Its Author Interview Thursday and I have some bad, good and great news. The bad news is that this will be the last Author Interview Thursday I do for a while. The good news is that I’ll be back in September with more awesome author interviews. The great news is that we have a very, very special guest on the hot seat whose going to close out this season in style.
Earlier this year at the London Book Fair, I had a chat with best-selling Cozy Mystery writer Stephanie Bond who assured me that one did not need to have a judicial, criminal or law enforcement background to write mystery books. If you can write a story she said, then you can write in any genre. This was very liberating for me as I’ve always liked Mystery/Crime thrillers but never felt I had the chops to execute. With Stephanie’s words ringing in my ears, I started devouring Mystery thrillers like an unemployed circus elephant at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Sometime in April, I came across this book – Girl Jacked while looking through the Mystery category on Amazon. The cover caught my eye and hinted at a story I wanted to know more about. I downloaded it and I wasn’t disappointed. That book now has more than 300 reviews on Amazon and you can read my review about it here. I just had to get to know the author behind it. I started following him on Twitter. Then I discovered him on Facebook and sent him a friend request which he accepted. The second book in his Jack Stratton Mystery series was recently in the Top 50 on the Amazon store. In the little time I’ve gotten to know him, I have been inspired by his generosity, humor and strong work ethic. I see big things on the horizon for him and I’m truly honoured he’s chosen to be my special guest today. Please buckle your seat belts for what’s going to be an epic ride and let’s welcome Christopher Greyson.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and something most people don’t know about Christopher Greyson?
I have a bit of an eclectic background. I grew up watching old Elvis movies where Elvis was always 5 different things and a singer. I think I tried to emulate that. I have degrees in computer science and communications. I’m an actor, I have my own video production company, I’m a martial artist, and I’m a writer. I love learning new things.
As far as something most people don’t know about me… I fed a Siberian Tiger by hand. That was a really cool experience.
I actually just blogged about my first review! When I first published Girl Jacked, I was so excited waiting to get my first review, I kept checking Amazon using my phone. Finally, I saw that I had gotten my first review. I closed my eyes and prayed that it was a good one. With trembling hands, my fingers clutched my phone and I read:
“This book is a quick read with characters that suck”
WHAT!?!? NO!!! I was so devastated I just stood there and read the words over and over again. “Characters that suck.” “SUCK.”
Well, I set my jaw, straightened up and decided to read the rest of the review. In any endeavor, you need to have thick skin and I was determined to read on and see what this person thought. I clicked on the review and saw the WHOLE review:
“This book is a quick read with characters that suck you in.”
WHAT!?!?! My phone cut the sentence off. YEAH!!! SUCK YOU IN. The reviewer said SUCK YOU IN not just SUCK. YEAH!!!! Stupid smart phone!
Honestly, for a first review it was at first a kick in the head. I’m human. I hurt, bleed and cry. It’s funny how quickly I jumped on the oh-no-we’re-screwed train. I wanted to share the story to encourage you to not punch that ticket.
The other lesson I learned from my first review? God has a sense of humour… I laughed like crazy once I started breathing again and I laugh every time I think of it.
Well, my Mother is an Artist and being raised in that kind of environment, gave me a firm basis in a lot of different mediums. I used those skills and started a graphics company so designing the covers were an extension of that.
I approach covers from an artistic angle and my wife, who is also a writer, comes at them from the practical side— like can you read them. Together, we do a great job because you really need both. You need a cover that catches the eye but lets the reader know what you have to offer. I feel the cover is very important to the success of a book and if you keep those two things in mind, you can’t go wrong.
You have currently published three books in the ‘Jack Stratton’ series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it?
I didn’t start out with a series in mind. It all started with Jack. I come at writing from a story-tellers perspective. I start with the character, Jack. Who is he? It seems like such a simple question but it’s not. No one is simple. Everyone is complex and that is what makes each and every person special and have their own story. I don’t look at it like creating Jack’s story. I’m retelling it. I pictured Jack. I knew I wanted him to be a cop and a soldier. From there his history just took off. The troubled childhood, Aunt Haddie’s etc… Once his back-story was done, I set him down in his apartment and just watched what happened. It’s the reason I love writing this series. Jack and Replacement just pop for me. Once I put them in the situation, I sit back and write about HOW they react.
LOVE. You need to care about any story. If you don’t care about something it means nothing to you. That’s why I want people to LOVE the characters. I want you to LOVE Michelle and desperately want to find her too. I want people to LOVE Replacement and if I do that… then you care about the crime. If you love Jack, you’ll die if you don’t find out the mystery. (I might have taken that a little too far with the ‘die’ but you get my point.)
On top of that, sprinkle: A dash of Humour, a pinch of Romance, add a cup of Action and bake at 750 degrees and serve smoking hot!
I think one of the major factors that makes your books such a success is the dialogue. What in your opinion makes great dialogue?
People will tell you to only include dialogue that is pertinent to the story and cut everything else out and I say pfffftttt. (That’s the universal sound of a raspberry!) Do you know what you get when you cut all of the fat off of a nice cut of beef? A dry hunk of meat. Fat adds juices to the steak. Pour on the butter and keep it real!
Again I come from an actor’s background so I just try to keep it real. What do people really say? How do they sound? If you don’t know, go listen to people! Really listen. Care for them. Put yourself in their shoes.
What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?
- Writing for writing’s sake! – Don’t try to fill your word count or add some plot point. Focus on the character.
- Not saying it out loud. – Does anyone talk like that? Put it through the sound test? Have someone else say it.
- Not acting it out. – Pretend. Be the character for a minute. Go into the closet and shout – scream – cry – be flat – be full but be!
The Seven Samurai. I don’t speak Japanese but dialogue isn’t just the spoken word. It’s communication. Faces. Gestures. Everything. On top of that, Toshiro Mifune just rocks.
What have you found to be a great way to market your books in such a competitive genre filled with established and well-known authors?
Write more books. Seriously. I had Girl Jacked and it was very, very hard to get out there. The more books you have, the more flags you can raise.
Say ‘hi!’ There are so many writers out there! You aren’t alone. Connect. Go to Goodreads. Check out blogs. Konrath and Howey have some wonderful resources. Will Wilson of the Indie Book Show is another great resource. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/indiebooks.
Breaking Bad or Homeland?
Replacement finds these three magic beans… Just kidding! Actually, we pick up only a couple of months after Jacks are Wild. Jack is no longer on the police force and that’s a challenge for him. Another adjustment is with his and Replacement’s relationship. They are living together, in separate bedrooms, but now they’re dating. As with anything to do with Replacement—it gets complicated.
Added into that mix is a new case. Replacement gets involved in finding the owner of a lost dog. You’ll also get to learn about Replacement’s back story but I better slow down….
What should a first time visitor to your home town do?
Run! Sorry, I’m kidding. I grew up in a wonderful town on the New England coast. The first place they should go is World’s End. Mostly because of the name. It sounds like a place where there is an adventure just waiting to happen!
How can readers connect with you?
www.ChristopherGreyson.Com. I plan in the next coming months to add free content including side stories and vignettes involving the characters from the series. On my website, you can sign-up for my mailing list and receive periodic updates and new book release dates.
Keep at it and don’t listen to anyone! That’s a hard one. I’m a firm believer in advice and counsel but everyone needs to make up their own mind. A wise man listens to counsel but there are a lot of people who will try to drag you down. Their reasons can be different. I have met some real jerks who just want to knock you down because they’re jerks but sometimes, well meaning people can pull you under too.
So… fight. Listen to people but not too much! Elvis was told he couldn’t sing. There was a review of “The Wizard of OZ” that called it a ‘cute little film with no lasting power!’ HA! HA!
Fight. Pray. Fight some more. Dare to dream and dream BIG!
Thanks for being with us today Chris. That was such a wonderful way to end the interview. If there’s one thing I truly grasp from listening to you, it’s that your success has been no fluke. You’ve worked hard to get where you’re at and I know big things are coming your way.
Chris and I would love to hear any questions or comments you may have. I’d also encourage everyone to hop on to Chris’ website at www.ChristopherGreyson.Com and sign up to his newsletter. You can grab a copy of one or all of Chris’ books by clicking the link below