Hey, all, and welcome to the Official Blog of The Coming Evil. For the uninitiated, The Coming Evil is a trilogy of Christian Horror novels, destined to break stereotypes on both sides of the gamut and change the way you define "Christian Fiction" forever. The first book, The Strange Man, is about to hit the shelves in less than a month, so I thought I’d take this time to give it (and me) a proper introduction and give you a little taste of the genesis of this project.
First off, my name is Greg Mitchell. I’m a screenwriter in the Christian entertainment industry and freelance writer. Back in 1998, when I was nineteen, I met Rich Christiano, a local Christian filmmaker who’d already produced and released a few short films. We talked about writing and movies, and I got to be an extra in a flick he was shooting on a nearby college campus. In order to brush up on Rich’s work, I watched one of his earliest films, a short entitled The Appointment. It struck me because it was suspenseful and, dare I say, "scary", and it had a strong message.
You see, I love monster movies. Scary stories, urban legends, monster books, you name it, I love it. Stephen King, Ghostbusters, The Monster Squad…the stuff of my childhood, right there. Having grown up on a healthy diet of superhero comics, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and the aforementioned monster movies, I was sometimes ostracized from the Church. I’m a Christian, through and through. I believe every word of the Bible and I stand by my faith in Jesus Christ. Some people saw my fanboy interests as a contradiction to my faith – but I saw it as my ministry.
After I watched The Appointment, God gave me the idea that this was what I could do with my life. I could create something that combined my faith and convictions with all those old monster stories I had loved hearing as a kid and the great scary movies of my generation. I wanted to tap into the kind of genre that The Appointment hinted at. For those of you who have never seen the film, let me give you a brief rundown. The story is simple:
What if someone came to you and said they had a message from the Lord? What if they told you that next Tuesday at 5:09pm you were going to die? What would you do? Would you believe them? And, if so, would that cause you to question your faith and consider if you and God were really on good terms? I mean, if you realized that the Bible was true and that, only by coming to God through Jesus Christ could you be saved from eternal separation from God…wouldn’t that cause you to rethink your life?
I was excited by The Appointment, and, of course, I wanted to write a sequel. I approached Rich with my idea. I wanted to take the premise from the first one, but put a spin on it. What if someone came to you and said they had a message from the Lord? What if they told you that next Tuesday at 5:09pm your best friend was going to die?
What would you do then?
Out of that premise, the character of Dras Weldon was born.
Suddenly, I thought of this Dras Weldon kid (boy, and what a name!) as a slouch and a hypocrite, who’d lived his life as selfishly as possible, though he claimed to be a Christian. How would he – who had made a joke out of his faith – be able to convince his best friend, Rosalyn Myers, to turn to the Lord before her soul was forever lost to the darkness? From that core idea came The Coming Evil.
Rich passed on the idea as a potential sequel (by then he was off to other projects), but still the idea stayed with me. It was the first story I ever really had that had questions and issues of faith at its center with "scary things" seamlessly integrated throughout.
And so, with this skeleton, I struck out on my own and began writing a movie script. It took on MANY incarnations, and still I could not quite get it right. Then I was flipping through channels and came across The Twilight Zone one day. Captivated as I always am by TZ, I sat down and watched an episode entitled "The Howling Man". In it, a weary traveler stays the night at this monastery where the monks claim to have the Devil chained in a cell. And, sorry to spoil it for you, but the man doesn’t believe it’s the Devil, and he lets him loose, thereby freeing Satan and causing World War II! I was so inspired by the episode that I had to go work on my own script.
Now, in The Appointment, an angel approaches our heroine when she receives her message. So, with "The Howling Man" fresh on my mind, I thought, what if I went the other way and our hero was visited by a devil? It was this new and evil character that evolved into "The Strange Man". I knew that this villain had to be especially nasty, so I drew upon my own experiences.
They say that everyone has their demons. If this is so, the Strange Man is mine. He is everything that I fear in life. He is that voice that tells you that you’re not good enough or that the person you’re with doesn’t really love you. He feeds on your insecurities and repeats them back to you, and since he’s telling you things that you’ve feared in your heart for so long, you begin to believe them and take them as truth. He is doubt. He is deceit. He is the Eternal Tormentor. The more I wrote him, the more I wanted to beat him. The more I wanted the heroes to win.
Once I tapped into that part of my heart, the story took on a life of its own.
I wrote the first script, and, within the week I think, wrote the next two acts. I had my trilogy. However, I was met with all new challenges. Originally, The Coming Evil was going to be a movie trilogy (a dream I still hold), but there was just no way I was going to be able to accomplish that at that time. Then I happened to meet up with Rich Christiano again. He was taking an unproduced script that he had and turning it into a novel, as a way to generate interest before making the film. He asked me to write the novelization, and I did. It became Time Changer, which Rich eventually filmed and released to theaters. Up until that point, I had never written a novel and had always thought of myself as a screenwriter, but I decided to take some of the things I learned while writing Time Changer and apply them to my own epic.
I learned a lot about my characters and my story in the process of writing the book. It went through a lot of changes and, until my lovely wife Meghan came along, a lot of things were out of order. But, with her ability to ask the hard questions about if some things were working or not, I was able to get it finished.
Of course, that’s the short version of the story.
The long version includes a lot of tears, frustrations, and struggles. The first draft of the original script was completed in 1999 and the novel was not published until 2007. I had an agent for awhile and we pitched the project to a number of different Christian publishers, but the idea of a "Christian Horror epic" seemed too great a risk. After struggling with what to do, God finally gave me a peace that it was time to release the first book myself. I partnered with a Print-On-Demand company called Xulon Press in order to get the book into your hands. Hopefully word will spread, and if God wills it, a publisher will pick up the title and publish the remaining two books.
It’s been quite a journey getting to this point. Since writing that first draft nearly ten years ago, I’ve moved out of my parents’ house, got married, saw the birth of my daughter, and grew up. And, through it all, I discovered myself. I discovered that there are things worth fighting for. I discovered that there are things in this world that are evil and scary, and yet God has given any who call on His Name the power to conquer those things that frighten us.
That is, in essence, the core of The Coming Evil. It’s about standing up to your Bogeyman, whoever or whatever that might be for you. It’s about a scared little boy facing down his darkest fears and making it out alive. But, more than that, making it out a man. That was the journey that was set before Dras in this book, and that is also the journey I took as I wrote it.
Hopefully you’ll stop by in a few weeks and pick up The Coming Evil: Book One: The Strange Man when it comes out. This is just the first act of the trilogy, and believe me when I say you’ve got a crazy ride ahead of you, guaranteed to be something you’ve never seen before – at least not in a Christian Fiction book. This trilogy has been my life’s work for the last ten years, something that I know God has given me to share with the world. I can’t express my excitement that people will finally be able to start on the journey. May God bless you, traveler.
In the world of The Coming Evil, you’re gonna need it.