Interview with AJ Mullican

AJ MullicanRaised in Alabama, AJ lives on four acres in southern Arizona with her husband and her Maine Coon mixes, Rory and River. Though she works in a busy medical office, she finds time in the predawn hours to write and craft. Rory and River help with that; if her insomnia doesn’t have her up dark and early, they will.

AJ is active in medieval reenactment and is just as comfortable with a rapier in hand as she is with a pen. She also enjoys costuming and makes all her own historical garb and cosplay costumes. AJ likes to spend quiet nights at home when she can steal them, but she can often be found camping with chosen family or going to reenactment events or pop culture conventions.

Aimeethank you for agreeing to this interview. You have delved into the darker side of literature through poetry, horror, and macabre. What were some of your literary influences that inspired you to write in this genre?

I’ve always loved darker films and TV shows, though I haven’t read as much horror as I’ve watched. I’ve read a few Stephen King novels, and as the “king” of the literary horror genre I guess you could say he’s had the biggest influence on me. I’m also a fan of the supernatural side of horror, which is where Whispers of Death comes in. Some pretty horrific things happen in my first novel!

aj mullicanYour latest release, Abnormal, toys with the idea of a dystopian future where humans possess paranormal powers. Give us some insight into the main character, Clare, and the conflict she faces in your story.

Clare started out as a normal Abnormal Telepath, living in a run-down borough of the capitol city of the Old U.S., Heaven’s Light (which in our time is called New York City). She had lived under the radar her whole life, hiding from the government’s Squads, until two Gifted men stalk and assault her. She kills them in self-defense, but because these men were sons of two Council members, she must go on the run to avoid internment in one of the government’s concentration camps for Abnormals.

The New Yorker released a great article in 2017 called A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction, stating, “Utopians believe in progress; dystopians don’t. They fight this argument out in competing visions of the future, utopians offering promises, dystopians issuing warnings.” Would you say that Abnormal is issuing a warning for what might come? What message are you trying to deliver to readers?

We need to stop focusing on who’s “better” than who, on which class is the “upper” class, on the “Almighty Dollar.” It’s getting to the point in our society where the people with the money hold all the power, and it shouldn’t be like that. I know it’s a broad-spectrum problem that doesn’t just affect us here in the US of A, but I’ve seen a growth of corruption in recent years that seems to be epidemic in its scope.

Whispers of Death was released in 2015, a darker story that is categorized as horror and occult on Amazon. What is the story about? What elements place it into the darker works of fiction?

The story focuses on Sera Miller, a young woman with a dark secret. Since the age of seven, she has experienced blackouts on a semi-regular basis, and they all end with her waking up covered in someone else’s blood. It isn’t until her birth father comes in contact with her that the darker side comes to light, and her blackouts become waking nightmares in which she is unable to control her own actions. The book is heavy on the gore factor—I spare nothing in the details—and it gets worse after her father enters the picture.

aj mullicanI have written a few horror pieces myself, and I always find that it sours my mood when I spend too much time in a character’s head who is a bit demented or deranged. What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?

I think the hardest part was finding a balance in writing the darkness and gore. I wanted to convey visceral images inside the readers’ heads, but I didn’t want people to toss the book aside because it was too dark and explicit.

Writers have many different methods of preparation before beginning their novels. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?

Hmm… As far as novels (not flash fiction or short stories) go, it all depends. Whispers of Death had extensive notes and was inspired by a series of short poems depicting the life of a female serial killer. It also evolved, though, into a very different book than my original notes would have had it be. Abnormal started with a word—the title—then a concept, then the first few characters, and it blossomed from there. I’m kind of a hybrid plotter/pantser—a plantser, if you will. I get a general idea of where I’m going, but I let the story take me there. Sometimes, I’m just as surprised as the reader!

What can we expect from you in 2019? Will you be publishing any more stories?

The sequel to Abnormal, titled Escaping the Light, is in the capable hands of my publishers right now for the first round of edits. I’m hoping to have it released later this year. I’m also working on a collaborative novel with another Askew author, Angelique Jordonna (who you will be talking with next week) that is turning into an interesting paranormal/supernatural horror story. Our hope is to get that in the bag this year as well. And as always, I post flash stories or poems from time to time on my website/blog, www.ajmullican.com.

It has been a pleasure, Aimee! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.

Online, I can be found at the above website, and I’m on Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram under the username AJMullican, and you can search for AJ Mullican on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or BookBub. As for events, those are still in the tentative/planning stages at the moment. The biggest event I have planned isn’t a writing event, but if you are in the Society for Creative Anachronism and attend the Arizona event Estrella War, I’ll gladly sign your copy of Whispers of Death or Abnormal…if you can find me! (Scavenger hunt!)

 

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