Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Interview with Author, Erren Grey Wolf!!

Where are you from?
I was conceived in Durham County, England, and was a fetus when my parents set foot in Canada. I was made in England and exported to Canada. At least, my physical body was. My soul, of course, came from the Spirit World, as everyone’s did. I’ve lived in Canada all my life in several places.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I had a nervous breakdown at the end of 2004 and thereafter had to take Lithium for Bipolar Disorder. It made my hands shake, so I had to quit art school. I really wanted to be an artist and I was good at it, but I could no longer hold my hands steady enough to measure the models. It was with a heavy heart that I had to quite, but my creativity demanded an outlet and I began writing about the daydreams I had when I was a teenager. Once I set down to writing seriously, a whole saga exploded into my mind. I have published the first two books of what might be a ten-book saga.

Do you write full-time or part-time? How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life?
Due to my Bipolar Disorder, the time it takes for me to get to sleep, the amount of sleep, and the time I get up is completely unpredictable, but whenever I do get up, I write and keep writing until 10 o’clock when CTV News comes on. I’m on Vancouver Island and I visit my best friend on the mainland every so often to play Arkham Horror.

What jobs have you held that influence your stories?
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write the stories I see in my head and those stories inspire me to write poems, so my books have small poems placed intermittently throughout.

How did you come up with the title?
Beneath the Surface is all about hidden things. The two brothers are telepathic and can see beneath the surface of other people’s minds. In every book, there are secrets needing to be discovered. The Lost Boy cannot be found because he is stolen away by the Forest Queen and lives in an etheric palace beneath the surface of the Mississauga Forest. Long-Lost Brother is when Sean’s telepathy fully awakens. He finds his lost brother amongst a pack of wolves and brings him home, but they discover the secrets with their father’s mind which shock them!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want people to empathize with the characters so they feel the sorrows they feel. Basically, I want people to understand what trauma is like. A trauma lasting only minutes can last a thousand lifetimes. In The Lost Boy, the mother dies during childbirth, leaving the father and the son traumatized. Sean, the eldest son, abandons his baby brother out of grief, blaming him for their mother’s death. He realizes his mistake later and tries to find the boy who is now lost. In Long-Lost Brother, Sean finds his brother, but when he brings him home, Erren cannot eat the mundane foods of the outer world after eating the spiritual foods of the Otherworld. Sean is desperate to save him from starvation, but their father’s attitude complicates matters. He still has flashbacks of his wife’s tragic death and pushes his youngest son away, emotionally. Erren knows he is unwanted and does not want to live. In the next book, “Haunted,” the father is much better, but still has to deal with his trauma. In the later books, the two brothers join the military and then I’ll be talking about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How much of the book is realistic?
Do you mean non-fictional or are you asking if it is set in a real world and not a world filled with unicorns and rainbows? It is fictional, but there is no magic. The extraordinary Talents the two brothers have are abilities found in rare people, although I may push the limits a bit. They have telepathy and their third eyes are open, so they can see auras, elementals (fairies), and thought-forms. Fairies are real. I have described them according to the book, The Real World of Fairies, by Dora Van Gelder, who was a rare person who could really see them. She describes them much the same way as one might compile a field guide of birds. Erren has the abilities to be immune to the cold. This is real, too. I once saw a yogi on TV and he put himself in a small box and this was placed in freezing cold water. The next day or so, I can’t remember how long it was, he came out and he didn’t suffocate or die of hypothermia. So all the abilities the brothers have are found in the real world, although, as I said, I pushed the limits a bit. The stories are set in a future world, but I wanted it to be as realistic as possible, while also being imaginative.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A lot of the stories are my own life described symbolically. I know about trauma, so I write from experience. Erren is my alter ego, so the traumas he suffers are my own, especially in the later books when he suffers from PTSD.

What books have most influenced your life most?
I love The Lord of the Rings. There is a great purpose for good people to fight against evil. The same is true in my books, although the battle doesn’t really start until the end of the fourth book.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
J. R. R. Tolkien.

What book are you reading now?
I am trying to get through the humungous commemorative edition of the Necronomicon, by H.P. Lovecraft. He’s a good writer, but he really overdoes it. I mean, how many stories can he tell about a man with frail nerves who goes mad after seeing something that is so terrible it is indescribable?

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I love Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series.

What are your current projects?
I’m working on Beneath the Surface: Haunted, which it the third book in the series. After that is Wolfboy, the fourth book, which is almost completely finished. The fifth book is The Wicked Deed, where Erren is tortured in a satanic ritual and becomes an assassin. His telepathic bond with his brother is cut off and he is hidden in darkness while Sean tries to find him. The sixth book is The Dragon Assassin, where Erren kills many people and his brother follows his visions to try to find him before he kills again and before someone kills him. The seventh book is The White Temple Hopsital, where Sean brings his brother to heal him as much as possible before the court trial in the next, etc. I won’t say anymore!

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Government of Canada. When I had my nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder (Bipolar Disorder with some symptoms of schizophrenia), I could no longer work, so my psychiatrist and case manager put me on disability. If that had not happened, I wouldn’t have had the time to write. That was a great blessing. It was as if the devil destroyed my life, but God gave me a break and said, “You no longer have to work. Now’s your chance to make use of this time to write!”

Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is a career. It is the only thing I have left that I am able to do. With chronic insomnia, in spite of having three different anti-anxiety medicines, I would never be able to hold down a nine-to-five job. Sometimes my depression is so bad that I end up in bed all day. Writing really is the only thing I can do. My life is destroyed, but my vocabulary and imagination are intact. I can still dream. They say that people with Bipolar Disorder are often extremely creative. I believe that is true for me as well.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I said, when I had to quit art school, I sought another outlet for my creativity and began writing about the stories I’ve had in my head since I was a teenager.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Excerpt from The Lost Boy:

Sean was like a foxhunter poised upon his horse with his hounds all around him, waiting for the blare of the trumpet to set him loose after the fleeing fox. Despite his doubts, Sean’s quest had taken him over into a realm where logic seemed to hold no sway and he was now as bound to his chosen task as if the magic of the mythical Wild Hunt had caught hold of him. With her last words, his dead mother had pulled back her bow like the great Celtic Goddess of the Black Forest, Abnoba the Huntress, and had launched her eldest son like a shining arrow of hope into the dark forest to find her little boy.
Excerpt from Long-Lost Brother:
Sean lowered his head like a fierce stag protecting a tender fawn against a predator. He looked up from beneath his angry brows and threatened with bold words like deadly prongs aimed at the doctor, “Don’t you dare touch him! There is no way in hell I will let the brain doctors anywhere near my little brother! If I see anyone come at us with a scalpel, I swear to God I will kill them!”

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Marketing. I really, really hate the marketing aspect of writing. I wish I had someone to do it for me. I have never been business-oriented like my entrepreneurial brother.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
J.R.R. Tolkein. The thing I like best in The Lord of the Rings is the companionship between Frodo and Sam. It is so pure and loyal. I have taken that idea and used it in my books. The two brothers, Sean and Erren, have a bond like that which is pure and loyal. Sean didn’t realize it at first, when he abandoned his baby brother in the forest in the first book, but after finding him in the second book, he realizes that Erren is his best little buddy. Thereafter, Sean is always looking out for him.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet.

Who designed the covers?
I designed the covers. The Lost Boy has tree roots, symbolizing things hidden beneath the surface. The roots are a public domain image, but I painted the wolf’s head myself in acrylic.
Long-Lost Brother has two images I purchased from BIG stock images online and I modified them for my vision of the book cover. The peach symbolizes the Otherwordly fruits that Erren can no longer have and starves. The wolf howling symbolizes Erren’s Totem and the fact that he ran amongst the wolves in the forest when not living in the etheric palace. The book is blue and the wolf is mournful because Erren receives one shock after another in the outer world and learns about sorrow.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing and proofreading. It seemed that no matter how much I reread my book, there were still typos or errors I kept catching. It’s a good thing my dad is a metallurgical engineer who used to proofread technical journals. He has been a great help. It’s always good to have a fresh set of eyes review your work.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned all about formatting my books for various publishers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you have a good story, believe in yourself and never stop writing. Even if you get a dozen rejections, just keep on writing. Never give up.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for enjoying my books.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
One of the challenges was creating a whole world, or rather two worlds. Humanity now lives in the Frey Solar System, inhabiting two planets in neighbouring orbits. I created calendar systems and bar graphs so that, in the future books, when people travel from one planet to the other, I could keep track of the time on the calendars. A Freyan year, for example, equals three Midgard years. They both use the 24-hour day system and the same days of the week, but the Freyan days are longer, so the days of the week keep sliding around the Midgard days. I wanted to be mathematically accurate for fear that someone would say, “Hey! It’s not possible for this person to be on this planet at this time, when he just came back from the other planet,” or whatever. I kept thinking of Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist, and I had done my best to make sure he can’t pick holes in my planetary calendar systems!

What do you think about e-publishing versus technical publishing?
E-publishing if fine IF you have money to put into marketing. If not, you need a traditional publisher.

Do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one?
I am looking for a literary agent. I have a copy of 2013 Guide To Literary Agents, by Chuck Sanbuchino, and have sent out a bunch of query letters hoping to find a literary agent. It is fun to self-publish and to do everything yourself, but as I said, I really hate marketing! I’d rather have a literary agent and a traditional publisher.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Some place warm.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Telekinesis. If I had this power, I would never have suffered the traumas I have had in life that literally drove me insane!

For More on Erren Grey Wolf:

Author of Beneath the Surface: The Lost Boy (V1) and Long-Lost Brother (V2).
The Lost Boy (V1): Sean Archer seeks redemption by hunting the haunted forest for the little brother he so carelessly abandoned out of grief for the loss of their mother.
Long-Lost Brother (V2): Sean finds his lost brother under unusual circumstances which awaken his latent telepathy and metaphysical sight. Unfortunately, when he brings his brother home, the boy cannot eat the foods of the outer world after eating the foods of the Otherworld. Sean is desperate to find a solution before his brother starves to death.