Today I am delighted to be the first stop on the Acolyte Blog Tour which is author Chris Tetreault-Blay debut novel and is the first book that is part of a trilogy. You can see my review by clicking here.
First-time author Chris originally hailed from Basingstoke but moved to sunny Devon after graduating from Staffordshire University in 2005. He lives in Newton Abbot with his wife and twin children, and currently works as a logistics supervisor.
Being a fan of horror film & fiction, sci-fi and heavy metal, he naturally worked towards his own novel whilst writing three different short stories – all of which will have morphed in some way to form what will become The Wildermoor Apocalypse trilogy. Upon discovering and taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2014, Chris was finally given the chance to bring all of the pieces together to write the first in this series – his debut novel, ‘Acolyte’.
Chris cites James Herbert, Dean Koontz, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe amongst his literary heroes.
Acolyte your new book is part of a trilogy. Can you tell us how it all came about and why you decided to write a trilogy?
I guess I can trace the idea behind Acolyte – and The Wildermoor Apocalypse trilogy as a whole – to my fascination with the apocalypse. I immersed myself in a few of the theories surrounding the end of the world, especially those of the Mayans who believed that the world (or spiritual plane) as we knew it would drastically shift (or end) on December 21st 2012. After this date came and went and nothing happened, I thought more and more about it. I started to put together a series of stories in my mind that would challenge the idea that the prophecy was void, simply because most of us were still living normally.
In truth, Acolyte began life as two or three short stories until one day I found one thread that tied could tie them all together (I still cannot remember exactly which part of the book was my eureka moment, though). The decision to write it as a trilogy as I believed the story was too big to make into just one book, without it seeming rushed or confusing. I wanted to be able to tell each part of the entire story in as much detail as it deserved.
Plus, if it ever makes it to the big screen, who doesn’t like a trilogy, eh? (Ha!)
Do you think it would have been easier to write a stand alone rather than a trilogy and what have been the pro’s and con’s so far of writing the trilogy?
Again, I think it would have been very difficult for me to have told the story as fully in just one book. Having three books planned has given me the freedom to expand on the history of Wildermoor and – most importantly – the characters. I want the readers to feel like they know all of them and feel their pain or elation, losses or gains come the end. I am all for building suspense and drama also, so having the opportunity to promote the books individually and have people experience and enjoy each one in their own right, is a very exciting prospect for me.
On the downside, the process has often caused me problems in thinking of threads of the story that would be strong enough to last through one book, let alone all three. I am trying not to fill the books with too much irrelevant information or plot to simply fill the pages. If I don’t believe that a scene moves the story on or has any bearing on its future, I have to ask myself if it is worth putting in.
But I would say that the biggest struggle at the moment is knowing how the series is going to end, but not being able to write or hint about it to anyone.
But I guess this is also a positive as the ending is what is shaping the rest of the story leading up to it.
As your book is of the horror genre, what are some of your favourite horror books and films?
I adore anything by James Herbert, although I have to admit that I was late to the party, so to speak, and only discovered his work a couple of years ago, so therefore have still only read a fraction of it. But for a writer to have influenced my work already as much as he has, I consider his work to be very special. My absolute favourites up to now include ‘Others’ and ‘Ghosts Of Sleath’. I am also a big fan of Dean Koontz’s ‘Odd Thomas’ series.
As far as films go, there are so many to choose from. I have been a horror film freak for as long as I can remember. ‘The Crow’ is my favourite film of all time. To me, revenge makes for the most powerful love story of all. Any of the ‘Friday The 13th’ films will always be up there for me, and also ‘House of 1000 Corpses’. Rob Zombie is a horror movie hero of mine. His movies are dark, edgy, chilling, some may say ‘sick’ but I just think it displays his talent as a filmmaker – to include all of the elements needed for a great horror film, and perfectly balanced too.
If your book was to be made into a film what rating would you prefer it to have? 18 with lots of blood and scares or 15 where it’s slightly tamer?
This is a difficult one as, although there are scenes of gore in Acolyte (and more so in the sequel, The Sowing Season), I wouldn’t say that it would necessarily need an 18 rating to retain the impact of the story. What I am hoping to achieve with Acolyte is to set the scene and draw people into the dreary atmosphere of Wildermoor, taking them on a journey through its twisted past. You don’t necessarily need it to be blood-soaked on the screen in order to purvey that.
However, maybe the scene with Apollyon in the ritual chamber alone would command an 18 rating by itself…?
Was English a favourite subject when you were at school and what kind of student were you?
I was a student who kept their head down and did the work that was expected of me, without ever really enjoying much of it. If I didn’t like a class, I would do absolutely everything I could to try and get out of it (sorry Mum, if you’re reading this and are finding this out now!)
My favourite subjects were Art and History. I didn’t mind English some of the time, it would depend on what we were studying, whether it was Literature or Language, that kind of thing. I don’t remember ever writing anything that I felt was outstanding or was particularly proud of, but felt much more comfortable when I was given the chance to be creative. I left school with, amongst others, two A’s for English and an A for Art but largely ignored my creative side for the years that followed.
If I had listened to the encouragement my teachers gave me at the time, even up to my last day at school, maybe I would have discovered my love of writing a lot sooner.
What has been the best and worst part of your writing journey so far?
The best part would definitely be signing my publishing deal with Bloodhound Books. The whole process moved so quickly for me from the time that I had finished the manuscript and decided to submit it to publishers. Apart from a stint with Britain’s Next Bestseller in between submission and being offered the deal, Bloodhound were the first and only other publisher that I sent Acolyte to. I am so grateful to them for taking a chance and giving me the break that I dreamed of.
Saying that, the most arduous part of my journey had to be the editing process, which seemed to last forever. It was the first time that I actually got to see the mistakes that I had made and having someone suggest changing parts of the story. I knew from the start that any changes would make it a stronger novel but in the end the final manuscript ended up 22 pages shorter than before, which left me with a momentary sense of loss. Once I saw the finished product, however, I knew that it had all been worth it.
Which author would you love to meet, dead or alive?
Obviously this would have to be James Herbert, just to let him know how influential his work has been for me. If I could pick someone different, though, I would definitely pick H.P. Lovecraft. When thinking about my short stories, I aspire for just one of them to have the impact and ‘chill factor’ that his do.
Finally, when can we look forward to the second book coming out and are you working on any other projects?
I am hoping to have the first draft of The Sowing Season finished by Christmas, so that it can be edited and ready to show to the publishers around February. I would hope that it could be released by next summer.
I am also trying my hand and short fiction and have my first story, ‘Ummidia’, on my website already. I am working on a new short story at present which I am hoping to have ready to show by the end of this month/beginning of November.
You can keep up to date with Chris by liking his Facebook page.
To purchase a copy please visit Amazon
You can also follow Chris on Twitter