The Lucius Chronicles Hits One Million Sales
… This is the interview that I will give when the inevitable happens…
Editor’s Note: It is April 1, okay… Read on and enjoy yourselves!
So, The Lucius Chronicles has just hit one million sales. Congratulations! How are you feeling at the moment?
Bewildered. Amazed. Hugely overjoyed. I mean, it really is a dream come true. To have this level of success with a book and so soon after publication, too. It really is fantastic. Absolutely out of this world, in fact!
For those people who haven’t yet discovered The Lucius Chronicles, tell us a little bit about the book and why they should read it.
The Lucius Chronicles is a compilation of the three books that make up the DATS Trilogy: Death and the Schoolboy, Death and the Atom Bomb, and Death and the End. They follow the adventures of Johnny and Eddie, the Death of Children, as they try to save the Earth, Deathville and ultimately, the entire Universe, from Uncle Lucius, the oldest, wisest and most unpleasant of all the Deaths.
It was originally intended as a children’s book, so I just let my imagination run wild when I was creating the storyline, to give kids something really unusual and exciting to get their teeth into. But since its release, it seems to have found a much wider audience, which is really heartening for me to discover.
Death is a pretty morbid subject to be writing about. Don’t you think that it will put readers, especially younger ones, off?
Not at all. Death is something that happens all around us, every day, whether it’s a fly found on a windowsill or the passing of a family pet or a relative, and I think that we do kids a disservice by shielding them from the reality of it. And besides, The Lucius Chronicles follows the pattern of all classic children’s literature, in that none of the heroes actually die and it is only the really bad guys that meet a grisly end.
Rather than thinking of it as a book about death or something grim and frightening, I view it as just a really exciting adventure story that happens to take place in a slightly dark and spooky world beyond our own, which is something that I believe younger readers will really enjoy.
What are you going to do with all the royalties that are pouring in? Hopefully, not retire!
No, definitely not retire. As I say on my website (www.rob-gregory.com) writing is in my blood and I can’t see myself ever stopping. The royalties are just a means to an end, which in my case, means that I can continue writing stories that I hope will entertain and delight people for many, many years to come.
It hasn’t always been like this for you. Tell us about the early days, when you first began writing.
Well, I first started writing full-time back in 2017 and initially, I was full of optimism, like any other aspiring writer, I suppose. Looking back, I didn’t realise how hard it would be to get noticed, let alone actually be read by anyone and as the years passed — and we are talking years — my confidence started to get eroded as the silence around me grew ever louder. I was following all of the advice out there, trying to build an audience on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on other networking and book-fan sites. I even spent a fair bit of money on advertising, but without much success. I’ll freely admit that there were times when I got pretty depressed and frustrated, but even when I was at my lowest ebb, I still believed that what I was putting out there was worthy of an audience, which helped keep me going.
Out of all the books and short stories that you’ve written to date, which is your favourite?
Oh, that’s a horrible question! To be honest, I love all of the things that I’ve written equally. It’s a politician’s answer, I know, but that’s the truth. Each story that I’ve created is different and because of that, it’s unique. The DATS Trilogy and The Lucius Chronicles get me because they are magical, and I find myself flying through them, lost in the world that I created. With Drynwideon, it’s the situations and sarcastic banter between the main characters that I enjoy the most, plus, the ending makes me smile every time! And as for the short stories, I love the way that the majority of them either have a subtle twist or deal with a completely new idea or situation. Even the piece that I am working on at the moment, provisionally entitled, Turning the Tide, is a really rewarding experience, which has allowed me to blend my own experiences in Northern Thailand, with fictional characters and a plot that would never likely happen in real life, but is just plausible enough, that it might.
You mentioned Drynwideon, the world’s first anti-fantasy novel. Any plans for a sequel or series?
Yes, I think that I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’d like to do a sequel to Drynwideon. Although I originally intended it to be a single volume story, ever since I finished it, I’ve had people asking me what happened to Drin, the cheeky but lovable hero next. I’ve got a few ideas, which I’m playing around with at the moment, so who knows, maybe a sequel will be out by the end of the year or early next?
Talking about series. Which do you prefer, a series or a stand-alone novel?
Another tricky question! For me, I tend to prefer stand-alone novels, because I don’t get left on a cliff hanger, which I find really frustrating and annoying. That said, I’ve come across some really good series, such as the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb and the Ea Cycle by David Zindell. I guess, and it’s another politician’s answer I’m afraid, if you can create a series, where every volume is a stand-alone story, such as The Flashman Papers by George MacDonald Fraser or Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, then I’m in seventh heaven.
Self-publishing has become a massive growth industry over the last ten years or so. What are your thoughts on the viability of the traditional publishing industry?
Funnily enough, I think that traditional publishing still has a lot of steam left in it, despite the rise of self-published eBooks. For one thing, there’s no shortage of new titles coming out each year and while more and more people are reading electronically, there are still many folks out there who still really enjoy flicking through a physical book.
One thing which I think that traditional publishers will need to do, and in some cases, are already doing, is to embrace new technology and market their titles as widely as possible online. And they do have an advantage in this regard, which I think is currently underplayed. That is, by the time that a traditionally published book reaches the shelves, regardless of whether they are physical or electronic shelves, that book will have been critiqued, edited, proofread and prepared to an extremely high standard, meaning that it should be an exceptional quality purchase for the reader.
What about literary agents? How do you see their role changing as a result of the self-publishing onslaught?
I think that literary agents still play a vital role in bridging the gap between the author and publisher, and I firmly believe that this will be the case in the future, especially for eBook publishing. If you have a good agent, then they should be doing everything possible to get you the best deal for your work, regardless of whether it is physical or electronic. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if you have a really good agent, then they should not only be exhausting all possible traditional publishing routes for you, but also looking at whether or not your book would perform better in virtual space and helping to you to maximise its success there as well. After all, it’s all about money at the end of the day and if your book isn’t performing at its peak, then it’s not making you, or your agent, as much as it could!
You create amazing worlds and characters, unlike anything that’s gone before. In many ways, you’re something of a genre-buster. But you must have influences. Care to tell us something about them?
I’ve said this before, but my feeling is that everything I’ve ever read has influenced me in some way or other. Even the books that I’ve really struggled with have left an impression on me. Apart from authors showing me what makes a captivating story, through the power of their writing, I guess that I’ve been influenced by a great many individual writers, among them the likes of Douglas Adams, Arthur C Clarke and David Gemmell.
Have you ever started to write a story and then completely given up on it?
No, I don’t think that I have. I’ve had difficulties with stories in the past and like every author, I grapple with writer’s block on occasion, but no, everything that I’ve started, I’ve finished, even if there have been times when it has been an uphill battle. And do you know what? When those particular stories were completed, I often secretly enjoyed them a little bit more than the ones that were easier to write.
You said in a Smashwords interview that you might publish, The Bunker, the short story you wrote for your English exam at school. Any news on that front?
It’s still in the pipeline. To be honest, I’m a little scared about turning the first page after all these years, just in case I don’t like what’s inside. That said, I do think that it would be nice to share it with the world, so that they can see where it all began. And, of course, it might just turn out to be another great read!
What would you say has been your proudest moment during your career to date?
I think that it would have to be the moment that I took delivery of the physical copies of Drynwideon, back in 2018. Even though most of what I’ve published to date has been done online, I’m one of those people who still loves a physical book and to have it there in my hand, with the smell of freshly printed paper accosting my nostrils, made it real in a way that was sublimely delightful.
Is there anything that you would change about your novels or writing style?
Not really. There are always improvements or changes that could be made and it’s really easy to do with eBooks, but on the whole, I try to avoid altering the content of a book once it’s out there. Instead, I concentrate on making my next book even better than the one before it.
As for my style, well, it’s really just an extension of who I am, so I don’t think that there’s any way that I could really change it significantly, without doing myself a mental injury or two in the process. Of course, as with anything, style does change as you grow and evolve, so I wouldn’t be surprised if my books in the future have a slightly different look and feel about them to those that I’ve written so far.
So, what’s next? What can we expect from the stable of Rob Gregory in the next twelve months?
Well, I’m currently working on Turning the Tide, as mentioned above. Then there’s an outrageous Sci-Fi comedy in the pipeline, which I hope will delight and offend readers in equal amounts. And, of course, there are always the short stories that I’m working on, which I plan to either publish in magazines or compile into an anthology. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, the sequel to Drynwideon might just see the light of day before the end of the year. Who knows? You’ll just have to wait and see.
Finally, what words of advice do you have for authors who are just starting out on their journey?
Believe in yourself and keep on trying. It’s the only way to succeed. Either that or marry the boss of a major global publishing company. Not really an option in my case, as you can see from my promotional pictures!
If you haven’t grabbed your copy of The Lucius Chronicles yet, you can see what all the fuss is about by clicking on the links below: