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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Author Interview: Hal Rappaport

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 97th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the praise-loving, techno-geek, Hal Rappaport, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Hal:  Yes, I do. I get out of the house! I go to either a coffee shop or a nearby diner. Nothing is more important than freeing myself from the distractions of home and work. Also, headphones with something loud, like Rush, AC/DC, etc. is essential.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Hal:  Wow! I love this question. They might either find themselves trapped in a haunted house, a Photon Arena, or on the bridge of a starship. In the background, I’d be grumbling about how someone did this already, but enjoying it just the same.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Hal:  It isn’t easy. It’s not my day job so, I set aside an evening here and a few hours on a Saturday there. My last book took me a year to write.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Hal:  Do not tell anyone to give me a glowing review because they like me. As much as anyone I LOVE praise. As a writer, I thrive on it. It keeps me going, but I grow as a writer from well considered criticism.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Hal:  Write an outline! It doesn’t have to be pretty, but know basically where you are going on paper before you start up your word processor. SO many projects get lost by hoping for inspiration from a flashing cursor.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Paul:  Sleep!  My day job takes up a lot of my time. I do write for the SyFy Channel’s technology site, DVICE. So when I’m not writing…I guess I write. Boring, huh?  Still, I wish I could do it as my main job.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Hal:  I did a lot of research into Voodoo and their practices. One of the themes in the book is the common threads between the magickal disciplines. They have more in common than not. Like learning a new language, if you know one, you can translate it to another.

I also had to do some research into demonology and even Satanism.

In adapting the practice of magick and incorporating a supreme deity out of mythology, Satanists are essentially creating and living the fiction that was spread by the Catholic Church in order to assimilate and ostracize the pagans (Pagan’s were simply nature worshiping country dwellers, and witches among the pagans were simply regarded as “wise ones.”) in the first place. The practice makes about as much sense as if NASA built a space ship in the shape of the Starship Enterprise and then told everyone that Gene Roddenberry’s stories were all actually real. Like Star Trek, there is a great deal of background and mythology behind their practice.

These groups, whose rites are often similar to that of Wicca, either ignore the rule of three or strangely embrace it as an obeisance to the one they call their dark master. Both use the same fundamentals of what we call magick, in much the same way two opposing armies might use the same weapons or tools. Even one who doesn’t understand the implications of magick can use it. Again, this is just as a child might understand how to operate a firearm but not understand the consequences of actually shooting and killing someone.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Hal:  It would have to be, the Wiccan Rede (pronounced “reed”). It’s part of an understanding that any witch or magick practitioner should understand. Any energy you put out in the universe (magickal or otherwise) will come back to you times three. Similar to Karma, with its balance, the Wiccan and Pagan beliefs are just multiplied by three. It still comes out to be a balance, so it doesn’t strictly conflict with Karma, just that it shows its results with “broader strokes.” 

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Hal:  My favorite thing would be, Getting in “the zone.” The semi-hypnotic state when the story just can’t seem to get out fast enough. It’s clearly a high akin to what some pro-athletes say they feel when they push themselves beyond normal expectations.

My least favorite thing is definitely, Editing!  You need to do at least some of this yourself. Even if you hire someone to fix your grammar, only you can make sure your story holds together.

When people ask Stephen King how he writes, he says “one word at a time.” It sounds cliché, no? Except it means more than what it sounds like. I’m not going to pretend to be Mr. King, but I’d like to think I might one day play in his ball park. But, to his point, writing a book…really CRAFTING a book is not like typing an email. It can’t just flow. You have to stop and assemble it, at least somewhat, lovingly.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Hal:  Hath No FuryMystery and realistic magic combine in this, sometimes heart wrenching tale about friendship, love and evil. Growing up in the innocent 1970s, amidst a world of magic practitioners Mark and Amy live a life of discovery and wonder.

Just as they are growing into young adulthood and discovering a new facet to their friendship, their worlds are suddenly rocketed out of control by a destiny and a source of evil that has been waiting patiently for a generation. Mark and Amy suddenly and abruptly find themselves on their own separate paths separated by forces fueled by lust and a desire for power.  

Well researched, all of the supernatural experiences, though fiction, have a basis in the real practice of magic. This mix of fiction with interesting facts about how magic is practiced today will make you laugh, cry and hope.

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it? 
Hal:  I spent a LONG time trying to find an agent (almost two years), before deciding to self-publish. Don’t get that look. Getting someone to even READ your work is like winning a lottery. I didn’t even get read. I went and got every book on strategies for your Query letter, etc.

My advice, try it. Do a few that are in your genre. If you don’t even get your work read, self publish. It’s easier than ever before, and people can enjoy your work faster than ever before.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Hal:  I’ve always been into technology. I’ve worked in the field for almost 25 years. I wrote for the Syfy Channel’s technology site, DVICE and several of my articles were picked up by NBC (NBC Universal owns the Syfy Channel). I have regular articles that are science fiction inspired, but about REAL technology. It’s been my passion to incorporate something real from fiction. In the case of my book, it’s incorporating something real INTO the fiction.

Before any of the Syfy channel stuff, way back in the early days before Facebook and before Blogs, I created a web site for Horror themes called, It’s still in existence in its very primitive form.

Anyway, I decided to write an article for my own site about one of the scariest places I had ever been. It was a haunted attraction that had existed in the 1970’s and 80’s. It was called, Brigantine Castle. It was gigantic. It was five stories tall with over 80 live actors. Through the early search facilities of the web, I found a few of the original cast and got them together using a yahoo group (They still use it).

It gave me a unique opportunity to interview them and to write some great stuff about the place, with a lot of their pictures and even some sound recordings.

The editor of Haunted Attractions magazine read my web site and asked me to write one for him. It was my first professional writing. I’ve written a few more articles for Haunted Attractions Magazine since then, along with a few other industry publications.

Paul:  Thanks, Hal, most interesting. I wish you every success for the future.

About Hal Rappaport: I currently live in New Jersey, in a small town just north of Princeton. I grew up in Philadelphia. I guess I’ve been writing stories since I was about 11 or 12. I loved the idea of being able to transport someone to another place, or to create my own.

I’ve always been into technology. I’ve worked in the field for almost 25 years. I wrote for the Syfy Channel’s technology site, DVICE and several of my articles were picked up by NBC (NBC Universal owns the Syfy Channel). I have regular articles that are science fiction inspired, but about REAL technology. It’s been my passion to incorporate something real from fiction. In the case of my book, it’s incorporating something real INTO the fiction.

Anthony's Blog: Hal Rappaport
Anthony on Twitter: @HalRappaport
Anthony on Facebook: Hal Rappaport
Anthony's latest book: Hath No Fury (The Lesson Of Three) (Amazon)

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