I really can’t remember when I started reading Greg Gifune’s work. The man is a solid, prolific storyteller who constantly puts out great work. Thanks to social media, I now know he is also a cool guy. In any case, I asked Greg to show me his shelves. I was happy to learn we have the same (non)system for shelving books. I also asked him some questions. Here’s what he had to say.
Gabino Iglesias: Who are you and what role do books play in your life?
Greg Gifune: I’m professional writer and editor, so books obviously play a huge role in my life. They have from the time I was a child. I benefited from having teachers as parents. My mother taught me to read at a very young age and that’s where I got my love of books. It’s always been a part of me, for as long as I can remember.
GI: At what point did you know writing was going to be your full-time job?
GG: I did a lot of other things first, but writing was always a part of me. I always wanted to be a writer, and at one point in my 30s I decided to go for it as a career and see if I could pull it off. It took me about five years to really break through, and then another five to establish myself. But there was a lot of struggle and failure and rejection along the way first. Several years of it. I’m a big fan of failure, and God knows I had it down to a science in those first few years. But despite a lot of popular opinion today, failure is good for you. It makes you stronger, makes you better and forces you to earn it. And when you do succeed, it’s all the sweeter.
GI: As an established author, you must get a lot of requests for blurbs, introductions, and short stories. How do you navigate that while still being as prolific as you are?
GG: I get a lot of requests for that and all kinds of things, yes. I try to be careful what I put my name on and endorse, but I also try to help whenever I can. I think those of us who have had some modicum of success in this business should always be looking back to those we can offer a hand to, and those deserving of it. I’m kind of an outsider when it comes to cliques, groups and organizations in the business. I march to my own drummer and always have. Because of that, it took me a little longer to establish myself, but even I didn’t do things without some help. There were those who believed in me along the way, those who helped open doors and mentors who were instrumental in making me the writer I am today. I’m forever grateful to those who helped me, and I’m a big believer in helping other writers, if I can, in those instances where they’ve earned a shot. When I was working at publishing houses as an editor and acquisitions guy it was part of the job so it was easier to do, and a part of the job I loved. Over the years I’ve discovered and given shots to a lot of people who are now respected names in the genre and beyond (years back I was the first person to ever publish Khaled Hosseini, of Kite Runner fame, for example), and I’m very proud of that. In many ways I’m as proud of having helped a lot of other writers get out there and have careers as I am of my own career. Since I no longer work in the editing arena (at least at this point), and have very little free time, it’s more difficult now, and I have to be more selective. When I read for pleasure I like to read what I want to read rather than something I feel I have to because I promised someone. Of course if it’s something I was drawn to and wanted to read anyway then it’s not an issue. But I always try. It’s not always possible, but if I can help, I do.
GG: The house is burning down. You only have a small box to save 10 or 15 books. What tomes get saved?
GG: Wow, I probably die trying to make that decision. Definitely my signed collector edition of James Dickey’s Deliverance. Probably copies of Lord of the Flies and To the Lighthouse. Too many, man, I’m in trouble. I’m burning.
GI: What have you read so far this year that is a must-read for fans of dark fiction?
GG: In terms of dark fiction, I’d say The Hunger by Alma Katsu, The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor, Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, Neighborly by Elie Monago, and Down on the Street by Alec Cizak.
GI: Why do you think horror and crime mix so well?
GG: They’re more closely aligned than many realize (particularly a lot of horror fans). They both deal with the underbelly and gritty side to life and have characters that are often dealing with things on a scale most readers in the usual world never do, yet they can relate to in terms of essence and the human condition. I think there’s a basic sensibility both genres share. They speak to the same thing in us, and often from a similar position psychologically.
GI: Who are some of your favorite new voices?
GG: One guy people really should be reading more is Keith Deininger. Keith is an amazing writer I’m proud to have discovered and mentored when I handled acquisitions and was Senior Editor for DarkFuse. His work is very intelligent and surreal, and often disturbing. Keith’s a serious artist and a really sweet guy, and his work deserves a hell of a lot more attention. I like Kristin Dearborn’s work a lot too. I discovered her at DF as well, when author Tim Waggoner (who if I remember correctly was her professor) spoke highly of her potential and asked me if I’d be willing to take a look at Kristin’s first novel. When I read it I immediately knew why Tim was so impressed with her. While the novel needed some work, her writing showed tremendous potential, and Kristen had a voice she was still getting hold of, but it was there. We worked together and got the novel (Trinity) where it needed to be, and I think it’s a very solid first novel. Since then she’s gotten even better. I also think the Sisters of Slaughter, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason are doing some interesting work in the horror genre as well. They’ve got tremendous potential and continue to grow and sharpen their craft, so they’re a pair to watch for sure. There are a few more I’m forgetting, I’m sure, which is why I seldom do lists like this, but all of the writers I just mentioned are definitely worth looking into if you haven’t read their work yet.
GI: How much of your writing is dictated by the Doze?
GG: Ha! A lot. He’s my family, so all of it, really.
GI: Prolific doesn’t begin to describe you. Between new stuff, books that have found new homes, and audiobooks, what can we look forward to from you for the rest of 2018?
GG: Thanks, although I tend to look a little more prolific than I probably am. I’ve been a published novelist for nearly 20 years now, so when you look at that timeframe, yes, I’ve been prolific, but it’s not like I did all this work in a couple years. It’s been over a long stretch. Still, I have been prolific to a degree. In terms of the rest of this year (2018), a few more of my previously out-of-print novellas (HOUSE OF RAIN, KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, SORCERER, and LORDS OF TWILIGHT) will all be released again before the end of the year from Crossroad. In September my novella APARTMENT SEVEN returns from Independent Legions Publishing, and my novels BABYLON TERMINAL and ROGUE return to print, both from Journalstone. In October, my crime novel (and first novel) NIGHT WORK returns to print after many years from Down & Out Books. I’m also working on several new things including new novels and a few film/TV projects.
GI: What is your latest novel about and why should folks click outta here right now and go grab a copy?
GG: My latest works are A WINTER SLEEP (a horror novel), MIDNIGHT GODS (a horror novella and my response to the times we’re living in, which will be a feature film likely beginning production next year at some point, directed by Eric Shapiro [Rule of Three, Living Things, Hoax, First Impressions]), and DANGEROUS BOYS (a crime novel) which Publishers Weekly called “A searing crime novel.”
A WINTER SLEEP: In a haunted hotel on the outskirts of a forgotten town, a bizarre group of tenants guard a horrible secret. A troubled man on the run, with nothing left to lose, drives aimlessly along dark highways in search of redemption. A little boy brutally attacked and left for dead, realizes the strange power his agony has granted him. An enigmatic homeless man with nightmares he can no longer control, lost in a violent dreamscape only he understands, watches and waits. As a snowstorm traps them all within the walls of the old hotel, where madness and depravity run wild, from the shadows, a new reign of lesser gods begins, and an aberrant evil fights for survival amidst the cold terror of a desolate winter, and the bloody dreams of the hopeless and the damned.
MIDNIGHT GODS: As Emily and Oliver Young head home from a party on a cold winter night, they have no idea that someone, perhaps something, is waiting for them in the darkness. When a strange man in a fedora steps in front of their car, what begins as an innocent accident becomes a crime, a hit-and-run that will forever change their lives and shatter the world they believe existed. It’s midnight again in America. The country is divided, the planet is in turmoil. Hatred, distrust and anger run rampant. Fear both manufactured and real is a disease, and it’s spreading. Now, that fear, that god of horror and mayhem, has taken shape. And no one is immune.
DANGEROUS BOYS: All they had was each other…and nothing to lose…
Summer, 1984. For Richie Lionetti and his gang of friends, their years as teenagers are coming to an end. At a crossroad in their lives as petty criminals and thugs on the mean streets of New Bedford, Massachusetts, they’ve got one final summer, one last chance to fall in love, brawl for their turf, rob and pillage, and one last chance to make a move and pull a job that could change their lives forever.
As a series of brutal heatwaves hit southeastern Massachusetts, the city boils, and everyone is on edge. In the hopes of finding something better, Richie desperately searches for meaning in all the violence, sex and degradation that is his daily life. But at what price?
Part coming-of-age tale, part dark crime thriller, Dangerous Boys is the story of a group of young punks with nothing left to lose, fighting to find themselves, their futures, and a way out of the madness and darkness before it’s too late.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He is the author of COYOTE SONGS and ZERO SAINTS, the book reviews editor for PANK Magazine, and a columnist for LitReactor. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias