August 7, 2011

Sunday Spotlight: Author Interview with Joel T. McGrath

Author Interview

Joel T. McGrath
This Sunday Wickedly Bookish is proud to bring you an exclusive interview with Joel T. McGrath. Joel is the author of the young adult, science fiction/fantasy novel Shrouded Secrets. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife Jessica where he writes the continuing adventures of David and Danielle Parker. Joel has given us some awesome answers and has even provided a sneak peak of his next book Shadow Harvest set to realease this holiday season.

#1 Shrouded Secrets is your debut novel, have you always wanted to write, or has it been something that has come to you recently?

You know, I can’t lie; I haven’t always wanted to write fiction. That being said, I have loved poetry and I’ve written poetry ever since I was very young. Writing poetry was always about raw emotion for me so it was easy to pen, but I just couldn’t find that one powerful story that inspired me until Shrouded Secrets found me a few years ago. And I say it found me because I feel that creativity cannot be forced. So yes, writing fiction has without a doubt been a recent discovery to me.

#2 What are your inspirations for writing? Any particular authors, people, books, or popular culture that has influenced you?

Here’s the thing about that. I don’t really read fiction, well…not modern fiction that is. My favorite authors are Frank McCourt, Dickens, Austen, Melville, and Emerson. While these authors influenced the overall sculpting of certain character traits, they didn’t influence my approach to writing the actual story of Shrouded Secrets at all. However, it’s hard not to be influenced by popular culture; that’s why it’s popular. I’m of the mind that absolutely nothing is one hundred percent original, but I really tried to put a fresh feel on a familiar theme.

#3 There are a lot of underlying messages and themes in Shrouded Secrets. What do you feel is the most important one that you wanted to get across to your readers?

Wow, now that’s the best question that anyone has asked me since I wrote Shrouded Secrets. You got your universal storyline about love, loss, and fear, along with every other complex emotion that our conscious minds wrestle with on a daily basis. Nevertheless, the true message in Shrouded Secrets is our subconscious struggle with the questions of our own weaknesses and mortality as human beings. I still think that hope is in short supply these days, and that true heroes have real shortcomings like everyone else, but we still need hope to hold on to, or otherwise all is lost.

The evil that exists in Shrouded Secrets, I feel is rooted deeply in our world. There are choices made in the first book that would test anyone’s mettle. Going forward, the next novel is going to be faster, sleeker, and much more powerful. I just hope that more people read Shrouded Secrets because it holds some minute, but very important keys that will be major themes in future novels. For example, the flicker fruit trees that once grew wildly all over Eruditus are suddenly blighted and wilting. Not only is this a major problem because of what the flicker fruit provides, but no one knows why they are dying at an alarming rate. With only a few trees left that can produce fruit, in the second novel, this leads to an act of desperation by the inhabitants of Eruditus that sets a chain reaction in motion that not only changes our lives on Earth, but our entire view of our own history and reality.

#4 The characters in your story really shine and come to life. Do any of your characters, especially David, Danielle and Appollos, have traits or characteristics inspired by loved ones?

Yeah, they all do. I think it’s impossible to write fictionalized, yet realistic characters without a template. No character directly resembles any one person that I’ve known, but instead is a composite of many different types of people that I’ve come across in my life. I feel kind of like Dr. Frankenstein in a way. I said to myself, um…I like this aspect of that person, and even though that other person over there may not be a totally bad person, I don’t like that particular trait in them. However, I’ll use the bad quality in combination with some other more redeeming qualities to create a totally original, living person.

Appollos has a certain naivety about the new world in which he has been thrust. He sees good and evil as purely a black and white issue only. I admire him for that. My father viewed things like that at times in his life. My dad wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he couldn’t help but to wonder if the world would be better off if everyone just stopped contributing to its problems and focused on making it a nicer place instead.

None of my sisters were close in age to me and I was a late bloomer, so I used to hang out with a couple of girls that were like Danielle. We would play basketball and do BMX bike stunts together. We’d tease each other occasionally and they’d slug me in a heartbeat if I ever annoyed them. During that time, they were like my sisters; they were actually my Danielle.

David is at a complicated point in his life. He’s not a kid, but he still likes kid things. He understands the social ramifications of entering high school, and what’s now considered social suicide. He’s becoming more self-conscious as he becomes more self-aware. David is not me, but my teen years are a mirror reflection of his confusion and frustration. I had to face some evil from kids my own age at the time, and I had to face it from older people outside of school. As in the book, when you can no longer tell who is friend or foe, like what eventually happens to David, being a hero can become almost impossible, especially when you’re not sure who your friends really are anymore.

#5 There is a lot of moral fiber, if you will, and family values throughout the story. Danielle and David not only go through supernatural trials, but also the trials of becoming young aults. Would you say this is a good medium in which parents can discuss difficult issues of grwoing up with their kids?

David and Danielle still have one very loving and supportive parent, which is sadly not the case for many kids growing up nowadays. I know a great guy who runs a comic book shop a few towns over from where I live. He’s like this real positive, deep thinker and he’s got awesome family values for his kids. So, I naturally assumed that he had come from some kind of perfect family. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. One day he told me about how both of his parents were these super dysfunctional heroin addicts throughout his childhood, along with a bunch of other stuff just not worth mentioning during this interview.

My point being, some of that stuff can be way too intense and real for certain people, and I think fantasy can be a great medium to bring up social problems as long as it doesn't come across too campy or idealistic. I feel that not matter wht the project may be, you especialy want to avoid a pious or preachy tone, mostly because it's probably insincere garbage at that point anyway. However, fantasy with a modern twist can more effectively accomplish what a coming of age can't always do, and that's zoom in and out between larger societal issues and the smaller problems that affect us all individually.
#6 Are there any details you can give us about your next book?

Shadow Harvest

Immortality has been lost and in another realm, David James has been branded a murderer of the last in the royal line of Eruditus. The Doyen Council has locked the doors to the temple, and sealed the entrance that leads directly to Earth. In addition, they have charged their sacred warriors, the Galinea, with treason for the destruction of the peace that they were once sworn to keep.

For the two siblings on Earth, everything has returned to an even more comfortable normal than they had ever previously experienced. Danielle accepts an unexpected scholarship to the Decayther School, an exclusive, co-ed boarding school in the quiet English countryside just south of London. Meanwhile, David is doomed to summer school because he was caught cheating on one of his final exams.

At the same time, a massive and mysterious medieval, yet seemingly invisible, castle materializes, covering an entire mountaintop not far from where David lives. To those few souls who are able to view its ominous presence perched high above the California coastline, they have no question as to what its purpose is, and how it has suddenly appeared.
Soon a gathering of a few unique, yet otherwise ordinary children and teenagers begins worldwide. There are reports of tragic freak accidents that claim the lives of some, while others are abruptly taken, never to be heard from again. Late one night in a mostly deserted New York City subway, a strange supernatural battle occurs between two individuals who are seeking the same teenaged target. Local law enforcement is baffled when they arrive on the gruesome scene moments later. They discover that one of the two has met a most untimely and puzzling death, while the other has vanished into the night.

While in England, nightmares of Danielle’s beloved Seth’s morbid demise at the hands of a ghastly creature, cause her angst, even though he is safely alive back in California. The night terrors become vivid and more frequent with horror-plagued images, which now overpower her once peaceful dreams.

David is actively and unknowingly recruited as an asset that will help decide the fate of the shadow harvest. Even though his once unique strength has not returned to him, an unobtrusive force begins to manipulate him and those he loves. David’s decisions begin to tear his best friends apart, leaving them all in a weakened state, and ripe for the coming attack.

First loves, old flames, and vicious betrayals are tempered by new allies, ancient enemies, and shattering revelations. A latent new order has emerged, and there is no middle ground left to claim. Governments begin to react irrationally as if their thoughts had become permeated with fear and mistrust, and no longer can be considered their own thoughts at all. Nevertheless, to the average eye, the world continues as it always has, and there appears to be no cause for alarm, but that will soon change. And unless both Danielle and David choose to believe in courage and to endure no matter the sacrifice, they will be powerless when what has been destine to occur is fulfilled beyond what any of them had ever envisioned.

#7 Is there anything you want to say to the readers? Any epic words of wisdom you wan tto leaves with us?

Yeah, the best thing that I can say is, come on this journey with me. Unlike some writers out there, I know where I'm going with this series, and you will not be dissapointed in the end if you accept my invitation.

Once again, I would like to thank Jess from Wickedly Bookish for taking the time to read, review, and post this interview for Shrouded Secrets.


Jess said...

I apologize for the formatting issues. I've tried to resolve them, but this was the best I could do. Blogger has always been a pain in this area.

xx satin sue xx said...

greaat interview chick. i love your blog. new follower...

Jess said...

Thanks for stopping by! More author interviews to come. The next one is going to be with author Mica Jade, erotic paranormal romance writer.