In exactly two months, a sizable group of speculative writers with a Christian worldview will gather in Villanova, PA, for the fifth annual Realm Makers Conference. For the past month, here at Spec Faith I’ve been spotlighting some of the faculty who will hold workshops at the conference this year. Today’s featured presenter is Mike Duran, an author who has created a significant platform through his blog, Decompose. His penchant for raising controversial subjects has spilled over to his Facebook page as well.
Mike is a hybrid author, having published his first two novels with a traditional Christian publisher (Resurrection and The Telling, Strang), and his last two books as an independent (The Ghost Box and Christian Horror), with another (Saint Death) soon to be released. He also published a digital novella, Winterland, and a collection of short stories entitled Subterranea.
Mike identifies closely with the horror genre. In fact, he’s addressed this topic in previous years at Realm Makers, has a guest post here at Spec Faith on the subject, and has a nonfiction book—Christian Horror—that explores the topic.
This year he will teach a continuing session on “The Theology Of Speculative Fiction” and an elective on “The Crossover Christian Novelist.”
Because of his past experience as a pastor, Mike’s role as a speaker and teacher is a natural fit. His interest in things on the dark side seems to grow from his experience as well. In an interview with Spec Faith’s Mark Carver two years ago, Mike described his growing up years:
Well, I grew up in a dysfunctional Catholic home. This was during the Vietnam War era and the Sixties counter-cultural revolution. So there was a lot going on socially and personally. My father was an alcoholic, my mother an enabler. I survived Catholic school only to get ensnared in drugs and occult experimentation. After a grueling existential quest, I returned to the faith, bloody but wise. (Emphasis added)
Some of Mike’s favorite authors and those who inspired him also show an inclination toward dark fiction:
I immersed myself in the fantastical: Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, Marvel Comics, and Weird Tales. In a way, I still derive inspiration from writers of speculative fiction. Dean Koontz, Tosca Lee, Neal Gaiman, and Robert McCammon are some of my recent faves. (Interview at Author Culture)
More recently Mike identified three writers who have influenced him:
I’m a huge fan of G.K. Chesterton. His stuff is really dense and philosophical. But Chesterton is also wonderfully humorous and witty. I’ve always appreciated his ability to illuminate something complex with a simple image or turn of the phrase. Also, I’m a big fan of Arthur Machen. His style was more Gothic; he embraced a belief that the ordinary world hid a more mysterious world beneath it and a lot of his stories have this creeping sense of horror or transcendence. Then there’s Lovecraft, whose melodramatic language and rather bombastic imagery is something I quite enjoy. (Interview with Mark Carver)
This “mysterious word beneath” seems to be the draw that has Mike interested in horror fiction. He notes particularly that the horror genre
has always trafficked in moral and religious themes. Good and evil, life and death, angels and devils, heaven and hell, human nature and depravity. These themes are staples of the horror genre. They also happen to be intrinsic parts of a biblical worldview. Which is why the genre of horror actually creeps into Christian fiction so often, although it’s not called that. Nevertheless, there is a certain compatibility between biblical themes and classic horror. (ItchyFish Interview)
Mike lives in southern California with his wife, Lisa, who he married in 1980. They have four adult children. Currently he works full time in construction and moonlights as an author.
To learn more about Mike and his writing, you can connect with him in a variety of ways:
Mike’s next book, Saint Death, is due to release July 5.