Hello, my name is Greg Dragon, and I am your typical life-loving, Jazz listening, karate kicking, sword sharpening, video game junkie.
Q: Who is the real Greg Dragon?
A: The real Greg Dragon is Gregory Something, an artist born on a beach with a deep hunger for creativity. I’m a husband, father, brother, son, business partner, and nerd at heart. You can’t box me in, I play in too many arenas.
Q: Your nom de plume is rather striking, how did you come to settle on Dragon?
A: I grew up doing martial arts and was a big fan of Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Bruce Lee, and many other “Dragons” who did it. When I was doing tournaments, I added Greg “The Black Dragon” to my karategi, and did my best to bring honor to my chosen totem. While no Bruce Lee, I did okay, and now most people in my life know me as Dragon.
In addition to my adoption of the totem, I was also born in the year of the dragon and embody many of the traits described in the Chinese Horoscope.
As to “Greg Dragon”, I wanted to remain as anonymous as possible in the early days of the Internet. I began to use Greg Dragon as my name everywhere and it stuck, eventually becoming my true alias.
Q: You currently live in Florida, but originally you hail from the Caribbean. Tell us about your move from one country to another. How did it come about and did this experience shape your writing in any way?
A: I am originally from Jamaica West Indies, and came to the US at a very early age. The immigration effort, and the experience aided more with my appreciation for the opportunities presented in this country than the content of my writing. Though I wish that I could write timeless stories of Jamaica like Marlon James (I’m a huge fan), I cannot say that the country of my birth inspires my writing.
I owe much of my love for literature to my mother who kept a large library of books in our house in Jamaica. I grew up reading a lot of classics like Oliver Twist, and was drilled at an early age to read and write properly.
Q: What sparked your interest in writing Science Fiction? What challenges come with writing in this genre?
A: If you read any of my books with the exception of the Anstractor series, you will see that I love to write about people. I’m a cyberpunk junkie, from anime to anything live action … give me neon signs, rainy weather, and people dressed in trenches and fedoras. Right now cyberpunk is my focus for writing, and it’s where some of my best writing exists.
Futuristic stories and speculative fiction allow me to make social commentary without it being overt and annoying. For instance, in my latest book, The Judas Cypher, the setting is futuristic Tampa Bay. There is a race of androids who rebuilt the world after a devastating war and were rewarded with rights as citizens. Some human beings can’t wrap their heads around this and abuse the androids regularly. In comes our hero, a grizzled old retired cop, who grew up with the androids and loves them more than the humans… you can see where I am going with this.
I love diversity and this is the most diverse genre that you’ll get. Science Fiction is broad, and extremely inclusive. Before many shows on television began to show black faces, we had Uhura on Star Trek. The only challenge that I have with Science Fiction are the people who don’t like you putting cream cheese in their cupcakes. I write what comes to mind, so most times it isn’t cookie cutter, and I feel that I tend to suffer for it in sales.
Q: Did you always want to write, or was this something that happened later on in life? Do you write full-time, or do you still have a day job?
A: I’ve always written, actually, but as a youngster my stories would end up in a binder. I have whole novels written in pen on paper, but they are so embarrassingly bad, that they will remain there. In High School and throughout my time at a University, I wrote stories (like Anstractor) pretty much for myself.
When I was older and still writing, I would contribute stories to blogs, mostly fan fictions, some original tales. I started a lifestyle blog for men sometime in the early 2000’s, since I saw value in sharing dating tips, and giving my opinion. It took off like wildfire, and was doing so well, that I was writing five, 1,000+ word opinion pieces literally every week. I learned to monetize my blogging, and with my day job as an SEO, I began to actually get paid just to write.
What made me want to self-publish was a variety of events that came about at just the right time. Professionally, I worked for myself for several years and got drunk on the entrepreneur’s punch (those who are in know what this is).
I had a short story going around on email about a broken man that escaped his tiny moon to become the saviour of a planet. I was getting lots of feedback, most of them positive, but aside from feeling good about it, I didn’t know where to take it. At the same time I had received a kindle and downloaded a book … it was so full of typos that I was confused as to why Amazon was selling it. Several hours of research later, and I learned about independent publishing, then I joined some blogs, bought some guides, and the entrepreneur within me said, “why not?”
Extending my popular short story was easy—since I was doing 1,000+ word blogs daily anyway—so I pulled together the various adventures of my Anstractor world and wrote a 100k word “book”. The writing wasn’t stellar since it was adapted from my earlier writing, but it started the motor and I began to drive.
I wasn’t a breakout overnight success, but I had enough people telling me they loved the story to know that I should keep on going. At the time it was all about getting stories off my chest that I had been itching to write. I wrote Anstractor, Re-wired, and The Factory, then a 10-episode fantasy serial inspired by my daughter.
While I’m not full-time, I can’t say that I aspire to be, since I’m a full time hustler with every other thing going on in my life. My goal (now) with new releases is to get back in the black (at least) and I have done pretty well in keeping to this goal. It’s still a high bar when you factor in what I spend on editing, marketing, and cover design, but my readership is growing – just not enough to be a full timer. This is one thing I do in my daily life that I don’t want to be a grind, so my focus right now is to write better books with amazing cover art.
Q: Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?
A: This is a tough question since there’s a bit of me in most of my characters, but I will attempt to answer. If I was to choose one, I would say it is Alysia Knight of Knights and Demons. Morally she isn’t perfect but she’s good and she gets the job done. When she’s thrown into a demon world and forced to adapt, she grabs her sword and takes on all challengers. I’m a bit like that, I champion adaptation, which I think is the ultimate key to survival as a human being. Alysia complains a bit, and I have my moments as well, but she’s loyal, good in a fight, and extremely independent.
Q: When I read your book, Re-wired Brad Barkley seemed frustratingly indecisive and unable to make a stand and do the right thing. Did you set out to create an anti hero in this story or was this something that just happened?
A: Anti hero, hmm, I would use the word “tool”. Brad was a tool to make Tricia who she is. He built a sexbot to appease his selfish desires, then sold his soul to bring her closer to reality. He isn’t supposed to be likable, or the focus of Re-wired, though he is the POV we start the story with. His personality was based on myself as a freshman and the socially awkward nerds that I work around today. His decisions on the other hand are built around a deep-rooted misogyny, which we see start to grow with his crush in College.
I think that your frustration with him is due to him being a bit too real. Some people have no real redeeming qualities. Aside from building Tricia, he doesn’t really do anything good, and all of his actions are extremely selfish. Tricia is our star, she is the real focus … a new person born into a world of prejudice and abuse.
Brad’s descent was due to his weakness and impulsive choices, while Tricia’s growth is due to her kindness to the people that society threw away.
I was very surprised by how well Re-wired was received since I wrote it for a NaNoWriMo as a writing exercise. My daughter bade me publish it, and I’m so glad I did. Some of the nicest emails that I have received have been from fans of Tricia.
Q: When not writing your novels, what activities or hobbies do you enjoy?
A: My wife will say that I’m a workaholic, but aside from monetary ventures I do have a variety of hobbies and activities. I read a lot (mostly audiobooks during the commute), and I watch a lot of shows and movies. I am a videogame player, though my schedule only allows for really casual gaming … (that being said however, I am about 100 hours into Mass Effect Andromeda).
I work out 5-6 days a week, sometimes twice, and I consider myself a Gunslinger, in the Stephen King sense of the word. Non daily hobbies are about in line with your average Florida boy. I like shooting, hiking, swimming in the ocean, camping, fishing, and watching professional sports.
Q: What advice or suggestions do you have for other aspiring authors?
A: The things that I wish that someone had told me when I started out …
1. Don’t be a Jerk – No one owes you anything, especially readers. If you receive bad reviews, or a lack of sales, grow from it and try not to lash out.
2. Have a Plan – Decide on what you want to do and stick to it. Are you in it to hustle because you want to make six-figures a year, or is this a hobby that you’re willing to keep part time? The more realistic you are with your goals the better off you will be.
3. Put your writing first – This is a personal request to the new author to not get caught up in the magic bullet fallacy. Try things in marketing once in awhile, but always work on your craft. There’s nothing more frustrating as a reader than to pick up a top selling book only to be put off by what’s inside.
4. Don’t be afraid of diversity – Look, I understand that some people make themselves the police of (insert group), but why do we make huge sweeping generalizations based on them? Most of the time these police aren’t our readers, and we shouldn’t let them frighten us into not trying. If you keep things respectful most of us will understand, even if the details are a bit off.
5. Write Great Books and Keep it Classy – Self publishing can be competitive and it’s easy to fall into cliques, cults, or bad girls/boys club. This isn’t High School, but you would be surprised at how some people act online during an argument. Conduct yourself as a professional always so that your readers won’t find out later that you’re a jerk.
Q: Your new book, The Unsung Frame is due out on July 24th. Tell us a little bit about the book. What can we expect and is it another Science fiction novel?
A: The Unsung Frame is the follow-up to The Judas Cypher. It is a full-length thriller about humans vs androids, where a single detective stumbles on a massive government cover-up. Dhata Mays, our lead character is back for another case, but this one will have him out of his league against an enemy that can track his every movement.
The Unsung Frame is written to standalone, but people will enjoy it more if they read The Judas Cypher. It will be a longer book… I am at 93,000 words at the time of this interview, and I hope it stands up to its predecessor.