Today I’m happy to welcome Mike Pace, author of Dead Light, to Books, Bones & Buffy! I recently reviewed Dead Light (you can read my review here) and loved the scary atmosphere that the author created in his fictional town of Cumberton, Maryland. Mike was kind enough to answer some questions about his book, and his publisher is giving away an e-book of Dead Light to one international winner as well! So please help me welcome Mike to the blog…
Books, Bones & Buffy: Welcome, Mike! Dead Light has a definite Stephen King flavor to it. Were you influenced by him, and if not, who were your influences?
Mike Pace: Thanks for having me! I’ve definitely been influenced by Stephen King. Others have said it reminded them of “early King.” I can’t think of a more humbling complement. Also I would have to list Doug Preston, Michael Connolly and a sadistic Boy Scout camp counselor who would delight in telling ghost stories just to scare the crap out of me.
BB&B: The Big Evil in your story is Lucifer, who is trying to destroy the world. There were lots of references to the Bible, and you used certain biblical passages to explain why all these bad things are happening in the town of Cumberton. What sort of research was involved in writing your book?
MP: Biblical history and the physics of light were probably the two strongest research threads. The neat thing about the Bible is, apart from its religious significance, the book contains many fascinating stories that would fall into the thriller genre.
BB&B: I have to agree with you on that! I loved the way you used events in the past to explain the origins of Lucifer’s Light, and I thought your decision to alternate chapters set in the 1600s with what was going on in the present day added more depth to the story. Was that always your plan, or was that aspect of the story added later?
MP: Dealing with the flashbacks was one of the hardest things to manage. As a thriller writer, one of your biggest fears is the loss of pacing. Every time you interrupt the story to flash back to an earlier time, you risk frustrating the reader. I can’t tell you how many times the flashback chapters were moved around, and at one point, the story had no flashbacks and started in 1669. Hopefully, the final arrangement allows for the back story—the origin of the light—to emerge without losing the pacing.
BB&B: What was the writing process like for Dead Light? How long did it take to write the manuscript and find a publisher?
MP: The book took about nine months. The story derived from a screenplay I wrote entitled The Flickering. The original story focused on a serial killer who, as a theater owner in a small town, used subliminal messaging projected onto the screen to hypnotize his victims. The two cops were minor characters. Over time, I fell in love with the cops, their role expanded, and I asked myself, what if everyday light was used as a weapon of death? To my knowledge, it hadn’t been done before. And off I went.
I went the query route on finding a publisher, experienced the normal bumps along the way, and connected up with Sapphire Star. Great people to work with.
BB&B: You’ve had several successful and diverse careers, including teaching and working for the U.S. Government. What led you to finally start your writing career?
MP: I’ve enjoyed writing since I wrote the 4th grade Christmas play in elementary school. Throughout my various careers, I’ve written during home time. When I was practicing law in Washington, I had a 45 minute commute. I sometimes used the time to dictate stories into a small tape recorder. I actually wrote a stage play this way that won a regional competition and was produced in Annapolis, Maryland.
BB&B: I know you have also written screenplays. How does writing a novel differ from that, and is there one form you prefer over the other?
MP: I’ve written screenplays, stage plays and books, and they all pose unique challenges. A stage play must be contained. It must focus first and foremost on character, because you’re constrained by a confined space. Unlike a screenplay, you can’t say, “Cut to Paris” one minute, then “Cut to Chicago” the next. Moreover, you can’t rely on special effects. These constraints pose a fun challenge to anyone attempting a stage play.
A screenplay, even more than a stage play, is a recipe; the director makes the cake. Unlike writing a book, a screenplay should not contain much description. In a screenplay, you would write: “Tom walks through a park.” You don’t need to talk about the trees or the pond or the kids throwing the Frisbee, the chef (director) knows what a park looks like and he’ll find a park to his liking. Also, in a screenplay you have to be cognizant of budget. Every time you add a character, you’re costing the production money. Every time you add an exterior scene, you’re costing the production money.
With a book, of course, you’re not just writing the recipe, you’re writing the recipe and baking the cake. Unlike the other two, what you write is the finished product. You have to describe the park. Of course a book is much longer and takes more time to write. While I enjoy all three experiences, my ego probably favors novel writing because there’s no one taking what I write and making it his own.
BB&B: Tell us four things about Mike Pace that can’t be found on your website!
MP: 1. I’ve been infected by the game of golf and despite many attempts, have yet to find the antidote.
2. I’m a pretty good cook and make a mean squid-ink pasta salmon dish.
3. I hold a patent on a party tray-drink holder, called the Party-Dek.
4. I play the soprano saxophone.
BB&B: Those are pretty awesome things! I’m not sure I want to know what squid-ink pasta is…What next? Do you have any works in progress that you can tell us about?
MP: Three books in various stages of completion:
Red Island – Think Hunger Games meets Saw.
One to Go – Would you really do anything to save your child?
Side Effects – You know those commercials for prescription medicine …
About the author:
Mike Pace was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Illinois on an art scholarship, and graduated with a BFA degree. He taught public school in Washington D.C.’s inner city, while attending law school at Georgetown University. As an attorney, he prosecuted numerous cases, including those involving murder and rape. He resigned in order to practice law part-time, thereby allowing him the time to devote to his first love, creative writing. He lives on the Chesapeake Bay with his wife and two dogs, Blueberry and Scout. DEAD LIGHT is Mike’s first novel.
Find Dead Light and Mike Pace here:
Watch the book trailer for Dead Light:
And now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will receive an e-book of Dead Light from the publisher. Giveaway is international and ends May 10th. Simply fill out the form to enter. Good luck!
This giveaway has ended, and the winner is Meghan Stith! Congrats! Thank you to everyone who entered.