Greg Mitchell is more than just a talented author and screenwriter. He’s good people. Greg and I met a few years back after appearing in an anthology together. Discovering we had mutual interests in cinematic storytelling and monster hunters, a friendship grew quickly.
Greg has a strong sense of family, a solid moral center, and small town values that I both relate to and appreciate. This translates well into his fiction as he’s able to capture that essence, twist it, darken it, and send shivers down your spine.
With Hallowe’en almost upon, I thought it would be the perfect time to check in with Greg, especially as he has a new book out that not only captures the spirit of the season but is also the perfect title to promote as a part of Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read.
The All Hallow’s Read tradition, which began in 2010, is brilliant in its simplicity. The idea is that during the week of Hallowe’en, or on Hallowe’en Night itself, you give someone a scary book. Not instead of candy or what have you, but in addition to.
Greg Mitchell’s latest, Dracula vs Great White Shark, is the perfect title for All Hallow’s Read this year. For starters, it’s all-ages. It’s an inspired supplement to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though, to be honest, it’s more akin to Christopher Lee’s Count than anything. It’s an inexpensive purchase, easily snatched up on Amazon for less than $10. And it is fun, which is what Hallowe’en is all about.
So without further ado, here’s my brief conversation with my friend and fellow author, Greg Mitchell.
Bob: Thanks for joining me here at The Occult Detective, Greg. The first question I’d like to ask you I will paraphrase from one of my favorite interviewers, Rune Soup’s Gordon White. Tell me, were you a strange and unusual kid?
Greg: No, not on the outside, I suppose. I was the quiet kid in the back who made good grades and didn’t have any beef with anybody. I think, growing up, most people would say I was the “nice kid”. If I was unusual, it was due to the fact that I didn’t stand out at all. I was nearly invisible. Behind that quiet veneer, however, were worlds of monsters. I was always creating and fixating on the dark “what ifs” of life. Even now, I still think it catches people by surprise, as I’m still the “nice, quiet kid in the back”, but then they see what I write and there’s always a moment of “Oh, that came from you?”
Bob: That’s an interesting observation. So tell me, it’s a bit of a cliched question, but for writers, an important one, who were your biggest literary inspirations?
Greg: It’s a sign of my generation, but I would have to say Stephen King—not that I’ve read a ton of Stephen King, mind you. But growing up in the 80s-90s, King WAS horror. I can still remember in middle school and junior high, all the kids bringing worn King paperbacks to class, sneaking a read in between periods, and talking excitedly about the lurid, morbid fantasies inside. More than anything, it was the sheer excitement swirling around King in those days. The man was nigh unto a real-life bogeyman, himself, with his name being whispered on the lips of all the children on the school bus. What I’ve read of King, I obviously appreciate, though I think his magic isn’t in his horror—which doesn’t really strike me as very scary on the written page—but in his characters. I think that’s been the key to his success all these years, in that he writes us. Our hopes and fears, our secrets, our longings. He’s a master of writing the human condition and throwing a monster in there as a symbol of our collective fears, and that’s something that I strive to accomplish as well in my own humble offerings.
Bob: We both grew up in and continue to live in small towns. In my own writing, that ‘small town voice’ is ever-present. How big of an influence are your native environs?
Greg: Super big. I live in one of those small towns, the kind they always show in 80s horror movies. And I guess seeing those movies shaped my view of my town. Growing up, I was told by my peers how boring and safe my town was, but then I’d pop in a suburban horror movie and was opened up to the possibility that, just beneath the quaint charm, there could be something exciting and dangerous lurking. You just had to look a little closer and use your imagination. I don’t think I’ve been able to look at small towns the same since. So I’m in a relatively safe place—which works great for real life—but it also provides the groundwork for imagining what secrets might be brewing beneath our feet.
Bob: I’ve got to tell you, your latest book, is a great read. The characters are so well drawn and you did a masterful job of ratcheting up the suspense. It was really a lot of fun. Tell me a bit about what inspired you to write Dracula vs Great White Shark?
Greg: For the last few years, I’ve been tasked with creating more original content for the Syfy Channel as lead-ins for their impossibly popular Sharknado events. That process begins with pitching shark-related titles to the network, trying to find one that catches their interest and could lead to developing a feature. At first, Dracula vs Great White Shark was just one of a hundred other absurd titles, but once the network passed on it, the name stayed with me. I loved the “monster rally” aspect of it and thought it could be legitimately interesting to take a classic monster of old and have him rumble with his ubiquitous modern day counterpart. As stated in the book, there isn’t much difference in a vampire and shark—they’re both apex predators, both must constantly hunt to survive. The important thing is that I didn’t want to make this a parody. Aside from the gloriously ridiculous title, I still wanted to treat Dracula with a great reverence, and I borrowed heavily from Hammer movies and the Tomb of Dracula comics for my rendition.
Bob: I admire you reaching out to the all-ages market by developing an imprint for those kinds of stories.Tell me more about MonsterKid Press and what sort of titles you envision in the imprint’s future.
Greg: MonsterKid Press is a new imprint of my Genre Experience independent label. It’s designed for a younger audience, and its aim is just pure monster fun. Most of my novels lean heavily on a serious, spiritual angle. And that’s fine most of the time, but truthfully, it can get taxing. As much as I love to explore the deeper truths of spirituality and the mortal struggle of fear versus faith, sometimes I just want to write a book about Dracula wrestling a shark, you know? Working on Syfy has shown me the benefits of shaking loose your imagination and writing from a place of unabashed entertainment. That’s not to say something like Dracula vs Great White Shark doesn’t have something more meaningful to offer, just that it’s not the driving force. I’ve got a few more ideas lined up for MonsterKid—fun, creature-filled spooky romps that are born from that part of my soul where I’m eternally twelve years old and it’s always HalloweenNight.
Bob: You mentioned earlier your work with Syfy. I’ve been impressed by the great success you’ve had as a screenwriter. Do you find the creative process different between writing scripts and novels?
Greg: Not really, no. At least, not the way I do it. I started my career wanting to be a screenwriter. I fell into “novelist” by accident because I was twenty years old and had no idea how to get an independent movie off the ground. Keep in mind, this was in the late ‘90s before YouTube and the boom of DIY movies. The internet was still in its infancy, and I had no tangible way of connecting to like-minded filmmakers. I very much felt alone out there. But I approach both the same way. I write novels like I write movies—which I know irks many literary types, but that’s how I’ve always done it, for good or for ill. My wife is constantly correcting me because when I’m telling her about a new book, I talk about “scenes” and “cutting to” and “fading out”, and she tells me “You know it’s not a movie, right?” But in my head it is, complete with soundtrack and poster art.
Bob: Ha. That’s great. My brain works the same way. So now that you’ve got Dracula vs Great White Shark out there, tell me about your current work in progress?
Greg: I am currently in the early stages of writing my long-gestating prequel to The Coming Evil Trilogy. Fans of that series should be excited to learn that it will explore the origins of the town of Greensboro and reveal its initial contact with the malevolent Strange Man. It’s set in the Old West and focuses on the first settlers of Old Greenesboro—as it was once known. It’s a pretty big story, bigger than I had anticipated. I’m still meeting all the new characters and getting to know them, but the writing is fruitful if not at a slower pace.
Bob: Believe me, I feel your pain. I’ve a couple of series that have been on the old slow-burner. What readers seldom realize is that each book is like a child and they’re all different and require different levels of attention before they’re ready for the world.
What can we hope to see next from Greg Mitchell?
Greg: Next up on the chopping block is my novel Infernal City. In a parallel reality, that would be out now, but Dracula vs Great White Shark manifested more quickly than I had expected and stole my attention. But once the Halloween season passes and winter sets in properly, I’ll return to work getting Infernal City ready for publication early next year. The book is a quasi-tie-in to The Coming Evil, taking place in the City that was mentioned a few times in the Trilogy. In this book, we learn a little more about the City and its mystical connection to Greensboro. Not only that, but this book also serves as a bridge between the small town horror of The Coming Evil series and the larger cosmic horrors of my superhero/Lovecraftian/Doctor Who amalgamation—the Rift Jump duology. In Infernal City, we meet Quinn, who is an enforcer for the City. There are those who strike deals with the entity lurking beneath the City’s streets for riches and success, and Quinn makes sure they live up to their end of their Faustian bargains. It’s told in first person from a bruiser’s perspective and has a very monster noir feel to it.
Bob: Man, that all sounds fantastic. You fans will be thrilled. Thanks again for sitting down with me and sharing your time with us here at The Occult Detective, Greg. It’s always a real treat when you come by and I wish you nothing less than continued success.
For more information about Greg, you can visit his blog, The Coming Evil, or check him out on Facebook. You can purchase Greg Mitchell’s works via his author’s page on Amazon.