An interview with Greg Dragon


This week, I reviewed two stories by Greg Dragon. He was gracious to provide me with electronic copies of two other stories he’s written, so you can expect more reviews to follow. Here is the follow-up interview with him:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
You know, it’s funny but I sort of ended up a writer accidentally. I’ve always written, but I got serious about it when I started blogging for an online Men’s Lifestyle Magazine. Many of my articles resonated with the readers and I found it to be a natural and enjoyable thing for me to do in my off hours.

Fiction on the other hand was something that I would write and show to friends and family before tucking them away inside of binders and thumb drives, but I never intended on publishing. Fans of my blog began to ask me repeatedly why I hadn’t written a book and after hearing it asked so many times I started to look into self-publishing.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Hmm, it depends on the book. For my fun, action-focused science fiction or fantasy, I can pump out 30k – 50k words a month. Right now I am in the middle of a six-part serial “Knights and Demons”, and it demands that I put write 25k – 30k words a month to keep up with my release schedule.

For my bigger epics—like Anstractor—I need a clean 90k-120k words per book. I trim a lot of content, so we’re talking about 130k – 150k words before the knife, and 90k afterwards. There’s just too much world-building and character development involved for me to cram them into my standard 50k novella format.
For books like that, I spend about three months developing a rough, then I let it sit for a month or two while I work on something else, then I pick it back up and tear it apart. Roughly four months go by for the true rough to be sent to a content editor for another righteous flogging and once it comes back, I take another month to edit, add what was asked (or chop), then make sure it still reads well.

So about seven months for a full length novel… my shorter novels like Lady Hellgate, takes much less. I did Re-Wired for NaNoWriMo so that took one month, then another month for clean-up, and The Factory took three months to write. I write in 3-4 hour spurts daily, and can do 2k words to 5k depending on whether or not the muse is present or not.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a big fan of dialogue, especially arguments. Sometimes I will just think up a situation that happens later on in a story and I’ll just write it out. When I’m actively writing and I get to that area, I paste it in and keep it moving.

The same thing goes with fighting scenes, man I love writing a detailed fight, and if I am in that mindset, I will write out a sword fight, a martial arts kumite, or a straight up street fight. My books end up being a jigsaw puzzle by the time I’m done wrapping up a rough draft, but when it comes together, you can expect to find some good conflict.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read a lot, but I’m sure that’s all of us… I am currently on my second play through of Dragon Age Inquisition on PC, and I’m into the whole health and wellness thing. Heh, ask my girlfriend this and she will probably tell you that I’m full of it. All I do is work, and the times I do play video games is when I should be sleeping. Still, work is work, but in terms of MY time, I write, or I’m being a big kid somewhere.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing Re-wired?
I learned that I really dislike happily ever after endings. The original ending for the book came to me when I was about 10k words in, but by the time I was about to finish it, I was like no… you know what you like, Greg… people will hate it, but you like ambiguity, you like “WTF”, you like “I need to read that again to figure out what the hell just happened.” So being that it’s what I like, I tried my hand at it.

Not to say that all of my books will have dark endings to them, but I think that tragedy has a bit of beauty to it that we don’t appreciate. Dark, dystopian worlds end with a heroine bringing hope to the people… The bad boy turns good. I want The Empire Strikes back, not all the time, but at least some of the time – mix it up a little bit. Re-wired made me realize this about myself.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Only my most honest friends that I see on a regular basis. I catch so much hell for Rafian VCA (the hero of Anstractor) that if you saw it, you would wonder if they even like my books. Raf is an unapologetic womanizer with a heart of gold (yes this creature does exist, people), so they project his sins unto me whenever they can.

My girlfriend threw Anstractor (the paperback) across the room because of her disappointment in Raf, and some others think that I have this devil inside of me that makes it into my heroes… I won’t even get into what they think of Brian Jackson from The Factory. It’s funny but it can be a bit exhausting. I appreciate my friends, we are a blunt bunch, so if I write crap, I hear about it.

With Re-wired I’ve gotten some emails from readers that have expressed their love for Tricia, or how they think Brad was an annoying, whiney boy. I’ve come to the conclusion that people love the story, love the girls, but the main man and the ending is polarizing. It makes my day when I get these emails though, and I hope to get more as I keep on writing.

Are there plans to a sequel to Re-wired? What other project(s) you’re working on?
I am contemplating a follow-up to it utilizing that world, and the robo-prejudice theme. With the release of Ex-Machina in theaters, and a resurgence in the interest towards that Isaac Asimov fueled area of Science Fiction, I… am… excited. I love androids, and with the setup from Re-wired, there is so much that I can do.

But it will be after a few other projects. Right now I am doing a six-part urban fantasy serial that is exclusively for Kindle Unlimited, but beyond that I have a side-story to Phasers of Anstractor called “Blade of The Lucan” to finish. I was forced to chop out a few chapters of Phasers that detailed Marian’s bloody revenge on the tyrant of her galaxy, but I am adding some meat to it for her own story.

Is there a message in the Rewired that you want readers to grasp?
We should let people live. So much of our modern reality has people telling us who to love, what to love, what we can take into our bodies, and what we can take out of it. Re-wired was written to show how a man can develop something that makes him happy but is then forced to hide it in order to avoid being jailed and scrutinized.

It’s a simple theme, and I know it is simple, but sometimes it takes a metaphor to drive the whole point of “live and let live” home to people.

The other message is based on my background in blogging relationship advice. As men (and I target us since I am a man and can speak to this) we tend to keep looking for something different or better to come along. We have a good girl who holds us down and takes care of us, but because she is there, and too convenient, we take advantage of it. We look for a woman that we think we “deserve”.

This is cliché, trite, and pretty standard for a young man with something going on for him (looks, money, power). Re-wired parodies that a bit, and it shows us through Brad, that we can be pretty unrealistic about life and love.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Next Phase series?
Anstractor was released when I was so green and new to this that I fight myself after every single project to not go back and tear it apart and rebuild it. But many writers probably have this same issue with their first book… eventually I want to do a second edition called “The Phaser”, where I can trim out some of the bloat, fix the pacing a bit, and make it as good as Phasers of Anstractor.

Do you prioritize writing on your different series?
Yes I do. I have it set that every January/February a major book in the Anstractor series will be released. I have a very violent crime series that is also a major release I want yearly around July or so, and everything else falls where they fall. I went and complicated things with a series of shorts that I’m doing monthly, but I intend to keep my schedule for January and July.

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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