Friday, July 23, 2010

Dishing it up with Ty Drago.

Hi folks, today my guest is Ty Drago.

He’s a busy man. For the past eleven years, he's served as an editor/publisher - first of Peridot Books and now Allegory.

On top of that, he's also published two novels. The first, a historical mystery called The Franklin Affair, was released by Regency Press in 2001. The second, a SF mystery entitled Phobos, was published by Tor Books in 2003/2004.

In addition, he's written countless short stories, a number of articles on the craft and business of writing, and frequently speaks at writer’s conferences and SF conventions. A husband and father of two children, Ty travels extensively and - on top of everything else - manages to hold down a full time job as a business analyst. Jeez!

Best of all, he's just received word that his YA thriller: THE UNDERTAKERS will be released by Jabberwocky in Spring of 2011!

JET: You’re very busy these days with your new Middle Grade series the Undertakers as well as your duties as Editor-in-chief of Allegory e-zine AND holding down a full time “day” job - are you able to find a balance between your career(s) and your family?

TY: Well, my uber-supportive wife, Helene, once referred to me a “doer”. I guess that’s the best way to explain it. I’m not one of those people who can easily just sit. I split my life between two full-time jobs: one that I live and breathe for; and the other that pays the bills … for now.

On top of that I have my family, our interests, our trips. We recently bought a shore home that is taking up a lot of energy.

What can I say? I’m a “rolling stone!”

JET: You’ve written science fiction, fantasy and horror. Which genre is your favorite and why?

TY: Fantasy, hands down. Science Fiction is about taking what’s possible and extending it further. Fantasy is about taking what’s impossible and making it seem possible. Horror is about tapping into deeply rooted fears, finding out what scares you and putting it down on paper. Of the three, Fantasy is the most liberating, the most versatile, and the hardest to easily define. I love it!

JET: Do you think writing speculative fiction was a conscious choice or was it just a natural affinity? Why do you think that is?

TY: I’m a storyteller. A thousand years ago, I’d have been the guy who wandered into the village around sunset and, for the price of a warm bed, a hot meal, a liberal sprinkling of alcohol, would sit by the fire and regale his hosts with tales of faraway places and forgotten lands. In our modern world, that sort of thing simply doesn’t work. So instead I’ve chosen the medium of the written word. But the spirit’s the same.

I’ve never liked the term “speculative fiction”. All fiction is storytelling and all storytelling is speculative. All fiction asks the question “what if”, and starts with some manner of “Once upon a time.” It is the oldest art; the true oldest profession.

Overall, I write what I think I can sell. My first published book was an historical fantasy. The new one is a Middle Grade dark fantasy. But, when given my druthers? Fantasy and SF. I’ve loved it all my life. So the answer to the question would be “both”!

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

TY: We’re living the single hardest time for a new writer to get established since Gutenberg was putting out nothing but Bibles. I’ve written more than a dozen novels and, so far, have sold three. I’d say that’s probably pretty typical.

The hardest thing for any writer is to get noticed, to get out of the “slush pile”. There’s more competition out there than ever before; the modern computer age has made it less tedious to write a novel than it used to be. After all, rewriting on the typewriter and rewriting with a word processor are two very different things! With so many writers submitting so much work, it’s more important than ever to network, to get to know your market personally, and to get recognized!

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

TY: That’s impossible to say. I love speaking in front of people. If pressed, I’d admit that I especially enjoyed an invite I received to attend the Oklahoma Writers Federation annual conference. They flew me out there, put me up for three nights, and then actually paid me for my time. It was a wonderful experience and I made some great friends that weekend with whom I still stay in touch.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

TY: Stephen King – a master storyteller. He has his hits and his misses, but he still has the best narrative style I’ve ever seen. And Isaac Asimov, the father of modern Science Fiction. I have books signed by both men. Their work was a huge inspiration to me.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

TY: Birth. I started writing picture books at the age of four and never stopped. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

TY: I like to visit the locales I’m writing about. I enjoy walking in the footsteps of my characters. I don’t know how “crazy” that is. Doing so is hugely valuable to me, as it gives me insight into details and nuance that might not otherwise get. Once of the things that sold The Undertakers, I think, is that the city of Philadelphia is almost a character is the story.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

TY: Jeez! That’s like asking a parent to choose his favorite child! Right now, my fav is The Undertakers, probably because I’m spending so much time thinking about it. I have two unpublished Adult Fantasy novels that I’d love to see in print. Once is called Chivalry, and it’s the story of a Philadelphia prostitute whose life is saved by a mysterious stranger who wields a silver walking stick as if it were a sword and calls her “Milady.” The other is Angelfire, a tale of Heaven and Hell, in which a young angel sneaks to into Hell to rescue his damned wife – kind of a modern Orpheus.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

TY: Let’s go to Robert Heinlein to answer that one. Here are his five rules for writing:

1) Write

2) Finish what you write

3) Edit what you write

4) Submit what you write

5) Write something else

I don’t think anyone has ever said it better than that.

JET: Any advice from an editor’s standpoint?

TY: Know your market. Don’t submit to a publication that you haven’t actually read. Be mature. Be professional. Accept rejection and don’t ever take it personally. Keep writing. Never ever give up!

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

TY: God (and my eco-sensitive wife) forgive me … Plastic!

JET: Steak or Tofu?

TY: Steak!

JET: Beach or Mountains?

TY: Beach! Just bought a shore home. Hellooooo!

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

TY: Rock and Roll! I’m a Jersey boy!

JET: Classics or Modern?

TY: Both!

JET: Vamps or Wolves?

TY: I’ve always been a wolf guy. Used to dress up as the Wolfman for Halloween. I know some vampire-writer friends who will gasp to hear that!

JET: Zombies or Demons?

TY: Both. I’ve written about both.

JET: Horror or Comedy?

TY: Depends on the Horror and it depends on the Comedy. I love to laugh, but you can’t tear me away from a good scary flick.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

TY: Sigh. I’ve recently had to dial back on my salt, so I’ll say Sweet.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

TY: Tea. Never developed a taste for Coffee.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

TY: I’m heavily into the editorial changes for The Undertakers, working with my amazing editor at Jabberwocky. After that, I’ve diving into Book Two of the series, which is entitled “Queen of the Dead”!

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Ty Drago and his work at

As always, thanks for stopping by!




Ash Krafton said...

Great interview.

The 'Jersey boy' response explained a lot. =)

Cheers, Ash

JETaylor said...

Ash - thanks for swining by and commenting!

Moonsanity said...

Wow, thank you for such a cool interview with so many insights. Do you think the internet has made things "easier" for writers, even with it being harder to get published? I know for me it's amazing that I can meet so many other writers and exchange ideas even though I'm in rural Michigan where nothing happens and I have no writing group. LOL

Heading over to your website to check out your books...