Q&A: Greg Mitchell (Enemies of the Cross)
ALTHOUGH YOUR BOOK IS FICTION - WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SOME ELEMENTS IN THE BOOK THAT CAME FROM REAL LIFE?
One of the many themes in Enemies of the Cross is obsession, and how driven people can push away those who care about them, all in a single-minded pursuit of their goal. That is something I totally understand in my life and was certainly expressing in the book. I’m a really persistent person when it comes to achieving my goals. In writing Jeff Weldon (the lead in Enemies), I was as open as I could be about the internal struggle of knowing what you want and going after it, but not sacrificing what’s important along the way. I have to stop and remind myself that the ends don’t always justify the means. I’ve been incredibly blessed with a very practical-minded and patient wife. Meghan has been a rock for me—in a lot of the same ways Isabella is for Jeff in the book—and helped me not lose sight of what’s most important in my life. We’ve got two daughters now and there’s always this urge to write, write, write when I’m really into a story, but sometimes you’ve got to shut the computer off and play a board game with your kids. As important as we writers like to think our work is, in the end it’s just a story. It’s just entertainment. I’ll never make as much an impact on a Reader as I will on my own children. Being a father is more important than being an author, and I have to make a concentrated effort to remember that. I’m not always successful, but that’s my battle.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHICH STORY TO WRITE?
Enemies of the Cross is a sequel to The Strange Man—and the second part of The Coming Evil Trilogy—so it was a no-brainer to work on this as my follow-up. I’ve had this story building inside of me for over a decade and I just needed an outlet. Realms Fiction has been fantastic with supporting me and the series and providing that outlet. In general, though, I’m as surprised as anyone by which book I choose next. I usually write at least two—more likely three or four—books simultaneously at any given time. I have a short attention span and wild mood swings, so I start a lot of different stories and ping-pong back and forth as I get into the right frame of mind for each. It’s kind of like a race, where all the stories are neck and neck and I’m often surprised by which one gets finished first.
WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK?
First and foremost, I want them to be entertained. I want them to come away from the book feeling like they’ve been on a roller coaster ride. Also, by this point, I hope that these characters are becoming old friends. I love writing the cast of this series and I hope that the audience enjoys them almost as much as I do. As far as “life lessons” or a “spiritual” kind of benefit, I want the audience to discover that for themselves. The Strange Man was a pretty straightforward “message”—it was all about sharing your faith, no matter the consequence. But with Enemies of the Cross, there are many themes explored: doubt, anger towards God, selfishness—and that’s just for starters. Every character is dealing with something, and not always in healthy ways. This is more of a snapshot of this group of people and the choices they make—both good and bad. There are a lot more complicated situations and emotions than there were in the first outing, and they’re not all easily or neatly resolved. I think it’s a meatier book and I hope that the audience can find something in it that they can identify with wherever they’re at in life.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Just before Christmas, I turned in my draft for the final installment in The Coming Evil Trilogy, so Realms and I will start the editing process in a few months. This June, I have a sci-fi/multi-dimensional/love story novel called Rift Jump coming from Splashdown Darkwater. Rift Jump is a wild ride and writing it was a chance to cut loose and let my imagination go bonkers; no limits. Lots of aliens and parallel realities and weird things like that, ha ha. It’s going to be a much smaller release than I’m accustomed to. Something more of a “grassroots” effort. In some ways the story is a departure from The Coming Evil Trilogy as it’s more sci-fi comic book action, but in other ways—the ways that matter—I think it’s a good companion to my previous work. Very character driven, introspective, real people dealing with unreal situations. I’ve also written a movie that’s just finished filming. It’s called Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea and stars Sean Astin from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. That should be out later this year on DVD. That one is a huge departure from my usual genre stuff as it’s a heartwarming family film with nary a monster in sight! Other than that, I’m working up a comic book project that I’m going to start shopping around before too long, and I’m in the middle of writing about three different novels. Busy, busy, busy!
FACT VS. FICTION - WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME EXAMPLES IN YOUR NOVEL WHERE YOU TOOK SOME LIBERTIES WITH THE FACTS?
A great question and one that I could dive into! Unfortunately to do so would spoil some of the surprises in store for Enemies of the Cross. Suffice it to say, in the entire trilogy, I take great liberties with how the supernatural realm is represented. At the heart of everything I write concerning spiritual warfare, it must have a Biblical basis. But, at the same time, I’m trying to make it visually dynamic and exciting from a storytelling standpoint, so I bring my own thoughts about those things into the mix. For example, some would argue against the possibility that a demon could take on physical form (as they do in my books), yet the Bible very plainly relates instances where angels took on physical form and talked with mankind—even did battle with them at times. So, if demons are simply fallen angels, then it makes perfect sense that they could take material form as well. Now, having said that, I don’t really believe that they’re floating around in leather straps with chains and buckles, like my villain the Strange Man—so that’s one of many instances where I take a Biblical fact about the heavenlies and put a “special FX” spin on it. Or things like the motivations of angels/demons. How do they view the world/God/mankind in light of the way they were created and their unique range of experiences? There’s not a lot of discussion of that in the Bible, so you can’t help but add your own dramatic interpretation into that, but at the same time stay true to the spirit of Scripture. At the heart of every weird supernatural occurrence in Enemies of the Cross—and there are a few!—I work hard to keep it Biblical, even if the window dressing is an exaggeration.