Today I’m talking to Tory Gates, a YA author about writing and about the books he has enjoyed reading.
Hi Tory. How long have you been writing?
Tory: I've been writing or coming up with stories all my life, but I was never very good at putting them down. I began to write poetry and songs in college, but writing was part of my work in broadcasting. I wrote everything from news copy to announcements, so it was pretty natural.
I attempted a science fiction novel in the early 90's, and went over it quite a few times, but it turned out to be a lot like Star Trek! I didn't write seriously again until 2007, and I have not stopped.
Trish: What kind of books do you write? Do you specialise in one genre or do you write a variety of novels?
Tory: I've more books written than published, that's for sure. I seem to lean toward young/new adult, as my protagonists often tend to be young people dealing with adult problems. My first book, Parasite Girls was contemporary fiction and self-published. Since then, I've pretty much been in the YA/NA vein.
I was signed to Brown Posey Press, which is the fiction imprint of Sunbury Press Books, based in Mechanicsburg, PA. My releases for them were A Moment in the Sun, which came out in 2016, followed by Live from the Cafe in 2017. My current work is Searching for Roy Buchanan, which is the first of a Young Adult/Time Travel series. The sequel, Call it Love is set for release in 2020.
Trish: How do you collect ideas for your novels?
Tory: Sometimes they just pile up in my head. I'll have ideas that stick in my mind for a little while, but if they leave, or I'm not prompted to write them down, I figure they weren't good ones. I've written books based on songs, believe it or not. Usually, the best ones are those that keep coming back to me.
Trish: Is there something of you in your main characters?
Tory: Yes, despite my best efforts I think a little of me shows up in them. Since it's coming out of me, part of myself is going to be part of that character's DNA.
Trish: What about settings? Are they places you are familiar with? Or are they created in your imagination?
Tory: I actually began serious writing based in Japan, which up to now, I haven’t visited. The reasons for this were partly my interest in history; Japan's popular culture; and the feeling I had to do something different. I wasn't ready to try writing about myself or the world around me, so I decided to try a different land, but in real-time. Since then, I've been able to work closer to home, and it's become easier over time.
Trish: Do you want your novels to get people thinking?
Tory: Yes! I feel it's important to get readers into the story and get them emotionally invested in the characters. The storyline follows that. I hadn't realized what an impact I could make until people told me how much they identified with certain characters in my novels. When I read a book or see a film, I look for the character I recognize, perhaps someone that reminds me of myself. I hope readers find someone they empathize with or might like in the real world. I also hope they see what some of the characters have to go through—they might then realize their own issues are not so hard to deal with.
Trish: Is there a particular place you like to write?
Tory: I've spent a lot of time over the years in coffee shops...partly due to my love of caffeine, and also because it offers me an audience I can surreptitiously watch and pick up ideas from. I can write at home, too; other than my cats, I live alone, so I can put on music and just go for however long.
Routine is something that I use when I'm actively working on a new book. Once I start, the goal is to not stop until the first draft is hammered out. I will write one chapter a day, no matter its length; but if I keep going, then that's a bonus.
Trish: Are you a keen reader yourself?
Tory: I actually feel myself to be pretty “unread,” if that's the right word! I was most fortunate to have a mother that read to me, which stimulated my interest to keep doing so. She was a lover of anything mystery; that was not for me, but I read just about anything I could find. We didn't have a library in my hometown that I could get to easily so the school libraries were vital to me. There were no bookstores to speak of, either, so if we went to a place where there was one, I was in it. Often, I would pull what novels showed up in my local convenience store's racks. I was exposed to specific authors in high school and college, but I also read a lot of history, which interested me.
Over the years, I've tried to fill the gaps with some classics, and I keep an eye out for fiction that looks interesting to me. I read a fair amount of Japanese manga, but I lean more toward situational stories.
Here are some of the books that have really inspired me:
--The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings captivated me at a young age, and I honestly say, anyone who is interested in writing of any sort should read these. Tolkien set the standard for fantasy, but also fiction, in the detail that he put into these works, and creating that universe.
--South of the Border, West of the Sun, and Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami. I used his modern fiction as assistance in getting a view toward present day Japan in my work. The former ended up being mentioned in my book A Moment in the Sun, it worked so well and informed me of quite a bit. One of the very finest at painting pictures with words.
--Chronicle of a Death Foretold, A Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. Again, one long, vivid trip through an author's mind.
--All the Names, Jose Saramago. Just finished this one. Reminds me of Marquez; gritty, down at heel, even a little dirty, Saramago's characters are believable, and their struggles are our own.
--Thousand Cranes, by Yasunari Kawabata. Classic Japanese novel work, which inspired so many, and he won a Nobel Prize, if I'm correct. Gifted wordsmith, who pulled no punches about an older society.
--The Gift of Rain, Tan Twan Eng. Recent work, and brilliantly done. Eng takes us to pre-war Southeast Asia.
--The Bell Jar and Ariel, Sylvia Plath. A brilliant, and yet I think tortured author and poet. Her storytelling, her command of the language and words is something few can assay. Her emotions are on her sleeve, and you feel a real desperation in a lot of her work, especially in her diaries.
--Whispers in the Alders, H.A. Callum. This fellow is on my imprint, Brown Posey Press, and this is one of the best YA works I've come across in a long time. A coming of age story that is tragic, graphic, and recognizable to anyone who reads it, even if they don't want to.
--The Plays of Oscar Wilde...I love the wit, and the sharp pokes at polite society that so needs it. The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the most delightful plays I've ever read.
Trish: Wow, that’s a great selection! I’ve heard of a few of those writers, some I really enjoyed myself.
Thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us today.
Tory: My pleasure. I hope that readers will see that independent authors like myself have stories to tell that are compelling, as well as entertaining. You don't have to be signed to a big-name publishing house, have an agent, and all that. We have the same dreams as those authors, who I certainly respect for getting where I want to go—an indie author sometimes has a lot more latitude, about what they write, subject matter, and so forth. I also like to bend genres; when you read my work, I think you will find good stories that do entertain, but also make you feel, and think. To know someone re-reads my books, rather than just once and forgets about it, that's really my payoff.
Tory Gates is a writer of young adult/crossover fiction that takes readers back in time, to exotic locales and deal in social and human issues. His most recent release, Searching for Roy Buchanan is the first of a YA/time travel series, available on Brown Posey Press. The sequel, Call it Love is set for release in 2020.
Tory is also the author of the Brown Posey releases A Moment in the Sun (2016), which won First Place in the Young Adult division of the 2017 Red City Review Awards, and was a finalist for the Dante Rossetti Award for Young Adult Fiction by Chanticleer Reviews. 2017’s Live from the Cafe was also a Red City Review finalist in 2018. His self-published debut, Parasite Girls was released in 2013 and is available through Amazon.com and Smashwords.
A broadcaster for more than thirty years, Tory Gates has seen and done just about everything in the radio business. Currently, Tory can be found hosting and producing music, talk and sports programs across Central Pennsylvania. He hosts The Brown Posey Press Show, a program for authors on the BookSpeak Network, and is also known as DJ`Riff, presenter of The Music Club for the London-based Radio-Airwaves Station.
A native of Vermont, Tory lives in Harrisburg, PA with his numerous cats. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter (@ToryGates), and in the nearest place that serves good coffee!
Here's Tory’s latest novel and some titles he recommends.