Interview: Clay Gilbert

This week, I got to get to know a new indie author. Clay Gilbert is man who writes what he loves: horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction! He’s just released his seventh novel onto Amazon, The Kind Memory’s Children: Book One The Golden Road. And that’s just one of his intriguing novels!

First, let’s get to know Clay with some fun, quirky questions!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you.
The Bible, Moby-Dick, and Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Dune, that’s a good choice. My favorite science fiction novel, and there is a reason the Bible has endured the centuries whether or not you believe in god or even Judeo-Christianity. Lot of truth about reality found in there.

What animal best describes your personality?
Cats.
Interesting.

If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?
Oakley Court, near Windsor, in the UK, the location for much of the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Are you a cat or dog person?
Cat
I had a feeling after your personality answer!

If you could have a dinner with one historical person, who would it be?
Hmm. Maybe Frank Herbert or Robert Heinlein.
Frank Herbert had such fascinating ideas about the great man fallacy.

 

Now let’s get down to brass tacks!

Besides writing, what are you passionate about?
My Christian faith, and the Bible; music of all sorts, but particularly the music of the Grateful Dead; movies, and books.

What drew you to the craft of writing?
I started writing and reading early, and from the time I realized that there were people who wrote as a job, the way that my father went to his office every day, that’s the job I wanted. I published my first short story at the age of thirteen, in Scholastic magazine. They paid me $25. I never really looked back after that.
Awesome! I never shared what I was writing with anyone at thirteen. Too scared. That, and I couldn’t finish a story before a new idea caught my attention.

When writing a novel, are you a detailed planner or do you fly by the seats of your pants?
Thank you for not using the term ‘pantser.’ I don’t outline. I don’t plan in advance, much. At the same time, my process isn’t as random as what ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ suggests. I usually start with a character, or pair of characters, and let them tell me what the story is. In other words, the conflicts, situations, end goals, and the world my story happens to be set in are all centered around and suited for the people in the story. And I find that they know what’s best for the story much more than I would, if I were to force things. Outlining to me seems like trying to have control over something I don’t want control over.
Interesting take on it.

What has attracted you to writing across such diverse genres as science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror? Of the three, which is your favorite to write about.
I probably consider myself mostly a science fiction writer, although I do have a strong love for horror and urban fantasy as well. I just published a second horror novel, Cassie’s Song, the sequel to my vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and I plan on publishing two more horror novels next year, along with more science fiction. The Kind, Book One: The Golden Road is the first of a two-part urban fantasy, and while I like that genre, I don’t know if I’ll have more to say in that area once the second book, To Terrapin and Back Again, is published this fall. We’ll have to see.

Tell us about Annah, the heroine from your Children of Evohe Series. What makes her such an intriguing character to read about?
I sometimes refer to the first book of that series, Annah and the Children of Evohe, as ‘Jane Eyre’ in space. Like Charlotte Bronte’s heroine, Annah is an outcast in her world, and an independent thinker. Also like Jane, Annah finds love with a much older man—the human Gary Holder, whose ship crash-lands on Annah’s homeworld of Evohe, and whom she nurses back to health. Unlike Jane, though, Annah becomes a messiah figure to her people, similar to Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s Dune. And that was one of the things I wanted to explore when I started that series—why are there no female messiah-figures in fiction, science fiction specifically? What would it be like to merely want to fit in, and to have this sort of destiny put upon you? Annah’s interesting because she has a strong desire to belong, but the other things she feels called to do can’t help but divide her from her people in some ways. She’s also not some kind of flawless, perfect heroine. She has many strengths, but she also has fears and weaknesses and failings, and certainly doesn’t always do the right thing.
That does sound interesting. Nice foundation to build off of!

Eternity and its City sounds intriguing. What was the inspiration behind Eternity’s quest to lead it to freedom?
I wrote the original draft of Eternity between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, or, in other words, between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, the same time period that passes for Eternity in the novel. I revised it a number of times, but it’s surprising to me that, in its published form, it’s still about 75% the book that seventeen-year-old me wrote all those years ago. The inspiration was twofold, really: I’ve also enjoyed dystopian books like Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’ s 1984, but I also enjoy coming-of-age stories like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I wanted to write a dystopian novel in which the broad political struggle was more a metaphor for the growing-up process of adolescence. It was very immediate struggle to me when I first wrote the book, because it was pretty much my life, or how I experienced it, internally. Revising it, later, as a adult, I was able to refine the raw emotions and the inexperienced prose style of my younger self into a form that, if seventeen-year-old me could see it, I think he’d say that was what he meant in the first place. Next year, I’m writing a sequel called Islands of Light. It takes place thirty years later, and, like the original book, will attempt to function on two levels. What do the struggles of youth look like to an adult, thirty years on? And also, what happens, politically, when you win a war? We won, but do we become the oppressors now? What does that look like? I’m looking forward to going back to the City and exploring those issues.

What do you have coming up next?
So far, in 2018, I’ve published The Conversationalist, Book One: Out of the Blue, the first part of a sci-fi romantic comedy, Cassie’s Song, the second book in my vampire series Tales of the Night-Kind, and the first book of the urban fantasy The Kind, entitled The Golden Road. This fall, I’ll be publishing Book Two of The Kind, titled To Terrapin and Back Again, the second Conversationalist novel, entitled Mission to Mercy Prime, and the fourth Children of Evohe novel, Annah and the Arrow.

Last, do you have any advice for a new or aspiring author?
Write what you love, not what you think is going to sell. You must be your primary audience, starting out. If you write a story you are passionate about, other people will be, too. Write from passion, not fashions or trends. Write every day. Treat it like a job. Same time, same place, every day, for as much time as you can spare. Dismiss the idea of ‘writer’s block’ from your mind. ‘Writer’s block’ is made up BS that people use as an excuse not to do their work. If you had a stopped-up toilet, and the plumber showed up and apologetically said he couldn’t do his job because he had ‘plumber’s block, would you stand for that? Don’t stand for it in your writing, either. Set a goal. I try for an average of 20,000 words, or ten pages, a day. Whatever your daily goal is, don’t stop until you achieve it, and eliminate ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary.
That is some great advice that I personally agree with. Writing is my job, and I try to keep a schedule for it.

Well, thank you for letting me get a chance to talk to you! I wish you well on your writing!

Clay Gilbert says he’s always liked stories, and that from the time he knew there were people who told them for a living, that’s what he wanted to do. Clay’s work in various genres has been in print since his first short science fiction story, “The Computer Conspiracy,” was published in Scholastic magazine when he was just thirteen. Clay is the author of the science fiction series Children of Evohe, including the novels Annah and the Children of Evohe, Annah and the Exiles, Annah and the Gates of Grace, and Annah and the Arrow. He is also the author of the YA dystopian novel Eternity, the science fiction novel The Conversationalist: Out of the Blue and its sequel, The Conversationalist: Mission to Mercy Prime, as well as the vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and its sequel, Cassie’s Song, all published by Dark Moon Press. He lives and works in Knoxville, TN. His author blog can be found at http://portalsandpathways.wordpress.com/, and the official website for his Children of Evohe novels resides at https://childrenofevohe.com/.

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