Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Awkward Interview with New York Times Bestseller Kate Moretti, Author of BINDS THAT TIE

Hey, blogketeers!  Today we have a very special treat for you: the awkwardest interview ever.  And not only that, but it's with Kate Moretti, author of New York Times Bestseller THOUGHT I KNEW YOU!  Kate is actually here to promote her sophomore outing, BINDS THAT TIE, so make sure to stick around to the end of the interview for some info and an excerpt on that, as well as a chance to win a free copy of THOUGHT I KNEW YOU and some other great swag from our mutual publisher, Red Adept Publishing.  First, let's meet the author, then we'll jump right into it.

About Kate Moretti

New York Times Bestselling Author Kate Moretti lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.

Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.

The Awkwardest Interview Ever

Stephen Kozeniewski: Hey.

Kate Moretti: Hey.

SK: How's it goin'?

KM: Going well, thanks. And you?

SK: Good, good, thanks for asking. So, what do you do?

KM: I do science during the day. I do writing at night. I chase kids around.

SK: Oh, you're an author? You know, I had an idea for a book once.

KM: That sounds AMAZING. You should TOTALLY write that.

SK: Actually, how about this: what if I gave you the idea for a book, then you wrote it, then we split the profits?

KM: Wait, there are profits?

SK: So, if you're an author, how come you still work?

KM: Because there are no profits.

SK: Well, why don't you just write one of those FIFTY SHADES dealies? The lady made a million dollars.

KM: Aren’t you supposed to write what you know?

SK: So, you're going to put me in one of your books, right?

KM: Inevitably.

SK: It's probably just as well. I hate reading. Does anybody really read anymore? I mean, come on.

KM: I wish I could write a level of candy crush. That seems really popular.

SK: Right. Well, cool talking to you, bro. Remember me when you're sipping caviar with K.J. Rowling.

KM: Who are you again?


Love ties. Murder binds.

Maggie never felt as though she belonged until Chris Stevens showed her what true happiness meant. Ten years into their marriage, miscarriages and infidelities have scarred them both. Despite their perfect-couple image, Maggie can’t look at Chris with anything but resentment. When a charismatic stranger offers the opportunity for a little harmless flirtation, she jumps into the game.

But charm soon turns to malice, and a deadly split-second decision forces Maggie and Chris onto a dangerous path fraught with secrets, lies, and guilt. With no one else to turn to—no one she dares trust—Maggie will ultimately learn just how binding marital ties can be.

Excerpt from BINDS THAT TIE

Be sure to purchase BINDS THAT TIE at:

Barnes & Noble

And don't forget to review it and tell your friends about it on:

Goodreads" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The White Knight

Clad in shimmering plate armor of the purest samite, the noble warrior peered down from the hillock.  Astride his thickly muscled charger, Dongo, the great knight had little fear of being out-run or out-jousted.  Today's venture, though, was no mere tournament.

In the dark chasm below, a gross and terrible wyrm made its lair.  The dragon Kamikalianz was known in every hill and bower of the ancient and noble land.  His cruelty and malevolence was unmatched.  Many brave knights had attempted to hack into the ancient beast's thick scales, but it was the monster Kamkialianz itself which hacked right back at any heroes who attempted to vanquish it.  Indeed, the monster was known to hack into many a brave knight's favorite devices, just to mess with them.

The white knight, atop his brave Dongo, had faced much such mockery at the hands of Kamikalianz.  Indeed, the beast had once pursued him on foot through the woods.  The knight had run and run, certain that the monster had been lurking, attempting to assassinate him.  That, of course, had turned out to be a paranoid dream, but still.

The real object of the knight's affection, the brave Lady Yulee was now in the grip of the dreaded foe.  He placed his hand on the pommel of his sword.  Now was not the time for hesitation, or to reflect upon the societal norms of loving a mere teen-aged maiden, some eight years his junior.  In fact, in the Middle Ages such pairings were considering quite normal.  No, now was the time for action!

"What ho, Dongo!" the knight roared and as one man and mount poured down the side of the chasm, to lock into battle with the beast.

Suddenly the mighty dragon's eye opened.

"'Sup, dude?"

The knight arrested his charge.

" that virgin, foul wretch!"

The giant dragon yawned loudly, its nostrils as big as a man's head, and stretched its back like some great oversized cat.

"Yo, chica, I think one of your exes is here."

The Lady Yulee stomped out of the dragon's lair, pulling on a few scraps of clothes.

"I thought I told you not to come around, Sir Dumbass," she said, crossing her arms and tapping her feet.

"Yes, well, urm..." the knight mumbled.

"Didn't I even get a royal decree from my uncle, the king, banning you from coming within my sight?"

"Well, yes," the knight muttered, "But you see, I thought that was all just your way of trying to win me back.  I'd been reading those messages you'd been sending to the royal court..."

"You've been intercepting my personal correspondence?"

"Well, yes, but I thought you didn't feel safe contacting me directly..."

"Kami, roast this guy," the fair maiden said, jerking her thumb over her shoulder.

And the great monster did.  LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO!


Monday, May 19, 2014

BRAINEATER JONES Cartoon (Preliminary Sketches)

If you haven't heard yet, I've begun working with voicover artist Steve Rimpici and animator Zee Risek to bring an animated BRAINEATER JONES series to life!  In the interests of drumming up a little early interest, I thought I'd share some of the amazing preliminary artwork that Zee has already done.  Check it out and feel free to share with all your friends!

The first sketch of Jones
Alcibé in the birdcage
Sketchwork on Jones and Alcibé, including hatless Jones
The most recent Jones sketch

The most complete Jones sketch

Monday, May 5, 2014

Call to Action Response

Okay, this is going to be tough, so please bear with me.

On Friday, Brian Keene made a plea for horror authors to speak out against rape. You should really read the full article here because it's better than anything I'll say here. Nevertheless, like I said, it was a call to action, so here I am.

Why is this going to be tough? Well, for one thing I'm a white, middle-class, man in the United States of America which means I'm pretty much as privileged as a human being can get. I don't know what rape means to a woman just like I don't know what discrimination means to a minority or what poverty means to the poor and so on and so forth. These are all concepts I'm familiar with SOLELY on an intellectual level. I have never understood viscerally what it means to be treated differently or even violated on account of simply being who I am.

And yet, that being said, I DO deal with social issues in my writing. Because otherwise, what's the point? Writers are obliged to call attention to the social ills of their day.

Think Upton Sinclair, George Orwell, Harriet Beecher Stowe. But that's not the purpose of this post.

The purpose of this post is to discuss whether it is appropriate to address rape and sexual violence in fiction and how that differs from addressing it in real life. Dealing with rape in a responsible, adult manner in fiction is VERY different from minimizing the subject. And it's a world of difference from using it as a threat or an insult which is, quite simply, not acceptable human behavior. I can defend my usage of the themes in fiction partially because, as Keene points out, I'm a horror author and my job is to upset your amygdala, your "lizard brain." But it's also because I think these issues demand to be addressed.

THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO has a lot going on, but in part it's a critique of the culture of objectification. I've said elsewhere I consider it a feminist novel, and that may not be apparent at first glance, but it does deal with gender issues and paternalism in particular. But it also deals with rape, pornography, and the intersection of the two.

Rand Bergeron is a genius who has invented an almost perfect virtual reality collar. Its ultimate use is so obvious that he cuts right through the bullshit and just calls it the Sex Drive. Rand talks about the models who have sold the rights to their images to the Sex Drive corporation, but in practice he ends up molesting the (illicitly obtained) image of his ex-girlfriend. This science fiction conceit opened up the door for me to pose several significant real-world questions.

Where are the lines between masturbation, virtual sex, and personal violation? If you're having sex with someone's image against the will of that person, is that okay? What if you misappropriate their image? What’s the difference between simulated rape and the actual act? Does one necessarily lead to the other?

Eventually Rand's peculiar brand of self-justification spirals out of control and into the real world. The story ultimately ends up dealing with questions of zombie sex, which opens up yet another can of worms.

Can a zombie consent to sex? Is a zombie then still a person, with personal rights, or simply a body to be used? Is the human body itself sacred? Is it still rape if the zombie is docile but you know damn well the former person would NOT have consented?

These are some complex, albeit somewhat fantastical, questions about consent, pornography, art, rape, and necrophilia. Keene draws a distinction (as perhaps we all do) between the sex and violence which moves a story forward and that which is merely gratuitous. I believe (and feel free to tell me if I’m mistaken) that when I address sex in my writing, and sexual violence specifically, it is necessary to advance the plot and themes and not simply for shock value.

I understand that as a writer I have an obligation to address deep social ills like rape. I also understand that I'm a 31-year old white guy and my treatment of the subject, regardless of how much thought I put into it, could end up being as hamfisted and offensive as a minstrel show. That's for you to tell me and I hope you will.

But here's a key point. I quite simply can't even imagine what it would be like to be threatened with rape, as Keene’s editor was. I keep hitting this point, but because I'm a man, there is no way I can viscerally understand what a rape threat is like for a woman. There's no point of comparison, there's no apt metaphor, there's nothing in my own life that I can seize on and say, "Ah, it would be like if somebody said THAT to me." No, there's nothing, nothing even close.

My goal here is, as Keene says, to not be silent, but instead to start a conversation. And that's tough. It's absolutely tough. I'm a little terrified to even push "publish" on this post. Because who the hell am I to talk about rape? Do I even have the right to? No. Maybe not. But silence? No, that's not okay, either. The whole reason rape is a problem in our culture is because of silence. I served in the army for a few years and I'm more than a little ashamed of how prevalent Soldier-on-Soldier rape is. But I'm also heartened that instead of just covering it up like we always have, the Department of Defense is finally talking about the issue. Hopefully that's the first step towards progress.


Friday, May 2, 2014

10x10x10 (Shakespeare Question Game With Cassie Cox, Line Editor of BRAINEATER JONES)

When Cassie Cox, the line editor of BRAINEATER JONES, generously agreed to last week's interview I set out to write between six and ten questions.  However, I knew that Cassie was a Shakespeare scholar and by the time I had written two about Shakespeare I realized what I REALLY wanted to do was a whole second interview about that.  Luckily, Cassie agreed!  So I wrote down the ten most complicated questions I could come up with (limiting myself to ten words) and forced Cassie to answer also in ten words.  Enjoy!

The Bard of Avalon

10x10x10: Shakespeare

Should OTHELLO really be called IAGO?

Either way works for me.

What is Shakespeare’s worst play?

To me? Titus Andronicus. I don’t like bloodbaths.

Was MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM a critique of superstitious people?

Midsummer Night’s Dream was a reflection of a superstitious people.

Best Shakespeare villain.

Richard III. Sexiest. Proposal. Ever.

Is Hamlet really crazy?


Four hundred years later why should I care about Shakespeare?

Because he’s a brilliant wordwright.

With inflation, what’s a pound of flesh worth today?

As much as someone is willing to pay for it

What’s up with second person pronouns in early modern England?

Would you like to read my thesis?

What does “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” mean?

A heck of a lot if you’re studying meter.

Why is Shakespeare such a hack?

You’ve been talking to my husband.
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