Dras Weldon lives in a world of horror movies and comic books. Twenty-two and unemployed, he is content to hide in the shadow of adolescence with a faith that he professes but rarely puts into action.
But when a demonic stranger arrives and begins threatening his friends, Dras is drawn into a battle that forces him to choose which side he is on. In a race against the clock, he must not only fight these evil forces but also somehow convince his best friend, Rosalyn, to join him—before she is lost forever.
Engaging and darkly humorous, The Strange Man is the first act of a trilogy that depicts a world where monsters are real and simple men and women must overcome their doubts and fears in order to stand against the unspeakable creatures of the night.
The Strange Man is Greg Mitchell’s debut novel. Where would he get the idea for this kind of story? If you’re curious like I was, you’re in luck. I had the chance to interview Greg and asked him that, as well as a few other things. Read on!
Where did the idea for “The Strange Man” come from?
Well, the easy answer is that it began life as a failed script proposal that I originally wrote as a sequel to Rich Christiano’s Christian film The Appointment, coupled with a boost of inspiration from the Twilight Zone episode “The Howling Man”. That’s where the seed of The Strange Man began back in 1998/1999. But what made that seed grow was just a lifelong love of monster movies and comic books and a desire to communicate my Christian faith through that. In a greater sense, The Strange Man—especially in the character of Dras Weldon—is very much a celebration of youth. It’s about finding your own way and questioning what’s come before and daring to make some mistakes along the way to discovering yourself. So, because of that, it’s a hodgepodge of my youth. All the things I love—it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s a love story, it’s got gnarly monsters, it’s a big budget action movie. So I think the more complicated, “writer-y” answer to that question: The Strange Man just came from my life.
Which character did you have the most fun writing?
I think the easiest character to write is Dras, my protagonist. He’s my inner kid. We love the same kinds of movies and comic books and he just represents my “light” side. He’s sarcastic, clumsy, and awkward, and takes life as it comes. He’s just a lot of fun. The flip side of that is the Strange Man, who is as much fun to write. He is really born out of this dark, dark place inside of me. He’s kind of Dras’ negative. So the book is really this war between my own light and dark sides, struggling for supremacy. Wow, that’s awfully intellectual. I was having a rare moment. 😛
Who are your favorite authors and why?
You can never go wrong with Lovecraft. But, really, I’m not a guy who generally follows authors. I follow stories. I look for series, especially. I like long-term stories that show character growth and an expanding mythology. I really enjoyed Harry Potter, but I wouldn’t say I’m a “J.K. Rowling fan”, you know? I’m not likely to pick up her books just because her name is on it. But if it says “Harry Potter” on it, I’ll read it! :p So, to that end, the series that I like are Star Wars, the Dark Tower, the aforementioned Boy Who Lived, Monster-Blood Tattoo, and the Monster Hunter International series by Larry Correia. I’m just really impressed by authors who create a series and stick with it for years or decades. I look at the late Brian Jacques’ Redwall, or the Necroscope series, or the Ender’s Game series, or Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, even Clive Cussler, and it inspires me. Now, I should confess that, apart from some Elric material in high school, I’ve not read any of those amazing authors I just listed there, ha ha. I know, I know, I can just hear the screams of readers everywhere, “But there are so many good books out there you’ve yet to experience! You’re missing out!” But, I’m really not much of a reader—I simply do not have the time. Not if I want to get anything written. I check in on what these other authors are doing in their respective series from time to time, because I respect what they’re doing because I’m trying to do the same with my story. I sit down to read, sure, but I’m a doer. I start to read a book and then I think of all the stories of my own I want to tell and I just find myself at the keyboard typing. There’s an old adage among some that say, if you want to be a good writer, you’ve got to read, read, read. Well, I think that makes you a good reader. I think if you want to write, you’ve got to write, write, write. You learn through exercise—at least, I do. I’ve set a sort of rule for myself that I can’t read anything while I’m in writing mode (but these days I’m always writing). A funny reason for this is back a few years ago I was writing my first draft for The Coming Evil, Book Two. I was also reading Ray Bradbury’s AMAZING Something Wicked This Way Comes. I’d read a little, then write a little. Read some more, write some more. Before long, I’d lost my voice and had become some cheap knock-off of Mr. Bradbury. I had to totally throw that chapter away (which was too bad, because it really did sound a lot like Bradbury :P) and practically start over. I’ve got to find my own voice, and not just parrot everyone else. But I have a lot of respect for those authors all the same.
If you could be a fictional character from one of your favorite books, who would it be and why?
Well, I’d have to find a favorite book, first! Yikes! That’s a really hard one. Most of the things I read deal with heroes barely surviving against unspeakable evil—or not surviving at all—so I’m not sure I’d want to be in any of their shoes. 😛 On second thought, maybe I’d choose to be any of the three heroes from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror. Doctors Armitage, Rice, and Morgan, I think. Those guys actually faced a “Lovecraftian horror” and won with their sanity intact, which is not easy to do. So you know those guys have got to be pretty awesome!
What projects are you currently working on?
So many! I have no idea how I’m going to accomplish all of them. Most immediately, I’m the writer for Cloud Ten Pictures’ next “Apocalypse” movie. I’m also writing a comic for them that ties into the film. I’ve been hired by Hasslein Books to co-author not one, but two, Completely Unofficial Back to the Future guides—one a timeline, one a lexicon. I’m about to have to start working with my editor on The Coming Evil, Book Two, and then I’m also writing two novels, both developed from ideas I had when I was a younger. Not sure what I’m going to do with those yet. I just feel the need to write them. Also, I just finished up a Bigfoot short story for an upcoming anthology (super excited about that one). Got a movie script or two I’m trying to sell. Also, there’s the day job and trying to raise two kids with my awesome wife 😛
What can you tell us about the next two books in “The Coming Evil” trilogy? When are they supposed to hit the shelves?
Book Two is entitled Enemies of the Cross and is tentatively due in stores about February next year. The plan is to release the final act of the trilogy a year after that in 2013. What to expect? More of everything. I’m a firm believer in “escalation”. More monsters, more terror, more excitement. Things just keep building and building as the monsters begin to make Greensboro their hunting ground. The mythology is constantly unfolding and you’ll learn things in Book Two that will completely change the way you view The Strange Man. Characters will grow, some will fall—everything changes. It’s all gearing up to Book Three which will just be this insane all-out war between those who stand for good and hell’s worst evil. No one will be safe. My wife just finished reading my first draft for Book Three the other night and she just had this wide-eyed stare and, after a few moments, said, “That was epic.” I want to make this huge roller-coaster ride and leave everybody breathless and excited by the end. It’ll be a workout!
Where can readers find you on the web?
I’m easy to find over at my blog: www.thecomingevil.blogspot.com. I hope everybody stops by. We’ve got movie-style book trailers, short stories set before the events of The Strange Man for your enjoyment, and interviews with a lot of great authors.
Thanks so much for having me!
Want more info? A couple of days ago, I posted a book trailer for Greg Mitchell’s new Christian horror novel (link here). You can also read an excerpt of the novel at this link: The Strange Man Excerpt
The Strange Man, by Greg Mitchell
Paperback, 304 pages
List Price: $13.99
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”