AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: GREG DRAGON
An Interview by Christopher Mobley
Ask any reader, and they’ll tell you that the main trait of a great novel is the ability to allow readers to discover a new world within the story. This is one of the many positive traits of the fantasy novels of Greg Dragon. With multiple novels in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre, he not only capture’s his the imagination of his audience, but also brings diversity to the genre with his characters. With a true passion for writing, Greg Dragon immerses his readers into a world of mystery, adventure and fantasy.
How long have you been writing books? At what age did you decide to start writing, and how many have you written so far, both published and unpublished?
I started writing books—as in novels—at the beginning of 2013. Prior to that I had written quite a number of short stories along with blogging extensively (five days a week). I had one blog where I would post up a chapter a week for some fanfiction. I’ve written my entire life. Writing in story form started roughly when I was 11, but back then my mother was my only reader, but I have always written short stories and poetry. At this point, I have a total of eight books (one currently unpublished) and I have five novellas in a serial, with the sixth entry to be published in the next month or so.
When it comes to your works, you seem to mainly focus on Science Fiction and Fantasy. Where do you find inspiration when it comes to create the worlds in which you stories and characters take place?
I grew up on Science Fiction shows and movies, and I have always read Sword and Sorcery. As I grew older however, I began to notice that Science Fiction had people who looked like me, whereas Sword and Sorcery didn’t. This naturally made me pay attention to Science Fiction more, and I fell in love with space operas. Shows like: Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Star Trek, et al. In terms of books, as a kid I read every Xanth novel by Piers Anthony, I think I’m caught up on all of the Shannara books by Terry Brooks, and Frank Herbert’s Dune blew my mind. Comic books, my choice was Conan the Barbarian, so I nothing but imaginary worlds being hammered into my head to the point where I wanted to start creating some of my own.
People ask where I come up with the things that I do and it isn’t an easy thing to answer. See, some authors plot out stories, and some just write. I’m of the latter. I dream certain things, sometimes a situation just comes to me, and I walk around with 4-5 stories in my head that I can’t wait to write. Coming up with stories is easy considering the world we live in. Science Fiction has always been a driver for deep thought based on a fictional story. Look at 1984, or Brave New World, actually, let’s move it up to modern times … look at Ready Player One! These stories were entertaining and fictional, but you close the book thinking, “is our world destined to become that horrible place?”
All we have to do is pay attention and a Science Fiction plot is begging to be written. Now more than anytime else in my life, the need for parody is strong. So inspiration is everywhere for me. The hardest part of what I do is definitely not the writing.
Spanning over 5 books, your Knights and Demons series seems to be your main focus. Can you give us a description of the series and why it has gotten your focus throughout your career?
Knights and Demons is a series about a young woman and her father forced to fight off demons to save the earth. I am focused on this series because the lead is a young black woman—not something you see in Urban Fantasy very much—and it is a kick-butt, action-packed story that is fun to write. I started the series really because of the love for my daughter and martial arts. Knights and Demons is a little like the mélange of those two things, with a strong sense of family thrown in.
Funny thing about this series, which brings me back to your earlier question, is that I got the idea from a nightmare I had.
Outside of the Knights and Demons series, which one of your books has been your favorite, the easiest to write, and/or the most successful among readers?
Favorite? The Factory. My one and only crime novel and the book I consider my magnum opus currently. Not for the faint of heart … let’s just say it was inspired heavily by the criminals I grew up with, and the dark underside of Tampa Bay. Easiest to write? The Wired for Love series. Re-wired was the first book that I wrote with a message in mind. It is a story about humans being prejudiced to sentient androids, and outlawing the act of love with them, keeping them “restrained” so that they can be easily identified as machines. If you’ve encountered discrimination (plenty of us have), you will understand why it was easy to write. Coincidentally Re-wired and Single Wired Female has been my most successful series … which is why I will continue to write about the android, Tricia.
When it comes to Science Fiction and Fantasy, do you feel that African Americans are often under-represented in mainstream media? If so, do you feel like your work is a step towards changing that?
I hope that I don’t annoy or anger anyone with my answer here, but we’re underrepresented now because of our tendency to stick with what we know. I’m the big black unicorn that sticks out when I go prancing in the fields of Science Fiction because traditionally it has been a white man’s game. I cannot count the amount of times when I have had fellow writers tell me “Greg it’s so cool that you write Science Fiction,” because there aren’t many of us doing it. This isn’t to say that I am special in any way, but I think a lot of it has to do with black writers writing what black writers write, and much of that isn’t Science Fiction. Times are different now though, much different from when I grew up, and there will be plenty of black writers branching out.
On the question of my work changing the mainstream media … I really hope so. I don’t write “black” Science Fiction, I write books with a diverse cast of people based on my experiences. This means that anyone should be able to enjoy something like a Knights and Demons, even if the protagonist is a brown-skinned girl with an Afro and a katana blade.
One of the great things about Science Fiction is that we can write about worlds that lack our racial baggage. On the flip side we can make worlds that are more extreme with the racial baggage. Having an insider’s view on the black experience should be welcomed, right? At least with that, I hope that a change could mean more stories from the minds of women and minorities.
Aside from being an Author, you’re also a blogger and host of your own site, “Hall Of The Black Dragon”. Which one comes the most natural to you?
Hall of The Black Dragon was built out of love and it pains me to think about how much it has been neglected due to my novel writing. I built the site because of a need I saw in young boys being proud of being in their own skin. We have boys without dads that are being told by the media that they are nothing but potential rapists, and products of a broken home.
We’ve made great strides and continue to do so in terms of true equality. Educating men and women about what words and actions are not cool and marginalize women. Yet, as with everything, some people cannot build up one person without tearing down another. Long story short, I felt that men were failing their sons, and the media was making it very hard for a boy to love himself. So I launched The Hall of The Black Dragon. My goal was to talk about everything under the sun that I considered “manly”. I wanted to use it to teach, correct, and learn from contributors. It has been has been a major success, and based on the comments and linkage, I know that some of my articles have really helped people. At the same time, Greg Dragon in 2008-2009 was a very different cat than the old man speaking in this interview. I wasn’t writing books then, I was fired up and full of opinion. So, once in a blue moon an article or comment floats up to bite me, and I read it like, “heh, I was really on it back then,” but it’s all growth, right?
Writing novels comes natural to me now, but at one time, I could sit on the train en route to my girlfriend’s house and by the time I was stepping off, I would have 3-5, 700 word articles primed to go. Now it’s hard. I second guess myself, think that what I have to say is too basic, and worry that I’ll tick someone off and they’ll come for me in the commentary. The older, kinder Greg Dragon is definitely more of an author than he is a blogger. That isn’t to say that I am giving blogging up. While I may not have 1-2 per day published on The Hall, I occasionally get the bug and put something up, but, yeah, it’s tough … different regions of the brain and all that.
Do you have any other business endeavors the people need to know about?
Greg Dragon is an entrepreneur. I do work and have a business in the web and search optimization world, but that’s the mundane stuff that I do to eat. On the writing front, I have a fun project going on with authors, Mark Gardner and David Kristoph. We are working on a Science Fiction survival story about a group of miners lost out in space. But get this. All three of us are writing it! Every week over at Mark’s blog we do a chapter, and it has been a true exercise of creativity to keep it going.
Thanks so much for allowing me to have this interview and speak about my books and my passions. I hope that your readers find some value in what I have said today. Cheers!
For more information visit gregdragon.com