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It's great to be able to chat with authors whose books I have enjoyed personally. Today's interview is with Layton Green whose books are fantastic, and we discuss his writing process and what he finds difficult in fiction.
After the interview with Layton, there is a short interview with me talking about Prophecy with YA author Natalie Wright, on my own influences and whether kick-ass protagonist Morgan Sierra really is my alter-ego.
Layton Green is the author of The Summoner and The Egyptian. He has worked and traveled all over the world and combines his passions for religion, cult research, travel and jujitsu into his books.
In the podcast, we discuss:
- How Layton got started in international law but decided that he would rather be a writer.
- On writing a series. Layton did this deliberately but he wants to alternate the Dominic Grey series with stand-alone novels.
- The Summoner has a theme of Zimbabwean voodoo. Religion has always been an interest of Layton’s so it will be a recurring theme in his future books. Layton’s wife is British Zimbabwean so he has been there a number of times. Layton tells us about Dominic Grey and also Viktor Radek, religious phenomenologist, expert in cults.
- Thoughts on genre. The Summoner is listed under occult horror, mystery/thriller, spy intrigue, supernatural angle.
- Layton gets tired of series that repeat the same story over and over again. Each of his books will be tackle different things. So the Grey novels will be a series but with different plots.
- On writing fight scenes and Layton’s own experience of Japanese ju-jitsu. If you can’t go somewhere or experience it in person, then try watching videos. I talk about the YouTube videos I watched and the class I went to on Krav Maga which my protagonist, Morgan Sierra uses.
- On writing setting. Graham Greene could write about any place in the world from his library. Layton needs to go there but that’s an individual choice. Setting as a character and atmospheric/symbolic effect.
- Some of Layton’s influences. James Lee Burke for dialogue. Dennis Lehane. Michael Gruber. Herman Hesse. The best way to learn how to be a writer is to read.
- What Layton struggles with as a writer – plot. The ideas come easily but turning that into a specific plot is a lot of hard work.
- Writing process. Every morning from 6-10am 7 days a week and then throughout the day, he’s thinking about it. 35 hours a week on writing.
- Character development. It’s hard when the character isn’t necessarily likeable. Layton has reams of information that doesn’t make it into the book. You need to know the character so well that 99% doesn’t go in the book, it’s just the 1% that goes in. Layton prepares about 10 typed pages about each main character as a rough outline of the characters before he starts writing. Pull out all their scenes and dialogue in the rewrites. The books take between 6 months and 2 years to write.
- On the current publishing environment. Layton loves physical books and wants it to stick around. But like the music industry, indie and ebooks is allowing a lot of new voices to be heard. It’s hard to stand out but there are a lot of great books that don’t get traditionally published that are now emerging in indie.
- On book marketing. A large part of Layton's plan has been reaching book bloggers as they can reach readers. It is very hard though. The Summoner sold around 5000 copies in the first year but then when the next one was published, they both sold over 30,000 copies so you never know what will work. Konrath and others talk about the importance of having more books available as it increases your presence. You don’t just have a week to be a bestseller. Your time is best spent writing another book.
- What’s next for Layton? His next book, The Metaxy, is out in April and features a lawyer with a psychologist mentor whose death starts a chase through the paranormal and government.
You can find Layton at LaytonGreen.com and on Amazon where his books The Summoner and The Egyptian are now available. Below is my review for The Summoner. (The cover doesn't do it justice in my opinion.)
“I found this book compelling to read despite the chilling and almost horrific scenes of black magic torture that made me “look away” from the page in parts. I love to be educated at the same time as entertained and this book delivered with its interesting background on ‘juju' and Zimbabwe culture. There is a fast-paced plot and a new hero in Dominic Grey with his expertise in Japanese fighting martial arts. I like that he's not reliant on guns and doesn't seem to be a gorgeous chiseled-jaw hero. Nya is a strong woman and although I don't generally like to see women rescued all the time, she has enough strength to be a worthwhile character and a match for Grey in many aspects. I read this after The Egyptian and enjoyed this more. Green has managed to make an excellent series character and I'll be watching out for his books.”