Monday, January 11, 2016

Michael LaPointe & Unworthy

When I was asked to review Unworthy by Michael LaPointe I had no idea that I was about to embark on such a dark and gritty trip into desperation, or that I was about to become such a huge fan of this talented new author. I am lucky enough to have interviewed Michael right before Christmas. His first novel was number 3 on Horror Maiden's Top 12 of 2015. If you haven't read Unworthy yet you can check out my review after the interview. Then go buy this book!! Now sit back and let me introduce you to Michael LaPointe,,,,

Author Bio

I'm a writer, journalist and author, a literacy advocate, a lifelong lover of film and the written word, an avid archer, and a voracious reader. Unworthy is my first novel, with more to come. I also am the Resident Historian of and a regular contributor to the legendary UK-based horror site Zombie Hamster. It's been an amazing opportunity, allowing me to digress on all manner of scary stuff, and examine the sociopolitical aspects of work within the genre.

Which is a totally real thing.

I live in Huntington Beach, California with my incredible wife Stephanie and our furry children, Maggie and Homer.
You can connect with Michael LaPointe at his website  or on Facebook and Twitter
HM: Tell me a little about yourself.
I'm a lifelong fan of things that go 'bump' in the night; a lover of most things horror, an inveterate movie geek, an avid supporter of film preservation, and a hardcore literacy advocate. For several years I was the resident historian for the legendary UK film site Zombie Hamster, until it was time to focus on writing Unworthy. I live in Huntington Beach with my fantastic wife and our two loving cats.
HM: I loved the feeling of the writing in Unworthy. How much research did you do to so beautifully capture the gritty desperation of the people in your book?
It's difficult to say; my mother grew up in the South, and she was often taken to tent revival meetings when she was young. So I'd heard about those kinds of things for years. When I decided to get serious with Unworthy, I talked with her quite a bit to get a feel for what it was like in those tents, under the lights, with all the noise and crazed energy.
I also had the great good fortune to talk with a gentleman who has worked in the Los Angeles Health and Human Services Department for five decades, to get a better understanding of mental illness and religious hysteria, and read countless personal accounts of the Great Depression. We can never truly understand what millions of Americans went through, but I did my best to try to capture not just the poverty, but the despair of hopelessness.
HM: What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Hobbies?
I love movies and books and archery. My wife and I bought a house three years ago, and we've been spending a lot of time doing renovations. All those years of watching DIY Network are really paying off! We recently started running, and are now completely hooked.
HM: How long have you been writing?
Since grade school; I remember writing a play in seventh grade about gangsters during Prohibition, I believe that was the first thing I wrote. It's terrible.
HM: Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
Back in 2005, I'd been writing columns for a website, just for the fun of it. My father took me aside that Christmas, and suggested that maybe I should try writing for a living. Dad was a great guy, and of the generation that believed in putting in a hard day's work. His approval meant the world to me, and from there things started happening. We lost him less than a year later, and I learned that he'd taken to printing out my columns and taking them to work to show to his colleagues.
HM: What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?
Any good horror is about something else; it's allegorical, and I think that this genre, more than any other, allows us to explore those things that make us human, that scare us, that define us as individuals, or as societies, or countries, or generations. We wrap it up as monsters and madmen but, at its core, we're talking about people.
Crap, I forgot to answer the question. Is there still space for that? Okay. Anyway, I love finding the angle that lets me say what I want to say, in such a way that it doesn't immediately present itself or come off as obvious or preachy. I enjoy reaching deep to find that spark, that emotion, that makes the words ring true. This can also be difficult.
When I was writing Unworthy, there was a day when my wife found me out on our patio, obviously rattled. She asked what was wrong, and I replied that I had just killed a child. Loudly, so the neighbors could hear the context, she said "Oh, in the story you're writing?" To which I replied, just as loudly, "Yes, in the story I'm writing." It was funny, but at the same time we were talking about a person, an absolute innocent, that I had created and then destroyed. I wasn't quite prepared for that, but it really propelled the story because, to me, that kid was real. 
HM: What books do you enjoy in your free time?
A little bit of everything. I'm just finishing a marathon reading of the Harry Potter series, and after that I've got a stack of books that range from the Dyatlov Pass incident to the Vietnam war to folklore in rural America. And a huge stack of horror books, of course.
HM: Who is your favorite author/book and why?
It's actually a tie: my favorite books are The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. Each of those books are master courses in how to tell a story, and should be required reading for anyone who wants to be serious about writing. As far as authors, it's got to be Steinbeck. He captured the human spirit, the human condition, better than anyone else, before or since. The opening of Unworthy is a tribute to Grapes of Wrath.
HM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write. Push yourself beyond what you think are your limitations. Read. Read a lot, and then read more. Tell your story, the one that you would want to read. Write for yourself, and don't pander or dumb down your ideas. Be true to yourself and to your craft. Don't waste time and money on gimmicks that claim to help you be a better writer. And don't ever, ever, give up. 
HM: Can you tell us about any of your new work? I can't wait to read it!!
I'm gearing up to begin a novel that focuses on rural America; the poverty, the isolation, the desperation. There will be a supernatural / horror element to it but, at its heart, it will be a human story.
HM: What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?
I pick up the phone, and the caller says, "Hi Mike, this is David Fincher. May I please make Unworthy into a movie?"
Yes, David, you may.

HM: It was great talking to you! Stop by anytime!!
From the Description

"Ask me terrible questions, and I will tell you terrible things."

Unworthy is the story of Ezra Kale, the twisted offspring of thrill killers, born into a world of depravity, bloodshed, and cannibalism. From the Dustbowl of the Great Depression to a notorious lunatic asylum, Ezra reinvents himself as a revival preacher, traveling the American South and using his calling to conceal his true nature, leaving a trail of ruination and death in his wake. At Ezra's side is Sister Randa, a deeply damaged woman with an unthinkable past, who finds in Ezra the only person she has ever trusted, and for whom she would gladly kill.

Only Danny Bloom, a retired carnival performer with a yearning for a more fulfilling life, realizes there may be more to the self-proclaimed Savior than anyone would dare imagine and, in uncovering an unspeakable horror, finds his destiny. Unworthy is a thriller both timely and timeless, a savage journey into the darkest heart of evil perpetrated in the name of faith.

I received a copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novel.

Have you ever read a story so engrossing that you are a bit surprised when you look up from the page and find yourself back in the real world? Unworthy is that kind of story! I was completely captivated from the very first paragraph. It's easily one of my top 5 best books of the year so far, and I don't think it's going to move off that list any time soon. The storyline is dark and very disturbing. I was extremely impressed by the way Michael LaPointe captures the hopelessness and despair of the depression era migrant workers and the fanaticism of Ezra's followers. The characters are completely believable. I loved Danny's character. He was easy to care about and root for. Unworthy is the kind of novel that stays with you long after the last page is read. This is Michael Lapointe's first novel, I can't wait to see what he does next! Do yourself a favor and read this fantastic 5 star read!!
Buy Unworthy at  Amazon