An Interview with Author Troy Young

Troy has been many things in his career. Shoe salesman, waiter, newspaper owner, children’s performer, actor, elected official, policy advisor, CEO and university lecturer. Now he wants to try his hand at writing.

His first attempt at writing is a novel called The (Extra)ordinary Life of Jimmie Mayfield. The genesis for The (Extra)ordinary Life of Jimmie Mayfield came while going for a walk in Placida, Florida where his parents have a winter home. While he navigates the waters of seeking a publisher for that series of books, he is writing short stories and working on a fantasy series, The Companions of the Stone; the first book “The Stone of Death” is out on September 1, 2020. Also published in September is a space western, “The Seeker of Solace”.

Currently, if you are a fan of Lovecraftian Horror, you can delve into his series, The Other. The first compilation is now available, as are the individual stories of book 2. Book two should be available this October, with book 3 available in 2021.

Troy lives in Toronto with his wife, daughter and dog.

Q: Can you sum up The (Extra)ordinary Life of Jimmie Mayfield in 20 words or less?

A guy with big dreams but no ambition struggles to find where he fits in.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

I chose the setting because my parents have a winter home in the area and I have become intimately familiar with it over the past decade.

I went for a walk in the hot Florida sun.  An hour later, with no hat or sunscreen, dehydrated and delirious, a story had formed in my mind.  When I came back to Toronto and told my staff this story (I’m a CEO of a non-profit association), one of them said, “when are you going to stop telling us these stories and actually write something?”  So, I wrote it to spite her. 

Q: This is a first book in a series. Can you give readers any insight into how you envision this series developing?

Jimmie’s life takes a radical change at the end of the first book. The second one deals with his adjustment to this change. Then, without giving things away, it takes a radical departure and things accelerate and it takes our poor everyman Jimmie on a barely believable roller coaster ride. Readers will probably be “oh, come on, really?” but then stick around for the final three books just to see what happens. It covers a three-year span, and you won’t believe where he ends up after starting unemployed, smoking a cigarette on his rusting porch in the first book.

Q: Which of the characters did you find the most challenging to write?

The character of Chester.  He is an older black man who moves to the trailer park who starts dating Jimmie’s mother. You worry that including such a character could be misunderstood; I use him to challenge racism. It’s difficult as a privileged white man to address this topic without coming across as out of touch or misrepresenting the issue.

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Q: Do you have a favorite character in the book?

Beyond Jimmie?  The aforementioned Chester.  I had an editor who was disappointed he wasn’t as prominent in the second book.  He thought Chester was by far the most interesting character and wanted to see more of him. So I’ve altered it a bit to give him more time to shine.

Q: What feedback do you get from readers?

Nothing but positive.  My mom even hosted an event at her place in Florida with all the other residents.  It intrigued them I wrote about their little neck of the woods.  They got all the local references and loved it.  Most people have loved the book.

I had another editor who thought Jimmie was an iconic character for the ages.  I got an early, unedited unfinished draft through back channels to one of the big 5 publishers and it landed on the desk of a VP.  I saw the internal email she sent where she declared “this kid can write!” (I’m 49) and compared Jimmie Mayfield to Holden Caulfield from A Catcher in the Rye.  High praise indeed (although they declined to publish it).

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Q: What inspires you to write?

Once you get the bug, it’s hard to stop.  Ideally, I want to be able to do this as my career (which is tough because the two jobs I hold down are very lucrative, so I’d have to become wildly successful as an author to give them up). For me, success at writing is being able to pay your bills from the writing alone.  A personal benchmark would be to walk through an airport and see your book for sale at a newsstand.  Then I will know I’ve made it.

Q: Is there a message or common theme in the book you want readers to grasp?

Dare to dream.  When the time is right, things will fall into place.  We can try to plan our lives all we want, but it rarely goes as we intended.  You never know what will be the difference, but as long as you are ready to jump on opportunities, you will go places.  It takes Jimmie a while to realize his success, but with hard work (and in his case, a lot of luck) you’ll get there.

Q: What is on your current reading list?

I have so little time to read for myself.  I have three books I started but lost interest in (Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan, News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, and Swords and Deviltry, by Fritz Leiber).  Mainly, I read to my daughter at night (Young Adult novels).  We just started Divergent, and honestly, these dystopian books (like Hunger Games) do such a comical job of describing how a dystopian society would act. Read 1984 or Brave New World; they get it right.  You have to fool the public into thinking that this is the best way to be, and that others have it worse.  These YA dystopian tales just make everything terrible and then pile more terribleness on things. A dystopian society should sap your will to resist. These YA ones just keep pushing buttons of people until, well of course they are going to strike back.

That went on quite a tangent.

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Q: What is your next writing project?

I write in a variety of genres, including cosmic horror, sci-fi and fantasy.  I’m adding to a sword and sorcery series of short stories right now, then I have to get back to the final two horror stories in my series so I can finish that off.  I have the third novel in my sci-fi western to write, and then I was thinking of starting a YA series of cyberpunk detectives (since I just slagged YA, I figure I should put my money where my mouth is).

Q: Where can readers connect with you (website, social media, etc)?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TroyYoungAuthor

Twitter: @FloridaNovel

IG: @troyyoung1971

Website: www.floridamanthenovel.com

Q: Any closing remarks?

Thanks so much for the interest!

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