Interview – Alex Siegel, author of The Gray Spear Society
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Alex Siegel, author of The Gray Spear Society books.Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Alex.For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
AS: I’ve been writing actively for almost twenty years. I’ve never been successful enough for it to become a professional career, but I’m ever hopeful. I’ve published sixteen books so far, mostly in the last five years. By day, I’m a software engineer at a trading firm in Chicago.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
AS: I write every day for at least two hours. On weekends, that jumps up to at least eight hours a day. I’d write more if I didn’t have a “real” job. My ideal writing conditions are alone in my basement office. I have a sweet workstation.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
AS: I’ve wanted to publish from the moment I started writing. My epiphany occurred after a life-threating motorcycle accident. I decided life is short, and I wanted to leave something lasting behind.
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have found yourself writing in the style/genres that you do?
AS: I write what I want to read. I think that’s the approach every author should take.
SPS: What would you say best differentiates you from other authors?
AS: I’m an engineer by training. That makes me naturally adept at managing complexity. My books tend to have layered, intricately woven plots. I pride myself at making all the pieces fit together perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle.
SPS: Can you take a moment to tell us all about your debut Gray Spear Society release Apocalypse Cult?
AS: The idea behind the series is God has a secret police force known as the Gray Spear Society. They take care of the crimes ordinary people aren’t equipped to handle. Apocalypse Cult is the launch pad for a series. All the books fit together to create a single overarching story with a satisfying conclusion.
SPS: What was the inspiration behind the series?
AS: I was thinking a lot about God at one point in my life. I wondered about the purpose of people in His universe. In an odd moment of insane inspiration, I decided He must need them to combat His enemies.
SPS: Tell us about a few of the members of the society?
AS: Aaron is the male protagonist throughout the series. He starts as a private investigator and joins the Society in the first book. He gradually gains stature as the series progresses, and by the very end, he is running the whole show.
Marina is his girlfriend. She started in the Society well before Aaron, and before that, she was a CIA agent. Marina and Aaron fall in love immediately. They are partners throughout, although their growing responsibilities keep them apart at times. Ultimately, they end up in the same place.
Ethel is the commander of the unit in Chicago. She starts out as Aaron’s and Marina’s boss. Ethel has the ability to move extremely fast with deadly effect.
SPS: You made the decision to make the first book in the series permanently free, an easy decision to make?
AS: Yes. People who read the first book will often buy the rest. Giving away something for free is the best way to build a fan base. It makes perfect sense when I have so many books out.
SPS: The series is currently 14 books long. How have you managed to keep everything in order, limiting plot holes and continuity errors?
AS: A combination of detailed outlines, plentiful notes, and thorough editing. I also have a pipeline process where I’m usually polishing one book, writing the next, and thinking about the one after that at the same time. That method keeps the transitions between books seamless and makes sure I’m always productive. Finally, I have a couple of very dedicated fans as beta readers. They know my books very well and find continuity errors for me.
SPS: Do you have a favourite book in the series, and a favourite villain?
AS: My favourite book is Eyes of the World. It’s brings together the plotlines of the previous nine books in a magnificent way. My favourite villain is Xavier from Deadly Weakness. He is a commander in the Gray Spear Society who has turned traitor. He is Aaron’s equal in many ways.
SPS: Are further books planned or are you going to concentrate solely on your new series Seams in Reality?
AS: The Gray Spear Society series is done. Fourteen books seems like plenty. My current focus is the Seams in Reality series which is planned for four books. The first two are published, and the third is about to come out. I’m writing the fourth book in that series now. Seams in Reality has a very different feel than the Gray Spear Society.
SPS: Do you have a favourite review of a Gray Spear Society book?
AS: Not really. I try not to read my reviews because they often annoy me. It’s enough to know most people like my work.
SPS: Your latest series starts with Seams in Reality. What can you tell us about it, and its sequel Cracks in Reality?
AS: Seams in Reality is about a college student named Andrew who discovers he has the powers of a sorcerer. A professor at the college named Tonya takes him under her wing, and she is a master sorcerer. Another apprentice, Charley, becomes Andrew’s girlfriend.
The books are set in modern day Chicago. Andrew, Charley, and Tonya are part of a larger secret community of sorcerers with both good and bad elements. The federal government is also involved. A special agency exists with the mission of keeping an eye on all sorcerers.
SPS: How have you differentiated this series from your last?
AS: The new series has entirely different characters and premise. It also is written for a slightly younger audience. All my books have intricate plots and exciting action though. My style is very consistent.
SPS: There are already a further two books in the series in the works – bringing the total to four – how far do you think you’ll take this series?
AS: Four is all that I have planned. I’ve decided a short series works better for marketing. It’s not as intimidating to readers.
SPS: What’s next on the self-publishing horizon for yourself?
AS: I’m already thinking about a new series after Seams. Hopefully, I’ll never stop writing.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
AS: No, I tried to get the attention of traditional publishers and agents for years without success. Eventually, somebody convinced me to self-publish. It was the right decision. I still hear horror stories about how traditional publishers treat authors badly.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
AS: Marketing has been a much bigger headache than I ever expected. Even great books don’t sell without great marketing. It’s the part of the business I least enjoy. On a positive note, I feel very proud of my writing so far. Sixteen novels is a great achievement, and most of them are really good.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
AS: Don’t expect your first book to succeed. Be prepared to try again and again and again until you find your audience. The more you write, the better you’ll get at it, and the more successful you’ll become.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
AS: Sadly, I don’t have time to read other people’s work. I would like to give a shout-out to my cover artist, Samantha DeCarlo. She been a great asset to me in many different ways.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today, Alex, and all the best for the future.
AS: You’re very welcome.
SPS: For more information on Alex Siegel and his work, please do visit his Showcase Author page here. (We’ll insert link)