The Author's Own Words - Kristopher Triana - SHEPHERD OF THE BLACK SHEEP

Alrighty kiddos. Phoenix Comic Fest starts this Thursday, and is it okay for me to freak out a bit?

I'm going to be pretty busy myself as I help Ruth Thompson Fantasy Art with their setup and take down. I'm also working the Thrill Halloween booth which is run by the Comic Fest because they need help, AND Blood Bound Books will have a booth there. WHEW!

But most fun of all, BBB will be hosting both Drew Stepek and Kristopher Triana, two of our distinguished authors....

Let's try that again.

Drew Stepek, whom I've interviewed before at the release of his books, Knuckle Supper: Ultimate Gutter Fix Edition and Knuckle Balled, will be spreading his madness at the booth. Bring a towel.

We'll also have the horrifically talented Kristopher Triana, author of several pieces with us, most notably Body Art.

(And I'm totally fangirling about it.)

Kris' novel Shepherd of the Black Sheep is his newest incantation, and it will be available for pre-release at the Comic Fest.

This novel is a murder mystery that takes place in a small town in Vermont. Tom Hargrave has lost his daughter and son-in-law to a tragic accident, and he is given custody of his 10-year-old granddaughter, Paige. When Paige's best friend is murdered in the winter snow, the town is turned upside down trying to solve the crime. Tom tries to put the pieces together as hardships keep coming his way and their simple, quiet lives spiral out of control.

You may be cool, but you'll never be Kris Triana surrounded by skulls
in the catacombs of Paris cool.

Kris was born in New York but grew up in Florida with heavy metal music and a budding love for all things horror. He fled the Sunshine State once he was old enough and has lived up and down the East Coast. He has written numerous works of fiction and has been featured in magazines, audio books, anthologies, and on websites. His work has been praised by such notables as Rue Morgue, Publisher's Weekly and Cemetery Dance. When not working on fiction, he is a professional dog trainer and lives with his wife in Connecticut.

I interviewed Kris to get to know him better and to learn more about Shepherd of the Black Sheep, and I'm pretty satisfied that this fine gentleman is worth fangirling over. See what you think. Come meet him for yourself and buy a book or two! Hope to see you at the Comic Fest!

What drew you to writing in general? Was it a certain moment that sparked it, or did it evolve over time?

I've always been lost in my imagination. I wrote short stories as a child and my first novella at age fourteen. I can't remember ever not writing fiction in some capacity.

Is writing the only work you do? Do you have another job or any hobbies?

I train dogs and collect horror movie memorabilia. I don't get out much and like to stay in my mountain home.

What is your favorite childhood book, and has it influenced what you write today?

I think it's a toss up between the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series and The Pumpkin Smasher by Anita Bernarde. Even as a little kid I was always drawn to monsters and creepy crawlies. Reading those books absolutely inspired me to write horror tales.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I think seeing how literature has an effect on society, in cases such as To Kill a Mocking Bird, and seeing how pissy some people get over books like Lolita and American Psycho. Words can really ignite fire, figuratively and literally.

What does Shepherd of the Black Sheep mean to you? Where does it come from in your life?

Shepherd is a book that really stems from the bond of family. It's such a powerful force in all our lives. The novel asks how far you would go for your kin. My family is small and I've lost a lot of them, so the book sort of grew out of that feeling of loss and isolation. It's dedicated to my sister, the only person in my immediate family that I have left. There's also an epidemic of violence against children in America today, and the thriller aspect of the plot evolved from those real-life horrors.

Shepherd is a first person narrative novel that relies heavily on character development. The characters truly drive the story through their actions and reactions to the circumstances. Is this something you do in all of your writing or was this the first time?

Yes, that is a key element in all of my books. Even when I'm writing batshit crazy extreme horror, I always try to flesh out the characters and give them depth. It makes what happens to them more impactful.

Which was your hardest scene to write in Shepherd of the Black Sheep?

In the very beginning of the book, violence is inflicted upon children. That has to be handled deftly with sensitivity. But I think the hardest part was writing in a way that keeps the book's secrets hidden while also giving the reader clues. I like to make the reader think they know what's going on, and then tell them they're totally wrong in the next few chapters.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I try to stick to appropriate names for generations. For example, names like Fred and Mickey are more common for men in their 70s, whereas Kyle and Tyler are more common for men in their 20s. You meet few grandmothers named Dakota and few millennials named Ethel. I will sometimes use the first or even last names of friends as well, just as a friendly nod.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with them, good or bad?

I do. I like hearing the positive feedback and love knowing someone enjoyed the world I created. It means everything to me. As for the negative feedback, I appreciate it when it's constructive. It actually helps me with future projects. The reviews that are just plain shitty I usually laugh at.

For writers reading this interview, can you give advice on what are common traps for aspiring writers?

Don't let rejection drive you down. Learn from your mistakes and listen to the feedback of others. Read as much as you can, even books from genres you don't like. It is the best education you can get.

For fun... What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

There is no meaning. There's no such thing as fate and there is no God. It's all random and when you die you're gone forever. Have a nice life!