About C.M. Gray
C.M.Gray's writing is mostly fantasy and many of the experiences he has had in Asia, Africa and the middle east come to life in his writing. The Flight of the Griffin, a finalist in The Times/Chicken House literary competition 2013, follows the adventures of a group of young friends as they battle demons and bandits on a magical quest to stop the world from tipping into Chaos. Shadowland blends fantasy with history as an old story teller takes his audience back to Britain's dark ages and the birth of the Arthurian legend.
Q&A With C.M. Gray
Hi Merrie I am delighted to be interviewed today on your wonderful website, I appreciate the opportunity to chat with you!
What is your favorite part of writing fantasy?
I love to write fantasy because it allows my extremely active imagination free reign to come up with whatever it wants! In my mind, a story that isn’t at least a little fantastical is a story only half imagined.
I don’t write to any plan, I just write a few lines and see where it is going to take me and then move on from there. I often feel that I am just a passenger of my imagination, sitting way in the back of my mind watching what happens and being entertained by my characters, this process is my favourite part of writing, and when its fantasy, who knows where it will go!
What books most inspired you to become a writer?
As a fantasy writer I have to mention Tolkien, the father and creator of the genre. I read The Hobbit numerous times, and of course the whole Lord of the Rings saga. But it was the books of David Gemmel that really caught my imagination with his well-imagined fantasy worlds and then ultimately it was the amazing writing of John Steinbeck, a non-fantasy author, who gave me the desire to sit down and try to write. When I read Steinbeck, I was in awe of his ability to create the perfect sentence and set the perfect scene.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
The hardest part of the writing process is firstly finding the time to sit down and actually write, because like many I lead a somewhat hectic life and also have children to taxi and care for! However, when I have sat down to work, I think the hardest part for me is the constant repetitious editing that needs to be done and usually leaves me blind to many mistakes and typos after a while. Once I am done with a project and I think it as close to faultless as I can get it, I pass it on to my editor, at this stage I’ve usually read the book at least thirty times… yet she still finds plenty of mistakes for me to mull over and correct!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have three books published so far in two separate series. The first is, so far, two books of a trilogy, these are ‘The Flight of the Griffin’ and its sequel ‘Chaos Storm’ The third book in this series will be ready by the end of 2016.
The other series is an Arthurian legend. It’s actually the story of Uther Pendragon, the father of Arthur Pendragon. This series is of course historical fantasy, but it is still fantasy because it has shape changers and has plenty of Druids including Merlin, and those Druids were pretty fantastical people! The first book in the series is titled ‘Shadowland’ it has gained a wonderful following of readers and so far it has received 213 reviews on Amazon, which of course I’m delighted with. I am just finishing the sequel, which is titled ‘The Shadow of a King’. I’m sure that any reader who enjoyed Shadowland is going to love the sequel! It will be available end of 2015 and I can’t wait to hear what readers think.
The best advice I can give aspiring writers, is to firstly enjoy the process of writing. Don’t set yourself goals that will be hard to meet. I would hate to ‘have’ to write 5,000 or even 2,000 words a day. I think its fine to go days or even weeks without writing a single word, just as long as when you do get to write you enjoy the experience.
Secondly, and just as importantly, when you have finished and completely edited the book to your satisfaction, please, please pay for a professional editor. A good one will find loads of typos and mistakes that you just didn’t see and often come up with plot suggestions if they know you well. If you don’t get an editor (and no not that friend of your mothers who is really good at this kind of thing) then the first few reviews you get will be scathing, pointing every tiny imperfection, because you are going to find that there are an awful lot of readers out there who just will not tolerate a tiny infraction, they expect you to produce perfection, so try not to disappoint!
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I don’t have much interest in famous people just for the fact that they are famous, but two people I would genuinely have liked to meet are J.R.R.Tolkien, because he would have been amazing to talk to. I would also love to meet William Shatner. Possibly an unexpected choice, but I was and still am a huge Star Trek fan and I’m pretty sure Mr. Shatner is as mad as a balloon, which I think would make for some great conversations!
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
I love to hear from readers and always try to write back. Please go and check out my blog, where you can also read the first chapters of all my books - http://author-cmgray.com
What is your favorite fantasy book or character?
I’m currently reading ‘The Skull Throne’ by Peter V.Brett the fourth book in his demon cycle series and love the whole idea of demons rising as the sun goes down. The character of Arlan Bales is intoxicating!
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I cook a pretty mean curry and after a few glasses of wine will thrash the guitar and wail out a song or two… many wouldn’t necessarily see this as a talent however!
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your writing?
I have read from an early age devouring book after book. I read spiritual books, cooking books, fantasy books and the classics…. Just about anything really. I have also been lucky enough to have travelled extensively. I currently live in Barcelona Spain but have lived all over the world including India and Hong Kong. A lot of my writing comes from the experiences I’ve had, meeting people and seeing some wonderful things. I lived in Asia for a total of seven years and have lived outside of my native England for more than two thirds of my life. In many places what we think of as fantasy is actually fact…
How much research goes into writing your books and what sources do you use?
For the Shadowland series I had to read book after book researching the dark ages and Arthurian legend, which I loved. The dark ages get that name because they are a period of years that we know very little about. There are very few written records from that time, so I was able to take the few facts that I could find, for example Uther Pendragon really did live unlike his ‘possible’ son Arthur, who is merely legend, and weave my story of fantasy through those factual snippets. It was a thoroughly enjoyable process, but far closer to a book of fantasy than one of history.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I would hate the restriction of a planned plot, it’s not my idea of a fun day out at all. I much prefer to just write and have fun with the plot, taking it in different directions. If I feel it’s getting boring or leads me into a dead space then I just go back and take a different direction. This rarely happens, I prefer to mull it over for a few days and see how my characters can bring the story back into line; they rarely disappoint me!
What is your favorite quote?
Well that would be by my favourite author John Steinbeck, he said that ‘Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.’ Which is so true when you begin writing.
If you could have any magical/supernatural power, what would it be and why?
I would totally enjoy the superpower of being able to produce ice cream out of thin air. A wonderful super power that all would marvel at, especially on a hot Barcelona June day…
The Flight of the Griffin
The Kingdom is dying…
The Darkness is coming… the balance between Order and Chaos is rapidly shifting and the world is falling towards evil and horror, and all the misery that Chaos will bring.
But there is hope…
Pardigan’s had enough, he’s only 12, but he’s breaking into the home of one of Freya's richest merchants... and he’s doing it tonight…
A burglary that will change their lives forever sets four friends upon a quest, a race against time, to locate three magical objects and complete an ancient and desperate spell.
Sailing their boat The Griffin, the crew are quickly pursued by The Hawk, an evil bounty hunter and master of dark sorcery, and Belial, King of Demons and champion of Chaos who seeks to rule the world of man… yet first he must capture the crew of The Griffin and end their quest…