Author Spotlight Interview: Dwayne Gill
It today’s interview, we chat with thriller writer Dwayne Gill, author of the fast-paced Written By Blood series, which weaves a thrilling tale against the backdrop of a grim near-future; and introduces us to some truly original and memorable characters in a race to save the lives of those they love the most.
HG: Let’s start at the beginning – who IS Dwayne Gill? How would you describe yourself?
DG: I’d say that I’m about as ordinary and normal as a person can be. You certainly wouldn’t pick me out of a crowd and identify me as an author. I love simplicity and routine, and most of all, I love my wife and eleven-month-old son. Any time I’m not writing, there’s a very good possibility you’ll find me inside of my son’s playpen, letting him crawl on me while we watch his favorite movie, Horton Hears a Who.
As far as author tropes go, I once personally had a preconceived notion of what most authors were like – and, I will say, I’m pretty much the opposite of those. I think the way the public views authors is a little different nowadays since the explosion of indie writers, but I think at least most of us have still envisioned the recluse sitting behind the typewriter, alone – likely sporting a disheveled appearance. Like I said; lots of people have moved on from that vision of their favorite author, but nonetheless, I’m not this way. I’m really outgoing and my preference is not solitude, although I do make the most of those times. I’m very social and I love interacting with others, which is where a lot of my inspiration comes from. I think most would find me almost disappointingly normal, but I’m likely one of the easiest people in the world to get along with. I love to joke around and make light of almost any situation, though I’m always game for a serious discussion about the world we live in.
HG: How did you get into writing initially? And when did you first dip your toe into self-publishing?
DG: Well, the first book I ever wrote was when I was five years old. It was called The Thing. It was about a giant creature that was trying to destroy the Earth. I even made an audiobook version of it. My middle sister used the side button of a walkie-talkie to indicate when it was time to turn the pages while I read the book aloud into a cassette recorder. I’ve always had a huge imagination, and for whatever reason, I excelled in grammar all through my schooling.
My first serious writing was done in the ninth grade. My English teacher assigned us journals that we’d have to write topical stories in, and while most of the time I would’ve brushed off this sort of tedious work, one of the topics interested me. I went home and invested a great deal of time writing the entry, which was a life analogy about the tortoise and hare. I did it mostly to amuse myself, but I had no idea how much it would affect my English teacher. She bragged on me in front of the whole class and swore I was an author in the making.
From that point on, I felt obligated to approach every journal entry with the same enthusiasm, and throughout the course of the school year, my writing got better. At the end of the year, during the awards ceremony, that same teacher presented me with a special award for my writing ability in front of the entire school. So, you could say my writing career began when I was five, or perhaps when I was a freshman in high school.
However, the first time I began writing one of my own creations was in 2008. I sat down at a laptop and began typing the book Written By Blood, and finished it a few years later. I took this same manuscript in 2018 and decided to truly pursue my writing career, armed with my favorite story of all time. There began my journey as an author. I’ve only ever self-published, beginning with a short story in the series “Written By Blood.” The story was called Cane’s Detour, and I published it on Amazon in February 2018.
HG: Written By Blood is SUCH an original universe. Where did it all come from?
DG: When I was twelve years old, I lived in a rural area – which caused my bus rides to and from school to last over two hours. I would be the first kid on, and of course, I chose the back seat. I would lie down on my back and close my eyes, sometimes sleep, but more often than not, I would play a movie in my head, from opening credits to closing, which occupied most of the bus ride. I would make up these movies on the fly, and if one turned out to be really good, I’d play it again the next day, and again, and make it a little better each time. Written By Blood was conceived in this way, when I was twelve years old. Luckily, I’ve had many bus rides since then to continue tweaking the story and making it bigger and better!
HG: What inspired characters like Cane and Daniel?
DG: Well, my wife would tell you that I’m in all three of my main characters, they’re actually a blend of years of characters I’ve loved throughout my lifetime.
In fact, I think, though I’m not entirely certain, Cane’s earliest prototype came from Jean Claude Van Damme’s character in the movie Cyborg. The characters evolved so much through the years that they seemed to create the end version of themselves as I unfolded the plot of the series. All three main characters in the series are probably familiar and unique to readers at the same time. Most thriller fans have seen assassin characters like Cane in novels, but once you submerge yourself into the plot you realize you’ve never seen an assassin quite like Cane. Daniel is the same way; most thriller fans have seen big, tough guys, but Daniel is in a class of his own. William is an Army Ranger, but he’s definitely not your typical soldier. All of my characters in this series share the commonality of being “larger than life,” but still maintain that aspect of believability that I feel is necessary.
HG: I think we all have aspects of ourselves in all our characters; because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see things through their eyes, I guess. So, did you write down a plot plan before you began writing? Or just jump right in?
DG: The plot had been forming in my head since I was twelve years old. I wrote the entire series in one volume from 2008-2011, but in 2018 I separated the “grand” story into several chronicles.
Now, the reason I mention this is because when I expanded the story into many parts, I also tweaked the plot in order to give each book or volume its own beginning and end. So, while I did have the entire story arc of the series in my head, I did have to make adjustments to each. I don’t do well with plot outlines, though, so instead I used a timeline, which I used in its place. The first two novels of the series has followed the original script of the overall story very tightly, but the last two novels will have a lot more originality to them. I will be “outlining” a lot more of the plot in the future because of this.
HG: That’s a really fascinating way to approach it! Okay, so what’s the physical act of writing like? Do you have a set time to write? Do you write at a home office, or are you more of a sit-at-Starbucks kind of author?
DG: The only thing certain about my writing is that I write every day, save taking a day off every now and then. I have a 40-hour-a-week job, and then with an eleven-month-old child, things can get a little tricky when trying to schedule a set time to write. I take several approaches: I am able to do some writing from my job. I have a home desktop and laptop that I use. I also have learned how to make the most out of writing from my iphone using the Word app. In fact, I wrote almost all of Friction, the second novel of the series, on my iPhone, sitting on my back patio. Someday, when I’m finally a full-time writer, I’ll have a much more stable and predictable writing schedule, but for now, I do whatever works in the moment.
HG: Any way you can get it done, right? So, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received about writing?
DG: Woo, this is a tough one. I’ve stumbled across so much great advice that’s helped me. I think if I had to choose any advice, it would be the kind that put things into perspective for me. As a beginning author, I didn’t know what to expect from my first few publications, so when things started slowly I could’ve easily felt like maybe I was out of my league. However, because of the advice of other authors who’d walked in my shoes, they encouraged me to hang in there and keep writing. In fact, the very best advice I’ve received told me to get my head out of the clouds and just write. Write ten books, then start to look around. An author’s journey is a tough one and can sometimes seem like a constant uphill battle, but the more you write, the more readers discover you.
HG: Yep! I think Harper Lee was the only author who got famous with just one book. So, speaking of – who are your favorite books/authors and your sources of inspiration?
DG: One of my favorite authors was Vince Flynn, RIP. I loved the Mitch Rapp series and it has been an indirect inspiration to me. I loved Rapp’s irreverence, which to me gave him that action character appeal that is so hard to nail. Most of my favorite authors and books didn’t have much influence directly on me and my style of writing, but I still love and cherish them. 1984 by George Orwell is a big one. Sandra Brown is another favorite author of mine, and the book Tough Customer remains one of my favorites. I love anything by Dean Koontz, who amazes me at how well he continues to conjure up unique but familiar plots. My biggest source of inspiration remains my own imagination, which is triggered in a variety of ways. One of the biggest triggers is music. I can listen to a certain song and get swarmed with ideas all at once. Music is able to shift my mood faster than any other medium, which often allows me to get into a deep, reflective state of mind even when I may be in a completely jolly mood. Movies are another trigger for me. I’ve never directly copied anything I’ve seen in a movie, but instead use a feeling or premise to adapt into my own type of story. I’ve done this for most of my life.
So, where can readers find you if they want to learn more?