As a toddler, Patrick C. Greene was creating horrors in crayon and magic marker upon every available surface. Not surprisingly, he soon discovered comic books and immersed himself in the fantastic worlds found therein. Horror fiction and films came next, and despite spending nights of terror hiding under covers, he always found himself drawn back to tales of dark fates.
Greene cut his fangs in the screenwriting business but found his true calling in the world of prose fiction of the kind his heroes King, Barker and Koontz create. With the success of his first novel PROGENY, and the upcoming THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, Greene presents a brand of horror as emotional as it is terrifying, as engaging as it is suspenseful.
Living at night, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Greene answers the call of his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of horror, kung fu and doom metal.
Check out The Crimson Calling on Amazon.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Crimson Calling To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?
A: Centuries after their eradication and the death of their Queen in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Vampire population now numbers in only the hundreds. A few of the remaining survivors regrouped and a High Council was born. Now a new threat has arrived: modern day military is not only tracking members of the council, they are attempting to create their own vampire soldiers. Enter Olivia Irons. Ex Black Ops. Doing her best to live a normal civilian life, but it never feels right. No family, no friends, and trouble always seems to follow. When the Sanguinarian Council offers her the chance of a lifetime, the biggest risk of all seems like the only path left to choose. How will she answer The Crimson Calling?
Q: What do you think makes a good vampire novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?
A: It’s a bit of a balancing act, given that there are so many vampire films and books now. You have to meet certain expectations while defying or reversing others. For me, I’m never going to read a vampire romance novel but they aren’t written for me. For me, it has to be scary.
Three elements I think are necessary are intelligence on the part of the vampire (s) whether they are pro or antagonist, some sort of relationship between mortals and vamps, and, lastly, some erotic undertones. Vampires have become as much a symbol of sex as of death.
Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?
A: Most of it was on the fly. I knew there would be a loner recruited by (more-or-less) benevolent vampires. It surprised me that the loner was a young female, as I had pictured a male.
Some times during the process, I could outline a few scenes ahead, but then I had to leave it alone and hope for the best upon finishing that sequence. By the midway point, it basically stream of consciousness. Even as a writer, I don’t like to peek too far ahead.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?
A: I wrote a brief bio for Liv, the kind of thing you might pick up in a conversation with someone you’re stranded in an elevator with for an hour or so. Beyond that I did find myself revising some elements of her but not to the point of deus ex machina, if that makes sense. Sometimes you have to lay down the cards and leave them, see what play off of them.
Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?
A: With Crimson and my previous novel Progeny, I tried to intersperse exposition-heavy scenes with the more action driven elements of the story, which often means jumping around a bit in the timeline. It’s important to know, for instance, that Olivia is dealing with heavy emotional baggage, but my reasoning was that the source for said baggage need not be tossed right onto the table as one complete package. We all understand loss. We all throw up barriers against its effects. It’s interesting to me to understand not just the loss itself, but the coping strategies as well, through the action, not outside of it. So, though there’s no set formula, I try to create a scene that leaves the reader with a feeling of “Good lord, why’d they do that?” then offer a piece of backstory that serves as a brief respite while giving some clarity while the event is still fresh.
Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: When reading Ian Fleming James Bond novels as a youth, I found that 007’s globetrotting gave the character a sense of confidence and coolness. I personally tend to have some trepidation about being in places with which I’m not familiar, and Bond was always up on local traditions and customs. So the setting becomes a character inasmuch as it is viewed through the character. When discussing the various international locales of Crimson, I sought to deal with their strangeness rather than their familiarity. Vampire stories need an air of mystery, which is one of the few small differences from zombie stories, for instance, which work better with a sense of familiarity.
Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?
A: Redemption is the only theme isn’t it? Even if it’s never achieved, we’d all like to have done something differently at some point, or get a shot at a similar situation so we can use what we have learned. A good many characters get a shot at redemption in Crimson and their success levels are wildly divergent.
Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?
A: Eye of the beholder, simplistic as it sounds. Think of a movie or book that terrified or thrilled you as a child, yet seems almost laughable all these years later. If the creator felt some sense of accomplishment beyond the financial payoff, they can be said to have endeavored in genuine art, by definition.
Editing is an absolute necessity for an author, and all authors should learn to crush their egos underfoot for the sake of the work itself. You need beta readers, you need a sense of neatness and fulfillment throughout your work, and you need to realize that as a creator at any professional level you are giving away that work and letting it become the property of your patrons. So learn to value criticism and outside input. If you can’t cut the fat, be willing to hire someone who will.
Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?
A: Hm. If I’m limited to three I would say third is an enjoyment for at least some part of the process, be it the writing itself or reading the reviews.
Second would be a very thick skin. This plays into the above comment about editing; criticism is unavoidable, unless you’re never putting your work before the public. Unreasonable, even hateful criticism is very likely. Welcome it.
Finally is the habit, discipline or irrational impulse that, like a whispering devil on your shoulder, says you have to do it. Even if it’s only a few sentences, or just a few letters – if you’re not impelled to write something daily with an irresistible force, just forget it. Go back to your smart phone. Some of us are trying to take a serious crack at this and you’re making us look silly.
Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?
A: Disagree. Writing is like entering worlds with more meaning and adventure and love than anything you’ll find in reality. You can enter this world essentially at will and bring the essence of its joy or sorrow or strangeness back with you and cloak yourself in it. You can move people, and that’s a gift not a curse.
Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?
A: Of course I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and of course I recommend it. I don’t know if they still print that big ass Writers Market manual every year, but if not you can track down copies pretty easily, and they always have several articles about the process from famous and successful writers. I recommend those.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?
A: I would say to all those solitary writers out there languishing on obscurity or oppressive isolation – you are not alone, clichéd as it sounds. You’re tethered to me and a million other world makers, and we are feeding one another.