Confessions of a YA horror writer

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Ace Antonio Hall to my blog, whose YA horror novel, The Confessions of Sylva Slasher, is touring the internet at the moment. Since I enjoy horror novels, and I enjoy reading YA fiction, I thought Iit might be interesting to ask what challenges an author might find in writing horror for young adults. Ace Antonio Hall's response is a great essay on the whole process of writing, editing and being published. It should be required reading for anyone hoping to be published, and I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did. Thank you so much Ace, and welcome to my blog!

(Oh, and as ac added bonus for readers, more information about the book plus two great giveaways can be found at the end of this post, so read on and enjoy!)

What are the challenges, if any, of writing horror stories for younger readers?

There were quite a few challenges for me. After the publisher introduced me to my editing sensei, a brilliant and talented person named Jessica T. The first obstacle I crossed was choosing between fiction for adults, or young adults. I had never intended it for YA, (my boldly ambitious intention was to be the Ace of Adult Horror) but Jessica expressed that it fit better in the young adult market and after showing me some benefits: a hot audience, it was fast becoming the number one genre, and that my novel appealed to the 12-18 readers, I accepted the challenge not quite knowing what it detailed.

My editor gave me some strict guidelines. In writing YA for our publisher, it could only have TWO of the following four categories:, 2. violence, 3.drugs/alcohol and 4. profanity.

Since Sylva carried a ridiculously long thirteen-inch curved kukri knives that would put a butcher to shame AND her surname Fleischer meant 'butcher', it made no sense to write a non-violent zombie story. Violence was a shoe-in.

Since Sylva was a kick-butt teenager that took nothing from no one, ala Jessica Alba's Dark Angel, some profanity/harsh language was deemed appropriate.

That left sex, drugs and alcohol. Out-out-out. I had a romantic scene in which I felt was tasteful and Jessica T., my editor, dwindled it down, and down, and down, and down ... until it vanished. It took me seventeen straight hours to go through the novel, and change Sylva from a promiscuous nineteen-year old to a sexy eighteen-year old virgin who wondered if guys even liked her. That took a lot of changing words, content, maximizing proper character attitudes and strengthening the arcs.
When I finished that part, I was very pleased with the results. It actually made my main character stronger, and more dynamic yet giving her vulnerable sensibilities-perfect!

Last, but not least, along with grammatical errors, and boy were there many, (I'm embarrassed to say I taught Language Arts but it goes to show just how difficult it is to write a novel),  I tackled the alcohol issue. Anyway, I went throughout the book and erased any activities of my teen characters drinking alcohol. All-in-all, it was a very challenging experience. I never could have done it by myself and am so fortunate that I had a team of pros, each experts in their own right, guiding me through the process.  

The whole editing process took about five-to-six months with the last deadline forcing me to read and correct last minute edits for eighteen straight hours. Yes, eighteen straight hours from cover-to-cover, reading and editing. I completed the final edited manuscript with hours to spare for the deadline, however, and it was sent to the printers the following day.

Talk about sleepless nights ... yep, include me in that conversation.

The funny thing is, I'd do it all over again but the end result was my dream-come-true. All of my adult life, I never truly fit in anywhere: I was too street for my college buddies, and too sophisticated for my street buddies. I never really fit in with the music community as a producer and wannabe musician, as a teacher I was the only one on the student gymnastic team and the only one that played basketball with them during their lunch. Listen, I tried being a black rock singer moving around like The Red Hot Chili Peppers but sounding like a fake Chris Cornell, was too creative to be a business manager, too businesslike to be an artist manager ... I ... just didn't fit in anywhere... but once I became a published author, I finally felt like I fit in with a group. We were all eclectic, all different, all of my buddies have out-of-world thoughts and miasmas of ridiculously imaginative ideologies. 

That's why I continue to work tirelessly at writing better and better. I love writing. I do it in my sleep, while I eat, while I jog, and almost every experience I encounter becomes material for my book. I believe teaching eighth graders gave me an instinct to write for YA, but it is still a tough nut to crack.

If my fifteen-year old son doesn't get past page fifty, that means the story is boring and has to rewritten. Yep nothing like writing a YA story that the youth can't get into. Fortunately, it's a challenge I task to overcome every time I sit at the keyboard. 

About The Confessions of Sylva Slasher

A spring break trip on a cruise presents a new problem for Sylva. Passengers on the ship turn into flesh-eating zombies, unlike the harmless ones she's used to raising from the dead. She and her friends are trapped on the Pacific Ocean, and their only escape comes from a guy Sylva had a crush on she thought was dead, named Brandon. Sylva doesn't normally hold grudges, but when someone plays with her heart they have to pay. However, with the fate of the human race on the line, Brandon convinces Sylva to join him in a secret mission, yet she can't shake the feeling that he's hiding something.

It didn't take long for her suspicions to hold true when it's revealed that Brandon has been romantically involved with the very enemy he now wants her to destroy. This villainous female would rather kill Brandon than let Sylva have a chance to patch things up between them. Sylva is not the kind of girl to walk away from love without a fight, but with a strange virus threatening extinction of human life, she shoves her own feelings in her back pocket to face her greatest nightmare, and that nightmare starts with something that is eerily growing right inside of her own mind and body.
Be sure to grab some Sylva Slasher merchandise!

About the author

Ace Antonio-Hall was first published in 1998 in an Adelphi University publication called Luna, with a short story titled “1936.” After earning his BFA degree from Long Island University, he taught middle-school English for over ten years.

He now lives in southern California, and was the Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (2009-2011), and still holds an executive position in the organization which gives him a huge platform to market, sell, and promote his work through the many conferences, meetings and book fairs that GLAWS holds each month. He is also a member of LASFS and the International Thriller Writers.

His first novel, a coming-of-age YA zombie story, The Confessions of Sylva Slasher, was released April 2013 by Montag Press. It is part of a series with the next book Skateboard Xombies, expected for release early next year.

About the writing life, he says: “I harmlessly dream in Technicolor nightmares, watch a ton of horror flicks, eat more donuts than I should, and refuse to stop reading Spider-Man. All of those combined give me a sweet tooth to write about the suite life of zombies.”

Ace's true labor of love is writing fast-paced fiction with character-driven plots featuring female protagonists. He continues to write short stories and build on the world of teen necromancer Sylva Slasher as she reigns as Princess of the Undead.

You can find out more about Ace, including his music and screen acting credits, and his involvement with the Hollywood Actors Academy as part-owner, Acting Coach and Creative Director, at the IMDb Biography web site.

About the Giveaways

There are two tour wide giveaways. Prizes include the following:

Giveaway # 1
  • A Kindle copy of The Confessions of Sylva Slasher
  • Giveaway is: International

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway # 2 (Book Purchase Required)
  • A Kindle Fire HD featuring 7" display and Wi-Fi
  • Giveaway is: US Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find more posts on this great tour below:

The Confessions of Sylva Slasher by Ace Antonio Hall:
author’s tour page:


AceAntonioHall said…
Thank you, so much, for allowing me to guest post. I also appreciate you taking the time to read my novel. This is a wonderful blog! Cheers.
Sheila Deeth said…
Thank you! It's a pleasure to host you.
CPNS 2014 said…
Thanks, i like this blog and you post

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