Podcast Interview

Recently, Mike Phillips asked if I’d like to be on his podcast and talk about the struggles with my old publisher and what it took to break free from their shoddy practices. We talk about drug addictions, death, and many other fun things that can be found in my writing. Here is a link to Mike’s Podcast

As a reminder, I’ll be reading from Hounds of the Hunted tonight at 6pm at the awesome taproom named Three Mugs in Hillsboro, Oregon. They have something like 22 beers from all over the world on tap. That’s just right for a hot day like today — 98* is the forecast — ouch! Hopefully I won’t drink too much before I read, but then again, it might make things more interesting. Jake Elliot

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Seven Questions with Author Dina Rae

Halo of the Damned was released in the springtime of 2012. It is a pleasure to have this seasoned author write a little bit about her craft for us. Here is Seven Questions with Dina Rae, explorer of the paranormal, with cunning stories of both urban and historical conspiracies.

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1) Hi Dina, welcome to my little corner of virtual space. Where in the world are you? Tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks so much for having me!  I used to be a teacher but got laid-off.  During my lay-off I wrote three novels and almost finished a fourth.  I currently work as a substitute teacher and chess instructor.  Although I live outside of Chicago, I take advantage of the city and enjoy all it has to offer.  Besides author, I am a wife, mother, Christian, and professional tennis player (in my mind, but I love to play)!

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2) I just downloaded your story, The Last Degree, what can I expect inside. Tell us a little about your other books.

 It’s a work of fiction, but a great deal of research about Freemasonry, Apocalypse, New World Order and other conspiracy theories, secret societies, and the prepper movement went into the story. The Last Degree is one of those books that you will either love or hate.  In fact, I haven’t received a three star review yet.  I have a 4.0 avg./23 reviews.  Some people were offended by it and others have no prior knowledge on any conspiracy theories.  If you like Alex Jones, Dan Brown, Jesse Ventura, History Channel, etc., you’ll love it!

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3) I stole this question from another author, now I ask it to everybody. The zombie apocalypse arrives: who do you want on your response team?

The cast from Doomsday Preppers, the Boy and Girl Scouts, FEMA, and whoever holds the keys to the Denver Airport’s underground maze of bunkers!

4) Who are your favorite authors and/or books?

I love Dan Brown, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George RR Martin, Tom Wolfe, Preston and Childs, LaHaye and Jenkins, Joel Rosenberg, too many to count.

I know this sounds bad, but I prefer male authors to female ones.  Generally speaking, men add a lot of researched details and don’t get wordy with descriptions whereas women generally sound like they are bullshitting––E.L. James comes to mind.  I’m of course the exception to this rule––LOL––and James is bullshitting her way to the bank!

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5) I know what scares me; what scares you?

The scariest thing in the world is losing someone you love.  Nothing can ever compare.  Heights terrify me.  Whenever a movie uses them for suspense my heart picks up several beats.

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6) I’ve heard really good things about Halo of The Damned, would there be any other fallen angel books on your horizon?

Thanks so much for asking. It’s a paranormal lover’s type of horror story.  Again, lots of research went into it. It’s about fallen angels, Enoch, a real religion that worships angels (Yezidism), nephilim, and the advertising world. It received some great reviews-4.3 avg/42 ratings on Goodreads and was chosen as the Paranormal Horror Group’s September Read-very proud of that.  It is currently being given away on Goodreads.  And yes, I am almost finished with the sequel.

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7) A friend of mine says these two movies defined our generation. He, my smart friend, suspects these two movies have great cultural significance. Do you like Star Wars, or Grease? Which is better?

Great question!  I’m 43 years old so am very much a product of the Star Wars vs. Grease segment of society.  I just took my daughter to see Grease the play and it sucked compared to the movie, but loved it as a little girl.  Played the record too many times to count and have all of the songs memorized.  Didn’t get Star Wars back then.  Watched it many years later as an adult-the lightbulb flashed on.  So many hidden symbols, made me think of the Bible, God vs. Satan.  Really brilliant series.  George Lucas was one of the smartest business men, really knew how to market his product.

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Here is an excerpt from The Last Degree by Dina Rae

Prologue

“I am sending you a master craftsman named Hiram-abi, who is extremely talented.  His mother is from the tribe of Dan in Israel, and his father is from Tyre.  He is skillful at making things from gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and he also works with stone and wood.

2 Chronicles 2:13-14

The mystery of Hiram Abif originates from the Biblical passage above.  Secret societies have given him credit for constructing Solomon’s temple.  According to legend, Hiram used talented craftsman and secrecy, such as passwords for orchestrating its construction.

Solomon didn’t like Hiram’s growing power, along with the attraction the Queen of Sheba had for him.  Some scholars imply he may have had something to do with his death.  Hiram remains the primary protagonist and martyr in modern day Masonic circles.

 

Chapter 1

Chicago, 2000

It was a rainy, dark fall day in Wrigleyville, an upscale north-side neighborhood.  The rain violently splattered onto the concrete of Waveland Avenue.  Although a big city, in this neighborhood crime generally amounted to alcohol related offenses such as DUIs, bar room brawls, and public intoxication which was usually festive Cub fans oblivious to the limits of celebrating. This day was different.

“911?  There’s a body in my alleyway, behind a dumpster.  I’m behind Waveland Avenue, 1269 West.  I think he’s dead!  He looks like my neighbor…don’t know his name.  I’m checking for his pulse right now, but nothing,” reported an elderly resident who was walking her dog.

At 10:02 a.m. an ambulance appeared on the scene, minutes after the initial phone call.  The paramedics confirmed no pulse, and then called the coroner for an official ruling of death.  The scene was then turned over to Lead Detectives Ann Wilson and Rich Stephanski.  By 11:00 a.m., the 1200 block of Waveland was declared a crime scene.  The detectives yellow-taped the area while uniformed officers coned off the street.

Due to the relentless rain, both detectives wore raincoats and carried traditional black umbrellas. They hurriedly moved in to investigate, fearing the rain might wash away the evidence.  The victim appeared to be a young white male without identification, dressed in a gray wool cable-knit sweater and blue jeans.  He was clean shaven with dirty blonde hair.

Ann took several pictures of the surrounding area and body with her Olympus digital camera.  Her partner lifted the shoulders of the body to have a better look at the victim’s face.  Rigamortis began to set.

“Ann, check this out.  His throat has been slit.  This sweater is soaked with blood.  The wool acts like a sponge.  Maybe we’ll find some blood in there that isn’t his,” Rich said.

“Let’s move the body into the meat wagon,” insisted Ann as she motioned for assistance from two uniformed cops.

“Looky what I’ve found,” yelled Detective Dan O’Leary from across the alleyway.  “Is this a human tongue?”

The detectives surrounded him for a closer look.

“Good work, Dan,” praised Ann.  “It’s definitely a tongue.  The tendons are hanging off of the thicker end, like it was ripped out of the vic’s mouth.  Look at the tip.  It was intentionally split.”

Detective Wilson crawled into the back of the ‘meat wagon’ and unzipped the body bag.  She took her pen and pried the victim’s mouth open.  “What do you know…We have what looks like a tongue and a victim that’s missing a tongue.”  Ann glanced back.  “Coincidence?”  She had a hard time seeing through her soaked grayish brown hair that was pressed against her small face.  She had to keep putting her umbrella down in order to take more photographs of the scene.

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Dina has me over at her site, here is the link — http://www.dinaraeswritestuff.blogspot.com/2012/10/author-jake-elliot-stops-by.html

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Seven Questions with Gary Olson

Gary Olson wrote The Goldilocks Zone, my favorite short story in Fading Light; Anthology of the Monstrous. Gary has a great sense of humor and I knew his answers to my kooky questions would be a great addition to my collection of new and impressive authors.

Seven questions, Mr. Olson—

1)  Tell us a little about Brutal Light, is it your debut novel? How would you classify it, what genre? Who is the protagonist? What makes your story so unique? In other words, tell us about your latest book.

Hey, that’s five questions right there!  Two more and I’m done!

Ha.  Anyway, Brutal Light is indeed my first published novel, albeit my fifth or sixth stab at writing one.  It’s been classified as dark fantasy, which is probably the most accurate as far as popular categorizations go, though in the years I was slinging it at various slush piles, I would sometimes push it as a horror novel.  If I was going to shamelessly hype it up for a movie producer, I’d describe it as “Philip K. Dick meets Clive Barker.”  A reviewer described it as my having set myself a difficult challenge, “to depict the kind of interleaved, convoluted, and multi-layered world at which China Mieville is certainly adept.”

The center of the book is Kagami Takeda, a runaway with a connection to the Radiance, a merciless and godlike sea of light.  The connection comes at a cost–anyone who is around her for too long either develops a paranormal ability or, more often, goes insane.  At the novel’s opening, she’s nearly a shut-in, working from an apartment she shares with her lover, a detective named Nick Havelock (who, due to his association with her, developed a finding ability and experiences some rather nasty bloody visions).  But people she’s hurt in the past catch up to her, and she’s forced to run again as they and other parties interested in unlimited power try to take over her body and her mind.

It’s a book that I knew from the start would be difficult to classify.  I was letting my freak flag fly on this one, mixing metaphysics with action and bloody carnage and putting off worrying about how to explain it.  It’s not that I didn’t think it would have an audience–I know there are plenty of readers out there like me who enjoy books like these–it was just a question of finding that audience.  I was very happy it found a home with Damnation Books–a publisher that takes chances attracts readers who take chances.

2) Where did you come up with such an interesting story? What inspired it?

In a way, it was the culmination of a sort of tale I’ve been telling for the past fifteen or so years, in which someone with a great deal of power struggles with the consequences, mental and physical, of having this power.  I went through several iterations of this theme in my writing for the Superguy list in the mid-nineties, and later on in my first attempts at writing a novel.  (Or, in a few versions, a group of people have to deal with someone in their midst who has a great deal of power, who may or may not act in their favor.)  The overall theme of power–its temptations and dangers, and what our response to it says about us–has fascinated me for a long time.

Brutal Light came about after a few years had passed since my last attempt at a novel.  I’d read a striking essay by Arundhati Roy, with one line that stood out in particular: “Respect strength, never power.”  It was one of those moments that crystalized a great deal of vague thought I’d had on the subject.  The conflation of power and strength is a very human impulse, and it gave me a way to approach all this stuff in my head from a new angle.

Everything else accumulated around that idea.  It ended up getting fused to my fascination with memory and how it makes us who we are, a large swath of occult and alchemical studies I’ve read, layman-level works on how the mind works and some of the extreme ways things can go wrong, and so on.

3) Have you any other stories published that you would like to mention? Where can we get our hands on them? What can we expect to see and how soon?

Brutal Light was my first publication in quite a while.  I had three short works published in the late nineties–The Body in Motion, Glass Nails, and Electricity in the Rain–that are no longer available.  I made a revised version of The Body in Motion available for subscribers to my newsletter, and will eventually do the same for Glass NailsElectricity in the Rain I’m considering for revision/expansion as a paranormal-genre novella.

I also have a short story, Something You Should Know, set in the Brutal Light universe that’s available for free from Smashwords and BarnesAndNoble.com.  It centers on a homeless woman inadvertently given (by Kagami) the paranormal ability to remove memories–generally horrifying ones–from someone, and also to force these stolen memories on someone else–people she feels deserve the pain.  It’s set a few months before the ‘present day’ action in Brutal Light, though it’s more of a standalone story than a prequel.

4) If you had three words to define yourself, what would they be? Why? You don’t have to answer, remain a mystery if you choose.

Pachycephalic.  Bibliobibuli.  Fabulist.

I love old, forgotten words, though I don’t often use them in my writing.  I would like to see ‘bibliobibuli’ brought back… it means ‘people who read too much,’ to the point they seem ‘drunk on books.’  Hic!

‘Pachycephalic’ means ‘thick-skulled,’ which is self-explanatory (heh).  ‘Fabulist’ means both ‘a composer of fables’ and ‘a liar.’  Of course, when I say I’m a liar, I could be lying…

5) What are some of your favorite books?

Now there’s a question I could go all day answering.  I have trouble keeping up with my list of favorite authors, nevermind favorite books.  But since you ask…

I’m a longtime fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  Of those, Reaper Man and The Wee Free Men are perhaps my favorites (at least today).  They manage the very difficult task of being both uproariously funny and terribly moving, often at the same time.  Of course, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series is also a favorite, though it hasn’t aged quite as well.

Frank Herbert’s Dune had a huge influence on me, as did Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illumnatus Trilogy.  William Browning Spencer’s Zod Wallop is a wildly imaginative and fun book with an ending that is as stunning and emotional as any I’ve ever read–there are passages in it that still come to mind at odd moments that make me pause and reflect.  I still have enormous fondness for Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books, as dated as they now seem.  Clive Barker’s Imajica opened up major new avenues for my imagination to explore.

On the nonfiction end, books like Stephen Pinker’s How the Mind Works and V.S. Ramachandran’s Phantoms of the Brain have fascinated me through multiple readings.  Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World also rates for how brilliantly it illuminates the trickster archetype and the value of blurring the lines in our heads.

That’s just a sampling.  In general, I don’t reread a lot, as there’s way too much good stuff out there that I still haven’t gotten to.  Any book that can compel me to read it again and again is one I treasure.

6) What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon/show when you were a little kid?

I can recall several of them, all Hanna Barbara ‘classics’ from the seventies.  Laff-a-Lympics was probably my favorite of them all, though I also loved the Road Runner cartoons, Captain Caveman, the Superfriends, Scooby-Doo, and Blue Falcon/Dynomutt.

Some of the Saturday Morning fare I most enjoyed, though, was actually live action: the Shazam/Isis Power Hour, for instance, even though I was too young to appreciate Isis fully (ahem) at the time.  Another gem was Jason of Star Command, a bargain-basement Saturday morning Star Wars knockoff which included the great Sid Haig as the villain Draco.

7) The Nevada State dinosaur is Ichthyosaurus, what is the Michigan State dinosaur? Does this inspire you? How?

It doesn’t appear (from my quick Google search) that Michigan has a State Dinosaur (unless you count Ted Nugent).  The closest we seem to have is a State Fossil… Ted Nugent.  (Ha, just kidding, it’s the Mastodon.)  Can’t say that it inspires me too much, except when I’m around a well-stocked salad bar.  (“I’m gonna rock that salad bar like a mastodon, and impale upon my tusks those who would deprive me of the bacon bits!”)

 

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Blurb for “Brutal Light”:

All Kagami Takeda wants is to be left alone, so that no one else can be destroyed by the madness she keeps at bay.  Her connection to the Radiance–a merciless and godlike sea of light–has driven her family insane and given her lover strange abilities and terrible visions.  But the occult forces that covet her access to the Radiance are relentless in their pursuit.  Worse, the Radiance itself has created an enemy who can kill her–a fate that would unleash its ravenous power on a defenseless city…

Rhea Cole is also on the run, after murdering her husband with a power she never knew she had–a power given her by a strange girl with a single touch.  Pursued by a grim man unable to dream and a dead soul with a taste for human flesh, she must contend with those who would use her to open the way to the Radiance, and fight a battle that stretches from the streets of Detroit to a forest of terrifying rogue memories.

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Bio for Gary W. Olson:

Gary W. Olson grew up in Michigan and, despite the weather, stuck around.  In 1991 he graduated from Central Michigan University and went to work as a software engineer.  He loves to read and write stories that transgress the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, while examining ideas of identity and its loss in the many forms it can have.

Away from working and writing, Gary enjoys spending time with his wife, their cats, and their mostly reputable family and friends.  His website is at http://www.garywolson.com, and features his blog, A Taste of Strange (http://www.garywolson.com/blog), as well as links to everyplace else he is on the Internet, such as Twitter (http://twitter.com/gwox) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/gary.w.olson.author).