Interview with novelist Michael Loyd Gray

Novelist Michael Loyd Gray is here today to
give a glimpse into his young adult novel King Biscuit.

Michael will
be awarding a $25.00 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the
tour. If you’d like to be entered to win, just leave an email address with a
comment below. And for more chances to win, you can follow
Michael’s tour
and leave comments at other blog stops.

Michael Loyd Gray was
born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, but grew up in Champaign, Illinois. He earned an
MFA in English from Western Michigan University and has taught at colleges and
universities in upstate New York, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas. He
graduated from the University of Illinois with a Journalism degree and was a
newspaper staff writer in Arizona and Illinois for ten years, conducting the
last interview with novelist Erskine Caldwell.
He is the winner of the
2005 Alligator Juniper Fiction Prize and the 2005 The Writers Place Award for
Fiction. Gray’s novel Well Deserved won the 2008 Sol Books Prose Series
Prize. His novel Not Famous Anymore was awarded a grant by the Elizabeth
George Foundation and was released by Three Towers Press (2012). His novel December’s
was a finalist for the 2006 Sol Books Prose Series Prize and was
also released in 2012 by Tempest books (an imprint of Sol Books) as the young
adult novel King Biscuit.  He has written a sequel to Well
called The Last Stop, and another four novels entitled: Fast
, Blue Sparta, The Salt Meadows and The Canary.
Whereas in his first
novels Michael focuses very much on Argus and the Midwest, he ventures out into
other parts of the world in his last three novels. A lifelong Chicago Bears and
Rolling Stones fan, he lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and teaches as full-time
online English faculty Professor for South University, where he is one of the
founding editors of the student literary journal Asynchronous and
sponsor of an online readings series featuring fiction and poetry.
Michael is represented by Vilain Innovations – Literary Agency
in The Netherlands
Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about
your current release.
My new novel, King Biscuit, begins in 1966 and it’s about
Billy Ray Fleener, a 17-year-old living in the stifling and fictional small
town of Argus, Illinois, who yearns to see the wider world. Billy Ray sets off
on a road trip of sorts, sparked by the desire to visit the grave of his Uncle
Milt (killed in Vietnam) in Helena, Arkansas. Along the way Billy Ray’s
adventures bring him in contact with Elvis Presley, President Lyndon Johnson,
some militant nuns, a con man, and a rock band called Gravy is Groovy. He
visits New Orleans, too, as his travels inch him closer to maturity and an
identity. Certainly it’s a coming of age story.
What inspired you to write this book?
I guess I wrote King Biscuit in part because I am fond
of the 1960s – especially the great rock music from those days. The Rolling
Stones are part of the novel’s background – they are emblematic of changing
times and certainly Billy Ray is drawn to their music as an antidote to conservative
Argus and his even more conservative father. Argus is a burg with a quaint town
square and Billy Ray’s father owns the local hardware store – Fleener Hardware.
Argus would be east of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, on a map, for example.
What exciting story are you working on
I just
finished a new novel, The Canary,
about the last days of Amelia Earhart. Earlier this year I wrote a novel called
The Salt Meadows, which takes place partly
during the 1985 Haitian Revolution.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
started reading at a pretty early age and always loved it. I can’t say exactly
when I wanted to be a writer, or thought I would be, but it was not until after
high school. I earned a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and
spent ten years writing for newspapers. But journalism was too limiting – too
stifling, as was Argus for Billy Ray. I quit newspaper work for graduate school
in English and it was there that I became serious about writing fiction.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like?
If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I teach
full-time for a university, but when I am writing a novel I tend to do it every
day until done. That way it’s much easier to keep a firm grip on the narrative
thread of the story and extend it to the end.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
writing quirk—I want a novel’s title before I commit to writing it. Once I get
what I feel sure is the title, I am able and ready to learn what story will
blossom from that.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a
child I wanted to be a football coach and later I thought about becoming an
oceanographer, but I’m no good at science and math and so English is where I
ended up and it’s what I do best.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
advice to readers is to not give up on your writing. Keep at it and you can
improve. It gets easier the more you do it.

Author’s page
on Amazon
Order the

11 thoughts on “Interview with novelist Michael Loyd Gray

  1. Anonymous says:

    A great bildungsroman for boys, though I am sure females would enjoy it just as much. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Catherine Lee says:

    How interesting that you start with a title. Does the title ever change along the way or do you stick with the same title until the end?
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  3. Anonymous says:

    Catherine–no the title does not change. Once I know what it is I stay confident in it. It also helps set a tone for the writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.