- a writer of middle-grade horror and SF, fan of both cats AND dogs
Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Ty Drago!
Ty Drago is a husband, father, grandfather, dog and cat owner, practicing Quaker, and the author of (to date) eight published novels, one novelette, two anthology appearances, and loads of short stories and articles.
His novels include the five-book middle grade horror series, The Undertakers, which has been optioned for a feature film, and Phobos, which has been called by Publisher’s Weekly, “…a strong candidate for SF debut of the year.”
Ty, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
That’s easy: a dragon, and the not the cutesy Puff or Elliot variety either. I’m talking about a full-blown, fire-breathing scaley lizard, thirty-feet long at least. I’d like to see our smug neighbor’s big husky get pushy with me then! Why, you ask? Well, for one thing my last name is simply Italian for dragon. For another, my most recent novel deals with dragons – though not the scaley lizard-kind. But mentioning that does make for a good segue (see the end of the interview).
Dragons are a classic choice. I’m sorry your neighbor’s husky is so pushy!
What do you write?
Mostly, I write kids books and have often gleefully declared that I scare children for a living. But the truth is that I’m a full-time, working writer, which means I write what I think I can sell.
I’ve been “writing” all my life. As a kid, I drew comic books, which usually dealt with a group of child superheroes I invented called “The Kid Kadets” (I was eight, and didn’t know how you spell “cadets.”) In any event, these woefully drawn comics were a hit with the neighborhood kids and helped me work my way up to short stories and novels in my teens and twenties.
But it wasn’t until my thirties, with my wife Helene egging me on, that my career started taking off. I sold my first novel, landed my first agent, and the rest has been a glorious exercise in patience, frustration, triumph, despair, pride, disappointment, and joy. In other words, life as a writer
The thirties seem to be an excellent time to get serious about one’s writing. Congrats on a fruitful career. And best of luck nurturing that patience and tempering the despair and disappointments.
What do you like to read?
I read all sorts of things. My favorite book is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. But I love the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child and the Dresden books by the great Jim Butcher. Go Mouse!
All that said, I frequently read to Helene at bedtime. It’s a ritual we’ve had, on and off, throughout most of our long marriage. So, as our interests differ where fiction is concerned, I find that my tastes have broadened in unexpected ways. Over the years, I’ve found that I hate Moby Dick but love A Tale of Two Cities, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Phantom of the Opera. In a more modern vein, I enjoy a good saga, such as the works of James Clavell or Wilbur Smith.
What a lovely way to share your love of reading and your genre tastes with your partner. I might have to try it someday. (And who doesn’t love Mouse?)
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Write what you know.
It’s nonsense. I mean, seriously, where’s the fun in that? Rather, I like to say, “Start with what you know, and then take it further … much further.” That’s where great stories are born.
Fiction writing is the exercise of that muscle in our brains that I call “The Idea Machine.” Keep it churning and your imagination will never starve. However, it can’t live on “what you know” but instead “what you dream.”
What a wonderful way to describe it. Speculative fiction especially doesn’t belong in the confines of a literal interpretation of ‘write what you know’.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. And if you ever feel like giving up – don’t.
Persistence and hope, the pair of things that keep a writer going.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
In his 5-book Middle Grade series: The Undertakers
“On a sunny Wednesday morning in October, a day that would mark the end of one life and the beginning of another, I found out my grouchy next door neighbor was the walking dead. When you turn around expecting to see something familiar, and instead see something else altogether, it takes a little while for your brain to catch up with your eyes. I call it the ‘Holy Crap Factor.'”
Forced to flee his home and family, twelve-year-old Will Ritter falls in with the Undertakers-a rag-tag army of teenage resistance fighters who’ve banded together to battle the Corpses.
Funded just now on Kickstarter!! Dragons was a stretch goal for the Horns and Halos anthology! Dragons is an SF YA that, on the surface, is kind of a space-age retelling of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Eighteen-year-old Andy Draco is stolen from his family and his life by a powerful corporation that plans to use him for its own “noble cause.” You see, Andy is not the skinny high school kid he seems to be. Andy is “Kind,” a member of a vanishingly small subspecies of humanity that’s capable of generating enormous amounts of thermal energy. In short: a Dragon. They’ve existed since the dawn of man and aren’t the fire lizards that myth and legend have made of them. Instead, they’re a peaceful, reclusive race who live quiet lives alongside humanity – for the most part, undiscovered. Until now.
Against his will, and in the face of the cultural absolute of concealment under which he was raised, Andy is forced to reveal his power. It seems a mining colony deep below the ice on Europa has been seized by terrorists and the corporate entity that owns the colony needs a Dragon to burn their way down to reach them. After this “simple task,” Andy will be returned to his family. Or so they promise.
But all isn’t what it seems, and before long Andy will face betrayal, wonder, and terrible danger as he begins to grasp just how high the stakes really are. To win the coming battle will take more than a Dragon. It’ll take a hero.
Check Ty Drago out across the web!