Q & A with Fionn Gray

Have you ever wondered what Fionn’s cats’ names are? Do you stay awake at night contemplating what their favorite Britney Spears album is? What kind of name is Fionn, anyway? In this Question and Answer session, I’ll be tackling a wide array of questions to give you a better sense of who I am.

And yes, I do have a favorite Britney Spears album.

All right, first things first. How do you even pronounce Fionn?

It’s pronounced like Finn. Surprise! It’s an old Irish spelling of the name.

What are your pronouns?

They/them.

Why do you write under a pseudonym?

For me, writing as Fionn Gray is similar to what I imagine being a drag queen is like. When I’m writing, or when I’m doing something related to my craft, I’m Fionn. Just like when a drag queen or any other performer goes on stage, they are no longer themselves, but a persona, or a personification of themselves. Behind the pseudonym is the real world experience that I draw on as inspiration for my novels, but what I want to present is a polished art form. I think a pen name allows me the freedom to write without the restrictions of my everyday life.

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

I share a birthday with Emily Dickinson, so she’s always been an inspiration to me. I also draw a lot of inspiration from Shakespeare. Contemporaries are authors like J.K. Rowling and Rebecca Podos. Zora Neal Hurston and David Levithan are two others. My inspiration is eclectic, and I think it makes what I read more diverse.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Carol Plum-Ucci’s What Happened to Lani Garver. I finished it at one something in the morning in the ninth grade. I was still very much coming into my own queer identity, and that book really resonated with me. It’s actually on my 52 in 52 list! I want to reread it and see what else I can get from it.

How long have you considered yourself a writer?

I’ve been a writer since I could hold a pencil. As early as I can remember, I wanted to write. Poetry, stories, songs. I think I’ve always been a writer.

What was the best money you spent as a writer?

Downloading Scrivener. It’s the computer program that I use for writing, editing, and compiling all of my projects. It’s super user-friendly, and I’d buy it again!

Do you like/have animals?

Oh yes. I have two cats, Audrey and Narcissa (Nugget and Noodle, respectively). But I love dogs, teacup pigs, cows, dolphins. Goats! and llamas. I could go on. I don’t trust you if you don’t like any animals.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Honestly, research is always the thing that comes back to bite me in the butt. I like to just start writing, and I keep handy-dandy Google up for when I inevitably need to know how many teeth most dolphins have (80-100). If I’m world-building, though, I create the world and spend a great deal of time making sure that I cross all my Ts and dot all my Is.

What does literary success look like for you?

For me, literary success is when I can write what I want, when I want, and not have to worry about the stress of paying bills. I want to be comfortable. But more than that, literary success is knowing that the novels I write can help or comfort readers in some way.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

My mother always tells me that I used to want to be a doctor who taught other doctors how to be doctors. In those exact words.

Beyoncé or Rihanna?

Yes.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

Boy do I. I think that sometimes we procrastinate on the things that we want to do well because we’re nervous. So that fear can be paralyzing. What’s the first thing that happens when you get scared? Your mind goes blank. That’s what writer’s block is for me.

What does writing as a queer author mean to you?

Growing up, I wish I had the kind of books that I want to write. The YA books that I’m reading now are the things that I needed to hear when I was that age. To have bisexual or queer protagonists in a casual setting would have helped me to feel normal. To write this genre, and to be able to voice the stories that so many of us still need, is an honor and a privilege.

My two main goals in life are to make art and help people. I believe that by writing queer and underrepresented voices, I can do both of those things.

What’s your favorite color?

Pink! Any and all shades, but Barbie Pink is my favorite.

How many hours a day do you write?

Right now? About an hour or so a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

Describe your ideal writing environment.

Soft jazz music plays in the background on a record player. I’m in a comfortable, softly lit office with plush couches and a sturdy desk with a good chair. I type on one of my Apple computers (my MacBook if I’m writing on the couch or one of the beanbag chairs, and my iMac if I’m at the desk). There’s a typewriter on the right corner of the L-shaped desk

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

As of now, I have one unpublished novel and three half-finished (or half-baked) books in the works. I also have a document with four other titles of novels…

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

I owe my inspiration my life, my love, and all of my gratitude. I wouldn’t be who I am without them, whether or not it’s all positive.

What animal is your kindred spirit?

Cats! Black or tuxedo cats specifically. I like em even better if they’re a little chubby.

If you could tell your younger writer-self anything, what would it be?

Don’t stop! Whatever you do, don’t stop. Who cares if it’s “good”? Good will come. For now, don’t stop.

And finally, what is your favorite Britney Spears album?

Femme Fatal (the deluxe version, obviously)

Thanks for joining me! I hoped you learned a little bit more about me. Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments, or feel free to shoot me an email on the contact page. See you next time!

Til then,

x FG