Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Michael Gryboski
Michael: It began a couple of years ago when people were talking about President Donald Trump and his United States Supreme Court nominees possibly leading to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Most experts believe that if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe, the result would simply be the abortion debate going back to the states rather than a total nationwide ban on the controversial procedure.
However, I wanted to explore the extreme possibility. What if the Supreme Court, when striking down Roe, also decided to consider abortion itself to be unconstitutional? More notably, what would our nation look like forty years after that landmark decision was made? So begins the premise of my novel.
LM: You are also a journalist. How does your approach to writing fiction differ from your nonfiction articles? How is it the same?
Michael: There are considerable differences, partly because the formats are different. Most of my news articles are between 400 and 800 words long. My novels are tens of thousands of words long. My news articles usually include embedded links and me formatting things like related stories and selection and placement of photos. For my novels, my publishers are the ones who oversee format and imagery.
Still, with both, I have to be scrupulous in what I say and how I convey ideas and perspectives. I strive to have qualitative work that can effectively convey important information and concepts to a general adult reading public. Factual accuracy is an important point for both as well, though obviously more important with news articles, where fewer liberties with the facts are tolerated.
LM: What sort of research was required to prepare you to write the story, and did you find any tidbit(s) you knew you had to include?
Michael: For the premise, I drew from my own academic knowledge of American history, having
A key focus of my studies was popular cultural historical memory and the distortions thereof, as well as the debates over how history is taught in public schools.
For the hypothetical future decision overturning Roe, I modeled the fallout from the actual Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education. The 1954 decision to strike down institutional racial segregation was met with great resistance when it was first issued, with several states and school boards refusing to enforce it. However, forty years later, which in this case would be 1994, support for institutional racial segregation was virtually nonexistent.
As for tidbits, tracking modern debates over monuments and schools named for Confederate soldiers and segregationists was a key influencer on a subplot of the story.
LM: Tell us a bit about your journey to publication and what lessons you learned along the way.
Michael: It was one of upheaval. From the early 2000s to 2014, I wrote the occasional book-length manuscript, but struggled to find any publisher who would print my work. In 2014, I finally had my first novel published by a small California-based publisher named Inknbeans Press. Through them, I had seven novels released.
However, Inknbeans closed down at the end of 2017, throwing my work out of print and compelling me to spend several months looking for new publishers for my work. Thankfully, I ended up finding three small publishers who have released various books of mine since 2018. They are BOCH Publishing, Jan-Carol Publishing, and Ambassador International.
LM: Do you do anything special to prepare yourself for writing your stories? (e.g., listen to music, go for a run, etc.)
Michael: Oftentimes, I play a game of chess on my laptop to stimulate my mind. Sometimes, I will have a specific song, religious or secular, that spurs me to focus on a given story I am working on.
For example, with A Spiral Into Marvelous Light, I would get into the mentality of working on it by listening to Squire Parson’s rendition of “Beulah Land” and/or John Starnes’ rendition of “Midnight Cry.” Going on walks help, too.
Walks are something I do to think through plot developments, dialogue, etc. Admittedly, there are times when I am going through the dialogue in my head while walking and I might mouth the words, possibly making any observant pedestrian conclude that I am a few ships short of an armada.
LM: What is one piece of advice you can offer to fledgling writers?
Michael: I have many pieces of advice.
Know where you are going. Have your ending in mind before you start writing. Do not try to make it up as you go along or else you will find all sorts of frustrating errors.
Do not trust your ability to edit. Make sure someone else sees your work first, especially someone willing and able to offer constructive critical feedback.
Do your best to write for a bigger audience. Just because you like it, does not mean others will. Think about what others may want to see in your story.
Do not be surprised if your first finished manuscript is garbage. It is likely going to be more of a
Do not take this lightly. Realize that you will be devoting a lot of time to this, the writing and the editing. Then, unless you have some special connections, a lot of time finding a publisher. Even after the manuscript is published, unless you get a big publisher to release your work, you will need to do a lot of the promotion … that is, if you want to succeed.
LM: Here are some quickies … Lakes or Mountains for vacation.
Michael: Neither. I prefer staycations or the annual family beach trip. And the latter I only like because it is with family.
LM: Dog or cat as a pet.
Michael: I have had both and saw the ups and downs of both. At this point, though, the answer is neither. It was a lot easier to have pets when my mother was paying all the vet bills.
LM: Movies or reading as a pastime:
Michael: Movies. Especially ones from the twentieth century.
LM: What is your next project?
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Michael: They can find me at these social media links:
United States Senator Benjamin Pettus was alive when choice was the law of the land. A doctor by profession, over the past several years, he has struggled to preserve a sweeping federal healthcare law he helped create.
Roberta Sheridan was born and raised in a world where terminating an unborn child is both illegal and unthinkable. A devout Christian and principled journalist, Roberta is about to discover that the past is never truly gone.
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