Today I’m pleased to welcome author, Greig Beck to discuss his novel Return of the Ancients, book 1 in his Valkeryn Chronicles.1. Tell a little about yourself, what you do when you’re not writing, what are your aspirations for the future?
My name is Greig Beck and I was lucky enough to have grown up just across the road from Bondi Beach. Surfing was all I ever wanted to do – much to the annoyance of my parents and detriment of my schoolwork! Long days reading science fiction on the sand – heaven!
I still love the water and surfing, and my ideal day is to get up early, walk the dog and go for a jog. Then spend the morning writing. In the afternoon, if I can get down for a swim or surf, and finish the day with some editing, then it would have been a perfect day.
All writers want to write – so my aspirations are to continue writing forever. I hope to never run out of ideas. In addition, the dream of every author is to see one of their books turned into a movie. I’m currently holding discussions right now with a production company, so fingers crossed!2. When and why did you start writing?
I’ve been writing for fifteen years – but that was primarily marketing papers and creating large scale sale’s proposals (if anyone has seen a sales proposal in the financial software industry, they’ll know how a fiction writer gets their start!).
I formally commenced in 2008 when I committed a story to paper that had been rattling around in my head. Sending it off to a local publisher, I was lucky enough to make it through the mountains of manuscripts. I was even further amazed to later see it go from idea to bookshelf. It was all very accidental and a definite surprise – after all, writing to me is more a relaxing pastime. I love it!
3. Have any particular novels or writers influenced your writing?
Too many to name them all – however, to list a few of my favourites we’d have to go way back to Edgar Rice Burroughs. In a way, my Alex Hunter series of books is the character of John Carter re-imagined on a more earthly plane. Then there are also the great horror writers of King, Koontz and Masterton. I love action, adventure and horror and tend to blend all these genres into my stories.
The other things that inspire me are the big blockbuster movies – seeing some of the action scenes, with the multi-million dollar special effects just blows me away. It’s probably why many readers describe my style as cinematic – as I’m writing, sometimes I can see the images in my mind on this grand scale.
4. Give us some back-story about Valkeryn, where and when did you write it? & 5. What inspired your novel?
I have combined these two questions, as the answers are similar.
Many people have been asked why did I write this novel and where did it come from? Why did I change from writing action/adventure/horror to produce a Young Adult style piece of work?
When people find out you are an author, you tend to get a lot of suggestions for stories, scenes, characters – normally, I file them away, but rarely have the time to think too much on them. However, when your young son comes up behind you and taps you on the shoulder and says: ‘Dad – book idea – giant wolves – they’re like knights or Vikings … and they’re at war’. As he said it, I could see it all! As soon as I finished off my latest Alex Hunter book I started – it was enormous fun to write. I certainly haven’t changed my style (I couldn’t if I tried!) – there’s still a lot of action and adventure, and a few scares, but also with a growing opposites attract love story running throughout.
My son loved Valkeryn, and that’s about as far as it would have gone except I sent it in to Pan Macmillan who also loved it. It was perfect for a new publishing entity they were creating called Momentum – a new global Digital and Print-on-Demand publishing house. After listening to the directors of both companies, I was convinced that this would be the future model for all books – the rest, as they say, is history.
6. What was your favorite part of Valkeryn to write?
Without doubt, I love the action scenes. I love strong characters, heroism in all forms, and sacrifice. Sometimes I can see the big scenes play out in my head – some nights they can cause me to leap out of bed, to rush into my office to scribble down notes.
Scenes like, the Valkeryn warrior Strom and his final fight, the Lygon attack on the Green Berets, or the Great War between the Panterran and the Wolfen. These scenes burst from within me, to the point where it’s hard for me to stop writing. Before I know it, I will have put 5000 words down on the page, without getting up from my chair!
7. Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
I always work on several projects at once, unless I am under an editing deadline. 2012 is going to be a very busy year for me. I have Dark Rising being released in the UK, This Green Hell out in the USA, and am just signing with an Israeli publisher for Beneath the Dark Ice Hebrew translation. Added to that I have I have several new works coming out, and one not yet formally announced.
The first of my works has just been released – Valkeryn – Return of the Ancients. The first book in a trilogy tells the story of Arnold ‘Arn’ Singer, an average teenager living in Illinois who, during an experiment at a laboratory, is thrown forward into a future world where he is the last human alive. The land is populated with amazing and bloodthirsty creatures – some want him dead, while others see him as their only hope for survival – a return of one of the mysterious and all powerful ‘Ancients.’
I get to combine action, some scares, and also some great new scenes where we find out if really different beings can find a common bond, and perhaps even an impossible love!
Next up, and late mid-year, will be the release of a secret project I had been working on. Many of my readers have asked me about Alex Hunter’s first mission where he was injured. Well, I’ve completed a novella called Arcadian Genesis. It’ll be available globally as an inexpensive eBook also from Momentum.
Then in December, is the release of my next major work – Black Mountain. It is my fourth Alex Hunter book, and I am extremely excited about it! There is a small grab below….
<>There’s Something Moving Around In The Black Mountains.
<>Something That The Cherokee And Catawba Have Warned Us About For Centuries.
<>Something That Proves… Some Legends Are Real.
8. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Read and write – read and write – read and write. Sounds glib and oversimplified, but the more you read the more you will come across some great techniques writers use for building suspense, showing expressions and emotions, or using fantastic dialogue. Enjoy it, and then be influenced by it. Then write as often as you can… the more you do, the better you will get at the craft.
One more thing… the Internet is making it easy to self publish these days. But from someone who has just completed reading an enormous amount of books for a local award as a guest judge recently, I strongly urge that you remember your editing! If I could suggest one thing to new authors going down this route it is to spend as much as you can on a professional editor. Nothing is more distracting to the reader, and can also mask a good story, than bad editing. I know my work is improved 100% through it being edited professionally.
9. Do you have any tricks to your trade, bottomless coffee, a magic pen, a special muse?
Some people are night people, or day people, or coffee drinkers or karaoke singers, but I’m a morning person. I rise at about 4am to jog and walk the dog. Then I do my creative work in the morning when my mind is clearest, and then my editing in the afternoon. I’m a creature of routine. I also have an office, where I am surrounded by all my ‘stuff’ – old rare paperbacks, a collection of movie robots, some fossils, surfing posters, etc. It’s separate from the rest of the house, and its pretty quiet. It’s funny, some times at the peak of Summer, late in the afternoon, it can get too hot to work in. But if I take my computer out and try and work somewhere else, I find it really hard… so I guess my trick is, I need my favourite space!
10. Which fictional character would you like to take to dinner and why?
I love the question! And it’s the first time I’ve been asked it. Well, I guess I could trot out a list of strange or impressive fictional characters – maybe Sherlock Holmes, or Captain Nemo, or perhaps someone more contemporary, like Indiana Jones or Lisbeth Salander of the dragon tattoo. But if I really had a choice it would be someone who would make me laugh. And only one? C’mon give me some slack… I’d take the whole gang from Seinfeld out any day!