Interview with Frank Cavallo: Eye of the Storm (+ Giveaway)

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.

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.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hello, Frank! I’m so happy to have you on my blog today! Let’s start this interview off with a few questions about you, shall we? If you weren’t a writer, what alternative career path do you see yourself in?

Hi, thanks for having me!This one is an easy question for me, since I have another career already. Writing is what I love, but it’s only a part-time job. The rest of the time I’m a criminal defense attorney.

You seem to be quite well-versed with fantasy. What are some of your favorites that you’d like to recommend?

I love the old pulp stuff: Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and even some of the lesser known “Weird Tales” folks from back in the heyday. I have a small collection of 1970s reprints of their stuff, like C.L. Moore’s “Jirel of Joiry.” In the days before Amazon, I used to scour the shelves at second hand bookshops, looking for rare copies. I think that stuff is better than most modern fantasy, and I highly recommend it.

I’m also a big fan of Michael Moorcock’s work.Elric has his own shelf on my bookcase. Fritz Leiber and Karl Edward Wagner are all-time favorites too. Lastly, even though it’s dense and complex and a little bizarre, I love Eric R. Eddison’s “The Worm Ouroboros.”

Other than reading and writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

I’m an avid traveler. The last few years I’ve been kind of running the circuit of backpacker destinations: Machu Picchu, Morocco, Vietnam and Cambodia, a South African safari. I like to hit quiet, out of the way places too, like Mongolia or Namibia. I’ve got a glacier hike in Iceland coming up that I’m really excited about.


ABOUT WRITING

What first inspired you to start writing?

It’s just something I’ve always been drawn to. I started writing stories in school as a kid. The older I got, the longer and more complex they became. When I was in high school, and I realized that people actually do this for a living, I was all-in.

Why do you prefer writing horror and dark fantasy? Are there other genres outside your comfort zone that you’d like to eventually explore someday?

I grew up reading and watching a steady diet of fantasy, horror and sci-fi, so that’s always been “home-field” for me. It’s definitely my comfort zone. I love the “speculative” genres because they offer a unique way to view the human experience. Most Twilight Zone episodes, for example, are basically about some character trait or character flaw. The fantastical aspects of the show aren’t really the main draw, they’re there to put a spotlight on the human element, but they do it in an imaginative way. That’s really what I love about these genres.

As far as branching out into other areas, I don’t have any plans to do that right now. I have more than enough to keep me busy with what’s on my plate already. Maybe someday.

Do you have other stories and/or writing projects you’re currently working on? Can you tell us something about them?

As a rule, I usually don’t say much about future projects. However, I’ll go this far: I’m currently attempting to write a shorter piece, something more novella-length. My last three books involved multiple characters all vying for something, with shifting alliances etc. And they all ran long. Now I’m trying to write something that is more limited in scope, and just focused on a single character.


ABOUT EYE OF THE STORM

When I first read the synopsis, I found the setup incredibly imaginative and intricate. Where did the idea behind Eye of the Storm come from? What first inspired you to write it?

Thanks, there’s a fine line in trying to set up something so that there is kind of a realistic level of intricacy but without getting bogged down in so much complexity that people can’t get into it easily.

The idea goes back a long way, and it’s one I came around to repeatedly over the years. In short, I started to write this book as a more traditional invented world fantasy, but I just didn’t feel that it ever found the right tone. I had always loved old Sword & Planet stuff, like “John Carter on Mars” and Mike Grell’s “Warlord” series. One day, after having put the unfinished manuscript aside for months, I picked up some old copies of those comic books and read through them again. I decided to try to re-vamp the story in that vein, and everything just fell into place.

I’ve taken a few Physics classes in college. Since then, the idea of alternate universes and parallel dimensions has become extremely fascinating to me. Can you tell us more about the parallel world you created?

Yeah, I’m fascinated by this stuff too. The parallel universe idea has really gained currency in the last few years. It’s funny, but my introduction to it wasn’t in the physics realm, it was in comic books. When I was a kid, DC comics had a regular feature every year in which the Justice League “crossed-over” with the Justice Society. I was so intrigued by that concept, of their being an Earth-1 and Earth-2 and so on. Two Supermans, two Batmans, each one just a little different on each parallel world.

Many years later I came across Alex Vilenkin’s “Many Worlds in One” and at about the same time guys like MichioKaku were popping up on TV quite a bit talking about M Theory &Branes. Add to that Alan Guth and the multiple universe implications of Cosmic Inflation. This area of physics really emerged into the mainstream in the last ten or fifteen years.

I used that stuff as the foundation for my parallel universe framework in this book. The gist of it is, I’m setting this in a multiverse in which infinite “bubble universes” exist together in a sort of quantum foam, outside of any local space-time. The universes occasionally bump up against each other, releasing waves of dark energy and creating temporary portals between universes, connecting different points in time and space.

Imagine a highly advanced civilization who develops the ability to manipulate those portals and to harness that exotic energy. If they wanted to, they could travel literally anywhere (or anywhen) and bring back whatever they wanted to populate their cosmic menagerie. Then, what if something happened to them, and their creation was left on its own? You’d have a world full of people and creatures from all eras of Earth’s history, along with some other worlds as well.

That is the world into which our heroes are plunked down in Eye of the Storm.

Were you obligated to research extensively on space-time theories and scientific concepts in order to flesh out the world-building? How did that work out?

I am definitely not a physicist or a cosmologist. Most of that stuff is really best understood via the language of mathematics and I just cannot grasp any of that. I do enjoy reading about it in layman’s terms though, so when I sat down to write this, I already had a collection of these “physics for dummies” type of books to use as reference material.

As much as possible, I tried to be scientifically accurate (or at least literate) with anything that could be fleshed out. For example, many of the characters are displaced Neanderthals. I did my best to describe their physical features along the lines of what we think they really looked like, including newer ideas about them, things like the high probability that many of them had red hair, pale skin and maybe even blue eyes.

In your novel, which character was the easiest to write about? And which character did you have the most difficulty with?

The easiest character to write is almost always the outsider. I assume most writers are natural introverts (I certainly am) and most probably have felt like the outsider in any social situation or group, whether it’s school or a job, etc. So for me, that’s the character of Kerr, who is physically handicapped in a society that is based on raw strength and is the only foreigner in his community. He doesn’t get “top billing” in the write-up, but for me he’s the real center of the story.

The “hero” character, Slade might have actually been the toughest to write. I didn’t want him to be a one dimensional sword-swinging thug. So I needed him to grow a little over the course of the story. I tried to start him off as kind of a jerk and then slowly make him more relatable. There’s a fine line there between writing a character that a reader might not like at first, but who they’ll still come around to over the long haul.

Are any of your characters based on yourself or people you know in real life?

Someone once said that every painter is really just painting themselves, and I do think there is something to that. Every character in every book I write is, at least in some way, a piece of me. Sometimes they’re a version of me I wish I could be, or maybe one I’m trying not to be. There’s always a little reflection in there though.

How would you describe the fantasy and adventure elements in your book?

What I was hoping to achieve with this book was to write a story inspired by classic fantasy tales, but with two differences from the older books. One, I wanted it to have a modern sensibility. So the female characters aren’t damsels in distress, they’re just as capable and heroic as the men. Also, as we discussed earlier, the science behind the invented world is at least vaguely realistic. Second, I wanted to write a fantasy-adventure that didn’t utilize most of the stock, cliché elements (like elves and dwarves and magic rings/lances/cloaks) but still transported the reader into a fantastical world. I wanted it to be original enough to be surprising and yet familiar enough to be engaging.

As you were writing, who was your target audience? What message or idea would you like your readers to gain from the story?

This may sound weird, but my target audience is primarily me. First and foremost, I write books that I would want to read. Then, I kind of hope that my own interests are not so far afield that other people wouldn’t enjoy the same thing I do. But I feel like it’s a fool’s errand to try to write in order to please a particular audience. You can’t really ever guess with any accuracy what people as a whole are going to like. The safer bet, at least for me, is to write something I know I like and cross my fingers that other people will too.

As far as messages, there really isn’t much of that in Eye of the Storm. That’s deliberate, by the way. It’s kind of designed to function as a headlong adventure tale, in the mold of the ones I enjoyed as a kid.

How would you sum up everything in Eye of the Storm in just one sentence?

Two people from Earth are stranded in a parallel universe and have to struggle against incredible obstacles in order to find a way home.

All right, last question. What is your favorite quote from Eye of the Storm?

Great question. There is a quote I like, but it’s not mine. I have always loved this particular Biblical quote, and I’d been dying to use it in a book. This one gave me a perfect chance. Without any spoilers, there’s a “character” who is kind of a hive-mind, who encompasses multiple-entities-in-one. The quote I snuck in was “Legionomenmihiest, quia multi sumus.” For those unfamiliar, it’s supposed to be the answer given by a demon when asked its name. It translates to: “Legion is my name, for we are many.”

There’s a lot going on in that one line, and it always fascinated me. The shift from singular to plural in the first person, in the same sentence, is exceedingly rare. It’s as if it’s hinting at a deeper reality that doesn’t quite fit with how we perceive things. In a way, I suppose, that’s always what we’re trying to do as writers, to find the deeper meaning in the world around us.


THOUGHTS AND AFTERTHOUGHTS FROM SHEALEA

Unfortunately, when I received a review request via email from Frank’s publicist, I was forced to turn the offer down due to the current backlog of ARCs I have yet to sort through. A huge bummer on my part, to be honest. After having this interview with the author — many thanks again to Frank for agreeing to answer my questions, I’m pretty sure that Eye of the Storm falls right up my alley. It’s definitely a book I can see myself picking up in the future.

Anyway, here’s a little bit more about Eye of the Storm:


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.


You can easily secure a copy of Eye of the Storm for yourself through Amazon. You may also opt to join my blog’s giveaway! Details and mechanics are as follows:

One (1) paperback copy of Eye of the Storm is currently up for grabs! This giveaway is open internationally and will end on exactly 11:59 pm, 21 February 2017 – (GMT+08:00) Philippines. All you need to do in order to enter the raffle draw is to follow me on Twitter and to retweet this. Sounds simple enough, yes?

For additional raffle entries, following my blog via email is equivalent to five (5) more entries while leaving a comment on this blog will give you three (3) more entries!

The winner will be contacted via email and will be given 2 days (48 hours) to respond in order to claim the prize. Should s/he fail to respond before the deadline, then a new winner will be randomly drawn from the existing pool of entries. Best of luck to everyone participating!

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Shealea

First of her name. Queen of millennials and the constantly caffeinated. Protector of books. Breaker of norms. Iskolar ng bayan.

9 thoughts on “Interview with Frank Cavallo: Eye of the Storm (+ Giveaway)”

    1. I’m bummed I don’t have the time to give it a go, but it’s great to hear you’re liking the book so far! Hope it stays that way until the very end. I’ll be looking forward to your review. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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