Could you tell us about yourself?
My name is Gary Blaine Randolph. I am a writer and storyteller and semi-retired software developer. Over my career I have been a software company owner, a college professor, and a web programmer. But in all of those roles I have always written — computer manuals, magazine articles, blogs, textbooks, drama sketches, poems, novels, stories for telling, and more. My wife and I live in Indiana, where in addition to writing, I cycle, play guitar, drink coffee with friends, and hang out with my grandkids.
What is the first book you remember reading?
A book of Sherlock Holmes short stories. I was just a kid — maybe ten years old. So the language was a stretch for me. But I was struck not just with the brilliance of Holmes, but with the ability of Conan Doyle to construct the plots.
Do you listen to music while you write your books?
No. I need complete silence so I can listen to the voices in my head.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
This is probably odd, but I often, though not always, start with the title. The first book in my Galactic Detective Agency series is A Town Called Potato. It was a random thing one of my grandsons said at about eight years old one day while we were playing. I often keep track of the funny things my grandkids say, but this one really stuck with me. I kept thinking about that town and why it might be called Potato. I already knew I wanted to write a comedic mystery story with sci-fi elements, and the title just seemed to fit. The book evolved from there, and I named the protagonist after my grandson.
Most of my books have parody titles, such as The Maltese Salmon, which is a send up of the great noir crime novel, The Maltese Falcon, written by Dashiell Hammett. The title came to me, and then I had to figure out what the salmon was. What made it Maltese? How did that fit into the Galactic Detective Agency universe?
What part of the book was the most fun to write?
I try to make the comedy, as well as the plot, as character-driven as possible. So the most fun is when the dialogue and jokes flow naturally from the character’s personalities and perspectives, especially when I have three or four characters talking past each other.
What is your writing process like?
I make several passes through a book I’m writing.
First draft – Tell a story. I will fix problems that I notice along the way, but mainly I am focusing on getting the story in a rough form.
Second draft – Write it better, patch up plot holes, and add the literary equivalent of what the painter Bob Ross called happy little trees – the phrases and beats that make the writing sparkle.
Use the AutoCrit program to check grammar and spelling and to check for problems in pacing, showing vs. telling, etc.
Line edit – Focus on grammar and punctuation while wordsmithing
Proofread – Read out loud to find typos. And, because I can’t leave things alone, continue wordsmithing.
Proofread again – Read out loud again, going through the book in bigger chunks to catch any remaining plot holes as well as typos. I also use Word’s Read Aloud feature to hear the flow and to catch typos.
Proofread one final time – Transfer the book to my Kindle app and read it there, going through the whole thing over the course of a couple of days.
How long did it take for you to write a book?
Generally, two months to write the first draft plus another month or month and a half for the second draft, followed by a couple of months for editing and proofreading.
What do you hope your readers take away from your book(s)?
First, some laughs, and don’t we all need a few laughs nowadays. But I don’t write it as pure escapism. I try to hold a mirror up to human society, make fun of some things that need to be made fun of, and hopefully give readers some new perspectives.
Where can people who are interested in your book, buy your book ?
Interview With Author Gary Blaine Randolph Media links