29 October 2014

Interview with Jeff Gunhus, Author of the Templar Chronicles and Night Terror

Yesterday I reviewed Jeff Gunhus' newest book Night Terror, about a young girl Sarah Tremont who is still recovering from being updated ten years later. Sarah and her parents and Joseph Lonetree must fight the evil still hunting for Sarah and others like her - as well as fighting the evil living inside of her. Make sure to check out my review - I know you will want to read it!    
But best of all, I had the chance to interview this amazing writer and get his insight into his writing process, find out what inspires him, and what he's working on next! 

The descriptions in the book Night Terror are vivid, terrifying, and more than occasionally grotesque. How did you get into the right mindset to write these scenes? 

I like to listen to film scores while I write so that really helps the atmospherics. I think the fun of writing is that when you're locked in and pounding away at the keyboard, the visual images at floating in front of you as if you were watching a movie. Once you're in that space, it's just play. However, for the more emotional scenes I try to imagine how I would react in a similar situation, especially if my own child was put in danger or harmed, and that's definitely draining. There is a father/daughter moment at the end of Night Terror that almost wiped me out. I also read in the genre I'm about to write to get into the right mindset. I had read Joe Hill's Horns right before writing this and felt liberated by it. Whenever I felt like I might have gone too far, I remembered Horns was way more gruesome.  

This book is the sequel to the book Night Chill. Did you intend to create this sequel?

I left the possibility open with the ending of Night Chill, but I wanted to gauge reaction to the book first. Night Chill is my bestselling book and readers seem to connect with it so the sequel seemed like a good idea. I was excited by it because I really enjoy the characters and I was curious what happened to them after the events of Night Chill. Now I know. 

I realized that while the book Night Terror is a sequel to Night Chill, Night Terror can pretty much stand by itself. How did you approach writing this book so that a reader who may not have read the first one, can still enjoy this second one? 

That is a challenge. Certainly I think the best experience is to read the books in order, but I tried to make it possible to jump in. Making that possible requires some dreaded exposition in the early chapters to get across the main history of the first book. The trick is to embed it and hide it the best you can. What you need to avoid is a character walking into a scene and spitting out a monologue of everything that's happened. It feels clunky and it can alienate readers of the first book who don't want to endure a summary. One technique is getting exposition out of the way during conflict which I use in Night Terror. 

Which authors influence your writing? 

In this genre, certainly Stephen King reigns as my greatest influence. Dean Koontz, Blake Crouch, Joe Hill.

What is your strangest writing habit? 

I have a ceramic steampunk skull on my desk that stares at me while a write. It's a reminder of my mortality, so I ask myself if I should be writing or if I should be spending time with my family. I tend to write before they get up for the day or once they are at school. On more than one occasion, I've heard my kids playing outside my home office, felt the stare of the skull and wrapped up for the day. 

What are you working on now? 

I'm working on the sequel to Killer Within, my thriller which is coming out from Thomas & Mercer in February. 

Why did you decide to self-publish your books initially? How was that process for you? 

I really enjoyed the creative control over every aspect of the process. I had published a non-fiction book with a traditional publisher and had not been happy with the cover selection and the editorial process. However, Thomas & Mercer acquired Killer Within recently and I've been having a great experience so far with their team. 

For aspiring authors, what advice can you pass along to them? 

Read Stephen King's book, On Writing. Part autobiography, part writing advice, pretty much every line of advice I give writers come from that book. My favorite is that to be a writer you have to read a lot and write a lot. Sounds basic, but ready every day and writing every day is essential. 

And one final non-writing question, what is your favorite amusement park ride? 

I like It's A Small World at Disneyland. I am a horror writer after all. What could be creepier than all those dolls staring at you, singing that song over and over. Yikes!

About the Author - Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus is the author of both adult thrillers and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. As a father of five, he and his wife lead an active lifestyle simply trying to keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

His latest book is the thriller/horror novel, Night Terror.  Visit Jeff Gunhus online by checking out his website, and connecting with Jeff on Facebook and Twitter.
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1 comment:

  1. I like your answers, Jeff, particularly about getting into the writing mindset.


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