I wish to thank author Mike Duran for stopping by Spire Reviews today for a brief chat. For those of you who haven't read his blog (deCOMPOSE) before, I encourage you to hop over there after reading this interview. Mike is rarely bashful about speaking his mind, and his posts often encourage thoughtful and heated debates. I've discovered it to be a challenging forum that continuously inspires my growth in faith.
Also, Mike has generously offered to give away (1) copy of his new release, THE TELLING. Please see below for instructions on how to enter this contest.
Good morning, Mike. Thank you for stopping by today, and congratulations on your new release, THE TELLING. I loved your debut novel, THE RESURRECTION, and anticipate your sophomore work will be equally engaging—just like your blog deCOMPOSE.
One reason I enjoy reading your blog is because you're not afraid to stir the pot, thereby encouraging discussion. Have you ever found your opinion swayed by the debate?
Oh yeah. I’m blessed to have such wonderful commenters and facilitate such fun, interesting discussions. One such time was my review of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It remains one of my most visited, hotly debated, posts (http://mikeduran.com/2011/04/redeeming-love-a-review/). The reason I even got to the place to read and review a romance novel was because of my blog readers. I’ve said some pretty snarky things about romance and romance readers in the past. Over time, I’ve felt my views changing. Of course, it’s still not my chosen genre to read or write, but the discussions helped me to a more balanced perspective, I think. I’m glad I read that book. And though it reinforced some of the opinions, it also changed some. So, yeah. My opinion is shaped, if not swayed, often.
A frequent topic on your blog is the quality of Christian fiction. One of the goals of Spire Reviews is to spotlight *Christian fiction* that raises the standard. Have you discovered any Christian fiction authors or novels that you would endorse? What, in your opinion, elevates them above the rest?
Wow! More than I could mention. I’ve read enough to know that there’s great-to-mediocre stuff in both markets. So I’ve never bought into the complaint that all Christian fiction is junk. Currently, I’m reading Athol Dickson’s Lost Mission. Dickson is such a great writer. Not sure how any objective person could read his stuff and still say that Christian writers are hacks. Tosca Lee is another Christian author who I consider a fantastic wordsmith. Tim Downs, T.L. Hines, and Robert Liparulo, just to name a few others. Last year I read Leif Enger's Peace Like a River and just adored it. While not considered Christian fiction, its themes are blatantly spiritual. Admittedly, I haven’t read much in the Women’s Fiction category, even though it comprises probably three-fourths of the Christian publishing market. Frankly, I think that’s one of our shortfalls at this point.
Well said. You mentioned several of my favorite authors, and I would like to add that there are several excellent women’s fiction writers within Christian fiction (see Authors Who Dare Write Different list in sidebar).
Regardless of genre, are there authors you read regularly? Are there any you wish to emulate?
I love Dean Koontz’s books, especially his Odd Thomas series. What I like about Koontz is his humorous, existential ruminations. He’s writing about something “bigger” than just his characters. I’ll never forget one Christian acquisitions editor telling me at a writers conference that Dean Koontz was writing some of the best Christian fiction out there. Go figger. Another writer who has deeply influenced me is G.K. Chesterton. His The Man Who Was Thursday remains one of my all-time favorite reads. It’s complex, dense, and full of wit. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy is so full of philosophical clarity and joy, it captivated me when I first read it. Those two writers, Koontz and Chesterton, are definitely at the top of my To Be Emulated list.
I loved your debut novel, The Resurrection, and am looking forward to reading your sophomore effort, The Telling, which releases the end May. What is The Telling about, what inspired you to write it, and do you have a third novel in the works?
The Telling is about a disfigured modern day prophet who’s renounced his gift and cloisters himself in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of Endurance, a quaint but quirky city on the northern fringes of
Valley. Through an odd series of circumstances, the least of which
is the discovery of his murdered doppelganger, he finds himself
front-and-center in a quest to close one of nine mythical gates of hell.
While The Telling could be classified as a horror story, it’s really about destiny. A recurrent question asked in the novel is, “Do you find your destiny, or does your destiny find you?” The Telling is a story about people who, in the midst of horrific circumstances, are grappling with a larger purpose to their lives. What is destiny? Is it human or divine? Can darkness—inside or outside us—short-circuit our destiny? Or are some scars actually destined? It was really a fun, challenging story to unravel.
My third novel is in the works. It’s a little different from my first two, an Urban Fantasy about a paranormal reporter who must investigate the murder of his girlfriend, only to learn of a larger plot to build a massive conductor to the spirit world. It’s fast-paced, supernatural noir. The book’s tentatively entitled The Ghost Box and is currently being shopped.
The storyline of The Telling sounds intriguing, and I love the thematic elements! Sounds engaging and profound. The Ghost Box sounds interesting too!
When you're not writing, what are you doing?
Since I’ve been contracted, my life has really changed. It’s honestly something I did not calculate. I work a 40-hour week outside the home, so writing just takes up pretty much the rest of my time. It’s extremely hectic and has involved a huge re-thinking of my priorities. Blogging also takes up a lot of my time. I enjoy doing it, but it’s really pretty hard to put out good stuff on a regular basis without spending time on it. I am constantly gathering material for my blog. I also love to garden and watch a lot of movies. Netflix has become an important tool in my writing workbox.
Can you briefly describe your journey to publication?
Well, it’s definitely not the journey I would have chosen! I was a minister for eleven years—full-time staff at a Christian church. I got into the ministry as a young man and a new Christian. I had a wife, four kids, and was on a steep learning curve. But the pressures eventually took their toll (as they do with many ministers) and, after a lot of teeth-pulling, I felt like I needed to step away.
But after I left the ministry, I kind of drifted. I didn’t jump straight into writing. In fact, I had no idea that’s what I’d end up doing. I returned to construction and kept one ear to heaven. This went on for three or four years. At the time, I subscribed to World Magazine. They sponsored a fiction contest by Westbow and I decided, rather impromptu, to enter. I’d never written fiction. But years in the pulpit had taught me how to work with words and engage an audience. To my surprise, out of thousands of entries, my story received an honorable mention. That affirmation sort of got the ball rolling on a possible writing career. As a result, I eventually was asked to join an online writing group. And that was really just the beginning of a whole other journey.
Thanks again, Mike, for stopping by Spire Reviews today! I wish you the best in all your future writing endeavors.
Mike Duran is a novelist, blogger, and freelance writer whose short stories, essays, and commentary have appeared in Relief Journal, Relevant Online, Breakpoint, Rue Morgue magazine, and other print and digital outlets. He is the author of the supernatural thriller THE RESURRECTION (Realms, 2011), which was a finalist in the 2011 INSPY Awards, an e-book fantasy novella entitled WINTERLAND, and THE TELLING (Realms, May 2012). Mike contributes monthly commentary at Novel Rocket, one of Writer's Digest 101 Most Helpful Websites for Writers. Mike is an ordained minister and lives with his wife and four grown children in Southern California. Mike's novels explore the boundaries of belief, the fragile tether between science and superstition, the depths of despair and the reaches of faith. You can learn more about Mike Duran, his writing projects, favorite music, cultural commentary, and arcane interests, at mikeduran.com.
Realms, 304 pages
A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.
Disfigured with a hideous scar from his stepmother, Zeph Walker lives his life in seclusion, cloistering himself in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town. But Zeph is also blessed with a gift—an uncanny ability to foresee the future,to know peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but he has abandoned this gift to a life of solitude, unbelief, and despair—until two detectives escort him to the county morgue where he finds his own body lying on the gurney.
On the northern fringes of Death Valley, the city of Endurance is home to llama ranches, abandoned mines, roadside attractions...and the mythical ninth gate of hell. Now, forced to investigate his own murder, Zeph discovers something even more insidious behind the urban legends and small-town eccentricities. Early miners unearthed a megalith—a sacred site where spiritual and physical forces converge and where an ancient subterranean presence broods. And only Zeph can stop it.
But the scar on Zeph’s face is nothing compared to the wound on his soul. For not only has he abandoned his gift and renounced heaven, but it was his own silence that spawned the evil. Can he overcome his own despair in time to seal the ninth gate of hell?
His words unlocked something deadly,
And now the silence is killing them.
Drawing for THE TELLING
To be entered in the drawing, tell us, in the comments below, one thing that intrigues you about Mike Duran’s blog (http://mikeduran.com/). One comment per person will be entered. The drawing ends Monday, May 28 at 6 p.m. CST. The winner will be announced on the Spire Reviews blog on Tuesday, May 29. Winner must provide a mailing address in an email to BrendaBryantAndersonATcomcastDOTnet.