Monday, August 27, 2012

"Rift Jump" Podcast Interview--Now Live!

A few weeks ago I sat down with Paeter Frandsen and did a new podcast interview where we talked all about my latest release Rift Jump. The podcast has now gone live! Head over to Paeter's site to check it out!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The "Amazing Love" Trailer is Here!

Evening, folks. Thought I'd drop in real quick to announce that the trailer to my feature film screenwriting debut Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea is now live! As I've stated before, this is a departure for me and my monster-loving ways, but it touches on a subject dear to my heart. The Biblical account of Hosea has always moved me, but I feel that it's been buried in obscurity for far too long.

When the producers approached me to write a Biblical movie, I knew I had to sidestep the familiar stories and share this often-overlooked story of unconditional love. I've recently seen the movie and I think the love of Hosea (and by extension God) comes through in a powerful way. I hope you guys check it out. It will NOT be playing in theaters--the producers wish to keep this a special event, just for the churches. Any church can show it. To arrange for your church to show the movie, email Rich Christiano at or call 949 380-8550 and they'll take care of you.

Amazing Love - Trailer 1080p from Rich Christiano on Vimeo.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Blog Tour--"Faith Awakened"


As part of Splashdown Books' August blog tour, I'm sitting down with publisher supreme Grace Bridges to discuss her novel Faith Awakened. Grace has been a real friend to me over the last year or so, not only publishing Rift Jump (plug!), but also coaching me behind-the-scenes on how to navigate these murky publishing waters. In fact, she likes me SO much that she'll be staying with our family sometime in September. Hopefully we shall survive the encounter. That all depends on how well she deals with small children and copious amounts of AC/DC :p

I'm happy to have her on the blog and I hope you all check out her book and all the fine authors at Splashdown.

Greg Mitchell: Let’s start with an easy(ish) question. What’s Faith Awakened all about? 

Grace Bridges: It’s about two women whose apparently divergent stories are more connected than they think possible. A near-future disaster scenario, a computerised survival system, a lot of questions about the mess that living can be, and a good dollop of my own story too.

GM: What was the initial inspiration behind Faith

GB: Even as a kid I always had an overactive imagination and I used to wonder if “all this” was really real. If there was some other, darker reality outside of it. And if that was the case, then I didn’t want to wake up. Eventually I got something on paper when I was about 14 – just a concept really – started writing in earnest 7 years later and the writing took yet another 7 years.

GM: Take us back to the beginning. Why become a writer? Not only that, by why a writer of speculative fiction? How’d you catch the bug? 

GB: I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I could first make out the letters of the alphabet. Being homeschooled allowed for plenty of reading time as part of regular learning, and I fell in love with the rhythm of language and the different styles I saw. I absorbed everything – words, flow, effect. Then one day it started coming out! As for science fiction? Well, gotta blame the Star Trek and Doctor Who reruns of the 80’s for capturing my young imagination. “To boldly go…” is a catchphrase that became something I aspire to myself, even if it’s just in the mind.

GM: As a publisher now, you’ve had countless submissions pass your desk. What’s probably the number one mistake you see in new authors? 

GB: Sending me their first drafts or something that looks like it. Honestly, people, I know you’re excited, but please do the work and make your book publishable before I see it. As a bit of an aside, I look more favourably on subs from people I know, so we can both get an idea of what it’s like to work together. The invitation is always open to look me up on Facebook. Let’s get connected.

GM: What do you look for in a story? I’m not asking about guidelines for Splashdown—I just mean, you, personally. What is it about a story that grabs you as a reader? 

GB: A deep, personal voice, getting inside a character’s soul; a quirky, unusual plot; vivid description with just enough detail to set the scene and hint at the rest. I also love unusual word use and weird things like metafiction, though I don’t come across it often!

GM: With Splashdown, you’re out there on the fringe, trying to bring very specific types of stories to a specific niche—namely Christians who enjoy speculative fiction, but want something a little stranger than the typical mainstream Christian publishers are offering. Do you feel that you’re making progress in that area? Is the audience there? 

GB: Apparently there are people who know about us, and that’s great! That niche is only so big though, so I’m looking to expand it in a couple of directions. Look at all the recent blockbuster movies – weren’t most of them speculative? Everyone who watches those would like our books. That’s the one crossover I’d like to see. The other is into the mainstream and so I’m increasingly keen on stories whose faith elements are organic and not blatant. There are many books in the mainstream that include Christian characters, though not so much speculative and there’s no reason good enough for me. 

GM: We’ve spoken of this before and I know you can’t say much without giving away some key spoilers, but isn’t there a sequel to Faith Awakened in the works? What are you at liberty to discuss about that project? 

GB: It is written, mostly edited, and on the way to being published…somewhere! Yes that’s right, this indie publisher is looking for another publisher. Call it validation, call it spreading my wings. I have published two of my own novels and I could do it again, but I’m curious to experience the other side of the table.

GM: Ha, ha, well that is certainly an unexpected move. Way to challenge yourself, though. How exciting.

GB: As for the story, it’s hard to say without spoilers because it runs in parallel time to Faith Awakened and the endings of both tie together. Like Faith, it begins in Ireland, but this time it does not stay there. Call it an epic roadtrip with a touch of romance and…maybe a cyborg? And of course virtual reality remains a big part of it.

GM: You’re a huge proponent for independent publishers, even writing out this very useful guide so that, practically, anyone with a kernel of talent and sheer force of will can turn themselves into their own independent publisher. Aren’t you just essentially creating your own competition? 

GB: Let’s face it. I’m going to have lots of competition anyway. Some of it is bad. I hope my recommendations can help remove some of that badness, because it’s what gives indie publishing a bad name. The world is plenty big enough for all the books that can be written, not to mention that most of them don’t even come close to my genre. I’m just trying to help make them good ones. You’ll notice in that article I make a big deal out of quality – in story, in editing, formatting and design. Quality is the number one thing for me and I want it to be every indie publisher’s top priority too.

GM: Books, books, books. Let’s move on to TV and movies! What are some of your favorites? 

GB: Let’s see, we’ve already established that I’m a Trekkie (fave series: Voyager) and a Whovian (10th Doctor, he’s mine!). Movies – Back to the Future trilogy, Narnia, Star Trek IV, VIII, IX and 2009; plus some anomalous historicals such as The Scarlet Pimpernel (with Anthony Andrews, the full version is free online - lots of action and great one-liners) and Pride & Prejudice.

GM: Any parting words?

GB: Thanks for having me, and for your insightful questions!

GM: You're most welcome! See you in September. Brace yourself for the mighty music of AC/DC!

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Rift Jump" Commentary (Part Five)

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Here we are at the end of our commentary for Rift Jump. Thanks for tuning in. And don't forget--we're running a Goodreads giveaway! Enter for your chance to win a signed copy of the book, yo!


At last, our hero must face his destiny.

The Strange Man from The Coming Evil Trilogy

This is where our villain, the Maestro, makes his debut. To me, the Maestro has always been a pawn. The Rage is the real enemy. It was difficult writing the Maestro as I wanted to make him very different from the Strange Man (pictured left). Whereas the Strange Man is all about theatrics and delighting in the sound of his own voice, I wanted to make the Maestro completely unimpressed with everything. He's a composer of pain and very serious about his work. Unflappable.

The biggest surprise in this episode is the change we see in Sara. She's kicking some major tail up 'n here! Sara was always meant to evolve into a very tough fighter, but, honestly, I was going to save that for the second (and perhaps final) book in the Rift Jump sequence. But I wanted to give readers a little taste of what they can expect from Sara in the follow-up novel.

So what about this follow-up novel anyway? Tentatively the book is entitled Sara's Song. Whereas Rift Jump was more focused on Michael's internal bout with the Rage, its sequel will be Sara-centric. The entire story is about the pair of them, so it made sense to me that each one got their own book. Together, the two halves make a whole and their story will be complete.

The idea of the multiverse is explained in this section, as Michael comes face to face with Truth. Fellow Splashdown author Travis Perry wrote a very insightful essay on the nature of Chaos equaling the loss of choice. Great stuff.

Michael also faces his inner demon in this section--in this case, a giant sludge monster with his face. Again, like I talked about last week, this totally snuck up on me as a sort of an echo of the junkyard fight scene from Superman III. Also, with this fight, we now begin to see a stronger connection to The Coming Evil Trilogy. Yes, the black goop that Michael  hacks up in this section is the same evil slime that takes over Ray McCormick in Enemies of the Cross. It's sin, in its purest, most concentrated form. Sin creates monsters. It latched on to Ray and drove him mad, and it dwelt inside Michael for his whole life, pushing him towards violence.

In this section, we also meet Toby, who was originally based on my little brother, Jeff. There's a nine year age difference between my brother and I, but we've always been very close. We like most of the same movies, music, TV, books, video games, etc. A fact about my brother is that Jeff is a video game freak. He has been since he was two years old when I taught him to hold a Nintendo controller. He was cracking the Konami code--on his own--before he could write his own name. He's like that movie "The Wizard", without the autism. Seriously, he was six or seven and I'd take him to arcades with me and watch him wax the floor with guys twice his age on Street Fighter or Tekken. He was--and still is--that good. So, the original Toby--who was named, rather obviously, Jeff--was a pint-sized fighter. The original high school draft of this particular story featured "Jeff" as this eight-year-old street fighter, a kind of living embodiment of Jeff's gaming skills. It was pretty embarrassing, looking back, so I obviously took out the "eight year old street fighter" out of the current version, but I tried to give the character--re-branded "Toby"--a fighter's spirit. We'll see more of that fighter in the sequel, whenever I get around to writing it.

The real-life Jeff is, in a way, also the one to praise (or blame, depending on how you liked the book) for Rift Jump coming to your grubby hands. As I've said, the original Rift Jump stories were just things I wrote once every couple years or so to blow off some creative steam. I never took it very seriously at all. There came a point that I'd all but forgotten about it. It was just a funny little high school memory. But my brother is a writer, as well. For years he's been developing his own contemporary dark fantasy series. A mega-epic that spans generations and chronicles the struggles of good versus evil across, quite ironically, the multiverse. Jeff began writing his multiverse stories totally apart from me or mine. Like I said, we think a lot alike, and his daydreams eventually led him to parallel worlds as well--though in a different direction. When I discovered this, I told him "Hey, I wrote a multiverse story too, once upon a time." I told him about my old Rift Jump stories and told him he should totally have our characters meet. I thought it'd be a hoot. So, a couple years ago, he did just that, resurrecting my old characters and breathing new life into them. As I suspected, it was a riot. Jeff has a keen sense of ridiculous humor and he took my melodramatic characters and, essentially, lampooned them. It was such a thrill seeing my characters in a new light.

But it also got me thinking. Jeff's new take on my characters awakened something in me. I began to question how I would interpret these characters after all this time. I had grown up, and these were a child's characters. How could I take what they were, but put an adult spin on them? After that, my imagination took off. I started writing Rift Jump stories in earnest. Still for fun, and still with no desire to see them published. But it was a wild ride, and I turned out, maybe, 10 new stories in just a couple years. It just kept coming. The more I wrote, the more invested I got in my creations. The more serious they became to me. And, before long, I realized that I was writing a real story. One that I wanted to put out there, on the market, for others to enjoy.

Jeff's own story has gone through many drafts as he's experiencing a similar process with his own stories. He began writing them when he was 12 or so, but as he's grown into his own man, he's revising his stories. Re-crafting them. I've helped a little, but I've also backed off a lot. I think he's got some GREAT ideas and a real sense of drama and excitement. I know how his story ends and it's amazing. I can't wait to see him finish it and then the real adventure begins for him: publishing :p

Thus concludes our commentary for Rift Jump. Thanks for hanging around. I encourage all of you to go out and pick up a copy of the book. We've gone the small press route this time around and it is super hard to get your name out there. So, please, support the book. If nothing else, post and re-post. Let the world know that we're here with a wild ride through alternate timelines and alien worlds! If you're still shaky on whether or not this book is your cup of tea, I invite you to check out this nice (and totally unexpected) review by Jessica Thomas!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Interview with Kathy Tyers!

Okay, I'm totally stoked about today's guest. Today we're sitting down with Kathy Tyers, one of the pioneers of Christian Science Fiction. She's a terrific lady, a legend in the Christian Fiction market--and she's written for Star Wars! Let's get to it!

Greg Mitchell: Kathy, thank you so much for being here today! On to business: I've heard you describe your newest science fiction novel Daystar as an “alternate universe Messiah novel.” A very interesting premise. What's the story behind that? Tyers: The Firebird series takes place on an alternate timeline, in which the Virgin Mary said “No” and human history took a different course. People went to space, engaged in genetic engineering, and the messianic line survived simply because God doesn’t break promises. So in Daystar’s far future setting, when the messianic people are ready for the big event, God displays the same character that we saw in Jesus of Nazareth – but since it happens under different circumstances, we see different events.

I made a point of not going through the gospels, creating characters to represent each of the biblical people – with one vital exception – and I was careful not to present miracles that would be too parallel to the ways Jesus proved himself on this world – again, with one vital exception. I wanted to bring back the sense of wonder and mystery, to try and remind people how mind-boggling a God we serve.

GM: Daystar is the fifth book in a series, correct? Can it be read by itself?

KT: Absolutely. Daystar is the only novel that takes place in the third generation of the Firebird series. Major characters from the other novels come together, and some of them play major roles – so series readers will enjoy Daystar on more levels than stand-alone readers, but yes, Daystar is primarily about entirely new young characters.

GM: How did it feel to finish a series you’d been writing for so long? What's the Firebird Saga all about?

KT: It felt slightly sad and a little wistful. But deeply satisfying. I had a sense of “job well done.” And now I’m wondering what in the Whorl to do next!

As for the series: The first book, Firebird, is about a young extra heiress sent out to die in battle, who’s captured instead. She discovers that the cause she was defending – her family’s glory – isn’t worth dying for after all. In Fusion Fire, Lady Firebird goes up against truly evil enemies and realizes that there’s deep darkness in her own soul, too. Crown of Fire takes her back to her home world for a royal occasion that nearly costs her life. Those three books have been combined by Marcher Lord Press in The Annotated Firebird, along with maps, notes, family trees and other information.

I returned to the Firebird universe with Wind and Shadow, which is about Firebird’s twin sons. One is following in her footsteps as a warrior, but the other has grown up to be a priest. He’s kidnapped by a demon-possessed telepath who thinks he might be the predicted Boh-Dabar or messiah of this alternate universe. Daystar finishes the series when an outsider, Meris Cariole, gets caught up in the messianic events. So do two of Lady Firebird’s grandchildren.

GM: Wind and Shadow, your fourth Firebird novel, was apparently part of a Master’s degree?

KT: Regent College in Vancouver, BC specializes in training “lay people” in theology, spirituality, history, biblical languages, and other subjects that we normally think of in terms of training for professional ministry. In Regent College terms, every Christian is a minister of the gospel – and since the stress is on learning about God as creator and redeemer, artists are held in high regard. My degree was in “Christianity and the Arts,” and it was a tough course of study but very much worth it. Vancouver was an amazing place to spend two years, too.
GM: The Firebird series is over! This has been a huge part of your life. I know that, for my own series, it'd be hard for me to leave it behind for good. Do you think you'll ever return to the world of Firebird sometime down the road?

 KT:  I certainly won't say "never." I tied off that series pretty conclusively (no spoilers here!), but there's room for prequels. Some of my readers have suggested a spin-off series featuring some characters from the books. I've seen authors do that successfully. It could be worth a try.

GM: Okay. Now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty. My love for Star Wars has been well-documented on this site. I must now live vicariously through you. What was it really like to write for Star Wars?
KT: Fun! The invitation came from my Bantam Books editor, Janna Silverstein, after I had published four science fiction novels with Bantam (including the first two Firebird novels, Firebird and Fusion Fire). Bantam and Lucasfilm selected one of the ideas that I pitched – evil aliens attack an Imperial world right after the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Imperial fleet, so the Rebels have to help repel the aliens. I had quite a bit of artistic freedom writing that novel, which was published as The Truce at Bakura.

My second Star Wars novel, Balance Point, was part of a series called The New Jedi Order, and the series had already been substantially outlined when I started writing. They wanted an anchor-point book for a particular moment in the series, and they wanted a “character author” to write it. Apparently they felt I’d done a good job portraying the beloved Star Wars characters, and they wanted me to do it again. I was honored!

GM: In relation to Star Wars, have you kept up with the EU lately? The prequel films? Recent novels or the new Clone Wars animated series that's running on Cartoon Network? I was just wondering if you had peeked in on the mythology from time to time and what you thought of it all.

KT: I confess I haven't kept up. The amount of licensed Star Wars literature has become overwhelming--and I've had other things going on, like widowhood and grad school and putting together a new life! My writing has moved in other directions, too. But the Star Wars season of my writing life was something I wouldn't have missed for the world. Whenever I see kids in my neighborhood out playing Jedi with their lightsabers, up and down the street, it makes me smile. Big time.

GM: Well, Kathy, you have certainly impacted a lot of people with your work. Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out. 

That concludes another interview. Be sure to head to Kathy's site at for free excerpts from her Firebird novels, deleted scenes, and more!

And don't forget, I'm running a Goodreads giveaway for my latest sci-fi/paranormal/romance/action novel Rift Jump. Enter today for your chance to win a free copy--signed by me!

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Rift Jump" Commentary (Part Four)

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Hey, folks. We're back again for our penultimate installment in the Rift Jump commentary. Before we get started, head over to Goodreads and enter for your chance to win one of two signed copies of Rift Jump! Go! Go now!

Now, onto the commentary. Spoilers below. Be ye warned.


I really liked how this section turned out. This differs quite a bit from the original draft written in the late '90s. It was always a super-hero concept, as I've been a comic book fan for as long as I remember. But, for the rewrite, I decided to add more of a horror element to it.

Ironically enough, the high school angle was downplayed in the original draft, but when I set out to rewrite this, I saw an incredible opportunity to take my angst-ridden teenagers and plop them in the middle of the typical angst-ridden high school setting. Having Sara take to "normality" like a fish to water was a fun turn. Michael's high school experience, here, is a lot like my own. Tuning out teachers and daydreaming while looking out the window, imagining I'm on some faraway adventure. Michael is an outcast and Sara makes friends during home period on her first day. They really couldn't be more different.

This also is the episode that shows a shift in power balance. Sara starts to crave the power that Michael has, while Michael's all emo-ing out in his room, crying because he thinks Sara is going to outgrow him. He's more vulnerable than we've ever seen him and we see how desperately attached he's become to Sara. Unhealthily so, I'd say.

The biggest change in this published version is the addition of my old comic book character Light Sphere! You have no idea how excited I am to see Light Sphere get a chance in the spotlight. He was originally a character I created that had no connection to Rift Jump at all, but I looked at what I had here. Michael is in a super-hero world, I'm in the process of updating an old high school idea--hey, let's dust off another old high school super-hero and they can meet! Better yet, let's have the classic Marvel crossover where they first meet in the street, mistake each other for the enemy, beat the holy crap out of each other, and then team up to fight the bad guy!! :)

I was in ninth grade when I made Light Sphere. Obviously X-Men was the big thing back in the mid-90s with guys like Cable and Wolverine tearing up the comic book stands. I was too lazy to come up with a proper origin story for Light Sphere back then so he was your typical "mutant"--born with powers. But, I wanted to give him a handicap, so I devised this idea that he couldn't use his awesome powers without these souped-up gloves on his hands, otherwise he'd fry off his flesh. Gnarly, yes, but my 14-year-old self thought it was properly dramatic. I remember writing and, drawing...a Light Sphere comic and taking it down to Centerfield, the comic and card shop downtown. I went to that place all the time and used to hang my drawings on their walls in exchange for free bags of sour gummy worms. I showed the proprietors--an older couple--my creation and the lady told me that my idea of giving Light Sphere his limitation was "very original". I beamed with pride, picked up some sugary treats, and set out to finish a second issue where Light Sphere joins the "Governmental Mutant Agency". Oh yeah. Well, me being me, when I wrote the modern version of Light Sphere, I kept all of his stuff the same--even right down to working for the government :p What can I say? I'm a stickler for continuity, no matter how lame it is.

Sadly, the comic store burned down not too long afterwards. I don't think Light Sphere had anything to do with it.

Speaking of super-heroes, this brings up the Superman connection. You know, I made Michael invincible when I was 15 because what 15-year-old boy doesn't want to be indestructible and all-powerful? However, I'm sad to say, that I never used that plot point very much. Even in the modern version--in the beginning--I'd have Michael get shot or punched or whatever, but that was it. Kind of a letdown, really. But, I'd start watching some animated Superman movies and I'd see all the incredible damage that Superman took. He'd get thrown through buildings, slapped with a tree, hurtled across continents. I thought, "Man, I'm not putting Michael through enough. He's invincible! Let's kick the crap out of him!" I really started upping the battle scenes in the book, rewriting them to make sure Michael got beat up as much as possible without distracting from the story.

When Keven, my editor, was reading through this, he asked if I was a Superman fan, because there were so many references to Superman. The Hooded Man tells Michael that Sara is his kryptonite, and he's pulling some Superman moves. Aside from being inspired to beat on Michael some more, I hadn't made the mental connection how Superman-esque Michael was. But when Keven said that, something clicked. I thought about how I saw Superman. He's this god-like being, above mortals. And he's got Lois Lane, a frail woman (by comparison to his strength, I mean). I really started applying that to Sara. She views Michael as Superman. He's a god to her, and his strength only exaggerates her weakness. How would that make her feel? Sara, who has felt weak for so long?

Wouldn't she resent that?

In light of Keven's Superman comparison, I made a couple more refernces to Supes to show that Michael was a fan of the character.

This section also is a major break-through for Michael. He's only been a hammer all this time, but he's finally starting to understand what being a hero is. I love how all the super-hero/Light Sphere stuff really dove-tailed into Michael's continuing transformation. And, what's more fun, is that it was almost entirely by accident. That's how I know when a story's working.

Since we're on the subject of Superman, my vote for best Superman is Christopher Reeve. My parents took me to see Superman III when it first came out (bad idea, as I was 5 and that robot chick at the end totally scared the poooo out of me). That scene where he battles his evil self in the junkyard, though, is always one of my favorites. Funny that, even today--even in Rift Jump--I'm still echoing that scene of fighting our inner man. Watching Christopher Reeve is still awe-inspiring to me. He makes me believe that a man can fly...

Click here for our final installment!

UPDATE: Jessica Thomas posted quite the positive review of the book over at her blog. A nice surprise to wake up to in the morning. Could I be "the Christian speculative world's Terry Pratchett"?! Go check it out, yo!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Metamorphosis" Preview

Hey, all. Super stoked to see that author/artist Bob Freeman has posted his proposed covers for the individual short stories contained within Rookhaven Publishing's A Cat of Nine Tales anthology! If you're a fan of monster hunters and weird pulp horror, pick this up! My contribution to this collection of occult detective tales is "Metamorphosis", which features a peek into the origin of my very own paranormal investigator--Vinnie Caponi. Vinnie has two stories coming out this year. "Metamorphosis", and then another Caponi adventure will be included in the Monsters! anthology. Both stories should be out by this October, and make the perfect Halloween treat.

The cover below depicts Josh, Vinnie's brother-in-law and investigative partner. Josh has a major role to play in Vinnie's humble beginnings. As always, it's a real thrill to see an artist interpret one of my characters. I can't wait for you all to meet Josh and Vinnie in their two Halloween tales and I hope you'll be seeing more of them in the future. As I keep saying, I've got some big plans for Vinnie...

To see the rest of the covers that Bob has beautifully rendered for the anthology, head over to his blog!