This week I’m featuring Robin Parrish, founder and editor-in-chief of INFUZE Magazine (www.infuzemag.com), a unique intersection between art and faith. In addition to his work at INFUZE, Robin has written two novels in a trilogy: Relentless and the newly-released Fearless.
LM: So give me a few examples of some people you’ve featured who stand out in your mind.
RP: Some good outside the box examples: one of my favorites—we’ve interviewed him twice now and we post news about him frequently as well—is an actor named Doug Jones. He’s one of those actors with a loyal following and nobody knows who he is. If you ever see him in person you’ll never forget him. He’s very tall (about 6’ 6”), very skinny and lanky. Doug’s a Christian. He’s a character actor and usually plays characters under very heavy makeup. He has done a lot of small bit parts and this year he really broke out and did some big things. He was the title character in Pan’s Labyrinth. He was the Silver Surfer in the Fantastic Four movie. Right now he’s filming Hell Boy 2. He plays the character Abe Sapien, an aquatic character.
Don’t let that name Hell Boy throw you off. That’s another movie with a lot of great redemptive ideas in it. It’s a fable. It’s outside the box. It’s not realistic, it’s not theology. But I can’t imagine any Christian watching that movie and being offended by it. There might be a little bad language and a little cartoony violence so if that’s over your boundaries, then don’t go. But there’s nothing that is in any way offensive to Christianity. It’s respectful of it, actually.
We talk to author Ted Dekker all the time. He’s got tons of fans who read our site. He’s a great example because he is in the Christian industry but he’s starting to appeal to [people] outside of the industry. And he’s interested in the things we love to talk about. He’s very big into asking the big questions in life. He’s creating this rich mythology with the books he’s writing now. We’re fascinated with this stuff. There are characters with superheroic powers. We’re very big on superheroes at INFUZE because superheroes are almost always an allegory for our human need for Christ to save us.
LM: Let’s talk about your own books. I’m really intrigued by this idea of serializing your novel on INFUZE. How did that come about?
RP: I was trying to find a way to get back to my first love of writing when I first created INFUZE. I wanted to use these great contacts I have so I knew it had to be a media website. But I also knew I had to get into publishing original stuff ourselves: creative works, short stories, poems, and artwork. I’ve wanted to write a novel forever but on a practical level I knew I needed a deadline to make it happen. Without a publisher as pressure there was nothing to make me do it. At the time I was into 24 and Lost—serialized TV shows and comic books—so it just seemed like a natural idea to do a novel in installments. I did a chapter every other week and it would come out every other Friday. That was the book that eventually got turned into Relentless, my first novel. In the original book there were 18 chapters—they were much longer than they are in the book now because I wanted it to feel like you were getting a full installment of a TV show like 24. I always tried to end on a little cliffhanger to keep you hanging until next time.
As soon as I put the first chapter up, people started coming out of the woodwork. I even heard from people who had never been big fans of my reviews but they said I could write. Because all of the earlier chapters were still there, I could pick up new readers as we went. We had done a contest for short stories with editor David Long, who has the blog “Faith in Fiction” (http://www.faithinfiction.blogspot.com/). When the book was finished, David, who’s at Bethany House, asked if I would like to publish it. I didn’t have to seek out a publisher, which is an amazing thing that I don’t take for granted.
I pitched him some other ideas and, to my great astonishment, he wanted to make it a trilogy. I wasn’t interested in taking the original story and trying to stretch it out over three books. I felt like it was a good solid contained story as it was so I wanted to add more to it. I went back and reworked it, rewriting and adding a lot of little seeds that would grow and play out in the coming books. It’s not like a book and two sequels. It’s a continuation: the 1st part, 2nd part, 3rd part of this 3-part saga. It’s very much like the Lord of the Rings. When it’s done it will be one big story with a definitive beginning, middle, and ending.
LM: Tell me about your books.
RP: Most of my influences come from TV, movies, and comic books. I suppose that’s why my books are so fast-paced. My editor actually coined the term “bullet-paced” for the first one. The short answer is that my trilogy is “suspense thriller” but in my mind it falls under many categories. There’s a big mythology aspect. It’s set in the modern day but is a step outside of reality. There’s a big cast of characters. It’s got drama, a little romance, a lot of suspense, and a lot of mystery. Mystery is important in any genre. You need some kind of unanswered question, a little hint of mystery to keep people reading. So there are a lot of unanswered questions that eventually we’ll answer.