Interview with Michael Rays

What do you read for pleasure?
I like reading biographies of rock stars, mathematicians and historical figures. Some of my favorite authors are Truman Capote, Jane Austen, Patrick O'Brian and William Manchester.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Therefore, every sentence I write is imbued with the majesty of Pikes Peak.
When did you first start writing?
After college I started dabbling in short stories. I have also kept journals over various periods.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Number One with an Axe!" is a look at all the #1 Billboard hits in America, 1955-59, through guitar-colored glasses. I rate each song on four "guitar-centric" categories and I write a brief commentary on each song.
What are you working on next?
I'm continuing my Guitar Odyssey series (book #3) by learning Neil Giraldo's awesome solo on Pat Benetar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."
What is your writing process?
I write without too much thinking, and I write too much rather than not enough. I usually wait at least a month before I edit myself.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read a story in junior high about a man in an old prison (we're talking hundreds of years ago--the story, not me going to junior high) who tries to escape. He crawls through a thin and angled tunnel, realizing there's no turning back, and then finds himself in a cave. All well and good, except the cave entrance is closed off by iron bars, and the skeleton of a previous escapee is sitting there. The story spooked me, and it made me realize that writing can haunt you as much as movies can.
Describe your desk
It's a folding table with a computer sitting on it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I like to write!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is the thought that I might connect with others through my writing.
Published 2016-04-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Number One with an Axe! A Look at the Guitar’s Role in America’s #1 Hits, Volume 4, 1970-74
Series: Number One with an AXE!. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 10,050. Language: English. Published: November 27, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Music » Instrument - Guitar, Nonfiction » Music » History & Criticism
What role has the guitar played in America’s #1 hit songs? Guitar gadfly/pop historian Michael Rays is back with volume four of his ebook series, “Number One with an AXE!” This book covers all 122 #1 hits from 1970-74. It's a golden era for guitars: singer-songwriters, multi-track guitars and wah-wah pedals are everywhere! "Number One with an AXE!" is a wildly fun slice of music history.
Number One with an Axe! A Look at the Guitar’s Role in America’s #1 Hits, Volume 3, 1965-69
Series: Number One with an AXE!. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,580. Language: English. Published: June 15, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Music » Instrument - Guitar, Nonfiction » Music » History & Criticism
What role has the guitar played in America’s #1 hit songs? Guitar gadfly/pop historian Michael Rays continues to explore and answer this question in the third volume of his ebook series, “Number One with an AXE!” This book covers all 103 #1 hits of the years 1965-1969. Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Doors: they're all here in this wildly fun slice of music history! A MUST for guitar lovers!
Number One with an Axe! A Look at the Guitar’s Role in America’s #1 Hits, Volume 2, 1960-64
Series: Number One with an AXE!. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,110. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Music » Instrument - Guitar, Nonfiction » Music » History & Criticism
Guitar-wise, what happened between Buddy Holly and the Beatles? Michael Rays continues his look at the guitar's role in America's #1 hit songs, this time looking at all the top hits from January 1960 through December 1964. He ranks each #1 hit on four guitar-centric criteria: riffage, rhythm, fills and solos. Each song has a video link so you can watch, listen and enjoy.
Number One with an Axe! A Look at the Guitar’s Role in America’s #1 Hits
Series: Number One with an AXE!. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 5,710. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Music » Instrument - Guitar, Nonfiction » Music » History & Criticism
Guitar gadfly Michael Rays takes you on a guitar-oriented tour through the history of Billboard's American number one hits, starting in 1955 with "Rock Around the Clock" and proceeding through Frankie Avalon's "Why"--the final #1 song of 1959. Rays rates each song on four guitar-centric criteria: Riffage, Rhythm Playing, Fills and Solos. He also writes brief commentaries on each song. Lots of fun!
Six-String Sleuth: A Guitar Player's Guide to Figuring Out Song Chords
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 10,480. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Music » Instrument - Guitar, Nonfiction » Music » Instruction and Study - Theory
"Six-String Sleuth" is for guitar players who want to figure out song chords by ear. This book is not tedious--it is FUN! The fictional instructor, Benjamin Nightly, teaches music theory concepts by treating songs as crimes committed by groups of chords. The appendix lists 40 well-known pop and rock songs that will test your musical detective abilities. Grab your guitar and get sleuthing!
Guitar Odyssey 2: Talkin' Dirty
Series: Guitar Odyssey. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 9,010. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Music » Rock music, Nonfiction » Music » Instrument - Guitar
First Deep Purple, now Poison! Guitar Odyssey 2 is the continuing journal of amateur guitarist Michael Rays as he learns his favorite rock solos. In GO2, Michael tackles C.C. DeVille’s gem in Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me,” chronicling each practice session and taking frequent side trips into music theory, rock trivia and of course poetry. Inspiring and entertaining for guitar players of any caliber!
Headers: Scores & Headlines from Brazil 2014
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,410. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Football & rugby, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Parody
"Fantas-Ticos!" "Spanish Are Nada!" "Bite Makes Might!" "Don't Cruyff for Me: Argentina!" "Götze and Glory!" Headers is a look back at the sixty-four matches of soccer's 2014 World Cup through kooky, hyper-sensationalized headlines. If you love the “beautiful game” and groan-worthy puns, you’ll find Headers pitch perfect!
Guitar Odyssey
Series: Guitar Odyssey, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 26,860. Language: English. Published: April 14, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Music » Rock music, Nonfiction » Music » Instrument - Guitar
(4.00)
Entertaining and inspiring, Guitar Odyssey is the day-to-day journal of amateur guitarist Michael Rays as he attempts to learn the guitar solo on Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” Michael dives right in, blissfully unaware the project will take him two years. It's a book for 1) guitarists of any caliber; 2) rock music lovers; and 3) fans of persistence and patience.