Featured Friday! Gordon Bonnet
Gordon Bonnet has been writing fiction for decades. Encouraged when his story “Crazy Bird Bends His Beak” won critical acclaim in Mrs. Moore’s 1st grade class at Central Elementary School in St. Albans, West Virginia, he embarked on a long love affair with the written word.
His interest in the paranormal goes back almost that far. Introduced to speculative, fantasy, and science fiction by such giants in the tradition as Madeleine L’Engle, Lloyd Alexander, Isaac Asimov, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien, he was captivated by those writers’ abilities to take the reader to a fictional world and make it seem tangible, to breathe life and passion and personality into characters who were (sometimes) not even human. He made journeys into darker realms upon meeting the works of Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft during his teenage years, and those authors still influence his imagination and his writing to this day.
This fascination with the paranormal, however, has always been tempered by Gordon’s scientific training. This has led to a strange duality – his work as a skeptic and debunker on the popular blog Skeptophilia, while simultaneously writing paranormal and speculative novels, novellas, and short stories. Gordon explains this, with a smile: “Well, I do know it’s fiction, after all.”
He blogs daily, and is never without a piece of fiction in progress – driven to continue (as he puts it) “because I want to find out how the story ends.”
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
I love the freedom to be creative. The only boundaries of the stories and characters I write are the ones I put in there. When I’m writing, I feel like I’m truly creating new worlds for readers to experience.
What made you start writing?
I’ve always loved telling stories. As I mention in my bio, when I was in first grade, my teacher had the students write and illustrate a little story and then present it to the class. When it was my turn, I was so nervous my knees were shaking. But the class loved it—they were laughing and smiling, and applauded when I was done. And I thought, “I want to do this forever.”
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
Several. First and foremost, Haruki Murakami, who uses simple language and everyday situations to create evocative, surreal stories. Neil Gaiman for his ability to transport us to alternate universes. Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore for their brilliant characters and sparkling humor. Finally, H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe for their intuitive understanding of how to scare the absolute heck out of us.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Keep writing, keep reading. If you do something over and over, you will get better at it despite yourself. Whatever you do, don’t give up, and don’t listen to the critics who would tear you down.
Reading, though, is just as important. It keeps you immersed in what others in your craft are doing. Make sure you read books that are outside your preferred genre; good writing is good writing, and you can often learn more when you read a book in a different genre because you’ll pay more attention to the style, characters, and story arc.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
Like I said in the last question, I read all sorts of things. I do love speculative fiction (which is what I write) but I’ll read almost anything that’s skillfully done. My last two reads were The Rule of Four by Dustin Thomason and Ian Caldwell (about four students at Princeton embroiled in turmoil surrounding the decipherment of a Renaissance manuscript; highly recommended) and Lily Dale by Christine Wicker (a non-fiction book about the longest-surviving Spiritualist community in the United States).
Duncan Kyle from Sephirot. He’s the main character I’ve written that grew the most from the beginning of the story to the end. In the novel, he’s lost in a maze of worlds, each of which holds a lesson and a lure — and if he falls for the lure, he’ll never get out. He has to live by his wits and find courage in places where people are trying their hardest to kill him. He would be a great person to hang out with to share conversation and a pint of beer.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
Every writer should read Stephen King’s On Writing. It is some of the best advice for writers I’ve ever read.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
The hardest scene I ever wrote was in my novella Convection, which is coming out in a collection next year. It’s about ten people trapped in an apartment complex in southern Louisiana during a category-5 hurricane. The character of Jennie evolved as I wrote the story—she started out being a cranky, cocky twenty-year-old who was there to antagonize everyone, but as the story progresses, you find out why she acts that way. Through a gradual revelation of details from her past, she becomes sympathetic, and turns out to be the character without whom the rest of them never would have survived.
And then she gets killed.
I started out saving her—having her get injured, but not killed. But something didn’t sit right with me. It seemed like a cop-out. So I rewrote the ending, having Jennie get killed, and it’s a much stronger story for it—but it was hard to do. My characters seem like real people to me, and I do get attached.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Magic, excitement, and danger, and in exactly the right proportions.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
I honestly have no idea! My life hasn’t really been that interesting—I mean, I’m pretty attached to it, but I don’t think it would make particularly compelling reading. Maybe that’s why I write stories about daring characters and exciting situations.
We all know the phrase “the book is always better than the film.” Which film would you like to see remade as a book?
The only film I’ve seen that was based on a book where I thought the film was better was Jurassic Park. The film is amazing, but in the book I found the characters flat and poorly-drawn (and the little kids were so annoying that I was actively rooting for the velociraptors to eat them). Having a book based on the way the story played out in the film would be a distinct improvement.
As far as films that (to my knowledge) have never been in book form, my votes would be The Matrix and Vanilla Sky. Still two of my favorite movies ever.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
My life, observed from above, would resemble a pinball game.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
Right now, I’m starting a novel that is (with luck) going to be the first part of a trilogy on the concept of the “Black-eyed Children.” This urban legend is about kids who flag you down for a ride or knock on your door at night, and if you let them in you see that their eyes are solid, glossy black—no whites, no irises.
And then you’re abducted and never seen again.
The story is about people who have banded together to fight the Black-eyed Children. It’s kind of The X Files meets Justice League, and I think it’s going to be tremendous fun to write.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
You never lose anything by being kinder and more compassionate than you think you need to be.
Watch out for Gordon Bonnet’s next release, Gears, coming November 2016!
You can keep up with news of this release and Gordon’s other work at the following places: