Welcome, Greg.Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Depends on the character, I suppose. In The Strange Man, I pretty much split myself right down the middle between my two brother characters. Dras is very much my light side. He’s childlike, gets excited about seeing a copy of an old horror movie on DVD at the $5 bin at Wal-Mart. He likes to read comics and fantasize about who would win in a fight between the Hulk and the Wolf Man. His older brother, Jeff, though, is my “more mature” side. He’s all about responsibility, duty, taking care of his family. But he’s also got a mean streak, he gets stressed out, takes himself too seriously. Combined, I think they make a pretty accurate depiction of me. The characters that I surround them with, though, I try to make as different from me as I can. I really enjoy creating characters—many times with completely opposing views on life, God, etc—and getting in their heads. I like to see the world through their eyes for awhile.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
What, writing “Christian Horror” isn’t quirky enough for you?
You have a point there. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I don’t know if, even now, I really consider myself “a writer”. I guess when I hear “writer”, I think “novelist”, and I’m not sure that’s who I am—though I write novels. Really, I just want to tell stories. Since I was a kid, I wanted to draw comic books or be a Disney animator (back when they had those and didn’t just program a computer to do it). Understand that I’m a better artist than your average fifth grader, but I’m no pro, so I realized I was severely limited as to the kinds of stories I could tell as an artist. After high school, I set my sights on filmmaking and telling stories that way, but I didn’t have the money to film my own independent movies, so I turned to writing prose. But, really prose is just another avenue to tell the stories I want to tell. Eventually I’d like to break into movies and comics, as well.
One of my grandsons, who is in his 20s, is drawing a graphic novel with a couple of friends. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I rarely read to relax. Since I stare at words on a page all the time, I kind of get sick of looking at them and would much rather watch a movie to unwind. The kinds of books I do read are largely media tie-in fiction. I love reading Star Wars novels and finding out “what happened next” after the film saga ended. I read a lot of tie-in material based on my favorite shows. I don’t think those writers get as much credit as they deserve. Coming from personal experience, it’s very rewarding to play in another creator’s sandbox, and it’s a unique challenge trying to tell a story that adheres to their “rules”, but also make something unique to yourself as an author. Outside of tie-in, I like to read fun monster books. No Catcher in the
for me. I’m not looking for Hemingway or high literature. I want something fun, fast, and cool. Rye
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
That’s the million dollar question right there! And my answer is “Not very well”. I’ve got a regular 8-5 job, married with two kids under the age of 5, a mortgage, about three novels I’m writing (not including The Strange Man and its two sequels), two non-fiction books I’m contributing to, short stories for anthologies, comic book scripts, movie scripts—and I’m always looking for more work. My writing “process” begins between 7-9 at night, and I’ll sometimes write until 1 or 2 in the morning, then it’s off to bed, wake up at 7 and head to work. In the movies, they often paint writers as being secluded in this rustic cabin. They’ll go outside on the porch, watch the sunrise, sip a cup of coffee, then sit at their computer and think brilliant thoughts all day. In reality, I’m typing off sentences in between racing back to the bathroom to give my oldest daughter a bath. Thank God I have a very understanding wife who goes into “single mom mode” when I’m really concentrating, but I don’t want to put that on her anymore than I have to. She didn’t sign on for that and that’s not the kind of married life I wanted. That’s not the kind of dad I wanted to be. So, it’s a lot of writing a paragraph, pausing for a wrestling match with my kids, writing two sentences, stopping to read a Bible story for the night, another page or two, writing during lunch hours, etc etc. It took me ten years to see The Strange Man published, but I’m very thankful for that time. In those ten years, I finished the entire trilogy—more or less—so, those books are nearly ready to go and don’t require a lot of work. I shudder to think if I had an eight month deadline to write a novel from scratch to completion. I think a padded room would be in my future.
For the most part, since The Coming Evil Trilogy takes place in
, I really strive for as normal, “blue collar” names as I can. Hank, Earl, Dane, Jeff. The only character name that really stands out is Dras (pronounced “drAHz”), but that’s the point. He’s an odd duck in his town. He’s strange. So, he needs a strange name. I heard a character named “Dras”—though it was spelled “Droz”—in a movie called PCU many years ago. I guess that name subconsciously stuck with me as being really interesting and cool. Some people really don’t like Dras’ name, ha ha. It confuses a lot of people. One reviewer took off a star on her review partly because she didn’t like his name, which I thought was awesome. If you’ve read the book, that’s totally the sort of thing that would happen to Dras :p Small Town, USA
I love it when that kind of thing happens. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
In my personal life, getting married. Meeting Meghan, falling in love, getting married—that’s what I’d wanted my whole life more than this silly writing thing. Being with her gave me so much confidence in myself and opened up my whole world. I started writing before I met her, but I really don’t think I would have had the confidence in myself to do anything about it until she came into my life. Not to mention, we’ve got two beautiful girls now and that part of my life is great. The hectic stuff comes from the writing. On the professional side, while I’m immensely ecstatic to finally see The Coming Evil series going to print, as that’s my baby, I’m actually really proud of contributing a piece of short fiction to the Star Wars mythology. I wrote the backstory for some random starship seen in the background of a deleted scene of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It’s a completely obscure accomplishment, but Star Wars is timeless and that mythology will carry on for my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren to enjoy. Knowing that I have a part in that tapestry—however small—is very rewarding.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Something that flies. Or maybe just a velociraptor. That’d be pretty boss. Ever since I saw
, I deduced that velociraptors are pretty awesome. Jurassic Park
What is your favorite food?
A bowl of chili from Steak ‘N’ Shake. Unfortunately, the nearest franchise is an hour away, but it’s worth the drive. Maybe I should start a contest where people can get a signed copy of The Strange Man if they send me cans of Steak ‘N’ Shake chili. Mmmmm . . .
You might get a lot of takers for that. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Oh, there are a thousand things that I’m still working on as a writer. I am nowhere near the writer I should be, or could be, so I’m constantly growing, relearning things, and sometimes just out and out failing. That aside, the biggest roadblock is just time. Finding the time and energy to write all the stories I’ve got inside me. And I haven’t overcome that yet. That’s a day-by-day, minute-by-minute process. When I finally press on and see something finished, it’s very rewarding.
I don't think I will ever stop learning more about writing and honing my craft. Tell us about the featured book.
The Strange Man is the first book in The Coming Evil Trilogy. It tells the story of Dras Weldon, an unemployed “fanboy” who loves his comic books and monster movies. He professes to be a Christian, but spiritual things are the last thing on his mind. During a terrible storm, a demon known as “the Strange Man,” that has been testing the boundaries of the town of
for years, finally makes his move. Once inside the town, the demon meets Rosalyn Myers and desires her for his own. Rosalyn, however, is Dras’ best friend, and now Dras realizes that all the things he heard in the Bible that he never put much stock in are real and he’s the only one who can save his friend from the monster. The Strange Man is designed to be a fun, scary, Saturday B-movie. Lots of monsters and excitement. There’s danger and thrills and laughs. But, it’s also about sharing one’s faith. About putting aside your fears, your insecurities, and sharing a faith you’re passionate about. The book doesn’t scrimp on monsters, but it doesn’t shy away from talking about God, Jesus, or Scripture, either. That turns some people off—even some Christians—but, to me, in a book about rediscovering your faith and overcoming hell’s worst monsters to share that, I felt it was the whole point. Greensboro
I agree with you. Please give us the first page of the book.
I’ll do you one better! My publisher, Realms Fiction, has made the entire prologue free to read on their website! http://www.charismahouse.com/images/stories/pdfs/thestrangeman.pdf
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Feel free to stop by my blog—www.thecomingevil.blogspot.com. There you can find my MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter profiles. Plus, I’ve got book trailers and original fiction based in The Coming Evil Trilogy to read for free. It’s a good way to get to know the characters and, so far, all the stories are set before The Strange Man, so nothing will be spoiled if you’ve yet to read the book.
What fun to have you drop by, Greg. You'll have to come again when each of the other books release.
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