Name Blaze McRob
Where are you from?
I was born in New Jersey but was a resident of the world for awhile, living all over the United States and around the planet.
A little about your self `ie your education, Family life, etc.
My education came late in life. I have five Masters Degrees and two PhD’s in Physics. At my age, you could say I’m over-qualified for everything as far as education goes.
I married Terri DelCampo this past September after meeting her online about a year and a half ago. After asking her to be my date at the Bram Stoker Award Banquet, I came to Georgia for the World Horror Convention last May and got down on my gnarly knees and proposed to her after I had been here for a matter of hours. We have a lot in common: our love of writing and reading horror and much more. It doesn’t hurt that we have great senses of humor and laugh our asses off together. We have recently purchased a couple of nerf guns with extra ammo and enjoy shooting away. My ass is getting black and blue, however. We are also known as the cute couple in Alpharetta, the city in Georgia that we call home.
I have eight children by previous marriages. Three of my wives died. One, I divorced. That’s enough talk about her.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Wow! That’s a tall order. Terri and I started up Blazing Owl Press in October and we already have two short story collections we both wrote tales for, Blood Spatter and Silver Hells, and a novel of mine, Mists Of Papoose Pond. Also, just the other day Lori R. Lopez and I finally published a lengthy short story, Tides Of Chaos, that we had originally written together five years ago. It’s a far out book.
In addition to short story collections and a novel that Terri and I will both be writing, Wolf Whispers, I will have a number of novels coming out this year: Ghost No More, Quarter Moon Haunts, ’68 Buick, and Destiny Changed. All of these are horror novels, and they will all have sequels next year, as well as one for, Mists Of Papoose Pond.
Zack Kullis and I have a short story collection coming out called Club Blaze. This is really over the top horror. I had originally planned on getting this out last year, but that did not materialize. It’s for the better, however, as I want to make certain it blows everyone’s minds away.
I have a bunch of other novels written that I need to get up and out some time as well. Also, Terri and I will be co-authoring a non-fiction book about fishing, crabbing, boating and the like. One more collection of short stories I have to put out, at least Volume one this year, is Dogs, Skunks, And Other Runners. For many years, I was a world class ultramarathon runner, and I have quite a collection of stories to tell.
All of this is latest news because I work on many things at the same time.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Being a huge fan of Mickey Spillane, I wrote a detective novel at the age of nine. I was unable to find a publisher for it, however. In the seventies, I wrote some commercial training books for Taco Bell.
My serious horror writing began in 1986. I was told I had six months to live – brain cancer – and I had a novel in my head that screamed to be written before I bit the dust and went to the big typewriter in the sky. Thirty years later and I’m still here. I finished that novel and seventy four others during my stint as a ghostwriter. I wrote for some of the best authors in the world. Why did I take that path? Because my wife was a manic depressive lady with a gambling habit. I stashed the money away in trust funds and never took a dime for any of those books myself. All the money went to charities I trusted.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself to be a writer from the first moment I put pen to paper on my novel at the age of nine. I never get writers block. Writing comes easy for me. I view it as one word after another. Nothing difficult about that.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first horror novel was because I had the story in my soul and it screamed for release. And, I was on a time schedule, one I didn’t really have to worry about as it turned out. The novel when I was nine was written because I was bullied and looked down on due to my stuttering and wanted to show my teachers and the other students that I was better than they thought I was.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I get a picture in my mind and write to that visual acuity. Since I am no longer restricted in how I write – I no longer ghost write – I prefer 1st person present tense. I don’t like the fly on the wall third person approach. All of my stories contain a part of me in them and what better way to paint the picture for my readers than to express my innermost thoughts and feelings? For some people, this is difficult because they cannot avoid the passive approach to writing. For me, this is simple.
An example would be to say, The wind blew the leaves down the hill and against the sides of the old storage shed, instead of saying, I watched the wind pile the leaves up against the old storage shed. A subtle change that makes a big difference to the flow of a tale.
Fiona: How did you come up with the titles?
My titles come to me from the picture in my head as I get ready to write my words. Sometimes, the title appears to me quickly. Other times, not so much. However, I never start writing a book until I have a title. Then it’s full steam ahead. One important thing I do is to check on Amazon and other sources to make certain that there are no other books written with the same title as mine. If there are, I’ll change my title. I want it to be distinct. All mine.
A lot of my novels come from dreams, so I have a good idea of what I want the title to say. I keep them short and not totally descriptive. The words inside the covers can tell the story. The title and cover are to draw the interest of readers.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, but I leave it to them. I always use a good versus evil message, but the good does not always win. And, don’t mistake the usual conceptions and beliefs to hold true in my stories. God and Satan could very well be not at all the way you are used to having them portrayed. There might also be not only blacks and whites, but varying shades of gray as well.
However, if all my readers want is a good book that allows them to escape from the world for a bit and not have to wrap their minds around social issues, that is great. We all need time to get away from it all.
Fiona: How much of your books are realistic ?
This is another place where I go all over the spectrum. I pretty much write the story I want to write, whatever is in my head at the time. Some of this is true to life, so to speak, and some is not. Who is to be the arbiter of realism?
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As warped as some of my stories are at times, parts of every one are based on my real-life experiences. Yes, the levels of embellishment might vary, but there is much floating around in my gray matter. I never forget anything, so I have an infinite source of material. Add that to the wonky world of current events with murders, terrorism, and the like, and the juices start flowing when I sit down at the keyboards and play with the letters.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
While I have always loved the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, and more, I cannot say I have been influenced by them. Of course, I enjoyed their stories, but I would never pattern my life or stories after them. My books, styling and all, are mine alone.
Saying that, I have no mentors. I firmly believe it is up to every author to write the best story they can. No one can write your story better than you.
Remember, no author is better than you, and you are no better than any other author.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading a number of books at the present time. Some of them are on marketing and formatting, since I want to learn these things. I just finished 1984 by George Orwell for about the tenth time. I’m re-reading Mein Kampf. Not because I like Hitler. It’s because I find it hard to understand how people can blindly follow such an obviously deranged man. Sounds like I’m concerned about the current state of affairs on this spinning orb, doesn’t it? I am. I don’t like what I see.
I’m also reading a new Snoopy book, and a few Calvin And Hobbes books.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There are many new authors who have grabbed my interest. Terri DelCampo, of course, is at the top of my list. That being said, I have so many authors who I admire that it would be unfair to leave anyone out. I will soon be doing my Women In Horror posts and you will see hundreds of women on my website and other links that I have below. There are many men in my list of favorite authors also. It’s not difficult to find whose books I enjoy reading.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
In addition to what I posted above, I have a lot more writing to be done. Novels and short stories. Many of my novels are series and need a second and third one done. And I have to make certain the hundreds of stories I have written are categorized and made available for collections down the line.
I have some prior commitments to a few authors that I need to handle also.
That being said, I have offered my editing services to a new Press coming out real soon. I’ll have more word on that when things are firmed up. I will be helping the Press with marketing as well. I only accepted to help out under the condition that my services are to be gratis. There are many great authors coming aboard, and the owner is a wonderful lady and wants to do right by her authors.
Terri and I have plenty of work to keep us busy for more than a year already at Blazing Owl Press, and Terri has taken my advice and is writing stories for other Presses as well as ours.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’m pretty much a Lone Ranger type and let my work speak for itself. Sure, I have had many friends along the way with words of encouragement, but none that I would say supported me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is already my career. I enjoy spinning my yarns and don’t need fancy, expensive gadgets around me. I suppose that making a lot of money in the business would be cool, but it’s not the end game. Writing is a process. One that I enjoy. Since I never know exactly how my stories will end – they change constantly – I am a reader of my own tales as well as a story teller.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Once any of my books is finished, that’s it. Time for the next one. I have a lot of sequel novels coming up, so I can continually throw some more logs on the fire of creativity and let them roar.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child, I felt the need to be appreciated by the rest of my class in school. Stuttering left a stigma of ignorance with the other kids that I wanted to clear away. I had to succeed. If I hadn’t, they would have won.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
GHOST NO MORE
The fire takes the chill out of the cabin. Even though it’s early fall, the air has quite a nip to it. I hadn’t planned on being here at all: sometimes, things happen.
There are plenty of logs stacked by the fireplace. As isolated as this place is, there are no power lines anywhere. Fire for heat, and candles for any extra light if I should need it. That’s about it.
I should be in the city right now, enjoying the fame of my new novel. Yeah, that’s what I should be doing. Instead, I’m holed up in the mountains, away from everyone, in a one room cabin with just the bare necessities. It’s a nice cabin, knotty pine paneling adorning all the interior walls, the light texture of the wood capturing the dancing flames, shadows moving in and out of every nook and cranny, the corners displaying the more unique of the patterns. This is supposed to calm me, to take away the anxiety, putting my mind at ease.
I’ve been fucked over; to the max. For more years than I can remember, I’ve been a ghost writer, one of those guys that no one knew even existed until just a little while ago. I had my reasons. And, if truth be told, I did pretty damned well. We split the money. The author under whose name I wrote benefited when he couldn’t meet a deadline because good old Bob would have one ready for him. And, of course, more novels were sold in his name than would have ever been sold under mine. A win/ win for both of us.
But now, I want to change all of that. This time, I have written my finest work and I plan to have it come out under my name.
Yes, that’s the plan, but it’s not going to happen. My bastard of an agent knew the novel for what it truly is and sold the rights to the highest bidder. No one knows who I am! Shit, I don’t have a leg to stand on!
All the reviews say this is the ultimate horror novel: the perfect combination of horror with just the right amount of gore added in. I agree. Only now, it won’t go out in my name.
What more can I do other than stew over it, pushing myself into a state of depression unlike any I have ever had before. This was to be my crowning achievement. Now it’s my saddest hour.
Even the PTSD can’t compare to this. The memories of all that happened in ‘Nam weighing on my mind; the same dreams spinning in my head night after night, always having the same endings, never coming to a happy conclusion: always death; cold, hard calculated death. I’ve been taking medication for this, seeing the shrinks; all the stuff they’ve wanted me to do I’ve done. For what? So my mind can be completely snowballed under by treachery.
Jack Slade. One great author: fantastic resume; 38 novels to his credit. I’m more Slade than he is. I’ve written 29 of those books. And here he is, waltzing around, waving my book in his hand, espousing this to be THE definitive work. Jack Slade, the modern day Poe, they’re calling him. Poe, my ass!
Up here, I don’t have to listen to the newscasts, look at the book reviews, or see my books on the shelves. My publisher says we have to go along with all this hype to make this the success it can be. Money. Filthy lucre. Sure, I’m making money on this, but the novel could stand on its own. There is no hype needed.
Night becomes day. The fire still roars. It should; I’ve been up all night tending to it. Sleep: like I could have slept with this festering in my brain. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Perhaps I should have stayed in the city. I don’t know. Confusion is eating away at me. Is this the way it’s always going to be? Will I never be accepted as Robert Schantz, horror writer supreme? Am I to constantly toil in the foxhole of behind the scenes shenanigans?
If I were to go with a different publishing house, how would I explain my past writing? Contractual obligations; I can’t fucking discuss any of this. Sure, I have the contracts in my possession. But by displaying them, I would void them. Shit! They might make me pay the money back.
I put some more logs on the fire and go out for a walk to clear my head. Maybe a plan will pop into my head. Something. Anything.
The cool air is perfect for thinking; the gray matter just sizzles. Yes, as ludicrous as things are playing out in my head, I think I can make this work. It has to be done just right. But, yeah…
I almost run back to the cabin and pack. I have to get to the city fast, before everything goes crazy. Before it’s too late.
The jeep is packed and I’m on my way in a flash. Fortunately I keep an ample supply of water in the cabin and am able to douse it well. I won’t be back here for a while now,
The city is a lot warmer than the mountains are. My loft apartment is pretty stifling. I open all the windows and put fans to work to get it all aired out. From where I live, I can look down on the huge Barnes and Noble store, site of next week’s book launch. Jack got his start, signing his first novel here- actually my first novel- and the rest… the rest is history.
If all goes well, Jack will not be signing here next week. No; the great Robert Schantz, man of the mighty pen will make his debut. And the debut will indeed be grand.
I give my agent a jingle. As usual, he’s not there, so I leave a message. My guess is that he’s probably sitting in his over-sized swivel chair, feet up on his desk, chuckling away as he’s listening to me ramble on. He’s not really my agent of choice. I sort of inherited him. Rich, my first agent and a very good friend, would have never let this happen to me. God rest his soul; I miss him so much.
Two can play at this game- I know where he lives. When nightfall comes, I’ll pay him a visit. Then I won’t have to worry about him anymore.
A smile creeps across my face. This will be like a dress rehearsal for another novel. Yes, that’s what it will be.
My plan is simple actually. The players will be assembled, each in his own little place, and the play will go on.
* * * *
Darkness, that place where things go on that befuddle the mind. The unknown springs to life here, creating illusions that seem so real, and yet…
Yes, this is my time. I write about it, and I dwell there. My writing comes from within. The soul of my existence, both present and past, are entrenched in this nether land of despair and agony which are the larger part of the real me.
For many people, this darkness is a place to flee. They haven’t learned, the way I have, that embracing this part of our souls completes us as a person. It makes us real; whole. Leave out the bad and we choke on the fallacies of a perfect place.
Nothing is perfect. Nothing.
It is in this darkness that I make my way to John’s office. Originally, I had planned to confront him at his house, but what good would that do? What I’m looking for must be in his office
I park a few blocks away and walk to the building where my faithful agent performs his treachery.
Shit! The outer door is locked. I could open it easy enough with my little set of tools, but there is too much light here: I would be easily spotted .I remember leaving through an alley door once when maintenance was being performed on the entry floor tiles.
To the rear.
This is perfect. No one is around, and except for one little naked bulb, there is no light.
I check one last time before attempting my entry. The tumblers click under my magic touch, and I’m in.
Security cameras are everywhere, but that little problem is taken care of. A hat, some makeup, and an obscure, artificial nose change my looks completely. I won’t stand out at all.
I take the elevator to the third floor and walk to John’s office. There are no lights on in any of the offices that I pass, and no light appears from under any of the doors I can see up ahead. However, to play it safe, I walk to the end of the hall to double check. I was right: no lights.
A couple of clicks, and I’m in. Now to check the files. With the gloves I’m wearing – complete see through latex that won’t reflect any light – I won’t have any hassles with prints. Not that it really makes any huge difference. What I’m after belongs to me and I’m not supposed to exist anyway according to my publishing house or agent.
Stupidity abounds: what I’m looking for is sitting in the file cabinet under Schantz. I was thinking I would have to tap into the safe, but no such problem. This is too easy. All the evidence is here; signed contracts, a copy of my hand written MS ( I have the original ) , and my request to publish this in my own name. All I have to do now is put it all together: a nice little package with a tight, perfect bow, and a congratulatory tag that says, “Congratulations, Robert Schantz.”
“Bob, what are you doing in my office?”
I turn and see John standing behind me. “Just taking what is rightfully mine. You fucked me over, John.”
“You are such a fool, Robert. Did you think the people at Penguin would take a chance on you, an unknown?”
The anger builds inside me. I want to place my hands around his scrawny neck and squeeze until his worthless life becomes a mere memory. “This unknown, as you put it, is responsible for putting a lot of food on their tables; not to mention fancy cars in their garages.”
“All in Slade’s name. Not yours.”
“Slade is a hack.”
“I’ll agree with you, but you made him what he is. It’s too late to change now.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, John. I’m going public with this. One way or the other, my name will be on this manuscript.”
John is infuriated and jumps at me, hitting his target and knocking me into the file cabinets. Before I can even react, he is pummeling me for all he’s worth. Somehow, I manage to kick him off of me and towards his desk. In a rage, he reaches inside his waistband and pulls out a revolver I had no idea was there, a sickeningly small looking weapon for a man to wield, but at the distance separating us, it looks awesome.
A huge smile drapes itself on his face as he cocks the hammer, but no shots ring out. The air in front of him becomes a monstrous display of electrical discharge. The look of a winner is no longer present on his face. Fear, down and dirty, replaces it.
Three of them, so repulsive looking I almost puke at the mere sight of them, come crawling out from within the menacing vortex and slowly advance towards John.
Damn! It’s happening. It’s actually happening!
This is chapter one of a rather lengthy novel.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing the story is the easy part. The many edits to polish it before my editor gets it is much more work.
At present, getting my tales out without glutting the market is the tough part. I have so many of them.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Terri DelCampo is my favorite author. She is much more literary than I am. I write horror/ adventure stories a lot. I always end each chapter with a cliff-hanger that must be addressed at the beginning of the following chapter. Terri’s stories flow. They take as much or little time as they need. Nothing is forced. When she has finished, the reader is in awe.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I traveled from Wyoming to Georgia last year for the Horror Convention and Bram Stoker awards. I remained in Georgia and Terri and I got married. Both of us are shackeled in how much we can travel because of physical limitations, so we’ll just have to see what we can handle. There are many places we would love to go, but I’m afraid we won’t be able to go to all of them. In this modern day of internet communications, an author is able to accomplish a lot from home.So, we can still publish quite a few books.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Terri has designed all the covers so far. I’ll be adding some soon, as well. Neither of us go for the glossy look on a cover. Between the two of us, we’ll be putting out painted covers, some with computer enhancing perhaps. Sue Midlock did the cover for ’68 Buick, which I like a lot.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your books?
For many years, it was finding the time to sit down and write. I wrote in notebooks for years and my agent had a typist put her skills to work before the Publishers saw them. By using the notebooks, I could write anywhere: breaks and lunches at work, in the bathroom, or any other room in the house. If one wants to write, an author will find the time. I learned how and did it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
I learned that humans and situations are complex; that there are no constants; and that the planet is filled with evil. Obviously, I’m a pessimist. The only way to be an optimist is to be prepared for the worst. Pretty deep thinking, I suppose, but to me it makes sense. I don’t wish to be put in a bad situation. That’s not to say I roll around in pits of despair. That’s for my story people.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t make excuses. If you want to write, write. Study the craft. Don’t submit shit to Publishers. Send them your best. Be prepared to help market your books. Become friends with other authors. Don’t make a pain of yourself. If someone helps you out, thank them. Spread the word about them. Don’t be a spam monster. There are limits to pounding on your chest, telling the world how good you are. Tell the world how good other authors are. That’s the best way to present yourself as a good author and a decent person.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy my tales.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Complete Works Of Edgar Allan Poe. I was five years old and got it from the school library. I could read before I started school and had read bits and pieces of the Bible. That’s how I learned. Poe wrote a lot better than the folks who wrote the chapters in the Bible.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Teri DelCampo makes me laugh. Most of the rest of humanity makes me cry, except for people who buy and read my books. And my friends make me happy. I am blessed to have many.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
Charlemagne. For the simple reason I believe in past lives and know the bastard killed me. I would show him no mercy the second time around.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Terri and I both will be cremated, me after total body donation. No headstones. I would love to have my ashes, what little there would be, scattered to either the winds in the mountains or the ocean. That depends on the prevailing laws and environmental impact. My mind will hang around and annoy the crap out of people.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love fishing, running, lifting weights, and biking. However, I have physical limitations which have put the kabob on my exercise. I can still do a mean Jitter Monkey, dancing to the bands at Food Truck Alley on our date night. Also, Terri and I enjoy our games of Nerf Gun battle. We have plenty of ammo.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t own a TV. We watch movies, mainly on DVD. Horror rules with me!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love coffee, beer, peanut butter, and whatever Terri cooks for me. I consider coffee and beer to be foods. Terri says I have to cut down on both of them, so I grudgingly do.
Red, blood red, is my favorite color.
With music, I enjoy rock, jazz, blues, metal, and country. I do not like opera or rap, which is, to me, merely talking.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I have done pretty much everything. Construction, insulation, I was a cook and chef, I worked for NASA, I ran my own janitorial business, worked in a number of factories and more. I would have loved to have been a professor, but since I stutter that never came to be.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?