Today’s interview is with Elizabyth Burtis, the author of the highly engaging paranormal action thriller Demonology: Book of Gabriel.
Book Description: Many people choose to fight their personal demons… Gabriel’s demons chose to fight him. Former exorcist Gabriel Wolfe enjoyed a quiet life in Hollywood as a consultant on horror movies until the night he met Oliver Fitzpatrick and his strange sister. Now his life is unraveling as he is flung into a world of demons and dark magic, culminating in the kidnapping and demonic possession of Maya Carmichael, his business partner and only friend.
1) What gave you the idea for your book Demonology: Book of Gabriel?
Demonology: Book of Gabriel actually came out of another idea that I had for a story about ghost hunters. However, somewhere about halfway through the first draft, my protagonist took over the story and the other storylines fell away. The result became Demonology.
I grew up in a haunted house and was actually living in another haunted house while writing Demonology, so I had a lot of real life experience with hauntings. I had two paranormal teams set up full-fledged investigations in that house (R & D for certain parts of the book). Both found enough material to declare the house haunted. I pulled material from those experiences, my background working in the entertainment field as well as my extensive knowledge of Southern California to weave a realistic backdrop.
One of the things that sets Demonology apart from other tales of exorcisms is that Candombré – an Afro-Caribbean religion similar to voodoo and Santeria – plays a big part in the story. I visited Brazil several years ago and some of those experiences found their way into the story. I used a fictitious name for the goddess in order to avoid offense to those who practice.
2) Is Demonology your first published book?
Yes, although it was not the first piece published. It is also the first serious piece of fiction writing for me. During the editing process, I wrote a vampire short story that was bought by a publisher and released as an “erotic thriller” before Demonology was published.
3) What got you into writing horror?
I’ve been reading/ writing horror since I was in grade school. I grew up watching horror movies, reading every horror author I could find and listening to “Mystery Theatre” on the local radio station. All of those fueled my appetite for horror. About the time vampires and werewolves started starring in young adult romance, and ghosts and witches ceased to scare, I started writing the kind of stories that I would enjoy reading – those where monsters behave like monsters.
4) What are you doing next?
Right now I am focused on school and running 9Bridges.org, a writers community that focuses on connecting writers with the resources and community they need to support them in their pursuit of the craft. Unfortunately that means I don’t get to write nearly as much as I like. However, helping writers is very fulfilling and a little addicting, so I don’t mind so much. J
When I do get a chance to sit down and write, I have a dual writing personality that switches between horror and YA fantasy. Right now I’m focusing on a couple of sequels to a YA book (at my publisher’s request), and then I will probably start on the next book in the Demonology series. However, even when I’m focused on PG stuff, the horror comes out one way or another in short stories. I’ve written three so far that will probably end up in one anthology or another before the end of the year.
5) What is it like being a published horror writer? What do your family and friends think?
I’ve always had a reputation for being the person who isn’t fazed by hauntings, so my friends and family think its par for the course (besides, I write lots of different stuff to balance it out). However, people who don’t know me well sometimes assume the book is about something completely different because of the title. I once gave a copy of it to a co-worker, only to be officially “reprimanded” for proselytizing “satanic” religious material by a manager who saw it change hands. The look on her face was priceless when I told her that it was simply paranormal fiction and no more religious than a Stephen King novel (she then asked for a copy).
Being published is cool. There’s no doubt about it. It’s a little like being part of an exclusive club. What’s funny is that it’s ridiculously easy to be published these days so that in itself isn’t a huge achievement. I found that the hardest part for me was psychologically convincing myself that my story was good enough to share. That even trumped the hellish editing process I went through.
The best part about being published is when someone I’ve never met writes a review or a comment on our Facebook page, saying how much they liked the book. I’ve had comments from as far as the UK and Nigeria.
6) What advice would you give aspiring authors?
- There is no such thing as a “real” writer. It’s a myth. If you write, you are a writer and if you breathe, you are “real.” Therefore, if everyone who utilizes the written language in some form or another is a real writer, then logically, that “real writer” that aspiring writers hope to someday emulate isn’t real. We are all writers because we all write.
- Write. It. Down. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if it’s “good” writing or not, if the story is there, put it down on paper. Writing is easy. It really is. Start at the beginning and don’t stop until you reach the end. Worry about the quality of the writing later – that’s what editing is for.
- Keep Writing. Enough said.