I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime, but my passions have always centered around what I call the “The Big Three”: acting, writing and cartooning, with the order of priority changing through the years.
To begin with, I’m a long time comic book fan from the 1970s, so much of my childhood was spent in my room reading comics, drawing and pouring over how-to illustrate books. You could say I was just about relentless in my pursuit of becoming a comic artist. However, as I grew older, my passion evolved a bit to include cartooning in general. As a young adult I set a new goal of syndicating a comicstrip one day or working as an editorial cartoonist. By college, I had become skilled enough to win a statewide journalism competition for editorial cartooning which led to a job with a small paper as their only cartoonist. For many years after, I taught a cartooning class for children. Gotta tell you, it was a wonderful feeling to soak up their excitement.
As for for acting, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life on stage, from junior high to high school into college and from there to community theatre. I managed to win a few acting awards, went to great parties and met my future wife while in theatre, so definitely this includes some of my fondest memories.
The writing bug struck sometime around the sixth grade. This became apparent to me–and my captive audience–during the infamous “Mud Monster” episode. It all started when our class was given a writing assignment: produce a one-page treatment about our encounter with the “Mud Monster” and then read it before the class. To everyone’s horror I turned in ten pages. I heard many a chair creak with impatience as I plodded through my epic 15-minute tale. This was followed by a chorus of groans when I announced plans for a sequel.
My time in the nine-to-five world has mostly been in management–but that’s a whole different story. So perhaps I should quit while I’m ahead!
At the moment, I reside in the Pacific Northwest. I’d love to tell you what I do in my spare time but the trouble is, I don’t have any!
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I grew up in San Diego and moved to the Pacific Northwest during the Great Recession. I started life wanting to be a comic book illustrator before deciding on cartooning in general. I even taught cartooning classes to children and worked for a small newspaper for several years as their only cartoonist. Eventually, my urge to write superseded my other interests. I realized that I wanted to do more than just tell jokes. The biggest thrill would be to get people involved in fictional universe full of interesting characters.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Staying up late with my wife, long after our ten year-old son has gone to bed, so we can binge watch Star Trek episodes, or if alone, me listening to Three Dog Night.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
I had three: “The Bully of Barkham Street”, “What Good Luck! What Bad Luck!” and “James and the Giant Peach”.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I don’t have favorite albums per se, but lots of favorite songs, like George Harrison’s “What is Life”. I will say that for some reason, the fanfare from the movie “Ladyhawke”, reminds me of my debut novel, “Ka-Ru: The Overthrow”. Not sure why, but it puts me in the mood for that particular story.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
M. Night Shyamalan, when he’s in top form. I think of him because I admire directors (and writers) that freak me out with suspense, rather than gore. For example, the concept behind “Final Destination” is profoundly creepy, but ultimately it’s just another slasher film—lots of over the top blood and guts for no reasons that make any sense. Had the concept behind these films been explored, they could have been horror masterpieces. Sadism and gore are juvenile. But horror created by true suspense and dread is much more frightening.
KR: What are you reading now?
Nothing at the moment, but I have a few books on my list, such as “Devil Dog” by Sidney Wood.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
This is usually the part where the author spews out some obscure literary scribes to show how cultured and educated he is. But truthfully, “commercial authors” like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter David and John Grisham provided me the most inspiration.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I work from a rough outline, but once the story comes alive, it tends to ooze into all of those empty crawl spaces and evolve on its own. Even worse, my characters tend to exacerbate the whole “out of control experiment” thing by taking the story in directions I didn’t intend. I think it’s their way of flipping me off.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I find myself researching as I go, especially since part of my first book, and all of the remaining series, is set in the 1920’s. Everything from pop culture, language and even what products men shaved with, all have to be checked out. So it’s ongoing.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
More like a writing night. As a full time worker bee, husband and father to an autistic child, my writing has to happen after 10pm. “Galen after dark” as it were. I usually begin by wallowing in self pity for about ten minutes. Then I stare imploringly at a blank computer screen for say, a half hour or so, hoping prose will manifest on its own. This is followed by somber introspection that examines various causes for my masochistic impulses (why-am-I-trying-to-do-this-when I-could-be-watching -Star Trek-reruns-on-Netflix-with-my-wife?) Eventually, writing commences. I’m usually inebriated by the time I finish. Frankly, it’s a wonder I can still set the alarm on my damn iPhone so I can get up for work the next day.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
An unpublished novella titled “The Cure”. The protagonist comes home from prison to find the girl he once loved is married to his best friend. She’s also dying from Leukemia. While wrestling with all of that, he discovers he’s a werewolf. Watch for it, it’ll come around eventually.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Sure, you should always listen to your customers.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Beyond any technical advice you get, the most important thing is perseverance. Gather people around you who are positive and encouraging. Keep trying even after multiple failures. Without that, any other advice you get is worthless.
KR: What scares you?
Financial ruin. Not being able to provide for my family.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Gotta say I’m a paperback and hardback kinda guy. Like others, I prefer to hold a physical book in my hands. Once I’m done, I can easily donate it.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
This is also my debut novel. “Ka-Ru: The Overthrow” follows a war between two Egyptian deities as one battles to enslave humanity and the other to save it. Their conflict if fought on Earth, using humans infused with superhuman abilities. The book deals the the concepts of religious extremism, time travel, redemption and a superpowered black cat, just for good measure. What’s more, the story arcs from ancient Egypt, 1920’s San Francisco and into the present day.
KR: What are you working on now?
“Ka-Ru Book Two: Stirrings of the Beast”. Book Two picks up a few weeks after the events of “The Overthrow“.
BLURB: Michael Chase is still coming to grips with his strange new abilities and life in the 1920’s. His initial confidence that he can prevent Luset from seizing control of the world once again begins to wane as dark events begin unfolding around him. Is it possible to turn humanity away from a life of religious extremism, or is it our inescapable destiny?
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
Michael Chase. A superhuman is always good to have around in a dire situation. His strength could get us out of tight jams, and his superior endurance means he could last longer without food or water.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Jeff Winston from Ken Grimwood’s “Replay”. The dude has lived multiple lifetimes, so you know he’ll have some knowledge that would come in handy.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
My neighbor Tim. He could probably hammer sand into a water purification plant, knowing him!
KR: Thank you very much Galen.
You can follow Galen on Twitter @galenholcomb2
Please visit Galen’s blog here
Galen’s author page can be found here
Four thousand years ago: three deities come together in Egypt for one final, cataclysmic duel. In the bloody showdown that ensues, the newly born goddess Ma’Vest makes the ultimate sacrifice to rid the world of the hateful Set, before his power and scope can grow beyond any hope of containment…
Today: The western world suffers under religious despotism. All other faiths have been eradicated without mercy. Anyone daring to defy the Scrolls of Luset are arrested or executed by police officers that enforce Holy Law.
Yet, the war of the gods is far from over and soon the finale battle will begin—a conflict destined to reshape our reality and decide the fate of humanity’s collective soul…