As I had wanted, I reminded myself.
The car bumped into a pothole and my head smacked back on the headrest. Maybe I needed to pay more attention to the road after all.
The vast landscape drew my attention, the open space leaving me a bit breathless, a reverse of claustrophobia. At a glance the scene lacked color, a wash of parched tan that spoke of emptiness, drought, death. I clenched the steering wheel and breathed through my nose to filter out the dust pouring through the open window. I’d shut off the air-conditioning hours ago to keep my wreck from overheating.
It wasn’t like I’d have to live in this dusty wasteland forever. I wanted to test myself in unfamiliar terrain, face life head-on, and prove I had healed. Then I could go back to normal life, stronger and ready to face more ordinary challenges. I didn’t have to love it here; I only had to survive.
But my eyes, adapted to New England’s green trees and grass, slowly started to appreciate this different palette. A painter probably could have named a dozen shades of brown, along with the soft reds—gentle shades of pink and orange and rust and purple—from the sandstone mesas. The scant vegetation added muted, dusty green. The rare patch of yellow wildflowers looked shockingly bright. And above it all lay the vast sky, incredibly blue and so bright it hurt my eyes to look up, even with sunglasses.
I gave a low whistle. “You’re not in Boston anymore.”
I saw a bump on the horizon, a tan cube that stood out against the undulating mesas only because of its straight lines and sharp angles. I took a quick breath and felt my heart rate speed. Almost there. I blamed the churning in my stomach on the spicy food from lunch and turned up the short drive to the visitors center.
I had my choice of a dozen empty parking spots. I only saw one other vehicle, an aging pickup pulled around the side of the building. I spent a minute brushing my hair and pulling it into a ponytail. A glance in the rearview mirror told me that nothing but a long shower would make up for the dust and sweat turning my brown hair muddy. I wasn’t likely to get a shower for a while, but fortunately people expected archaeologists to look grungy. Maybe today I’d avoid the raised eyebrows because I looked too young to be a real archaeologist.
I couldn’t think of another excuse for dawdling, so I took a deep breath and stepped from the car. “You wanted this,” I muttered. “Now take it and make it yours.”

My watch said 5:40, and the sun was well above the horizon. I had enough time for a hike around the canyon. The map said the Towers Loop was only a mile long. I grabbed the map and filled a bottle of water, then started walking.
I hurried along the trail until I reached the canyon rim, where I stopped and grinned. The canyon cut across the land in front of me—maybe more of a ravine, really, several miles long but only a quarter-mile across and a few hundred feet deep. The bottom looked shady and cool, while the sun lit up the small ruin to my right.
The now-roofless structure wouldn’t impress anyone but an archaeologist—except for the way it perched recklessly atop a thirty-foot boulder. The boulder sloped at a sharp angle, so it looked like the whole structure should slide into the canyon. And it had been there for over 700 years! I skimmed the pamphlet and confirmed what I remembered: Stronghold House was part of a large pueblo that once filled the canyon slope below. Ironically, the lower floors built down in the canyon had crumbled and been washed away, so now only the top story remained, safe on the enormous boulder.
I spotted carved hand and toeholds in the rock, leading up to the low doorway. I tried to imagine the Anasazi living there centuries before, scrambling up the steep side of the boulder as easily as I walked up the stairs to my second-floor apartment. I half-closed my eyes to blur my vision and tried to picture the way it must have been before the walls crumbled and the roof collapsed. I imagined small, tanned people in loincloths, women on the roof, crouched over their work, children playing nearby, men returning from hunting or working their cultivated fields. I could almost hear their cheerful shouts.
I opened my eyes and turned down the path along the canyon rim, humming with pleasure. For the next few weeks, this would be my playground.
The next site on the map was just a vandalized rock shelter, and the trail guide complained that people had torn down the walls before it could be excavated. Only part of one wall and a jumble of stones remained. But the guide also mentioned that the site might have yielded storage jars or food remains, had it been left for archaeologists. Since my interest was ancient food, I decided to creep down for a closer look.
I moved carefully, so as not to disturb the loose rocks, and squatted near the biggest pile of rubble. I gently lifted a few broken pieces, putting them back in the same place after I’d examined them. I couldn’t do much with the fragments, but as always, I marveled over touching something from the past.
Tomorrow would be soon enough for scientific method, for testing and hypothesizing. Tonight I only wanted to touch the magic of this ancient world. I closed my eyes and tried to feel some ancient presence, to hear whispers from the past. The air seemed to tremble with possibilities. If only I believed in magic—
A shout slashed the air. I twisted so fast I tumbled onto my backside.
I gaped up at the man towering over me. Bare chest, muscular and bronzed. Black hair pulled back from a face full of sharp planes and angles. Dark eyes fierce under scowling brows.
My heart jolted painfully. I’d come face to face with an ancient warrior. He was gorgeous.
And furious.
At me.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Nucking Futs and tidbit links

Nucking Futs was inspired in part by my misfortunate viral mishap written up in the Guardian last year.  Now playing at Bats Theatre in NZ, from 12th-21st. The Play is a comedy about Life and Literature online. With its trademark dark humour, uses Nucking Futs to explore how the internet can feed delusions of grandeur and prey on people's naivety for the amusement of others.

Written by Cherie Jacobson and Alex Lodge
Directed by Ed Watson

at BATS, Wellington
Until 21 Apr 2012

Hi Guys,
Being I'm a bit of a Playwright myself, I thought I'd share this! And seeing that I haven't written anything as yet on my blog about Plays, why not start here?

Apparently this dark comedy Play had a full house and was hilariously funny! I wish I could have been the fly on the wall, but I don't think I'll be catching any flights to New Zealand to see it. I guess were just have to wait and see if it plays in a theatre near me! There are two main reviews. In reflection I found John Smythe's review to be quite interesting. John Smythe is the managing editor and critc of  His also a writer of plays for stage, television and film.

Have a great day!


Links to reviews

New Zealand theatre reviews, performace reviews and performing arts directory

Nucking Futs – from the team that brought us Tea for Toot – is inspired by the phenomenon of independent writers self-publishing e-books online in the virtual (but not exactly virtuous) minefield of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and 'reality' television.

Cleo has launched herself with a romance novel called Her Moist Abyss, which involves caving. A subsequent incident at a Whanganui Writers Week Q&A session – captured by way of a prologue – has led to her taking time out to meditate at what she is pleased to call a spiritual retreat and health spa.
She has also hired "a documentary crew to make a self-promotional film about ‘the woman behind the words'," as the media release puts it. The detail of who is paying what for this is glossed over, but it does become apparent Cleo has not retained any sort of editorial right over what footage gets used and how. She is not allowed to call "cut" and Chip the cameraman keeps saying he can make no promises about what may or may not be used, although it is not clear who he answers to or who holds what rights over the accumulating footage (or do we call it bytes these days?).

Comment excerpts from John Smythe's review.

Thanks for that, Martyn.  I do have a note about Rod's Reads, following the first Insecure Writers' Support Group scene and before the reveal about Raoul. I just didn't clock it as the catalyst for "the whole show". Perhaps I missed a time-shift thing, or was it a bit of backstory exposition. Does Cleo respond to the Rod's Reads review, and to the responses to her responses, within the present action of the play?
I'll come again on Tuesday (prior to Other People's Wars) and if I realise I have factually misrepresented the play, I will add a correction to this thread.  

"On the second viewing I do see how Nucking Futs aims to confront the phenomenon of internet cruelty. Right at the start Cleo reports that she got a bad review on Rob's Reads but she's carted off before she can give us the guts. Later she and Diane deliver some expository reportage on what happened. But nothing in the present action of the play allows us to either empathise with her outrage or fear for what will happen to her, given her behaviour.

(Spoiler alert) Chip the cameraman and Raoul/Trent the predatory blogger do collude to exploit the delusional vulnerability of Cleo. Chip is a film school grad trying to get a break (so presumably is doing this for nothing) and Trent … Well I still don't see why he is going to all the trouble of physically entering her life to mess with her. (ends) I mean most 'meanness by meme' happens on the net in a series of mindless passing moments where the perpetrators don't stop to think about the actual person they are making fun of. That is the nature of what the play sets out to explore."

Yes it's quite entertaining – very sometimes – in its idiosyncrasy. But there is little drama, no build up of tension and so no release, built into the dramatisation. And there is no opportunity to engage empathetically with Cleo. If the play allowed us to first feel tempted to laugh at Cleo, then realise the ridicule had gone too far and feel compassion for her, while questioning our own attitudes and responses, it would be much more effective, theatrically and socially.
As it stands we just get to appraise the situation objectively. 

Click Here to read the full review by John Smythe
About LIfe and Literature online: review

Bats Theatre: Tickets.

For those of you unfamiliar with my side of the facts back then, concerning the Big AL incident, I wrote a blog titled: In retrospect. A public, viral announcement:

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