Today we welcome author Mike Duran to the blog! Give him a hand, Spekkies!
1. How did you get into writing?
 That’s a very long story.

Here’s the thumbnail: I grew up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home and learned to escape through books, mostly of the fantastical variety. This sparked my own creativity and I often submerged myself in drawing and writing. In a way, it was therapeutic. After a troubled adolescence involving drugs and the occult, I bottomed out and surrendered to Christ. Eventually I entered the ministry and, among other things, used my creativity to explore different communicative forms, namely inductive preaching. But the ministry wore on me and the church I pastored inevitably disbanded. I kind of wandered spiritually for a while, not knowing where to apply my creative talents. I slowly returned to writing, first penning Letters to the Editor of local papers (one appeared in the L.A. Times) and then graduating to short stories and novel writing. I’ve only been writing “professionally” for about ten years, but I got a late start.

2. What are you most looking forward to at Realm Makers?

 Probably just hanging out with all the cool people. That was the big takeaway for me from last year’s conference. I met dozens of interesting, funny, intelligent, driven, unique people that I would have loved to just chat with for days. While I’m definitely looking forward to the workshop and the elective I’ll be leading, I’m probably most excited about chilling with other spec writers and conspiring ways to maximize our talents for God’s glory.
3. What draws you to speculative fiction?
A theme that constantly arises in my stories is the idea of the numinous, that just beyond the pale of the mundane and commonplace lies a world of wonder. There’s a story in the

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Bible (II Kings 6) about the time Elisha and his servant were surrounded by an enemy
army. While the servant was freaking out, Elisha was unusually calm. He prayed for God to open his servant’s eyes and when that happened, the servant saw that angelic chariots of fire were surrounding them. In a way, I think speculative fiction is the best genre to open our mind’s eye to the numinous, the Holy, the wondrous, to free us from the tyranny of a materialistic worldview and to transport the reader beyond the doldrums of the everyday.

4. Who is your favorite speculative fiction Hero(ine)?
 Odd Thomas, for sure. He’s something of an everyman, without spectacular superpowers (except for his sharp wit and self-effacing humor), determined to not lose his humanity in his struggle against Evil. A close second would be Hellboy. I mean, aren’t we all just devils who file down our horns to appear normal?
5. When did you know this was the field for you?
 Probably when I began getting acknowledged by my peers. I realize that a lot of writers could disagree on this, but being accepted and acknowledged by established authors, editors, and agents was huge for me. In the age of indie publishing, there’s almost a sense of snubbing our nose at the “Establishment.” I’m not one of them. Sure, trade publishers and industry insiders can be snobbish and narrow-minded. Nevertheless, I think it’s reasonable to seek affirmation from professionals.
6. Will you be dressing up for the conference’s Costume Dinner? 
 Oh, heck no. When I became a man, I put away childish things. 🙂
7. Coffee or Tea?
 Coffee. Strong.
8. What as your favorite TV show as a kid? What is it now?
 Twilight Zone. Now? Oddities on the Science Channel.
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Thanks for talking with us, Mike! We’re excited to hear from you at the conference!
mikeMike Duran is a novelist, blogger, and speaker, whose short stories, essays, and commentary have appeared in Relief Journal, Relevant Online, Bewildering Stories, Zombies magazine, Breakpoint, and other print and digital outlets. His latest novel, first in a paranoir series, is THE GHOST BOX (Blue Crescent Press, 2014),which was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Indie Stars of 2105. He’s also authored a non-fiction exploration on the intersection between the horror genre and evangelical fiction entitled CHRISTIAN HORROR (Blue Crescent Press May 2015). You can learn more about Mike Duran, his writing projects, cultural commentary, philosophical musings, and arcane interests, at www.mikeduran.com.
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