I have been a summer camp counselor as well as spending 20 years in Boy Scouting, first as a small boy and finally as a trainer of adult leaders. I perfected my storytelling during those years. I started by retelling stories as a young boy that my father had told to my sister and me. I guess I inherited his storytelling abilities. My mother helped me develop my love for reading.
I am a 63-year-old native Texan and have listened to stories from all around Texas all my life.
I like hunting, fishing, camping, camp cooking and stories. My children and grandchildren love my stories.I have read that Louis L’Amour used to say that he was a storyteller, not a writer. I guess that pretty well describes me as well.
Alex Laybourne: Who is Gary Erwin?
Gary Erwin: He is a man in his 60’s that is funny and loves a good joke, but types very slow. LOL I have been married more than once but have been with the current Mrs. for 31 years in a couple of weeks.
Alex Laybourne: What drove you to start writing?
Gary Erwin: That is a long story. I do not remember the first time my dad told my sister and I a bedtime story. He loved telling them to us. As I grew older, I found that by listening to him, I learned to tell stories better than most people. Later, I got into Scouting and my story telling abilities grew. Practice makes perfect after all. After a while, people began to tell me that I should start writing down my stories. In the mid 70″s, I attended 1 1/2 years of college and my English professor convinced me to start writing. Of course, at first, my writing was somewhat unpolished. It was only a few years ago, that I joined a fan site for another author and got into writing fan fiction. It was this that helped me progress from a poor writer to a rather good one. After that, I decided to write a book, and I did. After finishing it, I realized that it was so long I needed a regular publisher for it but, could not find one. I then wrote some of my short stories and self-published them in the hopes of drawing enough attention to attract a publisher for the novel. Now I have a publisher willing to release it, but I do not have the fee I need to get them going.
Alex Laybourne: So your love of storytelling stems from your father. Do you think that the art of telling a good story verbally makes for a better writer?
Gary Erwin: I cannot say for sure that verbal always makes for better writing, but in my case, it sure helped a lot. Also, my mother got me into reading at an early age and that helped also.
Alex Laybourne: What do you think makes a great story then?
Gary Erwin: Well, everyone likes different styles of writing, so that is a hard question. For me, it has to be interesting and active. It could be the interaction between people, like friends, lovers, children…etc. I always skip the long descriptions such as the type of grass and trees, yet my mother and my wife both love those descriptions. Humor has to be strong (in the correct places) along with conflict, and a little heartache. I will probably think of other things after we stop talking, but that should do I for now.
Alex Laybourne: Is there one story in particular that stands out in your memory as inspiring you more than others?
Gary Erwin: Well, a few of the stories in my book came from my dad’s bedtime stories and a few from real life, but there was one story that came down through my family that my mother told me. Everybody on her side of the family knew it and the kids always told to each other. I included it in the novel. I guess that one rules above all others.
Alex Laybourne: How many stories are there in your collection?
Gary Erwin: Twenty-nine. Some of them are very short.
Alex Laybourne: That is a lot of stories. Were you not tempted to split them into two separate releases?
Gary Erwin: I was, but I also wanted my fans to feel as if I had given them their money’s worth. Some of the stories are just a page or two in length, while others are thirty. I didn´t want to have anybody thinking they were being short-changed.
Alex Laybourne: You have already mention a large novel that you have written. Could you tell us a little about it?
Gary Erwin: Much like my short story collection, it starts out during the Ice Age. It is about a family from a village on the shores of the pacific. It covers thirty years and spreads across northern Eurasia. Within the pages you will find humor, heartache, romance and fantasy… something magical. The characters ride horses, have pet wolves, pull travois, (I know, they came from the Native Americans after they acquired horses), practice martial arts, build stone buildings and more.
Alex Laybourne: How would you classify your writing? Where on the bookshelf could we expect to find it?
Gary Erwin: The short story book is located in the historical fiction section, whereas my novel would be classed more towards the realm of fantasy fiction.
Alex Laybourne: Do you plan your stories out, or just allow your imagination to run free?
Gary Erwin: I give most of my characters free rein. However, I have had some characters try to hijack my stories and have had to control them. I do not usually plan too far ahead. I have done it on occasion. Once I even had my outline and notes become part of the story.
Alex Laybourne: Do you agree that you need to be a reader in order to be a writer?
Gary Erwin: Absolutely! How else can you get any idea of how to let the story flow properly? Even with verbal story-telling, being a reader helps beyond description. The yarnspinner must first and foremost love stories.
Alex Laybourne: Can you differentiate between reading for pleasure and reading to learn? Do you feel there is a need to do so?
Gary Erwin: I would hope that any and everybody would learn something every time they picked up a book, even if it is pure fiction. Not to learn implies that one is dead, at least in spirit. I will not try to tell you what others should learn, that is up to the individual. I have always told my children that I will gladly tell them my opinion on any subject, but it is up to them to gather as much info on that subject as they can before making their own decision about it.
If you want to get to know Gary, you can find him on Facebook