Interview with author, Teric Darken and Writing from the Dark Side
The first thing you read about Teric when you open his website is…
For twenty-five years, Teric Darken has been bleeding the ink - from his heart onto paper - through his stories, song lyrics, and poetry.
If that doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will. So without further ado, let’s get on to the interview!
First off, I’ve got to ask is Teric Darken a pen name or your birth name? It seems to fit with the “dark style” of your writing.
Teric Darken is my pen name, chosen for various reasons. One of those reasons is that it does, indeed, fit with the style in which I predominantly script.
You mention your first published book as A Conversation with Isolation but you don’t say much more about it. Why?
A Conversation with Isolation was a book I had printed independently containing some of my favored song lyrics and poems. Since 1987, I have written twenty-one journals worth of song lyrics, poems, and short stories. I culled through the material, selected what I thought were some of my better offerings, and compiled them into my first independently printed books. There is a very small quantity of them floating out there somewhere.
What prompted you to write the first book, K - I - L - L FM 100?
I was lying in bed at work (the fire station) when I asked myself a question: If I were to script a novel, what would I do to make it different or unique? My answer returned to me: I would craft a storyline in which the first word beginning each chapter would spell out a sentence, relating to the storyline, if plucked out individually and written on a sheet of paper. I not only did that, but actually spelled out two sentences using the first word of each chapter. I strongly hint at this within the actual storyline, showing the reader how it's done. Hopefully everyone has caught on and tried it for themselves.
Could you please give me a specific example for this?... I would craft a storyline in which the first word beginning each chapter would spell out a sentence.
In K - I - L - L FM 100, each of my chapters begins with a song title. Chapter One starts out: "'SOMEBODY to Love,' the Jefferson Airplane classic..." Chapter Two begins as, "'PLEASE Please Me' made its millionth zenith across the airwaves..." Chapter Three opens with, "'HELP!' took no prisoners within earshot..." Chapter Four: "'ME and You and a Dog Named Boo' was the first song..."
So, what's happening is that the first word of each song title, in each opening sentence is in all caps. This continues in such manner through the last chapter of the book. If one were to take the first word in each chapter (set apart by all caps), they would be able to construct two sentences that coincide with the storyline: SOMEBODY, PLEASE, HELP, ME... the sentence continues on.
I disclose this method within the storyline itself, giving the reader a generous clue as to what I'm doing. How many readers actually think to examine this and the words in subsequent chapters is the question. If one were to do so, they would discover two complete sentences pertaining to the script.
I came up with those two, initial, subliminal sentences, then constructed the story around them. I simply had to pick the songs that started with the words I needed to construct those sentences first, then scripted the storyline around them.
Where did the idea for U-TURN KiLLuR emerge?
The idea for this book came to me while scripting K - I - L - L FM 100. There is a valuable life-lesson contained within. Much of my influence for this script revolves around my occupation as a firefighter. Included within this work is the actual first poem I had ever written- the very spark that ignited my flame for writing. That fire still burns twenty-five years later.
U-TURN KiLLuR was very much inspired by my job. That and attempting to balance out my job and writing my first novel when juxtaposed with spending quality time with my family. The whole process inspired the idea for U-TURN KiLLuR. I've always heard, "write what you know so the story will be believable." So my job served as a good background for my central character in my second thriller.
Tell me about your writing background prior to your two thriller books?
I took to writing as a result of an assignment my tenth grade English teacher gave our class, which was to construct an original poem about anything we wanted to write about. I wrote a poem entitled, "Lamb or Lion," which was about God being all-powerful, though He initially came in human form as a Lamb. I was pleased with that poem- as I put a lot of heart and soul into it- and turned it in, expecting to receive a good grade on it.
I was floored when it returned to me, as I had received a "D" at the top of the page and a note, which basically questioned whether the words were my own or not. The teacher suspected me of plagiarism. I choked down my nervousness and then proceeded to her desk, asking her if she would change my grade if I could recite the poem verbatim in front of her. She consented that she would do so, as she would then believe the work was my own. I looked her in the eye and spoke every word to the letter. She smiled at me, then changed my grade to an "A." And that one little assignment- that little spark- ignited a wildfire in me that is still raging to this day.
Incidentally, I gave my aforementioned English teacher a copy of my first book, A Conversation with Isolation. She is mentioned in my scripted "thanks" at the onset of the book. She broke down and cried, and told me that was one of the topmost things that made her tenure as a teacher worthwhile. And that same poem- my very first written offering- can be found at the end of my second thriller, U-TURN KiLLuR, as I have incorporated it into the storyline.
Have you always written about the dark side?
The main subject of my writings isn't always about the dark side; my poems and lyrics have a wide variety of subject matter. But topics of the dark side- the dark potential of human nature, that is- has always been addressed from the onset of my writings. In fact, my very first poem (Lamb or Lion) not only addresses God being all powerful, though He came as the Lamb, but also how vicious man can be, much as a lion.
I noticed on your website that you also write songs. Tell me about your music style.
I was in a band from 1991 till roughly 2003. We were called Narrow Road and, for lack of a better term, we were labeled "Christian Rock." At the time, we were the only known band with that name, but today, there are scores of bands out there with the name- most of them of the Southern Gospel variety. I was the principle songwriter and lyricist of that band, and my subject matter ranged from issues of abuse, to race discrimination, alcoholism, drug usage... all the way to being held in a loving Father's arms, as He desires to love us and has proven that love through His Son, Jesus the Christ.
I’ve heard of actors becoming depressed or having mood swings when they play an especially vial character. How do you not fall into the dark side yourself when you are writing about vicious characters and fleshing them out to be real people?
This is another reason for my pseudonym, Teric Darken! I am a firefighter by profession, a husband, a dad, a motorcycle enthusiast, etc... in other words, I have many "modes" in life. Teric Darken, the author, is simply another "mode" that I slip into. I enter that realm, write about what I feel is necessary to convey a societal or spiritual issue, then exit that mode, getting on with the rest of life.
And as much as I do write about dark aspects of life, it is done in such a manner as to expose our dire need for The Light. The darkness is never glorified; it is presented as a problem we must face and come to terms with. The only thing that extinguishes the darkness is The Light, for God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
Even your website has a dark feel to it. Did you design it?
My website was created by Marty Hersh from SpiderWebsDesigns. I had asked her to base the site off of the vibe of my book covers, and she did a bang-up job. I highly recommend her. I believe it's very important for an author to establish a solidifying "fingerprint" in all of their offerings. Although I didn't create the book covers to K - I - L - L FM 100 and U-TURN KiLLuR, the cover designs were taken from the concepts I had concocted and submitted to the publisher. I, intentionally, wanted to establish an "identity," a unified vibe for my work, if you will. For this, in essence, is my fingerprint as an author, and the reader will soon recognize that print. All this to say that I strive to place my "fingerprint" on each of my endeavors, whether a book, a website, a blog, etc...
What do you want your readers to take away from your books?
I hope they are entertained: thrilled, horrified, inspired, and that they are left with sensing a need to choose between darkness or Light. I also want them to know how much they are loved by the Father, and that His Son has overcome the darkness of the world.
What authors inspire you to write?
C.S. Lewis, Frank Peretti, G.K. Chesterton, Ted Dekker, Robert Liparulo, and Washington Irving among others.
Your books are self-published which is a great way to quicken the publishing process. Prior to self publishing, did you contact any other publishers to produce your book?
I believe I sent out one e-mail to a publisher. Patience isn't a big virtue of mine, and I'm too afraid to pray for it! So, I opted to self-pub at the onset from a reputable company. That said, I am very pleased to say that TreasureLine Publishing has taken interest in my work and, as a result, my first offering through them- Wickflicker- will be released this summer of 2011. Wickflicker has shaped up into being a creepy, supernatural thriller, where a bit of old school horror meets up with two college freshmen in the modern age- a bit like a warm front when up against a cold front, eventually the event develops into a violent tempest.
What was your process in choosing a company to publish your book?
Reputation- the track record. I looked at such both with the initial self-pubbed company I selected at the onset, and then with the publishing company I am now with. TreasureLine Publishing, in my opinion, sports a wonderful, family-oriented atmosphere. And by that, I mean family-oriented amongst the TreasureLine proprietor and fellow authors. We stay in touch with one another and support one another through varying outlets.
I also looked at the other authors on Treasureline: Who are they? What are they doing? Where are they going? What are they saying in their works and about their satisfaction with the banner they are scripting under? TreasureLine is progressive in nature; I have heard nothing but good things from my fellow TreasureLine authors out there, and they are progressive themselves. It all adds up to a good thing! That said, I am only an author who is happy where he's at in the publishing realm; I am not a spokesman for my publisher!
What do you do to promote your book?
I simply try to stay in the public eye- in short, awareness. Facebook is a valuable tool, and of course, there is my blog and website, as well as varying sites that I participate in. Keeping the public aware of you is the key. Giveaways are important, too. People always enjoy the freebie, and if they also enjoy your work, they will tell their friends about the new author they've discovered. Networking with other authors is also important. Summing it up -- the only way to have a friend is to be one. Be good to your audience/fans/friends, and they'll be good to you.
What frustrated you the most?
Things simply take time with the writing process. Sometimes my eyes go cross- meaning my brain turns to mush- when I've spent hours in front of the computer screen honing away at my storyline. Then nothing seems to make sense. My grandma- a schoolteacher- once told me: "Forget about it- leave your story behind for awhile. Go do something else. Your story will still be there waiting for you, and when you get back to it, you will have a fresh set of eyes and a renewed mind." Of course, she was right. It's a practice that readily helps me.
What do you know now about getting published that you wished you had known sooner?
A million people are out there trying to get published. Try not to get discouraged at being turned down from a publisher at the onset. Keep honing your craft and shaping your stories. Hopefully the author is writing out of a genuine love of the craft itself. There are many more options and opportunities, in this day and age, for getting your offerings out there to others: e-books, self-publishing companies, etc... Just remember that quality counts. If your story is high in quality, they'll come back for more. Keep trying; keep submitting. You ask, you will receive.
That’s the end of today’s interview. If you’d like to get to know him better, go to his either his blog or website as listed here: www.tericdarken.blogspot.com and www.tericdarken.com.