Chelsea Quinn Yarbo

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at Continuum Australian science fiction convention. Photo courtesy of Catriona Sparks.

Today I have another interview today from my friend, Soraya Murillo Hernandez, from Spain. Soraya speaks Spanish, and I only speak English, so our friendship has leaned heavily on technology and Google Translate.

Soraya has so many, incredible interviews, I’ve created a category for her work. You can find all Soraya’s interviews at From Soraya.

Today, she shares her interview with Chelsea Quinn Yarbo, an American writer known for her series of historical horror novels about the vampire Count Saint-Germain. You may find Chelsea Quinn Yarbo on Amazon here. 

Soraya—In the year 2003 you were named a great teacher of terror. What was that like  for you?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—A Grand Master award is given for a body of work, not a single title, just as Life Achievement awards are. It’s always flattering to receive that kind of recognition. The words on the page are the same as they were before the award was given; it is the work that counts, awards or not.

Soraya—You have very good average of books a year. How many hours do you dedicate daily to write? Did writing become an addiction for you?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—My average is three books a year, and one or two shorter works. I’m lucky not to need to do many drafts of my work as many others do, and that allows me to produce enough work most years to keep a roof over my head. I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old.

Soraya—You’ve touched virtually all genres from science fiction, westerns, historical, horror… do you think a writer should know enough to write in any genre?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—The way I keep my stories fresh is to work in many genres. I find that changing genres frequently is similar to crop rotation, in that I let my skills in one genre lie fallow, so that I can tell more stories over a year, or a decade, for that matter.

Soraya—You created a sexy, erotic vampire far from the traditional Monster. Why did you think it necessary to make a change to the vampiric tradition?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Negative vampires have been a mainstay of vampire stories since before there was literature: so far as we can tell, vampire stories have been around for 35,000 years. After I read “Dracula”, I wondered if it would be to possible to push the vampire to the positive and still have a recognizable vampire — apparently it is.

Soraya—Saint-Germain is a vampire in a novel of terror where the evil is not the Vampire, they are certain human. You wanted to humanize the vampire or give any message about the evil?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—It seems to me that anything anything even a very greedy vampire couldn’t come close to what human beings could do to themselves. Dracula versus Jenghiz Khan, Jenghiz Khan wins every time for atrocities. I call the Saint-Germain books historical horror novels not because vampires are horrifying, but because history is.

Soraya—How long do you research? Can there be too much research?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Writing any kind of historical novel — or any other kind of genre for that matter — requires research. Luckily, I like research, and I have a private research library that I can visit frequently for all kinds of information. For a novelist, the hard thing to find out about people in history is not what they did — we know what they did — it is what they thought they were doing. Once you can get that about an historical period, you will be ready to write about it.

Soraya—In 1985 John McTiernan directed the film “Nomads.” Then you adapted movie to a novel. What did it take to do so?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—I’ve done three novelizations, one of which was never published. When a writer is contracted to do a novelization, you get the screenplay, and about a month to turn it into a novel, which makes it a wonderful exercise in craft. Often there are problems in the screenplay that do not work well in prose, such as explosions, since you cannot see them on the page and are reduced to the limitations of words instead of special effects. Generally speaking, it is a way to get paid quickly, and for working writers, that is an unusual benefit.

Soraya—In addition to writing, you compose music. What do you usually listen to while you write?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Yes, I often listen to music while I write — usually classical music and grand opera (not Wagner). It helps me pace myself.

Soraya—From your sci-fi novel, “Jacinthes,” Jeanne Bliss is a woman whose ambition took her to unhappiness. Is that the message that you wanted to tell, that all human beings are corrupt?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—“Hyacinths” was intended in part to show what kind of poor decisions get made after prolonged frustration. Jehanne is a capable woman who has not received the advancement she deserves, and so she becomes reckless, and that emerges to destroy her. She is not evil, but what she does to others is wrong.

Soraya—They say that you have one of the most complete personal libraries. Can you please tell me about it?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—I do have an extensive library, as I’ve mentioned. I’ve spent over forty years assembling it, and I’m still adding to it. Much as I like ebooks, I like to makes notes and to underline in my books, and although there are ways to do it in ebooks, it hasn’t the same impact that it does on paper.

Soraya—Having such a library is fantastic. What do you think about the e-book?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—I’m all for ebooks. Hidden-Knowledge brought out my first one in 1999. And finally a great many of my out-of-print books, some of them out-of-print for decades. On the other hand, it is difficult to police the Internet for pirated material, and that is a serious concern to me. I’ve been saying for twenty years that the electronic back-list is going to save mid-list writers, like me.

Soraya—As a lover of the occult it is inevitable to wonder: do you believe in beyond?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Yes, I’ve been doing occult studies since I was about nine, It’s a matter of personally cosmology: many people in this culture see the world as essentially rational with occasional bits of irrationality. I see the world as essentially irrational with a thin veneer of rationality, which is more in line with occultism than rationality. But I also think that the occult is a branch of physics that we have not yet described, and in that, I am in accord with Isaac Newton, who was as much an occultist as a physicist.

Soraya—I’d like to tell me about your way of writing. Tell me how it is a typical day when you are writing a book.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—Most days I get up around 7:30 am, feed my two cats, take my vitamins, have a cup of tea, and a little after 8:00 am, take a bath. I go to work around 9:00 am and work until noon, when I have lunch, and take an hour or so to watch the news on TV. I go back to work for about four hours, then stop around 4:00 pm (1600). Occasionally I go back to work around 8:00 pm (2000). Writing is my job, and I treat it that way.

Soraya—To which writers do you admire? What book do you have better remember?

Chelsea Quinn Yarbo—My favorite writer was and is William Shakespeare. All others are subject to change without notice.

Soraya Murillo Hernandez

From  Soraya Murillo Hernandez: I am an early reader, I started reading very soon and I was interested in terror, I liked to look for monsters and ghosts in the stories. Then I knew that the greatest terror came from humans. I am a book reviewer in Spain, I do it free to help its authors to know their works.

Soy una lectora precoz, comencé muy pronto a leer y me interese por el terror, me gustaba buscar monstruos y fantasmas en las historias. Luego supe que el mayor terror venia de los humanos . Soy reseñadora de libros en España, lo hago gratis para ayudar a sus autores a conocer sus obras.

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Working Like Elves…

Secrets of Santa’s Workshop revealed!

Now that I work for Amazon, I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be an elf at Santa’s Workshop at Christmas. We are finishing up our second night of overtime, our 5th 12 hour shift in a row. That’s 60 hours worked in a stretch.

Working at Amazon is fun and the pay and bonuses are incredible but the new schedule is keeping me too busy to blog at the moment… and all the moments until after Christmas.

I’m figuring out where to squeeze time out of this new schedule, but until then expect to see MANY of Soraya’s interviews coming very soon. She has an incredible line up of authors and others that she has spoken with, and I am grateful she allows me to share them here. You can find all Soraya’s interviews at From Soraya.

Until then, I’m heading off to Santa’s Workshop to help make Christmas happen :)

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Second story for KC Star online now

Second story for the Kansas City Star is up on their website!

This one was such a pleasure to do—I got to meet Danny O’Neill, legendary Bean Baron behind The Roasterie coffee that gets me up in the morning as well as the effervescent Deb Wiebrecht, executive director of Variety Children’s Charity.

This is why I think I will always want to write for newspapers, even just freelancing. There is no better way to become an active part of your community than writing about it. Thank you Kansas City Star, Danny O’Neill, Deb Wiebrecht and Kimberly Stern for helping me do what I love… write.

You can read the story on the Kansas City Star’s site here.

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Back to a Nocturnal Schedule

For the last few days we’ve all been shifting to a nocturnal schedule so we can work night shift at Amazon. Tonight is my first night, and I’m excited.

I love the whole Amazon culture so far. The factory is clean, bright and comfortable. Everything is organized and efficient. The pay is fantastic, so everyone walks around happy. On top of that, there are all sorts of games, contests and other incentives to make the day pass by fast.

We are all working a reduced time schedule, meaning we work three, 12 hour days a week (unless there is overtime) and take the rest of the week off. This sounds perfect to me. I have four solid days to write and I still won’t be a broke author.

We will see how the nocturnal lifestyle fits us. Last time I did this my mood turned pretty dark after two weeks, but I was also under a lot of stress and had no sleep longer than three hour increments. This time I have been able to sleep plenty ahead of this shift change.

Looking forward to this new adventure!

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Birthday Was Happy

Thank you Laura D. for the amazing birthday gift basket!

It’s a new year for me as I turn 49 years. I spent my birthday celebrating quietly. As the clock turned over I was busy finishing a story for the Kansas City Star on  The Roasterie Kansas City Air Roasted Coffee and the amazing thing Danny O’Neill did for Variety Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City.

Later it was lunch out and then a nice surprise when an awesome birthday gift basket from “the Birthday Fairy”was delivered. Loved it, and we’ve already pigged out on most of the treats.

The rest of the day was spent unpacking, walking dogs and other odds and ends. It was a perfect day.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone!

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Second Story for KC Star

Use what you have

Tonight I’ll be spending my birthday doing what I love—writing. I have a second opportunity to write a story for the Kansas City Star. Last interview was done this morning and I’m ready to start writing.

Surrounded by boxes, my computer at least is set up and ready. I couldn’t find a note pad for the first interview so I used what was at hand for my notes… the Budget Truck rental receipt.

I try never to say no to opportunity, even if I feel unprepared. If we wait for life to be perfect, we will finally be ready when we’re dead. Obviously, that’s too late.

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Angela Poetry Magazine Contest

Angela Poetry Magazine invites all poets to submit lighthearted, humorous,
playful, and curious poems to The Monthly Lighthearted Poetry Contest.

This is a free contest, open to everyone. Published and edited by Kirk Ramdath, the publication is a project of Wax Poetry and Art. Go here for complete details.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Angela Poetry Magazine, despite the name.

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Hooded Crow Submission Call

The Hooded Crow is inviting submissions of previously unpublished literary works from emerging and veteran writers.

They welcome submissions by new writers with special enthusiasm. Payment is $50 per manuscript, upon publication.

They do have a $10 reading fee. In return, you get a thorough, written critique of your work. Hooded Crow gives writers the opportunity to resubmit revised manuscripts with no additional fee for possible future publication.

Responses to submissions may take as long as three months, though it’s usually shorter.

For more info, check them out at The Hooded Crow.

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Meeting KC’s Bean Baron

Today I was privileged to meet (and interview!) Danny O’Neill, the creator behind the Full Vengeance coffee I raved about last month. He built The Roasterie, the caffeinated heart of Kansas City and mecca for coffee aficionados.

For once, I didn’t take a zillion photos to share, in part because I don’t need any to go with this story, but also because I was so genuinely mesmerized by the entire experience. Danny O’Neill’s accomplishments and coffee roasterie are impressive, but they pale compared to the man himself.

His enthusiasm and joie de vivre are as intoxicating as his brews. He fills the room with his presence and creates a feeling of happiness by being so unabashedly happy himself. I loved his frank, honest nature. Bottom line: Danny O’Neill is awesome.

The woman who set me up with the interview is just as amazing. Kimberly Stern, a.k.a. as Kim Dishes, is a food, travel, lifestyle and healthcare writer as well as the mind behind KSquared Public Relations. Feel like that isn’t impressive enough? She also co-hosts LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen with celebrity Chef Jasper Mirabile.

Pop quiz:

How was I was feeling during my interview with Danny O’Neill at The Roasterie, home of my favorite coffee?

A. Starstruck

B. Mesmerized and amazed

C. Full of gratitude and joy

D. All of the above.

Of course you chose answer D, because you are brilliant and only brilliant and wonderful people read my blog. It was quite the experience and lucky day.

As an added fun note, we all visited Boulevard Brewing Company again while we were hanging around downtown and it just happened to be the brewery’s birthday! Lucky, fun and magical day. Here’s the short post I did about the first KC visit.

And now… I have work to do.


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Digi Collage Included in Music Video

I got such a sweet message today informing me that the German musician Petra has included one of my digital collage creations into his latest video on his Acoustic Spirit Youtube channel.

The image is one of the latest I’ve created and was originally made for Poetry Is Everywhere, one of the Everly Everywhere books I write with my husband, R. A. Smith.

I’ve posted the image online at Pixabay under the Creative Commons license for free use by others to inspire creative cross pollination like Petra’s video.

I don’t speak German, but Petra tells me this is what the words mean—

“There is a soldier, in the war. Friends and enemies are dying, Weapons sang a bad song. His world is cold, black… But he close the eyes and in his dream it is summer, he is sitting with his wife at a sea…it is winter and they walked, hand in hand… He is afraid, will he be the same man as before, will he lose the picture in his head, will good dreams come back, will she love him. His world is black and cold, will his world be colorful again?”

I am honored to have anything I’ve created be included in such a beautiful song and applaud Petra for both his talent, creativity and message. I hope to see more of his work soon and have subscribed to his channel.

The image I created appears the first time at 1:26, but I urge you to watch the whole video. I can’t understand a word of it, but it it visually pleasing and sounds lovely. You can enjoy it here:

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