A Powerful Discussion With a Talented Journalist and Novelist

I’ve been lucky over the past few years to cross paths with some fascinating writers and journalists. Among them is Michael Gryboski, a faith reporter who is also a talented novelist.

Many people out there want to know more about the ins and outs of publishing. And some of you are looking for some great books to read. So, check out Michael’s work and read my fascinating interview with him (below).

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BILLY: What inspires the topics of your novels?

MICHAEL: Current events, mostly. What are some of the modern trends in faith, politics, and ideological conflict? I like to analyze these matters through the realm of fiction. Also historical events can be an inspiration. I have a master’s in history, so I have studied a lot of past eras, both objective events and the former perspectives of previous generations.

More often than not, there are characters and plots within my stories that represent common arguments or worldviews in modern American culture. Sometimes veiled, sometimes overt. I believe that, when used properly, fiction can be a useful way to critique and to examine what is happening to a society.

BILLY: What has been the hardest part of writing fiction stories?

MICHAEL: The challenge has varied over the years. When I first started writing while in high school during the early 2000s, the big challenge was having stories long enough to be considered books, forming coherent plots, and making complex characters.

Later on, as I started to improve on the quality front, the big challenge was finding a publisher. Having publisher after publisher reject me—most by not even responding—was demoralizing and often hindered my will to write.

In 2014, I started having novels published by a California-based publication named Inknbeans Press. Sadly, they closed down by the start of 2018 due to the death of their founder and lead editor. I have since had a couple of those books re-released by others.

Presently, I am blessed by the fact that I am having books published by three different companies: Ambassador International, Jan-Carol Publishing, and BOCH Publishing.

It is through Ambassador International that I had my most recent one, A Spiral Into Marvelous Light, released. The plot centers on a liberal journalist assigned to write an in-depth obituary on a nationally polarizing fundamentalist preacher. Jan-Carol Publishing re-released my novel Carla. I expect to have a previously unpublished sequel for Carla released sometime this autumn.

BOCH Publishing, the newest and smallest of the three, re-released a science fiction novel of mine titled Thoughtreal last year. They are planning to publish another book of mine that was previously published by Inknbeans soon.

In more recent years, the biggest challenge has become increasingly focused on getting the word out. Spreading awareness, building a reader base. When so many people are having books published, an author can be lost in the ocean of literature.

BILLY: What role does your faith play in piecing together the plots for these projects?

MICHAEL: A major part. I hope to convey my Christian beliefs in every work I write. Some may not seem to have it as blatantly laid out as others, but every one of them has them included to an extent.

I hope to convey moral lessons with my stories, lessons that apply to mainstream culture and everyday life, but that are inspired by biblical principles. Honestly, were it not for a deep desire to spread my beliefs to the broader culture, I would not be writing at all.

BILLY: What’s your latest project — and what inspired it?

MICHAEL: I am actually working on multiple projects these days. One of them is a sequel to my novel Carla. Originally published in 2017, the plot centers on a woman who does political assassinations for a domestic terrorist organization so she can pay for her grandfather’s medical bills.

Carla received a lot of positive reviews (as of July 27, it has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Amazon) and I felt compelled to continue the story beyond the first book’s conclusion. I was inspired to write it as a warning about the current decline in American political civility and what I felt was a lack of substantive stories with three-dimensional female main characters.

Another project, tentatively approved for publication next year, is a manuscript currently titled “Memories of Lasting Shadows.” It is a speculative fiction piece inspired by the current uptick in debate over abortion.

The setting is forty years after Roe v. Wade has been overturned, in a United States that considers abortion to be completely unacceptable. The plot centers on a journalist and her blogger friend, who are investigating claims that a prominent United States Senator up for reelection used to perform abortions.

Also, BOCH is scheduled to eventually re-release a military fiction work of mine titled Children of the Death Angel. It was originally released in 2015 and was centered on how to cope, externally and internally, with losing major ideological battles.

BILLY: What is your hope for the impact of your novels?

MICHAEL: My literary career is built under three key axioms. One is that the God of the Bible is real. Two is that I can change minds with what I write. And three is that whatever backlash I receive for my writing, it is still better than staying silent.

My hope and prayer is that my literature can change the world for the better. That it can make people consider ideas that they would have otherwise never considered, to think thoughts they would have otherwise never thought. I want God to use me to advance His Kingdom. And I hope and pray that this happens on a grand scale.

Billy Hallowell