‘I have lived more years than I can remember, probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and brigands have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones even if they have to search all seven halls of the shadowland to find me.’
On the night of midwinter’s eve, a storyteller takes his listeners back to the Dark ages and a tale from his youth.
Deserted by its Roman masters, Britain has been invaded by the Saxons at the invitation of Vortigern, traitorous leader of the Britons. Now, as the tribes unite to reclaim their land, one man must rise to lead them and become their true and only king.
~~~~~ Book Summary ~~~~~
DDS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
CMG: Hi! And thanks for the opportunity of this interview. Okay, I’m an Englishman, but I left England when I was just 17 and have lived in about 20 different countries since then, doing jobs as diverse as church organ restoration to venture capital. I love different cultures and use a lot of the experiences I’ve had in my writing. For the last 12 years I’ve been living in Barcelona Spain with my Dutch wife and two children, Dylan who is 11and Yasmin who will soon be 7.
DDS: What got you into writing?
CMG: I’m a voracious reader. It takes me about 3 - 4 days to finish an average size book. I love books and the journey they can take you on. Most readers will say that a good book is so much better than a good film that has been based upon the book because with the book, you get to use your imagination. I always heard that we all have a book inside us, so one day I sat at my laptop and thought, let’s give it a try. It turns out the only thing better than reading a book is writing a book! Writing is when your imagination really gets to fly. It does help if you can type as fast as your imagination flows!
I always start without any idea where the story is going and just watch as the idea forms. For instance, the first line I ever typed for a book was The floorboard creaked under the sole of his felt boot - a calculated risk whenever entering a sleeping man's room uninvited. It’s the first line from ‘The Flight of the Griffin’ which will be published next month. I wrote the line and felt the story bursting to come out. Whose felt boot? Why felt? Who is the sleeping man and why is someone entering his room? So, your question was what got me into writing? An over active imagination and thirst for adventure!
DDS: ‘Shadowland’ is your first publication, right? How does it feel to be a ‘Published Author’?
CMG: Shadowland is actually my second book. The first was The Flight of the Griffin but there are reasons why I chose to publish Shadowland first. I love being a published author, knowing that people are being drawn through the story that I cooked up. Like most authors I crave feedback, any feedback. Imagine cooking an incredible meal, people come and eat it, you wonder if they like it, then they stand up and walk away without offering any comments. Of course you want them to say they loved the meal, but if they merely say it had too much salt then at least you can add less next time! If you read my books, please leave a review, or if you think there’s too much salt just send me a message saying, less salt next time! (Thanks so much in advance!)
DDS: Oh! I just saw the cover for 'The Flight of the Griffin' on your blog! Its amazing... Coming back to 'Shadowland' - tell us a bit about the book.
CMG: Shadowland starts with a storyteller entertaining a crowd of people one stormy midwinter’s night. It unwinds into an Arthurian legend. It’s actually the story of Uther Pendragon, father of Arthur Pendragon, he of the Knights of the Round Table, the sword Excalibur, and of course Merlin the Magician. In the prologue, the storyteller is prompted into parting with a story of his youth. He tells of the dark ages in Britain when the Romans are leaving and Saxon invaders threaten the native tribes. Two boys return to their village to find it being raided by Saxon and Pict warriors. Hostages are taken and the boys give chase. You will be introduced to Merlin and the lady of the lake, be party to the discovery of Excalibur and meet some pretty crazy druids! The title Shadowland describes two things; Firstly the shadows in our knowledge of the dark ages - very few written records exist of that time, and secondly, it refers to the shadowland between life and death, because death may not be as final as some people think....
DDS: What was the hardest part while writing this book?
CMG: The hardest part in the writing process is the editing. The writing part is a joy, but then you have to edit and edit and edit. I must have read Shadowland at least thirty times! But then it’s a great book so I don’t mind so much! After the editing comes the formatting... sometimes line by line... I now know a lot about formatting now but it has been an education!
DDS: I bet! What are your writing pet peeves?
CMG: My pet peeves in the writing world are... agents and publishers... sorry any agents and publishers that read this. I know you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the books you work with but come on! Treat us like human beings!
DDS: [Ahem! I hope note taken] What were your sources of inspiration while naming the characters? And who is your personal favourite?
CMG: I spend a lot of time looking for names. I use naming sites, name engines and then when working on Shadowland I used a lot of known names from the time. Several of my least favourite from Shadowland are actually the correct names for the people at the time. Uther Pendragon had an elder brother named Ambrosius... don’t like the name, but I used it because he was really there! Same with Vortigan, rebel leader of the tribes before Ambrosius shows up. My favourite character is actually Cal. He has a certain affinity with wolves that was fun to write about and makes him an interesting figure. He also is the one who enters the Shadowland....
DDS: Interesting. Now time for some fun facts about you. If ‘Shadowland’ was to be turned into a movie – which Actor/actress would you like to see playing the characters?
CMG: Okay, my problem is that I watch a lot of films but have no idea who the actors are... I know a few names but that won’t help much. I would quite like the idea of using previously unknown actors and indie music writers for the score.
DDS: Can I suggest you "The Weepies" for the music? I love them. But this is about you. So, who is your favourite author & which is your favourite book? I know it is beyond difficult, but you can name only one in each category!!
CMG: This is tough, I have several favourite authors but... Bernard Cornwall and his book ‘The Last Kingdom.’
DDS: How about your favourite drink and a fun incident tied to it?!
CMG: Lots of drinks but I was too drunk to remember!
DDS: :) :) :) One thing readers would be surprised to know about you…
CMG: Surprised to know .... hmmmm. Been bitten by a snake ... no .... jumped out of a plane or dived down over 50 Metres to a wreck .... no, how about, I was once a millionaire but lost it all?
DDS: Besides writing, what else do you enjoy?
CMG: I love reading, of course. I play guitar and sing ... not very well but I enjoy it! I love looking up at the stars with a telescope, searching for galaxies and spotting planets. I enjoy cooking, especially Indian food! I enjoy making my kids laugh and I enjoy adventure!
DDS: Aha! I'll drop by for a meal then... I know you’ve visited
long time back. Any memories you would like to share? India
CMG: I was nineteen years old and working as a carpenter in London. The work I was doing was outside in a London winter starting at 7am each morning. I was freezing cold and not a happy guy. I finished my contract and went into a travel agent ‘I want to go somewhere hot... a one way ticket’. They sent me to Bombay, or so it was called at the time.
I didn’t want to stay in the city, I wanted a beach to lay on so I could soak up the sun and defrost my bones! So I went straight to the ferry and got a boat down to Goa. I had never ever had spicy food up until I searched for something to eat on that boat. I remember going deep down inside to the galley, not recognising the thali tray as it was thumped down in front of me. I waited ages for someone to give me a knife and fork! Wow! I learnt fast!
I spent the first month of my stay on Colva beach in Goa trying to get my stomach under control. I stayed in your wonderful country for eight months, and when I eventually went back to the UK, only because I ran out of money. I slathered hot sauce and spices onto everything because I couldn’t taste the bland English cooking without spice! I’m still a little like that. When I moved to Spain there were no good Indian restaurants, so I bought a few books and did my best to learn. One day I will return to India with my family, I’m trying to get them ready but my son, Dylan still prefers pizza so he may suffer as I once did!
DDS: We get pizza's here now. We have Dominoes, Pizza Hut and even U.S Pizza. And, some of them even offer 'Desi' Pizzas. When can we expect the next book?
CMG: The Flight of the Griffin is now finally through the editing and formatting and I am coming up with a cover design. It should be available on Amazon and Smashwords about the time you are reading this! I’m now writing the sequel to The Flight of the Griffin as I had such a blast writing it, that one is called Chaos Storm and will be out early next year.
DDS: Anything else you would like to say to your readers/fans?
CMG: Firstly thank you for reading this and thanks so much to Debdatta for putting this interview together. I would urge anyone that loves to read, to write. Don’t do it for money or fame, there isn’t much of that! Do it because it’s a blast, a journey and a release of your creative juices! I would also ask you all to review anything you read, especially by us indie authors. Writers need feedback and you don’t get honest feedback from friends and family! If you loved a book, tell the world on Amazon or Goodreads. If you hate something or think it was badly edited then tell the author by email. Thanks for reading this, I hope you will try reading Shadowland and The Flight of the Griffin, ‘cos I want to get into your head!
I don't know about me getting into writing... but I will surely be reading Shadowland soon (Thanks for the book!).
And Guess What? You can too. C.M.Gray has kindly offered to Giveaway 10 copies of his book. Isn't that awesome? All he wants in exchange is that if you like the book, then post a review on Amazon and/or on Goodreads.
So here are the rules for this Giveaway:
- Please, if you like the book, then try and post a review of it.
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