Interview with Robin Ray

What do you read for pleasure?
I'm a news hound, so a lot of my free time is spent perusing online sites like CNN, AP, ABC News, Washington Post, Seattle Times, and other organizations. I take the news I see on social sites with a grain of salt because I feel they can be skewered one way or the other based on the writer's political interests. Fiction-wise, I can be all over the place, from special interest stories to horror to historical fiction. I also like reading biographies; some people have led fascinating lives and I'm always curious to know what made them tick, what kept them pushing on despite the fact that those around them thought they were too obsessed with their endeavors.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My computer. I prefer PDF's.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
When I first started publishing my books, I was focused on only one site - Amazon. I figured, well, they're the biggest e-retailer on the planet, so it behooved me to take advantage of that fact. As it turned out, I had short-sighted myself. Amazon is big, but they're not the only book-selling business in town. I was aware of Smashwords but hadn't delved into them because I was waiting to see if it would've been feasible to jump ship. Turns out, I didn't have to leave Amazon to come to Smashwords. I thought I did. Then, when I learned Amazon's ASIN is not the same as an ebook ISBN, I joined Smashwords. So far, it's proving to be a good marketing strategy as my books have suddenly reached a wider audience.
Describe your desk
I'm homeless so my desk is any place I can find to sit my laptop. The two main venues I use are public libraries and a shopping mall. In both places I have access to heat, electricity, bathrooms, seats, and food. What more can a journeyman ask for? Silence would be nice, though, but one can't have everything, can they?
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Trinidad & Tobago and lived there till I was 12. When I was there, I'd lived in seven different places; technically, we were homeless even back then. In the U.S., I also moved around a lot. Even till this day, I'd say I've been undomiciled more than domiciled in my life. Being itinerant has its pluses and minuses. One advantage is I've been to quite a few cities and states, and met a lot of different people in the interim, and all those local colors and flavors infuse my writing, and this is whether I'm talking about Georgia sharecroppers, ghetto gangsters and gangbangers from East LA and Harlem, American natives on the Crow reservation in Montana, gay club dancers in NY and LA, farmers in the sticks of Iowa and Nebraska, heavy metal headbangers at Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Plasmatics shows, etc. Can't complain about the experiences even though some of it was hair-raising.
When did you first start writing?
I've been a songwriter as far back as I can remember. Literature didn't take hold till high school. In college I wrote and published several books of poetry and short fiction. After writing music for years after that, I went back to literature, specifically, screenplays, short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction, novellas and novels.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is called 'Murder In Rock & Roll Heaven.' The title pretty much says what the book is about, and that's the whole idea - to give the potential reader a heads up on what they'd be expecting to encounter. Originally, I was going to write a book of fictional interviews of deceased geniuses like Beethoven, Einstein, Da Vinci, and others. When I found out that such a book had already been written, I was crest fallen. Still, the idea gnawed at me; gave me no peace. Around that time I though it'd be cool to write a genre mystery to enter into the Kindle Scout publishing contest, so I came up with the Agatha Christie-sounding 'Murder In Rock & Roll Heaven.' I didn't win the Scout publishing contract, and that depressed me for a while. I've since taken a closer look at the book, tightened up a couple of bits, and published it myself. There's a lot of science in it which I'm proud of.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Poverty. I hate being poor. Nothing like penury to make a man push on and on until something bears fruit. Seeking a publisher is, in itself, an arduous, intimidating, time consuming and expensive feat. Since I lack funds, it's easier and simpler to just sit in the library or mall, edit my books to my heart's content, and release them electronically. I'd love to be picked up by an established publishing entity because they're loaded with advertising dollars. Still, I have to begin somewhere, and indie ebook publishing is a good start.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Way too early to answer this question as I have yet to buy a 70 foot catamaran and a dock in the marina on Orcas Island. The minute I do, though, I'll revisit this question.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Would it be a cliche to say that writing has saved my life? Seriously, though, when you think about it, what else do I have to do but walk around Seattle all day watching the cranes constructing buildings I will never live in? Writing keeps me busy and off the street. It helps get my angst out of me; this calms me down way more than sitting cross-legged in a lotus position for hours listening to my lungs. I also maintain a blog, and talking to people through it has been a rewarding experience so far. Can't complain.
What do your fans mean to you?
I didn't know I had fans. Well, to those who consider themselves my fans, thank you for reading my work. It gives me promise and hope that maybe I'm not wasting my time after all.
What are you working on next?
Most of my books have a lot of characters so I thought, for a change, I'd write a "small" book, that is, one with only a handful of characters with its locale being a small town or fishing village somewhere. I already know what the book will basically be about but I don't think I'll tackle it for a few months because, these days, I've been pretty busy promoting the books I've already written.
Who are your favorite authors?
That's an easy question. I like Franz Kafka, Ayn Rand, Upton Sinclair, Judy Bloom and Edith Wharton.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Traffic. I'm homeless and sleep in my car on the side of the road. The morning rush hour traffic gets me going every time.
What is your writing process?
In the past I've written out of need. For instance, if I come across an online fiction site that's looking for a specific type of work, say, horror stories between 1,000 to 5,000 words, then I write specifically towards that requirement. Other times, when there have been no requirements in place, I often think about a story I've never seen or heard before, mentally work out the direction of the work, and set about ironing out the details. Since I have a great interest in film, I try to visualize my characters as people I'm already familiar with on screen. Generally, I set out to write a story by first designing the town/city/building/room/ship, etc, then begin populating it with the characters that will be at the center of the story.
Published 2017-02-12.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Obey The Darkness: Horror Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 116,610. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
Obey The Darkness: Horror Stories is a collection of sci-fi, psychological, fairy tale and supernatural novellas, novelettes and stories containing creatures, situations and motifs from as far away as Trinidad & Tobago and the Mayan Empire to the crystal-embedded fields of central Arkansas.
Strung Out: A Novella
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 38,570. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Strung Out: A Novella is a collection of two stories. The first, "Strung Out," is a cautionary coming of age tale set in urban America. The second, "A Walk in the Park with Mozart" takes a look at the contrasts between 18th century Vienna and 20th century city life through the eyes of one of mankind's famous geniuses.
Wetland: A Love Story
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 31,530. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Three young men in the Emerald City are searching for that elusive substance some people often find very difficult to locate - love. Seattle is at once a beautifully, arresting metropolis with its gleaming spires and scenic parks, and a powerful background for personal and spiritual growth. Will all three men who seek a commitment in the rainy kingdom find what they're looking for?
You Can't Sleep Here: A Clown's Guide to Surviving Homelessness
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 75,080. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Disasters & Disaster Relief, Nonfiction » Inspiration » General self-help
Homelessness is like a snowstorm - you never know when it'll strike. I wrote this book from my first-hand perspective of homelessness. It's to help you deal with life in the unforgiving street. My approach is humorous in nature, after all, isn't being homeless bad enough without me making it seem so hopeless?
Stranded in Paradise
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 34,930. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General, Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
In 1960, the seven survivors of a cruise ship disaster discover an uncharted island near the Bermuda triangle which its only two residents-in-exile, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, call home. One of the survivors, the ship’s German-born captain who is facing a jail sentence back in Florida, must choose between his loyalty to America or gaining riches in helping the ex-dictator develop the 4th Reich.
Tears of a Clown
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 30,540. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
How well do you know your neighbors? A small town's best & brightest high school students are being eliminated one by one by a goth-inspired wise-cracking clown, forcing their valedictorian to unwittingly link up with a special investigator to help stop the carnage.
Commoner the Vagabond
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 87,210. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Biographical, Fiction » Inspirational
A young airman with Asperger’s, summarily discharged from military duty and plagued by mental health issues, becomes homeless and has frequent encounters with the law. Through his exploits, he inadvertently provides the inspiration for a popular TV show and becomes the hope of the poor and downtrodden in Seattle, Washington.
Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 89,280. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Heaven's in an uproar. No one dies there, but that is what happened to singer Amy Winehouse. This creates a rift between the angels and citizens. With trust between the two groups now at an all time low, a newly arrived PI and his partner are tasked to interview the prime suspects of the 27 Club - Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin before Heaven is forced to close its doors forever.