Interview with Frank E. Bittinger, Author of Into The Mirror Black

April 17, 2008

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Frank E. Bittinger, author of Into the Mirror Black, about his life as a writer. Below is the synopsis of this interview. For more information about Frank Bittinger, visit him online at www.frankebittinger.com or www.myspace.com/sacredscarab. His books are available online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

  1. Tell us about your book, Into The Mirror Black. Where did you get the idea for this? Is it something you let “stew” in your mind for awhile, or did you just wake up one morning and start writing?
    Are there any experiences in your past that influence your writing? If so, what?

    The genesis of my Hexology, my Scarabae Saga, was back in my childhood when I lived in a small town named Grantsville in Western Maryland. Across the road from the shopping plaza that housed our town’s grocery store, pharmacy, etc, was a valley and some mountains. I always thought about the facade of the mountain crashing down in a storm of shale to reveal a temple carved into the living mountain itself.
    I always told myself I would someday write a tale about the mountain and the temple inside. I always knew the story arc would comprise more than one volume because I wanted to share the stories of how different people were infected or influenced in different ways by the presence of whatever it is inside the temple in the mountain.
    Because I loved to read, I told myself I would write books. When I actually did sit down to begin writing, I began with short stories that evolved into a collection centered around a theme–the Scarabae. From there I moved onto the full-length novels: Into the Mirror Black, Angels of the Seventh Dawn, and the forthcoming Angels of the Mourning Light.
    Of course, having seen a ghost or two throughout my life, I am open to whatever you want to call it–paranormal, preternatural, supernatural–and I draw on those experiences as well as those the readers share with me.

    Does your writing ever frighten you? Does anything you work on end up seeming overly “real” to you?
    So far I haven’t scared myself with my writing. There have been times when I have sat back and said to myself, “That is really good.” But I have never frightened myself.
    I have, on the other hand, frightened the readers. I get emails and letters from readers telling me how they got a fright or a chill out of a certain passage or scene. Others will tell me about something that happened–like the lights going out when they were reading or their cat sneezing just as the cat in the first book sneezes–and they caught a fright so they had to put the book down.
    And I do get the letters and emails from readers who have to tell me how they needed to have a night light before they could close their eyes for the night after reading some of my books.
    It seems I have a way of getting under peoples’ skin.

Your imagination runs deep. Obviously. What sort of books did you read in your younger days? What sort of books do you read now? Did any of these authors influence you?
I read pretty much the same types of books now that I read when I was younger. I have over 6,000 books in my personal library, so I do enjoy reading. I read Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Carole Nelson Douglas, Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and tons of others. I love scary stuff more than anything.
My favorite types of books are those in a series; I like to get to know the characters and read about their exploits.
Did any of these writers influence me? Yes, I would have to say I have been influenced by pretty much every author I have read–whether I wanted to write like s/he or not write like s/he. Some have influenced my own writing more than others, but all of them have helped shape my style.

Tell us about what you are working on now. Do you ever think about moving to another genre other than horror?
Currently I am working on book three in my Hexology: Angels of the Mourning Light. Although my books can actually be read as stand-alones, there is a story arc running through them that will lead you to a larger story. I like to call my Scarabae Saga my kind-of-a-series: the main character, if you will, isn’t a person but a place–Western Maryland. Something is here and it influences any- and everything in the area.
I really can’t see myself moving into a genre other than my current gothic genre, unless it would be comedy. I know that sounds rather bizarre, but I have been told there is a bit of wicked humor running through my books.

How long did it take you to write your books?
I write very slow, because I completely lack discipline of any kind. Sometimes I will go for days and weeks even without writing. I constantly think about my stories, but I can go without writing for a while. And that is the dirty secret about why it takes me a year to write a book. Well, I do work two jobs so that is somewhat of an explanation, too.

Tell us how you write. Is there a particular place you find you are more inspired? Is there a particular time of day you prefer?
I write slowly, that’s how I write.
Seriously, I write when the muse hits or when an idea pops in my head. I cannot force myself to sit and write when I don’t feel like it. To do that would completely destroy my love and fascination for the craft. I know other authors can turn out a book a month, but I can’t do that.
I like to think about what the story has to offer, what kind of people will be involved, how it will play off previous books, and what effects it will have on future books in the Hexology.
I cannot seem to write any place other than my “office.” I used to have an entire room in my house for an office, decorated stylishly, full of books, a couple windows…and it didn’t do a damned thing for me. I didn’t write a word. When I opened the closet door in my bedroom and took out all the clothes and suits and ties and shoes–and turned my former office into a big closet–I put my desk inside the little closet and that became my office. It worked wonders. No distractions; just me and maybe some music and my thoughts.
And I do have to say I can only write at night. I have been quoted as saying I can’t write about death and destruction in shiny happy daylight.
My second book Angels of the Seventh Dawn has been described as sleek, seductive, and sinful so I must be doing something right. And I have been told I am a cross between Clive Barker and Anne Rice, so that made everything worthwhile because they are two legends of the craft.

I know you have done book signings. And you are gracious enough to answer these questions via e-mail. Have you done any face to face interviews? Any radio interviews? Any plans to do so?
I answer all emails eventually; it’s difficult to get to them right away what with working two jobs, writing, trying to get my own business off the ground, as well as working to raise money for animal charity.
I have done two interviews: one was printed in a newspaper and one was supposed to be printed in a magazine but I never heard back from the editor of the magazine.
For all my accomplishments–selling internationally and making it onto Amazon. com‘s Top 100 on different occasions to name a few–I cannot get local media attention no matter what I do. I rely on the best advertising: word of mouth from loyal readers who love my books.

What do you like best about your fans? Do they ever say or do anything that gives you ideas for future writing?
I talk for hours at book signings with my readers. They tell me all kinds of stories about their experiences with the paranormal, supernatural, preternatural, whatever you want to label it. I can’t get enough; it’s a great.
It’s because of my loyal readers the world is taking notice of my work; my readers are solely responsible for my publicity and promotion. I cannot thank them enough.

What comes after your Scarabae Saga? Any plans for a new series?
What comes after the Hexology? I don’t know if there will be anything after my Scarabae Saga.
I have notes and ideas for several dozen independent noels–by which I mean not related or part of a series.


Be sure to check Frank’s sites often for news of his up and coming works.

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3 Responses to “Interview with Frank E. Bittinger, Author of Into The Mirror Black”

  1. spiritscript Says:

    Hi Frank,
    This is a fabulous interview. Truly, you touch your readers in all ways. As far as local media, I can relate. Years ago, as a stringer for a small local paper, I did receive some recognition but the main local paper wouldn’t acknowledge I was alive. What did Jesus say? “A prophet is never welcome in his own country.” Or in our cases, authors are never recognized in their own towns. But it’s fine, because look how far you’ve come. Congratulations!

  2. Scarabae Says:

    Thank you so much. I feel I am better known outside my hometown. Soon, everyone will know me.

    Thanx again,
    Frank

  3. joyce demonbrun Says:

    Hi Frank,
    It was wonderful to see you my friend. I dare say I need to see you at the salon!

    I picked up Angels of the Mourning Light yesterday at the book signing at the mall. I am already half way through it! It is compelling! And it is so “YOU”, I am blessed to have you as a friend.

    Thanks Duck!
    Joyce


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