Interview: Author Shane Gregory

Interview with Shane Gregory, Author of The King of Clayfield Series

For today’s interview, The Bookie Monster was joined by Shane Gregory, author of The King of Clayfield, All That I see, and the upcoming Fire Birds. Thanks Shane for joining giving us a glimpse into that mind of yours.

Shane, author of the exciting The King of Clayfield Series, lives on several acres in a rural farming community in western Kentucky with his wife, two children, three cats, and a few chickens. 

His education background is in the visual arts, and he is the director of a nonprofit art center and museum. He enjoys painting, running, reading, writing, and growing his own food.

Let’s get to know the man behind the books. What would you like your readers to know about you?

I’m 42 years old. I love country living. My wife and I have been married for almost 15 years, and we have two beautiful kids.  

My college education is in the fine arts, and most of my jobs since then have been in the visual arts—photography lab technician, gallery employee, painter, and art teacher. I am currently the director of a nonprofit art center and museum in western Kentucky. I still enjoy making photographs and paintings, but I don’t get to do those things as much as I used to. I have examples of my paintings on my website.

It took me quite a bit of time (and re-reading) to figure out the main character was never named. This is the first time I have come across this little mind-bender and it's intriguing. I've gotta know...what was your thinking behind this decision?

I had not planned to do that in the beginning, but I realized after I was five chapters in that my protagonist didn't have a name. By that time, I thought it was too late to introduce his name, so I decided to just go with it as it was. I did run into a couple of scenes later where it felt awkward for me to write around not saying a name, but it all worked out. I used the lack of a name as an element in the ending of the third book.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? 

The town of Clayfield is based on my hometown, and some of the characters are loosely based on real people in that town. I have a garden and chickens, I do home canning and preserving, I own guns, and I can go out in a field or my yard and find wild edibles to eat if I have to. I was able to incorporate enough of those experiences to my story to make it seem realistic. 

In ten words or less:
  1. If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?
    • Travel with them and visit other planets for a while
  1. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
    • The ability to heal myself and others. And fly.
  1. If you were a Star Trek® character, which one would it be? Why?
    • Spock. I seem staid and analytical. (Underneath, I’m Tom Paris)
  1. The zombie apocalypse has begun. What zombie fighting badass would you want on your team?
    • Bruce Campbell
  1. How would your friends describe you in 3 words?
    • Different in person
You are hosting a dinner party and must invite 3 famous people. Who would you choose and why?

I’m going to go with Stan Lee because Marvel comics got me interested in art and reading; Tina Fey, because she’s funny and she seems like she’d be cool and down-to-earth; Patrick Stewart, because my wife and I both love Star Trek, and he’s our favorite captain.

How similar is the main character’s life to yours? Were you writing yourself?

If you ask some of my friends and family, they’ll say I am the protagonist of Clayfield, but I think that is because he and I share the same profession. Like the main character, I am a museum director. I admit that I drew on my own life a little to flesh out the main character, but I exaggerated too. I am not nearly as clueless as he was in the beginning (I hope). I’m certainly not as lonely and alone as he. I like to think that I embody his best qualities, but that is where it ends. 

I did make myself as a character in the book. I am Blaine, the protagonist’s best friend.

The King of Clayfield series seems as if you’re starting with a character instead of a situation. Did you intend the book to be perceived this way?

Yes, sort of. My initial plan was to use a zombie apocalypse to show a man learning how to survive. The characters are the most important elements of the story, but I think it is the situation that reveals and changes them.

How important are your surroundings when you write?

Very.  I usually write in the evenings in my bedroom at my desk. My wife and kids can come in any time, and while these interruptions can cause me to lose my train of though at times, I am most productive there. I have tried writing in another building separated and closed off from my family, but I find that I can’t get much done in there.

What has been your favorite moment to write so far in The King of Clayfield series?

I enjoyed writing the parts with Corndog and Bern in All That I See. I also enjoyed the scene with Bruce in the collector’s house in the upcoming Fire Birds.

I know that you will be releasing Fire Birds shortly. Could you tell us when to expect it and possibly give us a taste of what’s to come?

Fire Birds is a little different from the first two books…or it felt that way to me. The people in the story are several months in by this time, and they've had to make some tough choices. They aren't the same people they were in the beginning. For some of them, the crisis has revealed their true nature, and for some of them, it is ugly. Additionally, there will be a whole new crop of characters, and some favorites (or not-so-favorites) will return. There will even be a return of characters that were in the first book, but not in the second. Permuted Press hasn't given me a specific release date.

Do you ever come up with anything so crazy that you scare yourself and leaves you wondering where that came from?

Yes. There is a scene in the upcoming book, Fire Birds that I didn't plan. When it happened, I actually stopped writing, because I was so stunned that I’d actually written it. It affected me emotionally to the point that I didn't write for a day or two after. I wondered if I should change it or leave it in. I eventually decided to leave it and progress the story from there, but it was a difficult decision.

What’s the biggest compliment you've ever received from a fan? Worst insult?

A fan sent me a package that contained a mix CD of songs they thought would make a great The King of Clayfield movie soundtrack. That was awesome!

Worst insult...hmm…nothing major is coming to mind. Like most authors, I get bad reviews or comments from readers occasionally, and that sucks, but it’s a part of being an author, and I try not to let it bother me too much.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

I used to be overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire book. I looked at it as a big thing. I would plan too much. I would write and rewrite sections. I didn't get very far like that. It was suggested to me by another writer that I stop thinking terms of book or chapters and just focus on a word count each day. It feels more manageable than thinking about the whole book. Also, he suggested that I stop fretting over elaborate outlines and character sketches and allow the story and characters to evolve. Finally, he said no rewriting until the whole thing is done.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read a lot. Write a lot.  Put yourself out there. Writers have so many opportunities now that they didn't have 20 years ago. With free blog sites and the ease of self-publishing, if you want to make your work available to an audience, you can. 

Where can readers stalk you?