Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interview with Jayce Grayson

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
XIANNE: A COMEDY OF CULTURES: VOLUME ONE is basically a sci-fi novel about where our evolving culture will have taken us in about 300 years. Seen in microcosm among the relatively few characters in the story—aboard Captain Tom Duncan’s interplanetary luxury yacht/freighter, Xianne— I try to explore the repercussions of our growing “porn culture” upon interpersonal relationships of the future, keeping in mind that by then many of today’s taboos will have completely disappeared, just as those from 300 years ago have in our day. I certainly would like to inspire serious thought, but there is so much potential humor in the subject that the book has also been described as a “futuristic romantic comedy”. I’m happy with that.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
No. Despite the general consensus that “indie books” are not worth reading, I wanted to bypass all of the delays and entanglements that greet a first-time author when trying to break in to traditional publishing. I also know—from having read them—that there are many traditionally published books that aren’t worth reading, either. Certainly, an indie author should feel a responsibility to his readers to produce a professional-quality book—and by that, I don’t mean the subject of the material. (Readers will like almost anything that they’re interested in, and avoid themes that do not interest them.) I mean the format—the look—of the book. It’s up to the author to go the extra mile and make sure that it’s edited properly, that words are spelled correctly, that punctuation meets acceptable standards, etc. The bad rap that indie books have received is a direct result of certain writers just flinging their words down and paying for publication, seemingly without even proofreading the manuscript! Everyone can tell a story, but not everyone can write one.

What do you feel has helped improve your writing?
That’s easy. Reading. The only reason I have a desire to write is because of the many wonderful books I’ve read in my life. We all have our favorite authors, and actually studying how they write is of great benefit. Of course, I’m greatly indebted to every teacher of English that I had, and I’ve found that paying attention to how a sentence rolls off the tongue can make all the difference in the presentation of my story.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
Well, if you’ve looked at a copy of something like THE WRITER’S MARKET, it doesn’t take long to discern that the traditional publishing houses aren’t interested in “unknowns”. They want authors who have been previously published—and don’t even think of not having an agent! The “slush pile” for unsolicited manuscripts is fast going the way of the dinosaur. YOU HAVE TO KNOW SOMEBODY. I didn’t. Plus, I realized that with the nature of my subject matter, I’d probably come up against overwhelming obstacles anyway. Indie publishing allowed me to keep complete control of my material, avoid the middlemen, and it expedited the publishing of my book. I know of an author, right now, whose book was completed a couple of years before I began writing XIANNE, and he is still wrapped up in a traditional publishing house’s red tape.  Publication for his book is tentatively set for early 2013. This is not a unique case—it’s one of the most prevalent gripes that writer’s have.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I didn’t, and I hope I don’t fall into the very category of writers that I was criticizing earlier. No, I did it myself, relying on my own education and the practice of rewriting at least three times. As well as the extensive reading I’ve done in my life. I’ve always tried to pay as much attention to how an author writes as I do to what he writes. And, of course, there are many variations of style.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Truthfully, that it was easier than I thought it would be. Also, that, once resolved to publish your book, you must ignore those who parrot the “party line” that your book isn’t as good as those from the traditional publishers. They don’t know that, if they haven’t read it! Knowing what I know now about the process, I’m amazed that these famous authors, who have already amassed their fortunes, actually remain with traditional publishing houses. They’re established, we know their names, and we’ll buy anything they write—They could save themselves a lot of the misery that I hear them relating. Publish yourself.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
At Infinity Publishing’s site, Alibris, Barnes & Noble, several other of the web-based bookstores—just enter XIANNE into the search engine of your choice!

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
A little—and to the detriment of marketing this one. I’ve almost completed the 2nd (and most sweeping) revision of the 2nd volume of XIANNE, and I find that I’m far more interested in that than in making sales of the 1st one. I think that it’s important, as an indie author, to be resolved in your mind that you aren’t likely to become a millionaire. It would be nice, if it happened, but I’m not driven by that. For me, it’s the getting of my ideas down, getting them published, and in feeling a sense of pride in what I’ve accomplished. I think that may be the dividing line between indie authors and traditional authors. Don’t get me wrong—I’d love a big, fat cash advance from a traditional publisher, and I’d probably even compromise what I write about—until I had enough money to have my own way and/or return to indie publishing!

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Really, what I’ve already mentioned. Take responsibility for producing a professional-quality book—pay someone if you have to. I’ve seen indie books that looked as though they were written by illiterate authors—perhaps they were. Writing a book is more than just telling a story. Even a bad story can be made better by a good delivery. Those English classes were important! And then, don’t expect to get rich—great if you do—but don’t publish yourself with that as your goal. And finally, if you’ve written a good book, and you know it, disregard the naysayers. I’ve paid good money for novels from respected publishing houses that were grave disappointments to me. Everyone won’t like your novel, but everyone won’t hate it, either.

What’s next for you?
XIANNE: A COMEDY OF CULTURES: VOLUME TWO. Hopefully, by early 2013. (No deadlines, either.) There will be four volumes; the third is complete, and I’m roughly halfway through the writing of the final volume. After that, I’ll definitely be ready for a change of subject.


  1. I have read this book and LOVE IT! Very sexy and hilarious! Thanks so much for this interview, Debra--are you reviewing it too?

  2. Hi Smitty,

    Thanks for stopping by the blog. At the moment I'm not taking any more books for review. My TBR pile is still outrageous, but I'll certainly keep this one in mind.

  3. I'd like to thank you for the interview AND the wonderful blog, Debra. It was a pleasure to have been involved!

  4. Luv this author's attitude. They say my book isn't as good as somebody's like James Patterson? Well, THEY DON'T KNOW THAT IF THEY HAVEN'T READ IT! Thanks Mr. Grayson for the encouragement. Thanks to Ms. Martin and Mr. Small for the blog.

  5. Sarah Elizabeth TylerMay 31, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    I'm a fan of XIANNE and the way there is so much humor mixed with real issues that we already face, and more that we probably WILL face in the future...Very happy to see Jayce Grayson interviewed here. First I've seen of a date for volume two---ugh! EARLY 2013! Cruel, Mr. Grayson! :-(

  6. Not sure every tabu from 300 years ago has disappeared today.....

  7. Here you are! The recommendation said this was a fabulous blog, and I see that it is! I came to show support for XIANNE (and to discover the release date of Volume Two), but I see that you, Ms. Martin, have many interesting books available--you must either write nonstop, or you've been writing since you were born! Haha! As for Jayce Grayson's novel, I urge everyone to give it a try--it is nearly impossible to relate how chock-full of ideas it is. It is very relevant and thought-provoking...but unusually funny at the same time! And if nothing else, the character of "Dr. Sharon Miles" makes it so much worth the reading! Now, I'm going shopping through the rest of your blog--thank you for giving Jayce Grayson some space here.

  8. David, Sarah and Wanda,

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I'm glad you like it. There's lots of interesting articles in the guests posts as well as the panel discussions.

    @Wanda, my brother Dave and I have been writing together since 2006. We are currently working on "Witch's Curse" sequel to "Assassin's Curse." The book should be published in December. Then it's off to finish the Rule of Otharia series. The final volume, "King's Last Word," will be published sometimes in 2013.

  9. Enjoyed this interview. Wish there was more specific questions about the book tho. What I think is so good about it is how real the dialogue is between the people. Never really read a book like xianne. Can't decide if its really sci-fi or not, but I hardly put it down. I think I was done in about 2 or 3 sittings. Just waiting around for the 2nd vol.......

  10. It was by far one of the best books I've read in a while. Mostly I like books about politics but this was a funny escape from what's going on in today's world. There was a person in the book that I could relate to lol ( not gona ) say. I'm sure that I am not alone in that. I cant wait to get the next book vol. 2 ! Hurry with that plz. I don't have an account so my name is Barbara H . I know 2 ppl who will know me now lol

  11. Really honest look at sexuality I thought. He said things that a lot of us think, but never say ourselves---at least in my case. I laughed quite a bit, but really just was nodding in agreement most of the time! Really erotic, but weirdly innocent too. He picked a great way to make comments on how we view sex and love. I liked the interview, but would've liked to know more!

  12. So is his book a porn novel or not?

  13. "Xianne" isn't a porn novel, but it IS about sex and relationships and is very frank about our mainstream culture's changing attitudes toward each. It's a lot more than that though, too. Jayce has packed in so many great cultural references to books, movies, music, etc.; it's just too much fun to put down. And then of course there's the funny (make that HILARIOUS) side of sex that we generally only watch or perform, but almost never TALK about! I don't think it would've worked except for the fantastic characters that he invented to tell the story. And yet there is a very serious element to the book too. It's like a stick of dynamite--very small, but LOADED!

  14. Thank you for that post, T Langford.

    (You left out the part about it being so good that the Pulitzer committee felt too humbled to offer it their Prize, going so far as not to award it this time. If you can't remember what I've instructed you to say, there will be no bonus for you.)

    I am honored by such undeserved praise. So glad you enjoyed my book....

  15. Hey where's MY check? I'm praising Xianne too! It really is a great time reading. I loved the humor most of all, but there are some really erotic scenes too, even though sometimes no sex is taking place--I felt very teased several times. But LOVED it! I'm ready for #2!

  16. Thanks Debra L Martin and David W. Small for giving Jayce Grayson an "ear". Your blog is great--keep up the good work!

  17. Good interview. Really liked the 1st volume of xianne. Sexy and funny!

  18. Great Blog!!! Loved the interview with Jayce Grayson. If you like either Robert A. Heinlein OR Jane Austen, then you will love this book "Xianne". So glad there is more to come.

  19. I read and enjoyed Mr. Grayson's book XIANNE: A COMEDY OF CULTURES. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised and very interested in your interview with him. I appreciated his comments about wanting to get his work into print rather than spend an undue amount of time and effort pursuing traditional publishing. Likewise, I agree with his assessment that writing a book is not just telling a story. It is the author's responsibility to present his material in proper English usage and good style. Mr. Grayson delivered on both counts in his first book and in your interview. Well done, Jayce!

  20. Thanks, John. Looking forward to YOUR new book, AKA SAUCY JACK.