The SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS weekly column is a place at Shannon Muir’s author website open to interviews and guest posts from other authors. One thing Shannon firmly believes in for readers not only to learn about new books available, but about those who craft the tales behind them. As its name implies, SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS weekly column features writers from all genres of fiction who want their potential audience to get to know them, and their works, better – and occasionally may offer features from Shannon herself that support readers to discover words.
This week, find out more about the book RISEN by Eric Trant in an interview with its author.
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About the Book:
Haunted by visions of a demonic angel and sold into servitude by his father, young Alberto battles to survive the horrors of a nineteenth century Sicilian sulfur mine.
Suffering merciless brutality, Alberto must save not only himself but his deformed older brother, both pawns in their father’s mad plan to overthrow a group of wealthy landowners.
Bound by a death-debt to his hunchback master, Alberto discovers a door the miners call Porta dell’Inferno, the Door to Hell, deep within the sulfur mines. When he learns the demon-angel of his dreams stalks the caverns beyond the door, Alberto realizes a strange fate has lured him and his brother to the gates leading to the underworld.
Now Alberto must face the creature from his visions and rise to become the man his father demands him to be, or remain forever trapped in a hellish world where none escape.
Print Length: 182 Pages
Genre: Historical Supernatural Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (August 15, 2017)
Risen is available in print on Amazon.
Interview with the Author:
What initially got you interested in writing?
Well, that one’s easy. My mom was an English teacher and librarian, with a degree from Texas Woman’s University in Library Science. She was a voracious reader, and that side of my family is chock full of equally voracious story-tellers, some of whom are writers themselves. My high school graduation present from my aunt was a Brother word processor, which allowed me to type about 255 characters before spinning it off onto the page, and my relatives encourage and support me through this journey.
Plus, I love to tell stories. It’s in the genome.
What genres do you prefer to write in?
I prefer the supernatural realm, for one reason alone — absolute freedom. I can write about any topic I want, add or subtract literary elements, spawn off wild new worlds or seat the reader into a comfortable and familiar setting, stick with humans or dive into the spirit world, and so on.
I can write about futuristic space journeys — and I have one spawned up I may pen soon — or I can go back in time like in RISEN and explore historic settings and worlds. I can discuss religion tangentially, or violate every known belief by applying the strict science of reductionistic materialism to obliterate what seems to be absolute truth.
If I wax philosophical, so be it. If I want to write something gory, have at.
This genre is never boring, and every new book offers — or rather, it ~should~ offer — a surprise at the bottom of every box.
No other genre offers so much diversity in topics, and I am further unbound by the lack of hardcore genre rules you might be subject to in such realms as romance or mystery.
Freedom. That’s why I love the supernatural genre. Absolute, unapologetic freedom.
Are there any authors you prefer to read and why?
Bradbury is a favorite, as is that whole class of author during his tenure. Heinlein. Clarke. Azimov. I read older authors quite a lot, mostly because modern authors pay so little attention to the craft of writing, but rather focus on the high-pressure marketing prevalent among today’s Amazon e-book frazzle-dazzle, bizarre hawkers world of writing.
Most modern best-sellers are shoddy works of literature. Many of them are not even written by the author on the cover, such as Patterson, and recently Rowling. The books are often interesting, and no doubt they are distracting and generate sells, but there is not much to learn about the ~art~ of writing from these books.
They are simply distractions, and I do not read to simply be distracted. I read to learn, and to be moved, and to be inspired, and to be provoked into walking new paths.
I forgot to mention Cormac McCarthy. I have read everything he put in the public realm — seriously — and studied his writing style in-depth. He is one of the few modern authors to write genuinely amazing literature, and he is in his later decades of life. He is the reason I do not use quotes in dialogue online. My editor still requires them in my books, though.
I would love to discover modern authors who create genuine works of written art that pound me in the chest. If anyone has suggestions, or can debunk my belief that most modern authors are obsessed not with writing, but with marketing and Amazon ranks and how many books were sold this morning, and what services offer the most five-star reviews and can bump their book into Amazon’s top 10, then I lend you my ears.
Tell me oh tell me, I lend you my ears. Where can I find these authors?
How did you make the move into being a published author?
Blood and tears. I wrote in a cave for maybe fifteen years. Then I won a short story contest, then a follow-on book, based on the short story. The small publisher is now out of business, but it encouraged me to take writing more seriously. I have always been a student of the craft, but I amped up my studies, subjected myself to some hard critiques, and eventually found WiDo Publishing through a fellow blogger, who was working as an editor for them.
RISEN is now my third book with WiDo, and they are not showing favoritism. They turned down three other novels by me, all of which remain unpublished, and so even today I fight to locate a slot for every book I pen out.
I spend more time pre-thinking my books these days, and hitting up my wife and kids about interesting topics and plots. Once I hit something they remember, I write it out. They all really liked the idea of RISEN, and isn’t that why we write?
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Finishing! I love saying I finished a novel. Even one novel finished is one badge more than most people ever earn. I guess maybe half of all Americans begin a novel at some point in their life, but they stop when they whittle away those first few layers of skin, and they never reach to the bones of the craft, and they never, never finish.
It is an accomplishment to mention how many stories I have written, how many novels I published, how many more I hide in the drawer, completely worthless and unpublishable, but ~finished~ by god!
Finishing. Hands-down, that is the greatest reward in writing.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Once you get past the mechanics of how to write — and it is surprising how few authors study grammar and structure — then the hardest part becomes the birthing pains of squeezing a new story into this world.
I try to grab the coattails and run with stories as they flick past me, but I do not always have the time and resources. With a day job and family, writing time is a precious commodity, as is the energy required to create without distraction. Even now, as I am typing this out, it was in the early morning hours after I took my son to daycare, but now my wife is up. The first thing she does is flick on the television, and nothing scatters the worms like the television.
So, I guess that’s two things. The first is finding a solid story which is worth writing. The second is carving quiet time where I can flesh it out.
Do you have any tips for writers who find themselves experiencing writer’s block?
Write something else. Blog. Post something on social media. Explore a new website or television series or read an author you admire, or watch a classic and well-written movie.
Work out. Take a walk. Drink some beer or wine or whiskey or sake, or if you’re sober, try a new lemonade or coffee. Eat some ice cream.
Take a quick trip by yourself, no family, no distractions.
Find something that inspires you. Do something different. Forget the block and relax, and you might be surprised by what happens the next time you stare down the blinking cursor.
What advice would you give to people who want to enter the field?
First, define “field.” If you mean you want to be a full-time writer, and earn your living by writing, you need to find some way to profit from your writing. For me, as an engineer, that would likely translate to a technical writer, or perhaps a law degree and patent attorney.
You will note that the field I just defined is not “famous author of supernatural fiction.”
Nope. Stay grounded and keep your expectations realistic. If you want to pursue fiction writing, then you need to locate someone who successfully achieved the goals you have in mind, and model yourself after them. Find a mentor. That is true for any field, and especially true for the arts.
So, in effect, defining “field” is the most important part of this question. Figure out exactly what field you mean, then work toward it with steadfast determination.
And remember, wishing won’t get you there. You have to put in the work, and people underestimate how long it takes to become an overnight success.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
I discuss the “reader’s arc” often with my fellow writers. I want to arc the reader. We writers are familiar with the character arc, but when I write, I am not concerned about my characters and how they are changed at the end of the book. I am concerned with my readers, and how they are changed at the end of my book.
I want the book to linger. Already I have people asking about a sequel to RISEN, and my first widely published book, WINK, has been subject to non-stop requests for a sequel.
This is because my books linger with the reader. If I wrote a sequel, they would feel that same lingering aftertaste when they finished, and they would never, never have enough of the worlds I create. Instead, they would want another sequel, and so on.
I want to haunt the reader, linger with them, and leave them a little bit changed when they reach the last page. I never want them to feel as if they finished the book, and that the story lives on every time they think of it.
Is there anything else about you that you think readers might find interesting?
Funny that you ask this. I always tell people that as a writer, I am forced to fake interesting. I’m just some schmuck.
About the Author:
Eric resides in Dallas, TX with his wife and children, where he writes and manages his own business. His writing combines literary characterization with supernatural elements, all the while engaging the reader’s senses with constant movement and vivid settings. His books are designed to be one-sitters, meaning they can and should be read in one (or a few) sittings, owing to the fast-paced nature of the writing.