The Summoners, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Summoner?
LAYTON GREEN: The Summoner is about a religious phenomenologist and a Diplomatic Security Agent who investigate the mysterious disappearance of a U.S. diplomat at a ceremony in the Zimbabwe bushveld. It is the first in a series (The Dominic Grey Novels) which aims to explore the world’s most intriguing and dangerous cults. I have a background in international relations, religion, and Jujitsu (all central to the book), and I knew what type of series I wanted to create. The first book is set in Zimbabwe because my wife is Zimbabwean and, after traveling there a number of times, I thought the beautiful landscape, political unrest, and ancient mystique would make a great setting for a novel.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you create and maintain dramatic tension?
LAYTON GREEN: I believe in creating tension from both plot and character, at all levels of the novel—every sentence should be crafted with tension in mind, whether passive or active. Tension is key to a great story.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
LAYTON GREEN: Characters come from my gut—whether inspired by a real person or someone on the street, they have to have made a visceral and lasting impression on me. If characters are crafted as they should be—as distinct, vibrant, and unique personalities—then differentiation is not a problem. Development is tougher, and takes a lot of work. You have to truly know each main character inside and out before they hit the page.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
LAYTON GREEN: My ideal reader is someone interested in a fast-paced but intelligent mystery/suspense novel, someone who loves to travel, and someone who is fascinated by the questions spawned by all things spiritual, supernatural, paranormal—all things for which science has no ready answer.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
LAYTON GREEN: LONG. And continuing. I have been writing for well over a decade, reading voraciously my entire life (which is as, or more, important than writing), and constantly working on my craft.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
LAYTON GREEN: I write every day when I wake up, for 2-3 hours, and am editing throughout the day. And thinking about it most other times.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
LAYTON GREEN: All authors that have made it through to publication inspire me. Craft-wise, there are so many, but in particular: James Lee Burke, Michael Gruber, Charlie Huston, Dennis Lehane, Cormac McCarthy, Zadie Smith.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
LAYTON GREEN: The Magus by John Fowles.
DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?
LAYTON GREEN: I worked with Stewart Williams of Stewart Williams Design, who I recommend highly.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
LAYTON GREEN: I am constantly marketing and promoting online, and trying to create the online footprint of Godzilla. No matter how great a book is, if no one knows about it, it can’t sell. I also plan to tour bookstores, libraries, and conferences.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
LAYTON GREEN: Kindle is a great way to see if there is an audience for the book, and I think online publishing is the wave of the future for debut novelists—i.e., I think New York will look to those authors who have “proven” there is an audience for their work (and this is already happening). Plus, it’s a lot of fun, and the degree of control over the process is a beautiful thing.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
LAYTON GREEN: You need to make sure you have an outstanding, polished product before you risk your reputation by self-publishing. I’ve been writing for over a decade, my book was agented for years, and had multiple acquisition editors who wanted to pick it up (the sales teams were leery of the Africa setting). I didn’t know if I had a book that would sell, but I knew my product was good and polished. I think self-publishing on Kindle is wonderful, but I think if I would have tried it too soon, it might have hurt more than helped. That being said, when you are “ready” is an individual question—but don’t publish until you are sure the book is the best it can be.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
He has traveled to more than fifty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map. Religion and cults, as well as all things spiritual and supernatural, have also been a lifelong interest. Combine the travel and the religion with fifteen years of Japanese Jujitsu training, and the Dominic Grey series was born.
Layton lives with his wife and son in Miami.
Visit his website.
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