S.A. Check is the author of Welcome to GreenGrass released by Bedlam Press, an imprint for Necro Publications this past November. There are worlds outside of our perceptions. Places where magic is alive and heroes find homes. An escape from the harsh reality of living and a corner where our imaginations are kept safeguarded. What is a portal other than a conduit, the turn of a page, letting go of the rules to believe in something we’re otherwise taught can’t exist. We’ve all allowed ourselves to become lost in a book, a story, a movie and let that reality become our own, even for the briefest of times. It’s there, in the brief moments that we allow fantasy to reflect into reality that as authors, we are given the privilege of building worlds to capture a reader’s imagination and attempt to hold on long enough to leave them with something more than when they started. And if it can change a perception or add to a perspective, then we’ve accomplished something worthwhile.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
My primary literary development started in the 80’s. I’m the product of having grown up in a coal mining “patch” town in southwest Pennsylvania, though the coal mining industry that spawned the small town died out many decades before I came along. When I was eleven, I discovered comic books on a metal rotating rack in the back corner of a locally owned lawn and garden / grocery store. It was there in those colored pages that I became drawn to the fantastic and absurd. Week after week, I dished out my two dollars, which actually bought quite a few books back then, and lost myself in the wonderful worlds of superheroes and villains, inadvertently picking up the process of story arcs and cliff hangers, conflict and resolution. More than any form, I’d say comics played the largest part in my love of reading and creating and influenced me in pursuing a degree in English / Writing from Penn State. Now a little older, and questionably wiser, I’m loving the growing fascination that comic influenced works have spawned. Sure there’s controversy - organic web-shooters, origin variances, who dons the cape and cowl - but the bottom line is when SpiderMan 18 hits theaters in 2030, I’ll be there slobbering down a vat of over-buttered popcorn and a 80 ounce beverage.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I don’t care if they call it Nancy. As long as the story is strong and the writing keeps me engaged, I’m in. We love to break down and re-tag and sub-genre books today but the simple fact remains that if the book stands out, people don’t care what section of the shelf you put it on. That said, there are so many books out there now that I do understand the need for an author to niche their work, especially self-pubs and indie authors, to give it a fighting chance. There’s plenty of outstanding work out there right now that doesn’t get the credit it should by some really talented authors.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Shakespeare! No, not the comic book versions! Even though comics helped shape my literary world, I have rounded out my personal library over the years. His works have influenced so many others and really lay one of the earliest blueprints for good story telling. Mark Twain, so subtle, so smooth, and with layer on top of layer in great American literature. Books from the 80’s, Robert Aspirin, Alan Dean Foster, Thieves’ World, Douglas Adams, authors that just seem to have a good time telling tales that are so easy to get lost in. I thoroughly enjoy Butcher’s Dresden series, and I’m a fan of A. Lee Martinez, and I just read my first Joe Hill novel, Horns.
How would you describe your writing style?
It’s really a mash up of structured organization and then tearing it all down to see what’s left. I love to outline but I never want to feel limited to that either. If the story moves in another direction that seems to work better, I’m more than willing to follow where it takes me. Maybe the “kitchen sink” method because I really try not to hold anything back when I’m writing. If I’m enjoying myself and putting down words, there are times, more often than not I hope, that you fall into the writing groove and the flow of the story takes you along and it works. There are times that you spend hours on a set of pages or a turn with the story that you look back and realize it doesn’t work and that’s one of the hardest parts of writing, to know when you need to step back and re-evaluate and send those pages to novel purgatory. In the end, it’s really about feeling comfortable that your story is going to entertain and represent you as an author.
Work in progress?
I’m re-touching the final draft of another novel now, it’s a mix of genres that blends some sci-fi, tech, paranormal, and horror. Hopefully, it will find a literary home this year and I’ll get it in the hands of readers. I think fans of Welcome to GreenGrass will find some of the same universal themes in this story and enjoy the ride. I’m also mid-way through my first middle grade novel that touches on some of the lesser known American legends and how they revolve around one family.
What’s your favourite food?
I consider myself somewhat of a hamburger connoisseur. The great thing about burgers is that no matter what town you find yourself in, you can always find some small diner or mom and pop restaurant that serves up some pretty sweet tasting burgers. Throw some ketchup, pickles, onions, and cheese on top and you may well have the perfect culinary repast. If you do all that and cook those patties up on a flame grill then you’ve probably got a friend for life.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
I’m proud of my eclectic taste in music because I see no apparent rhyme or reason in my choosing. I enjoy Weezer, Huey Lewis, Elvis Costello, AC/DC, Frank Sinatra, Live, Foo Fighters, Weird Al, Metallica, Don Williams, Garth Brooks, and Johnny Cash. If I had to choose deciding factors in my picks, it’s a presence, a belief and understanding of their roles and choosing their own paths in the process.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
I use the Dorie from Finding Nemo method – “Just keep writing”. In case I failed to mention it, I have a newly turned tween daughter, so I’ve watched the entire Disney library of films over, and over, and over, in recent years. But seriously, it’s the most simple and easiest to follow rule of writing, put words on the page and everything else will follow.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Revisions can become tedious but as long as it’s improving the final product, I’ll do them all day long. Probably, the hardest thing for me to do with my work is to let it go but as an author you learn that there comes a point you need to release it into the wild and find its own footing.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
I’m extremely fond of John Traveller from Welcome to GreenGrass. He’s a simple guy living in a complicated world and trying to cope the best he can. He’s constantly forced to make tough choices but holds a strong moral core that guides him. Traveller doesn’t go looking for trouble but it has a way of finding him and he plays the hand he’s dealt. In lieu of more common curse words, Traveller has taken a liking to the word “thundering” and all of the variable uses that comes with it. It’s fun to throw that into his dialogue and it may have even snuck into my own thunderin’ vocab on occasion.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Respect, all the way. There are authors who achieve all three in their career and kudos to them. It’s not that I have an aversion to large bags of money but I’m a realist and as long as I’m putting out material that is well-received, I’m a happy author.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Welcome To GreenGrass is basically a story of loss and how people react to it. It centers on family and friendships and the how the sun still rises even if not the star we’re expecting. The relationships that we form and the domes we construct around ourselves in shaping our personal existences. It’s only when we look outside of ourselves, whether by choice or circumstance, do we find that personal perceptions are deceiving and one man’s prison is another’s home. The story focuses on the intrinsic values that everyone battles to define in their lives and how each action taken reverberates across society. I’m hoping to put out a sequel to Welcome to GreenGrass and I have several other projects in various stages that I’m excited about getting out there.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
You just asked it.
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