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Ninjas and Pirates and Zombies, Oh My! – Interviewing Molly Burkhart

May 20, 2010

** Cross-posted at the Writing Blog

When a good man is hard to find, there's only one thing to do. Buy One.

1. You write about the oddest things. I love that about you! Office Mercenary kicked-ass. (And it’s free, yo!) I know you’re going to hate me for this question but I figure I might as well get it out of the way and plus I REALLY want to know. Where do you get your ideas? It seems like they come from random conversations with your sister.

Actually, my ideas come from all over the place. LOTS of them come from conversations with Sis, with Pesh, with Dave, with just about everybody I know. I love a good conversation. However, some of them just spring from that bottomless pit in the middle of my head. Heh. The Office Mercenary (and you are SO cool for reading that one!) came from a conversation with Jody, a friend at the office where I used to work. We got to talking about how, no matter how much the office environment sucks, it’d be the same anywhere else, and how we’re paid not to do our jobs but to get along with the crazy people we’re stuck working with. Viola. The Mercenary was born.

Need, on the other hand (another freebie), just kinda came out of nowhere, as did Swelter. Sundown, another freebie short story I hope to get up on my site soon, was written toward a specific anthology that didn’t materialize. I have lots of short stories like that.

Also, some stories I write because I come up with an awesome character that I’ll plot a story around. That’s where Lorekeeper sprouted from. The Diplomat just demanded his own story. Honestly, though you’ll hate me for saying it, heh, just about anything can set me off in story-telling mode. Sorry!

I read Need. It was smokin’. Need to get my butt in gear and read Swelter, and of course, My Gigolo.

Bless your heart!

2. You write as G.B. Kensignton as well as your real name, Molly Burkhart. Is this for genre branding purposes or something else?

Um…*sheepish*…I write as GB Kensington when I’d blush if someone knew it was written by me. Ha!
3. Hee! Even though you’re a debut author, you’ve been writing for awhile now. Which goes without saying to writers but might not be something that even enters the mind of readers. Do you have a “process” down pat, and if so, care to share?

Well, Joely – my beloved sister – might be a better person to ask about process. I honestly don’t have any specific one. It kinda differs for whatever story I’m writing. Even the length of the story changes how I write it. Say, for a short story, I’ll get an idea but not start it right away. Then, when I’ve let it marinate in the bottomless pit for a while, I’ll sit down at the ol’ keyboard and crank it all out in one sitting. I’ve even done that for novellas. For longer works, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

My Gigolo was a special kind of beast in its creation. I knew what it was about and how it would go and how it would end from almost the beginning. It was the first novel-length story I knew front to back before I even sat down to write. I got the first 2/3 down in just a few weeks… then stalled. Big time. Couldn’t write a coherent sentence to save my life.

I wrote a few other things, then tried to dig back in. I swear I wrote twenty different next scenes. I got so frustrated because the characters weren’t cooperating that I wrote in a psycho gunman who just kicked down the door and mowed everyone down, Arnie-with-a-minigun style. Admittedly, that was kinda awesome. I got really detailed with the blood spatter patterns and such.

Then one day, I just said “Hell with it” and wrote the last 30K or so in one weekend. There were probably six or seven months between the stall and the finish, and there I was just… done. It was weird. Can’t explain it.
4. Who are your inspirations? Be they other authors, musicians, artists, directors, etc.

Well, one big inspiration will always be my sister. Joely is a machine, I tell you. She’s brilliant, but she’s also got a will of iron, and I admire that like nothing else. How she finds time to crank out so much work while juggling a job and a husband and kids and housework and and and will always be beyond me.

Other inspirations are Stephen King (of course; would that we were all so prolific!), Guillermo del Toro (gotta love those gear-lovers!), and even certain bands like Saliva and Stone Sour. Some of their lyrics are so potent, some of the music so driving that it’s like I just HAVE to write when I listen to it. Even if it has nothing to do with the current plot, their music makes me want to put words on a page.

To an extent, I have to say that directors like George Lucas have left their mark, too. Not so much for his body of work, but because he refused to go the usual route. I mean, look what refusing to put the credits before the movie did: changed the entire movie industry. What an amazing step, and over such a seemingly small thing. I want to be able to make those kinds of steps. Like Lynn Viehl (aka Paperback Writer). She got fed up with the traditional route and went her own way and, boy, did it work for her. That way’s never easy, but I think those who go it would say it was worth it.

I love love LOVE Saliva! Never heard anything from Stone Sour. I will have to check them out.

I suggest “Bother” and “Made of Scars” to get started. The second is kind of what became a character trait for The Diplomat. He’s physically scarred all over, and that became crucial to who and what he is. *insert dramatic, foreboding music here* I also like “Xxyyzz Road”, but just because it’s good to sing along with.

If you can't take the heat...then get the hell off my blog!

5. …Who is Charlie? Pretty please with a cherry on top a zombie cake? I don’t mean that the cake will be undead just that it’ll be decorated with zombie-like paraphernalia. Unless you want an undead cake? I think the price might be worth it.

Bwahah! I will never tell! Even zombie cake won’t tempt that secret from my lips!

*hangs head* Foiled again.

Heh. At least you’re not the only one. Even Joely doesn’t know. Muhahah!

6. I know you like to genre hop. Is there a particular one that interests you most? Even if it’s only as a reading preference?

Ironically (because I’m not at all romantic and am allergic to the L word), I looooove the Regency period for romance. Combine that with science fiction, fantasy, and a dash of horror, and you have the steampunk novel I’m hoping to have done for MayNoWriMo. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to settle on a single genre, but yeah. Regency is my favorite. Dunno why.

Mmmmm! I love me some steampunk. I’m working on one right now. Never mind that it’s been in the works for the last two years. Because I’m not professional. Yet. *snerk*
7. When did you get into writing and why?

Well, not to sound cliche, but I’ve always been into writing. I remember borrowing Sis’s typewriter when I was maybe in the first grade to write a story. I’ve even dabbled in poetry (don’t tell anyone! my street cred would be shot!), but prose has always been my own personal expression. I love to tell a story.

*ggg* I’m a closet poet myself so I understand.

*hangs head in shame*
8.Do you have a favorite word/s? I have a few. Some of them make me question my sanity.

Gelatinous. It’s just fun to say. It’s even kinda fun to type. Give it a try. Gelatinous. Gelatinous. Ge-LAAAAAA-tinous. Hee. Stick out your tongue like the Wazzup guys on the LAAAAA part.

9. Do you have any other creative endeavors besides writing?

Oh, dear. Here goes my street cred again. I’m artsy-fartsy. I love quilting and cross-stitch and crocheting. Doodling was my main pastime in high school. I also did a long and satisfying stint in throwing pottery. No, not against a wall, heheh.

And just lately, I’ve discovered that I’m something of a decent set painter. I’m volunteering for a local theater group, and strangely, it suits me. I’d never call myself an artist, but I’m not unhappy with the results.

You will NEED a cold shower after this one.

10. If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be? I imagine something with Zombies.

Wow. That is an awesome question. I gotta think on that one. Um… probably something like “Ninjas and Pirates and Zombies, Oh My!”
11. Do you have a muse? Do you even believe in a Muse and if so, what do you believe about them?

Oh, yeah. I think every writer ought to personalize their Muse. Mine… personalized himself. It’s Bardock, Goku’s father from the DragonBall Z series. No, I’m not kidding. And when he drops an idea into my lap, it isn’t so nice as a little tap on the shoulder. That guy punches me in the back of the head with it. ‘S like getting hit with an idea nuke.

BEST. MUSE. EVER. Remind me to introduce you to Team FourStar’s DBZ parodies if you don’t already know about them? I think they’d be right up your alley.

Dude, I am SO there. Pesh even managed to find us the Ghost Nappa theme song. I’m SO not kidding. I made it into a ringtone.

AWESOME! Nappa defiantly stole my heart in these eps *g*. Have you seen the abridged Bardock special? I’m now forever using “Just because they’re psychic doesn’t mean they’re smart” in inappropriate situations.

Absolutely! Those guys are GENIUSES. Between them and the Red vs. Blue guys over at Roosterteeth (think about it a minute; it’s funny), I will never want for hilarity.

Rooster teeth?! I think they did the P.A.N.I.C.S for F.E.A.R. as well, which I LOVE! Not the game, because it scares the bejesus out of me. I seriously can’t even watch my friends play it cause I will have nightmares for weeks. Because I’m a fraidy-cat.

The P.A.N.I.C.S. (People Acting Normal In Crazy-ass Siatuations) though? AWESOME. Some of the best lines ever. ( PROBABLY not Work Safe due to cussing and screams 😉 Bravo #3 is my fave.)

They did do PANICS and a couple of other hilarious things, but my first love of theirs will always be Red vs. Blue and its many incarnations. Grif is my favorite. As I’m sure you can tell. *snerk*
12. What would be your ultimate writing environment? Mine would include Cat-hair free furniture, a decent laptop that doesn’t lag, EVER, a view of the ocean, art supplies, a bottle of Mystic, and a chocolate fountain or two. Just sayin’.

Dude, if I ever win the PowerBall jackpot, you’re getting that room right after I get my pirate-themed minigolf course. Ha!

As for mine? Um… probably in one of those round tower rooms, high up where I can see everything for miles, a comfy office chair that rolls (because I do NOT sit still, even when cranking out 20K in a day), surround sound music, a Coke at one hand and a turkey sandwich at the other. A few beers in a bucket of ice under the desk. Cool breeze. No distractions. And every writer’s dream – no job to have to pause for!

OOO, yes. Chair. Can haz a spin-ie one? I likes spinning. Though, I shed a tear when you mentioned Coca-cola because I can’t have one and yet they would totally be in my own rendition of “These are a few of my favorite things~!”. For anyone wonder, Withdrawl is not fun.

13. Is there anything you absolutely wouldn’t write? For some reason, I just don’t see myself writing a straight up romance and its weird because I am SUCH. A. Sap.

You know, I never saw myself writing straight-up romance, either, but for the opposite reason. I really am devoid of romance, even when I used to date, so I honestly don’t know how I pulled it off for My Gigolo, I suspect that the heavy dosing of comedy involved helped. I’ve even written the occasional m/m stories, though if they ever see the light of day, they’ll be written by GB Kensington, heh.

Mmm, m/m. I have a few m/m subplots. So you won’t see me batting an eye. Bring it on Miss Kensington.

I’m trying to think if I’d just blacklist something totally, but the only scenario I can think of is that I don’t think any of my characters will ever say they renounce God. I’m not a raging religious-spreader, by any stretch, but if there’s any line I won’t cross, it’s that one. I always wince when actors say it in movies or if I read it in a book. My characters might be mad at God. They might question His methods or possibly even His existence (I have a possible atheist in a story already) or refuse to talk to Him, but they will never step over that particular wall. I can’t bring myself to put that into words, even if they’re my characters’ words instead of mine.
14. Do you write with a theme in mind or do they just sort of rise from the ashes of the story upon nearing the end, or even on revision? Do you find yourself attached to any themes in particular?

You know, when I first sit down to write, I don’t usually have a “theme” in mind, per se. And yet, when I get to the end, they’re just there. Sometimes, I have to go back in revision and clarify here and there, but I think themes are so much a part of whatever story you’re telling that they happen even when you don’t plan them. Of course, I could be talking out my blow hole.

Handing out lollypops and @$$whoopings and she's all out of lollypops

15. How terrifying do you intend to make your Zombie Apocalypse novel that I heard you mentioning in your interview with Joely? Am I going to need a night light and someone to cuddle with? Preferably Robert Downy Jr.? (I bet Marvel would insist he make a stop in the Bahamas if I reviewed Iron Man 2. You know, because I’m delusional. And when I say they will “insist” I mean  they will “strongly advise him to get a restraining order against me for whenever he plans on vacationing here”. I’m totally not a stalker Mr. Jr., I just play one on my blog.)

Heh, I’m sure they’d be the same way if Vin Diesel ever headed this way. Honestly, I do have a sort of idea for a zombie apocalypse novel… and it’s a young adult idea. Go figure. Dealing with death and paranoia and having to kill your closest loved ones both to release them from such a soulless state and to save your own life, and I’mma slap it on a bunch of teenagers. Because I’m sick like that.

Um?! I ❤ you! I seriously think there should be more dark YA books because I totally wanted to read them when I was younger. But I was kind of a freak.

I’m not positive that it will be terrifying, but I honestly don’t have a real good grasp on terror. I know it’ll be tongue-in-cheek (anyone who tries to do a serious zombie track these days is just asking to be laughed out of business) and have lots of funnies (I even think the title is hilarious), but sometimes, stuff I write comes out way more scary than I intended. I remember Joely reading a horror novella I’d started and twitching every time her light flickered for months after. I didn’t mean for it to be that creepy, ya know?

Yeah… putting “night light” on the list of things to get before I read that one. When it’s finished of course.

Worse, I’ve watched movies that had other people gibbering in fear, and I was completely unaffected. I mean, I can appreciate the atmosphere, and I’m just as susceptible to startle moments as anyone else, but low-grade panic from a movie? Not since I was about 13. Which bums me out sometimes, because I love scary movies. They just don’t scare me anymore.

16.  Which story is “The Diplomat” (ominous name by the way!) from? I’ve heard a bit mentioned about him on your blog and find him fascinating.

Ah. The Diplomat is from Lorekeeper. He is the best assassin in the Midwest, probably the whole country, and possibly the world. Deadly. Cold. Ruthless. And soooo much fun to write!
17. So we’ve talked about Zombies, Pirates and Saiyans but I’ve heard no mention of Ninjas. Do you have Ninja stories you’re not telling me about?  Is “The Diplomat” a Ninja? Cause it sounds like a kick ass Ninja codename.

Ha! No, the Diplomat isn’t a ninja, though I’ve no doubt he could be one easily. Ironically, I’d be more likely to write a samurai story than a ninja story, but as far as I know, I don’t actually have any in the works. I’m not sure I could do either of them justice.

On the other hand, I do have a character in that horror short story I mentioned above that has a sort of ninja-y way of dealing with the creeping nasties I wrote in. He’ll definitely have a katana and some throwing stars, because they do not react well to bright metals.

18. Fun! Now I don’t know which of your next WIPS I want to read more. I’m blaming you. But in a good way. Do you find you’re more hero/male character-centric?

Not necessarily, but I do find I have more fun writing the mens than the womens. I always try to make my heroine strong, self-sufficient, and not necessarily likeable, though sympathetic. In fact, I think I have a better time writing characters in general that aren’t necessarily likeable. Heh, but that’s another story. Bwahah.
19. How would you survive the Zombie Apocalypse? You’ve got me thinking I should hire some Ninjas. But then they might turn into Zombie-Ninjas and then I’d be kind of screwed. I don’t think I’m going to last long. Maybe I should stock up on Twinkies and Mystics now and haul myself up in the old pirate caves around the island. Do you think there’ll be Zombie-pirates waiting for me? I kinda suck at this.

Seclusion. Find yourself a small, tactical group you can rely on — no slackers; slackers are zombie-bait and will get you all killed — and hole up somewhere in the boonies. Low population zone. Makes for fewer zombie-fodder types. Then, stock up with carbine rifles, a few reliable hand weapons, all the ammo you can store, and MREs to last for up to five years. You can always get more later and supplement your diet by hunting and, eventually, farming. Make sure your hideaway is near running water (though you’ll have to be careful because zombies can “survive” under water and simply walk across even the ocean, should they choose) and that you know the climate well ahead of time. Don’t want to be caught by a snowstorm if you’re used to living in San Francisco, ya know?

20. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I can get you an undead cake. Delivered by Zombie—Pirate-Ninjas. Because *I’m* not going to be a minion when I’m Zombiefied. I realize this isn’t a question. I fail at interviews. OK. OK. Instead of telling me who Charlie is can you tell us the title for your Zombie Apocalypse book? Or are you superstitious about title sharing?

Not so much superstitious as over-protective. However, for you, I’ll make an exception. Since I plan on the zombie disease (I won’t use the term virus) being dubbed The Gray (like Stephen King’s flu virus was called Captain Trips), so I’m thinking the title will be “They Got the Gray, I Got the Blues”. Whaddya think?

And keep in mind, this is waaaay down the pipeline. Unless the urge overcomes me, as it sometimes does, to skip. *sigh* Writing is hard.

You officially win at titles!

I will be reviewing My Gigolo shortly, however, I understand that Molly is awesome and charming and you may just already be crushing on her enough to want to buy My Gigolo right set NOW. Which would make you awesome. You can find My Gigolo:The Care and Feeding of a Male Prostitute straight from MBaM , Amazon, Books on Board, Disel E-Books, or All Romance!

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