Good Looking and Intelligent Readers, I have a treat for you today.
The author of Dead Religion, which I had the privilege of reading (it was actually more of an unstoppable compulsion that, as the name suggests, I could not stop) and reeeaaaallllyyyy enjoyed, David Beers, is here with us in the interwebs! At this exact internet location! Right now!
Thanks to the magic of technology, David has answered these (expertly crafted) questions in an interview format. It turns out he is very funny, has a quip-tastic blog, and loves Roland Deschain, one of my favourite characters of all time. Enjoy the interview!
1. I notice that this book is, shall we say, brutally violent. Was that hard to write? Or was it sort of fun in an I-hope-no-one-has-me-sent-for-psychological-testing sort of way?
To be completely honest, I didn’t consider it that violent when I was writing it! I remember thinking, I’m holding back here and I don’t think it’s going to scare anyone. I really hate novels that go into graphic detail of blood and guts, and I tried to avoid that here. HOWEVER, almost every reader I’ve spoken to has said the same thing as you! So, I guess I hit my mark when I was trying to go just under it. Writing is always fun though, regardless of the scenes. I will say, I think the only violent scene I could not write, as it would be too disturbing for me, is hurting animals. What does that say about me, that it’s easier to write rape scenes than animal abuse?
1b. After finishing Dead Religion, I was really fascinated by the questions about human nature and violence that the book brought up. What role do you think violence plays in human nature, if any?
I come from a background where violence was a weekly thing and I really had to develop an ability to snap at will as kind of a diversion to actual violence. Kind of like a gorilla beating on his chest to avoid actually having to clash. So I might be a bit more predisposed to considering violence before other means of resolution when compared with the general population. Even so, I think violence is a part of us because everyone wants control, and one of the ways of gaining control over situations, lives, or masses of people is violence. Consciousness, God, love, or whatever you want to call it keeps the vast majority of us from committing violence, I think. Two sides of the same coin.
1c. Are well-meaning, older family members ever worried about you after first reading Dead Religion?
My grandparents, who raised me, are like the biggest Bible Thumping Christians you’ll ever meet. My grandfather hasn’t missed church in probably forty years. He read the book and his only comment was—“I can’t even contemplate having an imagination like that.” Another older friend of my family read it and said that I needed a psychiatrist. All are compliments, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re reading horror and thinking that the author isn’t a bit off in his head to some degree, I imagine what you’re reading isn’t that scary. When I read some of King’s passages, I know parts of his brain are firing that are dormant in other people.
2. Some would say that a ‘masters degree in business type’ of person is antithetical to the ‘creative writing type’ of person. How do you deal with these two different areas of your life?
I see how this could look strange from the outside, but business and writing are extremely similar. I concentrate on marketing, and you have to use analytical skills to come up with creative concepts that are going to resonate with consumers. In writing, you do the same thing, just backwards. You come up with a creative concept, and then you edit it with analytical skills. The greater your analytical skills, the better the book is going to be, because you see what works, what doesn’t work, and what to change. I fully believe creative writing, good creative writing is both left and right brain, so is business. The major problem I have with these two different parts of my life is simply the hours I have to put in. To succeed in both, I have to put in 80 hours or so every week. Once Dead Religion sells a million copies, I’ll probably be able to slow down some, right?
(Kathryn’s response to this question is to laugh bitterly and derisively, shaking her head like an old washed up lush who would probably be played by Geoff Bridges, partly because he is crotchety as frack, and partly because he is in EVERYTHING lately. I mean, Tron? Really?)
2b. Do you think that knowledge about business will help you promote yourself and your writing?
It doesn’t hurt. Knowing how to brand yourself, how to integrate your branding across all your different points of contact, as well as knowing where marketing is heading right now all helps. However, marketing an independent book is much different than running brand management for Nike. People like Konrath, Locke, etc. know so much more about this without business degrees. I spend a lot of time studying the promotion aspect of it; I don’t have super insights right now besides ‘reps matter’, but the more I study, the more likely these insights will come.
3. The premise of a lost God is extremely tantalizing. Of course, in Dead Religion, it turns out humanity really wasn’t missing out on much… but in ‘real life’, have we lost something important with the disappearance of so many religions and cultures? Or is it dangerous to try and rediscover the things that had power over our ancestors?
I’m kind of reluctant to discuss politics or religion, given I don’t want to turn off my fan base—so if there is a chance you might by my book, don’t look at this question! I’m a strict atheist, and I fundamentally believe religion has been a horrible thing put on human beings since nearly the beginning of time. I think it’s extremely dangerous to put your belief in anything outside of proven, verifiable data and will lead to a lot of suffering for a lot of people. I don’t think we should forget religions; we should always remember them, but we should look at them for what they are—relics that are not applicable in today’s world.
4. I would ask what character you would want to be in your book, but I can only assume the answer is “none of them for the love of all that is good”. Are there any other books that you would care to inhabit?
Well, I fell in love with Alex’s wife, Brittany. She was a really good person and loved Alex. If there was anyone, it would be her.
As far as other books, I’d like to meet Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower Series. I also would love to hang out with Jamie Lannister and Tyrion Lannister in A Game of Thrones. One is a master at his craft and the other has sex with a lot of women and keeps the laughs coming.
5. Are you working on anything else right now?
Sure am. It’s titled End Times and is a…dystopian science fiction horror thriller novel. So basically, I don’t have a genre. It’s a lot more philosophical than Dead Religion and will probably be a two book series. I wrote thirty thousand words on it, realized I was screwing it all up, deleted them and began again. I’m at 9,000 now, but I think I’m killing it, so the deletion was totally worth it. I’m hoping to have book 1 out by the end of this summer.
(Kathryn looks forward to reading this book!!!)