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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 is an upcoming motion picture from Roadside Attractions. Based on the true story of Kathy DiFiore, founder of Several Sources Shelters, it stars Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, James Earl Jones, and Brendan Frasier.

Tomorrow, I will be interviewing the film’s director, Ron Krauss, and founder Kathy DiFiore. If you have any questions about crisis pregnancy shelters, about how this movie came to be made, about Several Sources Shelters, or for Mr. Krauss, or Ms. DiFiore, please share them in the comments below.

Thanks!

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.