Greg Byrne’s latest book is a supernatural thriller called Nine Planets. Byrne is a late bloomer who began writing as soon as he was introduced to crayons, but was published only recently. He spends his time teaching English as a Second Language to overseas adults and Bachelor of Education units to undergraduate teachers, and consulting with primary schools and ESL colleges about teaching grammar.
His next book is a YA thriller series, followed by an epic fantasy tetralogy. In his ‘spare’ time, he loves history, languages, science, travel, movies, books and sport.
Link to Amazon
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
It was never a case of wanting to be an author. I just grew up with words and stories and languages filling up the spaces in my head with colour and light and mystery. Apart from teaching, which was rather hardcoded into my DNA from birth (both parents were teachers), I never really thought of doing anything else. Teaching pays and delights. Writing delights but pays far less.
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?
Being an author is wonderful and being a published author is one step better. The perks are that I get to turn all the exciting stories in my head into real books. That’s an exciting and quite fabulous journey all of itself. I get to make imaginary things real, to subcreate (in Tolkien and Lewis’ words) characters and places and events. How fantastic is that? Even better than that is to have readers who enjoy these stories. I recently heard from a reader who understood some of the clues in Nine Planets and was delighted. Demands? None really except for deadlines and editors.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
Traditional. I considered the self-published route, but the reactions of bookstore owners were less than favourable, so I was thrilled when Dragonwell took me on. I’ve done a lot of the local work myself in getting Nine Planets into bookstores, so that is similar to what a self-published author would have to do, but that has been half the fun.
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 understands, for which I am VERY grateful. As long as Dad and husband balances writing with family relationships and duties, all is well. Even when deadlines loom and the door is shut, they have been very gracious. When the first copy of Nine Planets arrived at my door, they all gathered around, celebrated with me and shared their photos on facebook. That was a wonderful moment.
This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
Ah. We had Daisy many years ago when I was writing Nine Planets, a fantastic family dog who loved us as much as we loved her. Part of my job was to take Daisy for a walk, so we often went down to the local (rather large!) park where Daisy would run and I would muse over the latest chapter, scene, character or plot problem. Daisy had her exercise and I was able to turn my writing brain off and allow my imagination some unfettered wandering time. There’s something almost miraculous in the way that open air
This is for plant lovers. If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?
Gardening is therapy. There is something in the physical act of planting, digging, fertilizing and watering that strips away worry, routine, bills and stresses and re-engages the creative soul. I love my garden. Yes, it is still alive and we enjoy home grown herbs on our dinner most nights.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
Life continues as it will and the world makes its demands as it always has; I just have to cope. I just knew that when I returned to the keyboard, the characters would be waiting. I would go back three or so pages, re-read, bring myself up to speed, start again and keep writing until the next interruption or I had to go to bed. Oh, I don’t cook. My darling wife cooks and I do the dishes afterwards.
What was the craziest or most insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
None of the publishing process was unusual, but writing the book itself was seriously crazy. I recall staring at the screen many times wondering who on earth it was who thought up this almost surreal story. Writing query letters was insanely difficult because summarising the story and working out short punchy taglines was almost impossible. The most amazing part of the whole process, though, was the initial inspiration. I can remember the exact place and time as well as the trigger that started the whole thing. Out of a clear blue sky, with no warning whatsoever, the novel landed almost fully formed in my head in an incandescent ten minute period a week before Christmas several years ago. I immediately abandoned the novel that had so completely consumed me for decades and started on Nine Planets immediately. That was the craziest and most insane thing, without doubt.
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I use Twitter and Facebook. I’m still working out how to condense stuff into Twitterian simplicity, but Facebook has been a fantastic way to tell others about Nine Planets.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
Hard work. Lots of social media shameless self-publicity as well as talking to bookstore owners, newspaper journalists, radio hosts and just about everyone else. I don’t expect book sales, especially for a debut novelist, to be terrible exciting at first, but I do expect that Nine Planets will go out into the world and tell its own story in time (it certainly has got a wonderful story to tell!).
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
Two things. After decades of trying, getting that contract in the post was a matter of dreams, the other side of fantastic. I didn’t run down the street screaming, waving the contract above my head, with my dressing gown flapping, but I got pretty close.
The second thing was getting a REAL. PRINTED. copy of the book in my hands. With an ISBN and everything. On PAPER. It is hard to say just how amazing it was to see all my years of late night work, all the amazing characters and their stories, all my imagination made REAL. A book to hold. For others to read. That thrill is still undiminished. It’s the wonder of subcreation, of making intangible thought into a real paper book. There’s something miraculous about that.
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?
I think I already have! J Writing is making. Human as I am, writing is a dim, shadowed glimpse into the mind of God.