Tuesday, April 25, 2017

SUZI ALBRACHT - WOMAN IN HORROR




Suzi Albracht is my Woman in Horror today! Suzi and I did a lengthy Q&A interview that I'm sure you will enjoy. She is a most fascinating lady. Without further adieu, here is Suzi:



Hello, Suzi Albracht. It’s nice to have you here. Before we get started with our interview could you tell us a little bit about yourself, please?

I always feel a little naked when asked to talk about myself. So let me put something on first. Ahhhh, that’s better. Well, I live near Annapolis, Maryland in a town called Bowie. That places me halfway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD.  My books take place in these metro areas so anyone who lives here will recognize some of the locations.
I spent most of my youth dividing my time between Moline, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona. In my early twenties, I married a man who became a Secret Service Agent. We eventually moved to New Jersey and then on to Maryland. We divorced (thank you, God) and later, I met my true love, Tim. We’ve been together twelve years. Life is good and I am happy.
I’ve had many interesting things happen to me along my life’s path. The first President Bush gave me a shoulder/back rub when I was visiting the compound in Maine one hot August. I went to church with Princess Diana once (she was stunning, Charles was a lot shorter than I thought he would be). My original seat was the pew right behind her, but her people moved me two rows back for some VIPs. I’ve been to Las Vegas to play pool in the APA Championship. My team did a great job, and I beat a couple of much higher ranked players, but we came up short. I won’t share all of my adventures. Where would the mystery be if I expose all?

I am a TV addict. I love The Walking Dead, ZNation, The Blacklist, Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, Ray Donavon, House of Cards, the ID channel, Ghost Adventurers, The Catch, The Son, Chicago Justice, Elementary, Big Bang Theory, Life in Pieces, Mom… I could go on, but you can see I have particular tastes. My two latest addictions are Bosch and Sneaky Pete, both on the Amazon stick. Bosch is exceptionally good. I tape a lot of shows and then watch late at night so I can zip through the commercials. They give me a good cool down from writing.
I don’t discuss religion or politics online. I have firm beliefs, but I am smart enough to know that it is better to not to go there online. There are far too many confrontational people who will just waste my time and drive me crazy if I whisper the wrong word.
I would consider myself to be a fair and giving person who loves hard. I am nice, but if you do me wrong, I will never forget. I may forgive, just to get past it, but you will never get close to me again. I am loyal to a fault. I’m into shoes and purses, they have their own room here.
And now I am naked again.



Thank you. On to our questions and answers.

Q. You say that your Twitter bio pretty much sums up you and your writing. Could you tell us what your bio says and why this explains the real Suzi?

A. Ha! Here’s my profile – “Write, scare myself, turn on all lights, write more. Play pool, kick butt/get butt kicked, write more horror, double lock door. Horror Author. ASMSG Member.”

I love horror, and I love writing it. Not the blood spurting all over the pages kind of horror but more of a psychological horror that seems like it could happen to you, me or anyone we know. So my characters are everyday people, they work in libraries, politics, the car industry, law enforcement, accounting and so on. Most of them are just trying to pay their bills and enjoy their loved ones. Kinda like us, right? I think that is why I like my own writing so much. I want to know the little things about characters. I want to know if they chew bubblegum when they are nervous or if they won’t date a red head because their red headed father deserted them. I demand they tell their dirty little secrets and then some. Their vulnerabilities are what makes the horror that’s coming so scary.

And I’m a pool player. I play on 4 teams, both 8-ball and 9-ball. So I spend a lot of time on that. And I kick ass when I can. If I play someone who is sandbagging (cheating), I make it as hard as I can for them. Sometimes, I get my butt kicked, but it is not because I went down easy.

I’m either writing or playing pool most day.

Every now and then, I’ll write a scene so scary that I’ll wake up at night, in the middle of one of my scenes, terrified that I’ll get caught. And then I wake up, feeling a little foolish. I find that the more I write, the more creatively scary my dreams become.

I guess you could say that my profile describes the two biggest motivating factors in my life outside of my boyfriend. I spend more time on the two of them every single day.



Q. Your The Devil’s Due series is fantastic! Where did you get the idea for this series, and could you name the books, as well as a bit about what each one is about?

A. Thanks. Actually, the first book was going to be called The Devil’s Due. My story then was a little different but a movie came out with the same name, and I felt that I didn’t want to be like anyone else, so I started a new book – The Devil’s Lieutenant – and made it the first book in The Devil’s Due Collection. The change in direction actually worked better for me because more ideas for additional books in the collection came to me like shooting stars. Today, I have published three books in the collection – Death Most Wicked, The Devil’s Lieutenant, and Scorn Kills. Death is now book 1, The Devil is book 2, and Scorn is companion side book 1. Coming soon is The Making of a Soul Collector. It will be companion side book 2. Don’t worry, I’ll end up scavenging my original book to include pieces as I need them, nothing I ever write goes to waste it just ends up in a different form.

I just wrote new blurbs for my books. Like them?

Death Most Wicked
Death… when it darkens a door, those inside are never prepared to face the end. At those times, when someone is taken for no other reason than to quench another’s hunger, it becomes a sordid event to be feared. And when the Devil is involved, it is indeed, a Death Most Wicked.

This is the supernatural horror story of a Homicide detective in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area who discovers that the Devil and his enforcers are operating in the dark underbelly of the city. As Mikael Ruskoff investigates a series of murder/kidnappings of little girls, evil forces are at work further complicating the situation. Mikael becomes desperate to find the killer before the next child is taken, but his efforts are thwarted every time it seems the killer might be within his reach. Meanwhile, his long-lost father turns up, wanting back into Mikael’s life, no matter the cost… to Mikael. As it turns out, he has the key to both the killer and the evil forces. Now decisions must be made.

The Devil’s Lieutenant
The Devil never does his own dirty work. He relies on the cruelty of others who come in the dark of night, carrying death in their pocket.

This is the supernatural horror story of a pair of cops from different jurisdictions who find themselves joining forces to engage in a war to halt the Devil’s pursuit of world domination. As they battle, they receive the help of an angel in the form of a young girl. At the same time, they discover their loved ones are at the mercy of an immortal enforcer who will do whatever it takes to win and force them to join the dark side.

Scorn Kills
Sometimes love sucks.

Just ask True Crime author, Bill Branch. Today, he woke up in another man’s coffin, under someone else’s body. You might ask how he got there. Bill will tell you it all started the afternoon he and his wife went to a parent teacher conference, and he met the sexiest woman on the face of the earth. His wife thinks it began when their child and her parents were killed by a drunken hockey coach and Bill decided to grieve by sleeping with his mistress. But his dead father-in-law has come back from the grave to let Bill know it started because Bill signed a fidelity contract in blood and then broke that promise. No matter who you believe, karma is up at bat, and it’s getting hot in here for Bill.



Q. You are known for getting into the personalities of your story characters. I find that fascinating. I would imagine this makes it rough when one, or more, of them has to die.

A. Yes, it is an excruciating pain that demands to be felt because I care for each and every one of them to include the minor characters and even my bad guys. In The Devil’s Lieutenant, there is a scene that ripped my heart apart. I didn’t want it to happen, but it had to take place for the integrity of the storyline. In it, I had to destroy a man’s family to bring him to his lowest point. It still bothers me to this day, but I have to remind myself that it was done for a purpose that will endure the entire collection… or until his death.

I also it is important to show the secret frailties of my bad guys and why they become they monsters they are. I have one character, Carl Royce, who is ruthless. But he was madly in love once and the loss of that relationship initiated his bitterness toward humanity. It’s not that he is without caring, it is that he had chosen to cause pain in order to ignore his own pain.



Q. Why do you write horror?

A. My mother loved drive-in theaters, and she loved two kinds of stories - Detective and Horror. So, my earliest memories are being at the drive-in and watching Dracula suck the blood of some girl. I was never scared, just fascinated. I saw all the horror films – The Mummy, Frankenstein, I don’t even remember the names of some of them because I was too young. I even remember one that I think about often. It was about some giants who were buried under mountains. They were hibernating but when they awoke, the earth shook, and the land ripped apart. Every time I’m near a mountain or even a large hill, my pulse quickens just a bit because I think, ‘What if it’s true?’

I never saw any of the creatures in those drive-in movies as ugly but rather as wretched creatures, not accepted in society. In fact, Dracula didn’t scare me until I saw Nosferatu in some artsy theater. I was an adult then and hadn’t seen the ugly side of Dracula, only the romanticized version that Hollywood presents. I have to say that I too, had a thing for the Dracula I saw on Broadway. He was sexy and romantic. Every girl wanted him to suck her blood. Me too.

Long story short the drive-in’s movies made me fall in love with horror.



Q. You are a very well organized person. I’m more of a supreme seat of the pants guy. Why do you think your approach helps you to churn out your great tales?

A.  So you noticed… well, yes, I am very organized and detailed. The organization helps me to keep my characters and their relationships straight. Plus, it helps me to remember to document those fabulous little Easter eggs that come to me in the middle of the night. It’s the organization that allows me to grow my wonderful characters who need their stories told. And it’s that organization that lets you see a character who has very real faults and personality traits that work because they are true to the character.

When it comes to writing, I do try to keep my files straight so that I can find anything at a moment’s notice. I even made a Lexicon of my characters and the places mentioned in my books. It makes it easier to weave in commonalities, and not all of a sudden make a blue-eyed character soulfully gaze at someone with her big, brown eyes.



Q. Your passion for writing is well known. Did this just start up on its own, or did something spur things along?

A. Ahhhh… another naked moment. I had a very rough childhood. My home life was chaotic and terrifying at times. However, I excelled at everything in school. Somehow in my little child mind, I recognized that escape from life was a good thing. I couldn’t be at school 24/7, but I could escape into writing. So I wrote from a very young age. Whenever my mother found my little stories, she destroyed them, but I kept writing.

Then, because I was a damaged person, I married a male version of my mother. I stopped being creative until late in my marriage when I went back to school and rediscovered writing. When I ended up in a support group for abuse victims, one of the assignments was to write a letter to my abuser and then read it out loud in group. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know why but it just didn’t work for me. So I wrote a chapter, and every time I used his name, I typed it in lower case, feeling like it was a dirty word. Well, that chapter led to another and another, and before I knew it, I had a book. Then, I took a chance. I changed the ex’s name to the normal Upper Case/Lower case format and felt enormously stronger. I felt so great that I packed that book away and began writing other books. Writing that book changed me into who I am today.

Along the way, I got an agent who claimed it was easier to sell screenplays than books. So I wrote them for a few years. I had some major producers (names you’d recognize) calling me at home and requesting to read everything I wrote. It was a fun experience until one day a producer said he was buying one of my scripts. For three weeks, I was in heaven. Then the money people backed out, and that was that.

I didn’t quit writing screenplays just because of that, but more because movie producers are fickle, they’ll ask you to totally change a script only to turn around and want to change it again, sometimes back to the original as if it were their idea. And movie scripts are less creative to me. You have to be careful to not tell the actor how to act, to not say exactly how a character should look, to not tell the set designer how the set should present, and most importantly, not tell the producer how to do his job.

All my lovely little descriptors had to be kept out of the script. So I went back to writing books. It is where I belong.



Q. Do you prefer Twitter over Facebook? Do you like them both equally?

A. I prefer Twitter, people are more willing to retweet things they like. I find it interesting, but I must confess that I am usually too busy to look at all the posts. Then, when I do, I find that some follower has been posting erotica or extreme politics and I am mortified. I always swear I’m going to check more often but slip right back into ‘I’ll do it later.’ So if you follow me, I am not responsible for any naughty pictures or political hatred you might find there.

I have to say that I have the whole tweeting process down to a science now. And I love using my Social Media cards.

Facebook sometimes seems like an overfull aquarium where there are so many fish (authors) that they are eating each other. I don’t find it to be very supportive unless you are in one of the cliques. I belong to some, but their culture is so against who I am that I feel out of place. And I can’t understand why people insist on sharing every little thing about themselves, photos of the food they eat, the Target they shop at, etc.  My biggest pet peeve with Facebook are the posts that try to shame you into copying their post onto your wall. If you don’t post it, you are heartless, or don’t care, or they will delete you from their account. But at other times, I find the most interesting things there, like haunted places I hadn’t heard of.

So Twitter rules for me.



Q. That brings me to your non-fiction book about how to use Twitter. Where did that come from? It does have some timely tips. I’m a huge fan of Twitter.

A. I wrote the book because it took me a long time to get enough followers. I thought long and hard about how to attract followers and began to try some things. Once I figured out a system that worked, I found I could grow them organically. I never bought a single follower. I still retain most of my original followers.

I wrote the book to help others get a good start instead of floundering around or paying money for fake followers.

I’ll let you in on a secret. Writers are the worst. Many will follow you only to unfollow you after you follow back. So I incorporated a tiny truth in my book. If you are nice to others, they will be nice to you. It is important to use the words ‘Thank you’ on a regular basis. Every writer should practice being nice. It doesn’t cost a thing and makes life so much easier.



Q. What sort of messages do you leave with your readers in your tales? Mine are always there, but it’s a sort of up to the reader thing.

A.  I do have an important message in my novels but I hope I don’t make a reader feel I am cramming it down their throat.

There is something that highly offends me in our judicial system. Before I begin to explain, let’s call our victim, Mary. Our bad guy, we’ll call Jimmy the Killer.

Once Mary becomes a crime victim and loses her life at the hands of Jimmy the Killer, she no longer matters when it comes to punishing Jimmy the Killer. In most courts, Mary’s family and the prosecutor cannot even post pictures of Mary as she lived because it is too prejudicial, Jimmy the Killer’s rights overrule all the rights Mary lost when she died.

If Mary is killed in a drunk driving accident or an accident where the other driver, Jimmy the Killer, is texting, she is gone, but Jimmy the Killer gets little time because it was an ‘accident.’

Somehow, the killers, accidental or not, frequently get second chances at life and get to see all the milestones in their loved ones lives, but the victims are still dead.

I also feel that the act of loyalty is being lost or distorted. Sad.

So my message is two-fold - human life is important, and loyalty is paramount.



Q. What advice do you have for other authors?

A. Develop a thick skin, don’t believe everything other writers tell you until you get to know them. If, in doubt, trust in yourself. Always take criticism seriously but not as fact until it proves itself. I had someone tell me once that I should change a character because of blah, blah, blah. But it turned out that was a personal preference, and the character reminded her of an old boyfriend who dumped her. On the other hand, I had someone tell me that my borders were incorrect on my Kindle book. I checked and found he was right. The ones he suggested looked so much better.

So don’t just jump on every suggestion or criticism as being the truth. Check it out first. If you have ten people telling you the same thing, you need to think about how to change it. If it is just one, there’s just as much a possibility that they are wrong as there is that they are right.



Q. Speaking of other authors, what is your approach to handling negative peer feedback? I’ve been seeing a lot more of it lately directed at some of my friends and am not happy with what’s going around. We all work hard at writing, I feel, and there is no need to tear each other apart.

A. I had not had much negative feedback until a couple of months ago. Some guy (a fellow writer) in a review group I’m in decided to read one of my books. When he finished, he sent me a Facebook message telling me that my book needed a lot of work and that he’d edit it for money. The tone of the message was demanding, and I didn’t respond because I lost the message. But losing the message wasn’t any big deal to me because, truthfully, I wouldn’t have paid him anyway. I didn’t know him from Adam so I wasn’t going to trust him just because he said something. Two days later, he wrote an extremely long, scathing review and gave me 2 stars.

After I had read it, I was livid because I felt the review was retaliatory in nature. The review was several paragraphs long and tore apart all kinds of things to include my use of nicknames for my characters. He went overboard both in length, and criticism choices. Some of my readers made comments on his review, and he ended up fighting with them in his response to their criticisms. See what I mean about retaliatory? If it were honest, would he really be fighting with readers on Amazon?

Anyway, since our initial contact was in that review group, I spoke to them about it. While they were disappointed with how he handled things, nothing much happened. As far as I know, that guy still belongs to some of their groups and is still reviewing and asking for reviews.

I also wrote to Amazon with no response. Apparently, they didn’t care that he demanded money to edit the book before he posted the review.

Still irritated, I decided to go over my book to prove my point. Happily, I found that 99% of what the guy mentioned was totally wrong. I found a couple of missing commas and a few missing words, but nothing like what he had said was so bad that it deserved a 2. Then, since I was already in the book, I added a short piece in the front that I had intended to add at some point and reworded a few sentences, just because I liked them better (you know the more we write, the more our writing evolves). And then I just let it go.

I decided that reviewer was unfair and wrong in so many ways, and I certainly didn’t deserve those 2 stars, but there was nothing more I could do about it, except get more of the 5 and 4 stars I was used to getting.

The irony is that I looked at his book (he writes under a pen name) and found some of the very same errors and holes he falsely accused me of having in my book. Supposedly, he had 3 editors and claims he taught English so I was astounded to find them. No, I say I was dumbfounded. I was amazed that he thought he was so much better a writer than myself that he could demand money to edit my book.

Anyway, I have to say I am sick at the things I’ve seen other writers say about their fellow writers, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Something happens to some people when they write a book. Somehow they get these huge egos that make them think everyone else is beneath them. They forget how to treat other writers with grace and humility. And they fail to remember that we all are entitled to basic human dignity. They will cry for days over some lion being killed in Africa and then ruthlessly say mean things about another’s writing or cover.

My suggestion for other writers is to make something positive of the situation. If a critique has merit, fix things. If it does not, do something good for your book. Write a new delightful blurb, add a thought at the beginning of your book, create some cool tweets, whatever makes you feel good again. If they confront you in group or on social media, ignore them. You will only make yourself look bad if you engage in combat with them.

Most of all, believe in yourself and only care what your readers say.



Q. This isn’t a question, actually. It’s more of praise from me for being such a caring person. Your Facebook page lists missing persons, information about folks needing organ donors and much more. You’re a good person. Thanks for all you do.

A. Thank you. In the world today, it seems there is too much selfishness. People are too critical and self-serving. They judge you just because they can. Some days, I hate Facebook because of all the hate and name calling. I refuse to be like them.

Basically, I am just one person who thinks it only takes a second to help another human by retweeting or reposting something. I find myself feeling such pain for families with missing loved ones, and I cannot even fathom needing an organ transplant, so I try to help by making others aware of these causes. I don’t gamble, but I know that all it takes is the one post to reach the right person for someone to get the help they need. And me reposting something is nothing in the scheme of things. I am just happy I have the ability to do that repost or retweet.





Okay, Suzi, it’s your turn to say whatever you want about anything at all. Short or long, let us have it!

I have loved being part of this interview. The questions were uniquely challenging, and I like that they were tailored for me. You have given me the opportunity to reveal the real me, a little exposed at times but still, who I am. Thank you, Blaze. This has been truly delightful.

I think you can see that I love writing. Like many of my fellow writers, I must write. It is a part of my soul, my being. And I love to scare the pants off my readers, in a good way. I hope that I am able to entertain every soul who is kind enough to buy one of my books. I promise I will always strive for my very best. Please visit my web page to see book trailers, read excerpts, and more.

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about some other special interests of mine. When I started marketing my books, I was frustrated. It was so dry and dull. I added some acceptable photos to my tweets, but they weren’t nearly as exciting as I wanted them to be. I didn’t create or manipulate them. So I decided to find a way to create some eye-catchers that make people think of me.

It was during that process that I discovered another passion - creating visual effects. I started with the photo cards and went on to make my own book trailers and book covers. Marketing became more interesting as I combined my word wizardry with the wow effects of my unique social media cards

I had such a great time that I have created my own company – Wickedly Awesome Designs. Please come and visit and take a look at my offerings. I have created some pre-designed cards for those with a budget and really love creating unique cards for those who have a more book-specific design in mind.

I’d also like to invite everyone to my other Facebook page – The Queen of Scream. I provide opportunities to do retweets times a week, and you can post excerpts from your book every Saturday. As the page grows, I will come up with some other opportunities.

Any links you wish to let the folks know about.

Books:



·         The Super Easy Guide for Twitter Newbies: Cracking the Secret of Getting & Keeping Followers - https://www.amazon.com/Super-Easy-Guide-Twitter-Newbies-ebook/dp/B01EXCYO0M/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Web site:

·         www.SuziAlbracht.com

For Social Media Photo Cards:

·         www.wickedlyawesomedesigns.com

Facebook:

·         The Queen of Screams - https://www.facebook.com/groups/364598490571172/

·         Suzi Albracht - http://www.facebook.com/SuziAlbracht

·         Wickedly Awesome Designs - http://www.facebook.com/WickedlyAwesomeDesigns

Twitter & Instagram

·         @SuziAlbracht

my Amazon author links is Author.to/SuziAlbracht.  

Universal links:

Thank you for taking time to be here, Suzi Albracht. It’s been a pleasure for me.

Blaze McRob








3 comments:

  1. Loved this interview! I met Suzi in 1992 where we worked together. She was always writing and saying she'd be a published author some day. I'm so proud to see her come this far. She does have a good heart. She helped me see into my own abusive marriage and took steps to make sure I had a safe place if necessary. Only her and I knew of that arrangement. Thankfully I never needed it but I'll always appreciate knowing she was my safety net. I wish her more successes in the future!
    Love, Star

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loved this interview! I met Suzi in 1992 where we worked together. She was always writing and saying she'd be a published author some day. I'm so proud to see her come this far. She does have a good heart. She helped me see into my own abusive marriage and took steps to make sure I had a safe place if necessary. Only her and I knew of that arrangement. Thankfully I never needed it but I'll always appreciate knowing she was my safety net. I wish her more successes in the future!
    Love, Star

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to have you here, Starla! Suzi certainly has come a long way. I'm glad you and Suzi were and are friends.

      Delete