Today I have The Great Ones Series author Gregory Attaway on my blog.
What book are you promoting right now? What is it about?
The book that has my main attention right now is Weston. It’s about Benjamin Camden, a man who grew up in the heart of the entertainment industry, part of a family central to the history of movies and television. His family starts to break apart, and fueled by crippling loss, he in turn loses himself into the world of the 60s and 70s exploration of drugs, sex, and the breaking down of society’s barriers. Then he has a child, and he realizes that he never really cared about what anyone thinks of him, but now that reputation and everything he’s done is going to affect this little girl just as much as it has affected him, and he dedicates himself to shielding her from it. He wants her to be the one person that looks at him and sees a good man.
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Funnily enough, it started out as an afterthought. I used to write screenplays, and I had made reference to Benjamin Camden in back story in one of those scripts. My intention was to go back and write this as a prequel. Really the only thing I knew for certain was the ending. When I stopped writing screenplays and started writing books, I quickly found that this story was compelling on its own without any of the other stuff. (The other stuff is still part of the story, and it’s coming.) It was a challenge to write this story, since it starts fourteen years before I was born. It’s a culture that is foreign to me. To prepare, I immersed myself in the music of the time period, the films of the time period, the history, the pop culture, the politics… I basically lived in each subsequent year of the story.
What inspires you to write?
Very often music is where it all begins. There are a few songs that run (in my head) through the pages of Weston, and if you knew what they were, you could see how closely they follow the plot. Sometimes I – unintentionally or deliberately – match my writing to music. I guess there’s that part of me that says, “If they ever made this into a movie, these are the songs you’d here.”
Sometimes it’s just something someone says. Other books and movies, too. Everyone “borrows,” that’s what weaves stories together into a collective narrative of the time. This reminds me of this. That’s the key to an artistic emotional experience. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 came out right around the same time as Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die, and the song “Video Games” has such a vintage quality to it – the song and the book are linked in my mind. They create the same mood for me. I think I’m running off topic, but these are the kinds of reading experiences I treasure, and they definitely affects my writing.
Tell us about your main character? What makes him so special?
His father is a veteran of World War II, and although Lloyd (the father) controls a powerful Hollywood company, he is very much a businessman more than a showman. Lloyd’s two sons reacted to this in different ways. The elder, Charlie, grew up like his father, hard-nosed and serious, and followed his footsteps into the military. The younger, Benjamin (our protagonist), flaunted his father’s disapproval and entered the family business, but Lloyd had enough influence over him to keep him largely behind the cameras.
He runs with a famous circle of friends. He’s known for parking in Johnny Carson’s space every time he’s on The Tonight Show (or so Carson always claims). He makes a scandal on live TV to protest the Vietnam War. He wins two Academy Awards. His first marriage breaks down as a result of the Manson Family killings. His great mentor and idol is Charlie Chaplin. He loves his mother more than anyone else.
Fatherhood is his biggest fear.
What do you read? What are your favourite books and who are your favourite authors?
Boring grammar books. Old comic books. Endless Facebook posts. Books on politics, finance, history. As many books on writing as I can handle. I try to read at least two books a month, and at least one of those a novel. My original and probably all-time favorite writer is C.S. Lewis. I read all seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia in second grade, and I’ve been trying to duplicate him ever since. I really like the narrative style of Sherman Alexie, the imagination of Stephen King, the prose of Junot Diaz, the mood I get from Richard Matheson, and the realism of Theodor Dreiser and Booth Tarkington. The only book I have read in the last year that I really didn’t like was Patriot Games. I wanted to give Tom Clancy a try, but his characters were superficial, his dialogue was implausible, and the story not very compelling. Yet he’s a bestselling author. There’s a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Flight. I know a lot of people say that’s a weak power – what could you really do with it? Why not mind control, teleportation, telekinesis…something that you can use practically, offensively, or defensively? And I get that, I do.
But in my dreams, I’ll always be able to fly.
When I answered that question for someone else, I picked flight too! It feels free and light. Thank you so much, Gregory, for being here and sharing your writing and process with us.
Gregory Attaway lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where he has spent most of his life. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and has been writing relentlessly since the second grade. He is the author of Weston and Joe, as well as several other books that are currently in development.
Places you can connect with Gregory:
Synopsis of Weston:
You wouldn’t be able to pick Los Angeles out on a map if it weren’t for the Camdens.
Shaped by war, death, and the weight of a dynasty, Benjamin Camden falls into chaos as he rises in fame. His voice of protest and change becomes one of shock and controversy. Outsiders see a Hollywood icon that can do no wrong, but his struggle for identity submerges him into drugs, scandal, and women.
The birth of his daughter changes everything.
Unwilling to let the burden of legacy consume her as it did him, Benjamin resolves to overcome his demons so that they, in turn, will not haunt her. She forces him to embrace the one thing he’s been running from his whole life: his name.
Both of their lives depend on it.
A man on the verge of ruin, a daughter who will inherit an empire, and a world of dreams and hidden nightmares – Weston is an epic family saga spanning three generations, set in the heart of Hollywood – the first chapter of Gregory Attaway’s The Great Ones.
You can buy Weston on Amazon.
Synopsis of Joe:
Even great ones have humble beginnings.
Sarah Swingle’s father deserted her, leaving questions that will never be answered. The other kids at school whisper behind her back, and her best friend betrays her when Sarah needs her the most.
No one takes Adam Archer seriously. Teachers and fellow students alike see him as a failure, someone who will never amount to anything. But he has a talent that no one else can see, one which the world might never know unless he first comes to see it in himself.
Sarah and Adam forge an awkward friendship through the trials of adolescence. She fights her fear of abandonment as he struggles against believing what people say about him. They plan to leave it all behind and face the future together, she as an actress and he as a writer.
But the world has other plans for them.
A young man and woman will learn the consequences of following their hearts as they struggle to hold onto their dreams – Joe is a coming-of-age tale of love and sacrifice – the second chapter of Gregory Attaway’s The Great Ones.
You can buy Joe on Amazon.