Interview with Tory Gates

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have been writing stories and songs all my life. My first efforts to find a literary agent and go the traditional route in the 1990's did not result in anything, and my own recent time with another agent didn't work, either.

I've watch friends of mine self-publish books as well as music over the years, and I realized the business had changed. I finally decided I would not wait, but take control of my work and put it out the only way available to me.

The advantages outweigh the ego trip of having a "book in hand," though I certainly don't discount that might happen one day. I am creatively free, and write the way I want.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords made it easy for me to set up my profile and get my work out there. In addition, Smashwords does not hold your money hostage and force you to reach sometimes unattainable goals. They understand how difficult it can be for folks who don't have a big publisher or a lot of money behind them.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating my own world, but also making that world understandable to other people. Writing for me is therapy, and in that way I'm able to get a lot of stuff out of me. At the same time I can share experiences and stories with others, and hope they might find something that not just entertains but perhaps inspires them.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are the people that support me, and not just in terms of buying my stuff! To know I've reached somebody, and maybe helped them out a little is good feeling.

I often pictured myself in books or movies, and I generally identify with one specific character in a story. My hope is that people find that one character they "get," and do the same. From some of the things I put my characters through, I hope readers will see that if the character can get through things, so can they, and they can be even better people.
What are you working on next?
I have two stories that I am considering as follow-ups, both in the Young Adult genre. One is "The Drifters: Tales of the Southern Cross," an adventure type story. The other is "Time the Healer," which I am considering for both book and graphic novel form. The latter is about bullying, and the violence and harm that can come about over the long-term. It's one person's journey out, and the affects it has on those around her.

I also have a long-running YA series that will one day be produced, called the "Sweet Dreams Series." It is about time travel and also the power of music.
Who are your favorite authors?
J.R.R. Tolkien probably remains the highest standard for storytelling and craft that I've ever read. I read "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" when I was nine and ten, respectively (so I read 'em before it was cool!). His ability to create Middle Earth, and the attention to detail were inspiring to me.

I am also a big fan of Douglas Reeman. He wrote a long series of naval stories, and the great appeal of these were that he wrote not of the big ships, but the mini-subs, the tramp steamer turned into a warship, the motor torpedo boat, etc. Wonderful stories, great pacing.

I am sad to say I didn't read a lot of classics growing up--often my books were what I could find. I was a fan of Clive Cussler's stories as a teenager, and Ken Follet's "The Key to Rebecca" was a favorite read.

My others include P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde, whom I've read more of for research purposes. As a fan of history, James McPherson's Civil War works were quite good.

On a spiritual level, Thich Nhat Hanh's writings and those of Krishna Das have great meaning for me.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cats! At least four of them crowd around me at an appointed time most mornings to let me know the food and water dishes are empty!

Beyond that, I don't have a set routine for what I do. When it comes to writing, I try to make sure I've done something each day that moves my work forward. That does not have to be writing, per se--it can be research, reading or accomplishing tasks surrounding the project at hand.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
In recent years, my "real job" has had fewer hours. Broadcast radio has been my "work" for nearly 30 years, so if I'm doing one thing, I'm doing something else.

My other pursuits are physical fitness (I swim), I play music and write songs for my group, the Dharma Fools.

For me, the important thing is to keep busy, I'm always doing something.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I am ashamed to admit I do not read as much as I should, of other authors. When it comes to ebooks, I like to check out different sites and see if there's anything interesting. I'm much the same way about music--with the loss of physical stores, I look for what I am interested in. It's good to "take a chance" at times on unknown writers (something I hope folks will do with me).
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I wrote a short western novel when I was 14. It was a shoot-em-up with me as the gunslinging hero, and terrible! I was encouraged to submit it to my freshman English teacher in high school, and I think that is probably why I didn't get an "F" in his class!
What is your writing process?
The first thing I do with an idea is let it "cook" upstairs for a while, usually weeks or months. If I am so driven, I will write out the character sketches that come to mind. I'll do names, ages, heights, weights, and distinguishing characteristics. Some of these come quickly, and then I fill out the rest of the person's ways as times goes on.

My next step is to write a storyline, a Point A to Point B; then I fill in between, chapter by chapter. These tend to change a great deal as the story goes on.

Once I feel I have enough of the storyline completed, I prepare, and then I write. I don't generally stop until it's done!
How do you approach cover design?
Usually I will have an idea in my head, but since I have no skill at drawing I have to give my idea to someone else! For "Parasite Girls," I had one idea, and then it remained for a friend to focus on one specific scene, and say, "That one captures the whole story." The artist agreed, and we soon zoomed in on the emotion of the scene. It's not a bad thing to have that feedback and input.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. "Lord of the Rings," J.R.R. Tolkien -- the most enthralling and captivating story I've ever read. Hands down.
2. "The Key to Rebecca," Ken Follett -- great spy thriller, based on actual events in Cairo.
3. "The Pride and the Anguish," Douglas Reeman -- the fall of Singapore during World War II, through the eyes of the first officer of a battered torpedo boat.
4. Anything of the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse.
5. "Who I Am," Pete Townshend. The autobiography of my favorite songwriter is straight-forward, unapologetic, and always searching for growth and progress.
What do you read for pleasure?
Since a lot of my writings are Young Adult, and set in Japan, I read some anime and manga. Lately, I've been reading Ume Aoki's "Sunshine Sketch," and Kagami Yoshimizu's "Lucky Star." I also read world history, and some regional histories, such as that of the Great Lakes. Much of this is for research, and that to me is as much fun as anything else.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't have one, believe it or not!
Describe your desk
My desk is a right-angled work table of clutter! My computer, music, calendars, office supplies (and cats!) are all over it! This extends to an old-fashioned desk that's been in my family for decades. I don't sit at it; more stuff piles up there and before that my music stand, effects pedals and amps!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on a farm in northwestern Vermont, in a small town called Cambridge. It was a very rural area, the town only had about 2,500 people in it at the time. That small-town kind of life was good, but it also made me think beyond the horizon and wonder what else was out there.
When did you first start writing?
I didn't actually begin to "write" until I was in high school, but I was a storyteller, and I would try to entertain others with my stories, such as those were. Over time, I realized this was training for what I would do.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Parasite Girls" is the story of Aidan Connor, an American photojournalist who turns up at the Tokyo apartment of his old college friend, Mima. Burned out from his last assignment, Aidan is seeking to get away from what he's become.

He finds that Mima, while a talented artist, is suffering from her past. Her two closest friends are also dealing with a form of social injustice: the "Parasite Single" is a term that describes young adults who stay at home much longer than usual, and sponge off their parents.

This Aidan finds to be untrue, and aware that everyone has a story, soon learns what is going on. Sora, a brilliant painter suffers from bipolar disorder, and Eko appears to be the poster child for the term. But each has a story.

Mima's past becomes present, and through it all, Aidan remakes himself. He remembers why he and Mima became great friends, and how over the years and expanse of miles, something never dies.
Published 2013-10-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Parasite Girls
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 66,950. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Asian American
A burned out American photojournalist surfaces in Tokyo after a disastrous last assignment. Aidan Conner seeks to rebuild his career and life, while his old friend Mima finds her past has become present. Through flashbacks, Aidan recalls their friendship, and what binds Mima to her closest friends, Sora and Eko. Aidan is reminded of the one thing that never dies between true friends.