In this science fiction novel, a young man trapped in a parallel universe must rely on his inner strength and his new gang family to protect two worlds from destruction.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Gerrit van Eck author of Spectre
Hi Gerrit, thank you for agreeing to this interview. These questions will be mostly about you and your book!
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1. What brought you to write this book?
At the time I wrote this book I was fresh out of high school and looking to make something of myself. I spent most of my free time reading, so I thought I would try my hand at writing my own book. In high school I took a writing class, where the final project was to write a short novel for teens that were reading under grade level. Naturally it was pretty restricting, so I looked forward to being able to write with complete freedom.
2. How long did it take to write?
In total it took me about 3 years from start to finish, but a lot of that was me taking breaks from the book. The actual writing itself took maybe a year, if that, followed by another year where I set the book aside and basically gave up on it. After I came back to it I restructured the whole thing and started the editing process.
3. What are you trying to achieve with your book?
The only thing I really set out to achieve with this was the ability to say that I did it. At the time when I was writing it, I was definitely the type to start something and not finish it. So I wanted to be able to tell people that I completed something, and have it be something I was proud of.
4. What got left out in the final draft?
That’s a bit of a tricky question. In terms of ideas I thought of but decided against, nothing got left out. While I was writing the book, each and every plot point I thought of got implemented somehow. But after I sent it off to the editors, I thought of quite a few more plot points that I think could have made it better. If I could go back and rewrite it I could easily add 50 more pages at least. I would have made the final showdown a bit more drawn out, and definitely added a lot more turmoil for Carson back home, without spoiling anything.
5. Were there alternate endings you considered?
I don’t think there were ever any alternate endings that I considered. When I first started I didn’t really have an ending planned out, but the finale I went with was thought of pretty early on, and I just kind of stuck with it. Personally I really like the ending, so I didn’t dare try to change it.
6. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
In terms of writing, I’m not working on a whole lot at the moment. I’ve hit a bit of a slump where I don’t have the motivation to act on the ideas that come to my mind. I’m always coming up with plots for potential stories, but I never get around to doing anything with it. Most of the time I think of an idea, I immediately find myself thinking “well this would be better as a comic than a novel”, and sadly I don’t have the artistic talent necessary to make those dreams a reality. Outside of writing though I have a couple things that I’ve been working on here and there, but nothing I can really talk about. Not that they’re secrets, but they’re so early on in development that they might never happen.
7. What kind of research did you do for this book?
There were only two things that I remember researching when writing this book. The first was the capabilities of bulletproof vests. I spent a good hour or two just reading about what kind of bullets it could stop and from what distance, and what sorts of weapons would be able to go through it. The other thing I researched
(although a bit of a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read the book), was about what happens when you have a heart attack. The symptoms, what order they happen in and to what severity.
8. What’s a typical writing day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
As I said earlier I don’t really write much anymore, but I can certainly walk you through what a typical writing day was like when I was working on the book. A lot of my brainstorming would happen at work. I spent a lot of my shift wandering around in circles, so I would pass the time by plotting out events or developing characters. Then when I got home, the first thing I did would be to write it all out. I usually tried to write each chapter in one sitting, which could take anywhere from an hour and a half to a few hours, depending on the chapter.
9. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part for me has always been connecting the dots. For me, when I come up with a new idea for a story, I start by plotting out the beginning, and then as many important events as I can think of. Then I’ll write all those moments out, to make sure I don’t forget any of them. But the part I always get stumped at is joining all those plot points together. Trying to figure out how to get from point a to point b will always be the hardest part for me.
10. What’s the best thing about being an author?
In all honesty, I’m not too sure what the best part of being an author is. Outside of family and friends, very few people have read my book, so it’s not like I can say “Oh I love meeting fans!” or something like that, like so many popular authors do. But for me right now I’d say the best part is when strangers by my book. Whenever I see that I’ve sold a copy of my book, I get excited at the thought of a complete stranger seeing my book and thinking it looked interesting enough to purchase.
11. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Aside from the obvious ‘never give up’ that I’m sure everyone has heard by now, I would tell them that the best thing they can do is take criticism. For me, I found that as much as I liked it when people said they liked my book, I liked it even more when people told me what they didn’t like. It gave me an opportunity to grow as a writer, and to improve on my weak points. A lot of creative people, whether they be writers, artists, musicians, or what have you, tend to fall into one of two categories. They either dismiss criticism completely and think “oh what do they know anyway, they have no idea what they’re talking about”, which is probably the worst thing you could do. Or, they take it too personally and think of the criticism as an attack on them and their abilities. So try to remember that when someone tells you they don’t like something, don’t shrug it off, and definitely don’t get offended either. Look at it as an opportunity to strengthen your skills.
12. Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
My two favourite authors would definitely be D.J. MacHale and Chris D’Lacey. The first of which is most well known for the Pendragon series, while the latter is known for the Last Dragon Chronicles. Both of these series were huge inspirations for me to start writing. One of the books in the Last Dragon Chronicles even helped me come up with some ideas for my own book.
13. What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
I can’t think of any questions I’ve always wanted to be asked. I’m sure that’s not a very good answer, but this is my first interview, so all of these questions are new and exciting. I just love talking about the things I create with people who are genuinely interested. Maybe if I get interviewed a few more times I’ll start to think of some questions I want to be asked, haha
14. If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
My friends and I always joked that if I wrote a book about my life it would be called “Deer in the Headlights”. The reason being when I was in writing class, my friends and I would often ask each other for title ideas. And I would always tell them to title their piece Deer in the Headlights. Oddly enough, I always had a well thought out reason as to why that name would fit. Somehow it always worked perfectly. So we ended up joking that if I were ever to write a biography, that had to be the title.
15. Who inspired you to write?
I was inspired to write by my two favourite authors that I mentioned earlier, but also by a variety of other authors whose work I was reading at the time. Most of which were teen fiction authors like Veronica Roth, John Green, and Suzanne Collins. Nowadays I find my inspiration comes mostly from various movies and animated series that I watch, many of which have fairly dark and serious tones. Maybe I should worry about what that means for my next book.
16. What was your favorite book growing up?
When I was really little, probably around 7, I think my favourite book was the Indian in the Cupboard. Something about the toys coming to life and the adventures they found themselves in just really interested me. A couple years later I discovered Lord of the Rings, and I’ve been a fan of the series ever since. If I had to pick a single childhood favourite it would definitely be Return of the King.
17. Did you ever think you’d ever become an author?
I honestly didn’t. I mean, obviously when I was writing my book I always hoped that one day I could publish it. But I never thought it would actually happen. It never seemed like more than a crazy dream to me. Even after I made the deal with the publishers, it didn’t really sink in until my book arrived in the mail. That’s when it really hit me that I had become an author.
18. Who designed your book cover?
My book cover was designed by somebody at the publishing company. I don’t even know their name. They just sent me three different cover ideas and asked me which one I liked better. The one I picked was sort of a ‘lesser of two evils’ kind of situation. I didn’t overly like any of the covers, but the one we went with was the one I disliked the least. I like it even less now, as I’ve actually seen that exact hooded figure on other things a couple of times, which made me realize they just used stock images and photoshop to create my cover, as opposed to actually designing something for me.
SKIP THIS ONE OR READ THE BOOK!!!
19. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I guess I should warn everyone that this answer will contain spoilers, so I guess skip this one if you don’t want to know. But there are two chapters that stand out in my mind. The first one being when Carson attends the funeral of his friend. I enjoyed writing Carson’s emotions, and him being ready to just call it quits. I find his and Sophie’s relationship really came to fruition in that chapter. The other one I really enjoyed writing was when Will kills Chuck. I designed Will specifically to be a character that people didn’t like. By the time I got to that chapter, even I had grown to hate him, so being able to kill him off felt pretty good.
20. How do you develop your plots and characters?
I don’t really have a set method for developing things. A lot of it is based on real-life people and events. In Spectre, most of the characters are based off of people I know in real life. A couple are based off friends of mine, while others are based off teachers or people I worked with. And there weren’t any in this book, but for other story ideas I’ve had plot points that are basically exact copies of things that have happened to me at work. Although there have been some plot points that I only thought of because I needed something to fill the gap between events, and they sounded like good ideas.
Thanks for taking the time to interview me, I had a lot of fun answering these questions and getting to talk about my creative process. Hopefully one day I’ll have another book under my belt and I can come back to answer some more questions.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
If anyone has read or has any questions for Gerrit i will be happy to pass them around!