For my last post in the 2012 Fall Into Winter Darkness Book Blast, I interviewed Damien Walters Grintalis, author of the upcoming horror novel INK, which is being released on December 4, 2012 from Samhain Publishing. When I first heard the premise of INK, it immediately intrigued me and I pre-ordered it. I asked if Damien would be willing to answer a few questions while we wait for its release. Happily, she agreed. Along with sharing a bit about INK, she also discusses what it’s like to be an Associate Editor for “Electric Velocipede” and a staff writer for “BookLifeNow.” Welcome, Damien!
Jill Archer: Your bio says that you were influenced early on by the movie ALIEN and Stephen King’s THE SHINING. If you’d been 11 in 2012, which movies or books might have influenced you in the same way?
Damien Walters Grintalis: I suspect I’d be influenced by the YA dystopian and zombie literature, like Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES and Jonathan Maberry’s ROT & RUIN. As far as movies, I’m not certain there’s anything that would have quite the same impact as ALIEN.
JA: Your bio also says you hate spiders (me too, although I try to remember Charlotte before reaching for my shoe or a rolled up magazine). Are there any insects you do like?
DWG: I like cicadas, praying mantises, moths, butterflies, fireflies, and ladybugs. Ants, too, as long as they’re not traipsing about in my kitchen.
JA: INK, your debut horror novel, features the protagonist Jason and his ‘fearsome griffin’ tattoo. Why did you choose a griffin as the creature for the tattoo? Is there a picture of Jason’s tattoo in the book or anywhere online – or do you leave that up to the reader’s imagination?
DWG: I wanted something mythical as opposed to real, and I also wanted something that could be monstrous. The combination of talons, wings, and claws was absolutely perfect in my mind.
There are no pictures of the tattoo, and, while I don’t give a head to toe filling in every line and feather description of the griffin, I think I describe it in such a way that a reader will be able to imagine it clearly. At least I hope so.
JA: Since I was curious about what Jason’s griffin tattoo looked like, Damien shared a small excerpt:
The creature, its feathers and fur done in shades of amber, gold and tawny brown, looked ready to spring up from his skin. Its beak and claws were pale but tipped with dark, its eyes a piercing green, and the massive chest leaned forward and up—regal, haughty, and proud.
JA: Do you have a tattoo? If not, did writing INK make you consider getting one? (Or, if you have one, did writing the story make you think about having it removed?)
DWG: I have several tattoos. Some predate the writing of INK, others have come after. At one point, I was thinking about adding a griffin tattoo, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. I don’t believe in monsters, at least not inhuman monsters, and I trust my tattoo artist, but perhaps fate should best not be tempted.
JA: What was the inspiration for INK? What compelled you to write the story?
DWG: I was on my way out of a tattoo shop in Fells Point (in Baltimore) when I had an idea for what I thought would be a short story: Unsuspecting man gets tattoos and they come to life and tear him apart. But when I sat down to write it, a very different story started to emerge and it didn’t take long for me to realize that it was a novel, not a short story.
JA: What sort of research did you do in order to write INK?
DWG: I had to look up a few things about the Washington Monument and the street names for a graveyard mentioned in the book, but that’s it. I’m more of a ‘make it up as I go along’ sort of writer.
JA: Who are some of your favorite authors? / Which authors have inspired you or influenced your work?
DWG: Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Joyce Carol Oates have been my biggest influences. I am in awe of their character development, their plotting, and their craftsmanship.
JA: You are an Associate Editor of the Hugo Award winning speculative fiction magazine, Electric Velocipede and a staff writer for BookLifeNow. Can you tell us a little bit about each and your work there?
DWG: Electric Velocipede is a Hugo Award-winning speculative fiction magazine edited by John Klima. He founded the magazine in 2001 and has published short fiction by many notable writers, including Catherynne M. Valente, Jeffrey Ford, Rachel Swirsky, Jeff VanderMeer, Aliete de Bodard, and Jay Lake. In 2001, the magazine made the switch from print to online, and that’s when I joined the team.
I do a lot of things in the background, everything from proofreading to gathering contributor bios to setting up the story posts, and I’ve recently started copyediting as well. Being part of a magazine from the inside has been a wonderful experience.
Booklife, penned by Jeff VanderMeer, is an “essential reference [that] reflects on methods for being focused, productive, and savvy in the craft of writing.” The book was accompanied by the website, which expanded on the topics even more. Earlier this year, Jeff handed the reins of the website, BookLifeNow, to Caroline Ratajski, who then assembled a team of industry folks to help out. Because we bring our own experiences and advice to the table, we post on a variety of writing and publishing topics from many different viewpoints. My most recent BLN post was Writing When You’re Broken.
JA: What is your favorite horror movie?
DWG: Without a doubt, ALIEN. THE EXORCIST runs a close second.
JA: Did you dress up for Halloween this year? If so, what was your costume?
DWG: I did not, although I joked that since I wore yoga pants and a t-shirt, I was dressed as a writer.
JA: What’s next for you?
DWG: My agent and I are working on final edits to another novel called Paper Tigers, a story about a heavily disfigured young woman and a haunted photo album that promises the illusion of physical perfection, a promise which comes with a great price.
I’ve recently finished the first draft of another novel, and I have yet another waiting in the wings for edits. I also write a lot of short fiction and have several stories in various states of undress.
JA: Thank you for answering these questions and sharing a bit more about INK with us. Best wishes for your release!
More About “Ink”
A tattoo can be a work of art…or a curse.
The fearsome griffin inked on Jason’s arm looks real enough to climb off and take flight. Jason thinks his new tattoo is perfect. Until he wakes up one night to find his arm temporarily ink free. Until he finds a brick wall where the tattoo shop should be.
As Jason’s world spins out of control, he comes to realize a truth as sharp as the griffin’s talons. The tattoo is alive, it’s hungry, and if Jason tries to kill it, he’ll die. The artist will remove it for a price, but he’s not interested in money or Jason’s soul. He wants something far worse…
So readers and writers, what about you? Do you find the premise of INK as intriguing as I do? Do you have any tattoos? If so, what’s the story behind them? If not, are you thinking about getting one? If your tattoo artist could create anything you wanted (and would work for free), what tattoo would you choose? Have a terrific weekend, everyone!