Friday, October 28, 2016

Q&A with Gregory L. Hall, author of At the End of Church Street

Now available from Fiery Seas Publishing is the young adult fantasy-horror At the End of Church Street by author Gregory L. Hall.

The author has taken a few minutes out of his busy schedule for a Q&A about his debut novel.

When did you become interested in storytelling?

I’ve always loved telling tales, whether it was superheroes fighting Martians or a ghost that hid out by our trashcans at night. Of course, both of these were based off of fact, so my imagination didn’t have to go far. I still see the ghost out there on trash night.

What was your first book/story published?

My old high school magazine asked for tributes to Poe so I wrote a story called ‘When the Lightning Flashes’. I never retire any idea so I later did it on stage as part of a Halloween play, then as a short film, and finally got it published in a professional magazine. When I put out my short story collection, ‘Lightning’ was an obvious first choice. I still have to turn it into a musical. Possibly a sock puppet show as well.

What inspired you to write At the End of Church Street?

I had been a stand-up and improv comic for twenty-five years. I was burned out and didn’t want to be gone every weekend anymore. After sitting around the house for a couple weeks, my wife said “Oh no. You’re not going to shut down and stop being creative. Go write a novel.” I told her I was too tired to be funny and she suggested I switch to horror (because I’m such a fan). I didn’t want to write the same old monster shtick. The idea of a vampire story without an actual vampire in it challenged me. I used to know a group of Goth kids when I worked at a haunted house attraction in Orlando and thought they had such tragic personal stories. Of course they’d go to Burger King for lunch and flash fake fangs as they munched on a Whopper. Not selling the ‘I’m a real vampire’ gig very well. So I saw humor too. A story formed around them.

What character in At the End of Church Street is the most/least like you, and in what ways?

There’s an old man who takes care of the Goth kids named Renfield. He drools a lot and says things like ‘beedily bop’ as a nervous tick and keeps waiting for the Mother Ship. I think anyone who knows me can clearly see I wrote myself directly into the story.

What is your favorite part in At the End of Church Street?

Oh, there’s a chapter about 2/3’s of the way in where a major reveal throws the entire story in an unexpected direction. The tension is Mississippi mud thick and the main character Adam can be murdered in the next sentence. I didn’t even see the spin coming when I wrote it. I rarely enjoy reading my own work but that chapter was channeled from above when it landed on the page. I can’t take credit. It was pure muse. The rest of the book is mucho groovy, but it’s a special thing when the story takes on a life of its own and the writer just hangs on for the ride.

What was the hardest part to write?

Definitely the sex scenes. My original publisher wanted a heavy R rating because it sells in this kind of book. And the Goth kids in Church Street are young adults living in a vampire Neverland. To be realistic, they’re going to do what eighteen-year olds with no boundaries do. But because of the sex and drugs and language, I have trouble giving a copy to my mom. My thirteen year old isn’t allowed to read it yet. I joke that the sex is so naughty in Church Street it ought to be a pop-up book.

What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

Coming off the last question, I’m guessing it would be inappropriate to say male pole dancer? Although I hear the money is fantastic. I’ll go with my childhood dream. You know who I always thought was too cool? The dude who hangs off the back of the trash truck. Just riding down the road, holding on. It’s illegal to do that off your PT Cruiser. Who doesn’t want to party with that guy?

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

Oh sure, I read them if someone sends them my way. But you have to go in neutral. You can’t get lost in any high praise and you can’t let anyone tear you down. Now if a hundred reviews say you ripped off Stephen King and you know that’s exactly what you did when you wrote it, then you might want to rethink things. But overall I find it best to simply say thank you and leave it be. Good or bad, they didn’t have to take time out to write you a review.

What well-known writers do you admire most?

My favorite is Joe Lansdale. He truly knows his own voice and I believe that’s harder than most people think. He tells stories like he’s sitting with you on a porch drinking beer. I’ve been very lucky to build a friendship with Joe over the years and he’s an even more amazing person than he is a writer. I also read anything Harry Shannon. Love his work. Again, I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten to know Harry and there are few people as talented as he is. They based ‘The Most Interesting Man Alive’ in those beer commercials on him.

Do you have any other books/stories in the works?

I wrote a novel a couple years ago using my favorite character, Johnny Midnight. He’s a selfish ‘hero’ who is known as the Elvis of the paranormal world. He’s more interested in ratings and movie star girlfriends than actually driving spirits and monsters away. Yet somehow he always does the right thing. I’m working on two more books in the series and chortling with every chapter. I also just finished a screenplay putting a Young Frankenstein twist on Halloween. I love combining comedy and horror. I know a guy who knows a guy whose cousin dated a girl whose mother’s nephew once cleaned Steven Spielberg’s pool. So let’s just say it’s like a 97% guarantee I’ll be eating at the Big Table soon.

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About the Author: Gregory L Hall has a long history in comedy, theatre and improv. He is a national Telly Award winner and creator of the Baltimore Comedy Fest, which supported Autism Awareness. Many fans know Greg best as the host/producer of the popular live radio show The Funky Werepig.

As a writer his work has appeared over the decade in various publications, anthologies and a short story collection. His novels rarely stick to one genre, ranging from comedy and romance to intense thrillers and horror. His biggest claim to fame is he was once hugged by Pat Morita, Mr. Miyagi of The Karate Kid. We should pause an extra moment to realize how awesome that is.

You can follow Gregory on Facebook!

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