I grew up in a world of magic. By the time I was ten I understood nature, talked to the trees, and listened to the wind. When the kingdom of men conquered my town, I was murdered by one of my own—the betrayer of my kind. But I didn't stay dead.
I woke to find myself in a strange new world called Los Angeles. The only keys to the life I remembered were my father’s ring, my unique abilities, and the onslaught of demons that seemed hell-bent on finding me. Now I must learn who I really am, protect my friends, get the girl, and find my way back to my beloved hometown of Orenda.
Thank you, Mr. Rick Chiantaretto
How important is for a fantasy book to be visual?
I’m thinking of all the popular fantasy series, the ones I like, and their authors. I absolutely believe that the visual component of a fantasy story is central to the success of the book. Magic systems can be different simply by the way they look. People can be distinguished as “non-human” by the way they look. The reader should be able to play a fantasy novel as a movie in their head (in fact, you often hear people talk about fantasy novels like they were watching a movie)–so in that aspect, I think visualization is central.
But in dark fantasy, there is a more important component. Adding the horror elements is actually closer to romance writing than it is to fantasy, because you have to add an emotional component. Fantasy makes their readers feel by way of visualization. Dark fantasy makes a reader feel by way of horror elements (many of which include visualization, like with guts and gore, although I prefer psychological horror). Death of the Body will make you uncomfortable by asking you step outside of your religious box.
What makes you feel more fulfilled: writing a poem or a novel?
May I answer in Robert Frost fashion?:
Some say the writer should prefer a novel.
Some say a poem.
From what I know if writers bother,
Most of them favor the novel.
Yet when I write for personal vice.
Sometimes a poem expresses it nice.
And, therefore, would suffice.
Now before some high school English class dissects my poem and decides it means that I want to blow up the world, let me go on record with the simple interpretation: I prefer to write novels, but sometimes when I need to express a personal ideal, something simple or nitty-gritty, and I want to speak in a bit of code, I will write a poem. Poetry is perfect for that.
As you can tell: I’m also not very good at writing poetry, ha.
Why do you think horror genre is always popular?
I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself this question, because horror is near and dear to my heart (how is that for cliché… but I used it on purpose, and you’ll see why here in a second).
I’ve heard, often, that the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s fear. If you look at how popular romance novels are, there is definitely a connection to the strength of love. Why wouldn’t the opposite of such a strong emotion also be equally strong?
I think that is the key: the emotional response horror triggers can only be rivaled in strength and intensity by love.
Horror also does something very cool (and this is my favorite part about the genre). It forces the reader to actually relate, in some way, to the bad guy. We all have our darker inner selves, and that darker inner self needs food too. The scariest books/movies/TV shows, etc. all show us a piece of ourselves that we are afraid to admit: Maybe, if we were put in the same situation as that bad guy we’re reading about, we would do the same thing.
In fact, I think that’s one of the tenants of a great villain: If the story were written from his or her point of view, then the villain should be the hero.
What do you think makes a great story? There are traps to avoid when you write fantasy?
I think there are plenty traps! I’ll specifically call out only a few, ha.
When writing any genre, but especially fantasy, it’s easy to create unrelateable characters, because these characters aren’t human. I have this problem with Death of the Body right now! No one believes my 10 year old children because they are “more mature” than the 10 year old children they know here. Forget about the fact that they aren’t on this world, that they aren’t even human, and that their society is different. I could have fixed this in two ways: either by giving a broader overview of their world, or by making the children less mature. I made a couple of decisions to make them a little less mature, and in Book 2, we return to their land.
Had I thought about this before I laid out the story, it would have been easier to make them a little more believable. Fixing it now will cause issues later on, and I made some decisions that I’m sure people will still have problems with. For those that do… just get to Chapter 6, ha.
The only other trap I’ll talk about is pigeonholing the genre. It’s easy to get caught up in sword fights and action and dragons and magic when writing a fantasy novel, but the things that make characters relatable (so this relates to above), are relationships, romance, emotions, connections, interactions, etc. I think the best fantasy writers also include romance components, horror components, action components, etc. This makes for a well rounded and, as you asked before, “visual” novel that people can feel, see, imagine, and internalize.
How is to be 392 years old?
Well, I know most people start feeling pretty old after 350, but I still feel young at heart. And I have an amazing skin cream made out retinol, the waters of life, blood of a pharaoh’s first born, and... I’ve said too much…
About the author:
I’ve often been accused of having done more in my life than the average 30 year old, but if I were completely honest I’d have to tell you my secret: I’m really 392.
So after all this time, I’m a pretty crappy writer.
I have one book published but out of print, one coming out soon, and a bunch half written (when you have eternity, where’s the reason to rush?). I’ve been favorably reviewed by horror greats like Nancy Kilpatrick, and my how-to-write-horror articles have been quoted in scholarly (aka community college freshmen’s) papers.
I enjoy the occasional Bloody Mary, although a Bloody Kathy or Susan will suffice.
Mostly, I just try to keep a low profile so people don’t figure out who I REALLY am.
Event organized by Mark My Words Book Publicity