the Little Red Reviewer

Chatting with Geoffrey Girard about First Communions

Posted on: April 10, 2016

GeoffreyGirardPic1aGeoffrey Girard  published Tales of The Jersey Devil in 2005, and he’s never looked back.  After two more folklore based short story collections, he wrote Cain’s Blood and its companion novel  Project Cain, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award. His over 60 sort stories have appeared in multiple anthologies and magazines, including Writers of the Future, Apex Horror and Science Fiction Digest, the Stoker nominated Dark Faith anthology, Dark Futures, Murky Depths, Mountain Dead, and many others.

His new short fiction collection, first communions, hits bookstore shelves later this week, and if you like spine tingling thrillers, this is a collection for you!  Sixteen stories to shock, entertain, and horrify you, from the curse of ancient evils to futuristic retirement homes where the dead still rule, haunted graveyards, planets of torture where all are equal, hockey-playing demon hunters, and dark sorcerers battling in Algeria.

You can learn more about Geoffrey and his work at his website, GeoffreyGirard.com.

Geoffrey was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the anthology, his forthcoming novel Truthers, and his writing career. Let’s get to the interview!

Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your upcoming collection, first communions! Which stories in this collection mean the most to you?
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Geoffrey Girard: Thanks very much. And thanks for inviting me to chat. And, yikes, if I have to pick one: “Dark Harvest” will have to get that nod. It’s about a Ringwraith (basically) who crash lands in some Podunk village and the trouble that ensues. It’s the one I wrote first, the one that got me started back into creative writing after a fifteen-year break, the first story I ever got paid for, the one that led to my most-formative week as a writer (while out in Hollywood as part of Writers of the Future) and the one directly related to a childhood spent in Middle Earth, Pern, and Shannara.

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LRR: Walk us through a bit of the process of putting this collection together. Did you already know which stories you wanted to include? Was it tough to narrow the list down? How was the final table of contents decided?
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GG: I primarily wanted to gather up all my stand-alones – those speculative stories (most leaning quite dark) published in a dozen different magazines and anthologies. Got everything from futuristic retirement homes where the dead still rule to hockey-playing demon hunters and sorcerers battling in Algeria. So, a pretty good blend of horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Then added in a pair of stories from my Tales Of… series (four books of stories connected to American folklore and history), two in particular (a ghost story and a zombie tale) that I thought speculative readers might enjoy.
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LRR: first communions includes “Dark Harvest”, which was originally printed in 2003 in the Writers of the Future Vol XIX anthology. How has your writing changed since then? How has the way you write, and what you write about changed since Writers of the Future?
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GG: As I discuss (probably too frankly) in the author’s notes: Over time, I started experimenting more with how to tell stories, intentionally playing with things like tense and POV, structure even, for given projects. In that regard, I just give myself more artistic options now. My topics/characters change depending on what I’m interested in at the time, though I suspect there are some themes that still return again and again.
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LRR: You’ve published over 60 short stories. About how long does it take you to complete a short story?
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GG: Some took a week. Others took months. I’m a slow writer usually. 1,000 words a day is great for me.
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LRR: You’ve also got a number of novels under your belt, with your newest YA novel Truthers forthcoming in 2017. When you get an idea, how do you know if it’s a short story or a novel?
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GG: The answer is a tad mercenary: I’m always writing to market. When I was selling short stories, or whenever I’ve been invited to submit a short story to an anthology, I think of ideas that’ll be good short stories. The idea part is driven by the end goal. Ditto for novels: when it’s time for me to think of my next novel idea, I knock around ideas that might work as a novel. I rarely have eureka moments where some story idea just pops into my head. Usually, I’m being creative for a very specific purpose.

ProjectCainS
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LRR: What is your writing process? Are you an outliner? A pantser? How is the process of writing a short story different than the process of writing a novel?
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GG: For both, I research like crazy. For both, I have a theme/idea and create characters that will best work within that theme/idea. I always have a beginning and an end. Then I play connect-the-dots and see what happens to my folk; their state at the end depends on what happened. For novels, I will outline some at the 70% point to make sure it’s all gonna come together. So, a pantser who outlines at the end to make sure it made sense.
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LRR: You’re famous for dark fiction, for horror, dark fantasy, and dark scifi. What’s the draw to the scary stuff? What type of experience do you ultimately want your reader to have while reading your work?
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GG: I try to write about normal stuff — I really do – but always seem to imagine all the terrible things that can happen. Those terrible things eventually get personified into various forms of “monster,” from demons and ghosts to serial killers and imperious corporations. I personally/naturally anticipate the worst case scenario in just about any situation, so you’re gonna get some dark stories. I have a few impending projects that aren’t particularly dark in concept; but, I’m sure they’ll become bloodbaths. Ultimately, I always hope readers will be entertained and discover new ways to reflect on the real world.
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LRR: I’m sure you don’t remember, but we very briefly met at ConText down in Columbus (I forget which year it was). You are a panelist at a number of annual conventions, including GenCon, Southern Kentucky Book Festival, MoCon, and many other local writer’s events and book festivals. What’s your favorite part of these events? What’s something about these events that most people don’t know, but should?
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GG: Easiest answer is to look at who this collection is dedicated to: four close friends I met at the very cons you’ve named. Writing is often a personal/solitary gig and, in most cases, being done by an introvert. At these events, you meet hundreds of authors at all points in their career, and readers, and other creatives. You’ll find that 95% have your back. Writers are genuinely very supportive of each other and particularly welcoming of those just getting started. Maybe that’s something people already know. . .
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LRR: Thanks Geoffrey!

2 Responses to "Chatting with Geoffrey Girard about First Communions"

Just found out about this one earlier this week, thanks to email from Apex. Wonderful interview, I wouldn’t have known about the focus of the anthology otherwise and I do happen to love spine tingling thrillers and horror!

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This collection looks delightfully dark. Thank you for the interview! 🙂

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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