Interview with Clayton Gerrard, author of The Misadventures of a Life Less Lived

1. Tell us something about your latest book. Is it your debut? What genre does it belong to?

It is my debut novel! The Misadventures of a Life Less Lived is the story of Doug, a secretly-bookish college junior who lies to his friends to maintain their good opinion. Doug wakes one morning to discover his life has spoiled. (He kept it in the fridge which is where one keeps it to maintain a chill lifestyle, but somebody left it out overnight.) As a member of a popular fraternity, having no life is social suicide, so he embarks on a quest to find another life before anyone can discover he’s a temporary loser.

Misadventures is New Adult – Magical Realism, so it has a strong fantasy element. It’s also satirical, absurd, and uproariously funny. It’s being published by REUTS publications. You can read the publishers blog here: http://blog.reuts.com/reuts-signs-satirical-and-snarky-the-misadventures-of-a-life-less-lived/

2. Is your book part of a series or can it be read as a stand-alone?

It’s a standalone. I do have an idea to take some of the characters on another journey later, but the two books won’t be interrelated at all. My intention is that one could read the second without even knowing there was a first and still feel as though he or she had a whole story.

3. When does your book release?

The tentative release date is February 2016, but it’s not a certainty yet. We’re still awfully fresh in the process, but my fingers are crossed that all deadlines are met early.

4. Which character of your book was the hardest to write?

The most difficult character to write would have to be the lead character, Doug. Since my story is satirical, I have a lot of stock characters that weave in and out of the narrative without much greater purpose than to careen Doug off of in a new direction of self-discovery. Since he was my primary focus, and in essence my theme, I had to mold and shape him through each experience without going too far or letting him stagnate. It’s a delicate process to have a character grow and change from page one to the end without forcing the change on him, or not maturing him enough. Because of it, I had to rewrite the ending nearly a dozen times before I reached one I liked. I kept landing Doug too far beyond his original self, and the endings felt trite and campy. However, after several painstaking revisions, he and I finally found the right wrap-up.

5. If you’re not writing, what do you love to do?

Spend time with my puppy. She’s the best part of my life. She takes a lot of my time and attention, but she’s absolutely worth it. Together we go on lots of walks. Good for clearing the writing mind.

6. Did anyone inspire you to start writing or did you always know you just had to write?

I always knew I had to create. I was ever the entertainer as a child, charging my granny a nickel to see a magic show, or building haunted houses with my cousins for our parents to walk through. I’ve done a lot of theater, and in fact have two masters degrees in it. Writing has always been a part of my life. I would pound out gibberish on my mom’s electric typewriter when I was really little, and call it my novel. I’ve had lots of fits and starts, but it wasn’t until I finally learned to love and appreciate myself that I found the ability to stick to a project. And low and behold, my novel is forthcoming. Now I want to do little else.

7. Any advice/tips for newbies?

Attend and pitch at conferences. Lightning struck for me and my publisher. I tremble to think how many email queries I could have sent without ever receiving a single response. It can be daunting, let alone disheartening, to receive rejection, but in my mind, it’s even worse to receive nothing. I can’t help but associate my pitch with myself, and think I’m somehow personally a failure. This couldn’t be further from the truth, but I have a hard time remembering that. I find human interaction a vital piece that is missing from the submissions puzzle. At a conference, face to face with a real person, your material may be requested simply because the person across the table likes you as a person and is willing to take a chance. Of course, your material has to be good too. And, at the same time, you can also gauge if you like them. You wouldn’t want to sign with someone you don’t like just to have an agent/book deal. It’s important the interest, respect and appreciation be mutual.

8. Are you already writing a new book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I am writing my next. The working title is A Hero Twain, and it’s the first in a dark, adult fantasy trilogy. It’s still too fresh and tender of an idea to share much more. I will say it’s as different from my first novel as Stephen King is from Douglas Adams. I may be shooting myself in the foot by not furthering the fan base that may come along with Misadventures, but Hero Twain is demanding to be told.

9. A word that you use way too often? (Mine are “quite” and “probably”)

I would have to say that I especially use the word especially a bit too often. Especially when I need a key segue.

10. Last but not least: What’s your favourite type of candy, if you don’t mind me asking?

M&Ms are my favorite. Good, old-fashioned plain M&Ms, but I do prefer them to be in something. Cookies or ice cream benefit greatly from M&Ms.

Bio:

Clayton Gerrard awoke one day and decided he’d be a writer. He was two, and the clacking sounds produced by his mother’s electric typewriter when he randomly mashed the keys were most satisfying. Ever since then, he’s been trying to hone his craft and find his voice, but the more he focused on the former the more the latter eluded him and vice versa. So he gave it all up and spent 10 years in college. Now with more degrees than sense he erroneously believes he has something to say.

When he’s not wrestling with his Magical Realism or Fantasy stories, he enjoys a good craft beer, indie movies, complaining about complainers and judging judgmental people. He believes all of life’s challenges are opportunities for personal growth, but tends to forget that when he’s stuck in traffic or a checkout lane. His friends and family mean the world to him, but he hopes they never read this bio because the bastards would lord it over him forever.

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