Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Author Interview: Norm Applegate

I want to thank Norm Applegate for taking time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for Girls Just Reading. Please enjoy the interview.

When and why did you begin writing?

Started writing in the 90’s while traveling to share my experiences with my wife. But began my first novel, Into the Basement in the mid 90’s. It took me a couple of years to get into the daily habit of writing, and reading everything I could about developing a story, it took a while to find the zone
Always wanted to write a book, didn’t know how, thought it was beyond my capabilities, but while working in New Zealand it began. The hypnosis career changed my life, and realizing nothing is impossible, began writing short notes, tales, and just life experiences to my wife back in the States.

How did you come up with the title?

Blood Bar, A Vampire Tale...what the hell is a blood bar? Sounds creepy, but intriguing. The premise for Blood Bar, was what would happen if you found out you were turning into a vampire. Where else to be initiated but a bar. So I built the plot around my murder mystery sleuth and heroine Kim Bennett, she’s in my first two novels, murder at a bar for vamps, gothic dressed men and woman, and your basic role playing vampires, however it’s fertile ground for picking up fresh meat...if you like that sort of thing. Are you going ask if blood bars exists, I can’t disclose that here for fear of being arrested...blushing sinfully.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, I have found my voice. I weave factual information into the plot. For instance, in Blood Bar, a vampire tale, the references, and murder descriptions to Jack the Ripper are all real, as are the facts about the Brooklyn Bridge, did you know John Roebling the builder, died before the bridge was complete, tetanus, cut on something they believe, I think he was bit by a vampire. Here's an example of factual information built into a story.

Excerpt from Blood Bar:

The Grand Central book store of Manhattan was a seven day a week operation with study rooms along the outer wall for scholars and students researching the one of a kind gems that couldnʼt be found anywhere else in the city.

It was eleven-fifteen in the morning as Kim followed the owner to the back of the building, and with Cheyenne staring at volumes of documents, sensed he was way out of his league in this world of academia.

“You should have called before showing up here,” Professor Albert T. Mortimer told Cheyenne.

They walked down a narrow hallway out of sight from everyone and Kim felt her strength coming back.

Mortimer opened a door for Kim. “You look like youʼve been through hell. You might have considered dressing a little more appropriate, we take this place very serious.”

Not as serious as what Iʼve been through,” Kim said and realized she did look like shit, bloody clothes, drained face, and barely smiling itʼs not surprising she was getting the look from everyone.

Cheyenne immediately laid the document out on the table, switched on the overhead lamp, and turned to Mortimer. The large rectangular desk in the middle of the room now held something that few people had seen before.

Albert T. Mortimer eyed both of them and then backed away. “This is real or you both wouldnʼt be here I take it.”

Kim nodded, he had her full attention.

Leaning over the Testament, Mortimer adjusted his glasses, securing their fit against his nose and raised his chin. “Have you seen the news in the past half hour?” Mortimer asked.

“Are we mentioned?” Kim said.

“You tell me, an Indian and a brunette are wanted for questioning about leaving the scene of an accident.”

“It was no accident. Are you going to help us or not?” Kim said.

Mortimer had read more about the vampire community than any other mortal before him. He had interviewed hundreds of people in search for the truth behind the folklore. Politicians, religious leaders, law enforcement and historians, if any one knew about the Black Testament it was Mortimer. As Professor of Chemistry at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Mortimer had spent the last 18 years researching ancient alchemy, related physics and their relationship to life after death, which explained his interest in vampires.

“Whatʼs this seal at the top?” Kim pointed to a round imprint in the document.

Picking up a large jewelerʼs loupe, Mortimer adjusted it to his right eye.

“Itʼs the Roman Emperor Domitian.”

“So, does it mean anything?” Kim asked.

“He is mentioned in the Apocalypse and is called The Beast.”

Kim studied the letters, and with her penchant for numbers and memorization, realized in the Greek Gematria A.KAI.DOMET.SEB.GE totals 666.

“You said the beast?”

Mortimer peered over his glasses, looked at Kim, nodded, and wasnʼt quite sure where she was going with the question.

“Domitian was an interesting leader, infamous in his sexual exploits and he had a wife that participated.”

Kim smiled, “The Roman orgy, what year was that?”

Mortimer paused, “He ruled the Roman Empire between 69 and 96 AD,” and thought Kim was very quick to pick up on the sexual thing.

“Itʼs speculated that the Book of Revelation was written during his reign before he was murdered in a conspiracy. Interestingly, he believed in an astrological prediction that he would die around noon, and was always restless when the sun was at its fullest.

“The vampire fear of the sun,” Kim whispered. “Doesnʼt the Book of Revelation suggest that 666 is the number of the beast?”

“And the Devil,” Mortimer said.

Kim couldnʼt help herself, “Itʼs the sum of the squares of the fi rst seven prime numbers, 22 + 32 +52 +72 + 112 +132 +172 = 666.”

Mortimer shot a glance at Cheyenne, she was right, “Itʼs also a palindromic number.”

“True, pure symmetry the number remains the same when you reverse it.” Kim said.

Mortimer was having a newfound respect for Kim. “Youʼre a lot smarter than you appear,” he said “Oh really, did you know if you sum all the numbers on a roulette wheel it totals 666, how about the first Apple computer sold was priced at $666.66?” Kimʼs voice had a bite to it and Mortimer understood the shot she took at him was well deserved.

Cheyenne was silent. This number game was beyond his capabilities and he was surprised with Kimʼs knowledge.

“Are we finished playing games?” Kim said.

Feeling somewhat embarrassed, Mortimer went back to studying the document. “Itʼs real, the Black Testament. I never thought I would see it.”

“What can you tell us, any idea where the rest of it would be?” Kim asked.

Mortimer was doing something obvious to Kim, he was hesitating. He had seen a clue and wasnʼt sure if it had meaning or not.

“What is it?” Kim pushed.

“Look here,” Mortimer pointed to the last date where the Testament was ripped. “Maybe itʼs just a coincidence but there was a time capsule put in a supply chamber in the Brooklyn Bridge on that date.

“The Brooklyn Bridge?”

“Yes, inside the bridge are cathedral-like chambers. You could call them a vault or catacombs.

The bridge engineer...”

“John Roebling,” Kim interrupted.

Again, Mortimer was taken by her knowledge. “Yes, he designed the space to be used as a vault for the national treasure.”

“Like London Bridge,” Kim said.

“Exactly, and today you can tour the towers.”

“How do we get there?” Kim turned to Cheyenne. “Subway or car?”

“Car, we drive over the Brooklyn Bridge, take the first exit which is Cadman Plaza West, and the entrance is under the overpass.

Mortimer looked at Kim, “I wish I could join you.”

“Sorry, this is serious work and youʼre not dressed appropriately.”

What have you learned about the writing process?

Some of what I've learned is from making mistakes, a lot from my mentor David Hagberg, and others from studying how writers put it together. For example, let's call this the "golden rule," pick an author you admire, a best seller, and type out a few chapters, this will show how the pro's do it.

A common mistake young authors make is to repeat words, here is a very simple example: he pulled the gun from behind his back, fired one shot from the gun, and casually tossed the gun into the bushes. As you can see the word gun is repeated, a better choice would be, he pulled the gun from behind his back, fired one shot from the pistol, and casually tossed the weapon into the bushes.The point is don't repeat but use different words.

The first paragraph of each chapter should set up the scene, place, time, action, people, and events.

The main character should be likable, but flawed, honest with no bullshit, and to help us identify with them we need sympathy.

Editing: people read at 250 words per minute, we write at 10, therefore the rule is read your work at speed, but edit slowly and re-write until it works. Read the sentence, take a word out----- does the sentence still work? Continue with a paragraph then the chapter, and if it needs more use layering. This will make it longer, slows it down, but the added descriptions make it interesting with, place, people, setting, weather, and time.

Refer back to your characters POV every three or four paragraphs. I would say these are my top rules when writing.

How do you make space for your thoughts in this busy world?

Don't let a day go by without writing.
Think about your writing in the shower or driving your car.
Become a good day dreamer, and learn to compartmentalize your brain.

What are your current projects?

Just finished re-editing Into the Basement, was never happy with what my previous publisher did to it. Next is the screenplay to Basement, written by Nicholas Grabowsky and myself, we have a producer/distributer interested, and the movie is cast with Courtney Gains, then my next novel in the Kim Bennett series that I’m tentatively calling Black Sun Rising, is another vampire tale. You can go to to read more about the cast, director J.L. Botelho, and see his trailer for Into the’s wicked, prepare yourself, you don’t want little kids watching this, seriously don’t let your kids see this.

Blood Bar on

Blood Bar is Norm Applegate’s third book; his website,, is stuffed full of links to horror sites, authors, actors, and other interesting stuff.


Julie June 17, 2009 at 10:00 AM  

Great interview with him, Jenn!!

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