Wednesday, October 28, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: AMONG THE STACKS: Greg F. Gifune


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Greg.  Welcome to The Gal.  I really appreciate you being a part of The Gal's 31 Days of Horror.
            A little background story on this interview for my readers before we get started.  Poor Greg has actually taken this interview twice.  Some "stuff" happened a couple of days ago and somehow he lost all the answers, then had to do the whole thing over again.  I've done this and I totally get it.  But, considering he'd already done it once, and was probably irritated as hell when he did it the second time, he has really given us a lot of information.  (Kinda reminds me of Ian McClellan's short story from yesterday.)
            I'm going to do things a little differently and start with the hard question, Greg.  What are five things most people don't know about you?  

Greg F. Gifune:
1. Although I have my share of demons and have a dark and brooding side, and can sometimes be very intense, I also love to laugh, love comedy and can often be very silly.  Anyone who knows me well does know this about me, but many people that don't know me are often surprised by this side of me.

2. I was a very rebellious teenager, and went to four different high schools.  I was thrown out of three of them (one of them twice) before managing to graduate senior year as an honor roll student.  Despite my turnaround and previous acting experience, the college I had always wanted to attend, Emerson (in Bostom), passed on me due to my issues, so I continued my education elsewhere, then moved to New York City to pursue my dreams of writing and acting.

3. I fell in love with my wife the moment I saw her (even though prior to that I never believed such a thing was possible).  When I saw her across a room, I said to a friend of mine at the time, "See that girl over there?  I'm going to marry her one day."  Almost eight years later, I did.

4. I worked in a number of industries before writing and editing full-time.  At one time, several years ago, I was a successful professional wrestling and live entertainment/concert promotor operating all over the country.  I also worked in the radio field for a brief period, as both an on-air talent and producer.  Also a trained actor, I began studying and working in that field as a kid, worked in theater for several years and appeared in numerous productions.  My last acting gig was in a television commercial, where I played a motorist trapped in traffic so long I gradually turned into a skeleton.  Not long after that, I more or less walked away from acting to focus exclusively on my writing.

5. Although I tend to be private about it, I'm a very spiritual person.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Greg F. Gifune:
A children's book called Miss Suzie.  It was about a squirrel and her family.  Before I could read, my mother read it to me numerous times because it was my favorite book.  My parents were teachers, so I was already able to read by the time I started school, and when I was first able to read on my own, the first book I read was that one.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Greg F. Gifune:
Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Greg F. Gifune:
I never decided to write.  I've always been a writer.  Even before I could write, I always had stories knocking around in my head.  I'd dictated stories to my sister (she's seven years older than I am) and she'd write them down for me and even illustrate them sometimes.  And when I could write, it changed from storytelling to writing (crude as it may have been at the time), and that was an important shift (and it's an important distinction).  As a kid I was always scribbling down notes and stories.  I got my first typewriter (yes, I'm old) when I was about nine.  I taught myself how to type and spent a lot of my free time as a kid writing.  It's always been part of me.  I don't remember ever not doing it.  I was a kid that always knew what we he wanted to do, and I expressed myself a lot through writing.  Later, as an adult, when I decided to try to write professionally, I worked very hard, learned as much as I could, honed my craft (and continued to do so and always will) and after a long stretch of rejection and failure, slowly started to break through and have some success.  Gradually it came together, and I was eventually able to write and edit for a living, and I've never looked back.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Greg F. Gifune:
I have an office in our home.  I almost always write there.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Greg F. Gifune:
Several, none of which I share.  Sorry.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Greg F. Gifune:
I think the entire process is challenging.  I'm definitely in the Dorothy Parker camp in that I don't get a great deal of joy from writing, but love having written.  I love the end result, but the process is often torturous for me.  I envy people who say they have fun writing.  I'm not really familiar with that.  Like method acting, I tend to method write, so I get pretty deep into it and use a lot of my own experiences to pull emotions and memories while writing, so it's not always pleasant.  Also, once you reach a certain level, some people don't quite grasp that there's a fair amount of money involved and an investment in you and your work and that 'fun' isn't really an easy part of the equation.  It's still art, but it's also a business.  Your livelihood (as well as the livelihoods of other people) is involved, so there's a great deal more pressure, and that can often be quite daunting.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have lost inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Greg F. Gifune:
Too many to list.  Also, I don't like to do lists because I always forget someone or leave something out.  Suffice to say, a lot of books inspired me, and many writers did (and have) as well.  I can tell you this, though.  Both lists are VERY diverse.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Greg F. Gifune:
Quality writing.  Also characters, conflict and emotion, as long as all three are honest.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Greg F. Gifune:
I don't know if I do love a lot of characters.  I suppose there are some I'm very fond of and might even love, but I don't think about it from that angle, so I'd say I don't utilize that at all when creating characters.  I want my characters to be honest and interesting.  I want them to be people rather than characters.  Everything else they may or may not be is born from those things.  I don't care if I, or even the reader, loves or likes a character or if they can personally relate to them or not.  I just want my characters to be interesting and real.  If I can achieve that, the rest takes care of itself.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Greg F. Gifune:
Most of them have at least some aspects of me, but if I have to name a few, I'd say Alan Chance in The Bleeding Season is a lot like me.  Stan Falk in Devil's Breath is, too.  Cameron Horne in Rogue and I have a lot of similarities.  The sorrow and torment that exists in both Marcus in Gardens of Night and Dignon in Blood in Electric Blue exists in me on some level, so I'd have to include them as well.  There's Phil in Children of Chaos, too.  I'm probably more like him, in terms of personality, than I'd like to admit.  But as I say, I could likely find portions of myself in most of my characters.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Greg F. Gifune:
Sure, usually.  As for my involvement in them, depends on the publisher.  Sometimes they ask/want my input and opinions on the cover, sometimes not.  Luckily most of the publishers I've worked with over the years have outstanding art departments and have done great covers I've been very pleased with.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Greg F. Gifune:
That I have a decided lack of talent for answering this kind of question with any amount of enthusiasm or level of accuracy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Greg F. Gifune:
Many of the scenes I write are difficult, but the hardest (at least so far) was definitely the sexual assault scene in my novel Gardens of Night.  That took me three solid weeks of eight and nine hour days working it, writing it and rewriting it and getting it exactly where it needed to be.  And that was really the thing.  It wasn't about what I wanted as much as it was about what it needed to be.  It had to be horrific and brutal and explicit, but without in any way being titillating or gratuitous.  The brutality and abject cruelty of that scene was very difficult for me to write.  I don't usually go that far, but I knew that's where it needed to go, it's what the novel called for and where that raw honesty was, so that's where I went.  Writing Gardens was such a harrowing experience anyway, I was going through one of the darkest times of my life (and trust me, that's saying something) when I wrote it, and it was about the absolute (and I mean absolute) destruction of a person, and that scene was a pivotal part of that.  It was an awful experience (not just that scene, but writing the entire novel), but it also turned out to be somewhat cathartic as well, and while it was rough going, I'm very proud of that novel, and I think it's some of my best work.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Greg F. Gifune:
You'd probably be better off asking readers that question, but I guess it could be that my work tends to go a little deeper and is more existential than many in the genre.  Could be that I'm very meticulous about the writing and tend to write as much about emotions and depth of characters as I do plot.  But you'd have to ask readers, as I suspect they'd know better than I.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard it is to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers?

Greg F. Gifune:
Titles are extremely important.  They generally just come to me, usually very early on (if not beforehand) and rather easily, honestly.  When it's right, I know it, I feel it, and choose accordingly.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Greg F. Gifune:
If I understand what you mean by fulfilled, I'd say a novel.  I wrote short stories for years before I even attempted a novel, and it not only taught me how to be efficient and tight with my prose, but it led me to understand that novels and short stories are very different animals, as different as a poem and a song, for example.  They're similar but different (particularly from a technical standpoint, but often from an essence angle as well).  They both come with their challenge and rewards.  It was at times very fulfilling writing short fiction, but I think for me, I get more out of working in the novel and novella realm.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Greg F. Gifune:
Most of my books are readily available where books are sold and as I've been a published novelist for more than a decade now and tend to be fairly prolific, I  have quite a bit of work out there.  Each one has its own story and life, so I would encourage readers who aren't familiar with my work to go look into it and see if any of it appeals to them.  As for a target audience, I don't write with a specific group or type of person in mind.  I don't even consider myself a genre or horror writer, really.  I don't shy away from that or see anything wrong with it, don't misunderstand, I just don't think ti's a necessary or even accurate label for me.  I'm just a writer.  I write what I need to write and it falls wherever it falls.  I'm proud that I have a very diverse readership.  A lot of readers tell me, for example, that they don't read horror or dark fiction normally, but they read me.  So, I get both regular readers of dark fiction (and I appreciate them immensely), as well as some who don't normally read that kind of thing, and that's very satisfying as well.  Having a diverse readership tells me that I must be doing something right, as I'm reaching lots of different people, and that's a nice feeling.  I think in terms of what readers should take from my work, it's not really for me to say or dictate.  I believe an artist should create the art and then allow those who come to it to experience it however they see fit.  I don't explain a lot of my work or try to write it in a way that tells people how they should feel or what it has to mean to them.  That's for them to decide, and I think it's that subjective experience that (hopefully) makes it powerful.  I can say that if you break most of my work down to the bone, you'll find that I essentially write love stories.  Twisted and dark love stories, but love stories nonetheless.  My work tends to be layered and about many things, but love is almost always one of them.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Greg F. Gifune:
Lots of things end up cut out - sometimes even characters - but I always use them somewhere else or in some other project.  I very rarely ever delete something and never use it.  So I can't really give you examples because, while I have certainly cut numerous things from various projects, that deleted material ends up plugged into some other project.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Greg F. Gifune:
What the hell is extra time?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect form you in the future?

Greg F. Gifune:
Right now I have some new novels out, including Devil's Breath and Orphans of Wonderland, readers can check out on Amazon and at B&N and elsewhere, and I have a few novels coming out next year, including one from DarkFuse called Babylon Terminal I'm very proud of, and also one coming from Sinister Grin Press I can't go into detail on yet, but I'm working on now.  I also have a novella coming out in the novella anthology I Am the Abyss from Dark Regions in 2017, very happy to be a part of that and to be appearing with some amazing talent in that one.  Got some other things coming as well, including the Eric Shapiro film adaptation of my short story Hoax, which should be out next year.  Many other exciting things happening and doing down the road, too, just can't talk about them  yet.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Greg F. Gifune:
Depending on the day and time, there are a couple local bars that are generally a good bet.  Otherwise, my official website is currently being redesigned so it's down for a while, but I'm on Facebook and Twitter and very say to find online, so come say hi.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks again for stopping by today, Greg.  It was definitely a pleasure. :)
            Before you go, do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Greg F. Gifune:
Thanks for having me.  And thank you to all my friends, fans and readers all over their world for their continued support.  You all mean the world to me, and I appreciate your support more than you know.  Thanks also to the various publishers I work for and their continued efforts to get my work out to the masses.


About the author:
Greg F. Gifune is a best-selling, internationally-published author of several acclaimed novels, novellas and two short story collections.  Called "The best writer of horror and supernatural 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 author 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 WeeklyLibrary JournalKirkus and others, is consistently praised by readers and critics alike, and has garnered attention from Hollywood.  His novel The Bleeding Season, originally published in 2003, has been hailed as a classic of the genre and is considered to be one of the best horror/thriller novels of the decade.  In 2015, his short story Hoax will be adapted to film, will star Rodney Eastman (Nightmare on Elm Street series, I Spit on Your Grave remake) and will be directed by Eric Shapiro (The Rule of Three).  Also a respected editor with years of experience in the field in a variety of positions, Greg is presently on hiatus from his position as Senior Editor at DarkFuse and at work on several projects.  He resides in Massachusetts with his wife Carol, a bevy of cats and two dogs, Dozer and Bella.  He can be reached online via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

About the books:

Orphans of Wonderland
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication date: 3.3.2015
Pages: 258

Pray it's only paranoia.
            Twenty years ago, journalist Joel Walker wrote a book about a ritual killing.  It exploded into a bestseller and became part of the mass Satanic hysteria of the 1980s.  However, his story and the evil he investigated were real and left him the victim of a nervous breakdown.
            For the last two decades, his has been a quiet existence far from his former home in Massachusetts.  But when one of his childhood friends is brutally murdered and rumored to have been involved in bizarre medical experiments, Joel is lured back to find out what really happened.
            Joel must delve deep into the darkness once more, investigating all the way back to his own childhood, and the secrets he and his old friends buried there years ago.  But where do paranoia and madness end and real evil begin?  With the Orphans of Wonderland.

Devil's Breath
Genre: Horror
Publisher: DarkFuse
Publication date: 7.7.2015
Pages: 190

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 that 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 know

The Bleeding Season
Genre: Horror, Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Delirium Books
Publication date: 10.30.2007
Pages: 339

Alan, Tommy, Rick, Donald and Bernard were best friends living in a small, coastal town.  Their world was simple and happy until the day Tommy was killed.  Years later, Bernard commits suicide.
            Within weeks of Bernard's death, several mutilated bodies are found in town.  The three remaining friends attempt to solve the riddle of Bernard's suicide and come to realize that he may have been a savage ritual killer, a bleeder of young women.
            To find the truth about Bernard, they must delve into the darkness that cradles an unspeakable evil so terrifying it could forever trap them in the shadows of the damned and shatter the very concept of their existence.

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