Greg Chapman is an Australian writer, illustrator and comics artist. He’s the artist on graphic novels like Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times (written by the late Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton) and Bullet Ballerina (written by the late Tom Piccirilli). His debut collection, Vaudeville and Other Nightmares, was published by Black Beacon Books in 2014.
Greg’s fifth novella, The Eschatologist, is about to drop, courtesy of Voodoo Press. He was kind enough to drop by and answer some questions for me.
JF: Tell me about The Eschatologist. What’s it about, in terms of story, and what is it really about, in terms of theme.
GC: The Eschatologist, in a nutshell, is about a family trying to survive in a world that’s been completely trashed on a Biblical scale, only to take the wrong path to salvation. On a deeper level it’s about the dark side of faith. I wanted to write a story about someone so obsessed with God that they would kill for their beliefs. A self-made prophet. With everything happening in the world at the moment I don’t think my story is too far from reality.
JF: What was it that inspired you to write a book set in a biblical apocalypse?
GC: I didn’t intend to make my story about believers and non-believers, but I think it’s turned out that way. As someone who was raised by Catholic parents (although I’m not so devout these days) maybe my subconscious is at play, but I think it’s an interesting concept nonetheless. It’s a modern day missionary tale, but with a lot more blood. I don’t focus too much on the apocalypse itself. It’s a very character driven tale and I’m using the two main characters to play the roles of good and evil with (hopefully) the reader sitting in the grey area between wondering which one of them is good and which one is evil.
JF: Tell me about David Brewer?
GC: David might have been a nice guy once, but as a beat cop he slowly became apathetic towards the world. At the start of my story he’s already burdened with guilt over something he did not long after he joined the force. When the end of the world comes he has to keep his family safe and he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t believe in himself. He especially doesn’t believe in God, despite all the evidence around him that He has wiped the slate clean. The Dave Brewer in my story is messed up.
JF: I love monsters, especially if the monsters are also characters. Are there monsters?
I love monsters in end-of-the-world fiction too, but I didn’t really want to rehash that, so the monsters are us… or people who take their faith too far. That was one theme I wanted to push; the idea of people using faith to justify terrible acts. The destruction of the world through cataclysm is what came before but it might just be humanity’s blind faith that finishes us off. Maybe.
JF: Tell me about this second main character, the antagonist. What’s he or she like? What has driven this character to evil?
‘Amos’ is even more screwed up than David. I can’t give you too many details about his back-story here, but there’s a certain amount of synchronicity at play here. Amos is someone who is devout to the point of insanity, but he’s totally cool about it. He’s a televangelist with a knife, smooth and charming. Through the story you’re going to wonder whether he’s an angel or a demon.
JF: Is there an overt paranormal element to the story?
GC: There is a slight paranormal element in the book’s final third, but it’s left to the reader whether it’s real or not. In the end the story centres around whether Amos’ actions are justified and the way he acts and the destruction around him lends a lot of mystery to what’s happening. If the end of the world did come in this fashion, with fires and earthquakes and tornadoes, it would convince a lot of people that God is real and that his power is real. Think of the Moses story in the Bible and you’ll get an idea of what I mean.
JF: You are an illustrator and a comics artist as well as a writer. Do you find that these skills inform the way that you approach a scene?
GC: Very much so. I see everything I write in storyboard. The difficulty is trying not to over describe what I see in my head. I am able to visualise each character very easily and how they do things, the expressions they make. A scene in the first chapter played out in my head in minute detail and spurred me on. I actually created a few complimentary illustrations for the print version and I guess you’ll get to see some frames from my mental storyboard, including this particular scene.
JF: What’s next for you, Greg? What do you have coming out, what are you working on?
I’m shopping around for a publisher for a novel I finished a few months ago, but apart from that I’m toying with a few short story ideas. The plan (as per usual) is to put together at least another novel and a novella in 2016.
The Eschatologist will be available fromJanuary 15th. It is is now available for preorder right here:
I recommend you order it now, before it’s FAR TOO LATE.