Typical Interview Responses from Science Fiction Author Ray Jay Perreault that appears on multiple Science Fiction Blogs
Author: Ray Jay Perreault
Genre: Science Fiction
Country of Origin: USA
Short bio or SYNOPSIS here on writing as your passion.
I’ve was retired for 6 years and my wife had been asking me to write for a long time. So, I guess, it was time to start.
I was an Air Force pilot for almost 10 years, and an Aeronautical Engineer for almost 30 years so I’ve always been around technology. That interest in hi-tech made a natural connection to Science Fiction.
I’ve read Sci-Fi my entire life and I’ve always enjoyed how they give us a perspective into humanity; how we think and how we act. The masters of Sci-Fi always made me think about things in a different way and I always enjoyed that.
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to do it seriously?
I’ve been writing my entire professional career, but the million words that I wrote in engineering reports and proposals don’t count. Writing has never been a problem for me, but I started writing for enjoyment about about 2 years ago and I’ve loved it. I’ve always been a great story teller and my mind is always looking at issues through engineering and pilot glasses, so writing stories about science fiction was natural and enjoyable.
Is your writing genre your preferred reading genre as well? If not, what other genres interest you most?
I have a very eclectic list of reading. I wish I could read more, but Sci-Fi is about half of my list. I also enjoy technical material, historical biographies and historical science and nature. I’ve read biographies on Lincoln, Adams, Jefferson and Attila the Hun. I’ve read books about the American Indians before Columbus and about the history of viral effects on our evolution. As you can see my reading list doesn’t really fit together.
Are any of your characters based on you or someone you know?
Not totally, but I’m always putting little items from people that I’ve known. Some of the quotes my character uses are mine and many are comments made by others over the years. To some extant most of my character share some minor or major resemblance to someone that I’ve known.
Are any of the characters experiences based on some of your own?
All of my stories take human nature, and typical events in my life and translate them to alien cultures. I have a ton of experience in business and dealing with others in varying degrees of stress, so I’ve translated many of those experiences into the lives of my alien characters.
How did you come up with your leading character?
So far I haven’t written anything with one leading character. All of my writing has multiple character following multiple story lines. Each of the story lines parallel the main story and resolve themselves by the end of the book. I don’t like predictable characters where a character with certain characteristics are supposed to look a certain way. Some of my leading characters are female and strong, some are handsome and evil, some leaders are short and bald, and some men are weak. I try to make their strengths and weaknesses separate from how they look.
When choosing a name for your characters, what do you consider about them that determines what you finally call them?
Some of my characters, sort of create their own name. As I write, the character seems to fit or grow into the name. If the name fits, great. If it doesn’t then I change it. That’s one of the great things about having a word processor. Generally I start with one set of names then they evolve as I write. By the end of the project usually 75% of the names change at least once.
In my book Gemini I needed a name for a violent insect leader so I used my blog to get suggestions. It was a great discussion and I used a concatenation of some of the suggestions.
When you write a love scene, do you use past experiences or do you create a scene where the characters are acting out something that you would like to do and just never had the opportunity?
I haven’t ventured into ‘sex in sci-fi’ yet. My book Gemini is about an alien race where the mechanics of sex are left to the reader. I focus on love and couples in that story and leave the details out of it.
In another series where I have people, some of the main characters are very much in love and they take the normal opportunities to enjoy each other. I do stay away from the explicit sex, because I’m focusing on the alien or future sci-fi elements. I do have a very sick individual that is pretty disgusting sexually and I’m staying away from the details.
I’m not averse to including love scenes, and I may include some in the future.
Those are often the best scenes, Carol! Before you begin a manuscript, do you create the title first and then write the story or is it the other way around? Maybe you create a leading lady first?
I don’t have a plan. Mostly I start with the seed of the plot. Over time I add elements to the plot through outlining. Eventually some kind of working title emerges, then by the time I’ve completed the book the title seems to fit or not.
I often bounce ideas off my wife and daughter and listen to their suggestions for the title.
Do you know how the book is going to end before you start or do you just let the story write itself as you move ahead?
What do you mean by end? In Gemini I knew how it would end but I left the details to the characters. As I wrote, I got so wrapped up that I was writing faster so I could see the details of how it ended. I like my battle scenes and the details are easy to get caught up in. In Gemini the details just kept coming and it seemed to fit together great at the end.
How difficult has it been to find models that fit the description of the character you’ve created?
Unfortunately I don’t have to look far to find almost every variation of personality. The news provides every kind of positive and negative characteristics. I’ve been lucky and I’ve worked with some great people and I’ve tried to take the positive and use them in my characters. Some of those same people had some negative traits that I could extrapolate into almost any kind of character.
All of my stories are built with strong characters that are strong morally and try to do the right thing. I also have the evil ones, but I want to focus on how the good traits beat the bad traits.
I also like to have flawed characters. Some of my good characters will have negative traits and likewise some of my evil characters will have good traits. In fact the follow-up book to Gemini will find the good characters and bad characters forced together for mutual defense.
Do you create the covers or do you have a designer?
I’m an independent author with a limited budget, so I’m doing my own covers. I would like to hire someone, but that’s not in the cards right now. I’ve done a lot of design in my life and I’m familiar with the tools so I’m not intimidated by trying.
Like I did with one of my character’s names, I sent my book covers out to my blog and solicited feedback. Again I got great response and I made adjustments in my design.
What is the title of your most recent release?
Gemini which is a book about an alien society that investigates the possibility of another planet in orbit opposite to them on the other side of their sun. The original title was Twins, then I changed it to Gemini.
Who is your favorite character and why?
I usually don’t have a favorite character. I try to make them so complex that I can relate to some of their elements but not necessarily all of them. I like elements of each of them.
Describe the relationship between the two lead characters.
All of my main lead characters share love, loyalty, honor, dedication. They may have flaws but they are good people trying to do a good job. The evil ones are where I put the negative baggage.
Are you working on any other titles at the moment?
I have numerous projects in various stages of development. Gemini was released in Sept and I’m almost to a beta version of the next book in my SIMPOC series. Following that, I have an outline for the follow-up to Gemini and also for book four in SIMPOC.
Aside from those I have a short story in work that might expand into a book and I have a list of plot suggestions that I let ferment until I can flesh them out a little.
How many books have you written to date, has the number that you’ve completed surpassed your expectations?
I wrote Gemini first and it ended up with about 100,000 words. Then while I was proof reading it, I got bored and started my SIMPOC series. The first book (or novella) is about 20,000 words, then the second book just seemed to pop out and it was around 30,000 words. The third book is coming along and it has about 80,000 words.
I didn’t surpass my expectation because I didn’t have any. I just wrote trying to get my story out of my head and on paper, so to speak. I’m frustrated because I enjoy the writing a lot more than the proofing and marketing.
How does it feel to know that hundreds, possibly thousands, and eventually millions of people will read the story that you have created?
Don’t I wish? I’ll be happy to get to hundreds. I’m trying to focus on what I like and that’s telling the stories. I hope the rest falls in place. I’m hoping that as I get a longer book list I’ll get more back sales, where someone likes a book then goes back and buys the earlier books and perhaps the other titles.
Is there anything that you would like to say to aspiring authors?
Stick to it. Don’t write to make millions, write because you enjoy it. The enjoyment that you get from writing will carry you a lot further than the money you’ll make from sales.
What was the hardest part of writing your new book?
Proofing, proofing, proofing, proofing. Then when I’m done with that I had to market, market, market, and market. Then when I’m done with all of that I have to proof again then, guess what; market.
Did I answer your question?
What did you enjoy most about writing this new book?
It was fulfilling. Once I started, the story just kept coming and when it was done, I was relieved. The aliens I described where good aliens that I could relate to and I enjoyed getting their story out.
Sound a little weird? Once I was finished it felt good to have a complete story down and I was happy with how it ended.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
Some people that I’ve spoken with don’t understand Sci-fi. They think that the stories are about weird creatures doing weird things. They don’t understand that many elements of sci-fi can be seen in how we act and think. The alien nature of the story allows the author to touch on story lines from different perspectives and show different reactions. The same positive and negative elements of human nature can be seen in good sci-fi.
Sometimes good sci-fi shows something about human nature by not including it in the story. If you give a bunch of examples in a story but you leave one out, then the reader sees the comparison and can recognize the point of the story by what it doesn’t talk about.
For example if the story is about an idealist society where everyone is perfect, then the reader can see the weakness and they’ll think about a society with differences.
You are a man with many interest and inspirations. What truly inspires you?
Family. I love the strengths and goodness in a strong family. In turn that strength reflects within humanity. I like to focus on what is good and true many times what is good is best defined by showing what is bad.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
I love the classic Sci-Fi authors like Clark and Asimov. There are other great writers but they defined the genre.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
I’m a new author still learning the craft. At times my writing can be too much like an engineering document. I see the story in my head but writing it with good sentence structure is the challenge. Trying to share my image with the reader is a real challenge and I respect those authors that have the talent.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m lucky enough to be retired and I can spend all of my time writing. I think it helps because I get involved in my plot lines and I want to get them written. If I had to go to work, it would frustrate the day lights out of me.
What are some day jobs that you have held and how have they affected your writing?
I was an Air Force pilot for 10 years and I flew some fantastic airplanes. I was lucky enough to fly to 27 countries around the world. After I left the air force, I worked for a major aerospace company for 28 years and I worked on some the best airplanes in the world including the B-2 and F-35.
I’ve always been into technology and my jobs were very technical so it all added up to a wealth of experience to draw upon.
For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?
The planet Varo.
How do you feel about E-books vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
The world of publishing is changing, not just a little but a lot. EBooks open up reading to millions of people on almost a real time basis. I can release a book and within minutes anyone in the world can be reading it. I don’t have a clue where eBooks are going, but it is in a good direction.
The pricing of eBooks is an issue. When an author put hundreds of hours of hard work into a story then are forced to sell it for 99 cents or give it away, it puts the author in a strange and frustrating position. I understand the market forces at work and why the prices are so, but I do hope that increasing the availability of eBooks and an increasing the market size will provide enough readers for all of the authors. Perhaps I’m naive, but I presume that I’ll find a group of people that enjoy my stories and will buy more. Whether that number is measured in tens, hundreds or thousands is the question.
Because of the pricing of eBooks, the relationship between electronic bookstores and the traditional brick and mortar is contentious. EBooks, by their nature, are a threat to the traditional method of publication. I am a traditionalist and I like paper books, but I also haven’t bought one in a long time because I’ve run out of room. I suspect that is the way of the future, paper will always have a place, but it will lose out to electronic publishing.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
I think it is improving in all paths. The number of readers is increasing and the number of eBooks is exploding. I’m excited to see how Amazon, Smashwords, Google and the other electronic sources finally figure out how to sell effectively.
What process did you go through to get your book published?
Pain in the butt. I haven’t tried to publish through a conventional publisher. I just haven’t had the opportunity and I’d rather be writing, then trying to find someone to put in on paper.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I try to have unique characters. I like strong people leading the story and they can be either men or women. I like putting surprising characters in different positions and giving them different characteristics. In my series SIMPOC one of the main characters is a female who was a space station commander and also a helicopter pilot. She is a strong leader that handles problems in a very professional manner, but she is also in love with her husband and they have an excellent relationship.
How do you find or make time to write?
I’m doing it full time, and perhaps too much. My wife talked me into writing and now, she gets mad when I don’t have time to take out the garbage.
How do you promote your work?
I haven’t found an effective way to market or promote. Using Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon have their strengths but as an independent writer without a big name it is hard. I’ve found it almost impossible to get enough traction to keep the sales up. I’m hoping that as I get more titles out, I will look more like a professional and sales will be more consistent.
Link to Gemini on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NIY0A3C
Ray Jay Perreault’s Blog: http://rayjayperreault.com
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