[It’s not really a special Memorial Day edition. The truth is I was sick this weekend and slacked. Don’t tell anyone, okay? — Charlie]
PJM: So, you’re one of the new independent writer/publishers, making it out there, in the new world of selling stories directly to the public.
Tell us a little about yourself.
PG: I was born and raised in South Africa, and lived in Africa for the first 37 years of my life. During that time I saw extended military service, worked in the information technology industry, and ended up becoming a pastor – quite a career progression! I was part of the movement to overturn apartheid, the institutionalized policy of racial discrimination that bedeviled South Africa until 1994, and helped run the first democratic elections in that year.
I was informed that I’d never be able to hold down a “normal” job again, due to physical restrictions, so I decided to find some other way to earn my living.
I moved to the USA in 1997, and took up a pastorship in Louisiana. I then became a prison chaplain, until a serious job-related injury forced my retirement. I was informed that I’d never be able to hold down a “normal” job again, due to physical restrictions, so I decided to find some other way to earn my living. I’d written a book on prayer, and several professional articles, during my former careers; so I decided to learn how to write fiction, and see whether I could do well enough to prosper. From 2005 until 2012, I practiced and learned. I published my first “indie” novel in 2013, and as of May 2018 have published twelve books. At least three more will be published this year.
PJM: Tell us how you came to publish indie? Was it a choice? Did you ever do it traditionally? Do you also traditionally publish?
PG: My first book, on prayer and spirituality, was published “traditionally” by Servant Books, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1984. Two of my novels have been published “traditionally”, with another due later this year. The rest of my output has been “indie”. I also have one story published in a “traditional” anthology, with two more to follow.
PJM: Tell us about your latest book?
PG: “The Stones of Silence”, published in May 2018, is the first of a trilogy about a space security company. The book is a blend of military science fiction, space opera, and heist crime. The second volume, “An Airless Storm”, will be published in June, and the third, “The Pride of the Damned”, in July 2018.
However, I’ve been an avid reader all my life, so making the transition to “avid writer” has been easier than might otherwise have been the case.
PJM: How did you start writing? What did you envision as your career in writing (if you did)?
PG: Basically, my motivation was pretty mercenary. I needed a way to earn a living, and most conventional occupations were closed to me due to permanent partial disability. However, I’ve been an avid reader all my life, so making the transition to “avid writer” has been easier than might otherwise have been the case. I also began my blog, “Bayou Renaissance Man”, in 2008, as an exercise in producing high-quality, frequent output, and to build a following of readers who liked the way I wrote and would be willing to try my books when I was ready to publish them. That’s grown into a major effort, and I have several thousand blog readers each day. I suppose I’m therefore an author in two senses, one a blogger, the other a novelist.
PJM: What are the good and bad points of being an indie author? Would you like to be traditionally published someday, or do you have absolutely no interest in doing it?
PG: The good points are that you control everything. You can’t blame anyone else. It’s entirely up to you to produce a high-quality product, critically analyze and improve it, eliminate mistakes, format it and set it up for publication, and market it. If you fail in any area, you’re not going to do well in others. That may seem daunting, but it also means that you can exercise control as closely or as loosely as you desire. I find constant attention to detail – far more so than most publishers will give to mid-list authors – means that I can stay on top of things, and produce a product that lives up to my personal standards.
The downside of that is that you control everything! It’s very demanding in terms of time and attention, to the point that relationships, other activities, etc. – even perhaps your health – can suffer if you don’t try to force some sort of work-life balance upon yourself. I’m grateful to have a wife who reminds me often, sometimes gently, sometimes less so, that I do not exist solely to write! She’s a blessing – and since she blogs and writes herself, albeit at a much slower pace than I, she understands something about the pressures I’m under.
I intend to continue to publish traditionally if and when the opportunity arises, but the income from such books is almost guaranteed to be less than I would make if I published it independently. A bestseller would change that equation, of course, but that’s the luck of the draw. I think traditional publishing offers one the opportunity to get one’s book in front of many more eyes, while accepting the penalty of a lower income from it. If those readers then buy some of my other books, particularly my indie volumes, then I make more money that way. In that sense, I think the game is worth the candle.
PJM: A lot of people point to things like getting editing, covers and such things that the houses used to do. Is this very difficult for you?
PG: No – it just takes time and attention. Writing a book is, I think, only about half the effort in getting a finished product to publication. The other elements – alpha and beta reading, proof-reading, error correction, editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, etc. – are immensely important. You can have the best story in the world, but if you haven’t paid attention to the other factors, it’s very unlikely to sell in the quantities it deserves. It’s not so much difficult as immensely demanding in terms of time and attention to detail.
PJM: Where do you want to go with your career. Pie in the sky – where would you like to be in your writing career in ten years.
PG: I’d like to have twenty to thirty more books published – say, thirty to forty in all, including those I’ve already published – and to be making enough money from my backlist and other avenues that I’m covering our entire cost of living. We’re well on the way towards that right now, but we still have a way to go, and my wife still works a day job. It would be nice if she could have more time for her own writing, and we could spend more time together.
Torchship Trilogy, Karl K. Gallager.
The complete Torchship series in a single volume! The Trilogy is a Finalist for the 2018 Prometheus Award for best libertarian SF novel.
A captain who’ll take any job if there’s enough money in it.
A pilot with an agenda of her own.
And a mechanic with an eye on the pilot.
The crew of the Fives Full are just trying to make enough money to keep themselves in the black while avoiding the attention of a government so paranoid it’s repealed Moore’s Law. They’re not looking for adventure in the stars . . . but they’re not going to back down just because something got in their way.
War is bad for business. The crew of the freighter Fives Full want to enjoy the profits of their dangerous voyage, but when war breaks out they’re pressed into service for missions a warship can’t do. Winning the war demands pilot Michigan Long act ruthlessly . . . and may cost her her conscience and her marriage.
Michigan Long blackmailed her enemies into joining the war against the AIs. Now the secret she used is leaking out and the Fusion is shattering. Caught in the middle of a civil war, she will have to use any weapon that comes to hand–her wits, her ship, her mate.
As Germany commemorates the 50th anniversary of the victorious Great War, a Berlin-based Austrian painter recalls his role in the war and his life afterwards.