Interview with Robert G. Griffen

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I did not believe I would ever get published by a traditional publishing house.

My religious stories (The Gospel According to Griffen) and the attitude that underpins them would be unpopular with most people who read religious literature. They would probably become controversial in ecclesiastical circles, if they became widely known, which might actually help sales. (I recall that books which were "Banned in Boston" got a leg up in sales.) But who would want to gamble thousands of dollars in printing and publicizing an unknown, unproven author of Bible Stories? While "These Ain't Yo' Mama's Bible Stories" might encourage some readers, I believe they would have been too risky an investment for traditional publishers.

My other work tends to be of the "Dime Novel" shoot-'em-up variety. Again, once widely circulated, they could become popular. But I believe it would be more of a gamble than a traditional publisher would like.

So I helped to form a group of self-published authors who assist other authors get published - not just "in print," but with promotion and sales, too. It can be a steep learning curve at first, but very manageable with guidance. The Portland Publishing Group meets regularly to teach and coach fellow writers in the business of getting their work "out there."
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is new to me, and I am experimenting to see how well this opportunity will promote my work. I am very hopeful, because the site seems so helpful. This interview process, for instance, presents excellent questions that authors need to answer... not just here, but in press releases, bookstore lectures, etc. Clearly, there is more to publishing than writing a book and then printing it. (That is a great way to have a storage space full of boxes filled with books!) I believe Smashwords provides proper guidance.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy? When people, whose opinions I respect, read something I wrote and become genuinely excited about it.

I experience joy whenever I complete a section of a story, and it comes together better than I had hoped.
I experience joy (and relief) when I finally stop nit-picking at words and call a story "finished."
I experience a new level of joy when I see it that finished piece appear on a retail shelf or a website where people can find it. That makes the book Real.

The best is good feedback, however.

Bad feedback?
I just have a good cry and go back to work.
What are you working on next?
I have a few things in the works.

"Geezer" is about a 65 year-old semi-retired hitman. He worked for U.S. Black Ops when he was an idealistic college student. (It covered his tuition and fees and let him go out to dinner once in awhile.) He is drawn back in when he interrupts an assassination attempt. "Old age and Treachery will win out over Youth and Enthusiasm every time."

"The Evangelists - The Three Furies" is the second book in a series about co-men who become televangelists and "find themselves." This volume is about their mothers, who escape from a dangerous back-woods Mormon splinter group to form an alliance of their own.

"The Towne Sanction" is about Leisel Towne and Tracy Rose - modern "warrior princesses" who fight with The American Free Army against the religious fanatics (The True American Christian Church) and their Prophet who run the U.S. Government in the not-too-distant future.

"How Not to Screw Up Your Own Wedding" is a light-hearted presentation of Street-Wise Wedding Advice - learned the hard way during more than thirty years in the wedding business.

All will appear soon on a web site near you.
Who are your favorite authors?
Dude, Man!! Steven King! He has rarely disappointed me (though I like some of his books better than others.)

I grew up on Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury and their ilk. As soon as I was allowed into the Adult Section of the Public Library, I read all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on. ("Tom Swift" and "The Mushroom Planet" in the kiddies' section never held much interest for me.)

I read from a much broader spectrum of literature, as well: Stevenson ("Kidnapped' and "Treasure Island" and others), Forester (the Hornblower series), Burrows (ALL the Tarzan books) and Mark Twain ("Connecticut Yankee..." a few of the Tom Sawyer adventures and of course "Huck Finn."). Non-fiction about the second world war caught my interest when I was about thirteen, as did books by African American authors (they were "Black" in those days) like W.E.B DuBois, Eldridge Clever, James Baldwin.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My Day Job!
I still have one.
Time for writing comes when I can squeeze it in around what I do to survive financially... for now.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do remember. I never finished it. I was in high school. The Civil Rights Movement was at full tilt. I began a Sci. Fi. story about an alien who would contribute to setting things right on this planet. I didn't get very far - probably because I had no idea at the time how to set things right myself.

No. I don't expect to return to it. I'll address the civil rights struggle with a different kind of writing.
How do you approach cover design?
For now, it is an eleventh hour strategy. I start grabbing at the air for ideas when I have the text finished. I don't recommend this process.

The cover for "The Evangelists - Boys Will be Boys" was pulled together quickly and at the last minute. I have a great big white Bible (A collector's edition, for sale on ETSY.) and access to a Makarov semi-automatic. I put them on a dark piece of velvet and took a bunch of photos with an inexpensive Canon point-n-shoot digital camera. I hauled them into Photoshop where I futzed around with them for an hour or two... and voila! A cover!.

I hope to work with visual artists for cover AND internal illustrations, too. (everybody likes pictures... right?) I will become more systematic about it with experience.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My computer screen. It is BIG! BIG is easier to read. This is true, young or old.

Reading on my Smart Phone!? Phooey!
Describe your desk
The piles on it are smaller today.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Portland, Oregon. I hiked and camped and played outdoors. Mom said it was good for us. If we complained of boredom, she found chores for us to do... usually outside. TV was managed by my parents. None on school nights. Only okay on weekends AFTER homework was done. I read like crazy whenever I could get my hands on something; from DC Comics to the Classics. I brought books home from school to read over vacations and breaks. I sat and listened to my seniors tell stories at the dinner table. Thanksgiving and other family reunions were great in that regard. Stories communicate and teach our values. I don't remember being lectured much, but there were lots of stories. So, now I tell 'em... out-loud or written.
When did you first start writing?
Between phone calls at the Day Job. It takes forever!
Published 2017-11-10.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Evangelists - Boys Will Be Boys
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 33,300. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Garrett & Dave Gantry are small-time con-men. In this first volume, they encounter sociopathic killers, corrupt lawmen, and an assortment of other colorful characters as they work their way toward the long con opportunity of a lifetime as Liberal Televangelists.