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Jul 10

Interview w/ C.M. Gray, Author of "The Flight of the Griffin"

Title: The Flight of the Griffin
Author: C.M. Gray
Publisher: Indy
Release Date: April 16th 2012
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Adventure
Length:  244 pages
Source: Author
Buy:
Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Smashwords | Lulu (Print)

Living in their old boat ‘The Griffin’ five young characters become the unlikely heroes at the end of time when a burglary sets them on the path to finish the ‘Last great Spell’ – a spell to stop the balance of the World tipping into Chaos…

They become the Magician, Thief, Priest and Fighter when a magical book guides them upon a quest that pits them against magic, demons and ‘The Hawk,’ an evil hunter of men.

Join a race against time to find three crystal skulls that must be brought together, while all the forces of Chaos try everything to stop them!

Please welcome YA Fantasy Author C.M. Gray!
Make sure to stop by Thursday to read my thoughts on The Flight of the Griffin 😉

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Where were you born and where do you now call home?

Hi. Well I was born in Essex, England but I haven’t lived there for over twenty years. Home is now a house with my family in the forest just outside Barcelona Spain. I love where I’m living. I’m lucky to be close to the city but surrounded by nature with only the wild boar as neighbours. Between Barcelona and Essex I’ve lived in France, Holland, Hong Kong and the Philippines. As the Grateful Dead once said, ‘It’s been a long strange trip!’

What or who inspired you to write? And how long have you been writing?

I was inspired to write mainly because I always loved to read. I remember reading my first John Steinbeck novel, Cannery Row and being awed by such an incredible ability. I think reading Steinbeck is quite humbling for a writer but also very inspiring. Also, before I had kids I had ‘free’ time so I loved playing role play games on my computer. What I eventually worked out was that writing is a lot like reading but you have some level of control of the characters; much the same as when playing a really good role play game!

I’ve been writing for about ten years and now have two books completed and published as indie releases on Amazon and Smashwords as ebooks, and Lulu as a paperback. They are, The Flight of the Griffin and Shadowland.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I guess I thought of myself as a writer the first time I managed to type ‘The End’ on the final page of my first manuscript. Getting through a first draft and being happy with the final ending was a major milestone. I’m sure I didn’t realise at the time how far finishing a first draft is from having a finished manuscript. Unfortunately, right now I am still not selling enough books to support myself as a writer, so maybe I’m not really a writer yet … but I think my latest book The Flight of the Griffin is going to help me change all that for the better, I’m really pleased with it and the response I’m getting from early readers and reviewers is awesome:)

So The Flight of the Griffin is your most recent book, if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

An awesome YA/Adult fantasy adventure that propels readers along on a magical quest, pursued by Demons, an angry merchant and an evil hunter named Matheus Hawk – Its Magical!

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

If my characters were let loose on our modern world they would shudder, as many of us do, at the crazy nature of man as we’re still driven towards a world of chaos. I think the crew of The Griffin would get on their boat and disappear onto the high seas to escape before saying anything. However, Matheus Hawk, their evil hunter and Bartholomew Bask, the greedy merchant, would be delighted and enter politics immediately soon becoming Euro MP’s!

What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?

The main protagonist in The Flight of the Griffin would be Pardigan. He is twelve years old and is a thief. He dislikes adults and thinks we’re all crazy (smart kid!) He would be very wary of me should we meet, but I think I could win him over if we went fishing and I explained that I also think most adults are bonkers.

Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?

My Story starts with Pardigan entering the bedroom of a sleeping merchant, Bartholomew Bask and Pardigan stealing the contents of the merchant’s safe-box. Bartholomew then spends the rest of the book pursuing Pardigan and the crew. Bartholomew is loud, rude and extremely opinionated, if anyone is chattering in my ear when I’m writing it’s him!

Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?

I don’t have any characters making like bunnies, but I do have a character that can make like an owl, a cat and a black panther when the mood takes her!

On the whole, my characters do what they do; I just follow their adventures and mishaps and report on what’s happening. Bartholomew Bask does try to take things into his own hands and control everything all the time but the others soon bring him to line.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Well, nobody taught me how to put a story together, in fact I was rubbish at school so I need a lot of editing (*grins*). I’ve read a lot of books in my time and have always heard that ‘we all have a book or two inside us,’ I decided to give it a try. I recently read an article about how it should be done; how to plan a story, set it out, know how it will start, a few high points to hit in the middle and know how it will end … but I don’t do any of that. I guess I do it all wrong!

My writing style is just to write … I start with a first line that pleases me and see where it takes me. The story starts out from there and often changes several times as it goes on. (That sounds awful but its true!) As for the end, I have no idea where a story is going to end and usually can’t wait to see what happens myself. Sometimes I type so fast it’s almost illegible on the first draft, but when things are kicking off I just have to let the story flow out, to see myself what is happening and how it will end.

My first book, Shadowland, is about Uther Pendragon, father to Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, but it wasn’t when I started and only took that shape several chapters in. I was as surprised as most of my readers when my protagonist turned out to be Uther!

How did you come up with the title?

For Shadowland it was easy, it describes the time the book is set, in the dark ages, and also that one of the characters walks the land between life and death, the shadowland.

For The Flight of the Griffin, telling how I came to the title would be giving away a big secret in the book, one I want you to find out as you read. Let me just say that their boat The Griffin, is a pretty cool boat!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Not a message that I deliberately set out to send, but I suppose there are three main messages. The old classic of good will always find a way to triumph over evil, and then that any decision you make in life should be a conscious decision, you shouldn’t let others make major decisions for you. And finally that we should never set out to judge others…but then they all sounds a bit boring so no, no message at all!

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?

The Flight of the Griffin is a stand alone book, yet it is also part of a trilogy and there will be four books in the series (Pardigan, the main protagonist, did the math). The Flight of the Griffin, the first book has a definite end, it doesn’t leave you standing or guessing, but I like my characters and didn’t want to leave them there so I’m almost finished with book two in the series, which has the working title of Chaos Storm.

How did you come up with the cover design?

I know it’s soooo important to have a great cover. That readers won’t look at what is inside or read the back cover blurb unless the front cover draws them in…but I really wanted to produce my own cover and not get someone else to do it, so I did it. It’s my book and the cover is a big deal, I hope I didn’t mess up too bad. I produced three covers and asked a whole bunch of people which to go with (which makes it their fault if its the wrong choice doesn’t it?) I did some sketches took some pictures and … well, I like it!

Where do you see yourself in five (5) years?

In five years I see myself selling thousands of books every day, writing my 7th or 8th book and happily sipping mojito’s on my new yacht. We will all be celebrating world peace, an end to global warming and my lottery ticket will…well, did I mention I’m an eternal optimist?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Well to be honest, as I have two wonderful children, I’m delighted to be living in Spain. The Spanish love kids and are very welcoming and forgiving of children. If you eat out in a restaurant in Spain, the children can run around and nobody complains. I know if we tried to do the same back in the UK or Holland, where my wife is from, then we would find a very different reception; children should be seen and not heard!

If I didn’t have children I would probably be living in Asia or possibly Africa somewhere. Somewhere chilled, maybe a higher position on the coast overlooking a sparkling bay where I can dive and play with mermaids:)

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

Nope. I’m not big on celebrity and would avoid most celebs of any kind. If, however, I just happened to find myself next to J.K.Rowling in a bar, I may accidently tip a drink into her lap, apologise profusely, and leave with a small smirk on my face…well, its not fare is it:)

On a slightly kinder note…I would quite like to chat to Terry Pratchett as he must have a crazy kind of mind and I would probably just stand blabbering incoherently if ever I bumped into Bernard Cornwall or Manda Scott…so it’s best I just keep to myself then, eh? When I’m dead I shall meet up with John Steinbeck in the shadowland, go fishing, drink whiskey and constantly tell him he was the greatest writer that ever lived.

What books have most influenced your writing most and why?

Oh, so many books. As you can see from my answer above I love the books of Bernard Cornwall and Manda Scott, books that weave a story around historical events. I tried to do much the same with my book Shadowland, its story of Uther Pendragon. I also love reading YA books, yes I know I’m an old geezer but YA tends to have some really good writers playing around. I love the books of Phillip Pullman, Alan Garner, Neil Gaiman and most recently Suzanne Collins. I’m also trying to support fellow indie authors and I’m fast getting into several indie writers like Jaq Hawkins and Rod Tyson.

Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?

Love them all, but…hardcover is too heavy to read properly and ebooks don’t smell nice, so paperbacks please! Both my books are available as paperbacks from lulu .com.

Are you a self published (Indie) Author or big trad published?

I am so self published it isn’t funny. I went through a huge scene a couple of years ago between an agent I had and two big publishing houses (I wont say who but one sounds like a flightless bird in the Antarctic and the other is a very…random dwelling, hmmm:) my agent kept telling me they were making bids and asking for film rights and I was getting very excited, but then they both stepped right back confusing the hell out of me. I am now happy to be self published and in charge of my own destiny…bit like the crew of The Griffin!

What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

I will complete the Griffin series and then I am looking to go back to something with a little more historical background. I think I’ll look to the Victorian age or possibly something around world war two, not sure but it will probably be YA…but no romance, no vampires and no zombies I’m afraid.

How do you market/promote your books?

It’s tough for an indie. We’re still like the lepers of the publishing world. Sure, there are a lot of really bad indie books out there but there are some fantastic writers as well. On Amazon, we’re all shoved into a forum called ‘Meet our Authors’ its the only place I can tell the Amazon book buying world that I have a great story that has been professionally edited and that I’m almost giving it away!

I’m also a member of Goodreads which is a fantastic website where readers and authors are able to get on like civilised humans for the most part, which is nice. I also look to work with the most fantastic of book blogs, only the very best mind, such as yours (oily grin:) trying to get some readers, a review or two and the chance to prattle on endlessly about how my books are so fantastic and cry out to be read.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?

Obviously a good unique story that flows well, drawing the reader along entertaining all the way, and secondly a really great editor. I am now acquainted with a simply fantastic editor named Caro from carocaro editing (Hi Caro!) Thirdly, to get a real bestseller you need huge amounts of readers so please, anyone reading this, please download The Flight of the Griffin and help pay for the Mojitos!

Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?

Fortunately, I’ve never actually suffered from writer’s block. I think my mind is far too active to worry about that. If I ever did suffer I would avoid drinking heavily which is the immediate thought of some in that position but would try putting on a backpack and disappearing into some strange unpronounceable country with a less than active dictator and…well, drinking heavily, I should think:)

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole writing experience for The Flight of the Griffin, but I think I most enjoyed writing the chapter I’ve called ‘The Isle of Skulls.’ In their search for a crystal skull the crew navigate The Griffin through a storm, climb a treacherous cliff and enter an old abandoned academy. During their visit they wake a magician that has been asleep a thousand years and confront their first demon. During this chapter I get to be very descriptive of the Island and draw them through a very harrowing experience.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best component?

I think the toughest criticism I have seen would be the criticism aimed at every indie author on the Amazon forums. People there delight in scrambling for the free books we have to offer to build up a reader base, but then chastise us collectively if we ever raise our heads. They forget that even the worst indie author has spent months or years struggling to put their best efforts into a book and I think that effort should garner just a little respect or at least not warrant being treated so rudely. An author puts themselves up to be knocked down, so if a book isn’t edited or it’s just bad, then people are able to leave a bad review, and they should, it’s a lesson for the author.

The best component has been all the positive feedback from readers telling me how much they love my books. It’s thrilling to get a great review especially when someone is so enthusiastic. Read the reviews for The Flight of the Griffin and you will see what I mean!

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I have practised a martial art called Aikido for many many (I’m 48 so…) many years. I love it and now even more so because my eleven year old son Dylan now practices as well. It’s not aggressive like many arts and is full of movement, circles and spirals. I also play guitar and sing…however, you don’t really want to listen as I’m not that good but I enjoy it! I also love to go fishing and, when I get the chance, to travel to interesting places.

Have you ever read a book more than once?

All the Steinbeck books several times but other than those, no. I used to finish any book that I started but now if a book doesn’t grab me by half way I dump it; life is to short! I would have to be a pretty awesome book to read more than once. I have of course read The Flight of the Griffin about fifty times…does that count?

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?

No, never. I love to watch a good movie but I have never preferred the movie to the book as it’s someone else’s imagination you follow when watching the movie. With a good book you get to use your own imagination, how can a director compete with that?

What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/ paperback/ hardcover)?

In paperback I am about to start The Winter King by Bernard Cornwall and in ebook format, I’m almost finished The Orphan Stone by Indie author Rod Tyson, which is one creepy YA story that I can highly recommend!

Are there any new Authors that have seized your interest and why?

As I already mentioned, both Rod Tyson and Jaq Hawkins are great Indie writers. I like them because they both have very original ideas for their books. You won’t read a book by either of them and think, ‘this is just like….’ As far as newly discovered mainstream writers, I recently read the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne and loved them. I wish I had come up with the notion of a modern druid, living in his own bookshop selling tea with a talking dog as a partner…great stuff!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The only advice I can think of is enjoy, don’t stress out! You aren’t going to get rich quick. You aren’t going to gain hundreds of fans overnight, it’s going to be hard work so you may as well just enjoy the process of writing, do it for yourself. For anyone contemplating trying to write a book, I say go for it, you never know what’s going to come out. We all have a book or two inside us, it may be rubbish, or you may have me trying to tip a drink into your lap because you’re so darn successful!

What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?

Get an editor…and then, get a better editor!

Do you write under a pen name?

I write under my initials, C.M.Gray because I don’t like the look of Chris Gray or Christopher Gray on the front cover.

What are your pet peeves?

People on the Amazon forums moaning about authors. Agents and publishers. Drinks with small paper umbrellas, sparkling fireworks and fruit in.

Cats or dogs?

I have two dogs, brother and sister called Molly and Kipper. They’re Catalan Sheepdogs just four months old and, although incredible destructive, they’re also adorable awwwww:)

White wine or red?

Spanish red from Ribero del Duero, however I’ll settle for a fine white Chablis any day. See how easy I am?

Coffee or tea?

I like both. I’m a Brit so drink large amounts of British tea but I’m also really into the Nespresso coffee machines. Not a big fan of Nestle as I think they’re corporate bullies, but unfortunately they make great coffee without having to wait for it to brew, genius.

Favourite food?

Curry. I love Indian curry and Thai curry, anything spicy. I spent seven months traveling around India as a travel bum when I was a lot younger and never lost the taste for hot spicy food! I’m vegetarian so Indian food is a perfect fit for that. Despite being able to get meat in Indian restaurants outside of India, you will find most real Indian food is vegetarian.

Mmm . . . I so agree. Nothing better than Indian curry (and I’m vegetarian too, lol)
Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

Can I pick coconut ice cream? Or green tea ice cream that I get from the local sushi bar? Love the taste of anything with coconut…apart from suntan cream obviously or those drinks with small paper umbrellas and sparkling fireworks.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?

Clothes, very important. Sunglasses, because I live in Spain and it doesn’t rain as much as in the UK…ermmm My iphone with music or an audio book playing and … and… don’t know, give up…

How about money? Or maybe keys? LOL
Laptop or desktop for writing?

Laptop of the pc variety. Can’t get on with Mac’s even though I love their phones.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

Maybe its because I have kids, maybe its because I don’t really like to watch tv, but I like to write late into the night when everyone’s asleep. I’m an early riser but I don’t write in the morning, I’m a writing owl I guess.

If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?

Bear Grylls; that guy that can find food anywhere and start a fire with two sea shells and a coconut. Ray Lamontagne; to play guitar and sing with while Bear is off spearing fish and maybe Anna Ivanovic the rather attractive tennis player to errrr play tennis with? Bear and Ray can play with themselves at this point:)

One of your favourite quotes –

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. – J.K.Rowling (Sorry about the drink J.K)

List 3 of your all time favourite books?

  • Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  • Boudica (Dreaming the Eagle – Manda Scott
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

List 3 of your all time favourite movies?

  • Betty Blue (37.2 Le Matins)
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Flight of the Griffin (yet to be made but it will be a good one!)

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?

Wilfred, the show where Elija Wood can see a guy in a dog suite but the rest of the world just sees a dog, hilerious!

I was born in Essex, England but I haven’t lived there for over twenty years. Home is now a house with my family in the forest just outside Barcelona Spain. I love where I’m living. I’m lucky to be close to the city but surrounded by nature with only the wild boar as neighbours. Between Barcelona and Essex I’ve lived in France, Holland, Hong Kong and the Philippines. As the Grateful Dead once said, ‘It’s been a long strange trip!

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About the author

Mistress Anya

Áine P Massie is originally from Florida, she now lives in Wisconsin where she works on her House Millar series full time while raising four children (the term herding cats comes to mind). Her major in College was Childhood Education (specializing in ages 0-5) with a minor study in Deaf Culture/ASL. She is also a Wiccan priestess dedicated to the gods, family, and love.

Áine is a proud member of the Rom-Critters and a life-long reader. Áine has always had a particular fascination with vampires, mythology, and the unusual. When she can escape from her children and books, she enjoys . . . oh yes, reading, playing, ritual, a good cappuccino, and working with her healing stones.

Her first published work came in high school where she was part of a writing and drama group. But, she’s been reading the likes of Shakespeare and Poe since late elementary school and enjoys most forms of fiction.

4 comments

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  1. Daryl Devore

    Fascinating interview.

  2. Melissa Limoges

    Very awesome questions and answers, you two. I enjoyed reading the interview! 🙂 Wishing you tons of success with your current and future releases, Chris.

  3. C.M.Gray

    Thanks so much for the chance to woffle on, I had a great time!
    Chris

  4. Rod Tyson

    Loved reading that! Great interview 🙂 – Wishing Chris all the very best for the future, well done!

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