August 25, 2016

If I'm Mayan, I'm Dyin': an interview with Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, authors of "Mayan Blue"

Xibalba, home of torture and sacrifice, is the kingdom of the lord of death. He stalked the night in the guise of a putrefied corpse, with the head of an owl and adorned with a necklace of disembodied eyes that hung from nerve cords. He commanded legions of shapeshifting creatures, spectral shamans, and corpses hungry for the flesh of the living. The Mayans feared him and his realm of horror. He sat atop his pyramid temple surrounded by his demon kings and demanded sacrifices of blood and beating hearts as tribute to him and his ghostly world.
These legends, along with those that lived in fear of them, have been dead and gone for centuries. Yet now, a doorway has been opened in Georgia. A group of college students seek their missing professor, a man who has secretly uncovered the answer to one of history’s greatest mysteries. However, what they find is more than the evidence of a hidden civilization. It’s also a gateway to a world of living nightmares.

What was the impetus of Mayan Blue?
M&M- We got the idea from a television show about how the Mayans could have migrated into the southern states of America. We were very intrigued by the possibility that it could be true. We have always loved learning about ancient civilizations and mythology so the concept of this book was really right up our alley. We saw it as an opportunity to have our first novel be something unique so we just went for it.
What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from other titles?
M&M- This was our first novel so the outlining and story mapping was far more extensive.
How have you found your progression as writers thus far?
M&M- We can see that our writing is getting better as a whole. We’ve learned through trial and error as well as through our peers and those we look up to how to put together a better story from starting point, to keeping people invested in reading the rest of a story, and also some things from our editors to help our sentence structure.
Who do you count among your writing influences?
M&M- There are so many but to name a few here we would say Ronald Kelly, Brian Keene, and Jack Ketchum.
How much emphasis do you place on setting as a character?
M&M- We think it’s really important for a setting to be looked at as a character because it is also influential on the outcome of your story, the same as any character. Will it be unforgiving or a place of refuge? Different areas are like different characters with their own personalities in way. In Mayan Blue the setting is dark and obviously deadly, but we added hints of light that could be seen as hope to the characters.
What do you consider to be the saving grace of the genre?
M&M- It will never die; people can try to kill it but it returns like Jason Vorhees. That is because of the true horror fans that keep it in their hearts and won’t let it fade away. The saving grace is the true horror fanatics that support it through thick and thin.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?
M&M- There really isn’t any bad writing advice, but there really is no magic formula for success either. Too many people ask for advice and think that suddenly everything will fall into place and they will just blow up. People are taking notice of us now but we did struggle for years and still do…but that is writing. We can only tell new writers to find a schedule that works for them to write, work hard, and accept constructive criticism and rejection. Read and acquaint yourself with what makes a good story and never give up once you start.
What kind of guilty pleasure do you have when it comes to books or movies?
M&M- SUPER CHEESY MOVIES AND BOOKS! We love horror, sci-fi and fantasy books and movies of all flavors. It’s fun to check out some silly stuff like terrible B-horror movies or some beast master flicks. Or spend time going through the cheesy monster porn on amazon and reading the descriptions. We’re dark and evil but have good senses of humor. Sometimes laughter is all you have left after a hard week.
What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

M&M- We’re just finishing a sci-fi book for a Kindle World. We sent in a horror manuscript that hopefully we can talk about soon. We’re already working on another horror novel and next year we have a horror novel and a dark fantasy novel lined up. We are on Facebook and Twitter if people want to follow along 

Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza have been writing together since they were little girls and were dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. They are constantly working together on new stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Their work has been included in FRESH MEAT published by Sinister Grin Press, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside Press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction.

Praise for Mayan Blue
From the outset, Garza and Lason let the blood spill, plunging their small cast of characters into the depths of Mayan hell. There’s plenty of action to go around as the group is confronted with a number of horrors, from the labyrinthine and booby-trapped maze of the newly discovered Mayan temple to the angry gods and their owl-headed, sharp-clawed servants.” –Michael Hicks, Author of Convergence
“Their short works are wonderful to read. However this book proves that they can tackle longer works without missing a beat.” –Tom, GoodReads
”These two show no quarter dragging the characters--and by extension, the reader--into the depths of the Mayan version of Hell. There's vividness to the scenes they craft that made me want to make sure I was reading in full daylight, or at least with most of the lights on.” –John Quick, Author of Consequences
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