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?
My name is C.W. Gray and I am thirty-six years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in a really small town in rural Tennessee. I’m surrounded by hay fields, cow pastures, and woods. I LOVE it!
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
While I love reading and writing romance, I haven’t been very lucky in love. I’m demisexual and that has made dating a little challenging. Now that I’m settled in my life and happy, I’m not too worried about either dating or marriage. If it happens, okay. If not, also okay. I would love to have children, but due to health reasons, I’m not able to. I’m close to my brothers and sister and have a few really good friends, so life isn’t too shabby. (TMI?)
As for education, I have a MA in history. When I graduated, I taught as an adjunct instructor at several schools. It was exhausting. I didn’t have time for anything but work. A little over a year ago, I took a full-time administration position and it gave me time to write. My hobby turned into a career and before I knew it, I was working two jobs – my dayjob and writing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m really excited to say that I’m now writing full-time. I liked my day job, but writing is absolutely amazing. It doesn’t feel like work and I have an endless supply of ideas for stories. I’m still reeling a little that people actually want to read my books.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loves writing. When I was a kid, I wrote stories but could never manage to finish them. My entire family loves reading so my siblings would all write fanfiction and share it with each other.
When I was in graduate school, I found myself constantly broke and I couldn’t keep up with my reading habits. At that point, I really started to try to write a story. I did finally finish one, a m/m/f sci-fi romance, but it wasn’t very good. I learned a lot while writing it, though, but after I graduated and started teaching, I didn’t have any time to pursue another project.
As I mentioned above, about a year ago I started a new job that gave me stability, benefits, and time to actually have a life. That’s when I really began writing. My books are fairly short, anywhere from 32,000 to 60,000 words in length, but each one is a joy to write.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still have a hard time grasping the reality of being a writer. Because my stories are short, I’ve managed to be very prolific in the short amount of time I’ve been actively writing. I think the moment I really considered myself a writer was right after my first book actually began to sell copies. I published The Mercenary’s Mate, book one in The Blue Solace, in October of 2018. My siblings bought the first copies and I was so excited. Then, more copies sold and people began reading it in Kindle Unlimited. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I immediately started writing another book.
Then I received a message on my author page from a reader that said they loved my books. That’s when I could actually admit to myself that I was a writer. I have people that enjoy reading my books!
I think it’s important to note here that I don’t think a person has to be published (traditionally or self-published) to be a writer. If a person writes, I feel like they are a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I write m/m romance because that is what I love to read. When I found myself with free time, I read voraciously. There are so many wonderful authors out there and I gobbled their books. At one point, I finished the Avanti series by Hannah Walker and couldn’t find any more like it. It was sci-fi, mpreg, and had a bit of fantasy to it as well. Overall, it’s still one of my favorite series.
At that point, one of my brothers had already self-published a few books on Amazon that did well, and it gave me the idea to try writing an mpreg sci-fi book of my own since I couldn’t find any that I hadn’t already read. The same thing happened for the first book of my Hobson Hills Omegas series. It was autumn and I desperately wanted a holiday mpreg book, but none of my favorite authors had a new book out at that time so I started writing one.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I am really not good at titles. When I finished my first book, The Mercenary’s Mate, I titled it Happens Just Like That. My cover artist suggested that I change the title to something more reflective of the m/m genre. She suggested I use the word “mate” in it, so The Mercenary’s Mate, was decided on.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style can be considered extremely light and fluffy. One of the things I love about the romance genre is that there are so many different styles and subgenres out there. Some days I want a little or a lot of angst, so I’ll read a book by Riley Hart or Sloane Kennedy. Some days I want mystery and adventure, so I’ll read a book by A.J. Sherwood or Rhys Ford. Then there are days that I want “comfort food” books. That’s what light and fluffy means. There is zero angst, a ton of sweetness, and many, many cute pets. My books aren’t for everyone, but I’ve found that they appeal to readers because they offer them a breather from either more intense books or a very crappy world.
While I think the variety is good for everyone, this does lead to trouble when a reader picks up one of my books expecting a different type of writing style. Fortunately, I provide plenty of tags in the description of the book and am able to circumvent this to some degree. Reviews often help too.
Other challenges my genre faces are related to publishing. There are online publishers that publish m/m romance, but there are very few traditional publishers that even consider publishing m/m romance. For example, I went to a large used bookstore in Knoxville, TN, the other day. There are several aisles of books dedicated to romance of various types, but absolutely none for m/m romance. I managed to find a few in the tiny section labelled LGBTQ+ Studies. Does that sound like a place a romance book should be?
Fortunately, platforms like Amazon offer m/m romance readers a plethora of author choices. It does restrict many to reading e-books which have their own benefits, but it makes it harder and more expensive to get a hold of a printed book in the genre they like.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I write romance, so a lot of it is very unrealistic. That is part of what appeals to readers. I wish people were as kind, caring, and tolerant as the Wilson family in my Hobson Hills Omegas series, but realistically, that’s not how the world works. I use a lot of my experiences with my family and friends to create my stories. One of the reasons a lot of my characters are very blue collar people is because those are the types of people I’m around all the time.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I do not need to travel to write. Unfortunately. I love traveling and hope to do more of it in the future.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Cosmic Letterz designed the covers for The Blue Solace and Hobson Hills Omegas, but Sarah Jo Chreene designed the covers for my newest series, The Silver Isles.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have a few series and all of them revolve around the ideas of acceptance, tolerance, and kindness. This carries over into family dynamics. Family isn’t always dependent on blood relations, but on true bonds between people.
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?
One of the great things about Amazon is that there are always new authors starting their writing careers. I’m still fairly new myself, but some other newer authors are A.J. Sherwood, Amy Bellows,Izaia Winter, Alice Winters, and many more.
My favorite writers, because I can’t choose just one, are Susi Hawke, J.D. Light, Hannah Walker, R Cooper, A.J. Sherwood, Lorelei Hart, and Madeline Kirby. There are many more, but I’ll hush now.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
This question is easy to answer – fellow author Susi Hawke. When I was almost finished with The Mercenary’s Mate, I messaged her on Facebook and sent her the first couple of chapters.I asked her to be honest with me and tell me if it was worth pursuing or not. She told me that she wasn’t a fan of sci-fi, but my work still managed to pull her in. This was such a huge encouragement since she is one of my favorite writers. After that, she suggested a cover artist, editors, and has answered so many questions for me. When she read my Hobson Hills Omegas series, she even told her Facebook group about the books and I gained a large number of readers. She has been absolutely amazing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It takes dedication and discipline to make it, but to be successful, you have to treat it as a career. I do my best to write at least thirty hours a week and spend a lot of time doing admin chores. It’s also important to continue growing as a writer. I’m attending a conference in April, 2020, for published m/m romance writers. I’m hoping to learn more about marketing and the business side of being a writer.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I feel like each book I write gets better, so there is surprisingly little I would change about my latest book. I think maybe it would have gained more traction in ranks if I had set up a pre-order, but that is about it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learn so much about writing with each book I do, but I also learn a lot from researching information I need for books. This last one was contemporary, but I still learned a little bit about roofing and carpentry. In the book before this last one, The Guppy Prince, I learned a lot about otters and weather patterns in the Caribbean. It’s always so random.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
If The Guppy Prince was made into a film, I would want Gary Dourdan to play Ben, one of the main characters. He was my inspiration for Ben’s looks and I think the man is absolutely beautiful.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I have so much advice for newer writers. First, I would say to use an editor no matter what. I have college degree and teach academic writing, but self-editing is not a good idea. You will miss mistakes because you are reading what you meant to write instead of what you actually wrote. I tell my students this all the time. Yet, I didn’t take my own advice. When I started publishing, I lost some readers due to the poor editing. Now, I admit that I probably need an editor for my dang Facebook posts. Likewise, use a cover artist. They know what they’re doing and the cover is the first thing a reader sees. You don’t have to invest a lot of money in each book, but you do want to have those two things.
Otherwise, don’t be afraid to take a chance. I know many people who sit on their manuscript for years. It’s just one book. If it doesn’t do well, you can write another. In fact, you really need to write another anyway. The second book often sells the first one. Being a writer is a whole new type of hard. There are bad reviews, poor sells, and drama in the publishing world. However, there are also readers who will adore what you write and beg you for more. That makes it all worthwhile.
P.S. Also, be kind and respectful and keep your drama at home. You don’t want to isolate readers and other authors by being a jerk.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I love you all so much and I’ll be bringing you many more books in 2020.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just started A.J. Sherwood’s Christmas book, Brandon’s Very Merry Haunted Christmas.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember the very first book I read, but I remember one that had a huge impact on me. David Eddings’ series The Belgariad was one of the first fantasy series that really grabbed my imagination. I’ve read a lot of books over the years, but those stay with me.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
So many things make me laugh. I think humour is one of the most important traits of any form of entertainment. I follow Tucker Budzyn on Facebook and Instagram and that puppy always makes me laugh.
Unfortunately, so many things make me cry. Life can be hard. That’s one of the reasons I write life and fluffy romance. Specifically, as a writer, very snarky and mean-spirited reviews can make me cry. I’m working on thickening my skin, but that is an ongoing journey.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love to meet Flannery O’Connor. She looks like a very proper Catholic woman, but she writes some dark literature. I think she would be interesting.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I read and write. There really isn’t much else to me. I do enjoy traveling, but I haven’t had much time to do it. I also have that lovely degree in history, so historical sites are really interesting to me.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love The Walking Dead and all of the Marvel movies. Right now, I’m spending a lot of time with the Hallmark channel.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Foods: chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate
Colors: read and sage green
Music: Anything. I listen to pop, rock, country, and classical
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
If I wasn’t writing, I would be teaching as much as possible. I love teaching too and will actually keep teaching a night class even though I’m full-time writing now.
I would miss writing so much. I’ve come to depend on it for creative release. ☹
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would spend it with my family and my pets. I would also eat a lot of junk food.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
You’re standing on me. Get off!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Feel free to follow me:
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/C-W-Gray/e/B01LXI45R1/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
The Blue Solace Series – science fiction/fantasy, mpreg
The Mercenary’s Mate – https://amzn.to/2MAOFEH
The General’s Mate – https://amzn.to/2G1abRE
The Soldier’s Mate – https://amzn.to/2S7R6ng
The Lieutenant’s Mate – https://amzn.to/2THZ47w
The Engineer’s Mate – https://amzn.to/2HpI4vH
The Captain’s Mate – https://amzn.to/2knP03W
The Rebel’s Mate – Coming Soon
Fire’s Mate – Coming Soon
The Hobson Hills Omegas – non-shifter, mpreg, omegaverse
Falling for the Omega – https://amzn.to/2BgWURV
Snow Kisses for My Omega – https://amzn.to/2TdDiol
Romancing the Omega – https://amzn.to/2UNENKD
Healing the Omega – https://amzn.to/2FNcXrY
A Pint for my Omega – https://amzn.to/2XItQf7
Unraveling the Omega – https://amzn.to/2xRCnRL
The Alpha’s Christmas Wish – https://amzn.to/2PAckXu
Hobson Hills Shorts – short stories from the world of Hobson Hills Omegas
The Beta’s Love Song – https://amzn.to/2UrRPNN
Bennett’s Dream – https://amzn.to/2GwSpG3
Justin’s Journey – https://amzn.to/2DhW1t1
Grey’s Gift – https://amzn.to/2BcjxXf
Hobson Hills Shorts: Volume One – https://amzn.to/2M3oGGZ
Holiday Omegas Shorts – holiday short stories from the world of The Silver Isles – paranormal, mpreg
Cauldron Cake Pops and a Witch’s Kiss – https://amzn.to/33wMrhc
The Silver Isles – paranormal, mermen, mpreg
The Guppy Prince – https://amzn.to/2q9Q8en