Introducing the amazing and prolific author, inventor and all around creative genius – A. L. Mengel. Quite an honour, Mr Mengel!
In 2013, A.L. Mengel changed the face of Horror Fiction when his novel “Ashes” was published by Parchman’s Press. To date, “Ashes” is his most widely read novel, available worldwide in all formats, including a deluxe hard-cover edition.
In the subsequent years, Mengel has released several more novels on paperback and e-readers, as well as short stories. His writing has been exclusively published through Parchman’s Press. “Ashes” gave birth to “The Tales of Tartarus” series, which includes “The Blood Decanter”, which was under Jury consideration for a Bram Stoker Award in 2015. In the same year, he also became an Active Member of the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA).
A.L. Mengel is also the creator of #Writestorm, a writing methodology and time management system designed to help busy authors get their novels written. A book was released in 2015 under the same name, which was his #1 seller of that year. The #Writestorm methodology has been adopted by authors worldwide on several continents through several Facebook groups, one in particular, The #Awethors. Writers meet and hold timed “group writing sessions” and adhere to the rules outlined in Mengel’s methodology presented in the #Writestorm book.
In 2016, Mengel delved into Science Fiction with his novel “The Wandering Star”, which holds position as his highest pre-ordered book to date. More recently, his epic novel “War Angel” released worldwide in Fall of 2016.
Besides writing fiction, A.L. Mengel also publishes a blog called “Do Dogs See in Black and White?”. In addition, he is the creator of the #PaintTheWorld initiative in early 2016, called “Inspired Creativity Through Color”. Another drive to assist creative minded individuals, #PaintTheWorld is most often featured on the A.L. Mengel Facebook page, where a photo of the author in costume that selects a single dominant color, is posted along with an inspiring quote or question.
Since the A.L. Mengel page was created, Mengel has had several hashtags attached to his page, the dominant one being #TheWritingStudio. He calls those who like the page “Beloved Friends” of The Writing Studio. His published books also feature a forward addressing the Beloved Friends directly. The motto of The Writing Studio is “Sharing music, writing, inspiration, art and trending topics.”
In addition to the creation of “The Writing Studio”, A.L. Mengel also created another hashtag and a series of regular posts called #MusicfromTheWritingStudio, where he shares inspiring music paired with quotes, or sentiments, or what was playing at the time.
1. Who are you in a nutshell?
I am A.L. Mengel. I arrived on the Supernatural and Horror Fiction scene in 2013 with my novel “Ashes.” My style blends realism with fiction. In my series “The Tales of Tartarus”, I created the characters Antoine and Darius, who readers seem to most identify with. The entire series seems to be a Journey towards redemption – particularly for Antoine.
2. Why do you write?
I took a Creative Writing class in High School when I first discovered a love for storytelling. But I didn’t develop that until years later, after writing my first novel and taking another Creative Writing course. The novel I had written was to become “Ashes”, but back in those days, I carried the printed manuscript around with me in a binder. I didn’t know at the time that the novel desperately needed a rewrite. And in that second Creative Writing class, I learned the writing principle of “Show versus Tell”. I’ve since developed that concept in my writing over the years, and now, have great difficulty reading a novel where the author isn’t well versed on that principle. It makes it hard to visualize a story when the Show versus Tell principle is not applied. When I learned that, I transformed from a writer into a storyteller.
3. What’s your latest project?
My novel “War Angel” released last month from Parchman’s Press. It has since been well-received and I am really happy with everything about the book – I loved writing the story, I love the interior formatting, the cover, everything about it. I took about two months off for some needed creative refueling and now I am back in #TheWritingStudio working on a new novel. I’ve also moved away from the angels, demons and the paranormal for the time being and have reinvented myself as an author. On November 4, 2016, I released an entire new brand identity via my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/authoralmengel). Readers and followers who have come to enjoy the A.L. Mengel style of storytelling now are being led on a new journey. And for myself, I am discovering the new journey as well, right along with the readers. That’s why, on my page, I let readers know that “we are entering uncharted territory”. But that’s all part of the branding of A.L. Mengel as an author, and the reinvention to something new and completely different, yet still somehow familiar.
4. So are you leaving the supernatural and horror genre for good?
I would never say never, but I am certainly moving away from it for a while. “War Angel” really felt like a stopping point for me. Or at least a pausing point. I think the readers will agree once they have read the entire series. Still, I already miss the characters. So never say never.
5. What is your favourite character among the ones you created?
From the heroes, It has to be Antoine from “The Tales of Tartarus” series. He has been a part of my life for over a decade now. He’s evolved so much throughout the series. Completely transformed. I think he grew, not only in depth but in maturity as the books progressed. I really miss him. I’m definitely feeling a little empty-nest syndrome with the characters from “The Tales of Tartarus”. Also, the character Jeremiah from “The Wandering Star” really grew on me unexpectedly. In terms of villains, The Hooded Man from “The Blood Decanter” wins as my favorite hands-down. I love how his origin developed over two books and hit a crescendo in “The Blood Decanter”. He has a very rich – yet morbid – history.
6. What was the most difficult thing for you to write so far?
“The Wandering Star” was my Science Fiction debut, and one of the most challenging books I ever wrote, as I was writing outside of my comfort zone. I was doing research that I had yet to perform; I was writing text using words that I had never written before. I had to change my thinking process. There has to be an element of realism in Science Fiction. Readers expect a plausible story. Horror gives more storytelling freedom. Science Fiction has to be believable. And that requires substantial research. The book has an interesting history. Once “The Blood Decanter” went to print in September 2015, I wanted to challenge myself and write outside the horror/supernatural genre. I didn’t want my writing to get “canned” and “boxed in”. So I set out to write a short story, science fiction, initially as a writing exercise. I didn’t even know at the time if I was going to publish it or not. So I did some research, and when I sat down to write the story, it grew unexpectedly. As I was writing, the story was telling me it was much bigger than a short. And so a few more weeks went by and I started telling people that I was writing a science fiction novella and that I was thinking about publishing it because I thought it was getting good. And then another few more weeks went by, and I realized that I was working on a novel. And so I contacted my designer and started discussing cover art, and it became a real project. A timeline was arranged and the novel was added to the official publishing docket. “The Wandering Star” turned out to be my most anticipated debut, and my highest pre-ordered novel to date.
7. How do you deal with criticism, promotional activities, editing/proofreading?
I’ve learned to take negative feedback professionally, thank them, and move on. I always appreciate feedback, positive or negative, because someone took the time to post a review. That’s like gold for an Indie Author. Even negative reviews are gold. They’re not as shiny but they’re genuine. Still, I’m not going to rush back to the editing room if a single reader leaves a scathing review of “Ashes”. An author quickly realizes that they’re not going to please every reader, every critic. There are always going to be people out there who are not going to like someone’s art. But for that one person, there are *always* another ten that will love it. So an author should just move on from a bad review. I’ve heard of authors out there who try to please every reader, only want 5 star reviews, and then wind up spinning their wheels. As a reader myself, when I see a novel from an author that I haven’t heard about, with a relatively modest amount of all 5-star reviews, I take it with a grain of salt. I would find it much more credible to find an unknown author with a modest amount of mixed reviews.
I am always looking for ways to connect with my followers, on both Twitter and Facebook, first and foremost. It’s part of my branding. On my Facebook page, I created a sub-brand called “The Writing Studio”, and that is the nickname for my page for several years now. It’s even become a hash-tag. The followers are now called “Beloved Friends of The Writing Studio”, and I include a personal note to them at the start of each of my novels. “The Writing Studio” has a motto – “Sharing writing, music, art, inspiration and trending topics”. First and foremost, I look for ways to connect with the followers to turn them into readers. I make the A.L. Mengel page a place to get news, to be inspired, and to be creative, no matter what the creative passion may be. When I do promote, I tie in a specific purpose, such as a book release or review. I do have an advertising budget with both Facebook and Twitter, so posts are boosted to followers and the general public. I rarely, if ever, post in Facebook groups, with the exception of one, “The Awethors”, which I have a lot of friends in and like to show some of my stuff to. For the most part, posting repeatedly in Facebook groups just comes across as annoying, spammy and amateurish, and proves to be a waste of time.
All A.L. Mengel novels go through several rounds of editing and proof-reading through several editors and beta readers. “The Wandering Star” was also subjected to an additional round of Technical editing due to the subject matter. A Science Editor was recruited specifically for that purpose. The first round of editing is called “Structure” where the draft is pieced together like a puzzle and turned into a flowing story. This can take up to several months, and I perform this stage myself, as I believe the storyteller is the only one who can really tell the story. Once it’s as polished as it can be, it is sent out to a continuity editor, who reads and submits edits. After that, grammar, syntax and spelling are checked and corrected before the physical proofing stage begins with the printer. “Uncorrected proof copies” are then sent for binding review, with one or two set aside for beta readers and a final proofreading run-through. The final corrections are submitted and the book goes to print.
8. What are your writing plans for the future?
I am going to explore my Science Fiction series “The Vega Chronicles” for the time being. When my editor read “The Wandering Star”, she immediately told me: “I hope you are working on the sequel.” I am really liking where this series has been taking me, and the readers so far have been enjoying the story. So I have to see where this goes. And I really like Jeremiah. And Counselor Abagail. And Eli De Jesus, and some of the other characters from “The Wandering Star”. On the other hand, I have another series that will branch off from “The Tales of Tartarus”, so earlier when I said “never say never” when you asked if I was leaving horror, I was thinking about this other series I have in development. I have a novel in development that’s in the horror genre that may be written in 2017 and release in late 2017 – unless I stay with Sci-Fi for a longer period. But most likely this novel will be my eventual return to horror.
9. Which books/authors do you admire and why?
I grew up reading the greats of horror – Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker. I also like Grisham and Robin Cook. But I have really been liking the work of some of my peers. I have developed a tremendous amount of respect for D.M. Cain and Rocky Rochford since I met them back in Spring 2015. They were the two first authors to embrace “#Writestorm”, which is a writing methodology I developed in 2014 and published a book in 2015 of the same name. They both embraced the concept and helped arrange #Writestorm sessions, where group chats were held, with authors writing together, across continents, to achieve high word counts. They are both very talented authors in their own rights and I admire them both. In addition, I think C.L. Schneider’s fantasy series looks amazing. She has brilliant covers and really seems to know what she is doing – attending book shows, etc. She is a true professional. I also have been reading Jeremy Croston’s “City of Chaos” and the “Ghostly Writes Anthology” by Plaisted Publishing House operated by Claire Plaisted. I think we as Independent Authors are all very hard workers with a hill to climb with each and every book release. We don’t have the massive advertising budgets that the big guys have. But we still find ways to reach our readers and find success. I have found so much passion with other Indie Authors. So much creativity. The world is definitely a better place with our art.
10. What makes you happiest in the writing process?
There are two parts that I really love. Starting the book. And finishing the book. Those two points in the creative process are most definitely natural highs. But then there are also the scenes in the middle of the book that catch you off guard. When you pants your way through the story or the scene and write something that impacts you so much that you stop and can’t believe what just happened. I remember after writing a particular scene in “War Angel”, I immediately called my editor, almost on the verge of tears, and told her, “I can’t believe that just happened.” And I have come to learn, those little surprises, those little emotional waterfalls along the way are what make the stories have so much impact before the exhilarating feeling of typing “The End”. And I really love that.
11. If you didn’t write, would you try any other arts or crafts?
I was a percussionist in the past, so I could definitely see a return to music. And music inspires my art all the time. In early 2016, I created a hashtag called #PaintTheWorld, which has helped form an added identity of #TheWritingStudio. I really want to inspire others. When someone becomes a Beloved Friend of The Writing Studio, it’s not only to read my books. Or to read about topics that are trending. It’s about being inspired. #PaintTheWorld has a motto. It’s “Inspired Creativity Through Color”. Which color inspires you? For me, most often, it’s blue. I just seem to have a real connection with that color. It gets my creative juices flowing. And for #PaintTheWorld, I really adopted it as my way of life. It’s become part of my identity. For this creative concept is not only about writing, or music, or art…but it’s whichever vocation you’re passionate about. An accountant can “Paint the world” by developing creative financial solutions. A server can “Paint the world” by providing excellent and friendly service. #PaintTheWorld is really about discovering and developing one’s passion.
12. Do you have any special promos, charity releases, appearances or book releases you’d like to tell us about?
With #NaNoWriMo going on, I have #Writestorm on a promotional discount until the end of the month. Also, “War Angel” released worldwide in October 2016.
FROM THE TALES OF TARTARUS
The Quest for Immortality (2014) – https://www.amazon.com/Quest-Immortality-Tales-Tartarus-ebook/dp/B00O95YERM
The Blood Decanter (2015) – https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Decanter-Tales-Tartarus-ebook/dp/B010W1ZYUM
War Angel (2016) – https://www.amazon.com/War-Angel-Tales-Tartarus-Mengel/dp/0996326928
FROM THE VEGA CHRONICLES
The Wandering Star (2016) – https://www.amazon.com/Wandering-Star-Vega-Chronicles/dp/0996326936
Curtains and Fan Blades (2013) – https://www.amazon.com/Curtains-Fan-Blades-L-Mengel-ebook/dp/B00GWFIF9U
The Other Side of the Door (2015) – https://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Door-L-Mengel-ebook/dp/B00Z5GA7SO
Take the Journey in The Writing Studio atwww.facebook.com/authoralmengel
Join his Twitter discussion, Follow on Amazon, Goodreads and Google+
A.L. Mengel’s novels are available on Kindle, Nook and in Print worldwide.