Author Interview: Talking with L.X. Cain

lxcainheader-1 LX CAIN

A while back, I reviewed L.X. Cain’s Bloodwalker novel and liked it enough that I wanted to do more to help her promote her work. So we decided to do an interview around the official release date. Bloodwalker was released on October 4th.  You will find a link to my review of the book at the bottom of this interview.

Author Interview with L.X. Cain

S&S: Bloodwalker was an interesting novel to read for a couple of reasons. What initially drew me in was how ‘real’ the Skomori clan seemed. Real enough, in fact, that I actually googled around to see if some sort of Bloodwalker clan existed that you might have based them off. So, I have to ask, where did the idea for Bloodwalkers come from?

L.X. Cain (LXC): I wanted to show an isolated community with very different morals and beliefs than those of the developed world, one that, by our standards, was repressive toward women. I studied the Roma (gypsies) and the Amish, researched strange beliefs, weird wedding rituals, and odd superstitions of the world, and also did historical research on the Black Plague. Then I let my imagination run wild! And I came up with the Skomori Bloodwalkers and their Bloodwalker Book, which is sort of a macabre Farmer’s Almanac for bloodwalker women who prepare bodies for burial.

S&S: Your writing of the Zorka Circus family was also very realistic. You didn’t paint them to be heroes or villains, but a believable mix of (extremely insular) characters. Was this something you researched? Were there any interesting tidbits you found out about Circus life you didn’t put in the novel if so?

LXC: I did a lot of research on circuses! I read every article I could find on performers, life in circuses, and traveling carnivals. I also watched a number of videos showing how traveling circuses set up, move from city to city, and what type of acts they employ.

Things I didn’t put in the book were detailed accounts of Freak Shows from the 1700s to the mid 1900s. I found info on how the performers couldn’t find work outside the circus and considered themselves lucky to be employed there. There were also histories of certain performers and what happened to them after they left the circus. None of this went in the book, but it helped me understand the psychology of people who work in contemporary traveling circuses.

S&S: According to your Goodreads page, you definitely like to write horror (though Bloodwalker is definitely more mystery/thriller than anything else). So, what drew you to writing horror? If it was a particular book or author, mind sharing the details with us?

LXC: I’ve loved Horror ever since “Dark Shadows” came on TV when I was a child! Since then I’ve obsessively watched every Horror movie I could find, from great ones like “Psycho” to awful ones like “Them!” (about giant ants) – makes no difference, I love them all. As soon as novels like The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror came out, I devoured them. Then Herbert, King, and Koontz became popular, and I read many of their novels. I still prefer Horror novels when I’m reading for pleasure.

S&S: What was the most difficult part of writing this book for you?

LXC: Two things were hard for me.
1) The large number of action scenes. I’m pretty good at writing them, but I’ve never had to write so many. The hero, Rurik, is always fighting or chasing someone!
2) The hero’s characterization. I’d never written a man protagonist before. I love Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Agent Pendergast series. I wanted my hero to have the same enigmatic persona and dark background as Pendergast. Easier said than done. My female crit partners kept saying, “More emotion!” My male ones said, “Cut the inner thoughts and get to the action!” Luckily, I managed to walk the tightrope between the two opinions and am very pleased with the reaction Rurik is getting from readers.

S&S: From start to final draft, how long did it take you to write Bloodwalker?

LXC: It took me almost two years. I started researching the summer of 2014, and then wrote from December 2014 to December 2015. (Yes, I write at the pace of a geriatric snail.) Interestingly, I then subbed the novel to the hybrid publisher Booktrope. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Then they announced they were closing! So I quickly subbed to a new hybrid (Freedom Fox) and they immediately accepted. I did a final line-edit for Freedom Fox’s editor in April 2016.

S&S: Taking a break from the serious for a moment: What does your primary drinking mug say about you? (Mine informs people that I hate morning people. And mornings. And people.)

LXC: Haha! I love yours! I’m afraid all my mugs were bought long ago and only have pretty pictures on them. Boring, huh?

S&S: Have any of your books ever been inspired by a dream or nightmare that you had?

LXC: I sometimes wake up thinking I dreamed the most brilliant novel idea! Later in the day, as I contemplate important things like character goals and plot, I realize my idea makes no sense and is basically random chaos. So no, I’ve never had a dream that remained coherent and clever in the harsh light of day.

S&S: How many editors/proofreaders/beta-readers did your book go through before you felt it was ready for publishing?

LXC: I have six excellent CPs, two who got agents (and I had one too) and three who are multi-published in horror, fantasy, or paranormal. After several revisions, I went to Absolute Write to find beta readers. I found four for Bloodwalker. Then my publisher and I had a round of line edits. Content-wise, the novel is done, but there are still some copy-edits/proofs to do before the publishing date, October 4, 2016.

S&S: Tell us about the primary location in your novel. What made you choose it?

LXC: The book’s main location is an abandoned town in the mountains of Romania. It’s based on a real town called Copşa Mică that I turned up in my research. It has a derelict carbon black factory along with a smelter that are responsible for dangerous amounts of pollution in the air, ground, and water. There are many real locations in the novel, like Istvantelek (a train graveyard), Obudai Island in Budapest, Hungary, and Mestsky Park in Slovenia. Almost all the cities where the action takes place are real, and I researched them using satellite maps and images from residents and tourists.

S&S: What’s the most constructive criticism you’ve ever been given?

LXC: When querying my first novel (an MG fantasy that’s unpublished and rightly so!), the authors on Verla Kay’s Blue Boards offered critiques of the query and warned me that the character goals and main conflict weren’t clear. My reply: “What are character goals? And what do you mean by ‘main’ conflict?” I was clueless. They explained things to me, and since then I write a “query blurb” before I start any novel and make sure the basics are covered by using Nathan Bransford’s query template:

[Protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist’s quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist’s goal].

S&S: What are your taboo topics? Things you refuse to write about in your works.

LXC: I have a closed door policy when it comes to sex. There may be a kiss or two. No more than that.

For your information:  There are awesome pictures of the real Istvantelek Train Graveyard here:

Find my review of Bloodwalker HERE.

Indie Zone: Talking with Jaq Hazell

I requested this interview because Jaq Hazell’s book, I Came to Find a Girl, really got to me, and I shamelessly used my position as a reviewer to pepper her with questions about it.

Jaq Hazell Author Interview - main headshot from website



About the Author: Jaq Hazell is the author of London Tsunami & Other Stories. She has been shortlisted for The Virginia Prize for Fiction and the Jane Austen Short Story Award. Born near Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, her first full-time job was at Buckingham Palace. She has also worked as a humorous greetings cards designer and a journalist. She lives in London, and occasionally blogs at

Jaq Hazell Author Interview

S&S: Are you a meticulous writer who plans everything out before you begin to write, or someone who writes completed pieces here or there and joins them all together?

JH: I do try to plan, I really do, but it only works up to a point. This novel grew from a short story about a young art student/waitress who was struggling to find her identity. It took me a long time to structure this novel, and I only established where to begin after the first few drafts. I have to set the correct tone before I can continue so that can slow me down.

S&S: After I finished reading your book, it sat like a lump of lead on my chest. I had to talk about it with a fellow book blogger to sort out my thoughts for several minutes before I could even start the review. What’s your response to that?

JH: Oh dear “a lump of lead” – is that a good thing? I laughed nervously at that. I guess it’s good that you’ve had such a strong response. Date-rape is such a serious subject and one that is not covered nearly enough. When I was hawking this book round agents/publishers, I was told by one crime fiction editor at one of the biggies that they weren’t interested in rape. Murder is fine. Murder sells. They were looking for as much murder as possible.

(S&S: I think the lump of lead is definitely a good thing, simply because, as the author states, it is indicative of a strong response. )

S&S: I Came to Find a Girl deals with a heavy subject that isn’t talked nearly enough about in today’s society. Was pushing awareness of date-rape and the consequences something that was consciously on your mind while you were writing it? Or was it just part of the story?

JH: I didn’t plan to write about date-rape, but I was thinking about how we can all find ourselves in situations that can easily go awry through no fault of our own, and it developed from there. Saying that, I recently went to see Margaret Atwood talk at Kew Literary Festival and she talked about the third wave of feminism being about violence. “It’s about women being murdered and raped. It’s more self defense than self assertion.” 

S&S: I always list, at the bottom of my reviews, a Trigger Warnings section. For I Came to Find a Girl, that warning will be for Date Rape. Did you have any inkling when you wrote the book that someone would consider it powerful enough to warn people about it if they’d been through/thought they’d been through any sort of sexual assault?

JH: No, I’m pretty fearless whilst I’m writing, but it is something I’ve considered on publication. I think the subject is sensitively handled. I don’t go into any graphic detail as I wouldn’t want to read anything like that myself.

(S&S: To clarify- The situation is handled with sensitivity. The ‘trigger’ is simply that its there. It pulls up memories, emotions, etc, that you may not necessarily be prepared to deal with when you pick up a book for pleasure-reading.)

S&S: Did you ever have another way planned for Flood to die? Or did you know how you’d end him with certainty early on?

JH: I had no idea how Flood had died until I got there. I did research various criminals and I’m sure that’s where the inspiration came from. 

S&S: I ‘slept on it’ before writing out the questions I wanted to ask you. The thing that surprises me now in regards to my thoughts concerning I Came to Find a Girl is that the ending doesn’t matter me to me. It was Mia’s journey that does.  Would you change anything about that journey now?

JH: No, I think Mia does the best she can and I like her later combative approach.

(S&S: I agree!)

S&S:  …and now for some fun stuff.  What’s the strangest thing you do when writing?

JH: I walk my small, cat-sized-dog a lot, especially when I have plotting issues. 

S&S: What’s your “dirty little secret” book? The one you love but hope no one ever sees you reading?

JH: Well, that’s the beauty of Kindle – no one knows what you’re reading.

(S&S: That’s question avoidance! Bahahaha!)

S&S: Last, but not least: How long would Mia survive in a zombie apocalypse? What would he/she eventually die from?

JH: Mia would kick-ass. I think she has an inner “Tank Girl” and would last more than 28 days. Eventually, she’d die from starvation after consuming all her stolen supplies of dried pasta and tins of tuna. 

Click here to read my review of I Came to Find a Girl by Jaq Hazell!

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