Interview with A.G. Claymore

When did you first start writing?
I first started writing while I was an intelligence operator with the Military. If I wasn't in the field I was writing. I've produce everything from daily summaries, to country handbooks for soldiers on NATO or UN operations. I spent eight years sitting in a high tech vault (similar to the one in 'Prometheus Bound') crafting documents that would then be picked apart by every high-speed, low-drag major on the seventh floor. It was a good preparation for dealing with criticism.
What's the story behind your latest book?
'The Orphan Alliance' is the third, full-length installment in the 'Black Ships' series and it follows the struggles of a Human/Midgaard fleet in Republic territory. An incredibly virulent plague is unleashed on Earth by scientists attempting to reverse-engineer the longevity of our Midgaard allies. The result is a massive military force - the largest ever fielded by our species - cut off from it's supporting economy. The fight has ground to a stalemate and we need to find a way to regain our momentum before the enemy grind us down, one ship at a time.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I finished my first story 'Prometheus Bound' three years ago and I was dreading the grind of finding an agent, querying publishers etc... Then I started finding blogs by folks like Joe Konrath, David Gaughran and Mark Coker and I realized that eBooks were taking a constantly increasing slice of the market. It really called into question why I should be tying myself to the glacial process of traditional publishing when the readership was shifting in favor of the more agile, indie model.

After a few weeks of research, I finally decided to publish my first novel with Smashwords in 2011, following a few months later with Amazon. My numbers have steadily increased since then and I've already pulled ahead of where I would have been with a traditional first book advance.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The biggest contribution is the most obvious. Mark and his team made the big eBook retailers accessible at a time when indies couldn't get in the door. They haven't been resting on their laurels either. New programs like the series manager and the pre-order option have opened new opportunities that continue to make Smashwords my first choice for distribution.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest thrill for me is to take my outline and just turn my characters loose within that framework. I love the alchemy that comes from opposing forces and I'm amazed at how often a character will do something that surprises me. The mornings when I sit down with no idea how my protagonist is going to escape his or her current predicament usually turn out to be my best days on the job.
What are you working on next?
Next up is 'Counterweight', the fourth in the 'Black Ships' series. It explores one little corner of the cold war between the Alliance and the Republic and returns one of the characters from Book one in a new role as agent provocateur.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'll go with the short list:

Arthur C. Clarke, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Robert Heinlein, C.S. Forester, Bernard Cornwell, J.R.R. Tolkein, Harry Turtledove, Barry Eisler, Masamune Shirow, Lee Child, Evan Currie, Blake Crouch and Joe Konrath.

Lately, my reading has shifted towards indie authors because I'm reading more stories. We have a Kindle as well as a Kobo and it seems to make reading more convenient for us. That makes price more of an issue than it used to be and the indies tend to sell at a third the price of the traditionally published eBooks, so I'm definitely noticing a shift in my purchasing habits.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Getting at the story. I usually go over the plan for the next day before I doze off, so I wake up with a ton of scenes fresh in my head, itching to be written. That and the coffee - coffee gets me out of bed without fail...
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
With my wife and two children. We have a busy schedule during the week so we have to make the most of the quiet moments.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I mostly discover eBooks by word of mouth. I often follow a blog for a few months before deciding to try that author's work. When I find one I like, I usually find that he or she is cross promoting a colleague that I also end up reading.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I suppose my first work of fiction would have to be 'Prometheus Bound'. I was sitting in the departure area of the Trondheim airport with the headquarters group of an Allied-Command-Europe division when I realized you could sneak kidnap victims across European borders if you managed to blend in with a NATO troop deployment. Back then, you often crossed from one country to the next while a coordinator dealt with the customs agents.

Even though that was over twenty years ago, it was when I first started on that novel.
What is your writing process?
I start out with a few key scenes to set the tone of the story before sitting down to do a broad outline. I usually try a few more chapters before going back and doing the detailed outline. The characters then start suggesting things to me and the outline always ends up getting changed in ways I didn’t expect.

I send it for an edit before it goes to any beta readers because I don’t want them annoyed at my typos...
Published 2013-09-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Kill or Cure
Series: Orbital Decay, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 24,250. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Ben and his small group were only hours away from their destination when an ill timed military operation strands them in South Carolina. Three more hours and the burden of responsibility would have been lifted from his shoulders. The greatest threat isn’t from the dead, but rather, the living. As society crumbles, will humanity itself be the first thing sacrificed in the name of survival?
Orbital Decay
Series: Orbital Decay, From 'The Dark Defiance'. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 19,680. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
A Black Ships Novella Ben's life was falling apart but the pace has just accelerated. A suicide case turns out to be murder and it looks like the body count’s going to rise. A lot. As he races to uncover the truth, he learns the entire species may be the next victim. Just as humanity is finally reaching for the stars, a terrible mistake may knock us back into the Stone Age. If anyone is left...
The Black Ships
Series: The Black Ships, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 102,220. Language: English. Published: October 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
When the fledgling Mars colony is attacked by a hostile alien force, the nations of Earth must come together to devise an effective response. A fleet, built at incredible expense, will attempt to hit the enemy before they complete their cloned invasion force. The difference between freedom and slavery may rest on a chance discovery. It will all come down to a roll of the dice.
Prometheus Bound
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 94,200. Language: English. Published: July 12, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech, Fiction » Adventure » Action
9 AD, three Roman legions are massacred in a forest in Germania. In the dying years of WW2, Luftwaffe pilot Rolf Patzer is pulled from duty to fly a crate of artifacts to Asia by a mercurial SS major. Former NATO soldier Jos Fál races to save his fiancee from death at the hands of a secret enemy as they struggle to control an ancient technological legacy. The legacy will create the future.