The Sirap Review: An Interview With Courtenay S. Gray

Authors Note: This is a parody.


Miss Gray finishes making her breakfast, consisting of two poached eggs on a bed of tomatoes and onions. We sit down at her round glass kitchen table, taking gulps of water from the wine glasses she has given us. The moon is still out, and the city is just waking up to face another day. Gray picks out a record and carefully places the needle in the groove. After ten minutes, she has finished eating her breakfast. — Lolly Lavender & Havisham Joop, 2045

Gray:

 Are we ready to begin? 

Interviewer: 

Would you mind telling us how you came to be a writer? 

Gray: 

I haven’t got an answer for that as I was practically born doing this. I didn’t have a mentor to inspire me. Becoming a writer was an individual decision, but it was always going to be the right one. If any part of my life is predestined, then it’s my becoming a writer. 

Interviewer: 

Did you begin writing any particular genre? 

Gray:

I was very passionate about fantasy when I was a child. That had my heart for many years. 

Interviewer:

When did that change for you?

Gray: 

I believe it changed when I was ten years old. I had grown tired of the books for my age range, so I skipped Young Adult books and delved right into the world of Adult Fiction. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. 

Interviewer: 

What was missing? What is it that you went searching for?

Gray: 

I’ve always been a deep thinker, and I found that children’s fiction didn’t explore those questions. This was a very long time ago, and I recognise that writers of those books are delving deeper, which is fantastic. 

Interviewer: 

You explore philosophical arguments in your own work. Was this a conscious decision? 

Gray: 

It was both a conscious and subconscious decision. Those questions have always been a part of me. Therefore, they naturally appear in my work. However, as I have read voraciously, I have attained a decent amount of knowledge. If anything, I ask more questions! [Laughing]

Interviewer: 

What are the questions you ask the most?

Gray: 

I mainly question my place in the world. I’m fascinated by the mechanism of life. Why do we suffer? What causes us to suffer? Is life a simulation? Only a fool doesn’t ask questions. You cannot experience pain and not ask why. When we ask these questions, we do not expect an answer. 

Interviewer: 

What do you think it would mean if life was indeed a simulation?

Gray:

That’s quite a loaded question. [Pauses] Well, this depends on if we find out? We can wax lyrical about what it would mean without knowing for sure, but it’s wholly different once you have an answer. Perhaps our life is a test. That would be my most basic theory. We could be the test run for the real human race. 

Interviewer:

That would be quite something! So, let’s circle back to your writing. You’re one of the most renowned writers of today, but that wasn’t always the case, was it?

Gray:

No, it wasn’t. [Clears throat] This industry is very competitive. I see it as one long boxing match where you have to keep getting up. They will beat you to a pulp, but you have to roll with the punches. Everyone on the outside sees a bunch of storytellers vying for attention, and they are right in one sense. There are so many of us trying to tell our stories that people become impatient and don’t want to listen anymore. The feeling of being ignored is suffocating — almost like dying while you’re still alive. 

Interviewer: 

Would you say it’s on par with the necessity of love? Is being acknowledged on the same wavelength? 

Gray: 

Absolutely. I use this particular analogy. Imagine you have two children of the same age and capability. Now, imagine that you have asked them to draw a picture, and the result you get are two identical pictures. But, instead of handing out praise to both children, you focus on one, which continues for the rest of their lives. How would that child feel? As humans, we crave validation. Validation can be seen as a bad thing, but it’s not. Everyone deserves to be rewarded for their hard work. It’s as simple as that. 

Interviewer: 

Your 3 x Great Grandfather was Edgar Allen Poe, right?

Gray: 

That is correct. So, you could say that writing is in my nature. If only he were around when I was growing up. 

Interviewer: 

That would have been an incredible childhood! 

Gray:

Certainly! [She offers us more refreshments, but we decline]

Interviewer:

At some point in your career, you coined the term ‘DIY Lit’. How did that come about?

Gray: 

When I began submitting to publications, I found it hard to pave my way. However, a few years later, more and more journals started popping up. It became a community full of writers who relished in the indie scene. They enjoyed pushing back against more esteemed places such as your establishment. I thought about it for a while, and I concluded that it was similar to doing a spot of DIY. There was no waiting to be heralded as one of the greats. We worked hard in trying to build a life for ourselves. 

Interview: 

Did you ever envision that you might one day be successful?

Gray: 

I had always hoped it would happen, but I wouldn’t have bet money on it. There were no guarantees, but readers see what I am trying to do, and they understand me. It’s all very uplifting. 

Interviewer: 

What advice would you give writers starting out today?

Gray: 

Build your brand. You are the product, so you need to sell yourself. Create something unique that people will only associate with you. Once people can recognise your signature, they will never forget you. The most important thing is to be genuine because people respond well to honesty. If you aren’t honest, people will be quick to discard you. 

Interviewer: 

I certainly think that this strategy is the key to your success. I remember when you first released ‘The Isms of Life: Essays’ and your face was on the front page of The New Yorker. I knew you were one to watch out for. We see so many writers come and go, but you start to get a good sense of who will stick around. 

Gray: 

That book gave me my start. Without it, I think I’d still be struggling through the many voices that saturate this industry. As I always say, you’ve got to be the root that grows up through the concrete. And, I was. I finally made it. 

Interviewer: 

What would you say to your critics?

Gray: 

[Smirking] I don’t think anything needs to be said. The proof is in the proverbial pudding. 

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