What five words describe you?
Christian, Dad, Grandpa, bald, IT guy. (IT guy can be one virtual word.) I’ve also been called a nutcase, but now I’m over my five word budget.
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
Publicizing my very first book, “Bullseye Breach,” an IT security book disguised as a fiction international thriller about a large retailer that loses 40 million credit cards to some Russians. I have some more adventures in mind for Jerry Barkley, the “Bullseye Breach” main character, but let’s get some momentum behind “Bullseye Breach” first. And then I also try to generate income with IT consulting services. So if your company needs to update its server, or is considering going to the cloud, or needs help connecting branch offices, or needs security work, or just needs IT help – support an independent author and contact me!
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Jerry Barkley looks a lot like me. People tell me an actor named John Malkovich also looks like me – so he would be the logical candidate. None of the good guy characters in “Bullseye Breach” will stand out at a glamour event.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
At this stage of my life, I can’t think of any other book I could have written other than “Bullseye Breach.” I wrote it because, even with today’s sensational headlines around data breaches, every time I try to show business owners how to be safe, their eyes always glaze over. I had a conversation a few months ago and said the word, “protocol.” She was engaged and looking at me until I said that word. By the time I finished the third syllable, her head was turned and she started walking towards the door. It takes less than one second to say that word and in that one, single second, I lost her attention. Just one example of many. So I studied everything I could get my hands on for telling a good story and wrote a fiction book that will hopefully keep people’s interest. The book does have the words, “port scan,” but they’re in context and a book about a cyberattack has to have some cyber words to be credible. IT pros who know what they’re doing will appreciate the realistic scenario I laid out, including how the good guys fight back. Everyone else will hopefully enjoy the characters and appreciate what’s behind solid IT work.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
My biggest challenge with “Bullseye Breach” was trying to explain heavy-duty tech concepts in language everyone can understand in the context of an interesting story without ruining the story and putting readers to sleep. And keeping an appropriate level of detail. I could not have done it without help from some great editors. The first draft had actual computer commands to run port scans. Steve, my content editor just shook his head when he saw those. Steve and Lily both worked hard to help make this book readable for non IT people. In one draft, I had 800+ words of tech explanations in a conversation with two characters. Lily, the professional editor, spent about 3 hours on those 800+ words and turned them into 400+ words that gave the same explanation and engaged readers. Lily has no IT background, but she explained those IT concepts better than me.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writers block?
It’s usually late at night for me when this happens and I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open. I go crash in bed, close my eyes, and try to think about where the story should go from here before dropping off. Sometimes inspiration comes the next day, sometimes it takes longer. I also put myself in the situation of the character and try to react as that character should react.
Where would your dream location be for writing?
Anywhere quiet with a computer and some word processing software. Indoors. With access to food, water, and shelter. And the Internet. I do lots of research over the Internet. Other than that, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have a special chair or special spot to compose.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
Some. But not all. I’ve never met any Russian mob bosses. I’m the model for Jerry Barkley, although he is smarter than me. I like Jesse Jonsen. A lot. But she is pure fiction and her personality evolved to meet the story. Other characters share attributes from people I’ve met.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I crave reviews. As of this writing, I’ve only had three and the first one from somebody I haven’t met came in this morning. It was only four stars, so I’m not batting 1.000 anymore. J All the advice I’ve read says not to respond to negative reviews. And I get why – there’s no sense in getting into an online argument with a negative reviewer. But if somebody has a constructive criticism, I might respond with a thanks and try to apply the constructive lesson in the next story.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
I’m really an IT guy learning how to be a writer. I’ve always had a curiosity about how infrastructure works. I’ll only consider myself a real writer when my writing tops break-even, which will prove somebody cares about what I have to say. Until then, I’m a wannabe writer.
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
I would say, “Greg, get off your dead, lazy butt and start writing stories now. Pay attention to all this stuff they’re trying to teach you in high school and college. So by the time you’re my age, you’ll have a track record and won’t have to start from scratch.”
Where can we buy your work?
It’s available in physical and eBook form at all the popular book sellers. This is cool – I even saw copies in stock at a few Barnes and Noble stores in the Twin Cities. The best place to buy is right from the book website at http://www.bullseyebreach.com. All the books at all the retailers come from the book distribution site here in the Twin Cities and the book website has a link to buy right from there.
How can we keep up with you via Social Media?
I write a blog on my company website, http://www.infrasupport.com. Go to “Greg’s Blog” for lots of great content. I put videos from interviews and other content relating to “Bullseye Breach” on the book website, http://www.bullseyebreach.com. And I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.