So many… A question similar to this was recently asked of me. It prompted me to think back to the earliest memories I know are mine alone – not the false memories we generate from tales we’ve been told, but our true and most personal recollections. Such memories are almost invariably bound into powerful moments of understanding, or emotion. The earliest I have in this vein, are of the Doctor Seuss children’s books. In kindergarten, we were being force-fed a diet of drivel… along the lines of, “See Jack run. See Spot run. See Jack and Spot run.” Those, dull tomes were the accepted norm of the time. Somehow, my mother managed to secure a complete set of Dr. Seuss, which she and my father took turns reading to us during the evenings – we had no television and dared not be out after dark, for a very real fear of predators. Those colorful, lyrical tales touched me, igniting what would become a lifelong love of lyrical literature. Were I to pick a single book, it would be “The Fox in Socks”.
What are your current projects?
Right now, I’m working on three things. In my mind, the most important is the third Malmaxa novel, titled “Vengeance Cost”. I’m also working on an apocalyptic thriller set in current times, and completely different in tone to Malmaxa. Finally, I’m expanding a fairy tale into a book aimed at both the young, and the young at heart – if you’re interested, you can read the start of that tale here http://tuigen.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/fiction-crystal-tear.html Yes, I’m mixing and matching genres, something I’ve been advised against by people more astute than me – perhaps following my heart, not my head, goes a long way to explaining my financial woes!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
One of the best, and the worst, things about being an un-represented author in the eBook era, is that I am free to change anything I wish. However, I’ve managed to overcome temptation and restrict this urge to polishing the text, without modifying the tale. If the question refers to plot – then I wouldn’t change a bit, I’m content with both Beltamar’s War and The Pilgrimage (the first and second novels in Malmaxa) precisely as they are.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
That’s an easy one! To shorten my novels, in order to make them more attractive to traditional publishers. I’m addressing that concern, which certainly has validity, by actively engaging on Twitter. For those not familiar with Twitter, it’s a wide-open micro-blogging platform where nothing can be longer than 140 characters. On Twitter, there is simply no room for verbosity. If you’d care to find me on Twitter, my handle is @CGAyling.
What has been the best compliment?
You’re not going to believe this, but far and away the best, was when my youngest sister stopped talking to me! Let me explain… I love her dearly, and know she loves me. However, she was so vested in the characters that she found herself outraged by the decision made by one of them. She refused to communicate with me for over a year, insisting on using my mother as a go-between. She’s reconciled with me now, but only on condition that the villain finally gets his comeuppance (of course he will, her question should have been when…). Something of a more general nature, has been how many readers tell me they think Malmaxa would make a great movie – this surprises me, because my writing is not concerned with scene, so much as character. Perhaps by letting readers build the pictures themselves, I free them to visualize their own movie, in their mind – I hope so.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Yes, and no. If you want to be content with your writing, then follow your heart and write from it, not your head. If you want to be wealthy, then I’m afraid I have nothing but a warning to not follow my example.
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
The most important, as opposed to favorite, is that I’m willing to state my mind. I despise “political correctness”, which I consider to be nothing more than a shield behind which people conceal their true selves. I’m not interested in knowing camouflaged people, I want to know who you really are – show me your true colors, and I’ll show you mine. Nothing compels us to like each other, or even associate with one another – but if you only show me what you think I want to see, well then, when the real you is revealed I may find I’ve wasted time on someone I can’t respect, or like. Time, is far too precious to waste on wannabe. Honestly, the unique thing about America is how Freedom of Speech is not only written into the constitution, but almost universally revered. In my opinion, political correctness, is individuals censoring themselves. I’m not saying people should run around yelling slurs, indeed something I will never tolerate is discrimination, but that might well be the most important thing about Freedom of Speech – it does not compel anyone to listen.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
You think I have undesirable qualities… sadly, you’re completely correct. The thing I like least about myself, is how I take out my frustrations on my family. What a horrible character trait, to hurt at the ones I love the most. Worse still, I lash out with words aimed at hearts, not fists aimed at flesh. My youngest daughter’s Twitter profile reads “The tongue like a sharp knife... Kills without drawing blood. Buddha” – very true words. One of the reasons I’m writing, is that I believe some of the anger I have bottled up within me is released by the creative process – I’m trying to change, but I have a way to go.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
An enormous number of things! My website, http://cgayling.com – there are a number of links and things there, along with a decent sized sample of my writing, on the page titled “[Samples]”. I love discussion, and the place I like most for that, is Twitter. You can find me as @CGAyling – hope to see you there!
With children African, English and American, and myself born and raised in a country of five names, I consider myself… a citizen of the world.
My wife and four children think of me simply as a thorny old man – and thus my symbol…
One of the most influential people in my life was my Godfather. A man of absolute integrity, remarkable intellect, and fine character. He taught me tolerance, and intolerance, together. He showed me that every conflict has are two sides, if not more. It was thanks to time spent with him that I developed a guiding principle in my life, namely that the most fundamental sign of intelligence is the ability to change one’s mind. It is to honor him that I use his name as my pseudonym, yet I know my efforts fall far short of what he deserved.
In my memory, C.G.Ayling lives forever. Is that not as close as any man can come to immortality?