February 13, 2015

A Rising Tide Lifts All Books: an interview with Glen Krisch, author of "Arkadium Rising"

The Arkadium's time has come. A religious cult intent on setting history back ten thousand years, destroying modern man's domination of the planet. 

Growing up, the Grant brothers were close, but as they reached adolescence they drifted apart, taking opposite paths into adulthood. Straight-laced Jason works for a small town newspaper. Marcus is into drugs, violence, and self-destruction.

Marcus finds salvation and sobriety when he joins the Arkadium and reaches out to his brother, wanting him by his side to record the new prehistoric era, Arkadium’s era. Jason faces a choice, join his brother in the destruction of humanity, or die like one of the millions of innocents who will fall in the Arkadium's ascent.

Arkadium Rising is available on Amazon.com

Gef: What was the impetus behind your new novel, Arkadium Rising?

Glen: This story built up in my mind over the course of about twenty years, which is a considerable amount of time for an unwritten idea to stick with me.  I tend to get flashes of a story that wants to be written.  When these flashes solidify and dominate my thoughts, I begin to write.  In the case of ARKADIUM RISING, the first flash happened when I witnessed the aftermath of the Great Flood of Iowa in 1993.  That's when the Mississippi overran its banks and floodwater reached as high as ten feet in the nearby towns (do a Google image search and you'll see what I'm talking about).  The devastation was hard to see up close.  Combine that with wanting to write about the complicated love/hate relationship between two brothers, and the desire to create a fictional religious cult based on the bible, well, I realized I had the foundation for my story.        

Gef: Doomsday scenarios and cults surrounding their fruition never seem to go out of style. In the annals of history, is there one that you've found particularly fascinating/bewildering, like Heaven's Gate or Branch Davidians?

Glen: Cults are really "cults of personality."  Such cults have their own malignant gravity, and at their center, drawing everyone close, is usually a charismatic leader.  Close your eyes.  Picture the Heaven's Gate cult.  What do you see?  I picture the crazed eyes of Marshall Applewhite.  Well, that, along with the dead bodies of the cult members with their shoes sticking out from under the blankets covering them.  Picture the Branch Dividians.  I see the shaggy hair and intense eyes of David Koresh.  Another one I'll add is The Peoples Temple and Jim Jones.

I think most people have a strong desire to follow a charismatic leader.  Since it's a natural human tendency, cults of personality will never go out of style.  Sometimes that could mean people will follow someone Ghandi, or Muhammad Ali, or John Lennon.  Other times, it's Jones, Koresh, Applewhite or Hitler.

Gef: What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from your previous titles?

Glen: It's funny (or maybe unfunny, depending on your sense of empathy), but every time I start writing a new book, it feels like I have to relearn how to write.  I mean, completely, down to the very basics.  I'll find myself wondering how to string sentences together.  Then I'll have to decide what makes a good paragraph.  Eventually, somehow, I'll find my groove, and the internal machinations of the story start to knit together, start to make sense.  And then I'm off! 

With ARKADIUM RISING, I left myself with a short window in which to write it.  It wasn't my intent, but I had a rush of editing clients that needed my attention.  I wrote the book quickly (for me), but I think it taught me that I can write at a high level while taking months instead of years to complete a novel. 

Gef: Along with Journalstone publishing your work now, Cemetery Dance published your coming-of-age novel, Nothing Lasting, in the fall as well, with a limited edition coming out this spring. Does it feel like this year is a bit of a benchmark year for you, or just another day at the office?

Glen: It does seem like a benchmark year-plus for me.  I've fought for a long time to accomplish what I have in the last couple of years.  With that said, I hope that these publications are stepping stones to bigger things and a wider audience.  My recent success also coincides with me becoming a stay-at-home dad/full-time writer.  I have much more time for writing now, and I'm trying to figure out how to consistently increase my productivity without impacting the quality of my work.    

Gef: How intensive does the research process for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

Glen: Some of my books took little research.  THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN is a good example.  Other books take quite a bit.  WHERE DARKNESS DWELLS took a considerable amount of research since I had to figure out the most mundane details about living in the Great Depression.  The research phase can take years before I sit down to start a book.  As I mentioned earlier, my initial note taking for ARKADIUM RISING started in 1993.  Since then, I've written down dozens of pages of notes, and bits of dialog.  I now have enough background material for several novels.      

There is another novel that I'll eventually write that is a mixture of time travel and alternative history.  If I have a masterwork in me, it's this book.  The research books takes up a couple of shelves in my bedroom.     

Gef: What do you consider to be the strength or saving grace of the horror genre?

Glen: Its malleability.  Horror can be anything.  From its setting, to its characters, time period, etc., horror can bend and shift to the author's whim.  There are rigid rules in other genres.  In romance, there almost always has to be a "happily-ever-after" ending.  In science fiction, the science, while not necessarily needing to be scientifically accurate, needs to at least make sense.  For thrillers, you need escalating complications/consequences.  Horror is a blank canvas.  Or at least it should be.  Some authors like to stay in the cozy confines of what has already been written.  But that's a story for another day. 

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Glen: "There are no new stories to tell." 

I think this is a cop-out and gives authors permission to fall back on lazy plotting.  I hate reading the same old carbon-copy stories.  My reading and writing habits mirror one another, so I'm always striving for originality.  I might not always succeed, but that mindset plays a role in what I decide to write.  Readers in general, however, tend to reward the familiar. 

Gef: You've picked up some praise over the last few years from some established names in the game, Scott Nicholson and Brian Hodge being but two. Have either of these fellas influenced your work in some way, and who else might you consider influential writers to your way of writing?

Glen: I learned a simple narrative trick from reading an early book by Scott Nicolson.  I don't remember the specifics, but a character is in the back seat of a car, being driven around by another character.  Instead of talking about themselves, the characters talked about their intended destination.  They established the future setting while also establishing details about themselves based on how they talked about the destination.  It's really a rather routine situation, isn't it?  But for some reason, it clicked in my head.  I've since called this narrative device "triangulation".

Brian Hodge can write prose that reads like poetry.  His characters come alive, and you can really feel the menace in their lives.  That's something special.  Other influential authors?  This list changes all the time, but I can definitely include Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Dan Simmons, Tim Lebbon, Clive Barker, Joe Lansdale, John Connolly…

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

Glen: I'm somewhat averse to the term guilty pleasure.  If something gives you pleasure, why feel guilty about it?  I like what I like as far as books and movies, and I'm not ashamed about it.    

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future?

Glen: I just wrapped up a novella called THE HOLLOWED LAND.  It's connected to my Brother's Keeper world, but can be read as a stand-alone story.  I'm about to begin writing a new novel I'm tentatively calling THE VIGIL.  This story has a small scope, and I think it will actually scare people.  A big press publisher is already interested in it, so I'm hopeful.  After that… who knows?  It will depend on what story idea grabs me by the throat and demands my attention.   

Thanks for inviting me to your awesome site, Gef!

Here's where you can find me online:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004HC1K4C
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/glen.krisch
Blog: http://glenkrisch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @glenkrisch
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