Sidhe Vicious Reviews

Spoiler Free Reviews & More Book-ish Goings On :)

Justin Gustainis – Interview & Contest


  

 Sidhe Vicious welcomes Urban Fantasy author Justin Gustainis! We’re looking forward to getting to know you and all about your novel Black Magic Woman.

 

S.V. – Your Urban Fantasy novel, Black Magic Woman was released in January 2008 by Solaris Books. Can you tell us about it and a bit about the main characters, Quincey and Libby?

 

J.G. – A family in Wisconsin is experiencing what they believe to be poltergeist activity — doors closing by themselves, strange noises, objects flying around.  And the incidents are becoming deadlier; the objects flying are now knives, and electrical appliances are hopping into bathtubs and sinks being used by family members.  The family seeks out the help of supernatural investigator Quincey Morris.

Morris is a direct descendant of the character who died at the end of Stoker’s novel Dracula; my conceit is that the original Quincey Morris, who had sought Lucy Westenra’s hand in marriage, had been married once before, to a woman who died giving birth to their son.  So, in a sense, my protagonist is carrying on the family’s legacy.

In Wisconsin, Morris soon realizes that what is afflicting the family is something more dangerous than poltergeists.  He calls in a “consultant,” Libby Chastain — a practitioner of “white” witchcraft.  The two determine that the family lives under a curse dating back to the Salem witch trials.  The curse is reactivated by each female descendant of the line, and the current one, a “black” witch of great power, is determined to end the feud by destroying the family, once and for all.

Their pursuit of the witch behind the curse takes Morris and Chastain to Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, New York, and, eventually, to Salem itself.  Early on, their quarry realizes they are on her trail, and resolves to destroy them first, using any magical means necessary.

 

S.V. – What about witches, magic and the supernatural inspired you to write about them?

 

J.G. – Well, I write what I like to read, and I’ve been interested in supernatural fiction ever since I was a kid.  Everybody likes a good scare sometimes, I think — and I discovered it’s even more fun to give a scare than it is to receive one.

 

S.V. – Will we be seeing more of Quincey and Libby in the future?

 

J.G. – You will, I’m glad to say.  My publisher, Solaris Books, has signed me to a multi-book deal for a series of “Quincey Morris supernatural investigations.”  The second in the series, Evil Ways, is due out in January.  The third, Sympathy for the Devil, is in progress.  In fact, Libby Chastain has assumed such an important role in the series, that, beginning with Evil Ways, each book is being called “A Morris and Chastain Investigation.”  I think Libby deserves to share top billing.

 

S.V. – How did you get your start in writing? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

 

J.G. – I started writing fiction in the mid-1990s, during a particularly rough period in my marriage.  I didn’t consciously make the decision to use writing to escape reality for a while, but that’s exactly what I was doing.  The result was a nasty little horror novel called The Hades Project, about a demon-possessed serial killer.  The book is the product of a dark time, and shows it.  After the two years spent writing and polishing it, it took me five years to find a publisher.  But once I did, I realized “Hey — I’m a writer!”  And what writers do is write.  So I began work on Black Magic Woman, which, although undeniably dark fantasy, isn’t nearly as sharp-edged as the first book.

 

S.V. – What was the path to publication on this novel like? Highlights? Pitfalls?

 

J.G. – After two years of having the manuscript languish in a variety of publishers’ slush piles, I got some luck in the Spring of 2007.  I was reading Realms of Fantasy magazine, and saw an ad for a novel that looked interesting — and then I realized that it seemed interesting because it was the same kind of stuff I was writing (which, I didn’t realize at the time, is called “urban fantasy”).  I noted that the publisher, Solaris Books, was one whose slush pile I had not yet graced with my manuscript.  And here’s where it starts to get really weird.

 

I went to the Solaris website, thereby learning that “Solaris only accepts submissions from agents or established authors.”  After several minutes spent cursing under my breath, I wrote Solaris and said, essentially, “Look, I’ve sold nine short stories and one novel.  The novel wasn’t published by a major house, but it got  lot of good reviews, including one in Cemetery Dance, which is enclosed.  Is that ‘established’ enough for you?”

 

Apparently it was.  Christian Dunn, the editor who was handling the email for Solaris that week, told me I could send the manuscript, and that he would keep an eye out for it.  Turns out, Solaris was so booked up (so to speak) that they were only looking at new submissions during a five-week “window,” and then not again for a couple of years.  Guess who happened to blunder right through the middle of that window?

 

 Christian was as good as his word.  We still joke today about how Black Magic Woman went from slush pile to contract offer in just over three weeks.  I think it must be some kind of world record, but the Guinness people just aren’t interested.  Bastards. 

 

S.V. – Who or what was your inspiration for the characters of Quincey and Libby, if any?

 

J.G. – Quincey is an amalgam of three different men, one of whom is actually a Texan (along with, of course, a healthy dose of imagination).  Libby Chastain is loosely based on a remarkable woman who saved my life once.

 

S.V. – Did you find it harder or easier to write subsequent novels in this series because of already having created this world?

 

J.G. – It’s easier in some ways, of course: I don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each book.  On the other hand, a series has certain conventions and history (i.e., what happened in the earlier books) that limit, somewhat, my freedom of action in plotting the next one.

 

S.V. – Do you have any funny writing quirks or habits that you do when you’re in the “zone” writing?

 

J.G. – I don’t always listen to music when I’m writing — but when i do, it’s likely to be Mark Snow’s sound track for Millennium.  It helps me get in the proper mood (i.e., dark).

 

S.V. – Have you ever met a witch, vampire, werewolf, demon, fae? (Have fun with this)

 

J.G. – Well, this girl I dated for a while in college turned out to be a real — oh, wait, you said witch, didn’t you?  Sorry.

 

I know some practitioners of Wicca — very nice folks, who make no claim to be able to do the kinds of magical things that Libby Chastain does in my books.  I’ve also met a few people who claimed to be involved with black magic, but I had the impression that it was just an excuse for them to get together for sex orgies every full moon.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

 

S.V. – What supernatural power or creature would you most like to have or be?

 

J.G. – Oh, I think I could get into being a vampire — but of the old school “I vant to suck your blood” type.  I’m not interested in being one of Ann Rice’s tortured, Byronic figures, whose angst goes on for centuries.  I mean, that sounds too much like high school, for my taste.

 

S.V. – Who is your favorite paranormal or urban fantasy fictional character and why? (Not counting your own of course J)

 

J.G. – Wow, that’s a tough one; there are so many great paranormal characters out there.

 

I’m going to pick one whom many of our readers might not be familiar with (but should be, IMHO): Genevieve Dieudonne’, a 400-old vampire who first appeared in Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula (a great book), and who has made periodic reappearances in some of his other novels and stories ever since.

 

Genevieve is one of the good guys, BTW.  Although she needs human blood to “live,” at her advanced “age,” she doesn’t require much, and never kills to get it.  Which doesn’t mean that she won’t kill anyone, vampire or human, who tries to harm her or somebody she cares about.

 

S.V. – Who’s your favorite author? TV show? Movie?

 

J.G. – Favorite author?  Like favorite character, that’s a tough question, and for the same reasons.

 

My favorite author probably changes from month to month, but right now it’s Lilith Saintcrow.  I loved her “Dante Valentine” series, and the new one, about occult bounty hunter Jill Kismet, kicks some serious ass.

 

TV show?  That also changes, but I find myself really looking forward to the start (in a few weeks) of the third season of Showtime’s Dexter.  A hero who’s also a seriel killer — whoever would’ve thunk it?  I’m also eagerly anticipating the premiere of True Blood on HBO.  It’s based on Charlaine Harris’s “Southern Vampire” novels, and I only hope that the show does the books justice.

 

My favorite movie is a tie between The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Usual Suspects.  Go figure.

 

S.V. – If you could choose one fictional character to bring into real life, who would you choose?

 

J.G. – Modesty Blaise.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a girlfriend who was beautiful, rich, and could also beat the crap out of anybody who messed with you?

 

S.V. – How have the books you’ve read influenced the books you write?

 

J.G. – I’m sure they’ve done so in countless ways, but mostly subconsciously.  Every writer’s style is a product of everything he/she has ever read.

 

S.V. – What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever gotten inspiration from?

 

J.G. – I once saw an old, beaten-up panel truck in traffic, and that started the train of thought that led to a story of mine called “Meat Wagon,” which is scheduled to be published sometime this millennium in Alan Kozlowski’s magazine Inhuman.  I sold it to him, I think, three years ago.  He’s already paid me for it, so I can’t really complain.  But it sure would be nice to have it out there for people to read it.

 

S.V. – What do you do when you’re having writer’s block to “shake” it off?

 

J.G. – I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced writer’s block.  Laziness, sure — many times.  The profound desire to do anything but sit down and write — you betcha.  But when I wanted to write, I’ve always been able to come up with something — even if I later decided it was crap and cut it.

 

S.V. – What can a new reader expect from your book/series?

 

J.G. – Quincey and Libby have a number of interesting cases in their future (as long as the books continue to sell, that is).  In Sympathy for the Devil, they’ll be forced to deal with a major presidential contender who is possessed by a demon.  Any resemblance to actual politicians living or dead is purely coincidental.  Really.  No, seriously.

 

Some folks have asked me if Quincey and Libby are ever going to get together sexually — or, since Libby’s bi, whether they’ll get involved in a MFF threesome (some of my fans have dirty minds, bless them).  My answer is usually, “Buy the next book, and see for yourself.” 

 

We writers are a wily lot.

 

S.V. – You write about various types of supernatural people, creatures, happenings. Do you do a lot of research or do you prefer to take what you already know and use your imagination for the rest?

 

J.G. – I usually rely on the standard supernatural tropes — vampires, demons, werewolves, etc.  Sometimes a little research is necessary, but the great thing about writing supernatural creatures is that you can give then any qualities, powers, or weaknesses you want.

 

S.V. – Are any of your characters particularly fun or easy for you to write? Any that are more difficult?

 

J.G. – Quincey and Libby are getting easier to write, because I’m getting to know them better.  Writing unsympathetic characters is hard, sometimes; it’s like conceiving a child whom you know you’re going to really hate when it grows up.  But, without unsympathetic characters, the books would be pretty dull, so I usually manage, somehow.

 

S.V. – Do you have any tips for aspiring speculative fiction writers?

 

J.G. – Never stop — writing, revising, sending your stuff out.  And never, ever give up.

 

S.V. – Is there anything else you’d like to share with us at Sidhe Vicious Reviews and with your readers?

J.G. – Well, there is one thing — but if I told you, I’d have to kill you.  All of you.

And I love my fans too much to ever do them harm — give or take the occasional nightmare.

  Thank you for spending some time with us here at Sidhe Vicious Reviews Justin! It was a pleasure. We’re crossing our fingers and looking forward to Evil Ways, as well as wishing you every success in the future! You can find out more about Justin and his writing at http://www.justingustainis.com/

 

 

 Justin has graciously agreed to allow me to have a contest to win a signed copy of Black Magic Woman! Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever had any supernatural/paranormal experiences of your own. I’d love to hear your stories. J

 

There are no geographical limits on this contest, so if you’re on the planet earth, you can leave a comment to be entered. I’ll pick a winner after midnight on September 20th. Good Luck Everyone!

If you’d like extra entries, you can blog about the contest & send me the link in the comments here, subscribe to my email updates and let me know about it here and finally, if you are already subscribed, you’ll automatically get an extra entry if you enter here with a comment.

 

 

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September 10, 2008 - Posted by | Contest, Interview | , , ,

27 Comments »

  1. Great Interview but sorry no paranormal experiences for me. Love to read about them.

    Comment by Pamk | September 10, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] Justin Gustainis, author of Black Magic Woman, by Sidhe Vicious. There’s also a contest going on for a copy of BLack Magic Woman. The contest runs through Sept. 20th. […]

    Pingback by The Chosen Sin | Literary Escapism | September 10, 2008 | Reply

  3. Hi there Justin and good afternoon Sidhe. Well, I liked this interview. Your book sounds like it’s right down my alley.

    Anyway, when I was growing up I lived with my grandmother in this spooky old house built in 1910. Well, late at night I’d hear the sounds of footsteps coming up the stairs (they creaked too!) with the sound of ice tinkling in a glass, but they never made it to the stairs. Also occasionally I’d see dark shawdows out of the corners of my eyes, but when I turned to look at them I didn’t see anything. But after my grandma passed, something happened that REALLY freaked me out. I went to the house to clean it up, to get ready to sell it and I had my son with me, who was one at the time. I settled him downstairs while I went upstairs. After a short period I started to hear him babbling. Curiously, I went downstairs to see what he was up to and there he was sitting in front of the chair that my grandma always sat in, looking up at it and just babbling away. It took me three months before I stepped foot into that house again!

    There were some other weird stuff that went on, but I’d be here all day typing.

    Count me in for this contest!

    Comment by Ruth S. | September 10, 2008 | Reply

  4. Great contest! I haven’t had any paranormal experiences…yet. LOL!

    Comment by Samantha | September 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. Great interview! The book sounds intriguing too! As for supernatural experiences, I’ve never had any and I don’t ever want to encounter any as well!!

    Comment by bunnyb | September 10, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’m sorry to say I never have had any (at least I think I’m sorry lol) but I’m open to the idea. Your book sounds fascinating and it’s very captivating subject.

    Comment by catslady | September 10, 2008 | Reply

  7. I have had a “few” but will go for a few that happened when
    I was living in another city a few years ago with a landlady who lived upstairs and my husband and I downstairs. This house was an old and HUGE. Hence the reason why it was being rented.

    During the first year I was living there, I kept hearing talk of lot of “spookey” stuff that supposedly happened in that house before I arrived. To be honest, I didn’t believe in any of it. I always figured that disappearance/reappearance of keys or other items was due to my landlady’s absent-mindness. The strange noises (sounds of footsteps upstairs when no one was there or going up or down the steps when no one was there) which I attributed to it being an old house on the side of a mountain in the woods as settling or something. I can do denial really well when I get a notion to.

    Also there was always a feeling of being watched or never alone when I knew for a fact no other person was there on the property. (I will admit, that was one of the things that did slightly bother me at first when by myself which never happened before at any other place I lived at that time).

    During that time, I think I was 7-8 months and was very off-balance a lot as I normally had never weighed a lot and it just was hard for me to adjust to at times. I was near the steps that led to the downstairs walking towards where the rest of the landlady’s family and my husband were in the living room. It was a wide open space and you could see clearly and with no shadows or walls.

    As I was neared the top of the stairs (towards my right side), I felt myself lose my balance and KNEW I was going
    to fall down the steps (I was that close to the steps like an idiot). As I felt myself falling, (while everyone else who happened to be looking that way got scared looking with the realization of what was happening), I suddenly felt my left arm being gripped hard like someone had grabbed it and being yanked the other way.

    The thing was, NO ONE was there that you could see. Everyone was in the living room and no way for them to get close and run back. Everyone seen me tip one way and then go the other way (I was told it looked like I was being jerked, but no one was there anyone could see).

    Whoever/whatever that grabbed my arm saved my child and probably me as I don’t think either of us would’ve made it with that many stairs to fall down. What spooked everyone is the fact I had bruises on my left arm that was in the shape of someone’s hand/fingers that you would expect to see if someone yanked you like that.

    My daughter after she was born and grew up enough to be able to talk started talking about a Charlie playing with her at times or just talking to her telling stories. The thing is NONE of us had heard of anyone known as Charlie. Maybe on TV? Never referred to the previous events around her or anything to our knowledge.

    She would spook me a bit as she would become so focused on her “imaginary” friend calling “Charlie” like she did. My landlady who was a “new ager” had a “medium” come over and was told that there was a spirit there by the name of Charlie who “owned” this land and just wanted to make sure it was taken care of properly. He wasn’t “harmful”, just mischevious at times. I went away after being told this shaking my head figuring the lady had heard of my child talking to “charlie”.

    A year later, my landlady and her husband found out that there was a guy who was a moonshiner who lived on the property before with a “still” and a young son from some of the local neighbors who were living there during that time and the library. Somehow, they died in a “fire” or something while the son was still young near the still that was buried on that property (you can still find jars of moonshine if you dig on the property). The moonshiner’s name was Charlie.

    Coincidence? You be the judge. To this day, if you go on that property, you can still feel the presense of somebody watching you. Things still disappear and reappear. Strange noises happen and a few other strange events occur (which I am running out of room so I won’t go into).

    I don’t know if it was a guardian angel or a ghost or what who grabbed my arm that day, but I will always be grateful for obvious reasons.

    Comment by Shartyrant | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  8. Hope that wasn’t too long. I have others, but that one was probably the one that spooked me out the most and I don’t spook easily.

    Comment by Shartyrant | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  9. Great stories so far from Ruth S and Shartyrant! And it’s ok if some of you don’t have a story, you’re still entered in the contest. 🙂 I hope to see some more stories to creep me out here.

    Comment by sidhevicious | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  10. Great interview. Thanks for introducing me to another new author. Going to have to look for this one. 🙂

    In regards to your question, I have personally not had any first hand experience with the paranormal. However, lots of my family has.

    My dad used to work security at an amusement park in PA. One of the buildings there was an old hotel, rebuilt, that had been burnt in a fire years before there was ever a park there. One night when my dad was on patrol he heard old fashion dance music coming from the building, this alone was weird. But even more so was the fact that when he looked in to the building he could see a ghostly couple, in clothes from the era of the original building pre-fire, dancing to the mysterious music. He said it was very creepy. And, actually, this same thing has been documented by many people over the years. I guess the assumption is that the couple was killed in the fire.

    My aunt used to live in a haunted house, one that’s quite famous in the Carolina’s but I can’t recall the name of now. My grandmother has told me lots of stories about things that happened when they were there visiting, and the stories alone make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. There were audible foot steps heard when no one was walking about. They could see the shadow of foot steps underneath the door jams, but there wouldn’t be anyone on the other side of the door. They heard kids running and laughing in the halls during the middle of the night when everyone else was asleep. Objects disappeared and reappeared in different locations as if they’d been carried there. My grandpa once had a conversation with his sister-in-law while she was standing across the room behind him. Only, a few minutes later my aunt, his SIL, came in through the front door with my grandma, and neither had even been home during the conversation. Hence, no one knows who my grandfather was actually talking to (and, yes, he was a young man at the time). Very very creepy.

    RebekahC
    littleminx at cox dot net

    Comment by RebekahC | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  11. I dreamed once that a coworker that was very sick told me he was OK. Next day I found out he had died. That spooked me a bit. That was enough real life paranormal for me.

    I would also like to say that I agree with Justin when he declared Genevieve Dieudonne his favorite paranormal character. I have several favorites, but she is definitely on my list. Genevieve is a vampire, but one with a strong social conscience. Read her story in Anno Dracula.

    Win or lose, after reading this interview I have to read Black Magic Woman!

    Comment by Patricia | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  12. Growing up, we lived in a creaky old house built in the 30s. The original owner, Agnes, had passed away in the house. Every so often, a door would slam or something would fall of a shelf — my mother always said it was Agnes, getting bored.

    Comment by Thursday Bram | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  13. It’s lame, but in Girl Scouts I went camping a lot. In one tent we woke up every morning with out beds in a different spot. These were old, creaky things, impossible to move without a ton of noise. ‘Twas odd.

    Comment by Liviania | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  14. I’ve never experienced one but this is my favorite genre to read!

    Comment by Teresa W. | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  15. I haven’t had a paranormal experience, but my mother remembers that as a child she saw a rocker on her front porch rocking all by itself with no one near it.

    Comment by Janel | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  16. I never believed in ghosts and such, until 1978. My husband was in the Army and stationed at Fort Cambell KY, and we rented a little house along what the guys call gip strip. We got moved in, and starting that night when we went to sleep we were awaken by a women screaming as if she were being murdered. We thought it must be coming from outside somewhere, but my husband went outside to check it out and seen nothing or heard nothing. Every night the same thing kept happening,but you could only hear it in the bedroom and nowhere else. The only thing we could make of it, is something really bad must have happened in that room and a woman was murdered. Every time that my husband would have to go to the field, I was so afraid that I would sleep on the couch in the living room. Needless to say we moved out of the house just as soon as we could. Ever since then I beleve in ghosts.

    Comment by Anita Yancey | September 12, 2008 | Reply

  17. My mother and husband have recounted some strange goings on to me, but thankfully I’ve never had an experience! I think I’d be scared to death! I’m very fascinated, but very much a chicken! I’d love to be entered for this contest. Thanks!

    Comment by Shaunesay | September 13, 2008 | Reply

  18. No need to enter me! I am already a proud owner of a signed copy of this amazing book.

    Just wanted to pop in and say hi to Justin! I am back online after the move and it is great to see you over here on Sidhe’s blog.

    Comment by Amber | September 13, 2008 | Reply

  19. To make a long story short, I saw a dark smoky gray cloud/mist form go from my apartment through the wall into my friends apartment. (her apartment was next to mine). I came out into the hallway of the apartments and so did she, and she asked if I’d seen what she had seen.

    Comment by Heidi F. | September 13, 2008 | Reply

  20. I, your Humble Author, just wanted to stop by and thank everybody for commenting. Some of yur experiences are downright creepy! It’s great of you to share them.
    I hope the lucky winner (whoever it turns out to be) enjoys BLACK MAGIC WOMAN.

    Comment by Justin Gustainis | September 14, 2008 | Reply

  21. As a child, I often would tell my mother someone was coming to visit a few hours before they would actually come. Like one time, I told my mom that my grandma was standing at the door. Well, she wasn’t. But she was 2 hours later, and it was a surprise visit.

    I also could sense when the phone was about to ring, and would say “phone!” about 30 seconds before it rang.

    Comment by Lenore | September 14, 2008 | Reply

  22. I can’t say I have ever experienced anything paranormal that I can remember. But please enter me in the giveaway.
    Thank you

    Comment by Carol Thompson | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  23. I haven’t had any paranormal experiences but I sure love reading about other people’s stories!

    Comment by Elizabeth M. | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  24. Here’s a paranormal experience for you: My husband and I were checking out an old abandoned school for boy that was also once a hotel during the 20s. The grounds are dilapidated and strewn with debris, but we decided to check it out anyway. A woman walked by me commenting on the loveliness of the day and was dressed in 4os costume. I said it was a gorgeous day and walked on. My husband came around the same corner she had just gone and I asked if saw that crazy lady in the costume, and he said he had no idea what I was talking about. We went around the corner and saw no one. It was very odd, plus my watch had stopped and the batteries for my camera had died.

    Comment by Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  25. I’d love to read this book!

    I’ve experienced weird things in my home, but I’m not sure if they’re paranormal. I have doors that lock and unlock themselves, and I felt something whisper into my ear while I was sleeping. I’ve heard voices and no one is around, and I heard walking upstairs when no one is up there. I think it’s kind of cool, as long as it stays harmless.

    Comment by Anna | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  26. No, I haven’t either so far. Hoping I may one day, but in the mean time I enjoy reading about other peoples experiences with the paranormal/supernatural.

    Comment by Lilly K | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  27. Good website! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS which must do the trick! Have a great day!

    Comment by SWTOR | August 8, 2011 | Reply


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