I recently ran into fellow writer Gary Val Tenuta on twitter and he was excited to be interviewed here on Eye on Ashenclaw. Gary had an interesting path and the following interview is certainly worth reading!
First off, tell us a little bit about you Writing and art have always been two of the things I do best. So I’ve combined those two talents to become both an author and a book cover designer (http://www.freewebs.com/bookcoversandvideos).
I graduated from The Evergreen State College (otherwise known as “that hippie school in the woods) with a degree in Social Psychology. My professional writing career began as a contributing writer for Fate Magazine in the 1990s. One of my feature articles about the mystery of the alleged secret military group known as Majestic-12 resulted in requests to appear on radio programs across the U.S. and Canada.
Having had a life long interest in paranormal phenomena, the supernatural, occult and ancient mysteries and basically anything that could be squeezed into those categories, it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that these same elements would become the fodder for my novels and short stories. I grew up devouring Poe, Lovecraft and Roald Dahl and those writers definitely had a huge influence on me. I wonder if they realize what they've done? Maybe I should dig out my old 1920s-era Ouija board and let them know. Nah. Probably not a good idea.
Tell us about your books My debut novel, The Ezekiel Code, took nearly 9 years to complete. It was released in 2007 and quickly became an amazon.com bestseller and held on to that ranking for over 57 weeks. When I started writing it back around 1997 I knew about the approaching end of the ancient Mayan calendar (December 21, 2012) and I suspected the closer we got to that event the more it was going to become a pop phenomenon on a global scale. So I incorporated that cultural element into my original idea for a story which was, basically, about how the Biblical prophet, Ezekiel, encountered an alien spacecraft and what that fact would mean to mankind when modern day humans realized that’s what actually happened. By the time 2007 came along, the whole “2012” thing was starting to get some feet. People everywhere were beginning to discuss it. Lots of nonfiction books were being published about the phenomenon but, as it turned out. The Ezekiel Code was one of (if not the first) work of fiction based on the phenomenon to hit the market. Then along came the blockbuster movie, titled “2012”, and all of the press about the movie, the internet forums focusing on 2012, and so on – all of this essentially functioned as “free” publicity in a sense, helping to bring attention to my novel. It was a heck of a ride for a newbie at this novel writing stuff.
My current novel, Ash: Return Of The Beast, is a supernatural crime chiller steeped in occult lore. The story is a work of fiction inspired by a little known factoid about the death of Aleister Crowley (1875—1947), the notorious British occultist whose favorite number was 666 (hence, the “Beast” in the title) and whom the British Press once labeled as “The Wickedest Man In The World”. Crowley’s body was cremated but the unexplained 1947 disappearance of the urn containing his ashes has remained a mystery… until now. (Cue spooky music…)
The timeline shifts to the present day where Brian Kane, a street-worn Seattle police Lieutenant, is investigating a series of mysterious deaths, ostensibly caused by heart attack. The victims are all clergymen from a variety of Christian denominations Their bizarre deaths, oddly enough, are occurring exactly nine days apart. Is that a clue or just a strange coincidence?
Soon, a rather unconventional female FBI agent by the name of Rowena Ravenwood joins the detective to help solve the case. She’s an expert in the field of paranormal phenomena and she suspects the perpetrator in this case may be dangerously knowledgeable in the occult arts and ritual magick. Kane doesn’t believe a word of it but he seems to be stuck with her and her weird ideas whether he likes it or not.
Eventually, a suspect rises up out of the mire of perplexing clues and it turns out he’s the leader of a death-metal rock band. But is he really the killer? What about the other suspect? The one who heads up an occult group called The Brotherhood of Baphomet? His past association with the infamous Charlie Manson of “Helter-Skelter” fame does cast him in a suspicious light. And what is the disturbing secret that detective Kane is holding so close to his chest?
Or is none of this what it seems to be? Indeed, are these deaths even really homicides? Is this a murder case or isn’t it? No fingerprints, no eyewitnesses, no signs of struggle, no weapons. There is one thing, however. Those black plastic Batman coins that are found stuffed into the mouth of each “victim”. What is that all about?
Ravenwood thinks she knows. But, to be certain, she’ll have to risk her life, not to mention her very sanity, should she manage to survive. She’s uncovered a clue that leads her to believe a bloody carnage of unimaginable horror is about to be unleashed upon the world as the offspring of the fabled “Old Ones” are awakened from their ancient slumber.
The survival of the entire human race hangs in the balance and the amount of time to stop this from happening is running short. All Hell is about to break loose and, according to Special Agent Ravenwood, that’s not just a figure of speech.
PAPERBACK (U.S.) $12.95 - http://amzn.com/1478314192
PAPERBACK (U.K.) £9.95 - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1478314192
I’m currently working on a series of short stories (almost novelettes, actually) for a series called Twisted Tales From The Files Of The Second Chance Limousine Service. When asked what they’re like, I say think Twilight Zone. Two of those stories (“A Bite Out Of Time” and “Atonement”) are currently available in Kindle format from amazon.com for 99¢ each.
A BITE OUT OF TIME -- http://amzn.com/B002OHD2CK
ATONEMENT -- http://amzn.com/B00AZISY14
When did you start writing? I think the first story I ever wrote was when I was about 12 years old. It was a sci-fi story called The Beam From Saucer-X. It was really good, too. I know that because my mom told me so.
But it wasn’t until I was about 15 or 16 that I started to really become interested in creative writing. There were two authors that pretty much kick-started that interest. First was Edgar Allan Poe and then H. P. Lovecraft. I think the first Poe story I read was The Telltale Heart. I was immediately hooked. I read everything by Poe that I could get my hands on.
Why do you write? Because I don’t have a life? No, that’s not entirely true. However, it seems the more I write the more true it becomes. But the serious answer is that I think, to some extent, it has something to do with my life long dream of being a screenwriter, an actor and a movie director. Since those things didn’t come to pass, I’ve sort of incorporated all of them into writing novels and short stories. I get to write the story, direct the action and play all the parts.
What would be your choice for a superpower?It would have to be to fly like Superman. I get to do that in my dreams sometimes. It’s awesome.
Who is your favorite author? Oh, man. I guess if I had to pick one I’d say my favorite since 2003 has been Dan Brown. I’ve read everything he’s published so far.
What are you reading now? I’m reading two indie books right now. One is an outstanding true story for which I had the pleasure of designing the cover. It’s called Scoundrels In Paradise. The author is Scott Adlai Stevenson, the cousin of the former ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson. Scott led an a nefarious life of high adventure on an international scale as a drug smuggler. The stories he tells are incredible.
The other book is The Rosaries by indie author, Sandra Carrington-Smith. It’s the sequel her first novel, The Book of Obeah which is currently being made into a movie.
Who is your favorite character to write? Usually the main character of what ever story I happen to be working on at any given time.
Do you have a writing process? I don’t really have a “process” in terms of something that I follow rigidly. I’m what has been called an “organic” writer. I just get an idea, I know basically how it will begin and I usually have at least a vague idea how it will end and I just jump right in and start writing. More often than not, the ending of the story is not what I originally thought it might be. But, for me, that’s part of the fun. As the characters grow and the plot takes on new dimensions that I hadn’t foreseen, I get really pumped to see where it’s going to go next. I also tend to edit as I go.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Don’t be intimidated by people who might doubt your talent or ability. As the Nike slogan said: Just Do It! But learn all you can from reading authors that you like and try to figure out what it is you like about their writing. You might find yourself copying something of their style but eventually you’ll come into your own. Also––and this is really important––get a good book on how to edit your work. There are several good books on the subject. I always recommend “Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How To Edit Yourself Into Print” by Browne and King. I found it to be an excellent book on the subject, easy to read and comprehend and filled with valuable tips. I wish I’d had it when I wrote my first novel. It would have made a big difference in the final product. Whatever you do, be sure your book is edited before you have it published and out on the market. If you can’t afford to hire a professional editor (many of us can’t) then do it yourself. But, if you do it yourself, approach it like it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do in your life. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But even if you hate every minute of it, JUST DO IT! Read the book I mentioned above (or one like it) and soak up every little morsel you find in those pages. Take it seriously because it’s one of the most important aspects of the whole process. Believe me and every other author whose been around the block, if your book is full of misspelled words, missing letters, missing quotation marks, missing periods, missing commas, awkward sentences, massive paragraphs that fill an entire page, too many exclamation marks, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… you’ll hear about it from your readers when they post their scathing 1 and 2-star reviews on amazon. And remember this: If you edit it once, and you think it’s perfect, you’re probably wrong. You missed something. I can just about guarantee that. You probably missed several things. Go through it again and then go through it again. Yeah, I know. It sucks. But it’s worth it in the end.
What inspired you to pursue writing?I always seemed to just have the desire. It was there when I was just a young kid and never went away. Many times, throughout my school years, some of my teachers recognized my talent and encouraged me to keep at it. Those words of encouragement were huge inspirations.
What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing? I’m mesmerized by the serial-killer drama called “The Following” with Kevin Bacon. My other “must watch” TV show is “Castle”. I love the humor and the relationship between Castle and Beckett. I’m also a fan of “Nashville” and “Smash”. Having been a musician (singer/songwriter) in the past, I can relate to those shows. So, of course, I’m also a big fan of American Idol and The Voice. Love seeing those young folks getting a chance to do what they love and maybe go on to fame and fortune.
Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!
All of my work can be found on AMAZON -- Kindle versions here
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