Author Interview with Ivan Ringbell

Today I’m interviewing Ivan Ringbell, the author of Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls. Welcome to my blog, and thanks for answering my questions.

  • How long have you been writing?

I started in elementary school, writing plays for my friends and I to put on in the playground and competing in district contests. I started submitting to magazines in high school. I stopped after a particularly painful rejection – not something I recommend to new writers – and when I wrote through college and young adulthood it was gaming or personal material, never meant for anything important. That break probably lasted ten years or so.

When Livejournal became a thing, I joined an online roleplaying game and started taking my writing for it very seriously. I joined a few online writing groups, went to a few community college classes, and eventually fell back in love with the process.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

I dig on modern weirdness, though my roots are in epic fantasy. Some friends think my best work is in essays, where I’m able to be more honest and open with people about the way I think and feel my way through the world. I do enjoy writing those – they’re certainly easier than creating entire worlds! It’s difficult for me to find things to opine on for those, though; at least things I feel safe revealing.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Two! I actually have a skeleton idea for a series of mysteries that would encompass over ten titles, which seems fairly common for the genre. Unfortunately, I’m completely disinterested in law enforcement and forensics, which makes research an unpleasant slog. I’m also intensely fond of secret histories, and I enjoy researching the past for weird coincidences and potential occult tie-ins. You’re more likely to see one of those than the mysteries, which is a shame from a potential earnings standpoint.

  • Please tell us about your book.

Famished: The Gentleman Ghouls Omnibus is made up of three novels and two brand-new short stories. It covers the trials of Gordon Velander, a slightly over-educated Everyman who discovers he is among the lost heirs to a horrific and powerful secret. Unable to square his moral compass with what the Gentleman Ghouls expect of him, he is convinced by outside entities to destroy the entire system which he could benefit from greatly if he was less scrupulous.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Carreau was always my favorite character. He only appears in about a third of the books, but oh, he was fun to write. In many ways he gave my inner hedonist a strong voice and forceful personality, something my Midwestern upbringing has always frowned on and worked to suppress. So getting him out on the page to strut his stuff was awfully fun.

My least favorite character was probably Jacob Archard, leader of the New England Ghouls. I wanted a more tragic villain, one who was less sure of himself – someone who mirrored the protagonist, Gordon Velander, but in a different way from the adamant leaders of the other branches. It was difficult to write through his depression, his bleakness, the decisions he had to make but did not want to. I’m honestly rather proud of him as a character, but I certainly didn’t enjoy being in his head.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Making time. Hands down, making time … I admire writers who are able to carve off a specific period of time for writing and who guard it fiercely. I’ve never developed that knack with boundaries. Between my day job, a long commute, family obligations and various other projects constantly spinning around the calendar, I’ve never got into a steady routine of writing.

That’s on me, though. It’s not as if my wife or friends would begrudge me an hour or two a night. With more discipline and an improved sense of boundaries I could make this easier on myself.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

See above – it’s not much of a routine, really. The main thing I absolutely need is a sense of solitude. If I can hear someone doing chores in the next room, or have my email and instant messaging open, it’s impossible to focus on the task at hand. I’m not one of those coffeehouse writers! Give me a nice, comfortable garret far away from the rest of the world. When deadlines are looming, sometimes I’ll book off-hours time in my office’s conference rooms just so I know I have the space and time to do what’s necessary.

Music isn’t an absolute need, but oh, does it ever help. I will force myself to write in silence every few days so that it doesn’t become a crutch, and I make it a point of shifting from one style or genre to another, rarely the same band twice. Bandcamp.com has been a godsend for this and I try to promote the music I’m listening to on my blog alongside the writing work. I have so much respect for musicians and other artists, they’re trying to make things work just like writers are. My usual rule is that if I listen to the same album more than twice, I buy the digital copy.

Went off the tracks a little there, I suppose, but that’s how important the music is to my process.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

::laughs:: Ages. AGES. I don’t even remember when I started, to be honest, I’ve been trying to do the math and it just eludes me. Let’s say a minimum of ten years. Each book individually, though, I want to say between 1-2 years. I’m not proud of that speed, but there we are.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

Each chapter as written is sent out to alpha readers while I start work on the next. I’m not looking for typos or anything at this point, just recommendations or people to catch logical fallacies and plot holes. Once the entire book is complete I take a two-week break, then print the whole thing out to read and redline. I do one round of edits that way, pen and paper, then make the fixes in Word and print it out a second time.

That second printing gets read aloud, every word, every line. I want to know how the sentences flow, where alliteration has taken over, where the dialogue is awkward. Again, I’m redlining here with pen and paper, although sometimes the note just reads “Unfuck this part up, please,” to remind me it has too many issues to fix with a pen.

After that it goes to beta readers. Any typos or awkward phrases they find I fix immediately as they come in, but I file away any larger comments on style, feel, or other questions until everyone’s given me their feedback. At that point I attack any common complaints about specific scenes or bits, then I’ll go back and give careful consideration to individual comments or notes. Sometimes I agree, sometimes not, so that determines whether it’s addressed or not.

At that point it’s off to the editors for what is hopefully the last round of edits. Typically I don’t fight the editors unless I strongly disagree with that they want – I’ll fold in what they’re looking for, tighten the places they want tightened, and send it back in with a minimum of muttering.

Oh, and editing is done in silence. No music there. That’s a different part of the brain.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

The omnibus comprises three books and two short stories. There’s room in the world for a fourth, but I don’t consider myself anywhere near ready to tackle its subject matter. It’s likely to go unwritten, to be honest, and I don’t think that hurts the work as a whole in any meaningful way.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Oh, gosh. Get good with your boundaries and discipline early on. Make time for yourself and your creativity. Try to stop mimicking your favorite authors as soon as you can – you’re going to do it, everyone does, but work at noticing that and putting a stop to it when you see it. When you find your voice, defend it fiercely as needed. Don’t roll over for publishing trends or what’s selling today. And honestly, deny and reject the stereotype of the alcoholic writer. Booze and drugs don’t enhance your creativity, no matter how much fun they might seem. Rise above that myth.

  • Why should everyone read your book?

Famished: The Gentleman Ghouls has a lot to say about duty, conscience, and steadfastness in the face of overwhelming and institutionalized horror. These days, that’s even more important than it was when I started the stories so long ago. Additionally, I’ve heard that at least one reader fainted while reading a specific scene, which gives me a big toothy grin. Dare you prove yourself against that chapter?

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Tim Powers would be first. I’m a big fan of his work and the sheer amount of research he puts into everything he does. Last Call was one of the first books to really show me how things could be stretched into strange and bizarre angles. I’ve just re-read Declare for the second time and remain in awe of how many genres he manages to combine with modern weirdness.

I would very much like to have met Sir Terry Pratchett. He left the world the same way my father did, and he was the first author whom I shared with my father rather than the other way around. Dad had to stop reading the books on his public transit commute because he couldn’t stop laughing. I would like Sir Terry to know what an influence he had on both of us.

And because I’m a theater nerd, William Shakespeare’s the obvious third choice. I know it’s a cliché and I don’t care.

If we extended beyond three, I’d have plenty more. I really should start going to more writing conferences and conventions to meet some of them!

  • What inspired you to write your book?

I was asked, to be honest. I never would have tried writing horror if Jennifer hadn’t asked me to, and at the time I thought it was a twelve-episode serial. I certainly never expected it to become what it did. In terms of the core inspiration, I was told to find what frightened me most and write about that. Lovecraft’s “The Picture in the House,” one of his earliest stories, scarred me at a tender age and is one of the few horror stories I remember being shaken by. So I took a core concept there and expanded it across other fears of isolation and dominating authority.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I can’t talk about my biggest surprise yet, though hopefully soon! In writing, I’ve got two chapters down on a suburban fantasy that’s been kicking around my head for years. It’s lighter in tone and feel, theoretically; though since I’ve spent so long in the darkness of Famished I find it creeping into almost everything I do these days. I’m also working to become an accredited public speaker and hope to move into monologuing as a combination of writing and performing my own work.

 

About the Book

Hunger.

It’s the driving force behind survival.

The Velander bloodline carries an ancient secret: power and immortality. But that power requires a key to unlock: human flesh. Gordon Velander finds himself an unwilling participant in a play for survival – but he won’t be powerless for long.

It’s the driving force behind passion.

The Gentleman Ghouls have survived for centuries due to cunning and careful planning but their world in unraveling. Gordon has vowed to take the Ghouls down no matter what, but he’s fighting a war—both within and without. The Ghouls, on the other hand, are not waiting patiently for the end to come.

It’s the driving force behind revenge.

With the Farm and the Commons destroyed, the Ranch is the last outpost of the Ghouls. With the bitter end in sight, Gordon must face his greatest challenge yet—claiming his own fate as other forces make their moves.

Revenge is sweet.
Passion is fulfilling.
But survival trump all.

This rural horror omnibus of cannibals, dark pacts, and ancient power by Ivan Ewert contains three novels: Famished: The Farm, Famished: The Commons, and Famished: The Ranch, and features two new short stories.

Purchase from Amazon.

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