Books, Blogs, and Bits
is proud to present:
Graham Downs was born in Alberton, in Gauteng, South Africa. He now lives in Germiston with his wife. He is a computer programmer in Rivonia, who has always had a passion for writing.
The stories he writes are not constrained by genre, length, or time period. They are the stories that are burning to be told, and unleashed onto the world.
BB & B: You are a very busy gentleman—author, reviewer and librarian for Goodreads, blogger, and a computer programmer! How do you maintain a healthy balance between all these great things that you do? Any tips for other authors who find themselves maintaining a full time day-job while trying to pursue their creative passion?
Graham: Well, it’s not easy, I’ll admit. My day job keeps me busy for long hours, but I always find time to read. Reading is incredibly important, and I find that Goodreads keeps me focused and disciplined in my reading.
Since discovering that site a year and a half ago, I don’t read anything (except what I have to read for work) that I don’t review anymore. I really enjoy thinking of all the things that I’m going to say when I review books, as I’m reading them.
As for my writing, well, I’ve always been the kind of person who really struggles with discipline. I always have at least three unfinished projects (writing projects, programming projects, household projects) on the go at any given point in time, most of which I’m sorry to admit will never see the light of day! The reading helps with my writing as well (you’ll hear a lot of authors say that); it keeps my imagination ticking, and when I’m struggling to write a difficult scene, or an ending for a story, I turn to a good book to clear my head and motivate me to press on.
I also have an amazingly supportive wife, who has promised to support and back me in anything that I want to achieve. Having that kind of love and support is invaluable!
BB & B: You are a fiction author. Your collection of stories range from fantasy to thriller. This is quite a range. Tell us what you love best about writing in these genres.
Graham: To be honest, I don’t really think about what genre I want to write in; I come up with the story, and the genre comes naturally. My first book was a short story called A Petition to Magic, and I don’t think I could’ve told that story any other way. Next came Heritage of Deceit, which is a modern day thriller set in an office environment. The idea for Stingers just hit me, and I knew exactly how the story would play out before my fingers hit the keyboard. As for what’s next, who knows?
BB & B: What inspires your stories and your characters? What fuels your creativity?
I’ve always had a really vivid imagination, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve liked to tell stories. Growing up, I played a lot of table-top RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, and I was always ended up being the “Game Master”, the one in charge of telling the story.
As to my inspiration, that’s a really difficult question to answer. Stories just come to me at the weirdest times. For A Petition to Magic, it was one particular scene where Solon was standing in his study preparing to cast his fateful spell. I dreamt about that one, one night, and it was really vivid.
Heritage of Deceit, not surprisingly, hit me one day at work when I was struggling with a particularly difficult programming problem and decided to step away from my computer for a few minutes. And as I’ve mentioned, Stingers came to me as more or less a complete story, all at once.
BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?
Graham: Well, it’s not intentional, but I think there’s a little bit of me in all of my protagonists. Solon the Wizard is a mirror of my fears of trying new things, or “getting back on the horse” when I’ve made a horrible mistake (although thankfully, none of my mistakes have ever killed anyone!).
James Clarke is reminiscent of my Primary School days, when I was a bullied kid –although the bullying never escalated to the point that it did in Stingers.
I guess that Lloyd from Heritage of Deceit is a lot like one or two people I’ve met in my career, whereas I fancy myself as being a bit like Robert.
There’s probably a little bit of us in all of our characters, for better or worse, and there’s a certain amount of “confession” that goes on in all our stories. Writing is a writer’s special kind of therapy, of getting things off his chest.
BB & B: You recently collaborated in a great children’s charity project—I am not Frazzle. What inspired you to be so giving of your time? Would you do it again?
Graham: I just love to write. I saw a blog post by Darren Worrow (our editor on the project), looking for people to participate. His brief was very broad: A story, geared at adults, with at least one main character who’s a child. As I’ve already mentioned, when I read that brief, Stingers just came to me. I don’t know from whence it came, or why, but it just did. Before responding to Darren (and certainly before I knew whether he still had space, or whether I’d be accepted), I bashed out the first scene of the story, popped it off to him, and he loved it!
Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was a huge honour to be part of such a big project, and to work with all the amazing authors. Words cannot describe how I felt when Darren told us all that the project was going on sale. Even though I’m not making any money off of it, and I’d never heard of the charity before I embarked on the project, I have humbled and grateful to be supporting that worthy cause, in my own small way.
BB & B: Like many authors, you must have a ton of ideas for stories. How do you decide which of your stories to bring to life and devote to paper?
Graham: I know what you’re thinking: you’re probably thinking that, as a computer programmer, I must have this carefully organised folder of story ideas, maybe I’ve even written a computer program to help me keep track of them all, and that I carefully choose what my next story will be from that list, based on market trends, genre, and so forth.
None of that is true, though. Most of my ideas aren’t even stored anywhere outside of my own head. The ones that get written are the ones that choose to be written when I sit down at my keyboard, stare at a blank screen, and start typing. You see, I don’t decide; the story does!
BB & B: Do you have any current projects and what can fans expect from you in the near future?
Graham: You know, every time someone asks me what I’m working on currently, they get a different answer!
I’m busy with a really short horror story, which I’m hoping is going to be accepted into a well known Independent Author Magazine. But I might not finish that, we’ll see how it goes. Then I have two ideas which might actually turn into novella length books, but I don’t think I’ll be any more specific than that, because by the time someone interviews me again, I may have forgotten all about them and be working on something completely different!
BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?
Graham: Ooh, an open-ended question; those are difficult!
Readers, keep reading. If you’d include my stories in your reading, even better! Even better than that, though, is if you’d leave a review of each when you’re done. Reader reviews are independent authors’ bread and butter, and not just because we don’t have access to the insane marketing resources that big businesses do: we all tend to be an insecure bunch, and we’re never truly sure if anybody out there is actually reading what we’ve put out into the world. So, good or bad, please leave your thoughts on our stories. Every word of encouragement or criticism means that somebody has read our work and taken the time to say what they thought. You, dear reader, are the reason we keep writing!
Writers, keep writing! It’s a labour of love, and most of us will never get rich off it, nor even ever make enough to quit our day jobs. But it’s as necessary to us as breathing.
I find that I’m a lot like Graham in that my stories, my characters tend to take over and they dictate what’s next. Thank you Graham for your time and we look forward to your next work!
To get to know more about and Graham and his work, check out these great links:
You can also follow Graham by going to: