We’re talking today to Gregory Earls, author of the general fiction novel,Empire of Light(Simon and Fig).
When Gregory Earls isn’t eating at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, he pays the bills by taking up space at 20th Century Fox in the Feature Post Production Department. He’s a proud graduate of NorfolkStateUniversityand the American Film Institute, where he studied cinematography. He’s an award-winning director who has amassed a reel of short films, music videos, and (yes) a wedding video or two. Steadfastly butchering the Italian language since 2002, he hopes to someday master the language just enough to inform his in-laws how much he loves their daughter, Stefania, who was born and raised in Milan, Italy. Gregory currently resides in Venice, Californiawhere he goes giddy every time he spots that dude who roller skates and plays the electric guitar at the same time. During football season, he can be found at the Stovepiper Lounge, a Cleveland Browns bar in the Valley where he roots for the greatest football team in the history of Cleveland.
Thank you for this interview, Gregory.Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Thanks for the invite! I’ve been writing screenplays since the end of my senior year in High School. However Empire Of Light is my very first novel and I started writing it back in 2007. I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I’m horribly claustrophobic and even though I can’t eat them anymore, my favorite flavor of Doritos is the original Taco flavor. It’s my belief that the most fantastic Warner Brother Cartoons where directed by Bob Clampett. Oh… And I’m getting married this month!
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Empire Of Light revolves around an insecure film school student named Jason and his first trip to Europe. His voyage flips into mad adventure when his vintage Brownie camera magically unleashes all the sex, violence, religion and humor captured on canvas by the infamous artist, Caravaggio.
Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?
Well, the genre is Urban Fiction, so I want to target a young crowd, primarily. However the tracking down of Caravaggio paintings definitely should attracts art and history set. My hope is that someday someone traces the path of Jason, my protagonist, in the same way tourists trace the steps of Robert Langdon from the Dan Brown novels. I actually make fun of this in my book, but I’d be stoked if somebody spent their vacation visiting Paris, Romeand then Naplesto discover the same works of art as Jason Tisse. Folks who would throw Clevelandinto that itinerary receive a trophy from me. …Seriously. I’ll send you a trophy. Send pictures as proof.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
It really chose me. My publisher, Simon & Fig, read an early draft and basically said, “this is who you are.” Up to this point, I’ve only written screenplays and was only aware of film genres. The diverse categories of the literary world are new to me.
Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?
Constantly. I’m sure it will never go away. Not sure if it should. Fear and self-doubt probably pushes me to be better.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
I don’t have a washer and dryer at my home, so I spent a ton of time writing at my favorite coffee house/laundromat. I love the place for a number of reasons: the atmosphere is warm, l’espresso è buono, there’s an outlet at almost every table (at least there use to be, until they discovered a wiring problem). On top of this, I got loads of laundry done while I banged out pages. I’d tell you the name of it, but I want to keep it to myself. …To hell with it. It’s called the Rumor Mill on Washington Blvd.
What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?
I actually performed the same trek as Jason, personally hitting every museum and church. I researched and sketched the same paintings. Caravaggio had a pretty crazy life and there are some crazy stories behind each painting. However I purposely leaned towards the rumors behind the paintings and not the textbook facts. That’s the stuff cults are built upon, and it’s more realistic that these are the stories a romantic college student, like Jason, might embrace.
Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?
I don’t have an agent. I was lucky to have the owner of Simon & Fig (Stacey Jane Holderbach) read an early manuscript and offer to publish it.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
Internet interviews, like this one, guest blogs and the social networks. I don’t really believe in book trailers, but I think this subject matter lends itself well to that kind of promotion. After I get married I’ll produce and direct the trailer and flood the Internet with that as well.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Find the time to hit up Twitter, Face Book, and Google Plus. My 9-5 is actually a 9-8, so it’s tough to keep up with that kind of stuff. If I had the resources, I’d hire some college kid to do it for me.
What’s next for you?
I have a novella that I’m working on about proposal of marriage gone awry (yes, based on my true life engagement adventure). I’m also working on a retelling of a classic American folktale, retrofit for the modern age.
Thank you for this interview, Gregory. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. Enjoyed it!
You can visit Gregory’s website at www.gregoryearls.com.