Author Lincoln Farish has served in the United States Army for a total of 28 years, and during that time, he has been deployed to Iraq and Afganistan five times. His experiences in the Middle East formed the basis for his first novel, Junior Inquisitor, a dark urban tale of good versus evil in a modern setting. The protagonist of Junior Inquisitor, a monk named Sebastian, is sent on a mission to fight through armies of witches, werewolves and ogres in an effort to track down a missing Inquisitor in the city of Providence, Rhode Island. It is a mission that threatens not only Sebastian’s life, but also his immortal soul.
As a result of his time with the Army, Farish has a wealth of knowledge related to weaponry, forensics and small team dynamics, and his writing gravitates towards darker themes due to his belief that, in times of despair, individuals either rise to the occasion or allow their inherent weakness to drag them into the darkness. Junior Inquisitor will be released on March 1st, and a sequel will be published in the fall of 2015.
To learn more about Farish and his writing, follow him on Twitter.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
My childhood was fairly normal. Grew up in New England, Missouri, and Florida. Dad was a Biologist, specializing in entomology, insects, so he could identify every creepy critter I found and then tell me something about them. I knew more about spiders than any three kids in my school. That shaped me to also study biology, genetics specifically, when I went to college and then graduate school. My parents also instilled in me my love of reading. I was reading at a college level when I was a freshman in high school.
What made you decide to join the Army?
I was very lucky; in St Petersburg, Florida there is a private military academy called Admiral Farragut Academy. That’s where I went to high school, but it was very demanding. When I graduated, I needed a change from academics; I ended up taking a four-year break. When I finished my enlistment with active duty, I joined the National Guard and then the Reserves.
How has your time in the Army shaped you and your outlook on life?
While I’m still spontaneous, when I plan to do something I plan. Going to other countries and seeing how bad life can really be, I also have a much greater appreciation of how good we have it here in the U.S. While I try to always be pleasant, I don’t back down from bullies. I learned a lot about interpersonal communication, how people react in stressful situations, and the good and bad that can be found in people.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
Far too many to list. I read a lot, and a very wide, diverse range of books and papers. I take from them ideas, concepts, how things work or do not.
Silver as a bane of witches is an old concept, but I first read about it from Robert E. Howard’s series Conan when I was in middle school.
Reading on managerial theories and practices is why I decided to keep the government out of the magic business. No bureaucracy will ever admit that they are incapable of handling a problem. If they did that, people might ask questions like “Why are we paying taxes?” Government being in on it in a clandestine way also has problems. You can’t expect there to be a shadowy government organization that is battling the forces of darkness without being exposed.
If a government can’t handle a problem they can work very hard to make sure they turn a blind eye and no one talks about it. So I made it that there was a secret war and both sides were working hard to prevent being noticed, and government ignored the problem.
What inspired the story of Junior Inquisitor?
It came by asking myself the question, “What would happen if people suddenly were able to do magic?” Answering that yielded more questions. Where would this ability come from, would it uplift the human spirit, or bring out our worst impulses? Then, if they were bad, who would stop them? If all magic users were good, I have a Happiest Elf kids story, which for me would be dull. I could have made witches and warlocks both good and evil, but that’s been done. So I went with evil. From that, everything kind of sprang forth. How would someone who is evil and very powerful act? What kinds of spells and energies would they have, how would they get more power, how would they act towards each other and regular people? Everyone who’s evil needs some minions, so what would they have and how would they get them? I ended up with this very dark tale about a group of monks who were waging a guerrilla war on evil made manifest.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing Junior Inquisitor?
At first? Ego. Writing is work, and most people are not proficient when they start their first job, they learn mastery over time and they work at becoming better. It’s hard to admit that this story you spent weeks of work on is flawed. That there are scenes that don’t work, concepts that start off fine but end up taking the reader down a literary rabbit hole, that dialog is stilted, or that there is way to much telling. I had some excellent, but brutal beta readers. When I fixed their concerns, I saw what I had was better. Then I hired an editor; again, lots of red. Again, the finished product was much better than the original. Revisions are absolutely necessary, and were, at first, a real blow to the ego. After all, I’d been writing papers and short stories for decades, and then to see my creation ripped to shreds? Now I’m much more sanguine, and it’s my slow typing speed that holds me back.
How has the story featured in the Junior Inquisitor series changed and evolved since you first started writing about Sebastian?
Sebastian started off very unsure of himself and grief-stricken over the death of his wife. Over time, his confidence grows and his wife torments him. Any more and I’ll be giving away story lines of upcoming books.
What does your writing environment look like?
Usually a bit messy and cluttered. I try to keep a notepad to jot down questions, things to look up and research rather than stop the flow and do it right then. The big thing for me is avoiding distractions, so I like to be somewhere relatively quiet.
What’s the story behind your most prominent scar?
I was run over by a car when I was in high school. I was riding my bike, heading over to a girl’s house, car didn’t see me, got a nice ambulance ride and a bunch of stiches. While it is mostly faded now, you can still see some scars on my forehead.
If you could change one thing about the world or society, what would it be?
Semantic trap. There is no way to change one thing with out there being second and third order effects, which usually cause more problems that the original issue.
What’s the best war movie ever made?
Very difficult question, as there have been some well done ones over the years. By well done, I mean ones with a good story and that are at least plausible, if not authentic and accurate, which gets rid of the entire Rambo series and most anything done by Chuck Norris. Bummer. Those are fun to watch. The best series is obviously Band of Brothers. Being a Civil Affairs officer, I am a huge fan of Monuments Men, but I think the one I enjoy most, and is the closest to “real life,” is Heartbreak Ridge with Clint Eastwood.