Monday, May 2, 2011
Interview with Pete Turner--Christian Horror Author!
Okay, where were all these books when I was growing up?
As I've said many times before, when I was a young teen, perusing my local Christian bookstores, I ached to see the spooky, the weird, the scary. I was looking for monsters! Frank Peretti delighted my adolescent imagination, but that was about it. Because of this need I set out to write my own "Christian Horror" novel. These days, though, I see Christian Horror authors everywhere I look! It's a very exciting time for people who like the macabre thrown in with their message, the fear with their faith.
Today we've got one such pioneer--Pete Turner!
Pete's latest book Whisper A Scream is nearing its official release (the un-official release happened Easter weekend), and we've got him, hot off the unveiling of his fantastic cover, to discuss the book, his inspirations and passions, and the role of Christian Horror in today's world. Enjoy!
Greg Mitchell: Tell us about Whisper A Scream.
Pete Turner: If I had to sum up only enough to place it in an urn on my mantle (sounded funnier than a nutshell): Whisper A Scream is a Supernatural Thriller (I call it Christian Horror) about demons, cults, time-traveling nightmares, and redemption in a small Kentucky town.
GM: This is actually the book’s second release, correct? I can certainly relate to that with my own foray into the genre--The Strange Man! Let’s talk about the initial release. What prompted you to re-release it?
PT: Yes, this is the 2nd version of Whisper. The first one released 8-13-2010 (Friday the 13th- lol), through a smaller publisher, with no budget, promotion, and little editing. It contained several flaws, and at times admittedly some weak writing style. In February, I signed with my new publisher, TreasureLine Books. Some of the folks there really fell in love with the story. They told me it was a really great story, and NEEDS to be a really great book. I started with a critiquing service, and used the results as a foundation with which to measure the manuscript word for word. Then essentially re-wrote it twice and strengthened the weak stuff, wiped the mud from the unclearness, and eventually added several new scenes (one of which ties the entire story together), and had a more full edit. It is essentially a brand new book with a most awesome cover!
GM: As I understand it, Whisper A Scream is the first book of the Noche Files. A trilogy, right? How far along are you on the remaining two chapters? Care to divulge some juicy tidbits on what fans might expect from this series?
PT: Yes, this is the first novel of the Noche Files Trilogy, also labeled the Whisper Trilogy, as each title will contain the name "Whisper", as well as, Solomon Noche as the protagonist throughout each one. Sol has a unique gift of interacting with spiritual beings. He learns to war against demons. The second novel is finished besides some tightening and editing of it. The third novel, I’m about a third of the way finished with its first draft. Coming soon Sol has to face a serial killer, and fight his way through reality and nightmares. By the third novel he gets a job with the FBI in a newly developed unit called TURK--a task unit on religious killings, and may have to face a series of demons instead of one primary, meaning it may contain several “cases” instead of only one.
GM: What was the inspiration for your character of Solomon Noche?
PT: Interesting question. Sol was inspired by several things and people. He is an adventurer with some skills, but is also a little neurotic. He is good with psychological and therapeutic concepts, but can trust his gut instincts as well. Sol shares several personality traits with me. It’s all about me! Just kidding. I feel like he has elements of a Biblical hero in a modern situation, perhaps a little neurotic Indiana Jones. His name alone has significant connotations—Solomon wisest man in the world; Noche means night. Wiseman through his dreams?
GM: Now, you’ve got a background in Christian heavy metal rock music, right? You know you’ve gotta talk about that.
PT: Wow! I do have some major roots in Christian Heavy Metal! I guess it all started when I was about 14 and was big into secular bands like Van Halen, AC/DC, Rush, and Def Leppard. I prayed that someone could play heavy music for the glory of God. It wasn’t long that someone introduced me to Petra, but still lacked the power and intensity I wanted. A few months later, someone let me borrow a bootleg tape of a band named Stryper. That was it! WOW! They were an answer to my prayers! It wasn’t long before I discovered Resurrection Band, Daniel Band, Barren Cross, Bloodgood (whose first CD was the first CD I ever bought), it was the eighties, still no better time in music to me. Around that time too, I played drums in church. So inevitably I started my own Christian rock bands, which culminated in a legitimate professional band and CD Screaming Archangel. That band lasted about four years, but just could not land a recording contract, and life separated us.
GM: So, Stryper. You a fan? (Because I sorta am :p)
PT: Oh yeah! I’ve been a fan of them since I was 15! Stryper changed my life, gave me direction, and I felt my calling was music ministry, at least for a while. But, yes, I was totally a Stryper fan, posters, shirts, buttons on my jacket, stickers, and the works. I still am a Stryper fan! I have some memorabilia from them as far back as 1986--a newspaper article, and like a fan club letter signed in pen. During their reunion tour in 2003, some of my band and I made it to the front at their show in Nashville. I held up a Screaming Archangel tee shirt. Robert Sweet yells pointing in my direction, “Is that your band?” I toss the shirt up on the stage- he picks it up, reads it, TIES IT ON HIS HEAD, and plays the next song with it tied to his head like a bandana! WOW! It was awesome, but no pictures! I’m, still a Stryper fan!
GM: Why in the world did you want to be a writer? People ask me that with increasing frequency and sometimes I think to myself “Why, indeed?” :p What prompted you to take the leap?
PT: I think it’s basically ‘cause—I’m crazy! J/K. I think writer’s blood has always pumped through my veins, and sometimes it dripped onto paper, but I ignored the pathogen, attributing it to something else. Nah, I suppose writing was my original passion as a pre-adolescent, I wrote a novella in 7th grade, and knew it was what I wanted to do. Yet, as I said earlier, I ‘discovered’ my calling as a Christian Rock songwriter, and so stories were substituted with lyrics. During that time, however, I wrote a few things here and there for local Christian publications—stories about mission trips I went on with my dad, etc… Then I wrote a monthly column for about a year—where I discussed the end time events and such. When I moved to Retselville (yes it’s a real town with a fictional name) some strange things happened combined with some local lore that I thought would make a good story, I sat down one night to write down some ideas and just never quit writing.
GM: Between Christian thrash metal and Christian Horror, I think it’s safe to say you’ve been involved in, what many “church people” would consider, “dark stuff”. What is it about these genres that attracts you as a fan and a creator?
PT: I live life for controversy! No, just kidding, again. Dude, you’re getting deep here! First I think my attraction (and I use that term loosely) to these “dark things” is multi-layered, so I’ll name them and then attempt to explain. One, because many Christians are afraid of the devil and their concept of what evil entails (out of a biblical ignorance). Two, the misconception the world at large has about Satan and God. Three due to the secular world, and perhaps many Christians’ faulty belief that some physical means or rituals can abate evil. Finally, most of the world (including many Christians) no longer believe in an actual being of Satan—maybe an “ambiance of evil” linked mostly to poor human choice, mental illness, or selfishness, but not a fallen angel name Satan. And if they do, he usually looks like a caricature with a tail and horns in a red spandex jumpsuit.
I’m so thankful for growing up in a charismatic church setting, my father was a pastor and evangelist which allowed me the opportunity to witness a lot of supernatural things, (some that would scare horror movie fans) that exist beyond what we may tangibly touch or physically see. Christians are afraid of the devil and I think part of my attraction to darker things was to expose the weakness of it. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 14:16, “Is this the man that caused the earth to tremble?” People will be shocked when they finally see how he really looks. I’m not saying demons have no power, but it’s nothing compared to the weakest Christian who knows the power of Scripture. Romans 5:20 explains it best, where sin (darkness, evil, horror) exists grace abounds more. But evil in every aspect is real. You can’t sit on your behind in a pew and believe the world is filled with fuzzy bunnies and roses. Hey, some of those bunnies have rabies and every rose has a thorn (sounds like a song- j/k).
I believe you can’t bring people into the light, unless you help them escape or show them there’s darkness. Satan’s best deception is convincing the world he isn’t real or his power can be thwarted with some humanistic approach. And the entertainment industry evidences this daily in television, movies, novels, and music. Finally, you can’t defeat the devil by simply “resisting him” as many Christians think. You first must submit yourself to God, and use His Word as your weapon (James 4:7). So I truly believe my calling is in exposing this, not only to Christians, but to everyone.
GM: In light of that, what are your thoughts on “Christian Horror”? I know a lot of people don’t like that term. Many mainstream Christian publishers (all of them?) wouldn’t want to put the word “horror” anywhere near a book they were trying to sell to Lifeway, and a lot of horror publishers wouldn’t look at anything called “Christian”. It’s a balancing act, to be sure, but do you see a market for this genre? Do you think it serves a purpose? Or is it just a black sheep that should be locked up in the basement of the publishing world?
PT: You are right a lot of people are nauseated by the term. I don’t really understand the big deal about it. I mean, it’s just a label to help others “find” this style of writing easier. Honestly, I love the label! My thought is this, type in “supernatural thriller” in any search engine, and Whisper would not come up, maybe ever. But try “Christian horror” I’ll definitely show up within the first couple of pages, add novel inside those quotes and typically Whisper’s fan fb page, my website, even my personal fb page will show up as first. That to me is quite unique. People that are looking for this type of novel will definitely be exposed to my works. What more publicity would you want? However, unlike rock and roll there is such a thing as “bad publicity” and the connotations that the term “horror” entails, is why so many Christian publishers shy away from it. However, I predict it will catch on soon, and all of us Christian horror authors will be praised. (I can dream, right?).
The bottom line for me is this; I think there is no better way to express the power of Jesus Christ and the Bible than through the medium of Christian Horror! Since the Bible is not really a cutesy romance book, no offense to romance writers (my publisher writes romance novels), and yes there is romance in the Bible, (technically speaking the Bible as a whole is a love letter to us humans). However, the Bible is filled with horror stories; from beginning to end. There is blood and gore, cults, demons, child sacrifice, sprinkling blood on the heads of priests, and thrones, and altars (and that’s God’s people), think of the severed heads (Goliath wasn’t killed with a rock, David took Goliath’s sword, sawed off his head and held it up- dripping, squirting, seeping blood everywhere)! There is destruction, decay, blood running to the horses’ bridal, angels with flaming swords, talking snakes and donkeys, God opening the ground and swallowing hundreds of people, a man slicing, cracking, brutalizing a thousand other heads with a jawbone. These aren’t the latest Christian horror novels; these are children’s stories from the Bible.
Again, what’s the big deal about Christian horror? Yet, in way, I understand the publishers view. If people aren’t gonna buy something, it doesn’t matter how unique it is. My goal with writing isn’t just to entertain, it’s to help others (overcome fear or demon oppression or whatever). So if there is a way I can reach more of those people then I have no problem with becoming all things to all people in order to reach some.
GM: A great testimony, Pete. Alright, I'll give you a break from the deep topics. Let’s move away from that and talk fun fanboy stuff. What’s your favorite scary movie? Why? What about authors? Comics? What excites you, man?
PT: How’d you know my nickname was Fun Fanboy? J/K! I like fun fanboy, I let him speak occasionally. I’m definitely a fanatic of things—but some only revealed by Mr. Noche, himself. Yet, picking favorites is always a tough thing for me, I love so much! Favorite scary movie—Wow, toughest of all! I’ll narrow it to three, The Number 23, Psycho (scary with a twist); and The Sixth Sense (if you’d label that a scary movie- but best twist ever!). My favorite movies (especially the scary ones) have a twist that gouges your eyes out at the end (not literally, just you never saw coming).
I have way too many “favorite” authors too, Ted Dekker, Melanie Wells, Charles Dickens, Ellen Maze, Poe, Peretti, James Patterson. I could name a ton of ‘em. But we’ll use God’s number: Seven. I used to be a huge Hulk comic book collector, but got more into music in adolescent and saved all my money for tapes and vinyl (eventually CDs).
Honestly, Bible Prophecy excites me! It always has, almost as soon as I could read I was fascinated by it. I’ve read commentaries, studied extensively, wrote a monthly column about it, and even taught seminars about it. We are living in the days all of the prophets of old wished they were.
I’m also excited by Cincinnati Bengals, and Kentucky Wildcats college basketball. March madness is one of my favorite times of the year.
GM: What are Pete Turner’s plans for the future? Any heavy metal concept albums inspired by Whisper A Scream on the horizon?
PT: The rest of this year, I’ve got lots of plans. I’ve got several radio interviews coming up around my area to promote the re-release. I’ll be a guest DJ on the Killer Neace Radio show May 21st. I’ve been working with a few other Christian fiction writers about organizing some kind of forum this summer to talk about Christian Horror and Supernatural Thrillers. I’ve also been invited to be a contributing author for The New Author’s Fellowship. I’ll be doing several book signings, speaking engagements, and appearances. And to finish the summer I’m going to be a Key Note speaker for a writers’ workshop for regional public school teachers in August. I’m working on a couple of short stories to be included in an upcoming anthology. This fall, Whisper From The Woods should be released. I would only do a Whisper A Scream record if Teric Darken handles the vocals!
GM: When’s the official release date for Whisper A Scream? When and where can people buy it?
PT: The official release date is May 19th; TreasureLine Books will have a cyber-release party! This is a cool, unique thing where the author is on-line most of the day talking with fans and interacting, free giveaways, trivia stuff. It’s one of the cool things I love about my TreasureLine family. And this is followed by a Radio Release Party on May 21st on Killer Radio as a guest DJ!
It is available for purchase on amazon.com both paperback and Kindle form, Smashwords.com, and available for the Nook. You can have the option of also buying an autographed version from my website: peteturner.webs.com. I would love to add everyone on facebook: facebook.com/peteturnerChristianHorrorAuthor and Whisper has a fan fb page at facebook.com/whisperascream.ChristianHorrorNovel. And available from treasurelinepublishing.com
GM: Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us, Pete! All the best to you in the future.
PT: THANKS to you, GREG! It’s been a SCREAM!