WELCOME TO THE TRAIN
Everybody please welcome science fiction author Greg Spry of the Beyond the Saga series!
Beyond the Cloud Nine won silver medal in 2015 Reader’s Favorites Awards in the Science Fiction category, and IAN Book of the year awards nominee for Science Fiction. He writes action-packed hard science fiction with space combat and technology. If you go to his website, you can enter a Goodreads giveaway beginning Jun 23 and ending Jun 30. I’ve wandered around his site and it really has a nice feel to it. Please go to: www.gregspry.com.
I found Greg to be an all around fascinating person with a great background to write science fiction. He has worked in IT, computer programming, search engine marketing, entrepreneurship and holds a MS Space Systems degree from the Florida Institute of Technology. But above all, he loves science fiction. There it is folks!
Let’s meet our guest!
*How did you get into science fiction? Early childhood influences?
I’ve loved science fiction as far back as I can remember. As a kid, I used to create Lego spaceships, watch Star Trek and Robotech, and play video games like Final Fantasy and every space shooter I could find. Now that I think about it, my dad used to watch a lot of sci-fi, so I watched along with him.
Yes! I did much of the same thing. Lego spaceships, Robotech, video games, Star Trek, but my brother never let me play Final Fantasy. I begged him to play it but he was quite dedicated to my misery. Robotech is probably my favorite out of this group though. I wish they would”ve made it a longer series.
*What kind of books did you read over the years?
I remember reading My Teacher is an Alien and plenty of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I read Ender’s Game in late elementary school, the 21-book Robotech series three times in middle school, and classics like To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. Now, I read hard science fiction and self-published books.
I can see you were an early consumer of science fiction. Never realized that Robotech had a book series! My diet mainly consisted of various cartoons versus books.
*Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Since a young age, yes. I wrote a couple of full manuscripts in middle school.
This is an amazing feat for a kid in middle school. Some adults haven’t even completed full manuscripts!
*Are you currently writing full-time?
No, I work as a software consultant for an IT company during the day. I’m working toward turning writing into my full-time day job.
That’s great, I’m all for it. A lot of us have the same dream. I certainly think you have the talent to do so.
*Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are Arthur C. Clarke, Peter Hamilton, and Alastair Reynolds.
Nice. I’ve heard of Clarke, but the others are new to me honestly. They must be pretty good!
*Tell us about the Beyond Saga series
The Beyond Saga is my generational, fate-of-the-galaxy-hangs-in-the-balance type of space opera based on elements of hard science fiction. The saga includes the first attempts at faster-than-light speed travel, exciting space combat, cool technologies that are truly possible, first contact with alien races, time travel, alternate realities, and more.
Wow. This sounds like a very juicy series!
Book 1, Beyond Cloud Nine (https://bit.ly/bc9kdle), is the story of the first pilot to fly faster than light and the solar conspiracy that gets in her way. Book 2, Beyond the Horizon (https://bit.ly/bthkdle), follows a young ensign as she tries to stop the extermination of a benevolent alien race during humankind’s first interstellar mission. Book 3, Beyond Yesterday, involves travel to Earth’s past to discover mankind’s origins and book 4, Beyond Existence, is the big intergalactic finale in which the human race may perish or prevail—or both. Books 1 and 2 are available now.
Beyond the Horizon was just published May 1, 2016. Read the Beyond the Horizon official homepage. His website is amazing!
*Can you take us through your research process?
I’ve immersed myself in science fiction my whole life, so I know the concepts and how things go. With a master’s degree in space systems from the Florida Institute of Technology, I’ve got a solid knowledge base regarding the realities of real space flight. All things space and astronomy naturally interest me, so I’ll use Google to confirm the details about things like the gravity and atmosphere of Titan or the conditions on a planet orbiting a red dwarf star.
At the start of the writing process, I outline at a high level and create basic character profiles. Then I let the story go where it goes as I write a rough first draft. Draft 2 is where I round out the characters, fix plot holes, make sure I’m showing rather than telling, and fill in the fine details. Draft 2 goes to beta readers and/or a critique group and an editor for refinement. After that process completes and the proofreading’s done, the publication and marketing process begins.
AMAZING. This sounds like a pretty refined process. I always enjoy hearing how authors delivers the goods! This is great.
You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
The books, movies, shows, and video games I’ve loved throughout the years have inspired me. One big inspiration was the Final Fantasy games. Anyone who has played role-playing video games knows they’re like interactive books or movies. The great plots and characters in them motivated me to create my own.
My brother would know all about it…
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer? After being published what’s next?
I’ve self-published two books, and I’m working to complete book 3 and then book 4 in my Beyond Saga. My goal is to generate enough of a revenue stream via book sales that I can turn to writing full-time, which means that marketing is currently my biggest challenge. I’ve been trying out different promotional services in hopes of finding something that works. Ultimately, I’d love to have my books turned into movies. Many people have seconded the notion that the space battles, environments, and plot of Beyond Cloud Nine would work well on the big screen.
Let it be so! That would be cool to see it on the big screen. You never know, it just might happen one day.
Beyond the Saga
What has hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
A market-savvy author knows that each book is an opportunity to sell all the other books. Hence, the more books you’ve published, the more books you’ll sell. My first problem is that the process of writing and releasing each book takes too much time given that I can only write in my spare time. If I could quit my day job and pump each one out faster, I’d make that much more money. I’ve been dumping hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into promotion without seeing enough results to even offset my costs. If it weren’t for my day job, I’d be declaring bankruptcy about now. So I’m kind of stuck at the moment not being able to write fast enough to make enough money at it.
Ah, that sounds like such a heartache. Drop me a line, I’d be happy to do some book promotion.
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
I love smart science fiction and creating plots, worlds, and characters. I also believe in myself and think I can do these things just about as well as most anything else that’s out there.
We definitely share the same values in creating plots, worlds and characters. Your confidence is also inspiring. Don’t let anything get you down.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
As previously discussed, visibility and how it takes money to make money. There are some well-known works of fiction out there that are only well-known because they’ve been mass-marketed. Meanwhile, there are other great works that aren’t well-known because a wide audience has yet to discover them. Such is the reality of the industry.
I’m glad I’ve discovered your work! And another reason why I do these interviews is to support authors like yourself.
Have you ever wanted to give up your dream? If so, why?
I actually got really down in the dumps for a few days after I released book 2. I ran a 3-month promo period prior to publication in which I gave away review copies, put my book on Amazon for pre-order, did Twitter blasts, contacted bloggers, and spent hundreds of dollars. I didn’t do any of that for book 1, yet sales of book 2 paled in comparison to book 1. So I thought if I’m going to pump all that effort into promo and not see results, how can I possibly be successful and why bother to keep writing? I make plenty of money in my day job. If I focus on that, I’ll be far better off financially in the long run, so why waste my time being anti-social and writing in my personal time when I could be out doing more active stuff? But as the weeks have gone by, I’ve noticed a little bit better recurring sales. It’s taken people a while to read book 1 and then get around to reading book 2. While sales are still a long way from where they need to be, I’m more hopeful for the future. I’ve also learned what to do and not to do with a book release, which will help with book 3 and beyond.
This is very helpful to get a view of your experiences. Seems like it’s quite a battle once you get your book published. Probably a lot of writers think getting a book published equals instant success. Thanks for sharing.
Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
To answer this question, we should put on our business caps. I’ve started several businesses in the past unrelated to writing. While most of them failed, I learned a lot from trying. Every now and then, a friend who wants to start a business will come to me for advice. They have a great idea and want to know how to make it a success. They want to pitch it like in an episode of Shark Tank. What do I tell them? That except in very special cases, Shark Tank is a lie and their idea doesn’t matter. When running a business, the least important factor in success is your product or service. Rather, your business system is what matters. I mean, of course you can’t be selling crap. But things like internal business practices/culture, marketing, sales, customer service, timing, leadership, and everything else surrounding the product or service is more important. Does McDonald’s serve the greatest, most revolutionary food on the planet? Of course not. Then why are they the biggest fast food chain in the world? Figure that out, and you start understanding what it takes to be successful. The point is that the actual writing itself is only a small part of the overall process—and not necessarily the most critical part—of being a successful author.
That’s why I think the single most important thing is passion. You’ve got to be able to conjure up the motivation to keep writing and promoting when nothing’s going right. So I ask people who come to me for advice about whether to start a business if they want to live and breathe their trade for 100+ hours per week. Do they want to not get paid for years until their product or service finally catches on? Do they want to spend far more time on everything else besides the actual trade (writing) that they love in order to make the business successful? Only if you answer yes to every one of those questions should you start that business, or in our case, get serious about writing. So to sum up and answer the question, people who quit don’t have the sustained passion for EVERYTHING that it takes to be successful.
Wow, this is wonderful advice for us newbies. You definitely sound like an entrepreneur to me. Simply being a writer isn’t going to cut it in today’s world. We must be the ultimate entrepreneur.
(Your name here)
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Do you have the passion to keep going? Is this what you truly love? If not, give up. But if yes, stick with it. Even if your writing isn’t very good, if you love doing it and have great desire to improve, you can and will get better. Don’t let anyone tell you writing a book is some mysterious art form that some people are born for and others aren’t. While some people are naturally good storytellers, the vast majority of all stories have certain structural elements in common. Simply put, there are right ways and wrong ways to write a story. You can learn them if you stay open to feedback, do your research, and are willing to put yourself out there.
I’m lovin’ it. Solid words here. Let’s face it, authors are the most resilient people on the planet. We must have an undying passion, a steadfast commitment, and a desire for life long learning. I love writing and learning equally. It’s an awesome journey and adventurous process. Let’s keep the ball rolling! Woohoo!
BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike?
I’m currently working on book 3 in the Beyond Saga. After that, I’ll write the final book 4. Somewhere in there, I’m going to publish one or more of my Bears in Space short stories, which are sci-fi comedies. Think South Park in space but with raunchy adult Disney animal characters. Bears in Space allows me to do some fun venting about all the horrible clichés out there: unrealistic alien invasions where the all-powerful but completely moronic aliens hover their spaceships over our cities like big bullseyes instead of just blasting us from orbit or releasing a virus, cheesy romance novels with the dude with washboard abs on the cover, dystopian apocalypses where the biggest threat is zombies that can’t even move fast enough to jog, and more. After the Beyond Saga, I’ll return to working on Destalis, which was the first full manuscript I wrote as an adult. Destalis will continue to explore the concepts introduced toward the end of the Beyond Saga but with more of a Game-of-Thrones-in-space type of feel. I haven’t decided whether it will remain a single book or if I’ll expand it into a book series.
Man, that sounds pretty sweet. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Write on! Don’t let anybody slow you down.
Thanks for coming on the site Greg! Come again!
GREG SPRY HAS AN EPIC WEBSITE
There’s also a BEYOND THE HORIZON ENCYCLOPEDIA that lists the following:
“There’s no sense in nonsense, especially when the heat’s hot.” – Safety Not Guaranteed movie. I don’t know why I love this saying. Maybe because it’s so stupid it’s awesome.