Thanks for talking us with us, Greg. JournalStone is republishing a number of your previous books, as well as a new one called Midnight Gods. Could you start off by telling us a little bit about Midnight Gods?
GREG F. GIFUNE:
My pleasure, thanks for having me. Midnight Gods is kind of interesting in that it’s one of the few times I’ve written something directly in response to what’s happening in the world at the moment. Generally novel and novella ideas and concepts sit in my head for long periods of time before I write them. MG was different. It came to me as a whole cloth sort of thing rather quickly, and I just sat down and wrote it. Essentially it’s about fear, and how it manifests in different people, and how it can spread like a disease, something contagious. We’re living in a frightening time right now, and fear is being used, very purposely and purposefully, as a weapon from many sides. If we allow it to overcome us, what’s on the other side of that? What would the physical and metaphysical embodiment of that look like? What would that experience entail and how deep down the rabbit hole might it take us? Though I wouldn’t classify it as a vampire tale, there is an underlying vampyric element to it, which serves as a great metaphor for fear and the way it bites you, feeds on you then leaves you to do the same to others, thereby spreading the affliction. These are the themes MG examines, woven into the story of a young couple involved in a hit-and-run after encountering a strange man on their way home from a party, and the ways in which their entire existence is shattered by this event and the events that follow. The film rights have already sold on this one, and it will be a feature film directed by Eric Shapiro that should begin production next year.
HN: JournalStone is also re-releasing several of your previous books. So far Children of Chaos and The Bleeding Season are available, with more to come over the next year (including Orphans of Wonderland, Deep Night, Babylon Terminal, and Rogue). What’s it’s like to see these books again, particularly as The Bleeding Season is celebrating its 15th Anniversary?
GFG: It’s wonderful. I couldn’t be happier to see them find a new home with Journalstone, and the release particularly of The Bleeding Season 15th Anniversary Edition is fantastic. It’s really the novel that put me on the map, so to speak, all those years ago, and except for a brief period, it has remained in print ever since. Over the years it has developed a rather rabid cult following all over the world (it’s been released in a German language edition, and next year will be released in a Russian language edition for the first time), and to have it celebrated with an anniversary issue and to have people like my friends and colleagues Ron Malfi and Eric Shapiro be kind enough to be a part of it by penning a new introduction and afterword, means a great deal to me. I’m thrilled to see all these novels out there again and finding new readers.
HN: It would, of course, be too gauche to ask you to pick a favorite, but with so many books to choose from, it might help new readers to have some sort of guide. Is there a particular one that you would recommend as an introduction to your work? Is there one that might be a bit of a departure, but good way of seeing your other sides?
GFG: The Bleeding Season is probably the best place to start. In terms of a departure, there are a couple that fit. Babylon Terminal is one. Savages is another. BT is a very surreal (even for me) piece about a land of dreams and those who inhabit the dreams of the living, and how when those people try to run from their world to ours, they are stopped by people called Dreamcatchers. BT is the story of a Dreamcatcher called Monk, who is a by-the-book kind of guy and very violent, but then his wife runs and he has to find her before anyone else does. The result is a journey into the unknown outside the city they inhabit. It’s actually a blend of many genres, and has been compared to Blade Runner. It’s very dark but also hopeful. Savages is an homage to the pulp fiction and drive-in movies of the 70s I love. About a group of people stranded on a desert island in the Pacific, but they are not alone. Lots of fun and got a very strong reaction and has done quite well for the publisher (Sinister Grin). I’m hoping to do a sequel at some point. I also write in the crime genre, and have for years. So my novels like Dangerous Boys, Saying Uncle, and Night Work would be departures if you’re used to reading my horror work.
HN: Of these books, are there one or that are more personal to you or otherwise have particular importance?
GFG: All my work is personal, or I can’t write it. There are varying degrees, of course, but they all fall under that banner. I would say The Bleeding Season is right up there, as is my latest horror novel A Winter Sleep. The novels Deep Night and Dangerous Boys are also very personal works.
HN: In the past, you’ve had some very interesting thoughts on what it means to write within a genre, particularly horror. These days, do you see yourself as “horror writer” or do you define yourself differently? Has your view changed over the course of your career?
GFG: To be honest, I’ve never really labeled myself. If other people want or need to do that it’s fine, I have no objection, but I just consider myself a writer. Whatever category my work falls into at any given time, fine, I have no issue with that. I work primarily in the crime and horror genres, but I don’t consider myself a crime or horror writer specifically, just a writer. My views haven’t really changed much on that since I started out. I write whatever I need to write and it falls into whatever category people want or need to place it.
HN: On the occasion of these re-releases, when you look back at books that were written over the course of years, do you notice any ways that you have changed as an author? Has your writing process changed, or do you notice that certain themes or styles of storytelling have shifted between your earliest and most recent work?
GFG: I hope I’ve improved and continue to. I think writing is an ongoing process, regardless of resume. I’m always striving to be better and always will be, even though I know I’ll never reach the summit, because there isn’t one. In terms of process specifically, it hasn’t really changed much, but in a practical way it has a little. At the start of my career I had the luxury of working on a single project at a time. I haven’t had that luxury now in several years. That required a slight shift in my process and how I approached multiple projects at the same time. It took me a while to get it right and to a place where I was comfortable with it, but it was a difficult transition for me. Now I’m used to juggling several projects at once, but other than that, the actual process from there has remained the same for me. I tend to method write, so it’s a draining and enveloping process. Learning to do that while shifting from one piece to another is really the only process change I’ve made. In terms of themes, I’m likely still dealing with some of the same themes (but hopefully in different ways), while also introducing new ones to the mix. Those things that lured me or fascinated me or I needed to purge or examine as a catharsis at the beginning of my career, are still a lot of the same demons I wrestle with now, so while I hope I’ve grown and expanded and continue to, I think many of the themes an author truly wages war with through the writing (and for me, at least, that’s what it is) remain, at least to some degree, consistent. The key is in the approach, and ultimately, the execution.
HN: Who are your influences, both within the literary world and beyond? Keeping with the theme of retrospection, do you see your influences as having remained steady or changing throughout your career? Who are some current authors or other artists that you admire?
GFG: I don’t want to come off difficult on this one, but I’m asked this a lot and I never really answer the question. I don’t want to forget anyone, so I don’t do lists, but suffice to say there have been many influences. In terms of current authors or artists I admire, same thing. There are many, and I won’t list them because I know I’ll forget someone.
HN: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you for advice on behalf of our readers. As a successful and prolific author, do you have some words of wisdom for our readers who are also writing?
GFG: Learn your craft. Study it. Work it. Always keep learning. Always keep pushing to be better and to learn more, to hone your craft. Be the best writer you can be. Worry about that instead of being published, and the publishing part will likely come. It’s hard work, and it’s an art, yes, but it’s also a craft. Respect that. Respect the work. Respect the profession. Don’t let rejection get you down. Keep moving forward and keep learning until you’re so good publishers won’t be able to say no. Anyone can hit a button today and be “published.” I personally have nothing against self-publishing, but I don’t recommend it (except for some instances where already established writers do it). Failure is good. It’s invaluable. It’s what makes you better. Don’t be afraid of it. Use it to make you stronger, and better. Success in this business is often a long and frustrating journey, and this business can be brutal. But in the end, if you earn it, it’s worth it.
HN: Finally, what’s coming up on your horizon? Not just what’s coming out next, but also what ideas are you playing with that maybe haven’t been worked out yet – can you give us both something concrete and something abstract to anticipate?
GFG: Many exciting things happening. Many new projects I’m working on, novels, novellas, some screenplays and film projects coming up as well. Got one project being shopped around Hollywood as a TV series, and some other things in the works out there as well. Stay tuned and follow me on social media and you’ll be the first to know as I (and/or my publicist Erin Al-Mehairi) announces these things officially.
Greg F. Gifune is a best-selling, internationally-published author of several acclaimed novels, novellas, and two short story collections. Working predominantly in the horror and crime genres, Greg has been called “the best writer of horror and thrillers at work today” by New York Times best-selling author Christopher Rice, “one of the best writers of his generation” by both The Roswell Literary Review and horror grandmaster Brian Keene, and “among the finest dark suspense writers of our time” by legendary best-selling author Ed Gorman. Greg’s work has been published all over the world, translated into several languages, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, and others, is consistently praised by readers and critics alike, and has garnered attention from Hollywood. Two of his short stories, “Hoax” and “First Impressions,” have been adapted to film. His novel, Children of Chaos, is currently under a development deal to be made into a television series. His novel, The Bleeding Season, originally published in 2003, has been hailed as a classic in the horror genre and is considered to be one of the best horror/thriller novels of the decade. Greg resides in Massachusetts with his wife, Carol, a few cats, and a dog named Dozer. He can be reached online at [email protected] or on Facebook and Twitter.