Author Gary Whitta Talks Abomination and the Monsters Within Us All - Dread Central
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Author Gary Whitta Talks Abomination and the Monsters Within Us All

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Out today is Gary Whitta’s debut novel, Abomination, and we had a chance to chat with the author about the publishing model he selected for it, the book’s historical and biblical elements, what horror fans should appreciate, his influences, and lots more so dig in!

Dread Central:  Inkshares is a new way of publishing – if I understand it correctly, it combines crowdfunding with input on the story itself from your followers beforehand. Why did you choose that model instead of traditional publishing; how do they differ in terms of author benefits? And why not just publish it yourself? That’s popular nowadays also.

Gary Whitta:  Yeah, I think it’s a terrific model that kind of combines the freedom of self-publishing with all the benefits a traditional publisher can bring to the table. I did initially consider doing it the old-fashioned way through a traditional publisher, but the more research I did, the less appealing it seemed to me. So I then considered the self-publishing route, which has become a totally valid option these days, a far cry from the old “vanity publishing” days, and was lucky enough to get some great advice from authors who have had tremendous success going that route, like Hugh Howey and Andy Weir. So I was pretty close to self-publishing Abomination for a while. But then the Inkshares option came along, and I just really liked their approach. I knew that they could provide far better production quality and distribution than I could manage on my own, but I didn’t need their permission to publish the book; all I needed was to collect enough backers through their crowdfunding process.

DC:  Did the crowdfunding campaign require any special preparation? You hit your $16K goal in just 20 hours; that’s pretty impressive.

GW:  Inkshares helped with some of the preparation; we shot a little promotional video and stuff like that. But I think the crowdfunding success we enjoyed came largely from the fact that I’m fortunate to have a little bit of a following through my previous work as a writer in other media. I banged the drum pretty loudly among my social media following and also did every little bit of press that I could solicit. That’s the thing about going the non-traditional route — you really have to do a lot of the publicity that you might otherwise expect a publisher to do yourself.

DC:  This is your first novel, but you’re hardly new to writing with screenplays (The Book of Eli) and video games (The Walking Dead) on your resume. Why tackle a book now? How does it compare to the other media you’ve worked in?

GW:  A novel felt like the best fit for this particular story. I’m most experienced as a screenwriter, but I wanted to flex my muscles and try to learn a second language, so to speak, and also some of the things I wanted the story to do seemed like they would be better facilitated by a novel than a film. In some ways Abomination is quite a personal, intimate story, and that’s not something that’s always easy to do in a film — at least not a big-budget film, which Abomination would certainly have to be because of all the monsters and magic and stuff.

DC:  With Abomination being a blend of history and fantasy, how much is based on real-world research, and how much of it was a product of your own imagination and world-building?

GW:  Combining history and fantasy was one of the most fun parts of writing this story. Fantasy is a really crowded genre right now, and I felt like this story needed something to set it apart. So one thing I knew I wanted to avoid was setting it in a faraway imaginary land. We’ve seen plenty of that. I was born and raised in England, and I’ve always been fascinated by early English history, so it felt like a good opportunity to explore that and also use it as a setting which would maybe help ground the more fantastical elements of the story because they’re not taking place in some fairytale kingdom but in a real historical place and time. So I did a fair bit of research into the period of history where the the story is set, a time when Alfred the Great was defending England against Viking invasion and the whole country was basically split in half between the native Anglo-Saxons and the Nordic invaders. There’s a map at the front of the book because of course all good fantasy books have to have a map, and we were lucky enough to have ours drawn up by Jonathan Roberts, who is George RR Martin’s official cartographer of the Game of Thrones universe. The amazing thing about it is, you look at the map and you instantly recognize it as the British Isles, but once you look closer and see how the country at that time was split up into these different kingdoms — there wasn’t really an “England” in a unified sense back then — and this massive Viking nation known as the Danelaw, it almost seems as though you’re looking at a map of a fantasy kingdom. But it’s all real.

Related Story:  Read the First Two Chapters of Gary Whitta’s Abomination

DC:  Along with the historical elements, there are biblical touchstones weaved throughout the story; can you share a bit about those? What’s their significance to the tale?

GW:  I think it’s difficult to tell a story during the Dark Ages without referencing religion to some degree because it so defined the culture and the people who lived during that period. But I also think there’s some element of spiritual faith that seems to show up in all of my work. Obviously, The Book of Eli is about the power — be it positive or negative — of religious belief. For all the violence and gore, the themes of Abomination are largely about mercy and forgiveness and human kindness, and those all have strong connections to Christian teachings. It’s weird because I’m an atheist myself, and yet, I always seem to come back to writing characters who are driven by these kinds of convictions.

DC:  Wulfric is not your typical warrior hero; what inspired his character?

GW:  Abomination is set against a backdrop of war, but what I really wanted to find was the anti-war message. So I liked the idea of creating a hero who was a warrior, but who hated war. He’s a pacifist who never even wanted to pick up a sword but has been blessed — or cursed — with an innate gift for killing. Much of the story is about him trying to find a way to atone for the things he did in the war. War is often glamorized in fiction, particularly SFF fiction, but I was more interested in telling a story about the toll war takes on the human conscience.

DC:  Indra is Wulfric’s foil in many ways as a fierce female warrior. She’s leaving her domineering father on a path toward her destiny. Were there any challenges to writing her arc in particular?

GW:  Indra partly came from wanting to write just a really good, strong, female character and put her front and center, as much the hero of the piece as Wulfric is. And I think there’s often a misconception about what a “strong female character” really means. A lot of people seem to think it’s one who is tough and badass and basically has a lot of masculine qualities. I prefer to think of a strong character — be they male or female — as someone who is burdened by a great deal of flaws and issues, but who finds the strength to overcome them and succeed. So I weighed Indra down with a lot of problems. She’s way too headstrong and full of herself for her own good, she lies, she suffers from debilitating panic attacks, she’s often unable to control her anger… and yet, underneath all of that there’s a kind and selfless soul trying to push through all that and assert itself. I found that the more broken I made her, the stronger she became.

DC:  Throughout Abomination there is a theme of Beast vs. Man/Instinct vs. Reason. Could you expand on this concept, particularly as it relates to the horror genre?

GW:  A lot of the great horror stories, going all the way back to The Wolf Man and Doctor Jekyll & Mister Hyde, deal with this idea of taking the internal struggle between our better selves and our dark side and externalizing it by making the monster real. I think it’s one of those areas where horror is really able to deal with real human themes that we can all relate to. We all want to be the best version of ourselves, but we also acknowledge that all of us have some monstrous qualities within us that we try to contain. So at its purest level Abomination is really about that, the monster within all of us.

DC:  Are there any other elements to the story that fans of horror fiction especially might appreciate? What more can you tell us about the monstrous beasts of the title?

GW:  I hope that purely as a genre piece Abomination will scratch that itch for people who just want a bloody good time. So far I’ve been really encouraged by the feedback I’ve been getting from readers. Any time someone says, “This is disgusting!” or “Your imagination is seriously messed up” or “This part made me want to throw up,” I take it as a compliment. It is definitely not a book for the squeamish. Part of the fun of writing this was just to see how far I could go in creating the most wretched, hideous, horrifying monsters possible and then just to let them wreak all kinds of bloody slaughter. That was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts, to just let the darkest parts of my imagination let rip. John Carpenter’s The Thing was a hugely influential film for me, and when you see some of the monsters in Abomination, I think that comes across. Just absolutely disgusting.

DC:  Who have your influences been, not just for Abomination, but also some of the film and video game work you’ve done? Favorite books or movies in the genre that stand out?

GW:  Beyond the obvious Star Wars references, the big movies that influenced me early on were stuff like Time Bandits, The Last Starfighter, Hawk the Slayer, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Dawn of the Dead, The Exorcist… some pretty hokey stuff sometimes, but there’s nothing wrong with that when you’re a kid. As a reader it was Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Roald Dahl, and Kurt Vonnegut. I also read a lot of horror stuff when I was a kid; I remember reading a lot of books by a guy named Shaun Hutson, who I think was one of the influences for Garth Marenghi? Tremendous fun.

DC:  Lastly, with Abomination being unleashed upon the world this week, what’s next for you? You worked on the Star Wars standalone Rogue One; I imagine it’s going to be tough to top that!

GW:  Yeah, I’m all done with Rogue One but I’m continuing with Star Wars as a writer on the TV series “Star Wars Rebels.” I’m finishing up a film adaptation of the Mark Millar comic Starlight, and then we’ll see what’s next!

Our thanks to Gary for his time.  Abomination is available NOW!

Synopsis:
He is England’s greatest knight, the man who saved the life of Alfred the Great and an entire kingdom from a Viking invasion. But when he is called back into service to combat a plague of monstrous beasts known as abominations, he meets a fate worse than death and is condemned to a life of anguish, solitude, and remorse.

She is a fierce young warrior, raised among an elite order of knights. Driven by a dark secret from her past, she defies her controlling father and sets out on a dangerous quest to do what none before her ever have―hunt down and kill an abomination, alone.

When a chance encounter sets these two against one another, an incredible twist of fate will lead them toward a salvation they never thought possible―and prove that the power of love, mercy, and forgiveness can shine a hopeful light even in history’s darkest age.

Whitta_ABOMINATION-CV

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Go Christmas Caroling with The Killing of a Sacred Deer

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Given that I personally have gone Christmas caroling with various lunatics hopped up on eggnog, what the hell… why not go Christmas caroling with The Killing of a Sacred Deer? Dig on this latest clip!

Look for the flick starring Colin Farrell (Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, In Bruges, 2009) and co-starring Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (Best Actress, The Hours, 2003) to hit Blu-ray, DVD, and digital on January 23rd. Yorgos Lanthimos directs.

Special features include “An Impossible Conundrum” featurette, and the package will be priced at $24.99 and $19.98, respectively.

Synopsis:
Dr. Steven Murphy (Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon presiding over a spotless household with his ophthalmologist wife, Anna (Kidman), and their two exemplary children, 12-year-old Bob (Sunny Suljic) and 14-year-old Kim (Raffey Cassidy). Lurking at the margins of Steven’s idyllic suburban existence is Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen he has covertly taken under his wing.

As Martin begins insinuating himself into the family’s life in ever-more unsettling displays, the full scope of his intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long-forgotten transgression that will shatter the Murphy family’s domestic bliss.

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Which Monsters May Be Making Their TV Debut in Junji Ito Collection?

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Studio Deen’s highly-anticipated anime anthology Junji Ito Collection has been building buzz, especially since its new teaser dropped weeks ago. Eagle-eyed fans who are well-acquainted with horror mangaka Junji Ito’s body of work will spot some familiar faces in the new trailer, brought to the small screen by showrunner Shinobu Tagashira.

So, who among Ito’s famous menagerie of monsters may be making an appearance in the show when it airs next year?

Oshikiri Toru

Oshikiri is the morally-questionable highschooler who begins to question his perception of reality in Hallucinations, a series of some loosely connected one-shots. Oshikiri’s a little on the short side, with an even shorter fuse. One thing he’s not short on is moneyas evidenced by his impressive, albeit creepy, mansion. We’ve yet to see which of his adventureswhich range from murder to parallel dimensionswill be his television debut.

Yuuko

The once-chatty Yuuko falls ill and sees her worst fears come to pass in Slug Girl, the famous one-shot whose brand of body horror is sure to feel like a distant cousin (or maybe a predecessor?) to Uzumaki‘s “The Snail” chapter. It offers little in the way of answers but is best enjoyed in all its bizarre glory.

The Intersection Bishounen

In Lovesick Dead, one of Ito’s longer standalone stories, an urban legend causes a rash of suicides when young girls begin to call upon a mysterious, black-clad spirit called the Intersection Bishounen. The custom catches on quickly among teenagers, out late and eager for him to tell them their fortune in life and love, since his advice is to die for. Literally.

Souichi Tsujii

A long-running recurring character in Ito’s manga (probably second only to Tomie herself), you’ll know Souichi by the nails he sucks on or sticks out of his moutha strange habit borne out of an iron deficiency. He’s an impish kid whose fascination with the supernatural makes him the odd man out in an otherwise normal family. The morbid pranks he likes to playfunny only to him—don’t do much to endear him to his peers or relatives, either.

Fuchi

The titular character in Fashion Model, Fuchi works as a professional model for her, shall we say, unique look and Amazonian stature. When she and another actress are hired by a crew of indie filmmakers, Fuchi shows them that she doesn’t like sharing the limelight. She also makes a cameo in a couple of Souichi’s stories, and in them he finds her genuinely attractive. Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.

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Nemo Rising Signing Happening at Dark Delicacies on December 23

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Author C. Courtney Joyner will be signing copies of his new book Nemo Rising at Burkank’s Dark Delicacies horror store on Saturday, December 23 at 4pm. You can get the full details of the event and directions on Dark Delicacies’ website.

Nemo Rising will be a sequel to Jules Verne’s 1870 masterpiece Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and will see President Ulysses S. Grant recruiting the notorious Captain Nemo to destroy a gigantic sea monster which has been responsible for sinking ships. The gigantic eight-tentacled mollusc can be seen on the book’s cover below, and it looks like Nemo will have his work cut out for him.

Joyner also worked on the screenplays for the Full Moon films Doctor Mordrid and Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys, whilst his previous books include Hell Comes To Hollywood and the Shotgun series. If you can’t make it to the signing, Nemo Rising will be released in the US on December 26, and in the UK on January 13.

Nemo Rising Dark Delicacies Signing Details:
​Nemo Rising will be released on hardcover from Tor Books on December 26th, 2017.

JUST ANNOUNCED: On December 23rd at 4:00 PM, C. Courtney Joyner will sign copies of NEMO RISING at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, California!

C. COURTNEY JOYNER is an award-winning writer of fiction, comics, and screenplays. He has more than 25 movies to his credit, including the cult films Prison, starring Viggo Mortensen; From a Whisper to a Scream, starring Vincent Price; and Class of 1999, directed by Mark Lester. A graduate of USC, Joyner’s first produced screenplay was The Offspring, which also starred Vincent Price. Joyner’s other scripts have included TV movies for CBS, USA, and Showtime. He is the author of The Shotgun western series and Nemo Rising.

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