Behind the book: Luke Gracias

Today at Behind the Book we have Luke Gracias the author of The Devil's Prayer.

Luke Gracias was born in Mumbai. He works in the field of Environmental Engineering since migrating to Australia in 1992. He also has love for films & runs a small company – Instinct India which produces infomercials and corporate videos. It has also produced the Australian shoot of the Bollywood movie “Singh is King”. An avid photographer, he traveled to Europe & documented the 13th century conspiracy between the Mongols and the Papal Inquisition which is the main backdrop of this story.

P.S : Don't miss checking out his website to see the various real life locations ( as shown below) that inspired  the author to write about them in his book.

Let's join him as he tells us what all it takes to write such an amazing book!

1. Welcome to Reviews & Musings. We would like to know what inspired you to write your book "The Devil's Prayer."

A friend approached me to write a low budget film script. Horror is well suited to low budget and I thought it would be great to create a Da Vinci Code version of The Omen. There was a lot of interest in the film script but unfortunately the funding fell over and I decided to convert the script into a novel.

2. How was your experience in getting it published? Any particular incident you might want to share (good or bad)

I self-published. I was not sure that there would be interest from any publishing houses and did not wish to delay the release of the book. It was important to me to choose an editor who would believe in my story and yet be brutal with edits. I was lucky to find a very good editor and publishing firm in Australian ebook Publishers who undertook all the publishing related tasks for me, on contract. With both the film script and the book, I had people who either loved it or hated it. Paradoxically, that was what gave me the confidence that I had a story to tell. You want a book that polarizes people, a book that gets their adrenaline pumping for or against the protagonists and their quest. You want a book that fires people up. If you are going to write a controversial book, it is just as important to find someone who hates your book to review it as well. They will find plot holes you never considered and you will realize that there are segments in your book which need to be strengthened.

3. Given that your book has religion as its theme largely, was there any kind of apprehension you might have noticed in publishers because of this, despite it being a well written book? If yes, what are your views on it? Are they justified in their reactions?

Yes for sure, but there was more apprehension about the rape and brutality. The religious content of the book largely draws from unexplained historical facts that are pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle to trace the tale of The Devil's Prayer.

A publisher is looking for whether they can sell a book and also whether they would generate bad publicity from one book, which could impact their brand image. The bigger issue for this book has been genre. Publishers tend to specialize in genres. The book is a mix of three genres – horror, historical fiction and mystery & thriller. No, I don’t think you can judge a publisher for not wanting to publish your book. It may not be for them. Having said that, I only approached one publisher through a friend and they evaluated the first 60 pages only and suggested it was more suitable as an eBook. I preferred to self-publish the eBook as then I had control over the timelines.

4. From a chick flick horror script to a book – the journey of The Devil's Prayer has been very interesting. What made you bring this out as a book?

The film script had attracted significant interest from the backyard AUD $75,000 script we wanted to shoot to a $4.4 million funded project in just six months. Unfortunately, the funding partners could not agree on some key creative issues and it fell over around early 2015. I hate unfinished projects. I knew I could fund the publishing and printing of a book on my own and so I decided to write the book.

5. How was the process of converting a script into a book?

Perhaps the first thing I realized is that I was no longer writing to a budget. It costs the same in a book to crash a Ferrari as it does to crash a cheap car.

The conversion also resulted in a fair bit of double work. I thought a book should have minimal dialogue and so I converted all the dialogue into third person. My editor thought otherwise so most of it went right back in as the original dialogue.

The original script ended at the end of Part 2 of the book. As a book, it made more sense to progress the story further. Further, in a script you avoid exposition in your dialogue or telling the reader what they can see for themselves on the screen. In a book, you need to work around this and put some of it back in without slowing down the story.

6.What is that one thing that you would want the reader to take back from this book?

I have worked for twenty years as an Environmental Specialist. The basic premise of inter-generational equity is that we bequeath to the next generation a world better than the one we inherited from our parents. I believe our generation has broken this chain and we are leaving a world behind where one day all crime will be justified in the name of survival. The truth behind the environmental segment is the greatest horror story of all.

7.Please share with our readers, your future projects. Do we see you experimenting with genres?

I have another film script which is a romantic comedy that I am planning to convert to a book. It is a difficult decision for there is one consistent message from reviewers and the few fans I have managed to attract thus far: 'Can't wait for the sequel!’ And yes,  I have started to write it.

8. Tell us about a writer you deeply admire and why.

David Seltzer. His book The Omen was the key inspiration for this book and had a large impact on my life. We all fear Evil, but Good does not exist without it. There is no darkness without light.

9. How does it feel to finally see such good feedback on your book? Was it expected, given the initial reactions to your movie script?

I am humbled by the reactions to the book. In today’s world, readers are very time-poor; the biggest challenge is getting someone to pick up a book by a debut self-published author and read it. I am very grateful that a few people initially picked it up and read it and then through reviews, blog posts and word of mouth, it has been read by increasingly more people.

10. How different is the writer Luke from the real Luke?

Very. I hate horror. I cannot sleep at night if I read a horror book or see a horror film. I chose to face my demons whilst writing this book.

11. Any words of wisdom for all aspiring authors?

Don't be discouraged if someone hates your book. It is the balance of life, if there are people out there who love your book, there must be others who will hate it. If they think it is just Ok, that's when you have a problem.

Encourage your critic to crystallize their problems with your plot and story and often you will find that many things which were in your head never made it to the page. A critic may find holes in your plot you never considered and these need to be fixed or your great drive gets ruined by one flat tire somewhere in the middle of nowhere, due to one unfortunate pothole.

Any book needs to entertain, educate and empower. Always ask one question of every piece of constructive criticism. Does this make my book better and if it does then you must find a way to address it. If it does not, you discard it.


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