With the success of his first novel PROGENY from Hobbes End Publishing, Greene became known for a brand of horror as emotional as it is terrifying, as engaging as it is suspenseful. Living at night, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife and two sons, Greene expresses his morbid interests via painting and illustration when not writing. In addition to his novels PROGENY and CRIMSON CALLING, the short story collection DARK DESTINIES, and multiple appearances in both The Endlands and Wrapped anthology series, Greene is currently hard at work on what he hopes to be a perennial Halloween favorite called THE DEATH OF OCTOBER.
Book description: Centuries after their eradication and the death of their Queen in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Vampire population now numbers in only the hundreds. A few of the remaining survivors regrouped and a High Council was born. Now a new threat has arrived: the U.S. military is not only tracking members of the council, they are attempting to create their own vampire soldiers. Enter Olivia Irons, ex Black Ops. Doing her best to live a normal civilian life, but it never feels right. No family, no friends, and trouble always seems to follow. When the Sanguinarian Council offers her the chance of a lifetime, the biggest risk of all seems like the only path left to choose. How will she answer The Crimson Calling?
Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about your writing background? My father was an author so it wasn’t unusual for me, like it is for many writers, to think it was reasonable to pick up a pen and create some worlds. I had rather elaborate play scenarios, wherein my action figures or plastic dinosaurs were engaged in elaborate, Tolkien-scale adventures lasting several days. In early grades I did pretty well with English but as adolescence set in, I became distracted as so often happens, with weightlifting, martial arts and other pursuits. I picked it back up after high school, attempting to become a screenwriter.
When did you decide you wanted to become an author? If the screenwriting counts, and I’m tempted to say it doesn’t, then it was fresh out of high school, but I really didn’t start writing prose fiction as a serious pursuit until I wrote and submitted some short stories in the mid 2000s and had a couple accepted right away. One of the accepting publishers was Hobbes End, whose principals asked if I had any novels. I then set about writing PROGENY, or rather, expanding it from a screenplay and submitted that. Once it was accepted and successful, I gladly took on the mantle of author!
Do you have another job besides writing? I do have a night job that affords me time and opportunity to write, actually.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading? I pored over dinosaur and monster books before I could read, then transitioned to comic books. I really can’t remember a time when reading wasn’t important to me. As for the kinds of things I read, well I loved the traditional superhero comics, but I actually preferred horror comics. I remember having an edition of Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula that I read a hundred times. I also inherited these books from my cousin that were by Cracked Magazine filled with black and white pictures of movie monsters with comedic captions or word balloons. I generally ignored the quips but I loved staring at those monster pictures. I read books about monster and sci-fi movies and had many issues of Famous Monsters, as well as my father’s Edgar Allan Poe books.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story. The Crimson Calling is set in a world where there is no doubt that vampires once existed, but went extinct with the middle ages. A few clusters remain here and there however, and one seeks to increase its numbers and wage war on humanity. Another hopes to establish a peaceful alliance and beat back their warlike brethren. Their only hope was a former Chinese warlord, but he’s been captured so the task falls to mortal Olivia Irons, who, after two devastating losses, is in no state to lead an army.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
There were outlined elements, but it was not nearly as clearly delineated in the early going as Progeny, or my other earlier short stories.
I need an outline, yet I find myself trying to adhere too strictly to them sometimes. A brilliant twist might present itself, but the lazy part of my brain is saying “No, too much trouble to re-work all that. Just stick to the outline.”
It’s a tightrope walk at times. Some sort of outline, even a very loose one, will reduce your trial and error phase I believe, make the process a little quicker.
What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
I catalog my experiences for sure, but I don’t tend to write them by the numbers, but rather in symbolic ways, or wildly exaggerated.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
I used to take a lot of walks and long bike rides. Still do, but not like I was doing just a few years ago. A good percentage of ideas and scenarios present themselves during that combination of physical and mental stimulation. My father told me he kept his notebook close by when he was going to bed because your subconscious starts to become active when you fade toward sleep and can release dreamlike images, so if you pay attention, inasmuch as is possible, you can find some gems in that soil.
Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
She worships the ground I tread. I am constantly inundated with ideas, poetic prose and wildly fulfilling fantasies.
From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
It seems like six years is a pretty reasonable estimate. Like many authors, I keep a notebook of short strokes; synopses or just scenarios that might find their way into a story. For THE CRIMSON CALLING, it appears I had a male protagonist in mind, and a much broader, more sweeping scope. That’s how it eventually became a planned trilogy I suppose.
The concept blurb just stewed in that notebook for a good while. But, being that I wanted to write something for my wife, and that she was a fan of vampires, it seemed to leap out at me right after I finished something; maybe Progeny. The actual writing and whipping into a submittable form was a pretty quick turnaround; maybe eight months?
Hobbes End has a pretty meticulous process I think, in making a decision and projecting the potential a book has, so that was a good few months, then another year to get to the final product.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I stop to edit only when I have hit a snag; a contradiction or redundancy. I need to stay in the flow of forward progression.
They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
They are not overly troubling to me, and that’s for one brutally simple reason: no critic or reviewer can possibly be as harsh on me in their assertions as I am on myself.
Do you have an agent? How was your experience in searching for one?
I do not have an agent. I have an associate who landed an agent over a year ago and she seems to have more frustrations now than before. I don’t have in depth knowledge of what is happening in her case, but it does look very daunting. As an actor I went through several agents during my career and while it’s a wildly different industry, in the end, the idea is the same. I have had a wonderful experience with my publishers. But it does seem like the time is coming up soon, when I will be overwhelmed without one. It’s an area of the industry in which I’m woefully uneducated.
Do you have any unusual writing quirks?
I do not. When it’s time, I sit down and write, stopping when I’ m hungry or tired.
What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?
I think there is pressure on anyone who is in such a group to find fault. No one’s work is perfect, but if you’re in the mode of finding imperfections, then you can’t be in the mode of a more forgiving kind of appreciation or immersion. You can’t see the forest for the trees. I’ve been in writer groups, made friends and learned a lot, but I feel that any opinion gleaned from them can’t be regarded as akin to what the average reader, or even publisher will see. They have different motivations for even picking up your book, and that motivation will inform their opinion.
Who is your target audience?
My wife! She has good taste in fiction though, so the rest of you freaks jump aboard too. We’ll have ourselves a blood orgy.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
I don’t really understand writer’s block. I don’t say that to be flip; I just feel that writing does itself most of the time; authors are literally just a set of moving fingers once the wheels are in motion. I have suffered from bouts of laziness or intimidation that seemed rather immobilizing but if the laptop is on and the keyboard is on front of me, something is going to start spilling out. It may or may not be great, but that’s not for me to decide anyway. I would tell writers to not even accept that term as being legitimate. Forget about writer’s block. Don’t give it energy.
How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?
Entirely positive. I started by submitting short stories for anthologies and got a few bites rather quickly. Of course, I’m still rather new at this and have managed to build a good rapport and trust with Hobbes End. I think that’s the key. Build good relationships and help others rise as well.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Well of course! www.PatrickCGreene.com
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Under Wicked Sky is finished and making the rounds. It’s a sort of dystopian siege tale, a very basic survival story, gritty and violent. Beyond that is a fun and freaky Halloween tale that I’m polishing.
As an author, what is your greatest reward?
Learning that my work has been a source of shock, fun, joy, terror, revulsion, or any extreme reaction.