Saturday, March 10, 2012

inSyte is a paranormal-thriller that according to Perry Crowe of Kirkus Reviews, is equal parts Crichton, Clancy and King. Author Greg Kiser VBT Pit Stop Mar 10

Today I'm very excited to chat with Author Greg Kisor in beautiful Tampa. FL. Greg is promoting inSyte during his virtual book tour and he is giving away a copy! Details at the bottom.

Greg's book inSyte is Sci-fi meets Paranormal meets Thriller! All the exciting ingredients to be a page turner, and I have added his book to my TBR list.

Click on the image to visit the Meet & Greet with Greg Kiser at VBT Cafe.

Louise: Greg, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Greg: Well, I suppose I always planned on trying to get my baby published.  But it’s a good question.

I’d written short stories and ramblings that I never considered trying to publish.  But inSyte was always going to be a novel.  So I always knew I would try to get it published.

Louise: Please tell us a little about your new release inSyte without giving too much of a spoiler away.

Greg: It’s Tampa Bay, Florida and the year is 2020.  Ex-Navy SEAL Mitch “Double” Downing discovers how to tap into the internet with his mind.  His new inSyte provides transparent access to the sum of all human knowledge recorded since hieroglyphics.

If knowledge is power, Mitch just became the strongest man in the world.

But inSyte has ideas of its own as the software exposes a politician’s “divine” plan that will unwittingly slaughter millions of people.  Is killing the man the only way to prevent Armageddon?  The politician’s daughter would probably disagree.  And she happens to be the love of Mitch’s life.  Losing Kate would be too damn much collateral damage.

At the center of the conflict is a wolf-like killer who will stop at nothing to murder the ex-Navy SEAL.  And Mitch must come to grips with inSyte’s dark side – a dominating addiction that soon controls his thoughts and places him on a steep slide to self destruction. 

Louise: Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Greg: I plan the major ones out.  For sure. For me, anyway, it’s all about the characters.  I’ll give a book 50 to 100 pages.  By then if I haven’t connected with at least some of the characters then I generally won’t finish the book.  Unless, maybe, the plot is just a killer, like The Da vinci Code, or something like that.  Preferably, I’m looking for the protagonist to blow me away because most of the time you are reading from his/her point of view.
But occasionally it’s enough if the antagonist is blowing me away, such as the Hannibal series by Thomas Harris.

Now, you put together a novel that has two or three characters that I can identify with, or more?  That’s a novel I’m not going to put down.
Character driven plot – rare gems these days.
They make the best TV and movies too.  Think about Breaking Bad – hell yes the story is outstanding.  But the cast, the cast!  Walter, Jessie – sure.  But also Hank, Skylar, the various villains.  So you don’t mind when they switch scenes because the cast is great so all of the subplots are intriguing.
The best books I’ve read – I don’t remember the details of the story 10 years later. But I remember the impression of certain characters.  That’s what I strive for in my work.

Louise: The Hannibal series is one of my favorites too; the books and the movies. How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

Greg: The story was just there.  My main antagonist is the Mayor, and all the conflict comes from him and his crazy notion that all of his ideas are God given.

I listened to Rudy Giuliani speak a year after 911.  This was in August of 2002, just under a year since 911.  Rudy spoke to a crowd of about 5,000 folks.  He described the events of that day and it was very emotional, everyone loved the guy, he was held in such admiration.
He told the crowd that every great leader will possess spirituality.  And when you have millions of people that you’re serving, there’s a natural temptation to believe that God put you there, there must be a divine intervention.  Then the tendency is to think that any gut feeling you have, gut decision, must be God’s decision.
So Rudy talked about how you have to avoid falling into that trap, you have to remain objective and realize you’re only human and they are your decisions. 
I found that fascinating because I had never heard a politician talk like that.
I think there are a number of politicians in the US and abroad, recently and not, where pragmatism was nowhere to be found.  I wanted to explore that in a novel.  Come on, there’s all kinds of room for conflict.

From there it just flowed.  Anything I felt I needed to research – Wikipedia, here I come.

Louise: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants (Pantser) or a combination of both?

Greg: OK, here goes.  Long answer alert.
First,  think of a high concept.  For me, that’s the ability to tap into the internet with your mind. So you can surf the internet the way you peruse your own memory today. 
Try to remember the lyrics to a song.  Might take a few seconds, then you remember.  You find that information in your brain, obviously.  Sort of a local hard drive, to use computer terms.

Now imagine you’re transparently tapped into the Global internet 24x7.  Now try to remember the lyrics to a song.  They’re there instantly.  Feels like you found them in your brain, just like before. But you didn’t.  You found the words on a server in Germany.  Doesn’t matter, all transparent to you.

OK – so you have the high concept.  Now what? Well, you have to have conflict.  For me, I created a moral dilemma between the protagonist, the ‘monster’ Cheslov, and a local politician who thinks he has a direct connect with God. 

Next – ratchet up the tension at every opportunity.  I made my protagonist an ex-Navy seal so he could pretty much deal with anything.  Made Cheslov part wolf, paranormal.  Then went into detail explaining how screwed up the politician is, he’s hooked on drugs due to his wife’s death, etc.  Keep ratcheting up.

Then create an outline – and write, write, write to fill in the outline.  Don’t worry about adjectives or effect or the best dialogue or even grammar/punctuation.
This is all a hell of a lot of work.

But once you have the first draft – read it.  And read and read and read. Every time I picked it up and read a chapter, I thought of better ways to describe things.  I watched TV at night or listened to the radio during the day or read the paper in the morning and always, constantly, I gained ideas on how to improve my character’s dialogue, how to enhance a scene, how to polish, enrich, entertain, grow, connect.

The initial draft took 3 months to write.  Then finishing the novel took another 3 years.  Avoid the word “had”.  Avoid the word “suddenly”.  Pay attention to points of view (POV).  Within a few sentences in every chapter, the reader should know who’s head they’re in.  Who’s POV.  And don’t switch around within a chapter without a white space separating paragraphs.  Unless, maybe, the action is intense.
And don’t forget what I said about that initial draft.

Louise: Good tips! I think POV is hard to conquer for most new writers. Thank goodness my critique points these errors to me in my drafts. Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?

Greg: I don’t actually consider myself a writer. If someone at a party asks me what I do, I’ll say, “I’m a sales director at Cisco”. They’ll usually say, “Sysco, the food company?”. And I’ll reply, “No, Cisco, the high tech internet company” and that’s when their eyes usually glaze.

That would be so wonderful to one day be able to write full time and when people ask me what I do, I could say, “I’m a writer”. And they would know what that means.

Louise: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place. Describe a typical writing day for you.

Greg: I write everything in my home office.  Nice computer set up, everything on Microsoft Word.  What may be unique is that I write everything in the morning.  Early morning.  Typically between 4:00am and 7:00am.  Those are my peak times where I’m the most creative and can get totally absorbed in the story.
That’s writing.

Now editing is a different story.   To edit, I’ll wait a few days to let what I wrote settle.  Then I’ll print it out maybe 10 pages at a time and I’ll read it out loud.  I’ll use accents in the right places for the various characters.  This helps get the dialogue more natural and really helps to polish the writing.
A lot of times it looks fine on the printed page, particularly to the author.  But when you hear it, you can tell it’s off.  Anyone else reading it would detect an unnatural flow.  It would bug them.  You miss it as the writer.  But you pick it up when you hear it.

Writing’s the easy part in a way.  It’s the hour upon hour upon hour of editing that takes more time – but is so necessary to have a nice finished work.

Louise: Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?

Greg: Thinking of an inSyte 2.  I have a lot of ideas about where the technology would go once multiple people have it.  Think about it – what can you do now with instant messaging, texting, skype?

Louise: What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?

Greg: I had a close friend in high school who influenced my reading. We both read a lot of sci-fi back then. Isaac Asimov was huge. Some Robert Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land – who could forget that? 
Then somebody turned me onto Stephen King. He had a new novel out called The Stand. Wow – that book rocked my world. I was in my late teens and a friend of my mothers' handed me the book and said it was interesting. I remember thinking – this book is about 800 pages and some woman in her forties thinks it’s interesting. I don’t think so. 
But I started reading it because I had nothing else to do one night.  No TV, no ipods, no internet. This was the dark ages of the late 70’s. Well, we had TV but not in my room. 
I finished the novel in maybe 3 days. 
So Stephen King has been very influential to my writing. And Thomas Harris. I think Cheslov is a cross between Randall Flag in The Stand and Hannibal.

Louise: I'm a huge fan of Stephen king and I got to see him in person at the Savannah Book Fest last month! Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

Greg: To all of you aspiring writers…
Creating the initial draft is the hardest. The initial overall idea of what your book is going to be about.  Who are the characters, what’s the high concept, where will the conflict come from. 

Once you get past that and start writing, then the rest is easy.

And once you get that initial draft completed – then it’s fun.  Truly.  From that point forward, you only need to polish.  Just pick you’re your gem every few days and polish for a few minutes.  Here someone say something funny at the mall, consider a tree limb in a park and how you might describe it, smell a familiar smell and let your mind run – all of these ‘experiences’ … feel them and bring them back into your novel as you polish and make it shine and breathe life into it.  That’s the best part.  Oh, it’s so hard to get that gem established at first.  But once you do, it’s your gem.  And it may never sell, it may never make millions of dollars – but it’s your gem and you can publish it and you can get it in print and you can show your friends and one day your children and one day, many years from now, you’ll read that work as a different person, as an old person.  You’ll wonder who wrote that?  You’ll be amazed all over again.

Louise: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?

Greg: On my Web site, my Blog and Fans can email me at

Readers, Greg is giving away a copy of inSyte to one lucky commenter! Let Greg know your favorite Stephen King book or movie, if not a fan then your favorite author of paranormal, horror or sci-fi. Also, please include  your email address so we can easily contact the winner. Comments open 6 am today and will close 11 pm PST. Drawing will be held Mar 11. 

Purchase Links:


Greg Kiser is happily married to a wonderful and inspirational wife, Serena, and has two beautiful children – Miller and Grace.

Greg graduated from Southern Polytechnic University in Atlanta with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Greg also earned his MBA from the University of South Florida. He is currently a Director at Cisco, a high tech fortune 50 multinational corporation.

Greg has written extensively for fortune 50 high tech firms in describing next generation networks and painting pictures of the true evolution of technology for the consumer.


  1. Love, love, love this interview. First, I'm so jealous and *pouting* I want to come to Florida for a day lol. Great tips on the POV Greg. I'm so going to use that on my next project I'm working on and you will be listed as the author giving the advice. Awesome. Thank you for hosting Greg today Louise. Job well done both of you. :)

  2. Hi Greg! Thanks again for visiting with me today. It's cool we have the same authors we enjoy reading in common. I'm eagerly awaiting Stephen King's next installment on The Dark Tower series to release in April!
    Bk, thank you. Yes, this was a great interview and I too will be referring to Greg's POV tip while writing.