September 9, 2011

Interview and Giveaway with Robert J. Duperre: Author of "Silas"

This week, I have a special interview with author, Robert J. Duperre, to discuss his new novel Silas, which is available now, as part of his blog tour. On top of the interview, there is also a chance for you to win an Amazon Kindle by taking part in his trivia contest, which spans each stop on his blog tour. You'll find Question #10 on the tour down below, following the interview. But, first, here's a little information about Robert and his new book, Silas.

Bio: Robert J. Duperre is a lover of literature in all its forms. Be it horror, fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, or even romance, he delves into it all and relishes every minute of it. It is his desire to show this love of all genres by creating wide-reaching stories that defy classification, that can reach the widest possible audience.

Robert lives in northern Connecticut with his wife, the artist
Jessica Torrant, his three wonderful children, and Leonardo the one-eyed wonder yellow Lab. You can read more about Robert and his views and ideas by visiting

About Robert J. Duperre - website, facebook, twitter

About Silas: Ken Lowery is a man at odds with his life. He hates his job, is disappointed in his marriage, and feels resigned to leading a mundane existence.

That all changes when his wife brings home a rambunctious Black Labrador puppy named Silas, who forges a remarkable connection with Ken and begins to heal his inner turmoil. When some neighborhood children start to go missing, he takes it upon himself to protect those around him and is thrust into a surreal world where monsters roam. Not everything is what it seems to be, he soon discovers, including his new best friend
An Interview with Robert J. Duperre

Gef: Since you're a dog lover, at least so much as your connection with your own dog, how easily did it come to you to write this novel? 
Robert: It was easier to write this than anything else I’ve done – novels and short stories included.  The only tough part was how to tell it.  I actually struggled with that for over a year, starting and stopping constantly, until I realized I should simply tell it in first person.  After that, it took me 38 days to finish the rough draft.  As a point of reference, the first draft of The Fall, my first book, I wrote over the span of 2 years – which included a ton of plotting and constant rehashing of story ideas that just didn’t work.  With Silas, everything fell into place.  Every detail, every twist, every character trait.  I guess you could say it was the perfect storm from a writing perspective.  I’m not sure I’ll ever experience it again, though it would be nice if I did.
Gef: Considering the dark elements the book explores, were there moments of the story that you found yourself straying from for the sake of contemplating your own dog's mortality? 
Robert: No.  One of the more prominent aspects of my personality is that I want to feel everything.  If I can make myself shiver, make myself cry, or get myself angry, I keep pushing in that direction.  There were quite a few times while writing this book that I exited my studio, walked over to my wife, and sobbed for a bit.  It might sound strange, but I actually enjoy it.  I figure that if I can’t elicit emotion from myself, then the reader won’t feel it, either.  In that way, it’s no holds barred…as long as the sentiment works for the story.  (Which sometimes it does not.  I actually changed the ending of Silas quite a bit while editing, simply because I thought my second idea would work better, be more viable, than what I’d originally written.)
Gef: W.C. Fields said never to work with kids or animals, though that was with regards to film. But, how about books? Would it be fair to say there are elements to the nature of animals, particularly dogs, that offer difficulties in fiction? Or do you find them as easy to write for as for a human characters?
Robert: There are some quite obvious limitations to writing animals, especially when they’re main characters in a book.  Chief among these is communication.  There are only so many times you can say a dog barked or wagged its tail or licked a face before it begins to feel repetitive.  This was by far the toughest part of writing the book, though there is a twist in the middle that I think helps add meaning to the animal’s physical actions and reactions.  There were tons of mundane references to dog-type behavior that I ended up cutting from the final draft, and I think it works better that way.  That being said, and though I love the way the book turned out, I have a feeling this will be the last time I have an animal as a main character.

Gef: Horror tends to get a bad rap as a genre. How do you find readers react to, what I guess you might call, the dog genre? Have you found readers have preconceptions about how a book with a dog as one of the main players should play out?
Robert: I certainly think some folks have notions of the way something like this should go, which is why it’s extremely important that it’s stated in the product description just what kind of book you’re about to read.  I’ve gotten a couple reviews by folks who weren’t expecting the story to take the turns it did, though they still enjoyed the experience immensely.  “Not usually my sort of thing,” and the like.  When I look at it that way, I guess I did my job.

As for horror getting a bad rap…you’re right, it does.  Unfortunately, there are too many examples of simple hack-and-slash, gore-filled texts.  I try not to write that way.  Sure, I may have a gory scene or two, but more than anything I want to build atmosphere and empathy for the characters.  And besides, I don’t consider Silas a horror story.  It has horror elements, but also science fiction, fantasy, and human interest, as well.  If I had to define it, I’d say it’s more along the lines of a contemporary fantasy or supernatural thriller.  I only hope I haven’t pigeonholed myself as a horror writer with my zombie series so much that readers can’t see me as anything but.

Gef: You've got a penchant for recurring characters in your fiction, it would seem, as one character in Silas appears in a short story you've written, and another character is intended for a separate series of books. Is this a matter of connecting your works into a broader context, or do you just get attracted to certain characters and want to play with them in a different sandbox?

Robert: It’s a combination of both, really.  The first character you mentioned – the one who shows up in my short story, Sins of Our Fathers, I added after the first draft was finished.  He’s been in my head for a long time, and actually figures prominently in another two (unpublished) short stories I’ve written.  But he’s not a main player, just someone I use as a sort of guardian angel for certain characters who need guidance.  The second character you mention, however, is different.  I wrote Silas specifically to have a duel purpose – to tell the tale of a man on the edge who goes on a fantastic adventure with his dog, and to act as an introduction of to the protagonist in my next series.  So I guess you could call this book a prequel, though it does stand on its own.

That being said, all of my work is connected in one way or another.  I purposefully created a world that is in fact many worlds weaved into one.  Each story I have to tell is an extension of another story I’ve either written or plan to write.  It helps each tale gain cohesion in my own head, and also acts as Easter Eggs to return readers.  

Gef: For me, my favorite dog movie might be Turner and Hooch--I know, I know--and my favorite book with a dog would have to be Dean Koontz's Watchers. Do you have a favorite book or movie with a dog as a featured character?
Robert: I did love Watchers (and Silas borrows a bit from that particular storyline), but without a doubt, Where The Red Fern Grows is my favorite all-time book involving dogs.  I read it as a child, and afterwards bawled for hours upon end.  The feelings I had while reading it have stayed with me for the rest of my life, and there aren’t many books I can say that about.

And don’t feel bad about loving Turner and Hooch.  It’s Tom Hanks and a bulldog, for crying out loud!  Pure comedy gold, I tell you.
Thank you for having me in for a chat, Gef.  It was quite fun, and I ended up learning something about my own writing that I hadn’t thought of before.  Which is always nice.

And thank you, Robert.

If anyone wants to follow along on Robert's blog tour and catch up on some of the previous guest posts and interviews, you can find all of the respective links by clicking here.

Contest Info: Answer the question of the day in the form provided and you are entered in the Kindle3 Giveaway. Questions provide contestants the chance to choose one of two answers (questions center around a playlist of songs Rob put together for Silas).  Contestants are awarded three points for the correct answer (one point for the wrong) with the chance to gather up to 45 entries by answering each question. Open US/Canada


  1. Thank you for hosting me, Gef. And the interview was really quite fun. This has been quite the experience, let me tell you.

  2. You're quite welcome, Robert. I can only imagine how these blog tours go on the author's end of things. A lot to do and digest, no doubt.

    Best of luck with Silas, as I look forward to reading it.