(… A continuation of my interview with fantasy novelist Gregory S. Close, author of In Siege of Daylight.)
TW: What is the hardest thing about writing?
GSC: The hardest thing for me is to write quick and dirty and worry about the editing later. I spend way too much time on rough drafts before turning it over to my editor (believe it or not). I’m very self-critical, so it takes several passes before I’m even marginally happy with anything I’ve written. Wrote. Have wri… never mind.
TW: What is the easiest thing about writing?
GSC: Snacking. Aside from the occasional visit by the reclusive muse, when the words flow like, uh, flowing words, there is little easy about it for me.
TW: What is the most enjoyable thing about writing?
GSC: Being done! It is a truly amazing feeling to be finished with a story, and to be able to share it. (It’s also terrifying, but technically that comes a split second after the most enjoyable bit).
TW: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
GSC: I really enjoy reading good reviews, of course. I imagine I would enjoy reading bad reviews much less, but they can still have value to potential readers. If someone wrote that they hated In Siege of Daylight because “the women are inaccurately portrayed as competent warriors and thinkers, unrealistically saving menfolk,” for instance, it reveals (even in its criticism) what many would actually consider a strength. I only want people to read my book who will enjoy it. I don’t want to trick anyone into reading it. So a fair and balanced “bad” review can still be okay, in my book. And the truly stupid trashy ones are pretty self-evident, so I try not to worry about getting one of those. I know I will, eventually.
TW: What advice would you give to your younger self?
GSC: Read more. Write more.
TW: Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet, and why?
GSC: I wouldn’t mind getting a chance to have dinner with Rush (the band). I’m not sure what I’d say, exactly, but I have a lot of respect for them.
TW: Is there an author that you would really like to meet? What would you say to him/her if you did?
GSC: Before he became the juggernaut he is right now, back in 2008 or so, I really wanted to meet George R. R. Martin. I’d just discovered and devoured the first few Song of Ice and Fire books and really enjoyed them. It actually re-invigorated my fantasy reading in general and inspired me to revise and finish In Siege of Daylight after a lot of neglect in the digital shoebox. I started working on it again, joined the Writer’s Café site for feedback, met my future editor, and… tah dah!
TW: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version? If so, why?
GSC: The Iron Giant. The narrative of the movie is so poignant and works so well. It’s a very underappreciated movie. I thought the book was good, but it didn’t back the same punch in the gut for me… “Suuuuuuperman!”
TW: Do you ever write in your PJs?
GSC: Yes, but the labels are so small I can’t seem to progress the story very far.
TW: What are your pet peeves?
GSC: I hate things that don’t make sense in context, or that throw me unnecessarily out of an otherwise good story. Prime example: that Felurian bit in Wise Man’s Fear.
TW: White wine or red?
GSC: A slight preference for red, but I enjoy both.
TW: Coffee or tea?
GSC: Coffee in the morning, tea sporadically in the afternoon or evening, but definitely tea if I’m feeling even slightly under the weather. I had a lot of tea in Ireland, to introduce a fact that will surprise exactly no one.
TW: Pancakes or waffles?
GSC: Not even remotely a fair question. It might depend on what book I’m reading…
TW: If you were stuck on a deserted island, which three fictional people you would want with you? Any reason for choosing these over others?
GSC: I can never answer this question. I always think of fictional characters who could help me escape, I’m told that’s not part of the rules, and then I give up.
TW: Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
GSC: My Mom and Dad encouraged it a lot, and read to us, and my brother read voraciously. He tossed everything he finished my way, which is how I discovered Stephen R. Donaldson, Julian May and Roger Zelazny, among others…
Aside from the joy of sharing stories, you can see the impact of stories throughout society. Star Wars is an easy example. It distilled a lot of common themes and archetypes and influenced real life. Lord of the Rings did the same, not to mention stuff like 1984 or even comic books like Batman. These have become social and cultural reference points that tie us together.
Also, we can learn things from good storytelling. (Like don’t piss off Eowyn, even if you are a Witch King). Stories are part inspiration and part cautionary tale, and probably at some point helped to teach little Thag that staying in the cave with the fire was safer than playing out in the dark over by the sabertooth’s den. Because he’d heard the story of Nug Maulface…