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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

1) When did you first know when you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote this play called The Artist (in the late 90’s, long before the recent Best Picture Winner). I don’t even remember the exact plot, but it was something akin to four people painting all of their sins on a canvas, and then someone else came along, making those paintings beautiful. I know it sounds kind of serious and ham-fisted (which it was) but it had a lot of jokes in it.

2) Who first validated that desire in you?

The audience for that play. It got a standing ovation after it was over (it played at the youth event) and afterwards everyone talked about how great the writing was. I realized what I loved most was putting the story together.

3) What does a workday look like for Rob Stennett?

Everyday is a little different. I do a lot of writing and directing. But I always try to craft fiction in the morning. If I don’t the day quickly gets away from me.

4) What is your creative process?

Before I ever sit down to write I think about the story. Getting ready in the morning, in the car, I try to really think about the scene that day. It helps me so the writing kind of explodes out of me by the time I sit down. Normally, I’ll have somewhat of an outline–but then I’ll get this great idea and I have to change a bunch of stuff in earlier chapters. When the story is FINALLY finished I revisit all the chapters and rewrite them. Then when I feel done I send them to my editor who tells me there is a lot more rewriting to do. Sorry. This suddenly doesn’t feel very creative. [Ed. note: no, but it sounds very real]

5) You are on staff at a church, right?

Yes, New Life Church in Colorado Springs. It’s a really great group of people and I’m happy to be a part. I’m the Creative Director: I direct productions, oversee video and graphic content, and whatever else needs to be done.

6) How do you balance your multiple careers? Family Life?

That’s the hardest part. I love all of it. I guess lately the key is really to schedule my time well. I work a lot during lunch. Sometimes I put on a cup of coffee at night and work more. I don’t know if I’m a very balanced person. But I’m a happy person. I love my family and love what I do.

7) Your work includes a lot of pop culture references, social commentary, and satire. What drew you as a creative person to those avenues?

Pop culture is what I love. I grew up on Star Wars,Beastie Boys, and whatever else you see in my books; it’s something fun to talk about. Some earlier seasons of the Simpsons had these really great episodes about faith and religion but used satire to tell their stories. I always thought “That’s something I want to do.” I want to write about faith, but put a satirical slant on it.

8) Your first novel is The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher. Can you tell us where the genesis of the idea behind that book originated?

When I was living in LA my wife and I went around looking for churches. I guess that’s when I realized what a strange place church was. I’d grown up in it, I knew how it worked, I knew all of the code words, but I still found it strange. I thought what would someone who never went to church before think of this place. What if he had to go for some reason? Or what if some guy who had no idea how a church worked tried to start one of his own? It was an entertaining thought. Felt like it would make a good story.

9) Who are some writers you admire, and why?

I love Tim O’Brien because I want to be able to write like him. The way he crafts paragraphs is a thing of beauty.

Kurt Vonnegut was one of the author’s that changed how I viewed writing. He was so funny and human and simple when I first read his books I thought, I didn’t know you could do that.

Stephen King creates these really simple everyman characters and puts them in just amazing situations. When people talk about getting Lost In a Book his stories are the first that come to mind.

Anne Lamott because she talks about faith in a way that makes it feel fresh and real again.

There are so many more, but that’s all I’m going to give you for now.

10) Can you tell us about your weekly podcast, 9 Thumbs?

It’s one of the highlights of my week. It’s three guys (unless there is a girl) talking about three things that we like. It’s fun to learn about new blogs, books, bands (among other things), and just talk about why we admire them. Internet culture can also be such a cynical place that’s it’s fun to just heap praise on things.

11) Any questions you’re never asked that you’d like to address?

Normally yes, but these questions were so good I have nothing to add. Thanks for having me.

Thanks, Rob, for coming by! Appreciate you taking the time!

Do you have any questions for Rob? Ask away!

Folks, you can find Rob on the Internet on his (infrequently updated) website: Rob Stennett, follow him on Twitter @robstennett, see his Amazon page here, and catch up with his podcast at 9Thumbs. By the way, Rob recently published a short story, entitled Chicken, about certain events pertaining to a certain chicken chain which occurred on certain day this past summer. Whew! That was mouthful. You can pick Chicken up here for $.99.

Update! Comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Rob’s first novel, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher.