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Friday 31 July 2015

ℚ Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful - Justin D. Herd

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful (, Justin D. Herd, 344 pages) a fantasy Noir novel.

According to his biography, Justin "is a purveyor of the weird and strange.  He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night.  Okay, that's not true.

He squawks in full daylight.

Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he has two wonderful dem--children.  One growls at things he likes, including pretty women.

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

Hello Justin, welcome to BooksChatter and thank you for talking to us today.

What was the inspiration for Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful?

"Originally the book was about a man with migraines whose girlfriend starts dumping him pills, causing him to start seeing monsters and an other world.  I’m not that familiar with literary fiction, so it transitioned to a fantasy world with gods dancing in the streets.  That caused its own complications when I introduced a detective character.  I mean, how dense would a detective have to be to not recognize all these important figures were named after gods?

So now it’s an atheistic society where the gods are only worshiped by one group and no one remembers they used to exist."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"The original concept was much closer to my life.  I have chronic migraines and I thought it would be a cool concept to tie that into alternate realities.  Now, the only thing that really sticks is my atheistic tendencies and love for terse prose.  I am a firm believer that the writer should respect the reader and let them read into a character’s actions and be able to tell if they like someone or not."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"Originally, I wanted a scene that was quite similar to the opening of the book: a silhouetted man standing in an alley across from neon flashing bars, with the light of Oki’s Veins casting him in a blue hue.  However, I was having trouble finding imagery that fit that, plus I’m a huge lover of minimalist designs and no one could quite capture what I was looking for.

I actually crafted the book cover myself after many failed attempts.  I found some images through free stock photo sites, specifically, and tweaked and messed with until I perfected it.  The thing I love so much about this concept is that my eyes trip over every arch, as if you’re moving through the seven levels into hell.  It’s got a nice, creepy aesthetic to it, and is foreboding as you wonder what is inside the fog."
Why should we read Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful and what sets it apart from the rest?
"I am a huge fan of impossible ideas/challenges.  Slight spoilers here, but it is in the title . . . the book starts out more like a noir in a fantasy setting, then, at some point, becomes more of an epic urban fantasy.  For a first novel, it’s also hugely ambitious because I have more than ten point-of-view characters that come from all different parts of the story and these are gradually introduced into the story so that you’re never overwhelmed."
Can you tell us something quirky about Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful, its story and characters?
"I named all the gods after different races and parts of the world, same with the characters – all their names mean something that is an aspect of their character.  Theon, in particular, has appeared in every story of mine in one way or another, though this is the first time he’s been named.  Other than that, everything is original and just slightly off-kilter to give it an interesting flair."
Who would you recommend Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I’d recommend it to fantasy fans that are tired of having everything laid in their lap at the very beginning, of being talked down to, and not being given a world to play around with.  It is also a dark, cynical world, so I won’t necessarily say it’s for the faint of heart.  It’s got elements of brutal violence, seedy underbelly, dark humor, and horror all leading up to a war between gods.

The one thing I will say is that I’ve yet to meet a reader that absolutely loves the whole thing.  It seems they either love the first half or the second, but never in between."
If you could / wished to turn Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"That’s a tough one.  I’d say Nicolas Winding Refn for the director, in particular his day-glo colors when it comes to Only God Forgives and Drive.  For Raine, I’d say Michael Pitt and, for Theon, I’d have to go with Christoph Walz.  Cale would be Loren Dean, a la Gattaca (1997).

Honestly, Sandhyanen is partially based on 1890s Boston, but more for city setup rather than for location."
I am not familiar with Nicolas ... although, now that I have looked him up, I remember watching Valhalla Rising, which was written and directed by him.  I must catch up with his work...

What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I like to write about ideas that seem just on the other side of impossible.  I’m also a firm believer that I can give you an idea and we’ll go about it in entirely different ways.  The novel I’m currently editing, The Magician, is about a robot who sells his soul to become a magician, only to come across Lovecraftian Elder Gods.  The biggest issue with that is how do you tell a story from an innately logical being coming up against things that cannot be comprehended?

I tend to stick around dark fantasy.  My novels so far have consisted of two dystopias, one Fantasy Noir, and the other Dark Fantasy.  My favorite genre for the longest time was Horror, but, for some reason, I feel really uncomfortable writing about the real world.  I enjoy the challenge of putting together a new society or a different system and seeing where that would take us."
What is your writing process?
"I tend to open up a document and just write.  For Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful, it was 22 pages, over 11k words, but once I get that base idea out, I rarely go back to it.  The final product looks nothing like it because my characters will simply laugh at my ideas and go off on their own.

I don’t really plot, unless I hit a snag, and then it’s only for the next three or four chapters.  I write lineally because otherwise I get bogged down in making sure details match up, and, perhaps most importantly, I do not hard edit until I type THE END.  My editing process is a whole different beast where I print out the full manuscript, then attack it with colored pens that each have a meaning to my process so that I can know what I was doing with just a look."
What is in store next?
"As I stated previously, I have three other novels that are in various stages of edits.  As for Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful, I have plans for two spin-off series.

One would be following the Of Gods and Madness line, following Raine as he adapts and deals with the hierarchies of godhood.  The other would be The Faithful line, staying in Sandhyanen as the local mob family restructures in light of events of the novel.  Right now I’m just developing these ideas, but there’s so many places I could go from here."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a picture of a pet or something that is special to you?

I think that speaks for itself!

Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful
vailable NOW!

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Victoria Alexander said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing

Justin D Herd said...

Thanks for hosting me! If anyone has questions, be sure to let me know!

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