Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror
On behalf of Horror After Dark, I would like to introduce to you author and editor, (among other things), Mr. Greg Gifune! A best-selling author of novels and novellas sold world-wide, I was honored and excited when he accepted our request for an interview. I hope you enjoy discovering what Greg has to say, and please don’t forget to enter the giveaway when you’re done.
Without further ado, please welcome Greg Gifune!
General Writing Questions
HAD: I’ve read in other interviews that you like to “let things nest in your mind” for awhile before you start actually writing. How long does that nesting thing go on, usually?
GFG: Depends on the piece. I’ve had novels, like THE BLEEDING SEASON for example, that sat in my head for several years before I ever attempted to write them. I don’t know that there’s any set timeframe, really, but generally most of my novels nest in my head for at least a year or so. Very rarely do I ever get an idea and sit right down and write it.
HAD: I’ve also read that you have called your system of writing “method writing”. Is this still true and could you explain it to us?
GFG: It’s actually a phrase I picked up from my good friend and colleague, Robert Dunbar (THE PINES). It refers to a method of writing modeled after the same premise as method acting, which is to live and feel very deeply the material you’re doing, and to find parallels in your own life experiences and emotions you’ve experienced in specific situations that you tap into to get to the heart of the material. It’s extremely draining emotionally, and by extension, physically, and at times causes you to walk right up to the edge of madness. The trick of course is to dance along the edge of that razor without falling off or allowing it to cut you too deeply or to the extent that you can’t eventually find your way back. It works for me and is always the way I’ve done it. I practiced method writing naturally, before I had a name for it or realized that’s what I was doing. It’s just always the way I’ve done it. Having had an acting background, and having been a method actor, it made sense for me, I guess, but I practiced it even before I knew what it (or method acting) was.
HAD: Personally, I love the ambiguity that seems to be a part of so many of your stories. Do you do that on purpose and if so, why?
GFG: Yes. I believe very strongly that an artist should never tell people what their art should be and mean to them. It’s an individual and personal experience—or should be—even when it’s shared, and I want my work to reflect that. I think it has to the potential to be far more powerful that way. There’s a fine line between leaving things open to interpretation or not tying everything up in a neat little bow, and leaving readers with no idea what the hell you’re doing or talking about. I don’t want the latter, obviously, but if I can walk that line, and do it not in a gimmicky or forced way, but in a way that comes naturally and is true to the material—and that’s what I do—then it works. It’s not necessarily for those who like everything spelled out for them and who never want to think or interact in anyway intellectually or emotionally with the material, but for everyone else it makes for an interesting and (hopefully) powerful experience.
HAD: You’re an editor at Darkfuse, Publisher of Dark Fiction. What do your editing duties entail, do you enjoy them and what have you learned from the position?
GFG: I’m actually on an extended hiatus right now from my job at Darkfuse so I can focus on some of my own material, but yes, I’m Senior Editor there and I’m in charge of novel acquisitions, which means I review the material we receive from authors and agents, and also recruit talent to produce the novel line at Darkfuse. My duties include accepting and rejecting submissions, reviewing accepted manuscripts and working closely with authors as their editor to make their manuscripts the best novels they can be. I work to produce a line that is both popular and profitable and that reflects the concepts and types of fiction Darkfuse is looking for, which is quality dark fiction that will appeal not only to genre readers but also the general public and a larger, mass market readership. Led by Shane Staley, Associate Editor Dave Thomas and I also work on various projects designed to maximize Darkfuse’s presence in the business and to maximize sales and exposure for the company and its authors. Although I always have and always will be a writer first, I’ve held several positions as an editor before, and I always enjoy them and learn a great deal from them. At Darkfuse specifically, it’s been an amazing experience because I was charged with creating a line where none existed prior, and to make sure that line and its authors could thrive. Shane had a vision for the company and what he wanted it to be, and believed I was the person to help him make that happen with the novel line. I was honored by his faith in me. It was a big responsibility and a huge challenge, but one I’m very proud of having accomplished (with the help of Shane, Dave, everyone else at DF, and a whole lot of very talented authors). It wasn’t easy, but I’m proud to have helped make Shane’s vision for Darkfuse a reality along with him, as I know Dave is (Dave handles the novella line and has done an amazing job with it), and it’s been a very satisfying experience. Especially in the first year or so, there were a lot of long hours working really hard to make the company go from a concept to a reality, but we did it, and I think I can speak for everyone involved when I say we’re all very proud of not only what’s been accomplished at Darkfuse so far, but of what the future holds as well.
HAD: I’ve read that you used to be an actor and a broadcaster. Is writing or acting your first love? Why?
GFG: I was an actor when I was younger, mostly in my teens and into my very early 20s. I did several plays and did one television commercial before walking away from it. I got married, went to work in sales and later owned my own promotions company, promoting concerts, professional wrestling and other live entertainment all over the country, but always kept writing in one way or another, even if it was just as a hobby for a while. I worked briefly in broadcasting, radio mostly, as both a producer and on-air talent, but found the business wasn’t really for me. Writing and acting were my first loves, yes. As for why, I’m not really sure. I was one of those kids that always knew what he wanted to do, and that was write and act. I had other interests, of course, athletics and whatnot, and was always a voracious reader, but I don’t remember ever not wanting to spend my life as a writer and an actor. I think for me, it was a way to express myself, and I felt comfortable in those areas, like it was natural for me, something I was meant to do. It was also a (relatively) safe way to work things out and to exorcise some demons, through the art rather than going out and channeling it in ways less productive (which I also did, but not as much when I was involved in the arts). I began studying acting when I was young, and I was writing even before I could write. I have an older sister, and I’d dictate my stories to her and she’d write them down for me (and sometimes illustrate them if she had time). It’s just always been a part of me, and who I am. I got my first typewriter when I was eight or nine, taught myself how to type, and got to work. The acting sort of fell by the wayside in my early 20s, and I never looked back, and focused more on the writing.
HAD: I’ve seen you state a number of times that your novels and novellas have a connecting thread. Let’s put an end to the conjecture-is it aliens? 😉
GFG: There is a thread that runs through them. There is a message, something I’ve included in each piece, and they all connect to form the answer, something I want to leave behind, and if people find it (and I think eventually someone will), then they’ll understand what I was trying to tell them, and why. It’ll mean more to some than others, but once revealed it will leave no doubt as to what I knew, how I knew it, and what I was revealing through my work. I speak of it in past tense because I don’t believe it will be solved until after I die. It’s possible, but unlikely. Beyond that, I don’t discuss the specifics, and never will, but I’ll tell you this. Of everything I’ve done, my novella APARTMENT SEVEN contains (at least so far) the most clues and pieces to the puzzle. Not enough to solve it, though.
HAD: Can you tell us a little bit about you and your personal history before becoming an author? Your comments on Facebook and other places seem to indicate somewhat of a troubled past. Can you share any of it and what turned you around, (if indeed, you were troubled.)?
GFG: I don’t like to discuss certain segments of my personal life, particularly some aspects of the past, but suffice to say I do have something of a dark and troubled past. I’ve also had parts of my life that were (and are) wonderful and full of light and love, so it’s not like I’ve had some horrible life or anything. Parts of it, yes, but mostly I’ve been fortunate to have lived a very diverse and interesting life (so far). By the time I was thirty I had done more than most do in a lifetime. I’m a very spiritual person, and I often find enlightenment there. I also find a certain level of peace—or as close to peace as I ever get—in those I love and who love me, both human and nonhuman. The dogs and cats my wife and I share our lives with give me great joy. I’m a big animal person. But, yeah, I have my demons like anyone else, maybe more than most, and I struggle with some to this day. Some mightily. I likely will for the rest of my life. I’m a tormented person in some ways, and have come to accept that and to do my best to work through it. Luckily, I’m also a helpless romantic. I believe deeply in love and life and laughter and happiness, and at the end of the day, I’m an eternal optimist blessed with a pretty nice life in many ways.
Devil’s Breath Questions
HAD: Please tell us a little about your new book, Devil’s Breath-what it’s about and how it came to be.
GFG: Well, here’s the back cover copy on it: In a dying coastal town near Cape Cod, Stanley Falk lives a quiet and unassuming life as a dishwasher. A shell of what and who he once was, Stanley is a man with a dark and violent past who does his best to forget by drinking it all away. But one morning he awakens to find his meager bank account emptied and his memory of the drunken evening prior wiped clean. Vague memories and terrible nightmares of evil gods, distant planets and a hideous room where torture has been practiced and blood flows like water haunt his every waking moment. Something depraved is intent on dragging him back into the same pit of darkness he’s fought his entire life to crawl out of, and now there are others, in the shadows, watching his every move and luring him closer to a truth beyond comprehension…beyond evil…beyond anything he’s ever imagined possible. You worship what you do not now.In terms of how it came about, this was one of those rare instances when the concept didn’t nest in my mind for long. Several months, but not years. There is an actual substance called The Devil’s Breath, and it’s extremely dangerous. The moment I learned about it I wanted to write a novel involving it, and the story was born. Some of the themes also allowed me a certain level of catharsis while writing the book, and also, the overall plot fit into the larger picture of my work as a whole. At the end of the day I thought it was a compelling story with a strong protagonist, an antihero of sorts that together with the cast of characters in the piece would draw readers in.
HAD: What would you tell a potential reader to convince them to give Devil’s Breath a try?
GFG: I don’t know that I could convince anyone to read DEVIL’S BREATH or any of my work. I try not to ‘sell’ my work, just to let people know about it as best I can, and if the concept speaks to them, great, I hope they check it out. I think if readers generally enjoy this kind of thing, they’ll enjoy DEVIL’S BREATH. I just got the cover reveal from the art department last night, by the way, and it’s a very horrifying cover. Fits the novel but it is by far the most brutal cover I’ve ever seen for anything I’ve done. It’s not an over-the-top gore-fest kind of novel, but it is pretty intense and hopefully will leave people shaken and thinking. We’ll see.
Greg, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. It was greatly appreciated! And thank you, HAD readers! You rock!