While you may think summer is prime time for a good romance, horror is in fact the true star of the beach read. I sat down to chat with G.A. Finocchiaro, local author of The Knightmares, a novel following 9 geek-culture loving, bantering punk kids who are pitted against an evil, sexy succubus from another dimension and her demented plans for revenge.
Why did you decide to set the book in Philadelphia?
I grew up in a very small South Jersey town and went to college in Philadelphia. The people I met in college inspired The Knightmares and fueled my creativity. The characters and some of the events are all loosely based in reality, and I owe all that inspiration to this wonderful city. Beyond that, Philadelphia is a really cool town. It has such great history and architecture, and I think it lends itself well as the setting for a story like The Knightmares.
There are always stories from various different media taking place in NYC, Chicago and L.A. I wanted to highlight some place different, and a place I knew very well.
Can you name any references or scenes from the book that Philly geeks will really get a kick out of?
I kick the story off with a historical altering of our most famous, local founding father, Benjamin Franklin. He plays a “key” role throughout the series as the “Founding Father the First” of an even more mysterious secret society than the Freemasons. There’s also a few particular scenes that take place in an abandoned Franklin Institute, including a rather fun chase scene that highlights a few of my favorite exhibits.
There’s also a fight scene with a semi-omniscient alien god who loves Bronson Pinchot and his role as Balky Bartokomous from Perfect Strangers. If that doesn’t sell this book, nothing will.
Why 1999 (a love of Prince is an acceptable answer)
The story takes place in 1999 for a lot of reasons. I find that the beginning of the cellular age was a very isolated and insular time period. If something crazy or interesting happens today, you can bet on there being at least ten different people who grabbed cellphone video, tweeted, Facebooked, Snapchatted, and even Instagrammed and Vined it. I found that in the late 90s we hadn’t quite discovered what it was like for people to have a phone (with a camera) on them at all times, and it makes for a scarier time period. If an incident happens in today’s society and there’s no hard evidence, did it actually happen? I think it makes urban fantasy all that more potent setting it almost 20 years ago, like we’re living in that grainy Big-Foot video world where some people think it’s faked and others believe without a shadow of a doubt that it’s real. It gives me as an author the most modern time period to work with while still maintaining ambiguity to allow the creepy things to remain unknown and mysterious.
Also, I was in college at that time and I have a real soft spot for that era at the turn of the century. Everything from the ridiculousness of the goth scene to the haircuts and the styles (JNCO jeans? I rest my case.), all play into a fun little bucket I can pull plenty of comedic references from.
What made you move from comic to novel? Does the book still feature original artwork?
Many reasons. Initially I wrote The Knightmares as a script that my good buddy Bob fell in love with. He created a piece of artwork for fun and the next thing I knew we were throwing together a comic book pitch to take with us to comic con way back in 2002. We impressed the CEO of Marvel Comics and a few guys at DC Comics, but they weren’t in the business to publish an original series. We then shopped it to Image Comics and a few others, but growing demands to start a career and other life events really derailed the entire process. We both realized we couldn’t dedicate the amount of time that was needed to continue. Eventually I decided to reopen my old Word Document to see what I had and started to lay down the groundwork for a real novel. It was a slow process, writing and rewriting and rewriting again after working a full day at the office, and being able to dedicate only an hour or two per night.
I have been toying around with the idea of original artwork within the actual book, and currently I have an amazing local artist working on a new cover. If there’s an opportunity there with the publisher, it’s something I’d love to do.
The fantasy genre has been having its “moment” for quite a few years now. Have you always been a fan of supernatural novels? How does it feel moving from a consumer to a producer?
I have been a HUGE fan of supernatural and fantasy all my life. I have a hard time enjoying something that doesn’t have a twinge of the fantastic in some way. When I was young, all the little boys in the neighborhood were playing with cars and trucks, while I was saving princesses with my lightsaber or trying to imagine my arms, legs and head were comprised of giant robotic lions that assemble into a giant mighty warrior. My imagination was always soaring away with itself.
I think for me, the move from consumer to producer was a natural one because I was always just as interested in the person behind the curtain as I was in the media I was consuming. Creators like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Clive Barker, and Neil Gaiman were my heroes. I wanted to be like them, inspiring people like me. I think the biggest moment of my life would not be merely getting published (although that will be a dream come true), but to have some kid out there read my work and then become inspired to write or create something to inspire someone else. I want my work to be a part of that level of meta that transcends the storytelling itself, and becomes a part of engaging and turning the gears inside someone else’s imagination.
Ideally, how would a reader feel after they finished The Knightmares?
Ideally I hope a reader would feel like they had just gone on a pretty wild ride with a very satisfying end. Like they had just experienced an adventure with their best friends and lived to tell the tale. At its heart, The Knightmares is a story about loyalty and friendship, and the kind of crazy inside jokes that develop within those kinds of close knit circles. There just happens to be this crazy villainess named Nexus who comes in and ruins the party, along with her cloaked acolyte minions, a horde of mercenary werewolves, and a lunatic with a possessed stuffed toy elephant.
You’re at 129 pre-ordered copies. Where do you have to be to publish?
Inkshares has two different funding goals. The first goal is 250 pre-orders called Quill, which is the goal I am aiming for. This gets the author a round of much needed services like professional editing, an ISBN number, and listings on sites like Amazon for both e-book and softcover copies printed on demand. The second, more lofty goal, is 750 pre-orders for full publishing. This includes full editing, marketing, and distribution of physical book copies to several major book retailers like Barnes & Noble, and more. If I hit 250 pre-orders, nothing is stopping me from getting my book out there and spreading the word in hopes that I can sell 500+ more copies and go into full publication.
Regardless of which number I hit, I plan on going out to all major horror, comic book and literary conventions to push my novel as much as I can. I’m not afraid to work extra hard to get my name and my book out there, and I want to be accessible to potential fans.
Any advice for aspiring novelists out there?
Write. Don’t stop writing. Get your writing in front of someone who’s opinion you respect, and don’t get your feelings hurt if they think your work is no good. Take the criticism, rework, and keep writing. Allow yourself to be weird. Allow yourself to be strange. Embrace it. Find your audience, and write for them.
What’s the nerdiest thing about you?
Probably that I can recite, by heart, the Star League creed from The Last Starfighter. Or that I totally geeked out over meeting Corey Haim a few years ago (RIP). It might also be my 80’s movie poster collection. Or maybe my love of gadgets and my annoying need to show off my Phillips Hue lights to everyone who comes over, with the showmanship of David Copperfield and the giddiness of a four year old meeting her favorite Disney princess in the middle of the Magic Kingdom.
I have to ask. What’s cooler: Vampires, werewolves, or zombies? Or none?
They are all fantastic in their own ways, and each of them represents very different allegories for human struggles and weaknesses. I personally plan on putting my own spin on them all before I’m done writing. I think I’ve gone through stages where I thought each one individually was cooler than the rest, but when I get right down to it I’ve always been a little more fascinated with the gory, charismatic, villainous and powerful (with great style) vampires. I’m a Lost Boy at heart.
To help The Knightmares go from dream (or you know, nightmare) to reality, pre-order a copy of the book here: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-knightmares