Ginger Nuts of Horror
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Certainly. My name is Michael Hebler and I have made a career for myself as an international film publicist, and alongside that, I have begun to establish a fulfilling career as a rather adverse author. I say “adverse” because my first publication was a children’s picture book called, “The Night After Christmas,” which was the book that started this vocational path. How’s that for adversity when following with a horror series?
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Hmm. I don’t think I prefer any one over the other. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve used all three at some point in the promotion of my Chupacabra Series; however, if I thought one better described this series more than the others, I’d say the most accurate would be “Weird Fiction” because of the western backdrop and it’s not necessarily horror all the time. I hope having said, “It’s not necessarily horror all the time,” doesn’t scare readers away. Anyone else see the irony in that last sentence? (laughing)
Who are some of your favourite authors?
My tastes are quite eclectic. J.K. Rowling, Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, Charles Dickens, Michael Crichton, Cormac McCarthy, Patricia Nell Warren to name a few.
What are you reading now?
Well, just the other day, I finished a novella by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo called “Pie: An Old Brown Horse,” which I thought was a great feel good book told through the point of view of a horse. I’m also currently reading Rowling’s non-Potter, “The Casual Vacancy,” and I just started McCammon’s “Mine.” I usually don’t read multiple books at once, but on the odd occasion I do, I like them to be completely different genres so they fit my current mood better.
Which book do you wish you had written?
It’s a toss-up between two. Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” would be one. The story is just brilliant and dark, and it’s a classic for a reason. The other would be McCammon’s “The Wolf’s Hour.” It was what originally inspired me to write “Night of the Chupacabra,” in the sense of crossing genres. I read the book back in the late 1980’s after it was originally published, and aside from the story being exciting and well-told, I just loved the concept of Nazi werewolves. It combined the supernatural with World War II, whereas “Chupacabra” combines the supernatural with the America’s Old West… well, at least for the first four novels.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
I wish I were as scientifically brilliant as was Michael Crichton. The majority of his books are grounded in science, which make them far more appealing to me than if they had been written without that element. For example, “Jurassic Park,” and the fact that Crichton established that the DNA of dinosaurs were drawn from perfectly preserved mosquitos that fed on them. I mean… it’s so remarkably believable and at least for me, gave the story a hint of non-fiction, which in turn, made the concept much more exciting. And not just “Jurassic Park,” but I also enjoyed Crichton taking both sides and describing pros and cons of ‘global warming’ in “State of Fear.” It was fascinating because he had been able to bring a level of perspective that not many others could achieve. The hemispheres of his mind seemed to have been split perfectly down centre; making him both left and right brained. I wish I had his in-depth knowledge for my own work. But having said that, I do think I have my own special creations in other areas of my writing.
Describe typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
No habits really. I currently have so many projects on the table, I usually let my mood decided whether I want to write all-new - from scratch - on the book currently in progress, or do I want to rewrite something that’s already been stamped “completed.” (because I know it’s really not complete until it’s published) Or I could go back even farther and just start brainstorming new ideas and jotting down copious notes. Sometimes I listen to music when I write, sometimes I don’t. The third chupacabra book, “Legend of the Chupacabra” is already written, and when I was writing it, I think I replayed the soundtrack to “Pirates of the Caribbean 3” more than 100 times because it influenced the nautical themes in the story. Right now, I’m a little more than half way through the fourth chupacabra book, “Dawn of the Chupacabra,” and I have not listened to a single note of music while writing it. So a lot of my habits depend on various aspects.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
(laughing) So, are you trying to ask me which child I love more? That’s not fair. I love them all; however, if I can pinpoint an element about my stories that I’m most proud of… it would be my characters. When I was in college I was a theatre major and I was most fascinated in studying and understanding characters and their relationships. I had even considered psychology briefly as a major, but that seemed a bit too heavy for my liking. But multi-layered characters were always my favourites. I really enjoy writing characters who you can’t judge by their cover (if I’m allowed to make an awful and ironic idiom.)
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
Well, that has more to do with after writing than the process of writing, but it was to learn not to take criticism personally. You basically discover real quick that you can’t please everybody, and as long as you’re writing from the heart and using your own voice, you’re writing and doing it well. I had to learn that right away when I published a story, “Hunt for the Chupacabra.” I had marketed it as a ‘short story’ which was my own fault because in reality it was just a prologue… a free story to get readers excited about the series. It was originally written as a prologue in “Night of the Chupacabra” and would eventually tie the first book to the fourth book (which is a prequel story) but once I had decided that the series would be void of any and all prologues and epilogues, I took it out and gave it its own title. Reviews have been mixed because readers thought it was too short of a short story. What I should have done was market it as a ‘micro story.’ Perception has remarkable influence, and as a publicist, I should have known better.
What do you like to do to relax?
Relaxing to me is still keeping busy. I live in Southern California but my idea of relaxing is not going to the beach to lie in the sun. I’m a total geek. I love playing video games like Assassin’s Creed and The Old Republic, I love movies and TV. For a writer, I do surprisingly little reading. I’m into just about anything that has a ‘Star Wars’ label on it. I live three miles from Disneyland, so try to go there as often as I can. I love being kept entertained. That’s how I like to relax.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I think you just asked an author’s favourite question. Right now I’m in the middle of the Chupacabra Series. There are six books currently scheduled and as I stated previously, I am knee deep in writing book four, “Dawn of the Chupacabra” (and the last to take place in 1800’s.) After the Chupacabra Series is over I have a novella and two more novels planned. The novella will be dark drama while both non-chupacabra novels will voyage into comedy… dark comedy, of course. There is also the possibility of another children’s book about Halloween, my other favourite holiday. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Chupacabra Series book two, “Curse of the Chupacabra” is due out this September 10. It’s lots of fun.
Michael became an author alongside building a successful career in feature film publicity, but his passion to create stories with suspense, laughter, and heart is not his only love. Michael also volunteers for Meals on Wheels in Southern California, as well as aids in his local area's capture/spay/neuter/release program.
To date, Michael's publications include CURSE OF THE CHUPACABRA, NIGHT OF THE CHUPACABRA (the first two books of six in the Chupacabra Series) and his first publication, THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS, a holiday picture book for believers of any age. Michael also authored the micro story, HUNT FOR THE CHUPACABRA, preceding the events of Night of the Chupacabra, which currently is only available in audiobook as read by the author here.
When Michael does have some down time, he likes to ramble on his blog:
Post Civil War. Families move West to begin rich new lives, only some never make it. There is a creature that lurks in the vast open deserts of the west. It can only survive on blood and, although it prefers to prey on the weak and young, it will slaughter anyone or anything, once provoked. It is unnatural, deceptive, and difficult to kill. Word about the existence of this elusive beast has not spread for anyone who has crossed paths with it did not live long enough to tell of their account. Night of the Chupacabra is about one man’s journey to reunite with his missing family, while the lethal creature that separated them, the mysterious and ravenous chupacabra, is never far behind. Night of the Chupacabra is not only a gruesome regale of carnage, but a unique combination of science fiction bloodshed with a more poignant tale of lost love set against a Western backdrop. Night of the Chupacabra takes an unflinching look at the impossible choices made for love, while knowing the consequences could ultimately lead to a fate worse than death.
They never thought their luck would be their curse.
In the months following the onslaught, the extraordinary survivors continue to know no peace, as they are haunted by signs that the relentless creature remains on their trail. However, this fight will be better matched, now that they’ve discovered an advantage that will help protect them from the monster’s bloodthirsty lust. But once faced with the decision to kill the beast, the choice will not come lightly since it is still unclear which loved one the chupacabra possesses.
"Curse of the Chupacabra" stretches beyond the claustrophobic world of "Night of the Chupacabra"'s single town setting as the creature’s victims inadvertently lure the beast across the western states; not only becoming a road story soaked with blood and treachery, but a powerful chronicle of passage that exposes the consequences of not following the path of one’s own heart. “Curse of the Chupacabra” is a relentless feast of tragedy that examines the dangers awaiting those who might be kin to the most infamous abomination to walk this earth.