Today we welcome long-time author Gregory Frost to In the Spotlight. Over his 30+ year career, Gregory has written everything from fantasy and science fiction to historical thrillers. His stories appeal to adults as well as kids. I’m excited to Gregory here at Second Run Reviews this week and it was an honor to meet him at ICON 40 earlier this fall.
In the Spotlight with Gregory Frost
Welcome to Second Run Reviews, Gregory! Thank you for being In the Spotlight. I appreciate you stopping by and answering a few questions. So let’s get things started.
In a tweet (140 characters or less), tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a fabulist, have been publishing fiction long and short for 30+ years across the spectrum: Shadowbridge books, Fitcher’s Brides, et. al.
Please tell a bit about your journey to becoming a published author. What’s been the best things about it and the worst?
It wasn’t a direct journey. More like a paradigm shift. I went from majoring in art—believing I wanted to illustrate comics and graphic novels—to writing the sorts of stories and novels that someone else might make into comics and graphic novels. The best things are the ideas, conjuring something new, and seeing it work. The worst perhaps was once having a psychopathic art director at a publishing house.
Sounds like their might be some interesting stories behind that last statement!
Where do you draw your inspiration from? What drives you to create? How do you get/keep the creative juices flowing?
Well, it sounds glib, but inspiration comes from all sorts of directions. I think writing–and writing fantasy literature in particular–involves a lot of lateral thinking, which is kind of inventing mashups of disparate elements: Taking the fairy tale of, say, Cinderella, but enfolding it in the narrative of a woman in drug rehab. It’s figuring out which elements light up when you completely twist the context like that.
As for creative juices (sounds a bit rude, that): I think, after awhile, you start to think in a way I would call “the possibility of stories.” You find yourself with ideas because of something you read or saw or heard, and you start asking questions of it, bending the shape of it. That’s a very exciting part of the process of creation for me. I’m sure to make a mess of it, but something almost always emerges and that’s exciting.
I love reading fantasy for that reason. It usually takes something known and puts a unique twist on it. i especially love fairy tale retellings.
This year you attended ICON. What’s your favorite thing about attending author events and conventions? What advice do you have for first time attendees or shy fans?
Advice for first-time attendees and shy fans is, march straight up to the person you’re behaving in awe of, and introduce yourself. I attended ICON this year with David Gerrold. I had, some 45 years ago, sent him a fan letter regarding his book about writing the “Trouble with Tribbles” episode of Star Trek, mentioning in it that I’d just written my first fantasy novel and didn’t know what to do with it. He replied by sending me a letter of introduction to Lin Carter, who at the time was the pre-eminent editor of adult fantasy, at Ballantine Books. I mean, David didn’t know me beyond what I had said in the letter. But if I hadn’t sent that letter, I wouldn’t have had that remarkable experience, which was a huge impetus to keep going, keep writing.
Wow! That’s an amazing story. I had no idea that David helped you way back when. What a small world.
What types of books do you enjoy reading the most? What three books to you find yourself recommending to your fans over and over?
For pleasure, I usually read mysteries, thrillers—everybody from David Goodis to Alan Furst. Otherwise, I read all over the place. I’m reading a great non-fiction book right now, Cadillac Desert, because I read The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi and it was a huge influence on that novel, which intrigued me.
As for what I recommend to fans—I’m assuming you mean, of my own work? That would be the two Shadowbridge books, SHADOWBRIDGE and LORD TOPHET, and FITCHER’S BRIDES. They’re quite different but share certain fairy tale/folktale DNA.
Well, I believe I just added at least three books to by TBR pile with those suggestions. 🙂
What is your current obsession? Any secret obsessions you would like to share?
Well if I shared them they wouldn’t be secret.
Current obsession is probably screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s because I’m trying to write a novel that incorporates that kind of razor-sharp dialogue in places and nobody has ever done it better. I wrote a novella some years ago, “The Road to Recovery,” that is the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby science fiction “Road” picture that was never made. Listening to their banter in those films—absorbing it—was critical. And fun. Same with this.
I’m a huge fan of old Hollywood. I spent hours in college watching Turner Classic Movies. Movies today are not the same. I can understand the allure of trying to recreate that magic.
Any last thoughts or wise words you want to pass along?
To aspiring/struggling writers: Read everything. And write down all the random, stray ideas, images, glimpses of things you receive. You don’t know what’ll be important later on. But if you don’t write it down, it’ll turn out to be the greatest idea you’ve ever had, and it will be gone.
Thank you for stopping by Second Run Reviews, Gregory, and for being In the Spotlight. I hope you’ll drop by again soon and fill in on your upcoming projects. Good luck in all your future ventures.
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Synopsis: 1843 is the “last year of the world,” according the Elias Fitcher, a charismatic preacher in the Finger Lakes district of New York State. He’s established a utopian community on an estate outside the town of Jeckyll’s Glen, where the faithful wait, work, and pray for the world to end.
Vernelia, Amy, and Catherine Charter are the three young townswomen whose father falls under the Reverend Fitcher’s hypnotic sway. In their old house, where ghostly voices whisper from the walls, the girls are ruled by their stepmother, who is ruled in turn by the fiery preacher. Determined to spend Eternity as a married man, Fitcher casts his eye on Vernelia, and before much longer the two are wed. But living on the man’s estate, separated from her family, Vern soon learns the extent of her husband’s dark side. It’s rumored that he’s been married before, though what became of those wives she does not know. Perhaps the secret lies in the locked room at the very top of the house—the sin-gle room that the Reverend Fitcher has forbidden to her.
Inspired by the classic fairy tales “Bluebeard” and “The Fitcher Bird,” this dark fantasy is set in New York State’s “Burned-Over District,” at its time of historic religious ferment. All three Charter sisters will play their part in the story of Fitcher’s Utopia: a story of faith gone wrong, and evil coun-tered by one brave, true soul.