Oct 12, 2011

Guest Author: J. Gabriel Gates

I love doing interviews with authors, especially when I loved their book so much and I want more people to know about it. J. Gabriel Gates is the author of one of my favorite recent reads, the YA horror The Sleepwalkers. My review is here. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a well-written and all-over frightening read this Halloween season.

About the author: 

Nationally acclaimed author J. Gabriel Gates is a native of Marshall, Michigan. The son of an educator, his passion for the written word began at a young age. During college, another passion – for performing – led him to get his B.A. degree in theater from Florida State University.
During his years in Los Angeles, he appeared in a dozen national TV commercials and penned several screenplays while laying the groundwork for his career as a novelist.
His first two novels, Dark Territory: The Tracks, Book 1 andThe Sleepwalkers, are in stores now.
He currently lives in Southwest Michigan.

In the spirit of the season, I asked Mr. Gates some horror-related stuff. Here's what he told me: 

Three horror books that everyone should read:
The first horror book I ever read was "Dracula" by Bran Stoker, and I still think it's brilliant.  My favorite book of all time is "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski, which is creepy on complicated levels.  It's not for everyone, though - the first sentence of the book says so!  Of course everyone loves Stephen King, so I'd have to recommend "The Shining" as a classic book of his.  I also really enjoyed "The Taking" by Dean Koontz.  His prose is so clean, it's amazing.  I guess that was four. Whoops.  And while we're going crazy, let's add my book, "The Sleepwalkers."  There's five.
On Influences... 
I read a really broad range of books, so there are all sorts of authors that have influenced me. I grew up reading fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks. For years I've been reading a lot of classics: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dostoevsky, Melville. my mom has read every book Stephen King ever wrote, so I grew up around a lot of  his work, too. I also loved "Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux. I wouldn't say that any one author or book had the most influence on my writing style, though. I try never to emulate anyone. It all gets mixed up in the blender of my subconscious and comes out how it comes out! 

What I like and what I hate in horrors:
I'm not a big fan of funny, silly, campy, or cheesy horror. I hated the "Scream" movies. To me, if it's horror, I want it to be genuinely scary. I'm also not a big fan of slasher stuff, either. Repetitive dismemberment gets pretty boring after a while. Ditto with zombies--sorry, zombie lovers. "Ten very different people have to band together in a shopping mall / hospital / military compound to fight off a bunch of mindless ghouls." Snore. I feel like it's been done to death. The reason horror can grab us so deeply is that there are dark things beyond our comprehension that are real. I happen to believe that disincarnate spirits of the dead exist. Evil forces exist. Demonic forces exist. And we innately fear them. So horror can be way more than silly escapism-it can tell tales of great battles against forces that we don't know much about, but are intuitively predisposed to revile. It taps into a region of the sub-conscious that's rarely touched except in dreams, and that's profound.

About the characters in The Sleepwalkers:
I love all the characters, but I definitely relate most to Caleb. I feel like a lot of stories have protagonists who are misfits or outcasts in some way, but Caleb is the opposite. He's popular, athletic, smart and ambitious. With a misfit characters, their journey is usually one of discovering their own self worth, gaining confidence, feeling comfortable in their skin. Caleb, on the other hand, is already comfortable. He's doing great and has already planned out every detail of what he believes will be productive, successful life-then he gets a disturbing letter from his long-lost childhood best friend, and everything he thought was true about life gets turned on its head. He has to re-evaluate what's true, what's real. I think that's an interesting and unusual journey for a protagonist to take in a book like this. And I absolutely relate to Caleb. Growing up, I was athletic, smart and fairly popular. I wasn't an angsty teen. Like Caleb, I thought I had everything figured out. Then as my experience broadened, I discovered that maybe I didn't know as much as I thought I did. I was humbled. But the core pieces of my personality-my confidence, my work ethic, my ambition, those things helped me to steer the course. I think the message is, it's okay if you're not a rebel or a misfit. Well-adjusted people can be interesting, too.

About previous and upcoming projects:

My first novel, Dark Territory, book one of The Tracks series, is now available in stores, and its sequel Ghost Crown will be coming out in March. The Tracks is a teen fantasy series about kung-fu, magic, and star-crossed love, set in a small town in middle-America that's embroiled in a gang war. It's awesome. You should read it. Right now I'm working on another novel that I'm really excited about, too. It's an epic dystopian drama called Blood Zero Sky, which is  scheduled to be released in fall of 2012 by my publisher, HCI. So, I'm keeping busy!

Many thanks for participating!

Find Gabriel online:
Official webpage ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads
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