Graham Garrison is a writer and editor who lives in suburban
Atlanta. He has covered highschool and college football games
as a newspaper reporter, completed an internship with theU.S. Army at its National Training Center in the Mojave Desert and tested WaveRunners andRunabouts as the managing editor of a national boating magazine. He’s written about battlefieldsfor America’s Civil War, interviewed medical innovators for Georgia Physician andeven penned an editorial for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When he’s not writing, he’schasing his two-year old son Nicholas and their Beagle, Baxter around the backyard with hiswife, Katie. Visit his website at www.grahamgarrisonwords.com.
Start to finish for Hero’s Tribute was about four years. I started it in 2005 as a newlywed on a plane-ride home from a business trip, and completed the last revision as a father of a 2-year old, expecting a newborn in a few months. The writing took less than a year, then searching for an agent, searching for a publisher, editing.
Do you think an author is born or made?
I think everyone has a little author in them. You hear all the time of folks who would love to write a book. It just takes a lot of work to create a book, find an agent and find a publishing house that will take on the project. And all phases of the process are important.
What is the first book you remember reading?
I wasn’t into reading much as a kid, then for some reason I became fascinated with Encyclopedias. Greek Mythology, American History (specifically the Civil War), I couldn’t get enough.
What common qualities do you find in the personalities of published authors?
They’re disciplined and don’t wait for a good story to find them – they do the work to make the stories come to them, if that makes sense. They always work on their craft and read constantly.
How do you know if you have a seemingly “stupid” book premise that is doomed to fail versus one that will fly high?
I think just about any idea is fair game as long as you have strong characters. It was actually a really bad book that made me want to be a writer. In high school I read a random science fiction book that brought a bunch of historical characters like Stonewall Jackson and Amelia Earhart together in a story. I finished it and thought, “Geez, if this can get published, as crazy as the plot was, then I’ve got a shot.”
What is the theme of your latest book?
Heroes. What makes someone a hero, and what do we sometimes miss? I wrote it from an outside-looking-in perspective of folks in the military and their families.
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself?
There’s a time and place for critiques, but you can’t worry about it while writing, especially the first draft. The editing and revisions will come later.
Are takeaway messages (in your book) important to you?
I hope folks will takeaway some examples of grace, but I wanted the lessons to be more subtle leading up to the big finish.
When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?
It took about a half dozen revisions counting the editing process with Kregel. I think it takes another set of eyes to help you finish a story, to see what you’re missing and where things could be stronger. It doesn’t seem like a team effort, pounding away on the keyboard, but by the time the product is really fine-tuned, it’s been passed through a lot of hands.
Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?
I did a good amount of research and asked a lot of questions of folks who’ve experienced similar things that the characters went through in the book. What was fun was sprinkling in stories I’d gathered from interviews during my reporter days or childhood and adding them in to the characters’ stories. So you’re able to put a little bit of yourself in the book.
How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?
What do you want to be remembered for? Hero’s Tribute is a story of a small town hero who passes away and requested that a stranger give his eulogy. Obviously he’d like his family and friends to take away something beyond the medals and trophies and accomplishments. You’ll have to dive into the book to find out what he’s up to, of course.