Kim: Could you tell us a little about your non-writing background?
Gabriel: Right after graduating high school I got a job working commercial construction. It was mainly pouring concrete, but I did get to dabble in other trades and even helped build a couple of houses from start to finish. I spent almost ten years in construction before I sought another career and it is still in my blood. Construction is rough work (especially concrete) but there is something divine about showing up in an empty field and creating something from the ground up. I love to build things; to work with my hands. If I had unlimited funds, I would probably never stop building my own furniture and cabinets and anything else I could think of. I do plan on building a couple of loft beds for my children here in the near future.
Kim: What kinds of books do you read? Are they in the same genres in which you write?
Gabriel: I try to read a large range of books, not just the genre I write in. I’m not big on Chick Lit or Romance, but I did give Twilight a try. I prefer Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Robert McCammon, and John Saul. But I also read Brad Thor, George R. R. Martin, J.K. Rowling. Right now, under my wife’s advice, I’m reading The Hunger Games Trilogy . . . and loving it. Also, as an indie author, I try to read and support as many indie writers as I can.
Kim: You often receive what compliment about your writing? Why do you think your writing stands out in that regard?
Gabriel: Most often I get the compliment that I write as well or better than someone with college training. When my high school years were wrapping up, I was suffering from a bad case of senioritis. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and my 18 year old brain had trouble justifying spending the money for college. I come from a lower income family and I would have had to pay for college myself. I just couldn’t imagine spending the money without a clear goal of where I was going. It took me around six years of working in construction before I realized that what I wanted to be in life is a writer. As I look back, at the classes I excelled in and gravitated toward, it seems my subconscious knew I wanted to be a writer all along. The first person to pay me this compliment was a college English professor that I had proof read some of my work. I still receive this compliment from time to time, and though I’m not sure how true it is, it reminds me that you don’t have to have a formal education to be a good writer. Creativity and imagination, combined with hard work and an open mind, are very powerful tools.
Kim: Because we writers tend to start out telling real life stories, do you have any interesting real life stories?
Gabriel: Well, I do have a story, but I’m not sure how many people will believe it. I actually wrote about the event in my first book Guarding the Healer, though I changed it up just a bit.
When I was a teenager, my family lived in an old farm house. The house was around a century old and had a strange, sorted past. In the 20s it is rumored to have been a brothel run by two sisters. I’m not sure of all of the residents that have lived there, but we do know that at one point it was a drug den (my older sister actually found pipes and syringes hidden under her floor boards).
When we moved in, my father added new padding underneath the carpet upstairs. While this made for a more comfortable walk, it became very difficult to open and close our bedroom doors. You would literarily have to grab the doors with both hands and drag them across the carpet. As a result, we very rarely closed our doors.
On two separate occasions, in view of more than one witness, my older sister’s door went from fully open, drug across the carpet and slammed shut. On its own.
I can’t explain it and it only happened the two times, but as one of the witnesses, I can tell you that it did happen.
Kim Mullican: What is your writing “system” like, and how has it evolved over the course of your career?
Gabriel: When I first decided that I was going to have a serious go at writing, my life was quite different than it is now. My wife and I lived in a small two-bedroom apartment. We had no children and very little responsibilities. I worked in construction, and the days were long and physically taxing, but most winters I was off work. I would sit in the second bedroom, surrounded by clutter and type away to my heart’s content.
Now, however, we have a house, two small children, my wife is finishing up her education, and I find myself working multiple jobs to make ends meet. The room in my house that I used to write in now belongs to my son, and most days I write in our dining room at a sewing machine that folds into a tiny table. Distractions abound. I put in a lot of early days and late nights. I’ve had to learn to write in small doses throughout the day, instead of the one large chunk. I’ll tell you a secret if you promise to keep it just between us. Lately I’ve been getting most of my writing done at work. Shhh!
I sneak my laptop in with me and whenever I have some downtime, I pull it out and write as fast as I can. I wrote 95% of Predatory Animals at work. Heck, I’m sitting at work right now as I answer this question.
It’s not the perfect system. Someday I hope to have my own office again where I can write for hours at a time. But until then, I’ll work with what I have.
Kim: Most of my readers are also writers. Generally, we are curious about how others work. Do you have beta readers in your family or circle of friends, or do you trust your own instincts before you publish your works?
Gabriel: The only constant beta reader I have is my wife. She is a voracious reader and devours books like I do ice cream. She reads a broad range of books, and I trust her judgment. She is the one I truly write for, so if she likes the story then I’m happy. I do, however, enlist other beta readers so that I can catch all of the plot holes and typos possible. Plus, my wife by her own admission is more analytical than creative, so I always try to find others to help me spot lags in the creativity. But most of the people I would like to beta read for me are also writers, and I feel bad constantly asking them to help me fix my own work. So, I try to spread it around. My beta readers range from English professors to literary students to other writers to just plain old bookoholics. I think I have a pretty good eye for what works and what doesn’t, but it never hurts to do some market research.
Kim: Do you think of yourself as a particular type of writer and how do you think that influences the decisions you make about your stories/novels?
Gabriel: I used to think of myself as a horror writer because most of my stories have some sort of ghost or monster or weird incident that happens. I read a lot of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Anne Rice novels, and my writing I suppose reflects those influences, but the title just never felt right to me. I felt pigeon-holed. Yeah, my stories have elements of horror in them, but they are really about ordinary people reacting to extraordinary situations. Guarding the Healer, for example, could be boiled down to a man coping with the pain of losing a loved one and the guilt of not being able to save them. Yeah, there are angels and demons and all of that, but it’s just icing on the cake. I read an interesting interview with Dean Koontz recently. In it he talked about how he fought tooth and nail to keep his books from being labeled “horror” because of the negative stigma. He also talked about how outside forces in the industry tried to keep him from adding his own brand of humor into his stories. I have nothing against the horror genre. I love horror, but I just never felt good about labeling myself that way. I know it is a necessary evil to place our books into categories. But I think that my books do a bit of genre-crossing. And thanks to that interview with Dean Koontz I don’t feel like I need to label myself as a one-genre writer.
Kim: What is your most recent book/story release? And could you tell us about it?
IN THE TOWN OF SHADELAND, PEOPLE ARE VANISHING.
After suffering a near-death accident, Casper Brown awakens with a strange new connection to three stray dogs recently adopted by his family. Casper’s nights are filled with dreams of the dogs’ activities; at times he can even see through their eyes. And what he witnesses has him worried for his family’s safety.
AN ENIGMATIC EVIL IS HIDING, WAITING TO STRIKE.
The Pummels are the most beloved family in town. Though their wealth, philanthropy, and charisma form a cloud of mystery about them, their work with the town’s exotic cat rescue center has captured the heart of the people. But the Pummels are guarding a secret. One they will kill to keep quiet.
ITS HUNGER IS INSATIABLE.
Shadeland is a town of shadows, where hunters hide in plain sight and prey scurry about unaware. But a new predator has been unleashed. One unlike any this world has seen.
ITS SURVIVAL IS OUR DOOM.
Kim: What led you to tell this particular story?
Gabriel: The inspiration for the story came from my own dogs. They are the most lovable, gentle dogs you could ask for . . . unless you are another animal that has the misfortune to stumble into my yard. To date, they have killed over 20 skunks alone (not to mention raccoons, possums, etc.), and have yet to be sprayed. I love my dogs very much, but sometimes their nature disturbs me. They are never aggressive with people and if we are outside of our yard they pay little to no attention to other animals. But for some reason they are highly territorial when it comes to other animals coming into their yard. The story was loosely spawned from them.
Kim: After talking with Gabriel, I convinced him to send me a picture of his pooches, since I too am a dog lover. Feel free to say, “Aw.”
Kim Mullican: Will there be sequels/other stories connected to this one?
Gabriel: I don’t foresee a sequel to Predatory Animals, but I do plan to write more stories located in the fictional town of Shadeland, Indiana. There are little trinkets here and there throughout the town that will definitely show up again and one character that I can see visiting more than one book. I do plan on visiting other genres, especially Young Adult. I have a couple of series in mind, but I’m still fleshing those out. I would like to write a tale that my children can read and not worry about the sanity of their father. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull that off, though.
Kim Mullican: If you were to be stuck on an island, which character from one of your books would you want to have with you? Why?
Gabriel: If I were stuck on an island, I’d want to be with Casper Brown from my book Predatory Animals. He’s a tough ex-Marine with survival training, so he’d keep my butt alive. Show me what berries to eat and which leaves not to wipe with. But, he also has a bum leg, so if it came down to it and we had to go all Donner Party, I might have a chance to take him.
Kim: Tell us, where can you be stalked?
Gabriel: I write a blog called The Write Thing to Do at http://www.gabrielbeyers.blogspot.com/. My blog’s book page has links to my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. You can also find me on Twitter https://twitter.com/gabrielbeyers, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gabeswriting, Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4956504.Gabriel_Beyers, and recently I joined Pinterest http://pinterest.com/gabrielbeyers/.
Please, drop me a line. I love to talk books, movies or just about anything else.
Kim Mullican: Thanks for taking the time with me today. I’m fortunate to have some of the greatest readers in the world.
Gabriel: My thanks to you, Kim, and to your readers. I really appreciate the chance to talk with you.