I first met Steven Montano on Twitter last year courtesy of our mutual friends, Jen L. Kirchner and Amber West. Not only does Steven write a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy fiction series, but he hangs in one of the coolest posses in the Twitterverse. He’s friendly, he’s funny, he loves his family (in an absolutely adorable way), and he’s a San Antonio Spurs fan.
That’s right — Steven yells for our Texas team all the way from the great state of Washington. I may live in Dallas and root for the Mavericks on a consistent basis, but when the Spurs and Mavs face off, I am a Spurs fan all the way. Needless to say, I love Steven even more now.
Steven fell out of the sky one day and landed behind an accountant’s desk. Rather than write novels about his experiences in an alternate post-apocalyptic world besieged by vampires, he decided to reconcile accounts and calculate journal entries. Thankfully for his own sanity and our enjoyment, he still writes on the side.
Steven has published four stories in his Blood Skies series, with the most recent release, Soulrazor, releasing this past March 16th. How about a little bite?
In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.
Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.
Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.
There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…
Something ancient has awoken. Primordial and wholly evil, a living shadow emerges from a prison made weak by the magical cataclysm called The Black. Now the Sleeper stalks the land in search of its old enemies, leaving a trail of madness and destruction in its wake.
Eric Cross, a Southern Claw warlock, has been sent to find the Woman in the Ice, the only known means of stopping this evil. Aided by a grizzled ranger and a band of wardens and inmates from a sadistic prison, Cross’ mission will bring him into conflict with an array of foes: the barbaric Gorgoloth, vampire shock troops out of the Ebon Cities, and a cadre of mercenary nihilists called the Black Circle.
On a mission that will take him from a lost temple once ruled by insidious wolf sorcerers to the vicious gladiator games of the vampire city-state of Krul to the deadly ruins of an ice city, Cross will play a pivotal role in an ancient conflict whose outcome will determine the future of the world.
Tales of the Earth: A Blood Skies Short Story:
In the time after The Black, humans battle against the onslaught of the vampire armies of the Ebon Cities.
In a desolate patch of remote wasteland, a young woman named Rooke, part of a group of prisoners held by the corrupt prison wardens called The Revengers, struggles to stay alive. Ordered to unearth a terrible chamber of ancient power and hounded by once-frozen vampire savages, Rooke’s journey into darkness will reveal forgotten secrets of the conflict that has brought The Black to our world.
But will Rooke survive long enough to tell anyone?
The war continues…
Eric Cross and his team of elite mercenaries are the bane of the Ebon Cities. Armed with the cutting-edge arcane weaponry of the Southern Claw, Cross and his crew – Black, Kane, Ronan, Maur, Grissom and Ash – have become a veritable thorn in the side of the vampire armies.
Now the team is tasked with halting vampire activity near the remote city-state of Fane, where the Ebon Cities have teamed up with a former Revenger in search of a deadly weapon called Soulrazor.
To make matters worse, something sinister has happened to Cross, and the key to his salvation is somehow directly tied to the Ebon Cities’ new soldiers: a host of necrotic angels who bear traces of divine power.
Cross and his team must travel across a blighted wilderness and do battle with a vile array of enemies as they race not only to save the city of Thornn from total annihilation, but to rescue Cross’ very soul from an enemy more powerful than he could ever imagine…
When you were young, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?
I’ve wanted to be a professional writer since I was eighteen years old. I actually went to college to get a Creative Writing degree (which I did, along with a minor in European History), but life got in the way and “starving artist” wasn’t really a viable career choice when my father caught ill, so I went into the first job that presented itself: accounting. Been stuck there ever since.
But all this time, I’ve always harbored a love of writing, and I’ve pursued it as a hobby most of my life. It was only a couple of years ago that I decided to take the plunge and publish my work on my own.
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
Wow, good question…a little bit comes from everywhere. I’m something of a popular media goofball, so I find influence in films, television, fantasy and sci-fi fiction, and music. I also pull inspiration from my surroundings (Washington state is a gorgeous place to explore nature), from video and role-playing games, and from my own dreams, which are pretty durned scary.
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
China Mieville and J.V. Jones are my favorite authors of dark fantasy fiction. Their ability to create new worlds and populate those worlds with believable characters and unusual but totally realistic conflicts are unparalleled. I also love their prose, and I try to emulate some bastardized hybridization of them both as often as I can. ;D
I also hold a deep appreciation for Clive Barker (whose works got me into writing in the first place), Tanith Lee (whose prose taught me how to write), John Marco and Tad Williams (whose works, at various points in my life, got me back into writing when I’d all but given up on it.)
The cover art for your books is amazing. Did you design them yourself?
I concocted the skeletons of the ideas for the covers, but I can’t take credit for the actual design. Syd Gill is amazing, and she crafted the covers for Blood Skies and Black Scars. I can’t get over what a terrific job she did. My friend Barry Currey designed the cover for Soulrazor, and I thought he did an amazing job, as well. The only one I designed on my own was Tales of a Blood Earth, and it’s…meh. It’s okay.
Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters. Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Eric Cross and why?
Alan Edwards got the scoop on this. Eric Cross’s physical appearance is actually based on a character I created for an NBA Basketball game for the XBOX. The character came out looking better than I expected. When I started working on Blood Skies, the same character name came to mind, and it occurred to me that he’d look just like that dark-haired, lean little Point Guard I had leading the Las Vegas Vipers. Yes, I’m a dork.
I don’t normally assign actors to characters until after I finish the books. Now, I do a regular blog post after each novel identifying which actor would get to play them, but I try not to think about that too much while I’m actually writing, since I’ve always been pretty good at imagining up people’s appearances.
As it turns out, James McAvoy gets the honor of playing Cross. He should feel lucky. ;D
Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?
My wife, as usual. =D
Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
As I mentioned before, I like to play XBOX (mostly 1st person shooters), watch NBA Basketball (Go Spurs!!!), and watch lots of movies. I also love to hike, go bike-riding, shoot hoops, dance, and read. I’ve also spent the last few years learning how to cook, and I must admit I’m not half bad in the kitchen these days. ;D
I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your favorite television programs airing today?
Right now we’re watching Person of Interest, Castle, Game of Thrones, Modern Family and Hot In Cleveland religiously. There are at least a half-dozen more we want to give a shot, but as it is we only get a little bit of TV time in every night. Oh, we’re also plowing our way through Enterprise, since we’d never gotten to watch that one when it was on the air.
What is your favorite movie of all-time?
I call unfair, I can’t answer that question! ;D I don’t have any one movie that I hold in preference to all others, but I do have a short list: Aliens, Saving Private Ryan, The Usual Suspects, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (the American version), Inception and Unforgiven top my list at the moment. I’m also deliriously looking forward to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
What snacks do you order when at a movie theater?
I tend to sneak my own snacks in. Paying $10 for a box of popcorn feels like getting robbed at gunpoint.
The Blood Skies series brings us vampires, witches, and zombies – Oh My! Name your favorite book, movie, and/or television series featuring the supernatural undead.
China Mieville’s Bas-Lag series alludes to a hidden necropolis of aristocratic undead, and I’ve always liked the way he handles vampires in his novels, making them the dregs of the netherworld. John Steakley’s Vampire$ did a nice job of making vamps scary again instead of romantic sissies. And you have to love the classics – Bram Stoker’s Dracula and J. Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla are masterworks of the vampire genre.
In film, I’ve always appreciated the brutality of vampires in the Blade films, as well as the tongue-in-cheek (yet very scary) Fright Night films (the originals…I haven’t seen the Colin Ferrell version). And with all apologies to zombie “purists”, I’ve always enjoyed Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead. And (again with apologies), though it doesn’t feature traditional “zombies”, I think 28 Days Later is one of the best horror films ever made.
Can everyone tell from Steven’s responses that he loves to smile? 🙂
Any fan of the Fright Night films is a friend of mine…and Blade? Heck yea! Who’s with us?
Do you have a question for Steven? Have you read his Blood Skies series yet? What’s your favorite zombie movie? I’d love to hear from you!
Remember to stop by Amazon to buy a copy of Blood Skies (available in paperback and Kindle), Black Scars (available in Kindle), Tales of a Blood Earth: A Blood Skies short story (available in Kindle), and Soulrazor (available in Kindle) if you haven’t already.