Friday, June 22, 2012

Interview with Eric Griffith Author of Beta Test

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

My day job involves lots of writing, so doing fiction on top of it means sitting in my chair a lot. Occasionally, I like to stand up. So I became one of those people who waited a long time to take fiction writing seriously. Now I can’t stop. At the time I started my book BETA TEST, I’d just finished reading almost every book out by author Christopher Moore, the master of combining horrific fantasy with comedy.  I thought, maybe I could do that with my own end of the world tale. BETA TEST book was the result.

What inspired you to write this book?

BETA TEST came about from a mix of needing something to write to get into a workshop, and having no good ideas...except this one little thought that had been sitting in my brain for 17 years. Thankfully the workshop liked my first chapter, so I kept going with it to finish.

Please tell us about your latest release.

 BETA TEST is the story of Sam Terra, who’s not your typical chiseled-jaw hero. He’s an overweight computer programmer who wears Hawaiian shirts. He has no particular desire to be the one guy who can save the world. It just happens that way. It all starts on the day that 10 percent of the population—including the woman he loves—disappear. That’s just the start of Sam’s problems, which take him across the country, then overseas, as he seeks out the one being that can prevent the rest of humanity from getting wiped out: God.  Seriously.

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

One of my favorite methods for naming characters is to go to the Web site It accesses the database for the 1990 census. With each refresh the page randomly shows you four names, two male and two female. I like to hit refresh over and over and over until I see first and last names that I feel are a good fit for a character.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

In BETA TEST, Sam’s best friend is actually one of the hardest characters I ever had to get a handle on. His name is Melvin Dutta, and I just wanted him to be a total misanthrope. Everyone who read it hated Melvin. Really, really hated him. They wanted me to take him out of the book! I had to find Melvin’s redeeming quality and I did:  It’s that he loves his friend Sam. Once I worked that in, everything changed. Melvin is still a total dick, but because he’s Sam’s true friend, it makes all the difference.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

I always cast my characters with actors. Sometimes they’re Hollywood stars, or even Hollywood nobodies that only I may remember, or even my friends. But once I’ve got a face and body to go with the character, that helps me immensely.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
In the middle of the book there is a chase scene that involves a stolen ambulance and a veritable army of the grossest monsters to ever hit our reality. If the book ever becomes a movie, this scene will be the part they give away in all the trailers.

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?

Without giving too much away, I went to great lengths to make sure the world in BETA TEST is, in fact, as real as ours. It just so happens that extra-dimensional aliens play a very big part. But normal people don’t even know that... until [SPOILER!] all of those aliens who are essentially using Earth like a giant virtual reality game up and disappear.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) and it made me realize something: writer’s block is a myth cooked up by lazy procrastinators! Which I totally am. The worst. But writing has to be treated like a job, or it will never get done. To succeed, you need to make new words, all the time. All the damn time!

Do you write in different genres?

I stick to sci-fi and fantasy, and  I’ve written novels for middle grade and young adult, as well as more adult books like BETA TEST (careful, it’s got swear words in it!). My work-in-progress, which is more of a pulp-hero novel, has lots of sex and violence.

What was the last amazing book you read?

I’m utterly addicted to crime fiction (and I’ve tried writing it, but worlds with “rules” like “gravity” and “physics” are not for me). I loved the last couple of novels by big names like Michael Connelly and John Sandford. Fantasy-wise, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians was pretty riveting in a “Harry-Potter-is-a-college-stoner” kinda way.

What can readers expect next from you?

Later this year I’ll be putting out an ebook version of my young adult novel, tentatively entitled KALI. It’s about a teenage girl with a serious ghost problem, who also happens to live in a suburban necropolis where the dead outnumber the living 1,500 to 1.

Where can readers find you on the web?

I’m on Twitter, Facebook, blogging, even occasionally podcasting, and you can find it all linked from

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Here’s an excerpt, introducing you to the two main characters:

Sam Terra was a big guy. A mountain on legs, a squashed giant, a sumo wrestler minus the diaper. He wore Hawaiian shirts and called them “Aloha” shirts as if he grew up on Maui. He didn’t. He was raised in upstate New York, though he didn’t call it upstate. He called his home the “central southern tier” because that’s what they called it on the TV news there. He had a patchy red beard and a pasty balding head covered with a baseball cap with an embroidered penguin on the front. The hat hid secret pockets; it doubled as his wallet.
Molly Maddox, on the other hand, was as diminutive as Sam was massive. She was not quite five feet, not quite curvy, not quite beautiful. She looked and dressed like a boy of twelve from the 1980s, including thin sock ties and, once, parachute pants, and wore her light hair streaked with bright blue highlights in an especially unflattering bowl-cut, ala Moe of The Three Stooges.
Sam considered her the embodiment of feminine perfection.

Hardcover - 278 pages
Publisher: Hadley Rille

Book blurb: 

Sam Terra is having a bad week. He lost Molly, the woman he secretly loves, when she vanished before his eyes at the exact same time that ten percent of the inhabitants of Earth disappeared.

Naturally upset, Sam follows clues about the global vanishing with questionable help from his friends including a misanthropic co-worker and a childhood pal. When Molly reappears in the body of a man during a night of monster-laden devastation, Sam finally learns the truth. Not just about her, but about the planet Earth and the entire cosmos surrounding it.

What we consider mundane reality, others consider a game...and not a very good one. The whole thing is about to be shut down.


Ebook:  Kindle   Nook

Author bio: 

Eric Griffith is the author of the sci-fi novel BETA TEST from Hadley Rille Books, which Publishers Weekly called “an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale.”  By day he works as the features editor for By night he sneaks out of the house to write fictions. He currently lives in Ithaca, New York. 

You can follow his online exploits daily via


Eric Griffith said...

Thanks for having me! And before anyone asks, no, that's not me on the cover. :)

Roxanne Rhoads said...

LOL thanks for being here :-)

nancyholzner said...

Thanks for the link to the random name generator! I just spent 20 minutes playing with it. I can be one of those lazy procrastinators, too. :)

Eric Griffith said...

Ha, anytime. If there's a way to waste time on the Internet, I'll get it to the masses.