Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview with Christopher Gray

Today I am interviewing a fellow author by the name of Christopher Gray (or C.M Gray), author of Shadowland; a tale that attempts to answer the mysteries surrounding the origins behind Merlin, Arthur and the Knights of the round table.

Tell me a little about yourself.
Image of C.M.GrayHi Stephen, well thanks for the opportunity to talk about myself and my books. I’m an Englishman living just outside Barcelona in Spain. I’ve spent the last twenty plus years living all over the world, with longer stays in Hong Kong, India, Israel, The Philippines, Holland and France. I’ve always sought out interesting locations and have a taste of adventure that has got me into trouble on more than one occasion. I think a lot of the experiences I’ve had and the locations I’ve been in find a way into my writing. I have a love of Aikido, which I practised since I was a teen, anything in the great outdoors like walking and sailing, and playing guitar rather badly! My working life has encompassed everything from the restoration of church organs, building work to raising finances for a reforestation company.

What made you want to become a writer?
Two things made me want to become a writer. Firstly, I have always loved to read. I devour books in a very short time and read everything from fantasy to spirituality, the only genre I dislike is romance. I always heard the saying that ‘we all have a book within us’ and wondered what ‘my’ book would be like. The second thing that got me writing was The X-Factor. I took a distinct dislike to the whole concept just as my wife was rapidly becoming addicted to it, I fled the room and started tapping on my laptop. Thank you Mr Cowell because writing turned out to be a lot more fun than watching you!

If you had to do an 'elevator pitch' for Shadowland, what would you say?

Shadowland is an untold story, the birth of a legend. We all know the story of Arthur and his Knights, but what came before? Who was Merlin? Who were the druids and where did the sword Excalibur come from? The word shadowland refers to the time of the dark ages, where little has come down to us in written form. My book Shadowland weaves the little known history that has filtered down, like the names of certain people and places we know existed, with the ‘possible’ story of Uther’s rise to power. Shadowland also refers to the space between life and death....a realm that is explored in my tale.

What motivated you to begin writing?
Thanks to X-Factor, when I began tapping on the keys of my laptop I found writing a book was even better than reading one! My imagination could go into overload, steering the story into directions I hadn’t seen coming (SH: I concur!) and, of course, I hope you won’t see coming! Writing is a blast, editing drives me nuts! When I was younger I loved computer role play games like the Heroes of Might and Magic series, well to me writing is like reading a great book but being able to control the characters as you do when playing a computer game, which is simply marvellous!

What would you like your readers to gain from reading your book?
I hope that anyone reading my books is entertained and is able to lose themselves in the story. I base a lot of Shadowland on what little fact there is of the dark ages, so I also hope I can give people a small window into what it was to live in those times.

What tips would you give for an aspiring Indie writer?
Relax, have fun, take an idea and see where it leads you rather than trying to structure everything from the first. I personally can’t write from a structured ‘idea.’ Also, read as much of your chosen genre as you can and do it all for the love of writing, not any great belief that you will make money. It’s very possible to make a living as a writer but if it does happen it won’t happen quickly. There are a lot of people writing out there, probably a lot more than you think.

What would you advise against doing as an aspiring writer?
ShadowlandI would advise against either intentionally or unintentionally copying any basic idea or concept. After the Harry Potter books came out I know a lot of people wrote ‘School of wizardry’ type books only to be shocked when publishers and agents rejected them. I’ve recently been reading the excellent Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, don’t be tempted to write anything where kids are pitted against kids in the next X-factor, sing or die games!

What aspects do you think require professional services to get the best out of your book?
Publishers and Agents can rocket your book into success, but it’s not easy to stand out from the slush pile of manuscripts these people receive every day. Try for an agent but be prepared to go it alone. The best advice I can give is find a good editor who not only does a good job finding all your mistakes (a writer becomes blind to typos, even obvious ones after a while), but also likes what you’re writing. I am now lucky enough to have found a really good editor to work with, but I’ve been through a few before I found her. Don’t ever believe for one moment that you can do a final edit on your own work.

Are there any other projects that you can tell us about?
The other book that will soon be ready is called The Flight of the Griffin. It’s pure epic fantasy and tells the story of five orphans living on a boat called The Griffin. One of them, Pardigan, is a little ... light fingered, he is a thief. He robs a rich merchant and because one of the items is a magical book, the crew of the Griffin gets drawn into a quest to stop the world tipping over into chaos. They travel all over a fantasy land, from storm lashed Islands to desert cities and all pursued by an evil hunter named Mathius Hawk, employed by the merchant to catch them, and a host of demons intent on driving the world to the brink of destruction.

The Flight of the Griffin, like Shadowland, will be available in eBook format and paperback at Amazon, Smashwords and lulu.

I would like to thank Chris for taking a moment to stop by my little slice of internet and wish him all the success - it looks like he could be onto a winner!