Interview: with Lazarus Gray

Lazarus Gray lives in Sydney, Australia. He has written and self-published a sci-fi/adventure novel, and his short stories and flash fiction have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, both online and in print. He’s currently at work on a speculative sci-fi project, which includes a novel, a series of flash fiction shorts, and several related artworks.

Hi, Lazarus. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been writing since I was a kid in the 1970s – my parents had a houseful of sci-fi, horror, crime, adventure, etc., so I got absorbed pretty early. I currently live and work in Sydney, and write stories in my spare time, usually about people who are destined to have a hard time in a difficult culture or environment. I’ve also been known to pick up a nylon string acoustic guitar and work through classical passages on a regular basis.

Do you have any particular writing rituals you are comfortable sharing?

It’s fairly simple for me. I set up a page in Word, type a bold (often temporary) title, my byline, then set for 12pt Times New Roman, double spaced, and usually in the minute or so it takes, I have some idea of where to begin based on the theme I’ve chosen, or the title, or whatever happens to be going on outside the window. (This is true mostly for short fiction – longer, structured stories take a good deal of forethought, and many drafts. I write both, so my processes vary).

Are there any horror/fantasy/sci-fi tropes or sub genres which you feel are played out? And vice versa, what tropes would you like to see more of? I got very sick of vampires during the Twilight thing, but like any good idea that gets done to death, there’s always room, after time, for refreshment. Tropes, like fashion and so many other things, have a tendency to trend and fade, trend and fade. Personally, I’m a sucker for B-grade, pulp, and noir in whatever genre (sci-fi, horror, fantasy usually), so I’m plotting a character-based novel along those lines for next year, as there doesn’t seem to be a lot in that niche lately, and the opportunity for caricature is just too hard to resist.

What books are beside your bed right now? I’m pretty choosy about what I read when I’m losing consciousness, so at the moment it’s a classic Asimov novelette (The Martian Way), and a battered copy of Measured Tones, non-fiction on the relationship between music and mathematics. By a dude from Sydney, actually, and very interesting.

Published or unpublished, what's the hardest scene you've written?

I wrote a novella a few years back after a difficult period spent in a small northern NSW town. It was raw fiction, but the characters were based on people I knew, and though it’s compelling, the constant profanity made it a very challenging project. Editing it for public consumption will be a difficult, though probably worthwhile task. I think writing reaches out and pulls you in if the author feels something real at the keyboard, even if that something is as painful as pulling teeth. Perhaps, if that’s the case, especially so.

How important is social media to you as an indie author?

I don’t rely on social media, but I do use it like most everyone else nowadays. Before the internet was a thing, gaining a wide audience involved third-party publication and seemed an insurmountable task – now it’s relatively easy, which is a great boon to any indie writer, but I put as much stock or more into improving my craft as I do promoting it, so I tend to avoid the distraction wherever possible when I’m actually working on a project.

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