Interview: An Interview with Roma Gray

Book Name and Description:

Celebration of Horror 1: The Best of Roma Gray

 Holidays, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries: all times to celebrate, all times to cherish—all times to fear!

In this book you will find a collection of Roma Gray’s best horror stories, each one focused on these special times of the year. Find out why you should think twice before going to mom’s house for Christmas dinner or venturing out into the woods on that camping trip. You might just decide it’s best to stay home…assuming, of course, you are safe even there…

Available on Amazon for Kindle and in Print: Click Here.

 

What gave you the idea for Celebration of Horror series?

I created this book series for two main reasons:

First of all, I did it to pull together all of my best short stories. When you publish short stories, it feels like you’re scattering them out on the wind. They all fly away in different directions, landing in various anthologies or magazines, easily forgotten over time. It’s nice to have them together in one single place. Not all of my stories end up here, of course, just the cream of the crop. And since they’ve been previously published, I know which ones the readers enjoyed the most and which ones are the best of the best.

Secondly, I wanted to create a small, inexpensive sampler of my work. Each book in the series will be only five or six stories, and they will be sold in Kindle format for only $.99, and for under $7 in audiobook (I have no control of audiobook price, that’s up to Audible).

Truth be told, I planned out this series before I ever published a single book or story. That’s why most of my short stories have a holiday theme.

 

What got you into writing in the horror genre?

My happiest memories of my childhood were of Halloween. While walking to school with my friends, we’d make up spooky tales. That’s why I call them Trick-or-Treat Thrillers. To me, it’s like being a kid all over again.

 

How long have you been writing?

Since I was eight. My first novella, The Claw, was about a plantation in Africa where people were getting killed by some unknown animal. The plantation was owned by a duke and duchess from England who had built a very British-style, gothic mansion. I needed that Halloween feel, after all. Anyway, the police couldn’t identify the claw marks and thought it was actually a human killing people, using a man-made replica of a claw to throw them off track. Nope. It was a dinosaur, still alive in the jungles of Africa, that the natives called, “The Grishla”.

I never quite forgot the Grishla, and he is in my first novel, The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War.

 

Tell us about your past books and stories?

My first book is a slightly unusual anthology called Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon: Six Trick-or-Treat Thrillers. Each short story represents an upcoming novel. I had a lot of fun with this, I even blurred the line between fiction and reality by interviewing the characters about their upcoming books. It was the first time (probably the last time) I have ever interviewed a fruit bat.

My first novel is The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War, which was first introduced in Gray Shadows. It is the start of a ten-book series. The first book starts out with a Native American teenager who has been told he is a witch and is destined to save his tribe from a dinosaur animal spirit (the afore mentioned Grishla).

 

What is the writing process like for you?

I’m definitely a ‘pantser’ (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) because I like to be surprised by the story as it unfolds. I might have a general idea of where the book is going, a high-level mental outline, but that’s about it. After I get the “zero draft” done (I like to start with zero, first draft feels too serious), I then do another two drafts to patch up holes and make sure the plot is solid, then on the third and fourth draft I build up the scenes. This part is a lot of fun, because as I reach each chapter I ask myself “What is important in this scene? What am I trying to communicate to the reader here? Did I achieve it?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to “twist the knife” as I like to call it, which is when I punch it up (through description, dialog, or adjusting pace) to meet the intent. This is also probably the hardest part, because this is when each word really counts.

 

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

My draft system is a vast improvement over the days when I used to try to write an outline first. It sucked out all the joy, and by the time I got to the writing, I didn’t feel like working on the story or book anymore. Outlines turn writing into work. Who needs that?

 

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War. It has received a lot of recognition, which is satisfying for a first novel. In short stories, The Easter Feast (in Celebration of Horror 1) would be one of my top choices as well. I won a contest with that story, and it’s probably the top favorite story among my readers.

 

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Even though Celebration of Horror 1 was created to be a sampler of my work, I’d still say it is The Hunted Tribe. Being a larger piece, it allowed me to explore the characters and build in foreshadowing, suspense, and other complexities.

 

What are you doing next?

In 2017, I have three books coming out.

Jurassic Jackaroo: Jasper’s Junction, which is a prequel to The Hunted Tribe. It takes place in the old West, about a hundred years earlier. A retiring gun slinger has decided to hunt the Grishla, and he holds a contest where he pits criminals against criminals to see who will join him on his little safari. It will be a two-book series.

My second book due to come out this year is Haunted House Harbor: Humanity’s Hope. In this story, the “Perfect Apocalypse” (nuclear bombs, killer bees, zombies and other terrors) has occurred. The world is in complete chaos except a small coastal town called Haunted House Harbor. For some unknown reason, all of the terrible threats are stopped at the town’s borders. People flock there, of course, but the refugees soon realize this town has its own hidden horrors that may be worse than the zombies, killer insects, and radiation, combined. This will be a three-book series.

Last but not least, The Hunted Tribe 2: Rocket’s Red Glare. The main character, Sean, believes his grandmother is insane. He has to figure out if the Grishla is indeed real or if she is, in fact, the one behind the murders.

 

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 If mom, dad, little sis, big bro, and your best buddies are fans of your genre, it might be ok to let them take a peek at it. Otherwise, keep them far away. I’ve seen too many writers get discouraged because they had a close friend or relative read their book and hate it, never taking into account that the book was sci-fi or horror and the person only liked romance or mysteries or some such thing. I’ve even seen horror writers trash a perfectly good horror novel simply because it wasn’t their type of horror and they just didn’t get it.

The truth is, for a book to be a best seller, it only needs 1% of the reading market in the United States to buy it. And in the end, even Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and any other best-seller you can name will never do much better than that simply because each person has very specific tastes in reading material. Think about what this means; for every best-seller out there, if only 1% of the readers in the US like their books, then the numbers dictate that most people (99%) will dislike their work. And yet, they’re a best-seller! So, if that is true for them, how likely is it your friends and relatives will fall into that 1% that likes your book? One in a hundred, right? (the math isn’t too difficult here). The numbers are against you, so why put them and yourself through that?

In my opinion, people turn to beta readers because they want validation. My advice: forget validation and focus on your writing. Do your due diligence, get a good editor (a professional, not an amateur which is what a beta reader is) to evaluate your work, read about how to improve character development, pace, etc. After that, though, get the work done, get it published, and move on. Stop looking for the applause.

 

Author Bio:

Roma Gray writes what she refers to as “Trick-or-Treat Thrillers,” stories with a spooky, creepy, Halloween feel to them.

Currently she works at J. Ellington Ashton as a Staff Editor and Director of Marketing, as well as for her own editing company, Night Sky Book Services.

She lives in a haunted house in Oregon with her black cat, her Chihuahua, and her parrot.

 

Links:

Amazon Author Page

Audible Page (audiobooks)

Official Website

Night Sky Book Services (editing, formatting and cover creation)

 

 

 

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