Today I am interviewing Gregory L. Hall, author of the new YA dark-fantasy/horror novel, At the End of Church Street.
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DJ: Hey Gregory! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Gregory L. Hall: I live a complicated life. During the day I work for the CIA as an undercover operative. Obviously I can’t discuss much but I will say I get to visit amazing places all across the world. It can be difficult though because at night I’m a pole dancer over at TTOC (Turn the Other Cheek), a club near my house. So no matter where I am for the CIA, I have to get back for my evening shift. Actually pays more than being a spy so I can’t quit. My dancer name is Naughty Yum Yums. Same as my spy name.
Man, that sure sounds better than being a stay-at-home dad folding laundry!
DJ: What is At the End of Church Street about?
Gregory: Church Street focuses on a ‘family’ of homeless Goth kids who live the vampire lifestyle. They all have broken pasts. Society didn’t want them so they created their own. In a twisted way, they feel being vampires gets them respect. Of course, no one believes they’re real, except for one sick individual, who just happens to be a vampire hunter. The Family tries to survive as they’re murdered one by one by someone who won’t let them run back into the shadows. There are so many surprises, it should be a pop-up book.
DJ: What were some of your influences for At the End of Church Street?
Gregory: It’s actually based on real Goth kids I knew when I worked at a haunted house attraction in Orlando. I was the ‘barker’ for the tourists outside and the Goths would come around every night like Hallmark executives to a Christmas party. I got to know them well and learned their stories. Sad stuff but they were entertaining as hell too. They made a lot of mistakes but deep down they were good kids. When I thought about writing a vampire novel with a fresh twist, my old Orlando buds came to mind.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?
Gregory: Adam is the leader of the Family (at 20 years old). He’s the strong silent type. He never sleeps inside of the abandoned theatre they Goths live in. Instead, he has a little area on the roof, always keeping watch. We find later why he feels the need to pay for his sins by protecting this family so much. A new girl, Rebecca Anne, joins the group and is overwhelmed by the intense lifestyle change. She and Adam develop a strong affection for each other as she adapts to being a vampire. But there are huge roadblocks she has to overcome from her past as well. And some of her changes aren’t what they seem to be. There’s also a butler who takes care of the kids named Renfield. He drools a lot, mutters ‘beedily-bop’ when he gets nervous and waits in the back alleys for the Mother Ship. That character is almost entirely based on me.
DJ: What is the universe/world for At the End of Church Street like?
Gregory: I don’t know if I can describe Orlando. It’s such a strange, mesmerizing fantasy world ruled by a giant mouse. No one there comes from there. And it rains every day at 5:00 for about fifteen minutes. Weird. Now I can say that Adam and the ‘Family’ have created a vampire Neverland. Picture a bunch of young adults, getting to make their own rules about sex, drugs and violence. It’s like a MTV reality show with fake fangs.
DJ: What are your vampires like? Anything particular unique that you’ve done to them to make them you own?
Gregory: I have a long background doing comedy. When I first decided to write a horror novel, it was a big switch for me. But I knew as a horror fan, I was tired of seeing the same old story a thousand times. How many reboots of Halloween are we going to get? The only other choice was to recreate vampires so badly, they become prom dates who sparkle. If you’re going to redefine them that much, groovy, just don’t call them vampires. Being a purist, I couldn’t bring myself to do that to a genre I love.
So the challenge was how to write a vampire novel and not have real vampires in it. Years ago in Tampa Bay, there was a serial killing done by Goth kids. They were dangerous, not like the Goths I knew. But I found if I could combine the two, I’d have a pretty cool horror story to tell.
DJ: There are many different definitions of horror in genre, so I’m curious, when you write “horror”, how is it that you try to scare your readers? Do for gore? Shock? Maybe build in tense moments? Or perhaps is the unknown?
Gregory: I love the old school-style of building up creepy moments that make you look over your shoulder. Sure, there’s some gore in Church Street. Goth kids are being hunted down and beheaded. But I enjoy the fear of not knowing who the killer is, maybe the person you sat next to on the bus once or could it be your little brother, angry because you always eat the last of the Cocoa Puffs? Murderers don’t need much of an excuse nowadays. When people around you dying, and you know you’re targeted too, but you have no clue who, when or why, that’s fun horror.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing At the End of Church Street?
Gregory: It was my first novel so just creating close to three-hundred pages of story was a major accomplishment to me. I think anyone who’s written a book knows what I’m talking about. It takes a lot of frustrating hours and intense dedication to not only dive into your story, but to finish it. Writing ‘The End’ and then finding a publisher who believes in your hard work, that’s the pay-off right there!
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Gregory: Greg Hall must be more handsome than his author photo shows. If he is, I think I’d like to marry him. I hear he’s a pole dancer.
DJ: What is your goal in writing At the End of Church Street? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across to readers when it is finally told?
Gregory: Nah, I’m not into hidden agendas or preachy political views. In comedy I used to teach my students that we were on stage to entertain. People are blitzed with Facebook debates and life guidance in the form of kitty posters every minute of every day. If we can take their brains away from all the stress, simply make them laugh (or scream) for even thirty minutes, then we’ve done our job. Nothing is scarier than CNN. I’d hope my books give folks a break.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from At the End of Church Street that you can share with us?
Gregory: I guess the one that sticks with me was an actual quote I used from one of the Goth kids I knew. There was a young girl who used to show me a list she kept of all the people she slept with. I tried to explain a high number doesn’t make you loved. It’s better to share sex with someone who’s special to you. And without a second thought, she said “Love? I don’t have sex for love. I use it for power. It gets me what I want.” She used harsher language than I can share here, but regardless it caught me off-guard. To be so young and already have the view of using your ‘assets’ to control people was very sobering. Yeah, that particular girl has a character in my book. Tip of the iceberg with her story.
DJ: Now that At the End of Church Street is released, what is next for you?
Gregory: I have a fun character I love writing named Johnny Midnight. He’s considered the Elvis of the paranormal world, an investigator who’s more interested in ratings and dating supermodels than actually uncovering ghosts and monsters. And yet somehow he always winds up doing the right thing. He already has one book out, Everyone Hates a Hero, and I’m working on the next two. I’m also toying with finally writing a musical about two of my biggest heroes and their tragedies. It’s called Milli: Life without Vanilli. I’m pretty damn confident it’s going to spell big bucks for me.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Gregory-L.-Hall
Who Dat: mary-lou-retton-lovers-unite.com
Looky Here: #hashtag
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about At the End of Church Street that we haven’t talked about yet?
Gregory: The best compliment I’ve gotten from readers is I’m a cruel and evil writer. Very few people guess who the vampire killer is or any of the other curveballs I throw into the story. But if you read Church Street a second time, it’s obvious who does what because I pepper hidden clues throughout. So I guess if you want to figure out the surprises, it’s best to first read the book the second time.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Gregory: Rumor has it my publisher has placed a $100 bill in random copies of my book. So when you buy it, you could be a big winner! And I never believe a rumor I didn’t start myself.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Gregory: Thank you so much! I can’t wait to give you a big hug and possibly sleep on your couch for a month. I can’t be the only one who feels we’ve built a special bond today.
DJ: This was easily one the funniest and most memorable interviews I’ve had 😛
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*** At the End of Church Street is published by Fiery Seas Publishing and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Homeless, Rebecca finds a family of lost souls just like her- The Vampires of Orlando. Reborn, she revels in the lifestyle of ‘no rules’. Love whoever you want. Seek whatever high you wish. Live forever young. Every night’s an adventure-hunting down tourists, challenging local police, screaming to the world vampires really do exist. It’s Neverland.
Until the first murder.
There’s someone else hiding in the shadows. Goths are found beheaded, with wooden stakes pounded into their chests. The hunters have become the hunted. As the bodies pile up, Rebecca and the Family are forced to ask who do you turn to, who can you trust, when the only person who believes you’re an actual vampire is a vampire killer?
Gregory L Hall has a long history in comedy, improv and theatre. He is a national Telly Award winner and creator of the Baltimore Comedy Fest, as well as dozens of original works for stage, video and film. He was also the host and producer of the popular live radio show The Funky Werepig. His biggest claim to fame is he was once hugged by Pat Morita, Mr. Mijagi of The Karate Kid. We should pause an extra moment to realize just how awesome that is.
As a writer his stories have appeared in numerous publications, anthologies and a short story collection. His novel ‘AT THE END OF CHURCH STREET’ has received great critical acclaim, sales that have led him to purchase many Happy Meals and has changed how tourists view Orlando. Bram Stoker Award-winning author Joe McKinney said of the goth thriller “This is the kind of debut authors dream of…”
His current novel ‘JOHNNY MIDNIGHT TALES: EVERYONE HATES A HERO’ combines three of Greg’s biggest passions– comedy, romance and demonic possession. It is the first book of what may become the greatest series ever written by a guy named Gregory L Hall.
Greg continues to be on his best behavior so his wife and children do not put him into a ‘special’ place they speak of loudly when he’s in the room. His re-evaluations occur every Monday so check back often.