Greg Jolley is not one to shy away from the macabre. He uses it to astonishing effect in his new novel The Collectors, a twisted tale of obsession gone awry. Learn more about Jolley’s chilling new book and his creative process below.
About The Collectors:
Pierce Danser’s soon-to-be ex-wife, the glamorous actress Pauline Place, has disappeared. She’s been kidnapped by a very dangerous man, intent on adding her to his bizarre and twisted collection.
But Pierce is determined to find and rescue her, no matter the obstacles, even if it means the loss of his own life. The clock is ticking, his resources are slim, and he’s up against a sick man with a twisted, cruel vision.
“ it really, really isn’t for the faint of heart…very addictive…a quick read”— Elisa Rambacher, Goodreads Reviewer
Interview with Greg Jolley
Where did the idea for the book originate?
The Collectors came from a compelling curiosity with odd collections and museums and, of course, the people who construct them and their motivations, obsessions, and compulsions. I researched and interviewed a few curators in an attempt to understand their psychological passion for capturing rare relics and oddities. It was a fresh and foreign mental landscape to explore. There is a strange side to the desire to collect and revere objects of nostalgia as well as fulfilling morbid fascinations with the famous and infamous. Without exception, they loved to talk about the wonder and reverence they felt and the ways they had gone about their collecting. Questions about their motivations were answered evasively, at best.
What was the writing process like?
The write itself took seven months. Three of them were spent doing the research and character and location sketches and getting familiar with my cast. The write itself was that fine daily immersion that makes being a novelist so rewarding.
Tell us about the main characters in the book. Who was your favorite to write and why?
All three main characters were a challenging delight. While I didn’t have a favorite, Pierce was the most familiar. That said, all three were constantly entertaining and shocking. As often happens about a third of the way along, the cast took over the write and I became their story’s typing pool.
He is always a surprising personality to work with, always turning left when all the road signs and my plans scream, “Turn right!” Big of heart, passionate in love, and often a loose cannon, I pretty much turned him loose. Soon as he put his nose to the sand and started tracking Pauline Place, I was comfortable taking my hands off the wheel.
Pauline is the famous actress Pauline Place, who was a pleasure to work with again. She is a rare beauty, strong-willed, no one’s fool and capable of getting in serious trouble—often of her own making—as a challenge to herself and her ways and wits.
Ah, Deung…nothing more enjoyable than entering his twisted and dangerous mind. He was another chance to open the black box containing evil and dark lunacy, compulsions, and sociopathic blood lust. Mix in the desire to wed and bed a deceased actress and he scared and revolted me badly more than once.
Movies and filmmaking feature prominently in your book. What is it about movies that fascinates you?
For The Collectors it was the continued fascination with the psychology of cameras.
Many of the Danser novels are set within movie productions for two reasons. The first is inspired by the historical Jewish proverb that I paraphrase as, “God loves stories.” I interpret this as meaning that our use of free will and our choices tell the stories he loves to watch unfold.
The second is a question. What is a camera, metaphorically? If our lives are movies of our choices, then we also get to decide which side of the viewfinder we live on. Are we behind the camera, calling the shots as we view our world and our lives? Or before it, center stage, immersed in our stories and delighting in each new experience and decision? Either side of the camera can be a fine and interesting place to live (or narrate) our tales.
Pierce has a fondness for cars, especially Willys and Packards. Are you also a car aficionado?
I’m so not. LOL, I drive a Jeep. That said, automobiles do have a functional mechanical beauty.
To this day, American culture has a strong affection for car brands and models. While I don’t share this, for the book I needed to explore and better understand that psychological attachment to objects, much like the collectors in the novel do.
The villain Deung is a twisted and chilling character. What inspired him?
It was a fascination with wealthy lunatics who have the means to pursue their macabre compulsions. There are many real world examples of them. Some of my favorites were in the 1800s, in London; men with their gruesome collections on display. Many of these museums housed true horror shows for both curators and audiences; places to take twisted delight in. The States also has its share of macabre collections and museums of cruelty, crime, violence and, well, evil. Truth be told, they are really hard to look away from.
Deung is a collector of “odd things” and readers have described your book as “not for the faint of any kind.” Without giving anything away, where did your inspiration for his macabre hobby originate from?
He certainly has collecting and acquisition and control issues that I wanted to explore. Same with his bent and twisted mind, where he lives far south of the sanity border. I wanted to better understand how one of the darkest, sick minds could calmly believe that their murderous ways made perfectly good sense.
What is it that you enjoy most about writing thrillers and suspense?
I enjoy it all, which is why I write seven days a week, but the pre-write research and sketching is often the most interesting and creative part. During those months, I collect miles of “ingredients,” which are snippets of dialogue, mapping locations, choosing the cast, and deciding both theme and structure. From this, the “skeleton” of the book forms itself naturally. I usually come in at around ten thousand words before I enter the write. In the case of The Collectors, I was fortunate to be working with Pierce Danser again, which made the start very easy, knowing that as soon as I turned him loose, the roller coaster had entered the tunnel.
Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, what is the soundtrack for this book?
For The Collectors it was Steely Dan. The write needed the complex, colorful and edgy jazz and heartbeat rhythms that the band loved to work with. While I didn’t listen closely, I did hear sparks of the caustic lyrics that can only encourage.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I rarely read fiction, but consume tons of nonfiction. I have a lifelong passionate love of fiction and consumed most of the best. The reason I decided years ago not to read fiction had to do with the influence on my voice and craft. I’m both careful and selective with what I allow to effect my writing of the Danser novels.
I surf every day after closing the office, needing to enjoy and experience real people in the real world. There’s so much to learn and be inspired by that isn’t available in imagination on its own.
“Not for the faint of any kind. The collector character is a proper nightmare, like something out of a Bond movie but ratcheted up…lean, mean and fun…in a dark and twisted way.”— Mia, NetGalley Reviewer
About the Author:
Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he is a student and researcher of historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s.