Welcome to the seventy-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with horror, sci-fi, adventure novelist Gary Towner. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello Gary. Can you please tell us how you came to be a writer.
Gary: Starting with a 1980 creative writing class at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, I have felt the need to write novels. I have studied under mentors John Tigges, Carolyn Banks, and many others. Also, I have completed a number of correspondence writing courses to better learn the craft. I loved the Allan Quartermain series and have written a number of adventure novels in an attempt at joining in all the fun. I’ve been writing unpublished works for over ten years, but now have a number of published, or soon to be published, works to my credit. Of course I continue working on a number of WIPs that will someday, hopefully, also find a home at Amazon and elsewhere in the book industry. A sample of my Johnny Walker series, slated to be published by Whiskey Creek Press and available in both paperback and ebook form soon, follows:
1) The Mbuji Juju is a romance/adventure story that takes place in Africa. If it were a movie, the log line would be: He forced her to accompany him on an adventure. Together they will rewrite history. WGA 971343 (88,430 words)
2) The Dead Still Walk is a psychological Thriller/Adventure story that ranges from the US to Guatemala to the Kukulcan pyramids of Mexico. A man’s past catches up to him. WGA 1325826 (83,429 words)
3) The 3-Legged Camel is an Adventure/Treasure hunt story that ranges from Somalia to Timbuktu to the sands of the Sahara. WGA 1346020 (91,130 words)
4) The Frozen Detaunt is an Adventure/Exploration story that ranges from icy Antarctica to the expanse of the previous USSR and ultimately to the lost city of Atlantis. WGA 1346693 (81,200 words)
My Horror/Sci-Fi paper back novel Pestilence, published by Small Dogma Publishing, is the tale of carnivorous insects that have mutated from ravenous grasshoppers-mostly due to toxic waste mingling with genetically altered crop seed. When the U.S. Army arrives, obstetrically to put down the menace, the farming community soon learn to their horror, they are under orders to exterminate more than mere insects. More prose on this and my above works are detailed at my website.
Morgen: You’ve mentioned a lot there, is there a genre that you generally write?
Gary: Pestilence, is a Horror/Sci-Fi novel, but Starting in November 2011 the first of four of my stand alone Adventure novels is slated to be published.
Morgen: You’ve also mentioned unpublished or soon-to-be-published, what have you had published to-date?
Gary: My paperback Pestilence is offered at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and Books a Million. An ebook version for the Kindle is available at Amazon.
Morgen: Ooh, not heard of ‘Books a Million’ before. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Gary: I have sent press releases and have joined several Linkedin groups.
Morgen: Ah press releases. You’re a step ahead of me as I went to a networking event all about PR so am yet to do those (although I have nothing to sell yet which would help :)). And LinkedIn is how we ‘met’. 🙂 Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Gary: My Pestilence has been nominated for the nominated for the Dan Poynter Global ebook Awards.
Morgen: Yay! Well done. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Gary: No. They are only interested in proven writers in the Stephen King class. Believe me I have considered having my name legally change to Stephen King, just to raise a few eyebrows.
Morgen: I know a Stephen King but as far as I know he doesn’t write. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Gary: Yes, and for the record, I love my Kindle.
Morgen: Another yay! My editor Rachel has one and loves it. I went for a generic brand so we have both test bases covered. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Gary: A few years ago… and yes it is still a kick.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Gary: My computer does have a ‘del’ button (although it is beginning to wear out).
Morgen: Oh dear. Mine doesn’t. It’s a Mac and the back arrow does the trick. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Gary: The Devil’s Crown, believe it or not, an Adventure novel.
Morgen: I do. 🙂 Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Gary: Not everyday. Not since I began getting involved in Promotion of my books. As to the most I’ve ever written in a day (I really don’t keep track), I guess it would be 2,000 words.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Gary: I am looking forward to my first block attack. I’ll keep you posted (if I can resist the urge to commit harikari).
Morgen: If you’ve not had one so far then you may be immune. 🙂 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Gary: Aw, Plot; that is the rub.
Morgen: 🙂 How do you create your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Gary: I rely on what characters the story I envision requires.
Morgen: That does make sense. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Gary: My beleaguered wife.
Morgen: Ah, don’t they have their uses. 🙂 Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Gary: I edit as I write, after I write, and then it’s off to people that know what they are doing.
Morgen: Two edits. That’s good going. I tend to do four (for novels anyway) and then the same, off to ‘she who does’. 🙂 What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Gary: I first jot down ten titles (anything that pops into my head). I pick the one that appeals most to me, and then I begin a story plan that focuses on the title. The writing is merely a simple variation of a theme, but research is an absolute requirement.
Morgen: Urgh, research. My least favourite chore. But I love your method (and hope it’s not copyright as I may use it – I do titles occasionally for my writing workshops, last night we all wrote ‘The crimson scarf’). Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Gary: A computer – hands down. But, I admit I may kill a tree or two working out the story kinks.
Morgen: I’m that way round too: computer first (where I can) then paper to edit (using both sides of the paper so I feel less guilty – then it gets shredded and sent off to recycling). What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
Gary: The song of silence. No talking (except to myself), no TV, and yea verily – no music!
Morgen: I can only write with classical on (or silence). I can’t have words distracting me, although I can at a push when I edit. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Gary: Third, mostly.
Morgen: It is the most favoured by “people that know what they are doing”. 🙂 Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Gary: Sometimes. I must admit I like to telegraph a story line beforehand, and at the end of the novel I like to wrap things up by tying a bow on how things worked out for the characters.
Morgen: That’s the thing that drives me mad about novels: too many bows. Probably why I’ve gone back to short stories. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Gary: Many. Many starts. We don’t like to speak disrespectful of the deservedly departed.
Morgen: Unless we’re really asked nicely. 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Gary: I love to being able to write “The End” on one of my works. It’s the in-between start and finish that I find so disagreeable.
Morgen: Yes, the start and finish are the easy bits (hence the term ‘saggy middle’). 🙂 If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Gary: That writing is easy; Promotion of one’s work is a back-breaker.
Morgen: Maybe you need a comfier chair. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Gary: Don’t (and I mean this), don’t you ever write thinking it’ll make you materialistically rich. If inner peace is your goal, proceed with caution.
Morgen: Too late for me. I’m hooked, lined and sinkered. What do you like to read?
Gary: The kind of stuff Clive Cussler writes.
Morgen: I’ve not read any of his but I know he’s very popular. My German friend loves anything along those lines. Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Gary: I use Google, with no apologies. I have few favorites, save Linkedin?
Morgen: I love Google and you’ll get no apologies from me either. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Gary: America. The jury is still out.
Morgen: 🙂 Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Gary: Only groups on Linkedin. The jury is still out.
Morgen: Maybe their hotel is too comfy. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Ah, the ‘snow-capped’ state. 🙂 What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Morgen: Oh no! 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Gary: Writing. Love it or leave it.
Morgen: Only one option for me. Do you have an excerpt you’d like included?
Gary: Colonel Pox casually lit another cigarette with his Zippo and let it dangle loosely from his lips. He took one step closer to where he could guide Castillo’s gun to where it pressed hard against his own forehead.
“Which brings us to my second question, Private. The Army spent months of precious time teaching you how to aim and shoot that piece. The Army, in its infinite wisdom, taught you there are only two times when you should take it out of its holster. One is to clean it. The other time is to shoot something. You have drawn your piece and it looks clean to me, soldier; Shoot if you’re going to. Shoot, damn it!”
Morgen: Oh my goodness! What happens? 🙂 And, to finish up, a biography or something else about you?
Here is what Floyd Largent, Professional Editor, has to say in his review:
“I’m always eager to read a new Gary Towner novel, because I know I can count on three things: an entertaining story: unrelenting action: and diamond-bright, three-dimensional characterization. His latest, Pestilence, is a perfect example. This gripping story is Sci-Fi horror at its best: a taut, cautionary tale of the evil that can erupt when scientific curiosity, corporate arrogance, and military ruthlessness collide in an arena with no ethical oversight. Be careful – if you read Pestilence, you might not merely be entertained. You might actually learn something… and you just might wake up worried in the middle of the night.”
Morgen: Cool, thanks Gary.
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