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  Folks, I’m excited today to feature an interview with newly published author, Chad Jones. According to Chad, he’s been writing stories since grade school. Most, however, he’s completed in the grey matter residing between his ears, leaving them there for his amusement. Sometimes, to his utter astonishment, these stories make their way out into the wider world. Casita 106 at the Red Pines is one such. Without further ado, here’s Chad:

(Following is a transcript of a telephone interview).

“Chad, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.”

“Sure. Flying monkeys couldn’t drag me away. Or maybe they could. Anyway. You wanted to talk about my new ebook, right?”

“Yes, that’s correct. First of all, you’re a Christian, right?”

“Yes, I am. Have been since nineteen eighty-eight. This has come up before, and I think I know where you’re going with this. See, here’s the thing just because I’m a Christian it doesn’t always follow that I’m going write quote-unquote Christian stories. Sometimes an idea grabs me, and I’ve got to follow it. The way I see, often the most Christian thing I can do is make the best art I can, and not just throw in explicit references to Jesus at every turn. Make sense?”

“I see where you’re coming from. So if I understand you correctly, what you’re saying is that a story starts with an idea, which comes to life in the characters, and grows organically from there?”

“I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Without living breathing characters there isn’t much to go on. Even a killer idea isn’t enough to save a story with characters that you, the writer, don’t care about. Really what I’m about is that I want the reader to feel something. So I have to feel it first. Even if it’s revulsion.”

“Speaking of, Chad, there are some revolting things that happen in your new story, Casita 106 at the Red Pines. I have to ask: where do you get your ideas?”

“Everyone asks this. Here’s the deal: we writers don’t know. Some things come from snippets of conversations I have with my wife. For instance, one time we were talking about the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. It got me to thinking what would it be like if zombie Ed McMahon came to your door with a check? That idle conversation sparked an idea that’s grown into a work in progress. Other times, it’s events. Casita came out of a trip my family and I took to Sedona, which is this really rich, beautiful, weird place. Part of a microwave really did fall on my wife, and I actually did have a dream about the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Those things combined in my head in this sort of frisson and Casita was the result.”

“That’s interesting. Thanks for the insight, Chad. But, c’mon, horror? I mean why do you write horror? Is that a very Christian thing to do?”

“I’m going to paraphrase the late C.S. Lewis here. He said that if one is a lawyer, or bricklayer, or whatever, one shouldn’t necessarily seek to leave one’s profession because one has converted to Christianity. God, he said, wants more Christian lawyers, et cetera. So it is with me. Horror is a genre I grew up loving, and found that that love didn’t dissipate just because I’d become a Christian. To quote director Scott Derrickson, “horror is the genre of non-denial.” We’re forced to confront our fears, and yet we’re able to do so in a safe, vicarious manner. Moreover, in my mind the genre is perfectly suited to explore the big questions of life, the universe, and everything. We are presented with ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and see how they respond. We get to ask ourselves: how would we respond? We learn something about ourselves while enjoying a rollicking good yarn. Or a good fright.”

“So you’re saying that horror puts the reader in a crucible along  with the characters in a story, allowing them to share the experience? And decide what they might, or might not, do in a similar situation?”

“Something like that, yes. Have you watched the Walking Dead? That show is rife with questions of morality, faith, trying to hold onto our essential humanity while simultaneously trying to survive. Horror allows us to focus a high lens, or microscope, on these issues. They’re closer to the surface.”

“I see what you’re saying. How does that apply to your story, Casita?”

“Well, of the top of my head, we’ve got the ordinary people in a seemingly ordinary situation. They’re seemingly innocents. And then you as the reader find out, as the story progresses, that neither they, nor the situation is as they first appeared. Then we’ve got other characters who, in the name of survival, are complicit in something… I can’t say anymore here. Don’t want to spoil things for anyone who hasn’t read the story yet. I will say this: I wanted to take some of the normal horror tropes, and either run with them, or appear to run with them, and thereby subvert the reader’s expectations.”

“Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into this, Chad. Before we go, can I ask what’s ahead for you?”

“Sure, it’s your blog, man. You can ask whatever you want. To answer your question: I’ve a zombie story in the pipeline. When done, it will likely be the longest thing I’ve ever written. Beyond that, there’s a short story about an exotic dinner that isn’t what it seems. There are plans for a novel, but that’s a little ways down the road.”

“Those sound interesting. I look forward to reading them.”

“Thanks. Me, too.”

“Chad, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to check in with us. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?”

“No problem. Always willing to open up my schedule for you. Uh, yeah; folks can find Casita 106 at the Red Pines on Amazon. It’s hopefully a fun, quick ride for them with just enough tension (and a little humor) to keep them reading to the last page.”  

  
“Thanks, Chad. Good talking to you. Looking forward to the next time we get to check in. By the way, do you have an Internet presence? I know you writer types often seclude yourselves.”

“Sure. I can be found at RandomlyChad.com, and on Facebook at RandomlyChad. Check ’em out, folks.”

“Thanks, Chad.”

“Anytime. Goodbye.”

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Tim Gallen is friend of mine. Working as as a journalist, he dreamt of being an author. That dream has come true for him with his first published novella, Niscene’s Creed. He lives in Phoenix with his wife, Nicole, and dog, Stella.

1. How long have you been writing?

Well, I knew I wanted to be a writer since high school. And I did some in college, but I suffered from a terrible lifelong case of perfectionism, so I hardly completed anything I started. Long story short, though, in more recent years, I’ve been writing fairly regularly since 2012.

2. Did you always know you wanted to write?

I remember always enjoying writing time as far back as second grade, but I didn’t really consider being a writer until high school when I wrote a novel for a project. So, to answer the question: I didn’t really think much about it until I was a teenager.

3. Is fantasy your favorite genre?

Yes, fantasy is my favorite genre. It’s kind of a funny thing because I didn’t really read too much fantasy until the past decade or so when I fell in love with the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. But I always have kind of dabbled in the fantasy genre when I’ve written. I also enjoy young adult novels. Kind of crazy combination, I know. But I think it’s because most of the time, I still feel like I’m 18 and trying to figure out the world.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’m kind of weird in that I don’t really have favorite authors, per se. If the story is compelling and sounds interesting and is written well, I’ll give it a try. That’s not to say there aren’t a few authors whose work I’m fond of and will pick up something by them just because it has their name on it: George RR Martin (naturally), Robert Jordan (though, you know, he’s dead), Orson Scott Card (one of the greatest writers ever) to just name a few.

5. Where do you get your ideas? (Kidding!)

I know you said you were kidding, but I’ll answer anyway. I get most of my ideas from reading other books, honestly. Steal like an artist and all that.

6. What is the genesis of Niscene’s Creed? When did you first get the kernel that germinated into this, your first novella?

Niscene’s Creed has its origins in a few places. I first met/created Niscene about four years ago when I had begun reading George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I set out wanting to write a story with an ensemble cast of characters, but make all of them members of this shadowy league of assassins. Well, as things tend to do, the story evolved and changed and I discovered another non-assassin character whom I fell in love with. But I always liked Niscene. Namely because she’s so vicious. Then, when I started blogging in 2012, I started a weekly fiction serial on Fridays, and I started with Niscene and telling the story of her first kill as a member of this assassins group. So, essentially, that serial grew into the novella. And it serves as an introduction of sorts, not only to Niscene but to this fantasy world of mine and this evolving epic story I wish to tell. I could keep going but I probably wouldn’t stop then.

7. Understanding that Niscene’s Creed isn’t a religious work, what made you use that title/name specifically? You are aware that the Nicene Creed is a well-known, historic profession of faith used in Christian liturgy, right? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed) Are you concerned that theologically conservative readers may confuse your book for something other than it is?

Being a pastor’s son and church-goer, I’m well aware of the Nicene Creed (I believe in God the father, almighty, creator of heaven and earth…). But that familiarity has nothing to do with the title of my novella. It’s just a funny coincidence and a slight pun. Though, in the world of the novel, it’s not a pun at all, since, you know, it’s a fantasy world. The title actually was kind of tough. But the story begins with Niscene reciting this oath. Essentially, she’s being sworn into this group of assassins. And the words of the oath kind of haunt her throughout the novella and serve as a motivating device to push her to certain actions. In essence, the oath is her new creed in life. Thus, Niscene’s Creed seemed like a decent title. As far as if overly religious people come across my book, see the title, and think it is something to do with Christianity, well, I’m not too worried about it. I mean, the cover has a woman kissing another woman’s hand and, while they’re not particularly scantily clad, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that this particular book has nothing to do with espousing one’s belief in the Holy Trinity. Of course, if someone does happen to read it thinking it was something else, I look forward to the undoubtedly hilarious email or review on Amazon I will receive.

8. What’s ahead for Tim Gallen? Any future works you can tell us about?

What’s ahead? Well, I’ve always got like a billion things going on in my head at any one moment. Seriously, it’s all kinds of crazy up there. I’ve a few snippets here and there of what may become the direct sequel to Niscene’s Creed. The ending serves as a pretty good lead-in to a second book. And as I said above, NC serves as the introduction to these characters and this world. And there’s a lot more to come. But I also have another story about unicorns that I’m working on that I’m totally psyched about. Yes, unicorns. And it’s gonna be awesome. Honestly, I am likely going to finish that before any direct sequel to NC, though anything can happen.

You can find Tim online at TimGallen.com, and his debut novella, Niscene’s Creed is available on Amazon in both paperback, and ebook, formats by clicking here.

Gimme Shelter

randomlychad  —  January 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

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I had the privilege last month of conducting a telephone interview with Kathy DiFiore, founder of Several Sources Shelters, and Ronald Krauss, director/producer of Gimme Shelter (a new motion picture starring Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, and James Earl Jones). I had hoped to provide you, my faithful readers, with a transcript of the interview, but my voice recording software didn’t play nice. What follows are my recollections of the conversation.

According to Ms. DiFiore, after going through a painful divorce, and after getting her life back on track she wanted to do something to give back. So she started a shelter for teen girls with unplanned pregnancies in her own home.

That is not a typo:

Ms. DiFiore opened her home to girls who, through circumstance, and happenstance had nowhere else to go. Where they had received rejection at the hands of family and friends, they were now to be received with open arms. The movie’s tagline is: “Sometimes you have to leave home to find your family.”

And that is what Kathy provided: a home. In that home, the girls found something more: grace. They were given, despite perhaps poor life choices, hard circumstances, difficult upbringings, countless rejections, a safe environment where they could feel loved, accepted, human.

Over the course of decades, Several Sources Shelters was born. It went from one home to many. It was while visiting family back east, that Mr. Krauss first heard of Several Sources, told that he should very much check into them. As a socially conscious filmmaker, it was something that he was very much prepared to do.

After some careful investigation, Mr. Krauss was convinced that Kathy DiFiore was the “real deal,” and he would make a documentary. It was as he got to know the girls (he lived in one of the shelters for a year as he wrote the screenplay) that the idea of a documentary morphed into a narrative.

He could reach more people with this amazing story through a motion picture.

And that is what Gimme Shelter is: the story of one girl, Agnes ‘Apple’ Bailey, who stands in for all of the real girls whom Ron got to know during his time in the shelter. I’m told that Miss Hudgens, in preparing for the role, also lived in one of the shelters for several weeks, getting know the girls.

According to both interviewees, making the film was a transformative experience for them. That is indeed what the film is all about: transformation. Taking lives which have been written off, and giving them a home.

A shelter.

And hope… for now, and for the future.

I hope you will see Gimme Shelter in theaters. It opens this Friday, January 24th.

Thank-you for reading!

If you have any questions for Ms. DiFiore, you may click the following Kathy DiFiore to contact her. To find out about and/or support Several Sources, go here: Several Sources

Hope to see you at the movies!

Folks, it’s my privilege today to present an interview with author Chad Gibbs. He is the author of the bestselling God and Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC, and the recently released Love Thy Rival: What Sports’ Greatest Rivalries Teach Us About Loving Our Enemies. (Head here if you would like a signed copy).

 

1) When did you first know that writing was something you wanted to pursue? And who supported you early on in pursuit of your calling?

I didn’t really start reading until after college. I mean I knew how to, just never did it for leisure. I think a love of reading really turned me on to writing, and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) was and is my biggest supporter (figuratively, not literally).

2) You are the (regional) bestselling author of God & Football. What kind of pressure did you put on yourself to follow that book up with something as strong (and as funny)? (And what does a typical Chad Gibbs work day look like?)

No pressure really. I mean I’d love for each book to be better than the last, and each one to outsell the last, but that’s not going to happen. In the end I just want to write stuff that makes my wife laugh. Not sure if there is a typical work day. Some days I write all day, some days I drive all day to talk to a church or group, some days I watch a lot of soccer.

3) Your wife is a doctor? What’s it like having a live-in patron? Ok, just kidding! How supportive is your wife of your work? How does she help keep you grounded?

Tricia could not be more supportive. It’s obviously a blessing to be able to pursue writing full-time, and not something I could do without her. All aspiring writers should hang around medical schools to look for potential mates.

4) Your second (published–we know all writers have trunks, and in them are manuscripts mouldering far from the light of day) book, Love Thy Rival, came out recently. How did the idea for that book come about? Is there really more sports in it? 😉

More sports I’m afraid. With the first book I looked at how fans love their teams, and in this one I wanted to look at why sometimes they hate their rivals even more. To me it seemed a natural progression, although publishers didn’t think so, which is why I self-published it.

5) As a writer, who do you like to read? What kind of work nourishes your creative soul? Along those lines, would you agree, or disagree, with the following: Worship is whatever we attempt to derive life from? In your case, what is it about sports that so nourishes you?

Oh I read all sorts of stuff. Enjoy Nick Hornby, Bill Bryson, AJ Jacobs, Malcolm Gladwell. Older stuff I enjoy is Hemingway; read Great Gatsby every year, and To Kill a Mockingbird is a favorite. I love reading about travel, and I love funny writers. Sometimes reading this stuff ‘nourishes my creative soul’, and sometimes, if it’s too good, it makes me want to give up. I’m not sure if sports nourishes me, but I enjoy the drama of it. I think that’s why I write about fans, and not really the games.

6) As intimated above, your books are funny. What pushed you in that direction? What, in your view, makes for good satire?

It’s the only way I know how to write really. I just put down my thoughts and observations, which I guess are oftentimes humorous. I get that from my mother, who sees the funny side in every situation.

7) I’m not so much a sports fan (a huge failing, I know); as such, what would I (or readers like me) get out of your books? What is there that’s applicable?

I think the two books are entertaining, even if you’re not a sports fan. Spiritually, they take a look at idolatry, something we all struggle with from time to time.

8) You’re currently engaged in a campaign to build a women and children’s clinic in Haiti. How did that come about?

After writing God & Football I started getting emails from fans who shared my struggles. I remember thinking, “great, a community of like-minded Christian sports fans. I just wish we could do something.” So I spoke to Samaritan’s Purse when wrapping up the new book and we came up with a giving campaign that would pit rival fans against each other with the goal of raising 40K to build the clinic in Haiti. We’re over 1/4 of the way there, but still have a ways to go, so if any of your readers are feeling generous you can send ’em my way.

[Note: to learn more about the Samaritan’s Purse campaign, and how you can help, please visit Chad’s blog]

9) I’ve heard that you’re a rabid Star Wars fan? (I am, too). What do you like about Star Wars? Which one is the best (if you say Phantom Menace you’re never welcome back here again)?

Empire is the best film, and the best thing about Star Wars is Lando Calrissian.

10) What’s next for Chad Gibbs? I hear you’re working on a travel book for Zondervan–how’s that coming along? Any fiction in your future? Any questions you’re surprised you’re never asked that you would like to address? Speak now, or forever… Oh, never mind. 😉

Yes, a travel book with Z that looks at Christianity around the world. Been to Brazil, Spain, England, Russia, Uganda, and Italy so far. India, Japan, The Netherlands, China, Australia, Israel and Turkey to come. No fiction for now, unless you count the parts of God & Football I made up. Oops.

About Chad Gibbs:

Chad Gibbs, former baby, is the best-selling (okay, regional best-selling) author of God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC and Love Thy Rival: What Sports’ Greatest Rivalries Teach us about Loving Our Enemies. He has written for The Washington Post, CNN.Com, RELEVANT, and has made multiple (okay, two) appearances on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. If you’d like to talk to Chad about his books, or about life, or about how to lose baby fat, he can be reached at emailchadgibbs@gmail.com or by raven.

Coming Up Monday

randomlychad  —  November 10, 2012 — 2 Comments

Hi! I’ve got two things to tell you today.

First: I know I haven’t been around much. Been working on a book for NaNoWriMo. It’s going well, but slowly. I don’t expect to finish by month’s end, but hope to have the first draft complete by year’s end.

I’m roughly 6,000 words in, and having a blast!

Second: author Chad Gibbs is coming by for an interview on Monday. Don’t miss it!

Peace out,

Chad