Christopher Grey is an author of fiction, non-fiction, and games specializing in speculative genres that range from fantasy and science fiction to alternative history, supernatural and conspiracies. His unique genre-bending approach is to extrapolate the human experience by exploring the fantastical, whether the experience be high fantasy, gritty historical fiction, or turn-paging adventures. In addition to being a novelist, Grey is an avid history buff, philosophy student, and game designer and so brings unexpected and insightful and esoteric texture to to all of his interests and projects.
Grey’s debut novel Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, was published in 2014, by Basilicus Press, an imprint of Pacific Coast Creative Publishing. In 2015 he published The Children’s Author Playbook, a treatise on storytelling for younger audiences and help to compile a new publication of The Completed Works of Plato.
Grey lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
Tell us a bit about your family.
I have a loving and very supportive family—both my extended family and my immediate family. All of the women in my life are very big readers and so I grew accustomed to seeing my mother with her nose in a book. My wife is the same way. All of the men in my life are big movie buffs. I seem to straddle somewhat in the middle and end up bringing the momentum and excitement of film into novels. Therefore my books are much more plot-centric than character-centric and I tend to focus a bit more on dialogue. My wife is a novelist as well and we have had a wonderful time helping each other with characters and plots over the years and are both intimately involved with each other’s process. I also have an eight-year old son, who is destined to be a writer as well. Or a drummer. Or perhaps a marine biologist. Hard to tell, at this point, which.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
Novel-writing can be a very personal process and so from start to finish there is a lot of self-doubt and fear. It helps to have a supportive novelist wife to work through “itchy” parts of a project or to help get over brick walls. It also helps to have her be a trusted confidante on whether or not a concept will work. That said, the best thing a writer can do is detach from the book. It is personal, yes, but ultimately it isn’t for you. It’s for your readers. The objective is, then, to make it the best book you can for the readers. Detaching oneself emotionally from a project goes miles into becoming truly objective about the work, as to, whether or not it will work for your audience.
Why do you write?
I write because I always have. I don’t remember ever not writing. It’s like breathing for me. That isn’t to say it comes easy to me, it doesn’t. Writing is a lot of work and editing doubly so. However, not being in the process at some level feels very uncomfortable for me. Like exercise, I may dread it—and like exercise, it may be a major effort, but it, like exercise, fills a void and energizes me when I’m in the work. Although sometimes wearing and exhausting, it is like medicine for the mind. I don’t write to deliver a poignant message, like many rightfully do, I write to immerse readers in a cathartic journey.
What books did you love growing up?
I was introduced to Douglas Adams at a very early age and ate those books like candy. There was something Adams did with words that made you feel smart and really impact the way you think about language and storytelling. I could never hope to reach that level of wittiness in my own writing, but it always makes me think about the words I choose. I also read a great deal of fantasy and science fiction in my younger days and was influenced heavily by it. Interestingly, I read a great deal of Richard Bach, which fed my ever-present philosophical side—and no doubt, my readers will see my plots drenching with that impression.
Who is your favorite author?
Undoubtedly it is difficult for any author to choose a favorite, but recently I have been most influenced by Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. It is unfathomable to me how these two manage to create such remarkable works consistently over-and-over. I am also jealous about how prolific they are. Gaiman is a wonderful storyteller and Martin is a wonderful plot-weaver. I am ever aspiring to their greatness.
What book genre of books do you adore?
My favorite genre to write in is interestingly different than my favorite genre to read. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good action/adventure or thriller/suspense—particularly political and historical thrillers of the Dan Brown and Michael Crichton variety. However, my favorite genre to read is high fantasy. I love me some sweeping epics of Lord of the Rings scale. Interestingly, I do have a long-term project that may materialize that fits in this genre—but even those books have a Christopher Grey-esque conspiracy theory feel. Lately have been attached to Steven Erikson, but when George R.R. Martin comes back, I’ll immediately jump over.
What book should everybody read at least once?
Great question. And I have a long list. No, I can’t answer with only one. I have ten. Here they are in no particular order:
• The Stand, by Stephen King
• Illusions, by Richard Bach
• Skinny Legs and All, by Tom Robbins
• The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
• Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
• Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
• The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
• The Odyssey, by Homer
• A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
• Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, by Christopher Grey
What do you hope your obituary will day about you?
How about my epitaph?
Here lies one Christopher Grey
Who wondered both night and day
Looking for a good villain
Until at last it killed him.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in Denver, Colorado but spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles. I have an attachment to Colorado, much, I think, in the same way Stephen King does Maine, however my experiences are drawn more from my life in Los Angeles. I tend to write about Denver and, in fact, am in the works on a series that takes place there. However, I’ve had the fortune of a very active business life and spent a lot of years on the road. There are very few cities in the U.S. that I haven’t spent a substantial amount of time in and I draw on all of those experiences for my settings. Some of the cities that have most influenced me other than Denver and Los Angeles are New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Washington DC. Many of my books and stories take place in those cities as I am intimately connected with them and their culture. My debut novel, Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon is, interestingly, an exception. Much of that book takes place in places I’ve never been (i.e. Montreal, Nova Scotia and Bermuda), so I had to do a tremendous amount of research before composing the plots there.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
While it is true authors need inspiration, for me that comes in the “story conjuring” stage. In other words, I am inspired to write a particular story/plot/character arc and that starts the novel-writing process. After that, there is little inspiration. The process is more about commitment to the idea, dedication to completing the project, and rolled-up-sleeve writing until it’s done. I know there are authors out there that must wait for inspiration to write, I’m not one of those. Writing, to me, is no different than going to the office. You need to do it, whether you feel like it or not.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
I’m a marketer by trade, so I think I have it easier than some authors with regards to public relations, advertising, marketing programs, etc. However, even as a professional marketer the book business is a unique animal with tons of unwritten rules and antiquated frustrating processes. Now with the explosion of digital publishing technology it is harder than ever to get separated from the herd. Every author needs to be an expert in the publishing business–know it inside and out, from creation to production, distribution and marketing. Without knowing the whole picture it is very difficult to navigate. The author’s job doesn’t end with the manuscript–it never ends.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
It’s hard for authors to think of their novels as anything but children they have raised and brought to college…I mean publication. So, in that case, it is difficult to let the child out in the big, scary world, with big, scary people that will say mean things to it. I’ve found the best thing for me to do is to completely detach myself emotionally from the work. It is probably easier for me, because since I’m a marketer by trade I can look at anything I produce as a “product.” In that sense, A product can be changed, re-calibrated, pushed around and messed with much easier than a child. The sooner an author views finished manuscripts as products, the easier it will be for them.
Do you plan to publish more books?
Absolutely, I’m in this for the long haul. I have two more Will Shakespeare books in the works for the 1947 era, and may also tackle three more in a different year following the same characters. Apart from that, I have a novel in the works that follows conspiracy/occult themes in New Orleans set in the 1920s. Another series in the works is aimed at young adults and follows secret societies in Denver in a modern setting. Finally, I have a long-term project planned taking a gritty exploration of Atlantis. All of these projects will be out within the next five years. After that–I’m sure something else is in the pipe I don’t even know about yet.
How do you write – laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
I’m not one of those authors that needs a sound-proof, perfectly protected Chamber of Secrets to write (my wife does). I often write before work, during lunch breaks and at the kitchen table while my kid plays. I typically write with a keyboard on my iPad–it’s more flexible and is stored on the cloud and can be accessed wherever I am. Once a section has been written I put it into Scrivener — a must-have piece of software for authors. In that program, I can reorganize scenes, edit, flesh out, and keep the structure planning in place. When Scrivener releases an iPad app I will use nothing else. I try to punch out 500-1,000 words a day. Some days I miss, but generally I stay on track. During National Novel Writing Month in November, I do 1,700 words a day.
My writing process is generally this: while I’m writing a novel, I am editing a manuscript and planning another novel. Generally I have three in the works at once. The important thing is that all projects are consistently being touched in some way. Once I’m done with a manuscript my wife has her hand at editing, then it goes to a professional editor, after which it is worked on for about a year before hitting the publisher. From idea to publisher, it can take about three years for a novel–so it’s important to have several in the pipeline at different stages.
Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
It is important for authors to develop professional relationships with people in the industry other than authors. Not to say you shouldn’t mingle with other authors, it is far more valuable to connect with editors, distributors, designers, publishers, and agents. Those that actually work in the industry are very valuable assets, not just for helping your career, but for having a holistic understanding of how the industry works. Too many authors have unrealistic expectations on their role in the industry and how their manuscripts are handled from pen to print. The more authors immerse themselves with professionals in the industry, the better they will be at being authors. In that sense I rely upon a lot of people in the industry to guide and consult me. I’m a member of many associations and read more newsletters than I can handle. Professional networking is critical for success.
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
Success in writing is continued commitment to the work, no matter the results. New authors sometimes expect the mass market paper deal so they can retire from their jobs. Like any trade, writing requires years of hard work. Upon releasing the fifth book the first book starts selling. It takes patience, dedication, and commitment. You have to build up your name like a portfolio and before long you have a career. Authors that produce only one novel and no work in the trades or magazines cannot expect a career. Some novels fly, some sink. But success comes in continued production of them.
Do you have any tips on how writers can relax?
I’m a workaholic, so it’s a tough question to ask for me. In many ways writing is relaxing for me–but only when it is going smoothly. I do try the standard tips: yoga, good sleep, etc. For me, though, relaxation is being with the family–turning off work for a while and watching silly YouTube videos with an 8 year-old or going to the local botanic garden. It’s important to keep connected with your family, no matter your workload or stress level.
How often do you write? And when do you write?
I write daily, usually about 500 words and when I have downtime. Usually in the morning with coffee before my family gets up or sometimes at night after everyone is in bed. I may be working on concepts throughout the day, but the actual writing part of the process doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time on a day-to-day basis. The important part is that it is done consistently so that the work doesn’t back up.
Do you have an organized process or tips for writing well? Do you have a writing schedule?
I’m very organized when it comes to writing and will often pound out the plot, without too many details, long before I start the first paragraph. I rely on tools like Scrivener, a wonderful piece of software by Literature and Latte, to keep me organized. Generally the process goes like this: from an idea, I formulate a plot outline and then begin writing at least 500 words per day until the manuscript is done. If I have trouble writing a particular scene I will pigeon-hole it and then move onto another scene and will often write out of order, just to reorganize later (using Scrivener). Once the manuscript is complete, I leave it alone for a couple months and then go back for a major edit. After that edit, I give it to my wife for feedback and comments. Then it goes to a professional editor, finally a proofreader, and then to the publisher. The whole process can take 1-3 years.
Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it – What keeps you going?
I think most writers have a neurotic compulsion to keep on writing, no matter what is happening in their lives or what the product seems to be. The challenge for me isn’t to continue to write, but to finish what I’ve started. Not only finish the manuscript, but to take it through the whole editing and publishing process. I have finished countless manuscripts that are sitting under dust on my computer. It’s one thing to write, it’s entirely another to turn a manuscript into a product. Finding the motivation to do that is very difficult, but gets easier with each passing project.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?
I admit whole-heartedly that I am not a literary author. I stretch my legs in literary fiction from time to time, but my secret sauce is adventure storytelling. Those are the movies I love, the books I read, and my inspirational focal point. That being the case, I have no delusions that my words will be shifting mountains, altering societal movements, or providing awe-inspiring emotional moments for my readers. Frankly, if someone felt awe-inspired after my book, I’d wonder if it was my book they read.
If a reader were to leave with anything, I would hope they left with a broader perspective on what is true regarding history, religion or politics. We take so much at face value, I like to go in and disrupt thinking so that people may second guess what we think we know about Christopher Columbus, the American founding fathers, or the real reasons for war. Scratching just beneath the surface can make us wonder why groups like freemasons have been so vilified over the years—or what agenda religious organizations may have against secular institutions. I also believe the undercurrent of my personal philosophy must be evident in my fiction.
How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?
Whether or not Facebook and Twitter are good things is completely beside the point. Social media is here to stay. It isn’t a fad, it’s a new normal. I think it is very easy to fall into a timeless black hole when using these sites, so while it is important to put a strict (time restrictive) process in place as well as a marketing goal, strategy and set of tactics, before launching into social media, there is no doubt that all authors should be using it. The tricky part is to find that balance of promotional content and social content. And to do it in less than an hour a day. Also, don’t forget GoodReads. Very important for authors.
What’s your next project?
It is very likely that my next book will be a project I have been working on the past few years. Based upon my current trajectory that is the most likely to “pop” first. The series takes place in the present day (a departure for me), and follows the events that lead to the end of civilization as we know it—specifically as told by the Book of Revelation. The catch is that, coming from a secular point of view, the Second Coming is a bad thing and the heroes of the story are the villains in the Bible. Look for it hopefully sometime soon.
How do you feel about self-publishing?
It’s getting harder and harder to differentiate. I’m with a micro-publisher who, by some eyes, may be on the same level as self-publisher. It certainly doesn’t have the deep marketing budgets or broad distribution that other publishers have. With digital technology, limited distribution channels, and the rise of eBooks the traditional model is certainly antiquated. As long as the book is edited and marketed with the same diligence that traditional publishers have, then I’m all for it. Successful self-publishing, however, requires that the author be embedded in the whole process from start to finish and an expert on the industry. While it is true this helpful for any author, the role of the author should be to write. That is one reason seeking out an independent publisher may make more sense for someone that is a great writer but that can’t design, distribute or market books. Too many wonderful books and authors fall into the self-publishing trap and, because it is easy to do so, put out subpar artwork and unedited manuscripts with no distribution or marketing. This can hurt them down the road as they try to pursue independent or mass-market publication. My advice on this topic is: if you have the skills to take it all the way, proceed—but proceed with caution.
Do you find the time to read?
Yep! I think all good authors are good readers. During novel-writing I tend to read non-fiction, but in between projects I read fiction. Have lately been enjoying Steven Erikson novels. And will pick up the latest Neil Gaiman very shortly.
Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
The last book I purchased was actually a piece of non-fiction for research on a current writing project, so I won’t go into that. However, the last piece of fiction I bought was Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. I wrote a pretty flippant review of it, especially referring to its robust length—however, in retrospect, the story really hung with me and I will likely finish the series. Epic fantasy is a challenging genre and while Erikson has a few tropes in there, he really does make the experience gritty and real. Unfortunately, the Song of Ice and Fire series sandblasts it away—but who can compete with George R.R. Martin.
How long have you been writing?
Ever since I can remember. My first magnum opus, completed when I was eight, was a 60-page alien invasion novel that took place in a skyscraper. A couple years later Die Hard came out and Hollywood has been stealing my ideas ever since.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Action/Adventure is undoubtedly my sweet spot, although I do enjoy writing speculative fiction. My biggest challenge in speculative fiction is that it is very difficult to be original and there are so many “greats” in the genre sometimes it is discouraging to participate in it. However, I am working on a unique take on Atlantis that would fall squarely in fantasy, although I am approaching it like my other historic fiction works—that is to say, to make it plausible enough that it can’t necessarily be disproven.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
The most challenging thing about writing is making the transition from hobbyist to novelist. A hobbyist looks at his or her work in a very different way than a novelist and many authors get stuck in the trap of trying to perfect their fiction with hobbyist glasses on. A novelist views fiction as a product, not necessarily a piece of art. They are able to shape and mold it into something that is desirable to someone beyond themselves and, in so doing, develop a healthy distance from the work that allows them to be a professional. It is a jump, and sometimes a painful one, but well worthwhile if one is able to make it happen.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
I was taught very early on not to specifically identify my writing style. Stephen King also talked about this in his important work for authors, On Writing. I think the reason is because if one identifies his or her writing style, then he or she will be inclined to mimic the style rather than be authentic. Without a doubt, I have a writing style, but I don’t think about what it is. I do, however, think about my writing brand. That is to say, I am conscious of whether or not my work fits the “Christopher Grey” brand. When readers get used to my work, they will expect a certain flavor that I am careful to keep.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t struggle with writer’s block as much as I struggle with writer’s motivation. In the depths of novel writing, it becomes a lot of work—and takes time. Many times I’d much rather been in the planning phase or editing phase of a novel. Writing it can be damned hard. Keeping motivated to punch out 500 words a day, regardless of whether or not you “feel” like it, is not fun. So in order to keep motivated, I skip the motivation process by not allowing myself to do anything else until the words are written. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing complete garbage, I have to get the words out. Once I’m a couple hundred into it, then the motivation problem seems to go away.
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
As I’m in full book promotion mode, I’m afraid I’m running dry at this very moment, however I fully expect to pick up Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane at my earliest convenience. I’ve already bought it and it’s ready to be read.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
The best tool for new writers is reading. I know a lot of writers starting out that do not have a regular fiction-reading regimen. It is not possible to write without being a consumer of novels. Read what is in your genre and read in genres that you aspire for. I read 10-15 books a year—my wife, also a novelist, reads about twice that. Read, read, read.
If you could leave other authors with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is a business. Some products you make will be great, some will be bad. The bad ones may sell better than the good ones. Editors will make your manuscripts bleed and reviewers will use manuscripts as toilet paper. The sooner you detach yourself from a manuscript and push it like the product it is, the better off you’ll be. We write to tell stories and it’s hard to remember that not everyone likes all stories. Don’t stop, keep writing and when you’ve finished a manuscript start another one while the first is still warm.
When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have?
I have no intention on ever stopping. I only hope that if I die, I will have first finished whatever manuscript I happen to be working on at the moment. If I have the chance to look back at my life, I will hope to see that I loved and that I was loved. That’s all humans really need.
Now On Sale
Great fun, fast moving and a nice twist to the ending.
Templar Scholar Dr. Robert Lomas
Adventure reading at its best. A spicy, elusive treasure hunt.
Midwest Book Review
A wonderfully exciting roller coaster ride of a book.
Hard-bitten prose should please lovers of the genre.
Historical Novel Society
Post-War Treasure Hunt, Old World Secrets
In the fall of 1947, Will Shakespeare saw the world collapse around him. Shakespeare, a secret soldier for the Knights Templar, barely escapes the slaughter of his entire knighthood at the hands of a rogue militant arm of the Vatican in a small Montreal church.
With orders to escort Templar business associate Dorothy Wilkinson back to her home in Bermuda, Will must locate and rescue the most important secret treasure in human history before it is devoured by a hurricane in the watery caves beneath her father’s property.
The spiraling quest sends Will and Dorothy into uncovering dark secrets that make up the origins of the knighthood as they confront the traps and puzzles that masterfully protect the world’s most coveted treasure.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon is the first of a series of novels about a secret militant order within the Masonic Knights Templar that operate above society in a secret world. This particular book is how one of the surviving members of the order is racing to save the Holy Grail from being devoured by a hurricane while another secret society is trying to stop him. It’s basically Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown. The real impetus for writing it was to explore secret societies from the vantage point of the secret societies. The mainstream point of view on secret societies is generally negative and full of sensational mistruths. After so many years of research, I wanted to cast groups like Masons and Templars in a new light.
How did you come up with the title for Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon?
Titles are very hard for me. I will often have a working title to help frame my thinking and then develop a title from the actual manuscript. Other times, I know the title before the story. In the case of Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, I wanted an “Indiana Jones” feel to emote its action/adventure genre. Also, since the protagonist has such a unique name, it made sense to name it after him, indicating also that this is the start of a series. The Ships of Solomon was an easy “adventure name,” because the climax features ships that belonged to the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.
Can you tell us about the main characters of Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon?
Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon has two protagonists. First, the title and series namesake, Will Shakespeare and the woman that he is assigned to protect in the novel, Dorothy Wilkinson. The book alternates point of view between the two, strategically done, so that the reader—not knowing any of the secrets or conspiracies—can be introduced to the narrative through Dorothy’s eyes. Whereas much of the “insider” perspective could be served through Will’s eyes. Both characters are fishes out of water—Will, a common foot soldier for the secret order, is saddled with a task far above his pay grade and with no help or support and Dorothy is a colonial daughter of a businessman from Bermuda who’d never stepped foot off the island, let alone been in danger. They are both resilient and adaptable, but Will views the world as a soldier and she as a civilian, so the two wrestle with the realities of their adventure as they get deeper into danger. While they are both adventure heroes in the traditional sense, I believe that there is more complexity and depth to the characters. I don’t particularly like damsel-in-distress formulae and that doesn’t occur in this novel. Also, the action hero is not perfect—making quite a few miscalculations and errors along the way that I believe other stories wouldn’t have allowed to happen. They have a subtle and strange relationship, that when pressed to the limits, forces unique character arcs.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
My characters are in large part created as a result of the plot, as is the nature of the action/adventure genre. The plot came directly from a wonderful piece of fringe non-fiction called “Pirates The Lost Templar Fleet” by David Hatcher Childress. I ruthlessly took many of his ideas and actualized them in fiction, including the Freemason absorption of the original Knights Templar, the Templar treasure moving to the new world under Prince Henry Sinclair and then moved again to the Caribbean by Francis Drake and Francis Bacon. All the good conspiracies came from that book. I certainly embellished quite a bit—including the nature of Oak Island and the meaning of the Holy Grail.
Once I charted out the plot, I determined the ideal time period with the perfect hurricane and went from there. The characters were created to move the plot forward, but I worked to give them texture and depth by keeping motivational undercurrents throughout and making sure the plot changes impacted their character arcs. Interestingly, the protagonist, Dorothy Wilkinson, was taken from the Wilkinson family that discovered and owned the property in Bermuda where the Crystal Cavern is located—just like in the book.
Why did you choose to write this particular book?
I don’t choose to write books, they choose me. I have a laundry list of concepts that must be fleshed out through the process of novel writing and will likely never run into the end of that list. This particular book was a fictional recreation of the compelling theories brought to light by David Hatcher Childress’ “Pirates of the Lost Templar Fleet” and was crafted in a way to show the hysterical conspiracy theorists that freemasons and Templars aren’t necessarily maniacal world-controlling Satanists, but rather integral to the development of the United States and the modern democracies we all currently enjoy.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
As I am not a Freemason, I had a very difficult time getting much of the “insider knowledge” right about freemasons and the Masonic Knights Templar. While much of what I originally conceived was a result of the historic Knights Templar, I had a tremendous amount of help from a master Mason on making sure the nuances and background was accurate, even within the context of conspiracy theories. While I’m certain it can still be picked apart by masons and masonic scholars, I am comfortable with everything being at least plausible given the story’s context.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
One of the reasons I choose to write historical fiction, is that I get to immerse myself in the time period and similarly I love conspiracy theories for the same reason. I learned a great deal about the post-war era, masonry and history. Telling a story in this environment requires ruthless research and fact-checking—a process that continued even past the final manuscript.
Will you write others in this same genre?
The conspiracy-focused historical action/adventure is a genre I’m very comfortable in and already have several books planned that will fit the niche. I am also working in speculative fiction, but that is still benchmarked against conspiracy theories and secret societies—including a fantasy series that is in the works.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I make no pretense that my novel has some sort of higher meaning, however, if there is anything that I’d like readers to take away from Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, not everything in the history books is true. History was created by those who wanted to control the message. It is easy to vilify those that are perceived as being in the wrong, but in the journey for truth it can sometimes be surprising who the villains actually are.
How much of the book is realistic?
In my genre it is very difficult to be “factual,” so I aspire to be “plausible.” The book aims to be as realistic as possible, given the circumstances, and I go through great lengths to introduce (and run with) ideas that could possibly be real, but at minimum, not disproven. It is meant to be exciting and adventurous, not to be enlightening. That said, there is much in there that many scholars believe to be true, even if mainstream academia doesn’t accept it, such as: the arrival of the Scottish to the New World a hundred years before Columbus; a secret war between Knights Templar and the Catholic Church; the transformation the Knights Templar into the Scottish Rite; the true identity of Shakespeare—to name a few.
How important do you think villains are in a story?
I suppose it depends on how you define villains. Antagonists, without a doubt, are integral to a story and, I’d argue, a story cannot exist without one. However, antagonists need not be villains—in other words, need not be “bad.” The more layered and complex the antagonist is, the better. As a matter of fact, antagonists should be every bit as layered and complex as the protagonist. There are many antagonists in Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, and each with varying levels of “badness.” I particularly like the Barrister, who throughout believes he is in the right and doing God’s work. He believes that all the way until the end. The protagonists in the story make questionable decisions and do not always have same convictions as the Barrister does. “Villains” should struggle with the same non-black/white nature of ethics and morality that we all do. And just because an antagonist is in conflict with our protagonist, doesn’t make the antagonist bad—nor does it make the protagonist good.
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Or email at cgrey.author(at)gmail.com.