Interview with Gregory Grayson

An Interview with Gregory Grayson, author of Fireflight

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Neither, actually. That beast – which has existed in one form or another for the past twenty years – currently sits, ugly and unusable, in a dark corner of my files. I do have plans to try and resurrect it at some point, though I know the effort will involve scrapping 90% of what’s there and starting over. So, I’m going to procrastinate on that one for a good long while.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I am all about the percolating, whether it be my coffee, or my stories. All my ideas start rather small, just a single character, place, or event, nothing that would take up more than a couple sentences in my notebook. It sits there, waiting for me to be ready to hear what it has to say.

I wish I could easily pump out a novel a year (as I’m sure many of us do), but I need to exist in the space of my idea for a while, get a feel for everything going on. Then I can try and express it most effectively.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Well, as far as medium goes, I’m primarily a Scrivener user, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I’m not as much locked to one specific tool or environment, though. If I’m feeling the inspiration, or the opportunity for a good bit of writing comes up, and I’ve got nothing more than a crayon and napkin, I’ll make it work.

As for place, when I write, I’m in my head. I’m seeing what I’m thinking about; the desk space where I happen to be sitting doesn’t really register. I used to do a lot of writing on the bus, so I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning out the world. If distractions are a problem, headphones and an appropriate musical track do wonders.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I am extremely lucky to have an observant, astute, and upfront reader very close to me. Using family can be a tricky business; there’s often way much more emotion tied to the process than should be. Try picking a family member you have good arguments with.

I’ve used fellow writers in various groups I’ve belonged to over the years, and I can’t stress the importance of that, as well. You need to get to know the person helping you out before you can know if they’ll be truly helpful in your process. You need someone like you, but different.

It needs to be someone you can trust, someone who thinks as you do, at least on a level or two. Someone who can read your words and grasp what you were trying to express, or maybe even see things from a different perspective and interpretation. This is always a good thing; any element in your writing that sparks a conversation has hit the mark.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

The term “dusty old tome” is, to me, a beautiful one. The idea of an old book, wooden or leather-bound, with thick but brittle, yellowed pages, covered in intricate black calligraphy, likely scrawled by the gnarled hand of a wise old wizard, is intoxicating. I don’t have a favorite bookstore, though I am drawn more to the indie shops than a more traditional retail outlet.

That being said, I am an admitted eBook reader out of necessity. I’m usually flipping between at least a couple books for my current read, and of course I have to have the entire Wheel of Time series available 24×7 (you never know when you’ll need to dive back in there, am I right WOTers?). It gets nigh-impossible to cart all that around with you in print form, even paperback.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

Anyone who’s checked out my background knows I am a die-hard Robert Jordan fan. I started the series a year or two after Eye of the World came out, when I was around 15 or 16, and I haven’t looked back since. I love reading any kind of speculative fiction, the more unique perspective or imagination, the better. Both fantasy and sci fi are par for the course, but I’ll read any great story, no matter the medium. Gone Girl was a fantastic novel, for example.

Other authors I read rather heavily are Gaiman, King, Rice, Barker, Rowling, Collins, Butcher, and Salvatore.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What have you chosen to do?

I’m pretty much a one-man show, so all the social media content is a product of my brain. I don’t think anyone else is better equipped to represent me, so I take all the responsibility (and the blame).

I’m primarily on Facebook in terms of platform, though I do have my own site as well, and I do all my blog posts there. What I like about Facebook is, for good or ill, it gives you great immediate feedback. The tools and analytics available when you run a page are very good at scratching the itch of needing to know how you’re doing, what your exposure and reach are. We live in an age where authors and readers have an always-on, direct pipeline to each other, and it’s a wonderful thing.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

It’s a real challenge to come up with unique answers every time, and of course the temptation is always there to copy and paste. I do my best to express myself genuinely and as “in-the moment” as I can, channeling my current mental state into my words, and giving as much diverse info as I can.

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