Friday, November 28, 2008

Interview With Alton Gansky

I’m extremely pleased to have Alton Gansky as my guest today. I first met Alton at the first writers' conference I attended, the Glorieta Christian Writers’ Conference, where I took a couple of his classes. I still give him credit (or blame, take your pick) for getting me started on my road to writing.

RM: Al, you write both fiction and non-fiction, something that’s not the norm nowadays. How did that come about? And do you have a favorite between the two genres?

AG: One thing that makes writing so interesting is the wide range of disciplines. I occasionally write articles, write for businesses, and dabble in other forms. I believe writers should stretch their skills to master new outlets. I’m working on a screenplay now. Still, fiction is my love. Nonfiction brings a different kind of satisfaction, but with fiction I feel greater creativity.

RM: Your book, Enoch, has just come out. Also, you and Robert Cornuke wrote The Bell Messenger, which was recently published. How did you come to have two books hitting the market at about the same time? And can you tell us a bit about these two books?

AG: The first thing a writer learns is he is not in charge of when his work is released. That’s a publisher decision and sometimes release dates get pushed around. With Enoch, I’m the sole author. Bob Cornuke is the primary author of The Bell Messenger. I’m the “with.” My job was to take his vision and work and add my experience to it. We have a second book coming out next year called the Pravda Messenger.

Enoch is a supernatural suspense novel in which I bring Enoch back to Earth. The Bible lists two men who never died: Enoch and Elijah. I wondered what it would be like for Enoch and for the world if he returned. Mysterious messages begin to appear where no message could—in the middle of an action movie, over the radio, in the New York Times, and even and old I Love Lucy episode. The message is simple but mysterious: “Look for the one I am sending.”

Enoch, who goes by the English transliteration of his Hebrew name Henick, encounters various people on his journey. A New Age preacher sets out to steal his fame and his life.

The Bell Messenger is a story created by Christian explorer Robert Cornuke. I worked with Bob a few years back rewriting some of his nonfiction work. The book takes its title from a Civil War boy who traveled with the Confederate army armed only with a Bible. When he is killed, the Bible falls into the hands of his killer. In the book the Bible travels from person to person and to far off lands changing whomever comes to own it.

RM: I still recall one of the first things you taught me was to ask, “What if?” Do you still have that card file of “what if” ideas, and if so, what’s the next one coming out of it?

AG: I maintain a list of about 20 ideas for novels and a half dozen for nonfiction books. At the moment my writing/editing business Gansky Communications is keeping me busy helping writers, editors, and agents. As I mentioned earlier, I’m working on a screenplay and treatment for one of my earlier (now out of print) books.

RM: In addition to writing, editing, and speaking, you give a lot of your time teaching at writers’ conferences. Not long ago, you were named to head the annual Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference. How do you keep all those balls in the air?

AG: Who sez I do? You should see all the balls on the floor of my office.

RM: Is there anything about the next conference you’d like to share?

AG: We always have a great faculty at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the May 17-21, 2009 conference is no different. In addition to the stellar team we’ve had in the past, we have Angie Hunt, Cecil Murphey, Sally Stuart, and others.

RM: You had a recent blog post on the BRMCWC site that had some excellent advice for writers. Can we expect a few more lessons from you in the future?

AG: I’m trying to strike a balance between education, conference information, and general encouragement. The blog site will become more active as we get into the new year. Again, we should have postings from the faculty and conferees.

RM: Do you have any final words of wisdom about writing for my readers?

AG: Sure, read the best writers then try to out do them. It’s all about craft and craft is all about practice.

Al, thanks for dropping by. I loved Enoch. The phrase is overworked to the point of becoming trite, but I truly found it hard to put down. I'm looking forward to your next "what-if" project.

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