The first thing I remember writing was a story back in the third grade. It was around Halloween and we were all supposed to draw a monster for class. I drew mine, but more or less on my own, I wrote up a story to go along with the picture. It was a Dracula story, if I recall. Anyway, it somehow got passed around among the other kids. They seemed to enjoy it, so I wrote a werewolf one too. They liked that one as well, and pretty soon I ended up writing one for every monster you could dream up.
What made you decide you needed to write?
There wasn’t much of a decision involved. But I can tell you how I realized why this is the case. After that third grade story-writing spate, I kind of got into doing that–of writing stories about pretty much anything that interested me. I’d see a sci-fi movie and then go home and write my own story about space battles and aliens. By the time I was in high school, I’d read a Conan or a Tolkien book and then try my hand at writing some version of sword and sorcery. Most of it was utter garbage, of course. But I kept doing it, mostly because I enjoyed the activity itself. Then one day, I was taking a writing class in college. It was early on, probably freshman year. I walked in the room and the professor had put a quote on the board. It said “Lots of people want to be writers, very few people want to write.”
I remember that class better than almost any other one I took that year. The professor, a guy named Gerry Peary (who was one of the best at BU at the time) talked about what he called “the habit of art.” About writing not for money or attention or prestige, but just because it’s part of who you are. It’s just what you do. Either you have that, or you don’t. It’s never really a question of making a decision to be a writer. You just need to do it, and there’s nothing else to decide.
Of all the things you’ve written, which is your favorite?
My sentimental favorite is the “weird western” I wrote a few years ago, called “The Hand of Osiris“. It’s an admittedly peculiar story that had a hard time finding an audience. The book is about a down and out gunslinger/outlaw who wanders into a kind of purgatory on Earth. Some of the ancient gods of antiquity, abandoned by their worshipers ages ago, now fill the boredom of their eternal lives by drawing lost souls into their little oasis, experimenting with them like playthings. It’s a story about faith and redemption, but there’s also plenty of shoot’em up action, blood and gore.
Have any of your characters ever argued with you?
Most of them do. If they don’t you’re probably not doing this right, in my opinion. What I mean by that is, I usually draft a general outline before I write, so I have a kind of road map. Once I get underway though, and the characters start to develop, they take on a life of their own. They tell you where they’re supposed to go, where they want to go. Sometimes that conflicts with what you had planned for them. You have no choice but to listen. They’ll tell you that your outline is wrong and you have to change it. When you try to force them to do something that doesn’t fit, you’ll know it. It will feel wrong. It will be false, in a way, and that’s the worst sin you can commit as writer.
If you could vacation in any fantasy realm, where would you go?
Well, we’re ruling out Westeros right off the bat. No one seems to get out of there alive. Middle Earth as viewed through Peter Jackson’s lens would be pretty cool, and one day I’d like to actually visit New Zealand, but that answer doesn’t quite live up to the spirit of the question, does it? I think if I had to pick one that I’d go to, as it existed in the story, it would be Neverland. I’ll give you my reasons, and it’s not just because I loved Peter Pan when I was little. For one, it’s an island, so there would appear to be a lot of unspoiled beachfront property. There seem to be very few other visitors, which means it’s not overrun with tourists. The ones who do come are mostly English, and they tend to be polite and easy to get along with. Also, there would be no language barrier. There’s interesting wildlife, including very rare crocodiles as well as some authentic Native American tribes apparently preserving their traditional way of life. The only real trouble would be that there are pirates in the area. My guess is that they can’t be very dangerous though, since all accounts suggest that they’ve been repeatedly outwitted by a bunch of children for years.
Do you have a special writing area? If so, what does it look like?
I have a couple of them, because I like to change up the scenery a little. In my apartment I converted the dining room (which I never used) into a little office, so I do some writing there. Being sequestered at home for too long can make me go stir crazy though, so I have a bit of a circuit that I run. There are two local libraries I hit often, in my town and the next one over, where I plunk down my laptop and hammer away for hours at a time. I also do the coffee shop routine, which I guess is kind of cliche at this point, but I’m not going to lie. I get my venti and a table by the fake fireplace and write until my cup is empty.
If you could have any creature–real or not–as a pet, what would it be?
One of the movies I loved as a kid was Clash of the Titans (the 1981 original, not the unwatchable recent remake). If you know that movie, you’ll remember that Zeus commands Athena to give Perseus her wise owl, which is her constant companion. Unable to part with it, she has Hephaestus build a mechanical owl to send in its place. That is a total deviation from time-honored Greek myth, but I always thought the concept was cool. A divinely-made pet owl that is intelligent, helpful and can pretty much run forever. I would definitely want one of those.
Have you ever written poetry or do you mostly stick to fiction?
I have written poetry, but you will never, ever see or hear it. I haven’t tried my hand at it for a long while, but I keep a file on my computer with all of the verse I’ve ever attempted. It’s so awful I should really just delete it, but I rarely throw out anything I’ve written. Mostly it’s just there to remind me of how bad I am at it.
If you couldn’t write, what else would you do to create?
I like to sketch and I dabble a bit with watercolors and oil paint. I’m not great at that either, but I find the process very similar to writing. There’s nothing better than losing yourself in that. Sometimes you sit down with a canvas and either some pencils or some brushes and just fall so deep into the hole that when you finally look up, hours have passed and you have no idea where all the time went. There are very few better ways to spend an afternoon.
What one piece of advice would you give a new writer?
Write what you love. Because the truth is, no matter how good you are, no matter how well you hone your craft or how much time you spend on every precise detail of your work, there are going to be people who don’t get it, don’t like it or just flat out hate it. You’re going to get criticized. It might as well be for something you believe in.
Eye of the Storm is a new Dark Fantasy / Sword & Sorcery novel by Frank Cavallo. It is recommended for fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Karl Edward Wagner and Robert E. Howard.
On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world.
Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm.
“Eye of the Storm is a terrific fantasy from Frank Cavallo… He is very imaginative and it shows in his writing, which is descriptive and well defined.” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite
“This was a whole lot of pulp, sci-fi, adventure fun.” – Bob Milne, Beauty in Ruins
“A five-star time travel novel for the 21st century. Highly recommended… Eye of the Storm is one book that is guaranteed to grip you from the get go. Read it.” – Best Thrillers
“Cavallo spins a fast-paced tale in his latest read…with a unique cast and setting…a flurry of twists and turns…quite a page turner, Eye of the Storm is bound to be a favorite among fantasy enthusiasts.” – Red City Review
“Eye of the Storm … stands above others in the fantasy/alternate universe genre for its original story line and unpredictable twists.” – Midwest Book Review
About the Author
Horror and dark fantasy author Frank Cavallo’s work has appeared in magazines such as Another Realm, Ray Gun Revival, Every Day Fiction, Lost Souls and the Warhammer e-zine Hammer and Bolter.
His latest novel, Eye of the Storm, was released in August 2016 by Ravenswood Publishing.
“In Eye of the Storm, I try to bring back some of the elements that I like from old time pulp fiction,” says Frank. “It is a throwback to old school adventure stories, combining the pacing and the feel of those classic tales with some newer elements that are not all that common to typical fantasy fiction.”
Frank’s previously published works include The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death. He is currently working on a new novel, The Rites of Azathoth, with Necro Publications, due out in February 2017.
Frank was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has been a criminal defense attorney for fifteen years.
To learn more, go to http://www.frankcavallo.com/Share