It was my great pleasure to be able to interview Robert Crull, author of Dream State. Check out his website at: http://robertecrull.com/
It has been a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to get to know Robert Crull through Twitter, his writing and now this interview.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer some questions regarding yourself and your novel, Dream State.
1. You are a talented artist and photographer, what led you to writing?
Thank you. Both my drawing and photography are hobbies. I started to draw in early 2000 for the first time and two years later was a featured artist in three shows in the Atlanta area. I failed miserably at the shows, because I was embarrassed to talk about the drawings. I always believed they were cartoonish and amateurish at best, definitely not worthy of conversation. I started drawing as a means of stress relief, and to see how realistic I could get with my drawings.
My photography is an excuse to get out of the house, to get out into nature to see more than the inside of my home office or the buildings I work at when I am on the road.
Writing came about accidentally. During early 2004, I had some medical conditions crop up that resulted in me having severe heartburn 24/7. Very painful, and regardless of the meds I was given it just got worse. Eleven months after a surgical repair for those problems, I was diagnosed with a completely blocked iliac artery that basically resulted in my having an autopsy, except I didn’t get to die before hand. During the workups for that diagnosis I wrote these short stories about murder, much like they are now. During my eight week recovery, I found a way to tell the story about Drew.
2. Where did your inspiration come from?
All my drawings are strictly out of the internal vision I see when I look at the blank canvas staring back at me. It's weird, because I may sit and look at a blank drawing board for an hour or longer, waiting for it to enlighten me on what it wants to have drawn on it. The one drawing I have that is not posted was inspired by my son as he went through the beginning processes of his recovery. At the time Aerosmith had just released "Nine Lives" and a song on that CD was about how all five members of the band went to a Farm to get sober together. I spent a total of about 400 hours on that drawing and it takes me back to a much simpler mental space every time I look at it.
The inspiration for Dream State was to tell a story of a man that literally got away with murder. I wanted to create a guy where the rules of morality just didn’t apply. I think that deep down we all wish we could act like Drew from time to time, but thankfully not many of us act upon those flashes of insanity.
3. The mind of your main character, Drew Sovern, is very complex. How were you able to get into his mind so that it translated on paper?
These questions are awesome.
It's my belief that we all have an internal voice, that little guy in the back that plays devil/saint and provides us with a running commentary on what is happening externally. It's that voice that is Drew's nemesis. Drew basically is a weak man, willing to give away his control over his life to a voice that in reality, he should have controlled. But rather than take the harder path, the path of humanity, Drew caved and became what his psychotic little friend wanted him to be.
It's a little hokie, but if you think of the persuasive traits the Thomas Harris character Hannibal Lector exhibited and then mix in a little of the Jedi mind control from Obi Wan, you can see the control the voice has over Drew. Lector moved people to action through riddles and clues, always talking, wearing down his opponent to the point they questioned their own beliefs. Obi Wan was flat out a magician. There are traits of both characters in the voice.
4. The Dream State trailer you made whetted my appetite to read the book – therefore, it certainly had the intended affect. Do you think this is an effective means of advertising? What made you decide to make a trailer?
I'm glad you liked it. The entire process of releasing Dream State has been so educational. Strategic Book Publishing released Dream State in print, and with that came a lot of ideas for marketing. Strategic is basically a self pub house with a few twists, and a lot of free advice. As I was reading the site one evening, the trailer article really made sense, so I dusted off a copy of Adobe Premiere and went to work. Two days later, I am a slow learner, I had what was posted on YouTube as the trailer.
I have seen good trailers, and I have seen great trailers. I think that some take too long to get to the point of what the reader will experience, which to me is paramount. I personally want to be moved to action when I see a trailer. I want to run out right then and read what the trailer is recommending.
To finally answer the question. Yes, I believe that a trailer is an excellent means of advertisement, if it can connect with the viewer, almost generating a need for them to read the book.
5. Did the death of your father have any impact on your writing?
Dream State was complete before my fathers' death. Much of the medical jargon I used though was a derivative of the many trips to the hospital with he and my mother through the years.
6. Did you design the book cover?
I conceptualized the cover, from there my son did the rest. The red moon was his idea, as well as the constellations above the hospital bed. The starry sky was a little bit of reality from Drew that slipped out in one of his pick up stories, and I thought it would be neat to see that incorporated into the design.
7. Do you plan to write more psychological thrillers? If not, any other genres you may tackle?
The next book has already begun, however, it will take awhile to complete. The flow will be very close to Dream State in that we will get to see the internal conversations between the Main Character and his internal voice. The new series, there I said it, is the complete opposite of Dream State. It tells the story of a very old man seeking to be accepted for what he really is.
My bride keeps telling me I should try my hand at erotica, but the machismo in me just can't get there yet. Maybe one day.
8. What are you working on now?
Dream State is in process of being converted to a screenplay. I so enjoyed telling the story from a visual perspective that I want to see it on film.
Also, I am working on additional poetry. I go through phases with poetry that I will write four to six poems a day for a week, then not touch it again for several months.
And finally, the plot line for the series mentioned above is still being worked out, which is going to take quite awhile to finalize. There is so much I want to tell, so many concepts I want to include, that getting the flow of introduction down is proving to be rather arduous.
9. How long did it take you to write Dream State?
Roughly three years. It took two years for the story to get down on paper, then another year of detailing, polishing, and packaging.
10. Do you see writing as a career?
I do, and as time allows from my day job, I spend as much time learning more about writing. Nothing would make me happier than to be able to focus on telling the sick, twisted little stories that run around in my head.
I want to thank you for your generosity and interest in Dream State as a book and me as an author, I am honored.