Today we have a guest blogger with us, author Shane Stilson. I hope you enjoy getting to know more about him and his book the Middle Damned, which was published this year by Wayman Publishing. I’ve known Shane for a long time and I am so proud of him. I remember having poetry wars at his house on occasion during high school. We would just sit around and write poetry in 60 seconds or based on specific topics or words. It was fun to see what we could come up with.
When did you first become interested in writing?
I helped write a script for a junior high version of A Christmas Carol. I played the part of Scrooge and the experience has stuck with me through the years. Or perhaps, it was Mr. Thompson’s high school writing class? I’m not sure. Writing has always been something I felt comfortable doing, like it came naturally, so it’s hard to put a finger on a specific time or event.
What inspired you to write the Middle Damned?
The overarching framework for the Spiral Trilogy, for which Middle Damned is the first book, has been bouncing around in my head since the late 1990’s. I’ve got some fairly strong influences shaping my psyche, ranging from eastern mysticism to hard-line Christianity. Given the spectrum of human belief and the passions driving them, can the afterlife be any less diverse? I’ve got my own unique world view and what better way to express it than in a genre mash-up of fantasy, science fiction and paranormal horror?
Was Blake Stillwater based off of someone you know?
Not intentionally, but who knows what boils up out of your subconscious minds. In the end, I tried to make Blake an everyman, capable of assuming traits only the reader can give him. Blake has a back story, but I kept a minimalistic attitude toward his description in the hope that the reader would inhabit him.
Does religion play a big part in your book? If so, how?
Religion, or perhaps more to the point, belief in what happens to us after we die plays a big part in Middle Damned. For me, religion is a structured device used by one human being on another to gain a desired end. Now that you mention it, it’s striking to me how little most religions spend describing the afterlife. Considering how insignificant the amount of time we spend on earth is compared to eternity, you’d think the hereafter might be given a little more consideration in our sacred texts.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing! The fourth time through I wanted to throw my computer out the window.
What is your favorite aspect of the story and why?
Blake’s relationship with his family is the most important and my favorite aspect of the story. In particular, there is a twist at the end that I like above all the rest. Much of the plot is constructed around Blake achieving what he wants while setting up a framework for him to realize the futility of his pursuits. The moment Blake realizes his error, and what he decides to do about it is wrapped up with his family and is my favorite part of the book.
What inspired you to create the music for your books that can be found on your website?
I come from a musical family and it only seemed natural to add music to the mix.
What is the overall message in the Middle Damned that you want the reader to take away with them?
Life is fleeting and you better be ready. Otherwise, you just might end up in the Realm of the Middle Damned.
When will the second book in the series, Rise of the Fallen be out?
I’m targeting August of 2013.
Can you give us a little teaser for the second book?
Rise of the Fallen follows the story of Nolan Stillwater, who was condemned to hell after he dies in the same car crash as his brother Blake. The first chapters of the book take place in hell as Nolan’s demon handlers prepare him to enter the Realm of the Middle Damned. Nolan task is to undo the mess Blake has made of the demon’s plans to take over the realms of the afterlife and to extend their reach into the Realms of the Living.
What book(s) are you reading now?
Okay, so this cracks me up. I’m reading a couple different books at the moment. The first is The Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Compressible Fluid Flow by A.H. Shapiro. The second is Karatedo Kata Instructors Handbook by the Japan Karatedo Federation. I do read novels, but the two texts I’m currently reading give insight into my writing perspective. I like to have some sort of scientific basis for what I write and I find a deep personal satisfaction within mathematics and the power of numerical integration to simplify complex problems. I am also fascinated by eastern philosophy, especially in how it influences western culture.
What books have influenced your life the most?
The Bible, Karate Kyohan, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Ender’s Game, Shogun, The Brothers Karamazov, The Sword of Shanara, Dante’s Inferno, The Hobbit, and too many others to mention.
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Description: Life after death proved much different than what the Stillwater family expected. Two go into the light, another into darkness, while Blake Stillwater fights for survival somewhere between, in the Realm of the Middle Damned. He will receive gifts from the members of his family he unwittingly killed, but even as those who love the light will be just, the Forces of Evil groom the one now dwelling in darkness to ruin it all. Caught in a crosswind between the dimensions of life and death, a new thought distracts Blake when he can least afford it. Is what he works toward real or is he lost in a coma-induced dream? In an attempt to get back to those of his family who survived, Blake will be willing to risk it all, and the rest be damned.
Book trailer for Middle Damned.