Grayson Towler has had a lifelong fascination with dragons, dinosaurs, magic, and the mysteries of the natural world. In addition to being a storyteller since he could first string words together, he has been a marketing copy writer, web designer, substitute teacher, comic artist, and small business owner. He and his wife, Candi, live with their dog Luna in a house owned by three relatively benevolent cats in Longmont, Colorado.
- Have you ever awoken a dragon?
If you awaken a dragon while you’re dreaming, does that count? That gets us into some very weird existential territory… I think I’ll just go with “maybe” for this one.
- Did you know what age your target audience would be before you wrote the story? Or did the story come first?
The story came first. One of the ways that really works for me whenever I’m trying to brainstorm a new project is simply to ask myself, “What do I want to read?” From that question, the basic structure of The Dragon Waking pretty much coalesced over the course of an afternoon.
Once I had the first draft done, I discovered how much I had to learn about how books are marketed to different age ranges. I thought Dragon Waking was going to be Young Adult, and I pitched it that way for several years. Then I got some good advice and learned the story was more appropriate as a Middle Grade/Tween book.
- What was the path to publication for Dragon Waking?
A long, arduous road through the traditional publishing route, along which I think I managed to hit every conceivable obstacle. In broad strokes, here were the steps:
– Wrote the first draft.
– Wrote the second draft and solicited feedback from volunteer pre-readers.
– Wrote the third draft. Got it proofed and polished.
– Pitched to agents.
– After getting shot down a lot, I went with a non-fiction agent who was trying to expand her scope into fiction.
– Spun my wheels, broke up with that agent.
– Researched, got more advice, re-tooled my pitch as a Middle Grade book.
– Got shot down by many more agents.
– Finally partnered with a new agent who specializes in kids books.
– With her help, I pitched to some publishers. Got shot down many more times.
– Rewrote manuscript with some of the rejection feedback in mind, considerably shortened from first draft.
– Pitched to more publishers. Crash and burn, rinse and repeat.
– Finally got the green light from Albert Whitman & Co.
– There were many delays from the publisher’s end—I don’t know all the details there, but we had to push the book’s launch date back by about 6 months and we still were scrambling at the end.
– Did a very thorough and tough edit to shrink the book again by about 18,000 words, amongst other changes.
– And then… it was pretty much done except for a few little details! Now I’m in the unfamiliar and scary territory of trying to market the book.
And that’s just an overview. For a detailed examination of the process, please refer to Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri.
- What formats will the book be available in?
It’s in hardcover now. Beyond that, I’m not sure what the plan is for other formats, though I would especially like to see it in audio.
- Does your love of dragons and dinosaurs extend to Nessie and other lake monsters?
Absolutely! In fact, with a bit of imagination, you can see the shadow of Nessie in The Dragon Waking, or at least derive an explanation for what people are seeing when they encounter lake monsters and the like.
- You arrived in Longmont about ten years after I left. IBM moved my family to and from the area; what brought you to Longmont?
We moved to Colorado in ’97, just in time for the Broncos first Super Bowl-winning season. So that seemed pretty auspicious. We shifted from Boulder to Longmont in ’99, since Longmont offered many of the same benefits at a more affordable price. And we’ve stayed here happily ever since.
- What’s next on your writing plate?
I’m putting the finishing touches on a bonus side-story for The Dragon Waking, and then it’s off to the next book in the series. I expect it will be a trilogy.
After that, I have a second draft to do of an adult supernatural thriller, currently titled Three Shamans. I have a couple of novelette-length short stories that are almost ready to put out there, and I’m thinking of self-publishing those. And I have three new series concepts that I’m eager to work on whenever time permits—one would be Middle Grade, another adult supernatural mystery, and the third an adult science fiction adventure.
- Do you ever combine your writing and drawing talents?
Why yes! I have a webcomic called Thunderstruck which has been going since 2004. It’s a big supernatural adventure, really more for adults than kids. And I’ve done some illustrations based on The Dragon Waking.
- What is your favorite electronic writing tool?
My iPad. Gotta love the portability.
- What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
My pillow. This may sound weird, but I get a lot of story ideas in dreams. In fact, the book I mentioned above, Three Shamans, appeared more-or-less whole as a dream. Other stories and parts of stories have showed up that way as well. Wherever these free-roaming waves of inspiration come from, I’m always grateful when they show up so strongly in my dreams.
What is your ideal writing environment?
Once on vacation, we stayed at this little bed-and-breakfast place. It had an Italian-style courtyard with a fountain and a turtle pond, and nice shady places to sit and write. That was pretty heavenly, and I got a lot of good writing done there.
- If you could have a pro design costumes/cosplay for you and your wife for Comic Con or a similar event, how would you dress?
I would go as Godzilla. It would be amazingly inconvenient and I would probably collapse from heat exhaustion along the way, but it would be so worth it. While Candi’s costume would be up to her, my suggestion would be for her to go as Mako Mori in her awesome black armor from Pacific Rim, as a choice that would be resonant with the whole giant monster theme.
- Who shot first? Han or Greedo?
Han shot first, but a close study of the original footage reveals the shot that actually killed Greedo came from the grassy knoll.