Friday, December 27, 2013

Straight From the Mouth of 'The Flight of the Griffin' C.M. Gray

Born in England, C.M. Gray spent most of his youth growing up in the Essex countryside. A beautiful part of England, close to the Suffolk border, but he was born with the need to expand his horizons, so as soon as he could get a passport at the age of just seventeen he packed a backpack and went exploring!

A slightly risky decision, and one his parents were not too taken with, yet a number of years later he is still traveling…. but with a slightly larger bag. Over the years, C.M.Gray has been lucky enough to live and travel in many many parts of the world, met some incredible people and experienced some amazing places. In fact, he has now lived for more years outside of England than he ever spent living there – It is, after all, a very big and exciting world!

During his journey he worked and trained as a carpenter and a house restorer… picked more types of fruit over the years than he knew existed – from grapes in France to avocados in Israel. After living in Israel for a year, he was lucky enough to be invited to travel with the Bedouin in the Sanai desert for several months and then moved on travelled around India and then called a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayan Mountains home. A short while later he had changed tact, bought a suit and did a stint as a stock broker in the clamor of central Hong Kong.

To celebrate the millennium he traveled back to Europe, then found and restored an old farmhouse in deep rural Burgundy, France… but then looked to the open road and spent an number of years in Amsterdam… but the winters were cold so he went south again in search of the sun.

Always vowing to return and sink some roots back in English soil… he hasn’t quite got there yet, but maybe someday, it seems there are just too many interesting places out there to see first! He does, however, live a little closer to England now, just outside of Barcelona in Northern Spain, in the middle of the forest with his dogs and two wonderful children, he claims the Pyrenean mountains and forests of northern Spain are a great place to write and let his mind do the traveling.

As you will have noticed, his writing is mostly fantasy and he says that many of his experiences in Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East come to life in his writing. He has seen and done some pretty strange things on his travels, and bumped into some amazing characters, so writing fantasy is almost like writing fact for him… you just wouldn’t believe it if he presented it as fact – there are people and things out there in this world of ours that would simply amaze you!

His latest book is the mystery/thriller The Flight of the  Griffin.

To explore his life and writing more, please visit his webpage and blog at

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I wanted to be an author because my brain was in danger of melting and turning to soup if I didn’t start writing and quite watching so much television!
Seriously, I was coming home, slumping down and channel surfing for hours on end without knowing what I was watching, it was insane! (Hello, are reading this think I’m talking about you????? Aaahhhhh so many of us do this!) My escape was kicking my brain into gear and letting my imagination flow into my stories! The television had to go! I sat at a blank computer screen and wracked my brains for a good opening line…

The floorboard creaked under the sole of his felt boot - a calculated risk whenever entering a sleeping man's room uninvited. 

After that line the story just gushed out, sorry that sounds a bit gross, but it did! The Flight of the Griffin was born!

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

It’s awesome! Writing for me is like watching a good film, reading a great book and playing the best computer game all wrapped up into one! I get to relax and let my mind flow and create insane situations, pushing and pulling my characters all over the place and watching how they react. I then get to look after them when evil is lurking in the margins waiting to pounce. I have no idea how other writers work, but I have no plan when I’m writing so I’m as shocked, amazed and delighted as my readers when things happen!

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

Well, it’s a tough old world out there in publishing land. At first I went the traditional route and managed to get a good London agent (I’m an Englishman living Barcelona Spain which is another long story) and she soon had The Flight of the Griffin in an auction between two of the large publishers that were vying for US rights, then European rights and film rights etc etc. Can you imagine how exciting and amazing that was? I had myself down as the next J.K.Rowling and was already picking out which railway station I should write my next chapter in! But then after a couple of months it all kind of blew up, which was confusing and made me upset with the whole publishing world for a while, so I sacked the agent and self-published. 

Being in command of my own destiny is going great so far, it really is. I’m selling more and more books and building up my writer’s platform with a webpage, Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as a strong presence on Goodreads of course, all of which are necessary regardless if a writer is self-published or has gone the traditional route. I’m learning a lot, gathering fans and writing what I want to write, so I’m happy. Would I go traditional if approached? Well I would certainly be happy to discuss it! And if Steven Spielberg is looking for a great book to make into a film, then The Flight of the Griffin is still up for grabs… but I did promise the part of Mahra to my eight year old daughter… sorry but a promise is a promise.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry (e.g. rejections, the long wait, etc.)

Well apart from blowing me out of the water as I just mentioned, I think the toughest part is how the publishing industry is protecting itself by constantly whispering into Amazon’s ears, pushing the self-published authors aside as much as they can… can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening. When self-published authors did a giveaway for several thousand eBooks a year or two ago, they were rewarded by going up in the Amazon rankings and selling a whole bunch of books in the following weeks, these days giving books away doesn’t seem to lead to ongoing sales, so I don’t give books away anymore, you will all have to pay! (But they’re really cheap and worth the money, honest!)

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

My family is very supportive. My two kids are my greatest fans, which is wonderful and the way it should be. I recently published the sequel to The Flight of the Griffin, it’s called Chaos Storm, but having read it, they’re already hassling me to write the third and final book in the trilogy! 

My writing and editing is all done late at night when they sleep so they don’t see me write or edit or fume and scream. I live in a house in the woods just outside Barcelona in Spain with the wild boar as my only neighbors. They crash about through the trees all around sending my dogs potty, but it’s a great place to write.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

Well at the risk of repeating myself, it was being so close to what I thought was going to be a huge deal. Two publishing houses, apparently, trying to get the rights for The Flight of the Griffin. When they started asking about film rights I was bugging out, imagining my name in bright lights at premiers all over the world. I was casting friends and family (remember my daughter as Mahra?) in the movie and thinking up the music score. It was a really crazy time, but I came down to earth and now I write really for my own pleasure and amusement. I do get a huge kick out of the fact that so many people also relate to my crazy imagination and love my books so please keep the emails and reviews coming.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

Nobody is listening to this right? In actual fact…. The social network thing confuses the hell out of me! I have a twitter account with about a thousand followers… reading what? Little messages of just 140 letters…. and you can’t say ‘Buy my book’ because that’s just waaaaaaay too gross to mention, right? And Facebook, I have that too, whole bunch of followers, but what’s it all about? All those little messages and pictures, nice… but…. I can’t keep yelling BUY MY BOOK… because people don’t like that for some reason. I’m working on it, honestly, but it’s just all far too strange for me. I like my website/blog… so go see my website/blog, you can read the first chapters to all my books, read about me and see what makes me tick, but please be warned I do use more than 140 letters at a time!

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

One month I do great and another month the sales drop right off. To any aspiring authors – writing doesn’t make you much money! A few people make fortunes, but there is a whoooooole bunch of us that do it for the pure joy and fun of just telling stories and hope…just hope…. that one day we will sell loads of books. I do promo days where I drop the price, but I don’t give eBooks away for free anymore. I think giving eBooks away free is building a dangerous culture of Kindle owners believing they shouldn’t have to pay for books. I love the Blog tour I’m currently doing with Dorothy at ‘Pump up your Book’ talking on different blogs and meeting readers, it’s great. I sell enough books to keep me smiling, but I’m not quitting the day job yet!

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

Just one thing? That’s just too difficult to trim the list down to just one thing! I mean, do I scream about Global warming? I don’t think too many people can scream about the insanity of polluting our planet, but no. How about our lack of competent leadership in any of the world governments? Naaaahhhh boring. I know, I shall rant about the one thing that bugs me most, the stupid ‘Multi touch key pad’ on my Lenovo laptop. Who the hell designs a laptop with a…  ‘Multi touch key pad’ that is clearly haunted by some insane demon that hates writers? Every time I touch it strange things happen all over the screen, windows come up, apps burst to life and the chapter I’ve been working on disappear! I love my Lenovo, but the ‘Multi touch key pad’ is *%+$*&*$£*

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

Chamomile tea, are you sure? Can I just have a nice glass of red wine and … no wait…. 

Make that a Mojito, we’re on the beach and I’m feeling much calmer now. I love writing. I’m not sure what I would do if I couldn’t write and spill out the stories that are bubbling away inside me. I love the whole process and yes, of course, I love getting the feedback from people who have really enjoyed one of my books.

I’m pushed into the YA genre because I don’t write steamy sordid love stories or depict any violent scenes too graphically… I also feel little need to have my characters use profanity… but probably more than half my readers are adults, so I guess I write YA stories for young adults of all ages!

Oh, you are sooooo going to love my books!

No comments: