Today is the final day of Coffin Hop 2012, so I figured what better way to end it all than with an interview with Patrick Greene, author of the new release Progeny. Let’s get to it! Welcome Patrick, why don’t you introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.
I’m a handsome, intelligent Renaissance Man, happy to share my prodigious talents with millions of discerning intellectuals who have great taste in horror literature. I write screenplays, short stories and most recently a novel titled PROGENY – about a terrifying siege by sasquatches upon a recluse and a group of hunters. I also have a story in the upcoming Hobbes End anthology The Endlands Volume 2 – alongside my oldest son Deklan!
Tell us about your writing process?
Generally it goes thusly: Drinkin’. Then, an insane idea pops into my head and I rush to write it in my notebook before I forget it. This usually happens when I’m already knee-deep in another project, so as I finish that one and get ready to begin something new, I dig into the notebook and see what strikes my fancy. (My notebook is pretty full-it’ll take a few decades to get to all of those concepts.) Being that I write both screenplays and fiction prose, what happens next depends on which option I choose for that particular idea. In either case, I will first begin creating characters — giving them histories, motives, etc. and decide what general purpose they will serve in the story. Then: drinkin’.
Next is a series of ever more detailed synopses, outlines and rambling conceptualizations to make this new world begin to grow inside my head like a suspense – driven form of brain mold. Once I’m confident that the story will come together — and sometimes even before I have a good climax in mind – I will start writing. I’m pretty excited about it by then, and chewing at the bit to get at the business of manifesting the events I’ve envisioned.
Sometimes, I go right ahead and jump into it before it’s too well-fleshed, because it’s just fun to be surprised by where the story goes. As any writer will tell you, the characters eventually start designing their own fates (as us “real” folk do) – and all you can do is chronicle the events. I don’t like being TOO prepared — doesn’t feel organic and it’s not nearly as entertaining. I feel that if you don’t enjoy writing, if you don’t find yourself invested in the characters and their actions, you shouldn’t be doing it; you will serve no purpose except to clutter bookshelves and take up valuable time that readers could have spent immersed in something more worthy of their money and attention.
While I’m writing, I might have some metal, dark ambient or suspenseful music playing — or sometimes just television. For some reason, a little noise actually helps me focus.
When the story becomes TOO involving-to the point where I’m neglecting the so-called real world, I’ll take a few days off, at least until that inner voice has become so insistent that it wants to explode from me. Then comes re-writes, which can either be terribly tedious or a great opportunity to pat myself on the back. After that — drinkin’.
You may just be the most organized author I have come into contact with. That’s quite the ritual… Moving along, is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
I co-wrote a comedy with my partner Lisa Brennan a few years back. Going in, I was very insecure; I never really believed that I was adept at humor. Working with Lisa, who was a veteran of a couple of earlier comedies, gave me an opportunity to take a stab at the genre with the luxury of having Lisa’s discerning comedic eye through which I could filter my attempts. I gained a lot of confidence with that experience. To better answer the question; I believe the action genre has become entirely too predictable and I’d love to take a stab at creating a truly surprising action piece.
Comedy is notoriously difficult to write, but I do see the appeal of it. Tell us about the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?
As a martial artist and artist in general, I was tremendously influenced by Bruce Lee’s Tao Of Jeet Kune Do. Far from being just a manual of techniques, the volume is a collection of his thoughts and drawings on a variety of topics, including philosophy. It’s also a fascinating peek into the mind of an intensely driven and creative individual, from whom new ideas were constantly flowing.
Of course, Stephen King’s On Writing is pretty vital. I haven’t looked at it in a while, but only because I still so vividly remember many of the nuggets of wisdom that allowed for what I feel were light years of improvement in my own writing abilities.
In terms of fiction; I discovered Clive Barker when I was in my late teens and rapidly worked my way through most of his work. My favorite among them would have to be The Great and Secret Show. That work is so layered, so baroque in its mesmerizing madness — like most of Barker’s work — it’s like taking a trip to another world.
Back to King: anyone who writes horror could probably fill their top five with any random sampling of his works-but for me, the real standout is Carrie. I think that’s because it came from a time when King was really sort of striking out as a writer and taking on something that was fairly close to his own experiences. It just rings so passionately, like he drew a great deal from personal experience rather than from that collection of stock characters that we all build for ourselves. Further, there is something there with which most of us can relate–feeling like an outcast, or having a deep and secret fear that we are an alien among our fellow humans.
Edward Lee’s book City Infernal stays with me; it has a great sense of black humor, a well-drawn world (Hell!) and plenty of gore and sex.
Great choices Patrick. If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?
I’ll have to admit, I’m something of an egotist and an actor, so I would obviously be my first choice to play characters who are based on idealized versions of myself anyway. 🙂 Actually, Henry Rollins is a favorite actor and musician of mine; having him play any character would be a huge honor. Christopher Walken — need I say more about him? He would be perfect for the titular character of my screenplay GENOCIDE CLYDE. Charlize Theron is such a captivating performer, as is Jennifer Aniston. She should do a horror film (we won’t mention “Leprechaun”) just for range — specifically one of mine, of course.
Those are some pretty great choices and I have to admit that Walken would be one of my choices should I ever get the chance to cast one of my own works. We all know the best way to have your book made into a movie would be to have it gain enough popularity and notoriety on a best-sellers list. What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
Probably not all that much differently. Put on some metal of course, then start making a lot of thank you calls–because I’m far from the the only one involved in creating a success out of my work. Writers would do well to remember that everyone from our families to our publishers to the reader is responsible for any degree of success we may enjoy. Then? Then I’d make “them” all pay for mocking me…oh yes I would.
Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?
I may have mentioned drinkin’, but actually I jest — mostly. All things in moderation. I’m something of a fitness buff, so I like to hit the gym to get the ol’ endorphins flowing. Bad movies and video games are excellent distractions. I love the Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat games. Caffeine is a recent addition to my diet, with which I’m now trying to find my boundaries.
The only caffeine I drink is the odd Coke Zero – even my tea is decaffeinated, so I do understand the necessary boundaries that need to be made. What do you do when you’re not writing Patrick?
There’s the gym of course-martial arts and weight lifting are long standing passions of mine – and I occasionally get involved in paranormal or cryptozoological expeditions. I’ve been to a couple of investigations of haunted sites and once spent the night along with my brother Egan in the South Carolina swamp where the Lizard Man is said to lurk! I can’t say I’ve encountered anything all that unusual — or have I? I’m not much of a socialite – I live in a pretty rural spot, not unlike the main character of Progeny, and I do some hiking and just wandering around in the woods. I like to hang out with my brilliant wife and kooky eleven year old son Gavin, who has somehow gained the ability to beat me at video games I was playing before he was even born. This can only be the work of the devil.
I try to spread the word about a couple of charities when I can. Scares That Care is a foundation that raises money for families who cannot afford to pay for their children’s medical care. They are always auctioning off cool autographed photos, posters and other memorabilia. The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund is another. He was a great performer who really got me into metal and always gave back. With this great charity, his wife Wendy continues to do so by helping those who are afflicted as he was . Jackie Chan has a charity called The Dragon’s Heart Foundation that does so many great things, everything from building schools to bringing food and love to the elderly of China. I’m privileged to have this opportunity to call attention to each of them.
Great charities Patrick! Now it’s time for the fun part… Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.
No title yet, and it’s actually only eight lines, but–prepare yourself; here it is!
Liv huffed her exasperation, blowing a longish red strand from her field of vision. She expected something like this to come along eventually–somehow it always did. But she had at least hoped to get settled in to her new town and job for a week or so before dealing with any drama.
The clear leader was hardly scruffy at all. In fact, Liv would have wagered he was clean cut, even handsome underneath his day-glo orange ski mask–except for the bad teeth. His weapon of choice, a shiny snub-nosed .38, was a good choice, easy to wave around and direct traffic.
The sweaty, swarthy one had chosen a lime green ski mask and a scratched and scarred sawed-off ten gauge, while the third and final member of the hold up gang sported an unwieldy hunting rifle and what appeared to be a ragged piece of a sky-blue windbreaker wrapped around all but his eyes.
“Ever’ body getcher fuckin’ hands in the air so we don’t have to give ya no lead poison!”
Awesome! Can’t wait to find out what it’s for! if you’re looking for something of Patrick’s that you can sink your teeth into right now, here’s a sneak peek of Progeny…
Owen Sterling is a reclusive author living in a secluded house deep in the woods. When he welcomes his son Chuck for a summer visit, the eleven-year-old suspects something is not right at his father’s home. His worries mount when he witnesses a confrontation between his father and some local hunters. Zane Carver is the local gun-shop owner who confronts the author over Owen’s refusal to let anyone on his land for hunting or camping. He defies the recluse, taking a hunting party onto Owen’s property. Soon, Zane and his buddies discover the writer’s secret . . . a deadly secret; a creature whose infinite rage they have unwittingly ignited . . . that is now hunting them.
Don’t forget to join me next week when I interview the exceptional William Butler.