Today we're not just peeling back the curtain, we're ripping it off the wall. I'm thrilled to be sitting down with bestselling author Luke Romyn. His novels are dark and gritty and intensely realistic. He's also got more muscle mass than the entire Bulgarian Olympic Rugby team. Here we go!
Griffin: If you weren't doing this interview right now, what would you be doing?
Either writing, editing, or working. My life seems to revolve around these things lately – not that it’s so bad. At least I’m not mud-wrestling hobos for spare change. That would kinda suck.
Griffin: You recently released your new novel BLACKLISTED. Tell us a bit about it.
BLACKLISTED is a fast-paced action-thriller, based upon the concept of the government using criminals to infiltrate mercenary networks around the world in an effort to track down a terrorist mastermind. It’s a step sideways from THE DARK PATH in that there are no paranormal themes, but I think I’ve upped the action a couple of notches at the same time. Feedback from readers so far has been awesome.
Griffin: BLACKLISTED is in several ways a departure from your bestselling novel, THE DARK PATH. Some writers spend their entire careers writing the same kind of book. Tell us a bit about your journey with BLACKLISTED and your decision to try something different.
I needed to write this to prove to myself that I didn’t need otherworldly themes to write a great novel. Writing, much like life, is all about learning, and you can’t do that if you never step out of your comfort zone.
In my spare time I often write short stories from many different genres just to exercise my skills. I am not a fool thinking I know everything about my craft; I am an amateur in an arena of kings, and if I ever hope to come close to their breadth of literary talents, I must push myself, learning every singly shred of the craft I possibly can along the way. To do this I must not only write, but read – and read and read and read. I am at the start of a long road, but every step, no matter how difficult, is worth it.
Griffin: You’ve spent 18 years working in the security industry as everything from bouncer to bodyguard to the stars. How have those experiences helped shape the fiction your write?
More than half my life has been spent in the protection of others and I don’t really know how to exist outside of it, unless I am writing. I’ve tried other jobs, but always find myself drawn back to security in one way, shape or form, whether it be for money or simply to help out friends, it is now well and truly a part of my life and I fear it will never let me go.
Through my work, I have seen many things so called ‘normal’ people would not imagine possible. Stabbings, shootings, and violent assaults are all part of my everyday life, so putting them into a story is the simplest thing in the world. My characters often draw from real people I have met in my life; which is kinda scary when you think about some of the things Vain does. The stories are of course totally fictitious, but the fact I have been involved in so much violence throughout my life adds a touch more believability to what happens in them, and I think my readers pick up on that.
Griffin: How much planning, outlining and research went into BLACKLISTED?
All my books – and I’ve written six already, though only two are published so far – are predominantly written spontaneously, with little to no planning or outlining beforehand. I prefer to see where the story wants to go, quite often taking twists and turns of its own accord, and I would hate to restrain that in any way.
In direct contrast, the research I do is intense and thorough. Writing in such an off-the-cuff way makes this difficult sometimes as an idea will suddenly come to me and I have to stop writing in order to research everything involved. At times this can be doubly frustrating in that, after several hours of research, the idea will amount to absolutely nothing or will contradict another part of my story, and as such I have to scrap the entire concept. Adversely, something might pop into my head and lead on to an absolutely fantastic scene or part of the story.
Griffin: I mentioned, THE DARK PATH before which is a great book. I have a serious question: Mike Swanson versus The Dark Man in the octogon. Who's your money on?
Haha! I have never really thought about it. I guess Mike would have more training and physical strength, but Vain can never be underestimated – I mean, this is a guy who comes face-to-face with the Devil and has the balls to taunt him/her.
Mike is a fighter, and although he does become a vigilante for a time, his conscience is constantly against him, but Vain has absolutely no conscience, and kills people mercilessly for money he will never use. I don’t know for sure who would win, but I sure as hell want to be in the front row to watch!
Griffin: On the one hand you have a notorious sense of humor that's been described by many as witty and very random and yet the fiction you write is quite dark. How do you account for that discrepancy?
All of life is about balance, and a person cannot live in an abyss without dying. If I only wrote about darkness and despair, I’d sound like a bit of an asshole, and that’s the last thing I want. Even my storylines, though intensely serious in their nature, are lightened at times through humor. Benny in BLACKLISTED is a prime example, and I’ve had a lot of people mentioning him as their favorite character with his many insane personalities.
On Twitter, where I have close to 160,000 followers, I use humor a lot. On there I often post comical quips as they come to me, quite often in between working on a book. In this way I fire my brain in an off-kilter way, kind of like cross-training my mind, and people have really warmed to it as a result.
Griffin: What's the best thing about being a writer?
I think it’s the exploration of imagination; letting loose of all constraints and creating a new world every time I put words on a screen. My dreams are able to grow and thrive every time I sit at a keyboard, rather than simply being constrained within my own mind. In this way I can share them with others, giving them life. And by giving them life, my own life is given meaning.
Griffin: What's the worst thing about being a writer?
By opening yourself up so much to others through your written words, you also give them power to harm you, to hurt you. Every rejection is like a knife to the heart; whether it’s from a publisher, an agent, or simply a bad review.
Each one of these is like the worst breakup imaginable, but the writer must push on if he or she hopes to succeed. Every failure must be seen as another opportunity for a new path to travel, not the end of the road.
Griffin: What's your favorite Hot Pocket?
I’m Australian and have absolutely no idea what that is, but it sounds painful.
Note: Hot Pockets are painful! Trust me! Jim Gaffigan does a hilarious stand-up routine that's well worth checking out.
Griffin: Any thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry?
Things are certainly in upheaval at the moment, but I definitely don’t think big publishers are panicking anywhere near as much as some would like to make out. Much like the music industry when iTunes came onto the scene, the publishing industry will eventually find its feet again and dominance will always be with the biggest boys in the yard.
However, that said, there is now much less to stop popular authors doing it all on their own. J.A. Konrath is a prime example of a big author stepping away from publishers to self-publish, and succeeding while doing it. John Locke is another, even after signing on with Simon & Schuster he continues to self-publish his ebooks – the most popular sales he’s seen to date. If all the big names did the same thing, the large publishing houses would surely crumble, but while they remain with them they will still keep making money and stay in business.
Should big name authors do things on their own? Perhaps. But while they’re making a gazillion dollars without having to stress about all the smaller aspects of publishing, they’re able to focus on writing more books, and as such making even more money. Why the hell would they stop?
Griffin: Where can people go to satisfy their Luke Romyn itch?
My website is http://www.lukeromyn.com. I post some short stories and other mush from my mind on my blog and my highly popular Twitter account.
Griffin: Thanks so much for stopping by, Luke! Any last words?
I just want to thank you, Griffin, along with everyone who is helping me along this incredible journey. My fans are rabid and fantastic, and I love them all. Look forward to at least two more great releases from me in the coming year in BEYOND HADES and SLAVES OF VALHALLA; even bigger and better than anything I’ve done to date!
Luke Romyn spent many years, fifteen in fact, working in the security industry. From doorwork in some of Australia's roughest pubs and clubs to protecting Mickey Mouse and the Disney crew from the overzealous jaws of tenacious toddlers, Luke has worked throughout Australia and internationally in a vast array of roles. His first book, THE DARK PATH, is now out and swiftly became a #1 best selling Horror and was also voted in the Top Ten Horror novels of 2009.
THE DARK PATH: Amazon