I first spoke with Gary Starta many years ago at a meeting of the Garden State Horror Writers (now known as the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers). He already seemed to have a strong sense of the direction he wanted his fiction to take, and since 2006 he has published nine novels–several in both paperback and ebook form. Most combine science fiction and paranormal elements with a mystery or suspense plot. That may sounds like a neat hat trick, but Gary pulls it off smoothly. In fact, he says he wouldn’t have it any other way! He recently abandoned cold, snowy New Jersey for the mellower climes of Florida, but was kind enough to bring me up to date on his many literary projects:
Q. Your books mix science fiction, paranormal and mystery. Crossing genres is more accepted these days, but did you find it a hard sell when you were starting out?
A. I always find it challenging. I am a mixed-genre writer; I like to call it fiction on the fringe of genre. It’s just what I do. Maybe they’ll finally come up with a better name than cross-genre author. I feel and have always felt a good book comes from many places and like real life has many components.
Q. Of all of these genres, do you feel you lean more toward any one?
A. Science fiction, of course! Isaac Asimov started me off and influenced my first novel. I am a robot lover.
Q. Some readers might assume that science fiction and paranormal aren’t compatible, because the first supposedly is based on real science. How do you harmonize them in your books?
A. I think the lines are blurring and things are congealing all the time. “Paranormal” could be science when more theories are proven. We seem to exist outside our bodies and there are studies to show this. So, is this paranormal or now a science? Do we access information from across the universe? I see these issues as being both science and paranormal to that extent.
Q. You use a real historical character, Aleister Crowley, as the villain in your book Extreme Liquidation. Why did you choose him, and what kind of research did you do on the real person?
A. I chose him as the ultimate occult villain. I did a bit of internet research and made up the rest of his character through deduction. Of all the people in the world, he seemed most likely to try and reincarnate and rewrite the rules.
Q. In Demon Inhibitions, the characters cross into an alternate universe, and one reviewer compared this approach to the TV series Fringe. Did that show influence you at all?
A. Yes, it did. But I had started this series and probably had written Demon Inhibitions before the show. So, writing-wise, I was on the same page. By the way, I love what some people might call pseudo-science. Most detractors simply don’t want their explanations disturbed.
Q. What other books, TV shows and movies do you feel having inspired you in your writing?
A. Star Trek, for certain! Mr. Spock is the best sci-fi character of all time.
Q. Whom do you think of as your target audience–sci-fi, paranormal or mystery fans? Do you find that your books attract one group in particular?
A. I have no idea on that one. I have had people read me who never read the genres. I try to do it differently. I would love for someone to read one of my books and feel they had been there before. I write as a reader.
Q. Do you attend conferences and/or do library panels and talks to promote your work?
A. I have not recently. But I have relocated, so maybe I will.
Q. You seem to have garnered many reviews for your work–most of them raves–a feat that isn’t easy these days. What kind of marketing and promotion do you do?
A. It’s all me! Lol. And I really have no idea what the “game plan” is, other than to make people aware of my books in groups.
Q. What’s next?
A. I am putting out my first zombie book soon, Dead Market. My trilogy Camden Investigations has launched. I think I named my character “Camden” because of the N.J. town! This combines ghost hunters and ufologists who never seem to collaborate. I thought it was high time they did. How can you investigate the paranormal from one approach? The team comes across a light weapon capable of changing DNA. And yes, this was a science theory which is now proven.
Gary Starta is a former journalist who studied English and Journalism at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
Find all of Gary’s works at his Kindle page http://www.amazon.com/Gary-Starta/e/B0043L6YK2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
His website is http://www.garystarta.net.
His sci fi fan page is http://www.facebook.com/GaryStartaSciFiFanPage
Follow and guest post on his blog at http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/gary_startas_writers_blog_a_forum_for_novelists/