The Story Behind Empire of Light by Gregory Earls

During my first trip to Europe, I kept a small travel blog. It was actually more of a daily email, sent at the end of my day to select friends and family, which detailed the cool crazy things that had happened to me that day. My plan was to hit Paris, Rome and Naples and track down Caravaggio paintings, sketch them and write about the adventure. I went by myself, thinking none of my friends would want to sit in a church for an hour sketching a painting. However, I was shocked at how good a time I had!

I have a good friend, a 20th Century Fox colleague, who got up each morning hoping to find an email from me about my trip. She got so hooked that upon my return she demanded that I should turn it into a book. I thought it was a great idea. However, a travel blog didn’t interest me. I love fiction! So I used my travel emails as a jumping off point and I just blew it up into a full fledge fantasy.

I had just begun sending out inquiries to publishers and agents, relying heavily on the advice of my friend, Stacey, who is a published author. I lucked up because it was around that time that Stacey launched her own small press, Simon & Fig. She took a chance on me and my novel, Empire Of Light. I hope it pays off for the company soon!

My first day at the American Film Institute a 2nd year Fellow told me that the only people who make it in the film industry are the ones who have to make it. It’s not necessarily the most talented or the smartest, but the ones that hang in there until they get it right.

I don’t feel like it’s my place yet to give any authors advice, because I’m a newbie and I’m still trying to figure this all out. However, that advice of that 2nd year Fellow seems to transcend occupation. I do believe that everyone has at least one good novel in them.

About Gregory Earls

When Gregory Earls isn’t eating at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, he pays the bills by taking up space at 20th Century Fox in the Feature Post Production Department. He’s a proud graduate of Norfolk State University and the American Film Institute, where he studied cinematography. He’s an award-winning director who has amassed a reel of short films, music videos, and (yes) a wedding video or two. Steadfastly butchering the Italian language since 2002, he hopes to someday master the language just enough to inform his in-laws how much he loves their daughter, Stefania, who was born and raised in Milan, Italy. Gregory currently resides in Venice, California where he goes giddy every time he spots that dude who roller skates and plays the electric guitar at the same time. During football season, he can be found at the Stovepiper Lounge, a Cleveland Browns bar in the Valley where he roots for the greatest football team in the history of Cleveland.

Visit his website at


About Empire of Light

Jason Tisse is in over his head. As a young black cinematography student at LA’s notoriously tough American Film Institute, he’s got the vision, but not the balls to battle the ruthlessness that is Hollywood. After a failed year at AFI, which includes nearly electrocuting a fellow classmate, Jason embarks on a trip to Europe to hunt down the works of his favorite painter. Armed with an enchanted camera gifted to him by an eccentric film professor, Jason is prepared to master the art of light and shadow as depicted in the infamous baroque artwork of the original Emperor of Light known to the rest of the world as Caravaggio.

What Jason doesn’t expect, however, is that the innocent-looking Kodak Brownie camera he’s been given holds remarkable powers, capable of miraculously bringing his idol’s artwork alive with each snapshot. Caravaggio’s work, packed full of sex, religion, violence and some outrageous hilarity, explodes to life and sends Jason spiraling from one escapade to the next. Spanning the bright lights of Paris, the grand churches of Rome and the cutthroat alleys of Naples, Jason must overcome his inhibitions—even at the risk of life and limb—if he is to one day rule his own Empire of Light.


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