ABOUT THE SERIESThe first two books in a four-volume Historical Fiction series (Book Three coming out in May), called By the Hands of Men. The series begins in the trenches of France during The Great War, and will conclude in California in the mid-thirties.
Lieutenant Robert Fitzgerald has managed to retain his sanity, his humanity, and his honor during the hell of WWI's trench warfare. Charlotte Braninov fled the shifting storm of the impending Russian Revolution for the less-threatening world of field camp medicine, serving as a nurse in the most hopeless of fronts. Their friendship creates a sanctuary both could cling to in the most desperate of times. Historical fiction about life, loss, and love, By the Hands of Men explores the power that lies within each of us to harm - or to heal - all those we touch.
Charlotte Braninov, traumatized by loss and her service as a frontline nurse, returns to war-torn Russia to find her family. Captured by the Red Army, she exchanges one hell for another. Her still-loyal Lieutenant, Robert Fitzgerald, believing the woman he loves is dead, struggles to recover from the ravages of combat and typhus. In a desperate bid to rediscover himself, he commits to serve his country as a pawn in distant Shanghai. Forging their destinies in a world reeling after The Great War, Charlotte and Robert will learn anew the horror and the beauty the hands of men can create when they descend into the flames.
INTERVIEW WITH ROY M. GRIFFIS
Roy, how did you get started writing?
The earliest story I recall writing was when I was 7, something about being part of a pack of coyotes. No idea where that came from.
What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Suprising myself. This sounds egotistical, but sometimes you’re writing and an insight or a moment emerges from – I swear – outside of you and you go “I didn’t know I was that smart.” The other really fun is when characters just show up.
Do you have a writing routine?
Alas, the paycheck job has me on Graveyard Shift, 12 hours at a time, which has kind of killed my previous routine. I’m still struggling to find one (as an aside, I’ve discovering the Graveyard Shift is where ambition, motivation, and hope go to die).
Do you write every day?
No, I do try to work on the writing every day, but that could be copyediting (just finished BTHOM3 edit, and now it’s off to face the cruel-to-be-kind pen of the final copy-editor) or marketing, which I dislike, as it keeps me from actually, you know, writing stuff. Much easier to write every day when that’s all I’m doing.
What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
What you have to give up. Everything costs (even salvation was paid for by Somebody). You want to write a novel, but be a decent dad to your kid at the same time? Goodbye sleep. You have to give up something to make space in your life for the book.
What’s more important – characters or plot?
Ah, man! I guess I’m more of a plot guy . . . I want to know what happens to the characters I’ve grown to care about. (Did I manage to slip “both” in?)
Yes, you did! How often do you read?
Varies a lot these days. Because I am writing either historical fiction or alternative history type fiction, when I am working on those, I end up reading a lot of non-fiction. I want my work to have verisimilitude, to have that “telling detail” that makes the novel feel of the time and place factually and emotionally. Right now, I have a working shelf of 16 non-fiction books/memoirs that I’ll be reading before and as I work on By the Hands of Men Four. But once in a while, I’ll throw on a fiction audio book for the commute to work, just to cross-train my brain a little.
What is your writing style?
I write heartbreaking works of staggering genius? Oh, wait, that’s been done. I don’t know if I could sum up my “style,” exactly, but I’ll tell you want I’m attempting to do: I want to transport the reader, convincingly, to another time and place, while telling them a story that will move them emotionally, and, who knows, maybe even change their life for the better, even if just a little. I have no time for nihilistic “life is awful and people suck” kinds of stories. That’s completely wussy writing by people who don’t believe in the power of individual choice (or perhaps fear the responsibility that confers upon them). I know that’s not an academically beloved point of view, but it’s true. Our choices determine our lives, allow us to rise about our circumstances. Look at Dr. Ben Carson – son of mentally ill single mother in the projects, and now a guy changing people’s lives in a serious, positive, amazing way. Choices.
What do you think makes a good story?
For me, it’s a compelling story that makes me ask “what’s going to happen next” about people that that I can understand in some way, who have the ability to grow and change. I hate “victim” books, and there are some authors I’ve read that I’ll never read again (James Elroy and Thomas Harris come to mind) because of their reveling in the depravity of their characters and their conditions.
What books do you currently have published?
The Big Bang, Volume One of the Lonesome George Chronicles
By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World
By the Hands of Men, Book Two: Into the Flames
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Hold on, I have to refill my margarita if we’re getting this confessional . . . when I was younger (and allegedly dumber, the jury is still out) I had this stupid mental construction that all I “was” was a writer. So that if a story was rejected (as they often were), it meant I was a failure. Took me a long time to get past that to where I recognized that, yes, I was a writer, and a writer writes. If I was fortunate (in the Louis Pasteur sense of “fortune favors the prepared mind”), I might get published, even have some success. But I could live a decent, fulfilling life without needing the “seal of approval” from outside sources. But it’s nice to have, don’t get me wrong.
For what would you like to be remembered?
Great question. At my wake there’s going to be a margarita machine, and everybody will get to stand up and tell funny stories about me. I’d like to be remembered as a decent, hard-working guy, a good father, and somebody who told some good stories.
I bet that will be one helleva wake! Would you make a good character in a book?
Ah, hell, yes. I’m a renaissance man, but I think I’d be the guy to die toward the end of Act Two. Useful, but not the main character, probably.
What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
I have an all-purpose survival knife, EMT worthy. Has a webbing cutter (seat-belts), glass-shattering point, that kind of stuff. I like to be ready.
What’s your favorite thing to do on date night?
Gad, I get to admit how boring I am. Pepperoni pizza, a movie, and, well, night-time adult gymnastics.
What drives you crazy?
Lack of dependability. Don’t tell me you’re going to do something and then never follow through.
What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
Catch up on movies.
Where is your favorite place to visit?
United States: San Francisco. Overseas: London. Both places I would love to live.
What would you name your autobiography?
White Boy from Nebraska.
I'd read that! What’s your least favorite chore?
Any chore that involves cleaning up other people’s messes. I already have two jobs, don’t want another, and I have already been a janitor. Don’t care to repeat the experience.
Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?
Of the three, movie star. I love film . . . closest thing we have to a shared dream. A great film can take 500 strangers on a similar emotional voyage. I think film has great power to uplift (see: Babe) or debase (see: Pulp Fiction).
What is the most daring thing you've done?
Probably when I was twenty-six, deciding to be a Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard. I’d never been a physical kid (I was a drama geek in high school), but I desperately needed a challenge, a rite-of-passage. So I went and found one where I could actually help people at the same time, but it was incredibly challenging physically, and especially mentally.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
Gack, not enough terrabytes on my PC to list all of those.
What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
You know, there are moments I would like to go back and act with more graciousness or kindness, but redo completely? Nah. Even the cruddy stuff was part of the forging of who I am.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“A little of something is better than a lot of nothing.”
If you had a talk show who would your dream guest be?
Shucks, most of them are dead. Desmond Doss, for one. Was a WWII Medal of Honor winner . . . never picked up a weapon. He was a 7th Day Adventist, had a religious exemption, but he knew other people were fighting and dying for him state-side. Joined the Army, who couldn’t figure out what to do with him. Became a medic in the Pacific, saved a hell of a lot people. Showed you can be incredibly brave without the prop of a weapon, and that guts can be measured in a lot of different ways.
What’s one thing that very few people know about you?
I hate to admit it, but I have a soft spot for romantic comedies. Some people report the good ones have been known to make me tear up.
What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
Incredible and borderline lunatic underwater photography taken in the Pacific, I think at the graveyards of some WWII battles, with women in flowing gowns posing like ethereal spirts on the broken vessels crusted with coral and seaplants. Very trippy yet tasteful.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m not a bad cook.
Describe yourself in 5 words.
Smolderingly sexy yet quietly humble .
A winning combination. What’s your favorite song?
"Sentimental Hygiene" by Warren Zevon. Great and underheard song.
What’s your biggest pet peeve about writing?
Marketing. Just . . . shudder. One of the reasons I wanted an agent, would gladly fork over the ten percent, just so they could shill my work and I could do the work.
What is your favorite movie?
I have favorites in different genres. But Starman with Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen is up there.
Do you have a favorite book?
Watership Down. Re-read it every year or so. Damn, it’s powerful.
If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?
TANSTAFL: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
What are you working on now?
I’m editing Book Two of the Lonesome George Chronicles, The Fire This Time for my publisher. Really aching to get to work on By the Hands of Men, Book Four. I never intended to write a series, but the story I heard in my head just kept going. I’m pretty sure that will be the last book in this series, though.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR FROM THE AUTHOR
In a tiny used bookstore that was just one block up from a dirt road, I discovered that some good soul had unloaded his entire collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series in Ballantine Paperback. Moved by some impulse, I spent my RC Cola money on the first book, A Princess of Mars. I think what struck me was how these books were possessed of magic: they were able to transport me far from this dusty land of relatives who I didn’t know and relatives pretended not to know me to another dusty land of adventure, heroism, nobility, and even love. It was the first magic I’d encountered that wasn’t a patent fraud, and when I closed the stiff paperback with the lurid images on the cover, I decided it was the kind of magic I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to mastering. And, thus, I was saved.
Since then, I’ve never looked back. I’ve written poems, short stories (twice runner-up in the Playboy college fiction contest), plays (winning some regional awards back East and a collegiate Historical Play-writing Award), and screenplays. I’m a member of the WGAw, with one unproduced screenplay sold to Fox Television. Along the way, I’ve done the usual starving artist jobs. Been a janitor, a waiter, a clerk in a bookstore. I was the 61st Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard (all that Tarzan reading wasn’t wasted). I’m also not a bad cook, come to think of it. Currently, I’m a husband, father, and cat-owner. I’m an avid bicyclist and former EMT.
I live in Southern California with my lovely wife. My friends call me “Griff,” my parents call me “Roy,” and my college-age son calls me “Dadman.” It’s a good life. By the Hands of Men, Book Three: The Wrath of a Righteous Man will be released in May, 2016.
Connect with Roy:
Website | Amazon