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Saturday 31 October 2015

ℚ♫ Letter from Hell - M. Lee Mendelson

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about is début horror novel,  Letter from Hell (, Forsaken, 322pages).

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Michael Mendelson; thank you for joining us today.

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in Letter from Hell, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?

"My music list is as eclectic as my writing. The funny thing is, the music I’m listening to will often reflect the mood of the scene I’m writing.
If I’m writing a warm, tender scene, I may listen to soft rock, like Bread, 10cc, Toto, Seals and Crofts, Gary Wright, Elton John, Dan Fogelberg or even Poco.

An action packed scene may elicit the listening needs of a little harder rock, like Asia, Alan Parsons Project, Boston, The Cars, Genesis, The Police, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac or The Doobie Brothers.

And for the intense slasher scenes, I appropriately turn to Metallica, Queensrÿche, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Green Day, Slipknot, Disturbed, Nine Inch Nails, and of course, Godsmack. The list goes on and on."
Excellent selection. I have added a few songs from each of these 26 artists in the playlist below... some 158 tracks... enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Letter from Hell?

"The inspiration for my book actually came to me one night as I lay in bed.  I was in that twilight stage between sleep and awake when the idea suddenly came to me.  I actually remember thinking, “Wow, this would be a really good book, or even a movie.”  With that, I came home and told my wife, Yvonne.  She agreed, thought it was an interesting concept, and also thought it would be a good book or movie, if it was done right.

I recall asking Yvonne, an avid reader herself, if she knew of any authors who might want to take the idea and develop it. I just wanted to see the idea come to life.  To my horror, she actually suggested that I write the story.  I actually balked at the idea, and said, “Are you crazy?  I’m no writer.”

The truth is, I’m not even a reader.  That is to say, I’ve read maybe five books for pleasure in my life.  So the idea of me writing something was bizarre to me, to say the least.  I had no idea where or how to start.  But, at the behest of my beautiful wife, I started writing.  To my surprise, after reading the first chapter, she told me, “This is really good.”

Of course, my response was, “Well, you have to say that.  You’re my wife.”

But after much reassurance and encouragement, she convinced me that she really did like it, and that she wanted me to continue writing.  So, with Yvonne looking over my shoulder and allowing me to bounce every twisted idea off of her, before I knew it, within about two months I had written a 103,000 word novel.

So in summary, I would say a vivid imagination, chance, and an encouraging and supportive wife were the real inspirations behind the book."
Sounds like you are a very lucky man :-)

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"Actually, a lot of myself is reflected in the story. It starts with the awkward teenage moments that so many people can relate to.  It continues with the emotions of a first love, first heartbreak, happy times and sad times.  Basically, the highs and lows of life that we all experience are reflected in the story, making the characters very real and relatable.  The response I receive from many people is that they get very attached to the characters, and can feel their emotions when they are experiencing the various events in the book.

I was able to achieve this because I, too, experienced all of the emotions in the story.  Basically, I would put myself in my character’s position, then write down on paper how I felt.  So, all of the feelings expressed are really my own."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Letter from Hell - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The cover?  I truly love the cover.  My artist, Yosbe, really hit this one out of the park.

I wanted the cover to reflect a man in true anguish, in a desperate situation that seems hopeless.  Yosbe is a very busy graphic artist, and expressed that she did not have the time to read the entire book.  I asked her to read the prologue and the last chapter.  This would give her the feel for the book.  After that, and bouncing a few ideas off each other, within two days she had a concept which ultimately became the cover you see today.  Her design really captures all that I wanted it to convey without giving anything away.  She is truly amazing and talented."
Why should we read Letter from Hell and what sets it apart from the rest? 
"I really hate these kind of questions.  I mean, how do you not come across as haughty?  But I suppose you have to sell yourself, not just the story.  I will answer the question with what others have told me.

I believe what first sets me apart from the rest is my lack of experience, and actually my lack of desire to ever write a book to begin with.  My book came about quite by accident.  I never in my life had a desire to write.  It was never on my “bucket list” of things to do before I die.  I have met many people who knew they would be writers, and always wanted to be writers.  I think that’s a true calling for some, and I admire their ambition.  I believe that many, not all of course, have a strong desire to be heard, and many bloviate just for the sake of writing.  I have to be inspired.  If I’m not inspired, I won’t write.  I believe that writers who write like this are refreshing, and it shows in their work.

One thing I was told by another avid reader was that she was very surprised because she felt most writers wouldn’t take some of the chances I took in the story, but that somehow I pulled it off.  My response was, “I didn’t know NOT to take the chances.”  Some of my reviewers have suggested, too, that perhaps my lack of reading prowess might play a part in a refreshing style that doesn’t mimic other authors.  I had no preconceived idea of what or how to write.  But somehow, I managed to produce what I believe is a very interesting, detail-oriented and appropriately creepy story, when necessary, with well-developed characters.

As far as the story goes, I don’t believe it is “typical” for horror.  There are so many facets to the story, like a fine diamond, and I believe that it is a horror story that can appeal to many different tastes.  There really is a little something for everyone but the faint of heart."
I like that and can relate to it.  Up until a few years back I hadn't read any books for about 15 years!

Can you tell us something quirky about Letter from Hell, its story and characters?

"I believe everything I’ve said to this point suggests “quirky.”   I believe the story is unique and stands on its own.  The characters are all fictional and made up in my head.

My favorite character in the book would have to be Frank.  When we are first introduced to him, he is the freakishly big bully of the school.  In middle school, our main character, Mike, is terrified of Frank since he is a regular and favorite target of Frank.  As the story progresses and time pushes forth, we see the two become the very best of friends.  Many laughs are had when these two get together, usually because of the boyish antics of Frank, even into adulthood."
Who would you recommend Letter from Hell to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a creepy story (Who doesn’t like a good scare once in a while?), but it’s also for anyone who wants to be entertained and have all their emotions stirred.  I would warn that some scenes are very intensely graphic and descriptive.  My twenty-six years as a firefighter and law enforcement officer have enhanced my ability to paint a gory scene.  My only disclaimer is that this is not a children’s ghost story.  This was intended to be read by a mature audience.  And I won’t be held responsible if even tough guys get emotional at times, reading this story."
If you could / wished to turn Letter from Hell into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Why?  Do you know anyone looking?  I’m open to offers!  Actually, quite a few people who have read the book have expressed to me that they think it would make a good movie.  Who am I to disagree with them?

For a Director, I would love to have had the legendary and brilliant Wes Craven, of course, may he rest in peace.  That’s all I have to say about that.  Actors for my main characters? Mike?  I think Brad Pitt would be a great Mike.  He is such a versatile actor, with the looks to pull off Mike.  Frank?  Well, when I think of Frank, I can only think of one person, John Candy, may he also rest in peace.  John Candy would have definitely brought the Frank personality to life perfectly.  I think of Frank as having the Uncle Buck mentality, a big kid in a big body."
What is your writing process?
"It’s funny, I really don’t have a process.  When I’m inspired, I write.  I never agonize or stress.  If the inspiration isn’t there, I wait for it.  When it comes, I simply play out the scene in my head and write what I see, much like a reporter.  I never want anything I write to be forced.  I think it would show if it was."
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"As I already expressed, I am totally new to all this.  First-time author.  I can say that now that the creative side of me has been awakened, I have many ideas pouring out of my head.  Horror is definitely not an exclusive genre for me.  I have, in fact, started a new project.  This is more action adventure, with the same attention to detail as in the first book.  I have many more ideas, from horror to historical fiction.  But again, even when a new idea comes to me, if I’m not feeling inspired, I will often put it aside

Having said that, though, I’m very excited about the next book I’m working on and I can’t wait to finish it.  But I’m in no rush.  The story line is a bit more complicated, and I want my readers to be as impressed with attention to the details as I put into the first.  So, for those who read “Letter From Hell” and enjoy it, just be patient.  I hope to have another one out before too long.  My hope is that readers will come to expect more from me than just horror."
And that also answers my questions as per what you have in store next!  :-)
"Finally, I hope many will read and enjoy my book “Letter From Hell”, as well as future books. Thank you for allowing me to respond to these questions."

Letter from Hell - available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from iTunes UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from iTunes US

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