Know a Nominee Part Three: Patrick Freivald
Welcome back to ‘Know a Nominee’, the interview series that climbs inside the minds of some of the most talented authors and editors working in horror today: the 2014 Bram Stoker Awards nominees. Today’s edition features Patrick Freivald, nominated in the category of Superior Achievement in a Novel, for Jade Sky.
DM: Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project? If nominated in multiple categories, please touch briefly on each.
PF: Jade Sky is an outgrowth of an idea I had for an online roleplaying game somewhere around a decade ago. My brother and I created the setting and premise of supersoldiers doomed to insanity, and nothing ultimately came of it. Ten years later, the concept was still rolling around in my head, and I knew I had to write about it.
DM: What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept(s) to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process?
PF: This book took a lot of research. There’s a complex mythology behind the series (it’s the first in a series) that spans Nazi ubermensch programs and biblical esoterica, and as the idea of the book diverged from the original premise that Phil and I had come up with, it took a lot of effort to make sure that it maintained an internal consistency with its own supernatural elements.
The most rewarding part of the process was watching the characters take shape within the world I’ve established.
DM: What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated work fits into (or help give shape to) that ideal?
PF: That’s a loaded question, and I think if you ask three authors you’ll get four answers. Good writing in general should, at the very least, stick with you after you’ve read it, whether because it unnerved you or made you feel great or was just a rollicking good time to read. Good horror should make you want to turn away, and make you not want to turn away, at the same time.
DM: I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?
PF: I write if, when, and because it’s fun. So far that’s got me on track for two novels and a dozen-ish short stories a year, so it works for me. For my novels, I’m very much a plotter, and a lot of my creative energy goes into what is essentially a short-hand synopsis, which happens after the creation of rather detailed character dossiers for all of the main players. Once that initial creative burst is done, a process that can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, writing the novel is more craft than creation.
I’m one of those sick freaks who likes editing, and I’m lucky to have a half-dozen fantastic beta readers who won’t spare my feelings when they think something needs improvement.
So while sometimes I’ll get distracted by other things (day job, beekeeping, robotics, a different story), I’ve yet to experience what it’s like to be “stuck” as far as my writing is concerned.
DM: As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?
PF: Know the rules and accepted conventions so you can break them on and with purpose when it serves your story to do so.
DM: If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?
PF: I’ll be there! I’m looking forward to meeting up with old friends and making new ones, attending panels and readings and doing my first in-person pitch sessions.
DM: What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to?
PF: I don’t know that anything scares me. I live in the middle of nowhere, where streetlights don’t exist and there’s no such thing as traffic, but I’ve spent a good amount of time in big cities and am comfortable in both environs. I’m about the least superstitious person I know, a fact that sometimes rubs my students the wrong way when they bring up the supernatural in my physics classes.
Humanity is hateful and brutish when we could be loving and compassionate. I don’t understand cruelty, and while it doesn’t scare me in the sense that I think the chances of my falling victim to it at this point in my life are pretty slim, it does horrify me.
DM: What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about?
PF: The Shadow Ops books by Myke Cole. I read Gemini Cell and absolutely loved it. Written after the first three, it’s still a bit of a prequel, so I grabbed the others and am about 3/4 through book one in the series. It’s superb military science fiction, and very different from what I thought it would be having read Gemini Cell. Other than that I’ve been chewing through a lot of anthologies—Shadows Over Main Street and In the Court of the Yellow King arrived in my mailbox just yesterday, and I’m looking forward to both.
About Patrick Freivald
Patrick Freivald is an author, high school teacher (physics, robotics, American Sign Language), and beekeeper. He lives in Western New York with his beautiful wife, two birds, three dogs, too many cats, and several million stinging insects. A member of the HWA and ITW, he’s always had a soft spot for slavering monsters of all kinds.
He is the author of Twice Shy, Bram Stoker Award®-nominated Special Dead, Blood List (with his twin brother Phil), and Bram Stoker Award®-nominated Jade Sky, as well as the novella Love Bites, a growing legion of short stories, and the Jade Sky graphic novella (with Joe McKinney) for Dark Discoveries magazine. There will be more.