A resident of Kenora, Canada, the multi-talented Clayton Bye is an extremely busy man. He’s the author of nine books – including two instalments in a fantasy series, FROM EARTH TO EDEN -- and numerous short stories and poems. Additionally, he’s an editor, a publisher, an anthologist, and a prolific critic, principally through his review site The Deepening. But I managed to get him to pause long enough to give us his views on his own work and writing in general. You can find out more about him at www.claytonbye.com
Q1: You write in a pretty wide variety of genres. Can you tell us about that?
Several books ago, after trying to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be, other than a good one, it occurred to me I had already made that choice. I was an independent. A true independent, someone who wrote books for profit and did it all myself—before I had ever heard the term POD and in a time when I was painted with the brush of stigma. I'm also a Contrarian, a term I ripped off the backside of the financial world. My definition of a Contrarian is: someone who looks to the average person when determining which direction to go or what decision to make. You see, the average person, or in our case the average writer, is that way because of the choices they make, just as the rich or the famous achieve what they do by taking certain uncommon steps. So, in a nutshell, I try not to do the same things the average person does but, rather, to emulate the people who have achieved what I want from life..
I had no interest in being a genre writer. It was also notable that my favourite kind of story is trans-genred, if I'm allowed to be playful. I'm speaking of Horror, by the way. Horror can go anywhere it wants and nobody can do a thing about it. So, I took my inspiration from the average writer and from my love of horror stories and decided I was going to try out as many genres as I can before I die.
Since I'm more of a book writer than a short fiction writer, this means my body of work will probably never support me monetarily, but that's just the way it is. I'm still having fun. The year before last I wrote a book of poetry. It's a damned fine book, too, entitled "What I Found in the Dark." Last year I published an anthology of short stories by a group of authors who have talent to burn and seem to be unconcerned about going OUT THERE INTO THE VOID. It's called "Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road," can be found virtually everywhere online and in discerning bookstores in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. I can handle Europe as well, if someone wanted to sell books. And, finally, this year's offering is a short sequel to my fantasy novel, The Sorcerer's Key. Genres? Horror/Religion/Sci-fi/Fantasy.
Q2: What got you into writing in the first place? Would you say you’re a naturally born author, or did it only come to you in time?
I began my odyssey to become a writer as far back as I can remember, which would be about four years of age. I was reading and printing by that time, and a short while later one of the beautiful Rombiero twins showed me how to make written letters. So, in grade one, while others were learning the basics, I spent as much of my class time as I could, learning to write from the flash cards lining the borders of the walls, close to the ceiling. They had the printed letter, then directly below would be the written one.
School was always like that for me. If I didn't like something or liked something else better, then I would add it to my curriculum. This transformed into a personal development course when I was in grade 7 and is still used today.
Q3: Writers generally fall into two basic types … those who heavily research their material, and those who rely on their own experiences for the background of their work. Which one are you?
Q4: Which writers have influenced you most? Who do you admire, and even envy?
Damon Knight's “The Man in the Tree” provided the inspiration for “The Sorcerer's Key,” which is not my most popular book but is, arguably, my best.
People Like Og Mandino, the former editor of “Success Magazine,” and a wonderful author, as well. Zig Ziglar, who taught me how to sell—along with a few crotchety dinosaurs (I spent most of my adult life as a salesman of some sort).
Louis L'Amour, who taught me the secret to being a writer. He's the man who said “Temperamental I am not...” and claimed he could sit down in the middle of Sunset Boulevard and type away. As the one-time fourth bestselling novelist in the world, he knew of what he spoke. I own every one of his books.
John D. MacDonald, who showed me the only thing that's truly important in a novel is interesting people doing interesting things. I own every one of his books.
Stephen King, who I believe is the greatest, modern storyteller alive today. I own every one of his books. Sure, Neil Gaiman is more the face of horror today than King, but it doesn't make him a better storyteller.
Then there's the advent of something really new. It's called Bizarro, and the writer to watch is a young man with an imagination that's scary. His name is Jeremy C. Shipp. I own every one of his books but the latest, because I've been too damned busy to buy it!
I am not an envious man. People sow what they reap. But if I were ever to be jealous, it would be of Jeremy Shipp; he's young, he's positioned to be one of those “overnight sensations,” but most of all he's in for a ride like no other, immersed in worlds so strange that he might just be happy to stop at home every now and then and visit THE CLOWNS IN HIS ATTIC.
Copyright© Clayton Clifford Bye