Milijun – An interview with Clayton Graham

Roisin Spragg

Tell us something unexpected about yourself!

My pen name is Clayton Graham. I was born and raised in the cobbled streets of Stockport, near Manchester UK, and graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Salford University in 1966. A retired aerospace engineer who enjoyed working in structural design and research in Europe and the USA, I moved to Victoria, Australia, in 1982. Dean Koontz, a master at making the paranormal seem acceptably normal, is my favourite author. I love animals, including well behaved pets, and all the natural world, and I am a member of Australian Geographic. When not writing, I walk, travel, read or garden and, like many retirees, enjoy fine food with family, friends and five energetic grandchildren.


What novels affected you the most growing up?

I have always had an interest in Science Fiction and where it places humankind within a universe we are only just starting to understand. I love the ‘old school’ science fiction written by authors such as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and John Wyndham. Novels which spring to mind are War of the Worlds and The Midwich Cuckoos.



Where did the idea for your current book come from?

‘Milijun’ started as a short story. The birth of the alien RNasia occurred in the short story, and when they decided to wing their way to Earth I knew it could not end there. Continuing their mission seemed the obvious thing to do. I wanted Milijun to explore how humanity would react when faced with an intelligence it cannot understand? It’s a good question, for it may happen someday. We are not currently prepared, of course, we are light years away from understanding how we should behave in such a circumstance. Milijun challenges our mindsets through the eyes of a mother and son, and as such is perhaps more powerful and meaningful than if that challenge was through the eyes of the United Nations or the President of the United States. I trust the book is about more than an alien incursion into the Australian outback. The story challenges the reader to contemplate our place in the universe, or multiverses (as we are now led to believe is a distinct possibility).



Do you think there’s any way you could ever run out of ideas for books?

Ideas come and go and should always be written down, no matter the time of day or night. Because I love Science Fiction the plot intrigues me most. And I love plots which interlink with the paranormal or the supernatural [which is the natural we have yet to discover]. Dialogue is driven by the characters and is probably the easiest to compile – I just let it flow as I believe it would in real life, bearing in mind the people and events involved.



What is your routine for writing and has this method changed over the span of your career?

I don’t force myself to write. I know when it is time to sit down again and thrash the keyboard. Do I wing it? On some occasions, yes, especially when the creative juices are flowing well. It can always be revised later. If it gets too difficult there’s no point in struggling with words. It will come together later. This has not really changed over the years, although I have more time now I am retired



How important is marketing and social media for you?

Critical. There is little else for Indie authors other than social media and the various book clubs and bloggers.



What advice would you have for other writers?

We can start with the obvious one – read your genre. Don’t start to write before reading, that’s like running before you can walk. If you have done your reading, and you have the urge to write, just write and see what comes out. Never throw anything away – a lot easier now with the advent of computers. Also keep a pencil and pad on your bedside table. Quite often you will wake up with an idea, a thought, maybe just a sentence or phrase, or even a piece of dialogue. Scribble it down, file it somewhere safe. Also don’t release your book too soon. Check out marketing options and get some reviews.



What are you reading now?

Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven. A revisit, and how Mars should be, or perhaps was. And my current work in progress, ‘Saving Paludis’.


What’s your next step?

I am working on ‘Saving Paludis’ at the moment, which is set in the year 3898 AD, some one hundred and forty light years from Earth. This story is totally different to ‘Milijun’, but with the same elements of action, technology and the paranormal. It also includes some romance. ‘Saving Paludis’ explores the links between an alien culture and mankind, interplanetary economics, military force and power. It also asks the question: what happens when a culture concentrates on a single purpose-driven technology over a period of hundreds of years?


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