Interview with Gary Alan Ruse

When did you first start writing?
I can honestly say that I began writing as a small child. Even before I could put actual words to paper, I was using my imagination to create ideas, plots, settings, scenarios and mini-adventures. As an only child in a neighborhood with few other children, my "playtime" often revolved around letting my imagination roam, inspired by the things around me, and thinking "what if...?" I can vividly recall sitting on the floor with paper and scissors, a stapler, pencils, pens and crayons, and making my own little "magazines" and filling them with simple content. I think sometimes there is truth to the saying that some people are born writers, and in my case that seems to fit. An interest in art developed simultaneously, and each fueled the other.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest completed book is "Perseverance Triumphant!", which is a Steampunk (Victorian Science Fiction) adventure. Set in an alternate history version of Victorian England in which, due to the "timely" intervention of famed inventor and genius Nikola Tesla, many futuristic elements become merged with the romantic past of that period. It's a fast-paced, sometimes tongue-in-cheek adventure with the accent on fun. The book is really a "novelization" (novella length) of a screenplay I wrote first that came about in a most unusual way. I woke up one morning obsessed with the idea of making a Steampunk costume for myself. A costume required a persona, so during breakfast and for the next hour or so after I worked on “imagineering” who the character would be. Since I decided on a captain of a steam powered starship, I started working out details of the ship, how it would work, how it was built, who the crew members would be, how they would communicate with Earth while in space, how the robots would work. And a villain! I needed an interesting villain and his nefarious allies. Before long I realized that I had created enough material not just for a persona and costume, but for an entire story. I launched into it and wrote a two hour movie screenplay first, which my agent is showing around Hollywood, and then a novella length eBook based on that. And all because I wanted to make a costume!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After having been a professional writer of science fiction and mystery for many years, with my first five novels bought and published by major trade publishing houses (Doubleday, Prentice-Hall, NAL/Signet Books) and short stories sold to magazines and anthologies, I was becoming frustrated with the way the industry had evolved with book publishers that had previously responded to submissions in a month or two now taking six months, a year, two years or even longer to let you know if they were interested or not. Royalties were often small (and slow) on published books, and although I was lucky to have some really great covers, if you got stuck with a bad cover there was little you could do about it. Also, with a backlist of out of print books, I wanted to make them available once more as well as create totally new projects. A good friend of mine, a writer herself, suggested I try Smashwords and I've never regretted doing so.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The flexibility of the system and ease of working within it have helped, as have the great guide books on formatting and marketing. The ability to create coupons for discounted copies or free copies for reviewers also helps. And Smashwords has multiple formats (mobi, epub, pdf, etc.) that makes my books accessible to more readers.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Just the joy of creating something new, developing it and seeing it take shape, especially when the characters work so well that they seem to almost take over and write their own dialog and do things that surprise me.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are important. No matter how much fun writing is for me, if no-one was reading my books it would seem rather pointless. Also, fans can help spread the word and introduce others to books they like. Writers are performers in a way, and fans are their audience.
What are you working on next?
I am currently half-way through writing the sequel to my sci-fi / mystery novel "Aggie & Agent X", but am also plotting out a sequel to "Perseverance Triumphant!" to be called "Perseverance Undaunted!" And I have a detailed outline done for a supernatural thriller set in New York. And as if that all wasn't enough to keep me busy, I also am working on a sequel to my epic fantasy novel, "Morlac: The Quest of the Green Magician," which some fans have asked for.
Who are your favorite authors?
Among my favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, for his great imagination, wonderful writing style and the powerful imagery of his words; Jules Verne; H.G. Wells; Arthur Conan Doyle; Robert E. Howard; and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love reading, watching movies, certain TV shows, creating artwork, designing my websites, and occasionally (though not often!) getting enough sleep.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like science fiction, fantasy, mystery, grand adventures, supernatural suspense, and non-fiction books that explore interesting places.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
By recommendations from friends, online searches, Facebook posts by fellow writers, newsletters like BookBub, and "you may also like" suggestions on eBook dealers websites.
What is your writing process?
My stories and novels usually start with a small part of a concept or a character that intrigues me, then I starting making notes, bits and pieces of the plot and snippets of dialogue, sometimes spread over a period of time, adding to it as things occur to me. Then when there's enough to feel that I know the characters and where the story is going, I launch into it, writing the first page with as strong a narrative hook as I can. Sometimes I outline a book in a very detailed way, especially if it is complex with different locales and time zones, as in my early techno-thriller novels ("Houndstooth" and "A Game of Titans"), and sometimes I just start it with a rough idea of where I'm going and let it fly on its own, enjoying the ride.
How do you approach cover design?
Being an artist as well as a writer, I often design a cover early on to inspire me. I try to create a cover with a strong design sense that conveys the essence of the story, that has a lot of eye-appeal and that shows up well even in thumbnail size.
Published 2014-03-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Aggie & Agent X - The Mandarin Mystery
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 52,130. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime
Aggie & Agent X - The Mandarin Mystery. The second mission for young CIA officer Agnes Westfeld and her alien detective partner, Agent X is a baffling mystery with more danger and excitement than the first. A science fiction mystery with humor, thrills and chills.
Morlac: The Quest of the Green Magician
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 124,590. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Conjured from the sea by the dark magic of the Green Magician to defend their village from invaders, Morlac is a being tormented by his own dual past, and under the spell of the wizard's wicked daughter. Can he save them all...and himself? His journey across exotic lands, armed with his magicked sword “Shark” and his shell shield, is an epic sword and sorcery adventure.
Perseverance Triumphant!
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 32,430. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk
An epic Steampunk adventure. In 1880 the captain and crew of a steam-powered British starship must battle a deliciously despicable villain, rescue the kidnapped Queen of England and thwart an alien invasion from outer space. Can Star Captain Demetrius Cogswell, Ship's Telepath Lady Elidora Thistle and the crew of the HMS Perseverance save England, Earth and the rest of the solar system?
Aggie & Agent X
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 50,780. Language: English. Published: November 19, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
A rookie CIA officer is teamed up with a partner who is...out of this world! This quirky and often funny blend of sci-fi, espionage, mystery and old movie atmosphere should appeal to fans of all of those genres and more.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 97,670. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
Houndstooth set the stage for techno-thriller novels that would follow a decade or more later. It’s the story of a special German Shepherd dog, "Major," part of an Army dog handling experiment using a micro brain implant linked to computers and satellite relays to allow a remote handler to see what the dog is seeing and send him commands. Major is sent on an emergency spy mission deep into Russia.
Jolly Roger
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,020. Language: English. Published: May 8, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Two time-traveling special agents and a feisty young lady pirate captain join forces in 1717 to prevent the course of history from being changed. This science fiction adventure comedy adds a new twist to pirate lore.
Mysteries at Midnight
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 64,680. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
A Collection of Dark Fantasy Tales. An unsolved murder on a seductive resort island with brooding secrets....a mechanical movie prop intended to help create a dream on film, but instead becomes part of a nightmare for those odd alliance between a priest and a vampire....a modern day meeting with the Phantom of the Opera....tales of ghosts and monsters and otherworldly encounters.
The Pluck of O'Reilly
Price: Free! Words: 6,520. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
A humorous fantasy short story set during the American Civil War about a hapless Irishman who is pressed into service and must call upon supernatural help, and his own wits, to survive a pending major battle and the war.
The Cross of St. Anne
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 76,540. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
A supernatural suspense novel. When New England antiques dealer Annie McCormick sells a religious relic to a new museum on Jarritt's Island and its charming owner Curt Devereaux, she could not be happier. But when Annie learns the ghostly secret of the old mansion-turned-museum, her dream adventure becomes a nightmare that puts her life...her very risk!
Murder in Deer Park
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,950. Language: English. Published: July 24, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
A wonderful historical mystery! Join President Grover Cleveland and his young bride as their resort honeymoon is interrupted by murder and intrigue, forcing the appealing couple to become detectives and solve the crime!