MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR GALEN SURLAK-RAMSEY!
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
I’m Galen Surlak-Ramsey, and I write an equal mix of sci-fi and fantasy, usually with a humorous, fun bend to it. I do have a dark, gritty gaslamp fantasy in the works though.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
The Gorgon Bride is about a guy named Alexander Weiss who discovers that the Greek gods are real—but not before he manages to insult Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Partly out of punishment, partly for her own amusement, Athena gets him sent to a forgotten island that happens to be the home of Euryale, a gorgon, and Medusa’s sister. Like her sister, Euryale turns people to stone and has a nasty temper that plays a role in the book.
Without giving too much away, plot wise, shenanigans quickly ensue due to all sorts of Olympian politics and bickering that Alex finds himself in the middle of that involve both him and Euryale. If Alex is going to survive not only the wrath of a few gods and goddesses, but a number of insane quests and ravenous monsters, he’s going to have to become a hero of legend as well as make some personal growth.
It’s a very fun, wild romp through Greek mythology. Think Christopher Moore, not George R.R. Martin in terms of tone.
The idea started off with me wondering what it would be like if the Greeks had it right, and everyone from modern time who died—without the proper coin being buried with them, obviously—suddenly found themselves stuck on the River Acheron where the ferryman only takes you to the land of the dead if you have money. That’s the second scene in the book, and I thought it was really funny.
So after I had that scene written, I wrote the first scene (how did Alex get there?) and then kept asking questions. Why did this happen? What is this god doing? What is that goddess doing? And get trying to get it all to weave together to make a good story.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I’ve always liked reading SFF novels. It was only natural to write them.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Most of the research I did was focused solely on Greek mythology. I’ve always loved it, but I wanted to stay true to the established canon of the ancients as much as possible in terms of relationships, who did what, what they were really like, etc. This was especially necessary for the main characters who aren’t well known. I mean, most people know the famous ones like Zeus and Athena, but how many really know who Euryale was? Or what the three Fates were like?
Can you tell me about your Series?
Well, it’s not a series…yet. But I have plans 🙂
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Well, I currently pay the bills as a hospice chaplain. I write after work, usually late at night when the kids are in bed and on the weekends. Where? My bedroom, as that’s where my desktop is set up. Although sometimes I will take my laptop with me to the library and hammer out pages there, too.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I currently have two, both of which will be separate series. The first is the dark, gaslampfantasy series about a witchhunter who returns home and finds out that her sister has turned to magic out of desperation (which carries the death penalty in this world). Things only go downhill from there.
The other book is another light adventure about another girl who’s more or less Indiana Jones, but set about a thousand years in the future. She stumbles across some ancient tech that lets her warp spacetime and shenanigans ensue.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I don’t put *too* much thought into the names, but I try to find the meanings of ones I pick and have them match their personality. Other times, it’s just a “Yeah, that sounds good” kind of deal.
Where do your ideas come from?
Lots of brainstorming. Sometimes plots are born out of nothing but a vague, scene idea that sounds like it could be fun.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I think LitRPG could be fun, but there’s a lot of it. Also something with giant robots or mechs smashing into each other. I do have a scrap of an unfinished novel that’s probably more space marine than anything that I might get to. But right now, The Gorgon Bride is doing really well, so it makes more sense to focus on that (Greek mythology) and round out the other two series planned.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Getting that first draft done without procrastinating too much. Part of that comes from overthinking the plot and outline.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I know a lot of authors like and use them, but I never have. I’d rather sink the extra money in the cover art or simply more exposure. I don’t’ think I’ve ever bought a book from a trailer, but I’m sure others have.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Sticking with it after god know’s how many rejection letters. At some point, you become numb to them and they are each a badge of honor.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Having a total stranger email me out of the blue saying they really liked my book. Best feeling ever.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully with a few solid series under my belt and a ravenous fan base (not too ravenous though! Fans can get scary sometimes. Ha!)
Have you always liked to write?
Pretty much. First started trying around first grade. Haven’t really stopped since, although certainly had periods of non-writing and wasn’t nearly as productive.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Never stop writing. Get something, anything on a page. When you’re done with your book, write another. And another. Read lots. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t with other stories, novels, movies, whatever. Find awesome critique partners and beta readers that will tell you the hard stuff to make your book better. Mom / dad / husband / wife / girlfriend / boyfriends / etc. won’t do that.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
Well, I’m a long way from making a living at it, but one day. I like my job as a chaplain anyway.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I never respond, but I do read them. I know they say you shouldn’t, but I can’t help but checking them out every now and then out of curiosity.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
That it can be realllllllly slow sometimes.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Sure. This is from Book 2 of my light sci-fi I’m working on. The joke might really only hit home to those of us who grew up with the NES and Konami games, but nevertheless, it still cracks me up when I read it:
The fire started to cozy up to my location, and not being in the cuddly mood, I was forced to retreat. “Look faster please,” I said. “I’m almost out of non-burning space here.”
“How’s the displacement drive?” Tolby asked.
“It’s fine! Worry about that reboot! I promise the moment it’s not fine, we all won’t be here to notice anyway!”
“Right,” he said. “I’m looking, but this manual is terribly laid out. Let’s see: System Troubleshooting. System defragging. Reboot procedures…oh, that’s for the showers. And those are for the landing gear. And the music. And…Got it! Your Highness, is the control pad still lit?”
“Yes,” Empress replied. “What do I need to press?”
“You’ll need to use the directional pad. It’s a simple combo: Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right. B. A. Start.”
Where did your love of books come from?
From my dad who made me read them constantly when I was little.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
For sure and in no particular order:Douglas Adams. Christopher Moore. Nicky Drayden. R.A. Salvatore. Raymond Fiest. Max Barry.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Of those published, Euryale for sure. No one has really done a gorgon that I’m aware of, at least, not unless it was Medusa and she had a bit part as a villain.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Writer’s block, usually caused by overthinking what’s “good enough” to make a first draft.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I like being original, but at the same time, there are certain expectations you have to live up to for a genre.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Don’t try this at home
Where can your fans find you and follow?
Anyone can drop by my website and shoot me an email if you like: http://galensurlak.com/
There’s also a newsletter sign up there for people who like free stuff, contests, and whatnot.