Luke Romyn has been gracious enough to join me for my next Q & A session. Luke is the USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen titles, the most recent of which was the page-turner Walking with Shadows.
What made you decide to write your first novel?
There was no definitive moment of clarity where a beam of light struck my forehead and I thought, “Eureka! I’m going to torture myself for the rest of my life.” I’ve always been drawn to writing, especially fiction, and it simply seemed a natural thing to try. I’m not the kind of guy who sits back and wonders ‘what if?’ If I conceive something that might be cool, I go out and do it. This was what happened with my first book. I sat down, looked at the screen, and began writing. It was hardly a smooth path from there to here, far from it, in fact, but I’ve always held the final goal in mind, and with that in hand, all I need to do is pave the road with words, hopefully good ones.
Tell us about Walking with Shadows, and how did you come up with the idea?
The concept for Walking with Shadows came to me while sitting down with a friend having coffee. I threw the idea out to him, of a writer flung together with a young boy, who tries to bridge the gap between their lives with fictional stories, and it kind of grew from there. My friend, who is highly intelligent but hardly a reader, was blown away by the concept, so I figured it was worth a shot. If I could interest someone who didn’t like books, then the reading community was likely to be more receptive, right? The end result is my proudest writing achievement thus far.
Your writing covers a few genres. Which is your favourite?
I despise genres. Genres should always be for readers, not writers. If you limit yourself while writing, your novel will never achieve its full potential. That being said, all my novels tend to have some elements of adventure in them and I loosely call them all action-thrillers.
How has your personal life influenced your writing?
Early on in life, my parents taught me the joy of traveling. I remember standing in Tiananmen Square in China before the famous protests in 1989. I’ve walked inside one of the Pyramids of Giza and through the Valley of the Kings. I’ve swum with sharks in Tahiti and wrestled in the mud with rescued elephants in Thailand.
On the work side of things, my two-decade career as a security contractor has let me see another side of life, one slightly less glamorous than the traveling. I’ve had to disarm people with guns and knives, wrestle with psychopaths on drugs that give them near-superhuman strength, and convince gangs of bikers it’s a good idea not to kill me. I’ve had to sneak a group of female strippers out of a country without notice, and manage a group of male strippers in a country where they weren’t exactly welcome. I’ve chased feral pigs out of movie sets on a $200,000,000 Stephen Spielberg production, and protected celebrities from escaped prisoners in Fiji.
Throw all these elements together with an over-active imagination and you end up with the foundations of a Luke Romyn action-thriller.
You have a huge social media presence. How important is that when it comes to marketing your books?
Social media is good for brand recognition, but not so useful when trying to tout a product. Sure, I still throw out the occasional mention for one of my books to let people know when something is going on, but too much blathering about how great they are tends to become white noise, which people tone out. I believe it’s more important to get people to like you as a person, rather than as a product. If they like you personally, they’re more likely to look beyond the superficial and take what you have to offer more seriously. To do this, I reach out with humour, interesting articles related to reading, anything that I feel might put me in touch with readers. I see a lot of writers posting article after article about writing, which is great if you’re trying to impress other writers, but when you’re looking to make a connection with readers you’re going to be off target. It’s a slow and tedious progress, but definitely worthwhile in the end.
What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?
Sometimes, I find myself trapped inside a bubble so much that a lot of the achievements going on around me don’t truly sink in. I’m so focused on my current project or marketing and networking that events slip by without my recognizing how significant they are. One highlight that blew me away, however, happened while I was totally outside that bubble, and as such made a bit more of an impact.
While traveling with my wife in New York last year, I was standing on a street curb when I noticed a tall man, dark skinned and dressed nicely, staring at me while we waited to cross the street. Now, being an Australian in a New York, every stereotype of getting mugged or dealing with a crazy person slipped through my mind. Nevertheless, I smiled at the man and said hello. He asked me if I was Luke Romyn and I said yes, shaking his hand. Apparently he was a huge fan of my books and veritably gushed over meeting me. This was the highlight of my career, and will stay with me forever.
What would be your ultimate writing goal?
World domination. Or at least to be able to afford to pay the bills.
Where can we find your books?
I’m currently exclusive on Amazon Kindle for e-books. Print versions of all my books are available through CreateSpace, Amazon, and various other retailers. My website is www.lukeromyn.com.