Author interview: R. J. Crayton


So here’s another interview as we head into the weekend. Meet R.J. Crayton, a past journalist turned storyteller. Look to the bottom of this post for links on Crayton’s books and more.


1. So how did you first start writing?

I have always written, from when I was a small child. Prior to becoming an author, I was a journalist, where I wrote fact-based stories. I worked for a couple of years at the Kansas City Star, which was considered a large, mid-sized paper (I know, oxymoron). But, I spent most of my journalism time at smaller, trade publications, like Education Technology News and Campus Crime. There’s a certain exuberance in a newsroom, but I liked the intimacy and quiet focus you got with trade reporting.

2.  I see that you have a romance series. “Second Life” came out last December. What’s the premise of this series?

Second Life is the second book in the Life First series, which is set in the future after massive pandemics have wiped out much of society. The society that remains is completely about the preservation of human life, so the protagonist of the first book, Kelsey, is fleeing a forced kidney transplant. She gets help from her best friend Susan, who ends up being the primary character in Second Life, because her reward for helping Kelsey turns out to be getting kidnapped. The series is primarily suspense, with some romance as well. Second Life is the romantic book in the three book series.

3.  Any hints on where things will go next?

The third book in the series, Third Life: Taken really concludes things for this story arc. Kelsey fled her country in the first book, but she never really got away. Susan and Rob connected well in book two, but it wasn’t clear if they’d have staying power. So, the third book wraps up both those storylines. We see Rob and Susan finalized and we get to see Kelsey, once and for all, deal with the repercussions of fleeing and put that to bed in a final way.

4.  I also see that you recently published a short story collection. Tell me about that.

The short story collection is called Four Mothers. My longer fiction tends to be about things fairly unrelated to my life. When I write short stories, they tend to work through more personally connected issues. So Four Mothers are short stories on motherhood, and some of the concerns and fears mothers have. One of the stories in the collection is called, The Beads, and it’s about a mother whose daughter nearly chokes to death on a bead. I wrote that when my daughter was small and putting stuff (that wasn’t food) in her mouth.

5.  What inspires you to write?

I find inspiration in all sorts of things. I mentioned earlier that my short stories tend to be of a more personal nature. My longer works tend to be inspired by a concept or question I find intriguing. The premise of Life First was: what would a society look like if everyone was required to give up body parts if it was required to save other members of society?  So, I like the idea of an intriguing question and what if scenarios. Those are always so much fun to write.

6.  Who is your favorite writer and why?

Hmm. Do you want to know which child is my favorite, too? I tend not to like those questions because it has a certain unfair quality to it, when I like a variety of writers. I don’t know that I’ve got one who’s my absolute favorite. However, I like Harlan Coben a lot. He writes page-turners that are filled with excitement, love and a bit of fun. So, I like a book like that. While he hasn’t written tons of stuff, I was really impressed with SJ Watson’s debut, Before I go to Sleep.

7.  What do you think of the whole self-publishing wave going on right now?

I think self-publishing is great. It’s wonderful to be able to put out a book you think is good and get paid for it through sales to the public. There are many people who self publish books before they’re ready. While they have every right to do that, I think it hurts the image of self publishing, because when people take a chance on something only to find it’s low quality, they generalize and believe all self-published writing is like that. That is an unfortunate and untrue generalization. Overall, I think much of the self published stuff is good, and worth trying if you like the sample provided on the retailer’s site.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

I think the main thing is to write. We can spend so much time trying to get out there on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and the rest that there’s little time left for writing. I know I’ve been guilty of that myself. But, you need to have more than just the one book out there to keep current. By writing more, you’ll have more books, which means more opportunities to connect with readers.  Of course, you should be reading, too. It’s important to read good books so you can emulate the things that work. If you read a couple of duds in there, too, then you can use that knowledge to avoid those pitfalls in your own writing. Other than that, I’m not sure there’s a lot of other advice to give

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