Just in time for Halloween, Eric Trant is visiting with his latest horror novel: Risen. He’ll give you a peek at his latest as well as his last two novels Wink and Steps and some thoughts about what makes a horror writer tick!
Genre: Historical Supernatural Fiction
Page count: 268
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.
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. You can visit Eric at www.EricTrant.com, or see his blog at DiggingWithTheWorms.blogspot.com.
WHO – Who inspires you?
My inspiration is simple and broad. I find it everywhere I look, from the barroom singers to the church drummers, to the professional bloggers and the Texas Ranger ex-marine. All these people have something in common — they work their dream job.
The purpose of life is to find joy with those you love. There is no other reason to be here, and if you love your work, and love your family, then that there, folks, is living the dream. And when I see people doing just that, even if I don’t understand their dream, it inspires me to reach for my own dream-life.
WHAT – What made you decide to write in the horror genre?
You know, I was thinking about this question in the early hours this morning, and realized I have never considered ~why~ I am so attracted to horror. I never considered writing anything else.
I decided it is a twofold draw for me. First, I enjoy the freedom of the genre. Anything goes, and I can mold my world into whatever shape I desire. I can insert fantasy or sci-fi, romance or comedy, mystery or tragedy. Trolls and spaceships collide with ghosts and superhumans. It is hands-down the most versatile genre out there, and I love being able to pen out whatever comes to mind.
There are no rules in horror!
Second, I am hard-pressed to think of another genre that strikes all the emotions so deeply. We writers discuss immersing the reader by tickling all five senses with our descriptions, but let’s go one step deeper and tickle all their emotions.
No emotion is safe from horror!
You fall in love with a character and experience utter loss if they do not survive. You laugh at their stupidity. You wonder what is behind the curtain and note clues along the way. You dream as they reach for the moon, feel your hopes shattered as they lose everything and are plunged into hopelessness.
You simply are not safe as a reader. I can pluck every emotional string with horror, bar none. I believe this versatility of reader experience, combined with the utter freedom of the genre, are what keep reeling me back in, story after story.
WHY – Why do you think the horror genre appeals to so many people?
Horror appeals to readers for the same reason it appeals to me as a writer. It is not a safe genre.
You never know what you are going to get. In WINK, for instance, readers over and over said they were expecting a boy-meets-girl drama, and were surprised the first third of the book was horror-free. But they read on, and were shocked at the turns. They cheered and cried for Marty and Sadie, and even said they fist-pumped at the end and yelled, Hell yeah! Almost every reader said they did not want it to end, and I am constantly nagged for a sequel.
A properly constructed horror novel is a roller coaster of emotions, erected in a dark tunnel where you cannot see the next turn for lack of light.
Too many horror writers settle for the jump-scare and creep-out, and forget there are so many other emotions we can hit. I believe that is why some horror authors rise to the top of the ranks — they ignite the entire rainbow of emotions in the reader, and that is what draws people back into horror.
A reader can finish a well-written horror, think back on the emotional joyride they just experienced, put the book down, catch their breath and say, Let’s do that again!
WHEN – When did you begin writing and how long until your first novel was published?
Lord, I have always written. Since the early ’80s I guess. I wrote my first short stories in junior high and high school, and started submitting in college. My first submittal, and my first rejection, was a short-story to Playboy. I forget the contest, but it was for college kids or something who wouldn’t read the story anyway.
So I kept writing, but did not submit for a long time after that. At some point, circa 2000 or so, I decided to take writing more seriously. I read every book in two libraries on writing, from dialogue to plotting to scene structure and grammar grammar grammar. I read the Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk, King’s and Bradbury’s books on writing, and I don’t know how many others.
I kept writing short stories, and after a while I started rewriting some of King’s and Bradbury’s pieces. I would read a page or two, or a paragraph, or a sentence or scene, and then write it without referencing their piece. Then I would compare and contrast theirs with mine. I did the same later with Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, and Arthur C. Clark. Oh, and Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.
I began blogging after a while, and stumbled onto a short story contest where the prize was a published novel. It was a small publisher, really just a group of writers, but I earned the spotlight story in the short collection and won the novel deal.
So we wrote a novel. And published it. That was about 2010.
I published a few more shorts after that, and later published WINK with WiDo Publishing. Watching WINK take off, read the reviews and hear reader comments, I began to envision myself as a serious novelist. I started to believe success in writing might become a reality for me. I published STEPS not long after, and now RISEN, and am working hard on my next novel, tentatively called WISH.
That was in 2013, so while it might appear that I am new on the scene, I have been around a while, working my arse off. I am hoping RISEN, again with WiDo publishing, will be my true break-out novel and earn me some widespread recognition as a writer.
WHERE – Where do your ideas come from? Aspects of your novels seem to mirror current events with your own unique twist added.
I always tell people my head is full of worms. That’s why my blog is called DiggingWithTheWorms.blogspot.com. It’s the worms. I plant a seed and let them dig.
My world is a well-blended slurry of fictional reality. If I unleash the muse in the real world without a leash, interesting things rise from the muck, and research is a wonderful place to begin my stories.
RISEN was inspired by the idea of escaping poverty to find freedom in America. While researching the lower class, I stumbled onto Booker T. Washington’s Man Farthest Down. I read his take on the situation in Europe toward the turn of the 20th, and in particular the sulfur mines he discovered in Sicily.
Here were boys as young as eight or ten, sold into lifelong servitude, called a Death Debt, hauling sulfur rocks up from the mines in what Mr. Washington described as a literal hell on Earth. They called these boys carusi. The boys did not survive long. Even today, this child labor is considered in Sicily one of their darkest sins.
Washington’s descriptions of the horrendous conditions of the sulfur mines inspired more research, and the research created images of Alberto and his older brother, Paolo, suffering in the mines at the hands of a brutal master. I began to envision the vineyards and wheat fields where they had once embraced a peasant-grade happiness, and wondered what might drive a father to sell his sons into a hellish world of hunchbacks and unimaginable abuse.
And what could be more horrific, but to haunt the mines with the Door to Hell, Porta dell’Inferno, and a demon-angel matching the talisman Alberto wears around his neck.
Thus, RISEN was born!