Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Greg: I’m Greg Close, but my Pretentious Author Name (with initial) is Gregory S. Close. I’m 47.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Greg: I’m currently living in the San Francisco area, but I’ve lived all over the place, including Ireland and the Marshall Islands.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Greg: I have a degree in Film Studies (would you like fries with that?) but currently work in HR/Benefits as a consultant/broker for small tech start-ups. If I absolutely have to have a day job, this is a good day job, but I’m happy to entertain any six-figure publishing contracts that happen by. I’m married to a Stanford Professor/Rocket Scientist (yes, she’s the smart one) and we have two plucky little daughters that serve equal parts inspiration and exhaustion, as any good daughters should. Rounding out the family are one and a half dogs and two guinea pigs.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Greg: My latest news has been the latest news for quite a while, but I’m working on restructuring/finishing my science fiction/fantasy novel Greyspace. I’d written myself into a corner and wasn’t sure how the plot was going to progress, but I think I stumbled on an idea that might help me solve the problem. I was really, really excited about this novel a few years ago when I first started writing it, and I’ve been really, really frustrated by the wasted potential as it sits there idling on the shelf, half-written. I hope to cross the finish line at last this year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Greg: 1977. Star Wars came along and blew my little head away. And my heart. And my soul. I can’t really over-state how influential this event was. It’s kind of hard these days to imagine a film having that kind of effect, and possibly no film really has since then, or even could. It was the first time a movie made science fiction/fantasy look real. I thought the ships were in space. I learned about the special effects later, but the impression had been made. It felt real and genuine and I knew what I wanted to be from that moment of my life, without any doubts:
A Jedi-Smuggler. (Because the Jedi could use the Force, but Han was soooo coooool).
It was at this point that my father broke the news: Jedi was not a career option in the real world.
But – I could create and live in worlds and have adventures in my whacked out little head and share them with the world. I could be a writer. That was my moment, and I’ve never wanted to be anything else. If I’m not writing, I feel dead inside.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Greg: I tried a couple of stories – mostly fanfic at first, inserting myself into Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica (the original production, at that point). Those didn’t feel genuine (for obvious reasons). I realized that I needed to create my own worlds.
Next I tried to write a portal fantasy, which fell flat because I didn’t really have a plot. That’s when I realized that I needed to have a story to tell (also the first story where I realized the power of an adjective).
Finally, in Sixth Grade (about 10 or 11 years old, I think) I wrote a short story for an English class that was sort of a modern noire detective thing. The English teacher read it in front of the entire class. I had butterflies in my stomach and goose bumps everywhere else.
I had told a story. The story was deemed pretty good. The story had been shared with others.
At that point, I was a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Greg: Originally, “The Book” was supposed to be a different take on Epic Fantasy that hadn’t been done before. Low-magic, politically complex, with protagonists that may or may not survive each volume of the series. As it turned out, I couldn’t resist the allure of having magic more immediately and deeply intertwined with the narrative, so I drifted away from that territory a bit. I realized that the more important thing was to tell the story the way it made sense, not to force it into a specific mold from the outset. (Good thing, too. The book was just about finished when I read A Game of Thrones, and I think GRRM covered the whole Low Fantasy with dangerously mortal protagonist angle pretty well).
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Greg: The working title of the book was actually different than the final title. I had always planned on calling it Night of the Long Shadows, as a) it sounded cool, and b) it references an important bit of the plot. Unfortunately, one of those days that I was googling the title to make sure it hadn’t been taken yet, I was horrified to discover that a book had just been published under that name. I was crestfallen. I went back to the drawing board and tried to come up with something new. I settled on In Siege of Daylight because the concept of the book is that the bad guys are already several steps ahead of the good guys, so they are literally and figuratively “under siege” – and Daylight seemed a good metaphor for that. It seemed alien at first, but I really like it now.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Greg: I’m a muller. I mull ideas, characters and conversations in my head over and over again. I steep them, sometimes for months or a year, before I start writing them. This has the advantage of providing a lot of thought and background to things, but has the disadvantage of being very, very slow. Also, before the advent of the smart phone and “taking notes anywhere/anytime I want” – I fear that some of those ideas mulled and steeped into oblivion before ever being committed to the page.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Greg: Although In Siege of Daylight is a fantasy with magic and supernatural creatures etc. I try to infuse some basic sense of realism into the world and characters. Every person I meet, every event I experience, every place I’ve been – these are all internalized and expressed in my writing one way or the other, consciously or subconsciously. I take admirable traits from one person in life and attribute them to a villain in the story, or take traits of a jackass in real life and throw that into the personality of a protagonist.
When my day job was in the benefits office of companies in corporate America, it helped flesh out my understanding of Power. People with power behaved differently. Not always badly, but it was great insight into how aristocratic forms of government could work, how and why someone might betray someone else, or choose to defend them, and (either way) what the consequences of that action might be.
The more real the people and places of my fiction seem, the more I can suck the reader in, and the more real and immediate the fate of the characters.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Greg: Traveling helps. Writing always benefits from new experiences, and travel is a fantastic way to experience new things and see things from a different point of view.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Greg: Mike Nash (https://mike-nash-art.squarespace.com/). And he’s done a lot of amazing work.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Greg: Yes, lots of them. And probably some messages that I’m not even aware of yet. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but I will say the self-determination is a big theme, as well as the concept that good and evil are sometimes absolute but often very subjective, and that good people do evil things and evil people do good things, and sometimes it’s all just a muddy mess in-between. The title of the series as a whole Compendium of Light, Dark & Shadow is no accident.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Greg: New authors – I’ll give you some of my Indie Faves: Paul B. Spence, M. Todd Gallowglas, and A.E. Marling. These guys all know how to write, and I think their work stands up to the stuff put out by the Big Houses. I get to beta-read for Mr. Spence, so call me biased, but I’m a Tebrey fan-boy.
Authors that I’ve admired over the years are many and varied, but Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear, Stephen R. Donaldson, Julian May and Tad Williams are some of my all time favorites. I loved the amazement of Asimov’s stories, and the Robot and Foundation series specifically. Greg Bear – sound science and intriguing concepts. Stephen R. Donaldson’s prose was different than anything I’d read, and as much as I despised Thomas Covenant as a character, The Land is still one of my favorite fantasy worlds, and I love the first series immensely. Julian May combined science and fantasy and Celtic myth and anthropology and psionics so well… Just wow. Love her. Underrated. The Tad is in a league by himself. His prose is beautiful. His worlds are deep. His characters so well developed. I was once compared to Tad Williams and it’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. My sales figures have never been compared to The Tad, however.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Greg: Outside of family members and English teachers, I have to give lots of credit to my editor, Thomas Weaver. I was flailing around on an on-line peer review site, not really sure where to go with In Siege of Daylight, but when Thomas started reviewing it, chapter by posted chapter, it really helped spark my imagination and reinvigorate my will to finish it.
This is perhaps a bit ironic, because he only started editing that book because he was waiting for new chapters of the book I was actively working on at the time, Greyspace, which is once again my work-in-progress (and the book he is waiting on new chapters from).
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Greg: Yes, but I haven’t convinced a publisher to see it that way, yet.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Greg: Maybe. From a marketing perspective, having a debut epic fantasy of 240k words is not very smart. That turns off agents and publishers right away. If I could have figured out a way to tell the story in smaller chunks at the outset that might have been more marketable.
From an artistic angle – there’s always opportunity to improve. Some stuff I might change here and there, but the energy is really better spent improving my craft and applying those lessons to the next book and leaving this one alone.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Greg: Always. Not any one dramatic lesson, but lots of little ones.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Greg: I have such mixed feelings about this. As a guy with an (old, moldy and unused) degree in Film Studies, and a lover of good movies in general, this is fun to speculate. However, as an author, I don’t want to start thinking of the characters that I’ve created as other people – especially while the overall series is still in progress. That said, I have thought about this before, and at least for a few characters I have some vague thoughts about who might pull off the role.
I think Hugh Jackman would do well as Osrith, the surly mercenary knight, and Chiwetel Ejiofor has the elocution and intelligence to be a wonderful Brohan the Master Bard. Maybe Kiernan Shipka could pull off Callagh Breigh – she’s a tough one to get right. Someone like Emma Stone could possibly do Aeolil justice. Not sure about those two. I would love to have Patrick Stewart as either King Guillaume or Lord Vanelorn.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Greg: Writing every day may not be realistic, but when you can write, choose to write. Distractions are so easy these days – don’t let them derail your writing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Greg: First – thank you for reading! Both of you! Second, that there is nothing more valuable to an Indie author like myself than positive word of mouth and/or a review on GoodReads, reddit (r/fantasy) or Amazon. Just giving someone the reason to take a chance on a name that they haven’t heard before is YUGE. It’s so great. Really. So wonderful. Big League.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Greg: I’m reading some non-fiction on mythology and Native American culture/history. In the fiction category, I just finished up Project Brimstone, by Paul B. Spence and Arms of the Storm, by M. Todd Gallowglas. I’m looking forward to reading American Gods by Gaiman, and the new Tad Williams novel, The Witchwood Crown.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Greg: I don’t know if it’s the first book I read (probably not), but the first book that impacted me enough that I remember reading it: Lucky Starr and Pirates of the Asteroids by Asimov.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Greg: I love British wit and humor, a la Monty Python, and satire of all stripes. What makes me cry? The first fifteen minutes of Up. Almost every time. It’s just brutal, but it’s masterful storytelling.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Greg: That’s such a hard one. Maybe Jaco Pastorious? He was an insanely talented and imaginative bass player. I would love to pick his brain, watch him play… and steal his bass when he wasn’t looking. That tone!! That Jaco tone! It will be mine. MINE, I tell you!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Greg: I used to be an avid gamer – pen and paper, pc games, xbox. Less time for that now, with family.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Greg: I will purposefully avoid mentioning genre movies/tv, because I like most of them, to some degree or the other (okay, but Wonder Woman… wow!). I’ve watched a lot of Law & Order over the years. All the flavors were good, but I was especially enamored with Dinofrio’s stint on Criminal Intent. Lots of interesting character studies.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Greg: Love pizza (so many variations) and ice cream. Color is dependent on mood, but I like the combination of red/black in heraldry. Music? I love music. I’m a big fan of jazz and fusion as well as progressive hard rock. Rush is probably the one band I’d single out as the most influential in terms of musicianship and lyrics (and humor).
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Greg: Be dead. I intend to write until the bitter end.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Greg: The Law of Conservation of Greg: Greg can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, he transforms from one form to another.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Why yes I do! 😀
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/Gregory-S.-Close/e/B00CP4UW48/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_2
Amazon link for In Siege of Daylight: https://www.amazon.com/In-Siege-Daylight-COMPENDIUM-SHADOW/dp/0988852012
Amazon link for short story anthology, The Dark Behind the Door: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LLENQ00