An Interview with Horror Author Patrick Greene

Horror author Patrick Greene and his novel PROGENY.

Horror author Patrick Greene and his novel PROGENY.

You ever get the feeling, when you first meet someone, or talk with them, that maybe they are some sort of long lost relative or something?  Well, I came pretty darn close to that feeling when author Patrick Greene agreed to interview me for his blog about my novel VICIOUS.  Not only did we share the same passion for writing horror/thrillers, but our most recent works both have similar plot elements.  

Patrick’s passion for writing is evident from just chatting with him.  His talent is immense.  His imagination seems limitless.  His desire to help other authors is also strong, and you know that’s important for me, as well.  In short, he is a major talent, and if you are not familiar with his name just yet…you will be.

What’s your latest novel about?
In PROGENY, a reclusive writer named Owen Sterling buys a large tract of forest land from a Native American tribal council, who believe it is inhabited by a fierce spirit. Some local hunters think they will finally have a chance to practice their hobby on the acreage, but Sterling, per his agreement with the Indians, will not allow it. Livid, the hunters trespass, and promptly have a fatal run-in with the source of the fierce spirit legend; vicious sasquatches. They are forced to seek shelter with Owen, his young son and his girlfriend, while the beasts prowl the perimeters, playing frighteningly clever mind games with their human prey.

Who have your influences been when it comes to your writing?
My writing influences and inspirations have come from a lot of sources, not all of them writing. My father Lewis W Green was a novelist and journalist, and seeing how happy it made him when he had something published was pretty cool to an impressionable young chap. In addition, he met a lot of interesting people through his job as a journalist, from Native Americans to nazis, and I got a good early exposure to the contradictory, often baffling extremes of human nature.
From the world of martial arts and eastern philosophy, I learned to do everything passionately. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sugar Ray Leonard and MMA champ Randy Couture are good examples of extremely driven individuals who were or are determined to take their skills to the very edge of possibility. I trained in carnival wrestling of all things, under a man named Billy Wicks. He thrived in the post-depression era of traveling carnivals, then in professional wrestling before it became choreographed. He had that level of intense drive, and retains it to this day. He still eats, breathes and sleeps wrestling. Stephen King would be horror literature’s answer to that kind of drive I imagine. As writers, we would all love to be that prolific and polished. If horror fiction was an Olympic event, King would take the gold for the U.S. every time.

Clive Barker is probably the guy whose prose is most breathtaking to me (Bryan’s note – me too!  Clive is amazingly talented and multi-talented and if you aren’t a fan of his on Facebook, what the hell’s your problem?). He writes in a way that is simultaneously savage and majestic, that strikes you with the lyrical beauty of its composition as much as with the universe of the story itself. Campbell and Masterton are right there as well. I have to throw in Edward Lee, not only for his boldness but also for his imaginative stories.

A few great film directors deserve mention. The usual suspects of course, Romero, Carpenter, Hooper and Craven. Jack Sholder is a great, underrated director responsible for some of low budget horrordom’s most memorable entries; such as Wishmaster, Nightmare on Elm Street 2, and the original Alone in The Dark“with Martin Landau. Jack has a knack for taking average genre tropes into the realm of social commentary. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is the brains behind possibly my favorite horror film Kairo, a.k.a. Pulse. Zhang Yimou is another Asian director criminally underrated here in the U.S. His visual sense is amazing; his work should be mandatory studying for anyone who wants to be a cinematographer.

Has anyone ever been a bit weirded out by the topics you choose to write about?
I kind of live this whole horror thing, in a way. I sometimes like going to cemeteries and abandoned buildings, or even “haunted” sites, not only to test and/or conquer my own levels of fear, but to remember what it feels like and bring it to my writing. At the same time, I hate the idea of violent death or any kind of suffering. I have to more or less cloak it in a mythic or mystical context and sort of make it seem a fantasy. So a realistic police procedural about a serial killer is not as appealing to me as a supernatural-flavored slasher or creature feature. We all deal with death in different ways, but the most common variation is to sort of pretend it’s not real. I want to accept that it’s real-but I want to decorate it with romance and battlefield glory and surrealism.
So to come back to the question, I have had well-meaning friends tell me I probably shouldn’t mention to anyone that I explore cemeteries at night and write stories about monsters tearing people apart. To that I say: “HEY WORLD! I EXPLORE CEMETERIES AT NIGHT AND WRITE STORIES ABOUT MONSTERS TEARING PEOPLE APART!”

OK, the standard question that all writers have to be asked: where do your ideas come from?
I think there are infinite universes, even if they are “only” universes of pure thought, and most fiction writers have some weird connection, some ethereal channel that feeds them visions of those universes. We also have the God-given (afflicted?) drive to purge that pure information of other worlds from our minds, or at least share it.

In your novel PROGENY you write about the Bigfoot legend. What was it about that that caught your imagination?
I have a few memories that probably can be said to have inspired my interest. I always liked monsters, and more generally the idea of something unknown and somehow anti-human. I’m sort of a casual zoology enthusiast, but I remember as a tyke, I loved dinosaurs, and the fact that they weren’t around anymore, that they somehow existed and yet didn’t exist was intriguing to a small mind that wasn’t so sure about buying into this whole “reality” thing that everybody else seemed to be so big on.

Then–Godzilla. My dad took me to a Godzilla movie, and if you know anything about Godzilla, you know he’s like the most awesome dinosaur imaginable, only amped up to a million or so in every department, plus some.

King Kong was the next logical step, and it’s not too much of a leap from Kong to Bigfoot. Whether Bigfoot’s real or not, it’s fascinating, mysterious, larger-than-life and terrifying.

In the early days of the Bigfoot legend, the creature was always menacing, often being described as terrorizing those who had seen him. In recent years, the legends have a more benevolent idea of Bigfoot. What tactic did you take and why?
I really wanted to try and find a balance. In one sense, the sasquatches of PROGENY are like forces of nature. You wouldn’t stand in the path of a tornado–same with Bigfoot. Except of course, it’s at least subhuman, or humanoid. It is capable of fear and grief and of course, vengeance. So to paraphrase Mr. Ashley J. Williams–”Good? Bad? They’re the ones who weigh 900 pounds.”

So, I have to ask – do you believe in the Bigfoot legends?
During the course of my research, I have to admit–I began to find it awfully hard to just say outright “Bigfoot’s only a myth.” Where I am now is that I believe there is an undiscovered/ unclassified primate somewhere deep in eastern Europe or Asia. North America? Probably not.

When did you first start writing?
When I was in about seventh grade, I decided to be a writer and started what I wanted to be an epic sci-fi/martial arts series that would take the world by storm. Then, the next week, I started doing something else. In my early twenties, I caught the bug again. I wrote a screenplay without any idea of how to get it into anyone’s hands, so I just wrote another one, and another and another. I made the leap to fiction a few years later, but didn’t really give any thought to submitting for publication. It was when I took an extended break from trying to sell my scripts and submitted a few short stories that I gained the confidence to make a larger commitment to writing prose.

Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
The first thing I can really remember writing of any consequence was a story about a giant praying mantis that I wrote in first grade. What stood out to my teacher -and to me as a result- was that I had scribbled “giant mantis” in a scary/shivery font that really caught the eye. Not long after that, I wrote some Godzilla stories, and even drew them out as comic books and sold them in school. I guess I owe the Godzilla producers several hundredths of a cent for copyright violation.

When did you decide to make a career of it?
I’ve been taking steps in that direction for a long time, most of my adult life I suppose. I’ve been an actor, fighter, teacher and any number of other things, but I always wrote, and always wanted to. The amazing and humbling success of PROGENY and THE ENDLANDS has pretty well sealed the deal.

What is your writing process? Take us into a day with Patrick Greene…
I have a regular job, working graveyard of course. It’s fairly low stress and allows me a few quiet hours every night to write. During the day I go to a gym called Blackeye Fitness in Asheville, and train with weights and martial arts for a couple of hours at least three days a week, and I honestly believe that helps keep the creative juices flowing. Some of my strangest ideas come to me when I’m trying to avoid being kicked in the head. Weekends are when I catch up on movies, reading and the occasional video game.

Do you write at a certain time of the day or night?
The magic hour is about 2 am to 6 am. And I manage to sneak in an hour here and there between home, gym and work.

OK, so, what’s next, do you already have a new project in the works?
Yes! I’m writing a screenplay called “A Shotgun Wedding” and that project is already in development. See www.ashotgunwedding.com . It’s a dramatic thriller with some horror overtones. Also, some other film projects are in the pipeline with SaintSinner Entertainment and I have the aforementioned Jack Sholder attached to yet another of my screenplays, which I’m shopping now. Having that one come to fruition will be a dream come true.

My story Dark Cloud appears in the just-released THE ENDLANDS VOL. 2 from Hobbes End Publishing, alongside the works of a lot of rising and established dark fiction authors, including my son Deklan Green, who was the inspiration, by the way, for the character of Chuck in PROGENY. Cloud is very much about fate and responsibility and dark karma.

What does your writing space look like?

Author Patrick Greene working on his latest project

Author Patrick Greene working on his latest project

It’s really just a couple of different places where I work, nothing very impressive. My home office is put to use more by my wife, who very adeptly manages my career. All writers should be so lucky.

Anything else you’d like everyone to know?
When given the opportunity, I like to mention a few charities, to try and raise awareness. Scares That Care is a new organization that helps sick children, burn victims, and a variety of others in need to pay their bills. They’re at www.ScaresThatCare.org.
Linda Blair has an organization set up to rescue animals and put them in good homes. They’re found here:http://www.lindablairworldheart.org/
Partnering with her is Haunts Against Hunger, whose mission is pretty self explanatory: www.HauntsAgainstHunger.com
Jackie Chan raises money to help build schools around the world, and to provide care for the remote elderly of China:http://www.jackiechankids.com/files/Build_School.htm
Also:
www.scarefoundation.org
http://www.alicecoopersolidrock.com/
http://diocancerfund.org/
Thanks Bryan, and thanks to everyone reading! I’m happy to be able to entertain all of you!
www.PatrickCGreene.com
www.amazon.com/author/patrickgreene
www.facebook.com/patrickcgreene

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