I would like to introduce Lee Davis, the winner of the BRAG Medallion. Lee, thank you for the opportunity to interview you, please, tell me about your book, Gross.
No-no-no, thank you! First I’ll point out to readers that this particular book is subtitled Doctor Deathworm Rises, which may help avoid confusion as there is currently another entry in the series (in comic form), with another on the way. This book picks up shortly after Donald, a very lost and confused child, has come to understand the nature of his origins, which were covered in the previous comic entry, Through Demon Skin. Donald was sent to Earth by his father from his chaotic home world in hopes that Donald receive a human upbringing, knowing that Donald is destined for great things in the bridging of worlds. The same dimensional fissure through which Donald was sent is also responsible for an alien corruption that has seeped into the land, infecting it. Sensing Donald’s presence and the light of righteousness that the boy defiantly seeks, along with the threat to the chaotic infection that he poses, the corruption is constantly using its various forms in attempts to find him and snuff him out. In this particular book, an alien parasite of a deceptive and demonic scale, able to animate the long-dead and mutate the living, has taken hold of an academic snob who has attained a doctorate, but has never held a job and lives in his parents’ mansion—a catastrophic combination. Donald is strong-willed, but only with the help of his friends, fellow orphans themselves, with their ragtag unity does he stand a chance to push back this new menace.
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
It was a combination of cool circumstances that fated the book to be written. The Gross series originally ran in Strange Aeons magazine in comic form. The story and characters developed so that my mind was buzzing with new expansions that could be explored, into origins as well as new developments on the mythology. Without a series contract or a colorist and letterer as a basic staff, I simply don’t have the time to embody all of the adventures that came to life in my head in the comic format. It just happened as the comic chapters were coming to close, I’d been very eager to finally sit down and make a book for young adults. Originally I wanted to make a book that would stand alone, but it only made sense to capture the formerly undocumented adventures in book form. Having a demon-parasite from another dimension just seemed so right, and I wanted to have zombies in it. I was also happy to explore this new chapter where those that had previously bullied and tormented Donald are now his close friends, having been more or less saved by the unlikely hero.
Did you design the book cover?
Yes. As Gross began in comic form and as I took on both ends of writing and illustrating, and furthermore because both facets of the creativity are very representative of each other in my work, it only made sense to use my own art as the cover.
Is there a message in your story you want your readers to grasp?
Probably more than anything else, I want the readers, no matter how young or old, to look into their hearts, and look above for the guiding light. I know personally how difficult it can be when the only voices you hear are those that are ridiculing and bullying you for not being what they think you should be, and I hope that the tribulations faced in Donald’s adventures can stand as a reminder to rise above any negativity that’s being dumped on you, whether it’s coming from teachers or peers or family members or whatever. Donald constantly faces tragic situations and the sort of foes that mean to destroy his will and take his life, but in doing what is right and in helping others that mean to overcome obstacles, he succeeds and grows stronger. If readers can take anything at all beyond being entertained by my stories, I want them to remember that the gifts that they came equipped with when they entered this life are special and can be used to help others and the world at large, in any way, no matter how big or small, regardless of any false, negative voices of defeat. Follow your heart, make the right decisions, and you will rise above the negativity and gloom. I also hope readers remember that if they ever come across a tree that somehow resembles what he or she thinks a demon-worm from another dimension might look like, don’t eat its fruits!
How many children's books have you written?
If we’re including Gross: Doctor Deathworm Rises, just one! I want to write more children’s books along with the continuation of the Gross series, but illustrating others’ writing really dominates my work space for children’s books. I’ve illustrated four, with another in the works and three more queued on my work table. I’m looking forward to being able to illustrate my own children’s books when I can work more projects in.
What do you like most about writing?
I’ve been making stories and conceiving of very outer fiction in my head since I was a child. To me it’s capturing my spirituality and creating a vessel of communion, on top of having fun through storytelling. Therefore, when I am creating a story, I feel there is some meaning at the core of its creation, and the idea that maybe that meaning will be felt and realized by others is very uplifting to me, and I feel I’m not wasting my gifts. I love that I can capture these fun adventures that unfold in my mind and immortalize them. I don’t like to think of creativity going to waste, because imagination is a divine gift. If a songwriter has amazing songs playing in his or her head, no matter how often, if they don’t play or record the song for others to hear, that creativity will never be realized in this world, and I think that’s a pity. Wrapping any work of art, seeing it to conclusion and sharing it with others is the most satisfying thing in the world to me.
You have illustrated books for Author Scott Nicholson. Could you please tell me a little about that and how you got started?
I was looking to find an outlet for my work and came across Nicholson’s work. It’s ironic because at the time I hadn’t read any of his work, but I would come to love his fiction. He was experimenting by having illustrators apply their vision to his fiction. It happened that he’d been looking to have a children’s book created, and my art has a very fun and colorful element, so a book was destined to come of it. We made If I Were Your Monster and that book was received very well. Scott’s been a great friend and mentor of sorts. I have appreciated from the beginning his outlook on the fiction market’s shift. He is eager and is going to keep creating with full force no matter what, and that’s always been my attitude, so you can imagine that getting to know him and his work has been a true pleasure for me. I’ll tell you, illustrating a children’s book is a ton of work, but it’s also a ton of fun! The end product always makes every minute spent in my office worth it. We’ve since released the children’s books, Too Many Witches and Ida Claire, and there will be another one out in due time. I’ll say for now that it will have monsters . . . friendly ones.
What is your next book project?
There are a few. I’m working on a new horror novel called Melissa is Home. I’m hoping to get it released through a publishing house that has released my work in the past and that I am very fond of for their catalog and for the creative personalities that keep the house growing. If their roster is full for the year, though, I’m going to self-publish. This book is very dark and violent, and recommended for mature readers. The aforementioned children’s books that are on my table: one is written by a friend of mine, and deals with athletic chili peppers, and it’s very cute! There will come the new Gross book as well, called The Mumdel Sisters.
What do you do with your time when you're not writing?
I try to keep up with exercise, and when I can like to get out and hike in the mountains. I love to visit the beach, though that’s rare. I watch a lot of horror movies, and occasionally I enjoy good horror video games. Lately I’ve been reading horror with my Kindle while on the treadmill! I still listen to death metal and like to catch the occasional concert with my good friend who also enjoys heavy music—it’s been one of our bonding hobbies since we were teens. He and I also have been trying to record a death metal album in our free time—for fun, nothing too serious. I love spending time with friends, getting out and seeing the world and feeling the culture, wherever and whenever. Right now I’m most looking forward to this Friday when my wife and I will get coffee with some good friends of ours!
How did you discover indieBRAG?
I received word that Too Many Witches had received the Brag Medallion, and right away I read up on indieBRAG, soon realizing that this was a foundation that truly existed as a dedicated source for readers and independent creators, with a discerning eye for quality in fiction. With this in mind I wrote to them, and soon, Gross: Doctor Deathworm Rises and the children’s book that my wife wrote and I illustrated, A Guide to Kitties: How to Find a Nice Home, were recipients of the Brag Medallion! This foundation has a keen eye and is composed by thoughtful literary critics, and they are finding and giving exposure to the real talent out there. They also are very hard-nosed in matters of “sockpuppeting” authors that will promote their own work and attack others’ work under false names, which I’ve always seen as very pathetic, and I’m glad that they stand as a voice against such childish and unethical behaviors. They publish helpful blogs and in general they just mean a lot to indies who are doing what they love and will graciously accept a kind boost! This is why I’m very honored to have received the support of indieBRAG!
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t know if I’ve found the ultimate quote that defines my universe best, but right now I’d like to go with one penned by a man whose fiction has meant a lot to my life: “Like all of us in this storm between birth and death, I can wreak no great changes on the world, only small changes for the better, I hope, in the lives of those I love.” –Dean Koontz
Thank you Lee! It is a pleasure!
Author Bio & Links:
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Lee Davis who is the author of, Gross, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Gross merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.