Soul Central Magazine
One-on-One with Author Ray Norman
Soul Central Magazine recently had the opportunity to speak with veteran writer Ray Norman about his career as a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and ghostwriter. Among his most recent accomplishments are the publication of his novel Talon of God with co-author Wesley Snipes and the production of a stage play he wrote entitled And You Thought Your Family Was Crazy. Ray opens up about working in several different genres of writing and offers his best career advice for those seeking to become established authors.
In addition to being a successful novelist, Ray holds degrees in engineering and law and has worked as an attorney recruiter and corporate headhunter. He has ghostwritten books on spiritual self-help, health and nutrition for several prominent doctors and counselors. He is currently working on an original motion picture screenplay that is a supernatural thriller entitled Through the Fire.
Soul Central Magazine: As a successful author, what are some of the things that motivate you to share your thoughts, ideas and stories with the world?
Ray Norman: Throughout my writing career, I have strived to write and deliver captivating, socially conscious, action-packed and ultimately, very entertaining stories for a highly diverse and broad-based audience. I seek to engage my readers emotionally in the stories I create and take them on a thrilling and enjoyable adventure. I draw upon my years of experience to craft tales that I hope resonate with an audience and touch them emotionally.
Soul Central: As a ghostwriter, you’ve written many books over the years in several different genres. What is it like to work with new co-authors on a variety of subjects?
Norman: When I sit down with a person to discuss their particular project, I want to make sure that I really understand the message they are trying to convey and I want the tone and style of the book to reflect their genuine voice, emotions and feelings. I do this by having lengthy conversations and discussions with them about their subject matter and the message they want their readers to take away from the book. I will then start to draft their manuscript and share with them periodically what I have written to make sure they are comfortable with what is on the page and that what is written reflects their true voice and intentions. By truly listening and feeling what the client wants to convey in their book, I am able to craft a piece that is satisfying to the client and to the reader as well.
Soul Central: For those writers just getting into the business, what are some of the biggest mistakes you think they should try to avoid and what do they need to understand about the book writing process in general?
Norman: I believe in the old adage that writers should write about things they know and have had some experience with. Writers, especially first time writers, often choose subjects to write about that they may not have much knowledge about and as a result, they are not able to write about the topic very deeply, convincingly or in a truly entertaining fashion. New writers often find themselves in a “fish out of water” situation, trying to craft a novel about romance, action, adventure or suspense, and they have no background or experience in those areas to draw plot lines and characters from, and as a result, their work can be a flat, predictable and less than enjoyable experience for their readers. I advise new writers to stick with subjects they know well so that they can craft an interesting story with a deep plot and intimate character development that the reader can easily relate to.
Regarding the process of writing a book, I think that the writer should really have most of the book thought out and figured out before they actually put pen to paper. Oftentimes, we writers will have a concept that seems great and we’ll just start writing but have no real idea of where we are going with the story and how it will all work out in the end. Therefore, I advise new writers to make a really detailed outline of what they want to say in their story or book, so that they have a good roadmap to follow. I think this will help them stay on track and be focused in their story-telling.
I also feel that new writers need to learn everything they can about the book publishing industry in general and what it truly takes to get a good literary agent and be signed with a reputable publishing company. If possible seek the assistance of a mentor or an already published author that you can talk to about the in’s and out’s of the publishing game. The more knowledge you have, the more successful you are likely to be.
Soul Central: Do you have aspirations to see any of your works turned into motion pictures?
Norman: It has always been one of my greatest career goals as a writer to see one of my works on the “Big Screen”. I am a great fan of the movies and am currently working on a few projects that seem very promising. I have tremendous respect for screenwriters that are able to tell a story that will visually and emotionally captivate an audience. Getting to that level in Hollywood is no easy task, but I am hopeful and prayerful that I shall one day soon join the ranks of writers that have the honor and pleasure of seeing a story they have written played out on film.
Soul Central: What career advice would you give to writers?
Norman: My top three pieces of career advice for writers are:
Don’t be discouraged or give up on your dream of being a writer just because you receive rejections or it appears to be taking a long time to get people to notice your work. You must be persistent in your craft and work diligently to get your book or story out to the public. The process may be difficult or discouraging at times, especially if you are a new writer looking to be published for the first time. But stick to it! Success comes to those who don’t give up on themselves and their dreams!
Realize that publishing a book or novel is first and foremost a business proposition. When moving through the publishing process, you will be dealing with contracts and legal agreements and a whole host of other business related matters. Find yourself quality legal and professional representation. Make sure that you have an agent and a lawyer that are knowledgeable and that really care about you and the success of your project. Don’t be so anxious for a deal that you sign away your valuable rights and ownership of your property without being properly compensated.
Have fun with your craft. Sometimes we writers want a deal so bad and want success so desperately that we lose sight of what got us into writing in the first place – the love of story-telling. Keep the joy of writing and entertaining people in the forefront of your mind. Keep the joy of crafting a tale and coming up with wild, new and exciting characters. If you can keep the joy in your heart, you can weather all the storms and delays that inevitably come with trying to become a successfully published author.