Interview with Clay Gilbert

Interview with Clay Gilbert

What genre do you write and why? 
I write science fiction, horror, and urban fantasy.

Tell us about your latest book.  
My latest two published novels are “Annah and the Exiles” and “Annah and the Gates of Grace.”  They were published simultaneously this year by my new publisher, Dark Moon Press.  They’re the second and third books in my science-fiction series “Children of Evohe” which tells the story of a young woman named Annah, from a distant world called Evohe, her human mate Gary Holder, and her search to overcome a life of disabilities and adversity—a search that leads, eventually, into political intrigue, war, and a destiny as the An-Rhyel, “the Restorer”, a figure from her people’s legends who is meant to reconcile the divided people of Evohe to the wholeness of their past.  On the whole, I’d say the series combines the coming-of-age drama, cultural struggle and romance of a classic novel like “Jane Eyre” with the mysticism, interstellar intrigue and politics of Frank Herbert’s “Dune”.

What did you edit out of this book?  
Well, I’m not sure if it exactly qualifies as editing out, but originally, I had conceived books Two and Three as a single novel, “Annah’s Exile”, and I eventually decided there was too much story for a single volume, and edited and refashioned the narrative into two books.

How was this book published? (traditional, small press, self pub, etcc...)  Why did you choose that particular publishing route?  
I’m currently signed with a small press publisher, Dark Moon Press, out of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  I personally don’t have any interest in self-publishing at this stage in my career, so when my previous publisher, PDMI Publishing, LLC, announced last February that they were ceasing operations, I began looking for another publisher.  Fairly quickly, my thoughts turned in the direction of my good friend Eric Vernor, who I’ve known a number of years through our mutual association with the DragonCon science fiction convention.  I approached Eric about the possibility of becoming one of Dark Moon Press’ stable of authors, and he was happy to welcome me on board.  And I’m very happy to be there.

How do you select the names of your characters?  
Interview with Clay Gilbert
Usually, they tell me their own names.  Which is to say, I trust in the operations of the subconscious a lot.  Usually, I’ll find that the name a character has ‘picked’ corresponds in some way to a quality that I intended that character to have, or which they end up having.  ‘Listen to your characters’ is something I tell beginning writers, a lot.  In the case of Annah, the protagonist of my Children of Evohe science fiction series, I ended up finding out that the name she’d ‘picked’ meant ‘favored by God’, and given Annah’s eventual role as a savior/messiah figure for her people, that made a lot of sense.  But I had no idea at first.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 
Podcast interviews, online articles (such as the recent spotlight article done by, website interviews such as this one, Facebook posts, and public appearances.  I’m always looking for new ways to promote, and you yourself have been a big help in offering ideas in that regard!

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or good ones? 
 Honestly, to be in this business, you’ve got to develop a thick skin.  Reviewers, good or bad, mostly don’t know you.  Before I was a published author, I worked on one of my novels, my vampire book Dark Road to Paradise, as a project in a grad school seminar on Writing the Novel.  When I got my first chapter back, the professor had written THIS SUCKS in huge capital letters on page one.  What can I say?  It was a draft.  I knew it wasn’t perfect.  So I revised.  In the end, that same professor not only agreed to accept that novel as a thesis project, but to be my thesis director.  And ultimately, the book got published.  Most of the people who’ll review your book haven’t, and couldn’t, write one themselves.  That wasn’t the case with this professor—she’d published six, and been well-reviewed.  But if you can steel yourself enough to withstand the disapproval of someone like that, and turn it around, you’ll be able to withstand any bad review.  Remember: it’s about the work, not you, personally.  They don’t know you.

Do you Google yourself? 
At least every couple of months.  Helps to make sure that I’m who’s coming up when people Google me, and helps me know what people are reading about me.  Funny story about that.  On one of my recent self-Google sessions, the results turned up what appeared to be, of all things, a science fiction story with a protagonist whose name was Clay Gilbert.  I went to the site, and found the blog of a writer and teacher named Paul J. Gies, from Maine, who had indeed not only written one novel about a man named Clay Gilbert, but a series of them.  I messaged Paul, and when he wrote back, one of the first things he said was, “I wondered how long it would take you to get in touch with me.”  He had apparently come up with my name as a character name quite by accident.  He was looking for a first name that was ‘elemental, and Earth-based’—Clay, check, as well as a last name with French roots.  “Gilbert” qualifies there, too.  He told me he’d been writing the book for several months before he became aware that there was, indeed, a science-fiction novelist with that very name.  He asked me if I wanted him to change it, and I said no.  Later, he submitted his first novel featuring his “Clay Gilbert” to PDMI Publishing, LLC, the publisher I was then Chief Editor for.  We accepted it, but as PDMI went out of business in August of last year, it was never published.  Paul’s a talented writer, and I know he’ll get published eventually.  And now I have a new friend.

What formats is the book available in?  
All of my work is available in paperback, and can be ordered online from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  My newest work—the Dark Moon Press editions of my YA dystopian novel “Eternity”, and the first three books in my science fiction series “Children of Evohe”—“Annah and the Children of Evohe”, “Annah and the Exiles,” and “Annah and the Gates of Grace”—are all available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and direct from my publisher at  All of my upcoming releases will also be available from Dark Moon Press.  “Eternity” is also available on Kindle, and the “Annah” novels will soon be available in that format as well.

Who are your favourite authors?  
Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Anne Rice, Tad Williams, Dan Simmons, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, E. B. White, C.S. Lewis—and that just starts to scratch the surface.

What advice do you have for other writers? 
Read a lot.  It provides raw fuel for your craft.  Also, write a lot.  Write every day, without fail.  Finish what you start.  You can’t revise what you don’t finish, and everything is going to need revision.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? 
The official site for my Children of Evohe science fiction series is at My author blog is at

How long did it take you to write your book?
My two newest releases in the “Children of Evohe” series took about two years combined.  My other new release this year, the YA dystopian book, “Eternity”, took a year for the initial draft and a longer and more roundabout journey through editing and revision to eventual publication. 

Who designed the cover? 
The CEO of Dark Moon Press, Eric Vernor, designs all my covers, and I think he does a fabulous job.

Who inspires you? 
God, my parents, other authors; friends and relatives.  I guess there are different kinds of inspiration.  Other authors can be a tremendous inspiration specifically in how I do my work.  My publisher, Eric Vernor, has a tireless work ethic that’s certainly inspiring.  My personal tastes and life experiences inspire certain facets of my stories.  And my family and friends are a constant source of sustenance and inspiration.  Also the music I listen to, movies or TV shows I watch, and books I read.

When and where do you write?  
‘When’ is 8-10 hours a day; ‘where’ is at my desk in my apartment.  I always tell people that regularity in writing, meaning doing it in the same place at the same time daily, is important.  I do the same myself.

Interview with Clay Gilbert
Are you a plotter or a pantser?  
I’m not overly fond of either of those terms, although I guess if I have to define myself, I’d use the latter of those two p-words.  I wish someone would do the writing community at large a great service, and popularize a less-condescending-sounding term than ‘pantser.’  (Laughs) But yes, I’m in the category of writers who, by and large, don’t outline.  I can’t say I don’t plot at all, because I start with a main character or two, and I usually have an idea of the general journey those characters are going on.  But I let them take me there.  ‘Controlling’ the story is something that, for me, leads to boring and unsuccessful writing.  Stephen King wrote once, “I write to find out what I think.”  King, like me, doesn’t plot or outline.  I like the idea of writing as a journey, but it’s NOT the only way.  The best way is the way that works for you, and I know plenty of writers who get good stuff out of outlining and plotting.  I just wish some of those folks wouldn’t call me a ‘pantser.’

Do you believe in writer’s block?  
Not a bit.  I think the non-writing world over-mystifies and over-romanticizes the creative process, to the point where some creative folks actually buy into the concept and expect to be blocked.  I’ve been writing since I was four, and writing seriously since my teens (I was first paid for publication of a story when I was thirteen).  I’ve never been ‘blocked.’ Regularity and repetition lead to a mindset that allows writing to occur anytime.  Revision can always fix whether what comes out is any good or not—and a first draft rarely is.  But you can’t revise a blank page.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?  
Stick with it.  Don’t worry about a ‘fall-back plan.’  It will all pay off.

How do you research your books?  
Most of my stories take place far enough in time and space from the ‘real world’ of today that research isn’t necessary, but when it is, Google and the Internet are amazing resources.  During my grad school years, I learned enough about finding credible sources that I don’t end up dragging bad facts into my fiction.  Fortunately.  Readers tend to catch things like that.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.  
“The Conversationalist” is a science-fantasy novel set in the universe of my “Children of Evohe” books, although, since Annah’s not in it, it’s not technically a part of that series.  It’s about a guy, Northrop Wynn, who is a data analyst stationed on board a starship whose job is to monitor signals from passing ships and respond to them if necessary.  North comes in contact and eventually develops an ongoing conversation with a girl on another starship whose name is Rynn Handel.  Rynn and North are headed to a common destination, a world called Holdfast that’s a hub for intergalactic travel.  On their way there, they get to know each other a little bit at a time.  But each of them has a secret.  For North, it’s that he has a somewhat-debilitating condition which causes his brain to work faster than normal humans, which is good, but it deteriorates his motor functions to some extent.  Rynn has an even more isolating disability—she’s a cyborg, a being comprised of part human tissue, including human DNA, and part mechanical technology.  She doesn’t even have a body—she’s going from Holdfast to Mercy Prime, a planet known for building cyborg bodies, to fix that problem. So in a sense, North’s mind is like a computer, and part of Rynn IS a computer, and they have to decide whether they’re going to accept each other—whether ‘human’ is a condition more complex than either of them may have been willing to accept before.  Rynn was a character who first appeared in the third Children of Evohe novel, “Annah and the Gates of Grace”, and I wanted to do more with her.  It's a sci-fi romance like most of my other stuff, but this one, I think, has a little more humor in it, although the questions it asks are serious.  “The Conversationalist” should be out from Dark Moon Press sometime in 2018.

Interview with Clay Gilbert

Does your family support you in your writing career? How? 
They’ve encouraged me in my writing since I first started doing it at the age of four, but these days they support me by reading the books, of course, and by helping me with book signings and convention appearances, and getting the word out about new releases/.  They’re the best ‘ground crew’ I could want.

What are you currently reading? 

What are some of your all time favourite books? 
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, The Stand by Stephen King, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Prince Ombra by Roderick MacLeish, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, Dune by Frank Herbert, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and the Bible.

What is your favourite book you've read this year so far? 

What books or authors have most influenced your life? 
Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Robert Jordan, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Frank Herbert, Robert A. Heinlein.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? 
Watching movies, listening to music, reading, hanging out with friends and family, and my cat and snake.


  1. Fabulous interview. You never know what you might find when you Google yourself. LOL
    sherry @ fundinmental


I love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc.

Thanks for being an active part of the Writers and Authors community.