Researching and writing serial fiction.

 

Interview with Author Ron Gavalik
Grit CityRon Gavalik is a writer and author of Grit City, an ongoing story of a dark and calamitous world where the nefarious rule. He is also the publisher of a new literary medium called emotobooks. In this interview Ron shares his influences, how he prepares for a story and some insight about Grit City and what emotobooks actually are.

Inspiration

Please talk about your early influences. What do you read, your favorite authors and how have they influenced you?
RG – I started writing when I was 20-years-old. Compared to so many other writers I’ve met, it seems I was quite the late bloomer. As a kid the last thing I wanted to do was read or write. I found high school to be suffocating and far too conformist. I know that sounds cliche, but after graduating and growing a bit, I discovered the power and magic of good fiction.

My earliest influences were Koontz and S.E. Hutton. After that I discovered Chuck Palahniuk and Dan Brown. I’d say Palahniuk is my favorite author, because of his inventive and thoughtful perspective on life. I’m not a literary writer, but he forces the reader to see the humor and the ridiculousness of life that so many people overlook. It’s that kind of critical thinking that helps me with my work.

Uncommon Knowledge

How you do research a story’s plot, scenes and locations?
RG – Researching a fictional story all depends on content. I wrote a novel called The Trinity, which follows three people from rural Pennsylvania into rural Ireland and then through England, into a climactic London ending. I’d love to tell you that I followed the same adventurous route as my characters, but I didn’t. Some of us have bills to pay. In that instance I became very close with Google Earth. All of the locations and streets in that story are real.

Grit City is a fictional place, with fictional people, in fictional situations. My research is limited to psychological and paranormal research. I do quite a bit of simple web searches. I also spend a lot of time in book stores and my local library researching the history of one special underground society that I can’t divulge here. It would give away the story.

How do you find sources for technical info?
RG – My fiction is not overly technical. I don’t deal in the mechanics of science fiction or steam punk technology. I limit my tech-talk to guns for the most part. In the real world I hate guns and don’t own them. In fiction I think they’re about as awesome as pumpkin pie, so I’ll conjure what I want a character to do with a gun and then search for the one that will do the job in style. Anything unique (unused in movies) is what I strive to achieve in my work.

How do you create a character and how much of your own views, feelings & personality go into your characters?
RG – This is actually a bit of an abstract question for me. My characters sometimes come from the people I know: family or friends. Usually they are the stereotype of people I see in the world. Everyone says we shouldn’t judge others. My reply is, “I write, therefore I judge.” I’ll watch people in stores or restaurants and kind of figure out what makes them tick.

Granted, my assumptions can be wrong, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll categorize them and they’ll become the building blocks of a character. Dillon in Grit City is a combination of people I know. Alyssa is purely abstract, in the sense that she’s everyone, but she’s no one. When I write her, I rarely see a face, but instead, a collage of emotions and gut reactions.

Do you ever collaborate with other writers if / when you hit a cold streak?
RG – I always collaborate with writers in the form of work shopping a story. It has nothing to do with a cold streak. No one…and I mean no one should go it alone in fiction writing. It’s all so personal and emotional that I don’t know of any writers through history that didn’t have a sounding board. Yes, even Hemingway and Twain both had close relationships with their editors. At Grit City Publications I have two editors. A content editor that also oversees the illustrations and a proofing editor, who is actually a writing friend of mine that gives me unfiltered critiques. Without that support Grit City would fail.

Do you feel that writers have a responsibility to address religious, political and social issues in their stories?
RG – Definitely. It’s the job of every person to contribute to our public dialog. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, atheist, or polygamist. Writers take the time to learn the craft of persuasion. A lot of writers don’t realize the power they hold. Decisions in this world are made through emotion, not critical thinking. If you’re hungry, you’re going to eat what you want, or what you “feel” you need. If you enter the business world you’re going to sell something or engineer something that will solve a problem and make someone happier.

Fiction writers get to influence the desires of the mass public and therefore, drive the population in that direction. Did Gene Roddenberry have anything to do with the invent of the flip cell phone? Of course he did. What about the space shuttle? One of them was named Enterprise.

About Grit City

Briefly describe emotobooks.
RG – Emotobooks are short, fast read stories that use abstract, emotional representations of what the characters feel and experience during peak moments of tension. These expressionistic elements provide both cerebral and visual stimulation, which enhance the impact of each story. By delivering a visual of what the character feels and experiences, the reader becomes more intensely immersed in the story.

Why not just write graphic novels?
RG – Emotobooks aren’t even the close to the same idea as a graphic novel or comic book. The whole point of comics are to visually tell a story. Emotobooks are written pop-literature. For the first time in fictional publishing, we’re providing for the visualization of emotions, not scenes. Read and you’ll understand.

What real world city did you model grit after?
RG – It’s not modeled after any one real or fictional city. There is some New York and Pittsburgh thrown into the mix, along with elements of Gotham. Grit City is the physical division of rich from dismal, powerful and weak that we experience every day.

A real city may have barely acknowledged rich and poor sections. Grit City has a Servian Wall that separates the two. There’s no beating around the bush. The wealthy Syndicate clearly keep the poor under their thumbs. That’s why Dillon Galway is trying to improve the conditions for the desolate through honest reporting. That’s why the “power” chose him.

How to contact Ron

If you have questions or comments for Ron please feel free to use the comments section below or follow him on Twitter: @RonGavalik.

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