Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jay Gray, Author of To Swear By The Moon.
Having just read his manuscript and written a review, I thought it time to dig a little more into the workings of the mind that wrote such an intriguing story.
ME – Good day to you Jay and thank you for sparing the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.
JAY – It’s my pleasure, always great to share what I do with other people and hopefully we can answer some questions that people have been wondering about!
ME – How long have you been writing and when did you start?
JAY – Unlike most writers, literature hasn’t been something I have been obsessed with since a child, I think it’s important to mention that because it can be off putting knowing that successful writers have been scribbling away since they were five or six. Not me. Literature has always been a part of my life, my mother has an English Lit degree and we have always ready but my spark came only last year. I started writing a song, which didn’t work, then a poem, which didn’t work and suddenly I had five pages of a manuscript which was very interesting indeed. I had no idea what I was doing or where the story was going but just eighteen days later I had 90,000 words and I fell in love with the whole thing. I am unbelievably grateful to have won NaNoWriMo and turned number 1 best seller in such a short time and I cannot thank you all enough.
ME – Is To Swear By The Moon your first novel?
JAY – To Swear By The Moon isn’t my first novel. I wrote a full length novel called Quiet Callow One which was available for a short while but has since been removed. It was definitely a book for me with a very personal storyline and it really had very little in the way of interesting concepts for the general public. I may release it again for a limited time if enough people want to read it but I tell you now, it isn’t a good read, it’s over technical and was definitely just a learning process for me. Nothing more.
ME – Without giving anything away, are you able to say where you got the idea to write this type of story?
JAY – Definitely. I haven’t even written a blurb for the novel yet so bear with me a little whilst I try and explain where inspirations for different parts of the book were drawn from. The first major point is the narrator being time. I knew I wanted to do this as soon as I read Markus Zusak many months ago but I had no idea how to do it, or where to start so I jotted the idea down and left it there. I wrote the first draft of To Swear By The Moon in first person. Gabrielle narrated the first draft and I liked it, but nothing more so I knew it needed rewriting. Whilst contemplating what to do with this the light flicked on and I knew how to write with time as the narrator so the final novel was born. The story was somewhat influenced by John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars which was a book that really moved me. Sure it has its problems like any book but it hit me hard and I loved that because it’s so rare for me. Obviously the story isn’t anywhere near the same but the influence was definitely drawn from Mr Green.
ME – Your characters Devon and Gabrielle are they similar to anyone in reality?
JAY – I think as writers we are constantly at work whilst socialising, or simply being aware in any circumstance. I can honestly say that both Gab and Devon were not based on any person in particular but of course they have similarities to several people I have had the pleasure of meeting. I guess I just took bits of hundreds of people and allowed these two to come into existence. I like them though. They’re cool.
ME – Devon plays the piano and so do you. Is there a little bit of you in his character?
JAY – Definitely not. Devon plays the piano much more eloquently than I do! Haha! On a serious note, no. Devon is very different to me in so many ways. I think he is definitely his own person through and through.
ME – Will there be a sequel to this story, if not are you planning to write another in the near future?
JAY – This is something I have considered and swapped and changed with so many times whilst writing this book. As it stands today… There won’t be a sequel, but I am always open to change and who knows? There may be one in the future. I do have another project that I am very excited to get my teeth into but I don’t even know where it will go myself so I can’t tell you much about it. I have a very raw concept and not much else at the moment.
ME – How many hours a day do you spend writing and where is your favourite and most comfortable space to write?
JAY – This varies a huge amount depending where I am with the novel and how much I have to give to it. I would say during the first draft I probably write 10 hours or so per day but that can sometimes be much more and sometimes much less. During the editing process it fluctuates a ridiculous amount. Anywhere from zero to twenty is completely normal but I do try and take time out to spend it with loved ones when I can. I think it’s extremely important to make time for people who support us and I for one definitely forget this from time to time. It is all too easy to get caught up in writing and forget about life. As far as my favourite place to write, this changes quite a lot too. I spend the majority of my time at my desk which always has a nice scented candle burning atop it too but my favourite places change. I love to write in good company even though it’s super unsocial. There is a very strange feeling of home when you can write in company.
ME – Do you listen to music when you write and if you do what type of music inspires you to write?
JAY – I do listen to music when I write usually but I am also completely content to write in silence or in company. When writing the first draft I spent a good few nights writing whilst my girlfriend watched a film which is cool but when I listen to music day to day it’s usually one of a few things. My go to is classical. Ideally piano for obvious reasons but I do listen to modern music a lot as well. Usually anything fairly relaxing and acoustic ticks the boxes for me. I love covers as well so I occasionally stumble across a very talented, very under rated artist who will get my attention for a while.
ME – Who is your favourite author and which of their books did you enjoy reading most?
JAY – Ahh, the age old question. I can’t answer this directly because there are so many books that I love for their own reasons so I guess I have to give you a few authors. I love John Irving, Harper Lee, Lee Child, Stephen King, John Green, C S Lewis, J K Rowling, J R R Tolkien, Dean Koontz, A M Holmes… My reading choice is very very broad so I could never pick a single author. I think every successful author has something beautiful to teach me. I can however pick a favourite writer… Markus Zusak… Hands down… I think Markus has a stunningly pure way of writing and I have never found anything more artistic in literature. If any of you guys know him personally let’s arrange a meet up haha!
ME – If you had to choose a song that relates to your book, what song would that be?
JAY – This is something I have honestly never thought about but the song that springs to mind is Yiruma ‘River Flows In You’ for reasons that will become much more apparent when you guys read the book. If I had to pick another song which is currently released it would be Home by Connor Lawlor (A good friend of mine). It sums the narrator up perfectly and was written long before the book.
ME – What advice would you give to other writers just starting out on this road?
JAY – I have to be honest here and really say that (although contradictory) my best advice to new authors is to not follow advice. This is not to say, ignore all words of wisdom but on the technical scale who are we to say what is right or wrong? The very thing that makes your book pop may be the very thing that a “guru” has told you is “wrong” so follow your heart and write what you need to write. I break so many rules in my books, I start countless sentences with ‘because’, I use a capital letter for Mum and Dad… The examples are endless. On a more personal level my advice to aspiring authors is to fall in love with what you do. Sit down at your desk and love this moment, if you don’t love it, that’s cool… Nobody forces us to write. Enjoy it, write, read and have fun with your whole life.
As we come to the end of the interview may I ask a few quick pop up questions please? One word answers only please.
What is your girlfriend’s name?
Does she have any similarities to Gabrielle?
One or two. I will let you work them out.
Name your favourite city?
Why do you meditate?
To know my true self.
What makes you happy?
Seeing my loved ones happy.
What is your favourite beverage?
Coffee. Hands Down!
Do you snack while writing?
Rarely. Coffee always!
Do you have any pets?
4 dogs, 2 cats.
What book are you reading now?
Paper Towns – John Green.
Thanks again, for agreeing to be interviewed and answering all my questions. It has been a pleasure getting to know you a little better and I’m sure your readers will be interested too.
Thank you so much for having me and if any of you have any questions further to these please feel free to ask! My twitter handle is @JDGray26
** If anyone is interested in reading my review of TO SWEAR BY THE MOON please hop across to my REVIEW section **