I want to extend a hearty congratulations to my very good friend and fellow Seventh Star Press author, Eric Garrison on his latest novel, FOUR TIL LATE. Eric, as I write this, you’ve gotten your first shipment of print copies of FOUR ‘TIL LATE your novel. I know what a thrill it is to see ideas take solid form, but tell my readers, how do YOU REALLY feel?
Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, John!
It’s been a long road for this book. It was the one that started it all, my first novel, and yet now it’s my latest novel. It was a project done out of love and honor, as I wrote it the month after my writer uncle Chuck died in 2007. I didn’t know then that I’d be a published author a little over 5 years later, but opening that box to see the shiny trade paperbacks with gorgeous professional artwork, I felt a thrill of excitement and a burning rush of pride.
It”s been a long time coming, but this labor of love has been refined and updated and improved with editing and the experience of four other books written since then under my belt. I am PSYCHED.
I know a little about FOUR TIL LATE, but please let my readers know (in your words) what the novel is all about. I got a Supernatural meets Scooby Gang vibe. Would you agree with that assessment, or is there another more succinct description? What inspires your writing?
I think “Scooby-Doo meets Supernatural” isn’t too far off. I loved Scooby-Doo as a kid, and I am a huge fan of the Supernatural TV show today. FOUR ‘TIL LATE is a haunted road trip, as much a buddy story as it is a thriller. It stars an amateur ghost hunter named Brett who sets out on a fun trip to New Orleans with a couple of buddies, and along the way, he reignites a romance with his ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, he isn’t able to leave his hobby behind, as supernatural warnings turn into much more dangerous encounters with the paranormal world.
When it comes to ghost stories and the supernatural in general, are you more of an adherent to classic spins or do you prefer the more modern takes? Which authors inspire you, particularly with this work?
You know, I wasn’t even intending to write a ghost story to start with. FOUR ‘TIL LATE is meant to be an urban / supernatural fantasy, and I had hoped to follow in the footsteps of Charles de Lint and Jim Butcher, who are my favorite authors in that genre. I think I ended up at least somewhere between the subtler magical realism of de Lint and the high-powered urban fantasy of the Dresden tales. But as the story unfolded, it DID become a ghost story, and I was shocked when another writer friend called it horror later. I didn’t set out to write a horror story, but I’ll admit, it’s got horror elements. So yeah, there’s more of a modern influence on my writing, but if you’ve ever read any of Fritz Leiber’s darker stories, you may see a strong influence for the supernatural forces in my books. He’s just got a sort of slow, steady, driving rhythm to his storytelling that I love, and I try to emulate that when I’m building tension or unfolding the stranger parts of the story for the reader.
Is it true you’re an actual ghost hunter? Please briefly tell us one of your favorite exploits and how this undertaking effects/enhances your writing?
It’s true! My wife and I joined the Indiana Ghost Trackers in 2003. I went expecting a bunch of attention-seeking lunatics, but instead found a group of intelligent, curious, friendly people who had a sense of adventure. We both got very interested in ghost hunting and the paranormal in general and became officers in the club. Being one of the biggest skeptics in the group, I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of experimenting with equipment and analyzed evidence more closely than a lot of folks, and ended up as Trainer for both the Indy and Lafayette chapters. We left the group on 2010, but are still friends with the organization’s president and the folks we knew in our time there.
Exploits… Well, nothing specific comes up in FOUR ‘TIL LATE, but I can tell you I have some fairly accurate retellings of some ghost hunts in the third ROAD GHOSTS book, ME AND THE DEVIL, which will be coming out through Seventh Star Press later this year or early next year. Let’s see, one time, we investigated Hannah House, a notoriously haunted mansion on Indy’s South Side (where you and I will be appearing as part of the Paranormal Meet & Greet on August 10th!). We were in the basement, voice recorders running, being given a tour among dusty, 150 year old jars of canned fruit and other bric a brac. One of our guides said “Isn’t this where you got that ‘find me’?” And when qurstioned, they said they’d been there before with recorders and had gotten an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) that said, “find me”, when they played it back. So when Amy and I got home, we played back OUR recording, and something freaky happened. About 10 seconds *before* our guide mentioned what the voice had said before, a voice played on our recording, also whispering, “find me!”
What do you hope readers take away from FOUR TIL LATE? What did you take away from it as an author?
FOUR ‘TIL LATE isn’t just a ghost story, it’s also about friendship and love overcoming demons of the past that come back to haunt you. I hope readers come away feeling like they’ve just had an adventure with a bunch of great friends, and that the characters are people they’d like to spend time with again and again.
I wrote two more books after writing this one, SINKING DOWN and ME AND THE DEVIL. I guess it shows how much I wanted to spend more time with these people that I kept coming back to them.
You’ve completed five novels and and this is your first publication with Seventh Star Press. Please tell us what the experience has been like for you? Share some details of your writer’s journey.
It was FOUR ‘TIL LATE that kicked everything off, so it’s both my first and also my latest novel in a way. I’ve come full circle, having written 3 other urban fantasy novels and a science fiction novel. I started out by self-publishing my work, then I fell in with a critique group that helped open my eyes to the craft of writing, to things I didn’t see in my own writing that I learned to improve on. I was invited to join the Indiana Horror Writers, and that’s helped me see the publishing world beyond writing. My fifth novel, Reality Check, was written with the goal of publication in mind, and was the first to go through beta readers and rewriting and polishing. Hydra Publications took a chance on me and that book went through another couple of rounds with a professional editor. It was then that Seventh Star Press said yes to my pitch to have the ROAD GHOSTS novels revamped and done up properly to get it in front of a wider audience.
I think it’d be best to describe my career growth as an author described as incremental. Ever since I started, it was always about going a few steps more outside my comfort zone, to do something new and bigger, to stretch my boundaries.
This is going to be a crazy busy summer for us, appearing all around. What event do you look forward to the most?
You know, I had to be talked into Fandom Fest, but the more I hear about it and the closer it gets, the more excited I get about it. Rumor has it that the Seventh Star Press booth is going to be next door to a VERY major personality that has all of us excited. I’m looking forward to the fantastic writing track that’s being run by our own Stephen Zimmer. I’ll be seeing a big bunch of authors I normally only talk to online. It’s going to be big, really big, and I just asked for Monday off as well since I can feel in my gut that I’m going to need a day to recuperate.
What is the background of the series? What other novels are planned for this series and when can we expect them out?
ROAD GHOSTS started as a single book. But the summer after I wrote it, I had a dream about a little ghoul being found by Brett and Liz, and I woke up laughing at the image of the couple taking the ghoul to a McDonald’s dumpster to feed. I tried to write a short story about that, but it demanded to be more, and that became the first chapter in SINKING DOWN, the sequel. That book is in editing right now, and I hope to have it out this fall. Since I had two books, and since I had some loose ends, I decided to make it a trilogy and wrote ME AND THE DEVIL, which I hope to have out this winter. One of the characters in SINKING DOWN was too funny not to write more about, so I wrote a spinoff called BLUE SPIRIT, which is the story of Skye MacLeod, who sees fairies when she’s had a couple of drinks. Dark, Grimm-style fairies, not Tinkerbell. So, she spends most of that book tipsy, trying to save her vampire-gaming friends from very real danger. That’s going to be a second trilogy, probably called TIPSY FAIRY TALES, and those will be released next year sometime (I still have two to write).
I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you on your latest novel, Eric. I wish you long lasting and continued success in your writing career. REMEMBER TBIYTC!!!
Thanks, John, I wish you the best too, and can’t wait to start reading my copy of THE GOD KILLERS!
To my readers, go pick up your copy of Four Til Late at the following link!