Sunday, 23 September 2012

Author Interview: C.M. Gray

What is your name and where do you live now?
I write as C.M.Gray and my name is Chris... which, with the 50 shades series so popular,
gets some...interesting comments these days!

I’m English but I have been living just outside Barcelona Spain for a number of years.
I’m just thirty minutes from the city but live in the middle of the forest with only wild
boar and rabbits as neighbours, I love it here.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve never really knew what I wanted ‘to be’ when I was growing up. I told my parents
that all I wanted to do was travel and I’ve done just that, travelling and living al over the
world. What I now think I’ve been doing is gaining loads of material to write about,
scenes to put in my books and meeting characters to develop for my stories. I’ve worked
as a carpenter, fruit picker, dive instructor and even a stockbroker for a little while, now
I just love to write.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it what would you say?
My latest book is The Flight of the Griffin, it is a YA fantasy adventure that follows the
quest of four youngsters and their guide who live on a boat called The Griffin as they
try to stop the world from tipping into chaos. It’s been getting great reviews, especially
on smashwords after this summer’s giveaway. There is magic, demons and evil hunters
involved and takes readers on a real roller-coaster ride.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I’m not a speedy writer and constantly have to go back and correct because I type so
fast; when the story starts flowing I can’t get it out quick enough! I then need to go back
and try and put it all in some kind of legible state! Thank goodness I now have a great
editor who takes my final draft and rounds up all the rogue commas and hyphens for
me; so to answer your question, not quick, it takes me over a year to complete a book.

Do you have plans for a new book?
I’m almost finished with a sequel to The Flight of the Griffin, it should be completed
and edited by the new year. At the moment, it has a working title of Chaos Storm,
but that may change when it’s published. The Flight of the Griffin is actually a stand
alone story, but I enjoyed the characters so much and got so many requests for a
sequel that I just had to write it, I’m glad I did.

What genre would you place your books into?
The Flight of the Griffin is YA Fantasy, but my first book Shadowland is more
historical fantasy as it is the story of Uther Pendragon, father to Arthur of the
round table and magical sword Excalibur. I class my books as Young Adult but
I get a lot of adult readers who love them as well.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I think that it just fell into the YA category because I don’t write any, what I consider,
unnecessary violence and as they are not romance books there isn’t any sex. Also, my
characters don’t swear, not because I’m a prude but I just don’t see the necessity;
all of that makes them suitable for middle grade to teens but as I mentioned, adults love

And fantasy, well that’s just because I like a sprinkling of ‘strange’ or magical in my

Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
Love them both but of course as I’m right into the sequel to The Flight of the Griffin
I really do like that book best... for now!

Do you have a favourite character from your books? Why are they your favourite?
The Flight of the Griffin has a character named Pardigan. I enjoy writing his parts
because he is a law unto himself... literally as he is a thief. Also if anything can go
wrong it usually does for Pardigan but he sticks up for himself well, I think you’ll
like him.

Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
I mentioned that I’ve travelled all over the world so I can paint a great scene from
a Moroccan bazaar or Indian village and make it into a scene in my story. So a lot
of the scenes come from experience. In my first book, Shadowland, there is a scene
where one of my characters comes across a woman giving birth in the middle of the
forest. She has some friends with her but they are all clueless as how to help, I loved
writing that scene and drew a lot of it from the experience of being there for my own
children’s births... not in a forest but it helped!

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I need to be alone, which is tough as I have two kids and two dogs and life in the
forest isn’t always peaceful! So I mainly write at night or in stolen moments if I’m
editing. I still haven’t found the perfect desk and chair. I’ve experimented with
numerous rooms and parts of my house and garden but I’m still searching!

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I write a first line that intrigues me and then look to see where it goes. After a
couple of chapters I have a pretty good idea of what I‘m writing about and
then by about mid-way through the book I have a title in mind. Saying that,
my sequel is Chaos Storm at the moment, but I have a strong feeling it will
change... not sure to what yet...

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Names are tough. I’ve started reading a number of books and stopped only
because the names are so horrible, especially in fantasy books. I use the internet,
name generators, old reference books and baby names books, but it takes a long
time to get what I’m happy with. I try to make them as normal as possible without
them being unintelligible. The Flight of the Griffin has Pardigan, Loras, Tarent
and Quint as the crew of The Griffin, Mahra is their guide and Bartholomew Bask
and Matheus Hawk are the protagonists.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as
you go along?
As I write, the character speaks to me and comes alive on their own, I just
encourage this allowing the character to emerge as strongly as possible.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
My first book was up and being auctioned between two large publishing houses
and my agent at the time was coming back to me asking about US rights and
European rights, film rights etc. It was a very exciting time. Then it all dropped for
no reason that I could find out, they just both walked away. It was around the time
of Harry Potter so it may have been there was too much fantasy out there? No idea,
but I stopped writing for nearly four years. One day I’ll go back and pick that book
up again but the disappointment blocked me for a while.

Is there a certain author that influenced you in writing?
I have always read loads but the only author that really totally blew my socks off is,
or was, John Steinbeck, but my books are nothing like his; I just admire the way he
wrote without ever putting a word out of place.

What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck which I’ve read at least three times,
but I’m also just starting Boudica (Dreaming The Eagle) by Manda Scott
for the second time, I love her writing.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie
I have to say I am a Harry Potter fan, they went to film well. Of course
The Lord of the Rings was fantastic, I’ve read that book several times as well
and despite disliking Elijah Wood in the film I thought Peter Jackson did a
fantastic job. If any film directors are reading this then my books would make
woooooonderful films!

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or
I do read some ebooks but I’m old fashioned and do prefer the smell and
feel of a real paperback. Hardbacks are too heavy, so give me a paperback
every time (mine are available on )

I’m reading Boudica a the moment but have several Indie books going on my
Kindle. Rod Tyson and Jaq Hawkins are my favourite Indie writers at the moment;
I think they will both go far.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Not a chance. They don’t smell so good.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Enjoy the writing process. Don’t flog yourself to go faster. Be as unique as possible,
nobody wants to read a ‘just like’ book. Get your manuscript edited several times,
even after you think it is perfect the first reviews will point out all the typos!


You can purchase Shadowland on AmazonLulu and Smashwords.
Flight of the Griffin is also available from Amazon, Lulu and Smashwords

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