Please give a warm welcome to author Gray Holborn
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a part-time teacher and part-time writer—so I get a little bit of the best of both worlds, even if work can pile up and be a bit hectic sometimes. I’m from the midwest, but I moved to the PNW for grad school and fell in love with the area. I’ve been here now for almost a decade and have a feeling I’ll be here for quite a while longer. It’s hard to give up the combination of mountains and water.
In my freetime, I can be found reading, consuming way too much TV (is there such a thing as *too much* TV? I don’t know), and wandering around the city with my dog. He gets me out of the house on days when the world feels like a bit of a disaster. Dogs are the best, we definitely do not deserve them.
Have you always wanted to become an author?
Yes and no! It’s one of those things I’ve always thought about, even from a young age. I loved living in books, and thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to give that sort of experience and escapism to someone else. As I got older and used reading as a way to unwind from a hectic student/work life, I started to think about self-publishing. Part of my graduate school research focused on how the self-publishing industry was changing the book community. It was fascinating and was a wonderful excuse to read deeply into an archive I already loved supporting. Eventually, I thought I’d try my own attempt, if only to better understand how indie authors start their businesses and make use of the tools available to them. I wrote one book during grad school (and I’ll eventually finish that series—I swear!), but COVID sort of inspired me to get back to writing with more focus than I had before. It was the perfect ‘stay inside’ hobby. Since October of 2020, I’ve been trying to treat my writing ‘hobby’ as a part-time job, which has helped me carve out more time and space to devote to it. I can’t succeed if I don’t give myself the chance!
What was your inspiration for your current book/series?
My current series started as a Nanowrimo project a couple of years ago. I only wrote about 20-30 thousand words initially, and wanted to write a story about a girl who was thrust into a new world and set of experiences. I’d been reading reverse harem/why choose books for a few months at the time and really loved that they all incorporated this interesting cast of characters—I think I loved that aspect of the genre more so than all of the romance even. Writing a series in that genre seemed like a really cool way to practice creating and developing characters, each with their own complex and compelling back story. I was also going through a difficult time with anxiety and depression, and building each of the characters really helped me through it—sometimes analyzing characters and their experiences/traumas can really help me understand my own. My dog kept me company during those long nights of writing and learning the craft, so I wrote him into the story as the protagonist’s cartoonish hellhound sidekick (who is obviously my favorite character).
What are you working on now?
I’m still working on that same series, actually. Book One just released a few weeks ago and Book Two comes out this week. At the moment, I’m working my way through the writing and revising stages. This series will be six full novels, but I already have a few spinoffs planned in my head—I created too many characters that I love and want to learn more about. So I have a feeling I’ll be living in Max’s world of protectors and monsters for many months to come.
I also want to get back to my original series that started with Strange Supes. I have plans to begin reworking that first novel later this year and hopefully 2022 will see three more books after that. It’s another series with a cast of characters that I adore, so I’m sure I’ll have the space and intrigue to live in that writing world for quite a while.
Do you have any quirks while working?
I do what are known as pomodoro sprints. I set a timer for 15-25 minutes and just word vomit all over my google doc. I don’t do any editing during that time and instead, just try to get into the flow and let my characters speak to me. It’s been a really cool way to get words on the page, without stressing too much about perfection. One thing I’ve learned as a reader of indie books is that I don’t focus much on perfection while I’m reading. It just doesn’t matter much to me—the perfectly-constructed sentence doesn’t seem nearly as important as the feeling a scene or a character evokes. Sprints have helped tremendously with that.
Also chocolate. When I have a particularly high word count day, I like to reward myself with chocolate (and, let’s be honest, I still get that chocolate even if I don’t.)
What are your hopes for the future?
I would love to build a community of readers. Writing is great. I love it. And if I could make a small side career out of it, that would be fantastic. I don’t think I could realistically stop teaching, as I love that just as much, but it would be cool if I could continue to focus on both career paths. But more than writing and publishing, I really want to build a community of like-minded readers who shamelessly enjoy reading. The reverse harem (although I really hate that phrase…don’t get me started) is perfect for this—the readers love to read and support indie authors, but they also have a tendency to support each other. There’s no shame about reader preferences and there’s so much sex positivity in the community. It’s been really inspiring to be a part of.
Do you have any advice for new authors about the publishing world?
I’m still an incredibly new author in the publishing world, and only really began investing time in it over the last six or seven months. I’d say the best advice I have is to sit your butt in the chair and get words on the page. Everything comes after that.
Second piece of advice is to be open to learning. These days, authors are required to do a lot more than simply write. You have to be a great storyteller, but you also have to learn how to market and use social media. There’s so many different hats to wear and you have to be open to learning about the process if you want to discover what works best for you. The self-publishing community is really generous with sharing information and education, which has been invaluable to me. I try to set aside an hour or two every week to listen to podcasts on indie publishing, or to read various books on the writing craft itself.
Do you have anything to say to your followers?
Thank you! These last few months have been really exciting for me and I’ve been blown away by how quick the author life picks up after hitting that terrifying and exciting publish button. Connecting with readers has been my favorite part of the whole experience and I’m so excited to continue growing my community of readers and writers. I’m learning so much and loving every second of it!