I met Ace Antonio Hall when I first joined the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society. He was Vice Chairman then, and he generously took me under his wing until I got to know more about what the group and what it has to offer—great writing programs and conferences and great folks to network with.
Maybe he took to me because I, like some of the influential women in his life, have gray hair. Whatever the reason, I am proud to know Ace and share him with you.
I asked him why I should read his zombie novel. Here's his answer.
Shades of Gray: Why I Honor, Love and Owe My Life to Women Over 60
by Ace Antonio Hall
Truly, I would've never published my young adult zombie novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher, if it weren't for women over sixty. I was five years old when I left my parents in New York to live with my Grandmother in Jacksonville, Florida. My grandmother, who told me to just call her Nana, was 70. Strangely, it didn't dawn on me until I reached my forties that my Nana was that age because she never truly acted her age. Sure, she had bouts of arthritis, and took pills for her high blood pressure, and said “Ooh-wee," whenever she bent down to work in her vegetable garden, but she never truly made me feel like I had an old parent.
Nana took me to see my first movie, the Apple Dumpling Gang, and taught me to ride my first bike, exposed me to Sammy Davis, Jr. Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin—men who influence my very persona, this very day. She showed me how to bake biscuits from scratch and made homemade donuts—Hmm-mm-mm, so delicious. In essence, she taught me that a woman over sixty is still vibrant, and full of life, should be cherished, loved, honored, and hugged often. That is why the mentor in my novel is the mirror image of a woman over sixty, and why the females in my stories face subjects that deal with coming of age, overcoming disrespect from men, and learn to empower themselves through seeing their own inner beauty and strengths. I saw my grandmother win those battles time and time, again, growing up. Women like Katherine Hepburn, who won her first Oscar at sixty or Mother Theresa, who got world-wide attention for her bold humanitarian efforts at the beautiful ripe age of sixty, and strong political leaders like Hilary Clinton, helped form the consciousness of the men like me; individuals who champion women who share shades of gray.
When my other grandmother, Grandma Rhodie, contracted cancer in her sixties, battled it, and defeated it to live to an age of 100, it inspired me to believe in my heart that the human spirit receives empowerment from within. That is one of the core themes of my novel, and part of the coming-of-age story that I will always tell. Nana taught school for 44 years, and she also died after a century of living, at 102. I don't think that there was one individual in my family that she didn't raise. Truly. When she had her first stroke, in her nineties, and my heart was broken when she couldn't remember where the kitchen or bathroom was, I nearly cried a thousand tears. A year later, she was back in the kitchen, fussing at my siblings and cousins to sit at the table to enjoy the delicious meal she cooked for dinner. These are the types of images I will always portray in my writing.
We, as a male species should value the treasure that our women over sixty bring to the world: their beauty, their stories of triumph, their love to care for children, their pains, struggles, and their joys of life. I, for one, would've never been the man that I am, had I not been lifted on the wings of a woman who stands for not only my grandmother. Each and every one of the grandmothers of America and abroad, truly raised a generation of everyday people like you and me.
So when I say I love women over sixty, I'm saying that I love your mother, your grandmother, and you, if you are one of the precious creatures that share the shades of gray. For you taught me to respect my craft, to always give love to my craft by studying it, and immersing the integrity that comes with love and passion, and to always be a significance to the world, whether it be in my words, my actions, my preparations, or my novels.
Thank you, women over sixty. I cherish you.
And, thank you, Ace, for making me feel so special.
SPRING BREAK GETS WILD ON THE LIVELIEST CRUISE IN THE PACIFIC UNTIL THE UNDEAD CRASH THE PARTY.
Eighteen-year-old Sylva Fleischer and her friends raise the dead for a living for police investigations and mourning families. Two years after her high school crush, a hot guy named Brandon, is assumed dead, Sylva’s friends convince her to go on a spring break cruise in an effort to suppress her depression over him. But when passengers mysteriously die and reanimate into flesh eating zombies like she’s never seen before, Sylva plunges into a horrifying struggle between a ship infested with the undead and the scariest thing of all: a second chance with Brandon after she discovers he’s still alive. This is a zombie story that eats right to the core and leaves you licking your chops for more.
Got zombies? Sylva Slasher does...
“[Ace] wastes no time immersing us in full, gore-spattered, Technicolor horror… The tension is almost unbearable…” – Leslie Ann Moore, author of Griffin’s Daughter.
Soon after being cast as the lead in the senior class play, Ace Antonio Hall got the acting bug and earned a BFA from Long Island University, New York with a concentration on acting and screenwriting. Inspired by his father, Chris Acemandese Hall, who penned the lyrics to the jazz classic, "So What", sung by Eddie Jefferson, and his sister, Carol Lynn Brown, who guest starred in the 1970's film, "Velvet Smooth", Ace was torn between choosing a career in music or film.
In 1995, Ace charted in the music industry as a song producer for the song "Share My Life" and "Changes" by Columbia Recording Artists, Inner City, as well as, played keyboards for the Greg Nice produced track "Dirty Dawg" by New Kids On The Block. He later went on to try his hand as the energetic front man and songwriter for the alternative rock band WEBSLiNGER. After recording a CD, the band performed in NYC twice, Los Angeles once, and broke up soon after. During that time, he managed to teach middle-school English in NYC for close to a decade, before becoming a director of the Sylvan Learning Center in Northridge, CA. in 2003.
In 2007, Ace became part-owner for the Hollywood Actors Academy in Hollywood, California, and contributed as an Acting Coach and Creative Director. But in 2009, while working on the television series FlashForward, Ace got a taste of light stunt work for the episode, "Let No Man Put Asunder" and caught the acting bug, again. He has worked in principal roles for a few independent films, including playing the role of Prince Thun in AFTRA's Radio Play: Flash Gordon and being Vanessa Williams' date in ABC's Desperate Housewives.
He was the Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (2009-2011), and continues to head the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror (ScHoFan) Critique Group as Co-Director of critique groups within the society. He is also a member of LASFS and the International Thriller Writers. Ace's true labor of love is writing Zombie Horror with character-driven plots featuring female protagonists and he continues to write short stories and build on the world of Sylva Slasher. Follow Ace on Twitter and visit his website everyday for “Sylva Strips,” which are brief excerpts of the novel.
Buy Confessions of Sylvia Slasher at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Sylva-Slasher-Antonio-Hall/dp/098228098X