Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Father of two, husband to one. Writer of mystery and the macabre, wandering in worlds creepy and cryptic.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
More than I’d like to admit.
What does literary success look like to you?
The ability to move readers across the emotional spectrum — to be able to paint pictures in the mind with mere words and evoke strong emotions. That’s as good as it gets for me in terms of success. I have the world’s worst handwriting, but I know my way around a sentence with a fair quickness on a keyboard, and I love everything about our flexible language and its mystical powers. But, basically, my goal is to engage and entertain the reader. If as a writer I’m unable to grip you and elicit a strong emotional response of some kind, if at some point in the story I’m unable to creep you out, piss you off, gladden you or sadden you, cause a laughing fit, or make you want to vomit, then hopefully you kept your receipt, because you certainly deserve a refund.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Originality is key for me. No doubt the goal is to engage the reader, but not at the expense of losing originality. If the effort to engage isn’t authentic and real, if it doesn’t come from that special place where the creative fires burn, then it can’t be truly original . . . and where’s the attraction in that? In other words, to echo 311, you’ve got to “Come Original.” Otherwise it isn’t organic. And if it isn’t organic, if something feels forced or out of alignment, I’m all but guaranteed to lose interest as the writer.
Do you read your book reviews? Do they please you or annoy you? Do you think you can learn a lot from reading criticism about your work?
I enjoy reading all reviews, good or bad. To me, it’s a win either way. In this digital age with countless distractions and other items on the menu — online and otherwise — to engage a reader for 300 plus pages in an era when so many are quick to quit or click cancel . . . that’s saying something, even if total satisfaction isn’t achieved. Furthermore, to beckon a reader into my cryptic mind chambers for an extended stay during story time is no doubt an immersive time commitment that is not lost on me. Let’s face it, time is invaluable, so it’s best not to take the reader’s time for granted . . . (although I do hope they all enjoy their stay).
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I cut my teeth on Koontz and King, having read virtually everything by both authors, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them as primary influencers.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?
Finding coffee with a longer lasting buzz.
What inspired the premise of your book?
The entire story originated from a singular “what if” starting point, specifically when Amanda witnesses the ominous silhouette in the red room. One night an intense visual came to me of that very scene. It creeped me out, but also truly intrigued me. And so I took the conversation a step further — why is he up there? Where do we go from here? Is this the actual starting line in the story? Or did something transpire before that influenced him to be up there? As it turned out, the story began more in line with the last question. And, believe me, it was a lot of fun filling in the gaps to get to the hook.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?/How did you decide on this title?
Hands down, the scene at the Heebalow house, precisely when Karen awakes to find her husband behaving in the most horrific way. Truthfully, I’ve never been more disturbed by anything I’ve written. Furthermore, it’s one of the few scenes that remain relatively unchanged since the first draft . . . which is saying a lot, considering Ungodly weighed 511 pages at birth, and later required some serious weight loss procedures. In any case, I wrote the grisly scene in one sitting, somewhat possessed, then had to put it away for the day, needing to come back from the dark place that scene had sent me. When I read the scene the following day, the only word to describe my experience as a reader was . . . Ungodly. Suffice it to say, this scene inspired the title.
How does your faith life/ethical outlook inform your writing?
It goes without saying that this novel dabbles in touchy subjects, specifically concerning religious mythologies. My wife, a lifelong churchgoer, had to put the book down multiple times when reading some of its darker content. The reality is, each and every character I met in this story is a unique individual with his or her own unique perspective and beliefs. They see the world differently than you and I do, and that’s just the way it is. As the author, it’s my job to best represent each character’s respective beliefs within the context of the story, otherwise I will have failed the characters and, in effect, the readers.
What makes this book important right now?
2020 was one strange year. No doubt about it. Hardships were experienced across the spectrum, and if you didn’t experience some kind of setback, consider yourself fortunate. Personally, a discussion with my editor, Kristen Hamilton, inspired me to bring Ungodly out of the drawer and make the necessary changes to confidently publish. It was the beautiful distraction I needed it to be in the COVID-stricken reality. Understand that I neglected this story for years on account of missing that magical link that makes all things click — 2020 spurred me to find that missing link. In the subtlety of serendipity, 2020 helped me realize that no matter what obstacles are up against you, there’s always a way to overcome them. Once you isolate the issue and immerse yourself in executing the solution, there are no obstacles other than that demon they call Self Doubt. But this story is important now because there’s inspiration in knowing that nothing can stop the collective human spirit, even when up against seemingly insurmountable odds, even when unthinkable sacrifices are required.
What’s next for you?
While most of my writing rarely strays from the realms of horror and suspense, there’s a backdoor chance I’ll write a memoir called How to Maintain Your Sanity While Parenting in a Pandemic, since self-help books seem to be trending. There again, if any potential readers of the memoir were to have first read Ungodly, it’s highly unlikely they would believe the author was of sane mind to begin with, so it’s likely a lost cause. In light of this, I’ll stick to mystery and the macabre.
Categories: BookView Review Interview