This panel consisted of James Davidge (Driftwood Saga series), Greg Lamberson (Jake Helman Files series) and Crissy Calhoun (Vampire Diaries companion books and managing editor of ECW Press). The panel discussed paranormal literature.
Unfortunately, the panel got off to a rough start. The moderator, if there was one, did not show up. After a while, James Davidge volunteered to be the moderator.
The first question was why they wrote paranormal fiction. Greg said he did not really consider his works “paranormal literature.” He admired Stephen King and wrote novels that were like big budget movies. James liked the genre to explore human problems. The paranormal leads to lots of storytelling possibilities.
They next talked about the rules in their fictional works. The key was that whatever you do, you had to be consistent. Greg said he has a “bible” of rules for his series and that’s his editor. If she ever quit, he would be lost. The other person Greg relies on is his wife. She reads his books after the editor does. James said he wished he had someone like the editor Greg has. He says he relies on his advance readers to pick up any inconsistencies.
James next asked if everyone could cite an example of the paranormal in their fiction. Greg uses ghosts in his book called Person Demons. The wife of a character dies in the first book and comes back as a ghost. James also uses a ghost in one of his books. In his books, if you look a ghost in the eye, you can see their past. He said this concept was a very good storytelling tool.
An audience member asked how they became writers. Greg said he knew he wanted to write at the age of 4. He started out directing low budget movies. After 9/11, he did not like where his movie career was headed so decided to write novels. Crissy said that she studied English in university so it naturally led her to editing. As an editor, it was her job to think of new ideas for books that they can publish. One day, she decided to try writing them herself. James started out writing a graphic novel with a cousin who is an animator. While volunteering for a stage company, he found out a publisher was looking to publish a children’s fantasy series. He pitched the idea of the Driftwood series to the publisher and they liked it.
They talked about the craft of writing. Crissy said she always hates her first drafts. Greg says he does not like to write from an outline. He likes to surprise himself and see where the story will take him. James says he always tries to write one hour a day. It does not have to be creative writing though.
Someone asked whether they watch any paranormal TV shows. James does not watch any of the paranormal reality TV shows. He is a big fan of True Blood. Crissy watches Game of Thrones. Greg is a TV junkie. He likes crime drama. He does not watch any paranormal shows. He does not want to know what other people’s paranormal ideas are so it will not taint his creative process.
Another audience member asked if they thought the paranormal fiction market was too saturated. Crissy said the vampire sub-genre seems to be. James said if you are a writer, just focus on the craft of writing. Do not worry about what is popular today. Greg says that it takes about a year to write a novel and then a year to publish it. In two years, you do not know what is popular.
The last question was how much research they do for their books. Greg says he did a lot of research into werewolves. When he wrote a book on werewolves, he found that he did not use all of his research material so he decided to write a sequel. James said doing research is good. Crissy says that do not use Wikipedia as your source for research. Research as deep as you can into the topic. You never know where it will lead you.