I’m not sure exactly when I decided to become a writer. Even though I began reading and enjoying reading at a very young age, I didn’t think at the time about writing. I even flunked out of college the first time. Too much beer, too many parties. But a few years after that I went back and finished and became a newspaper journalist – a professional writer getting paid to do it. It wasn’t until a few years before I went to graduate school that I started writing short stories. Now I have written eight novels and three have been published, but the first one was written just five years ago. Eight in five years—not bad. That’s the power of motivation and commitment. That’s how novels get written. You write on one every day and you never give up. You adopt Tom Petty’s lyrics as a mantra — “You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.”
How did you come up with the plot of your novel?
Not Famous Anymore is probably a story I wanted to tell for a long time and didn’t even know it for a long time. That is, I have always been interested in fame because after all it’s such an obsessive fetish in America. We know more about the lives of fatuous movie stars than we understand the things that happen in our own lives. At some point I began to wonder about the consequences of fame. I recalled a line poet Archibald MacLeish wrote after Hemingway’s suicide: “And what became of him? Fame became of him.”
And so, after writing my novels Well Deserved and King Biscuit, I started playing with the idea of a movie star from the Midwest who finally grows weary of the plastic landscape of Hollywood and decides to go back to his tiny hometown in Illinois to try and not be famous anymore.
Michael Loyd Gray was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, but grew up in Champaign, Illinois. He earned a MFA in English from Western Michigan University and has taught at colleges and universities in upstate New York, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a Journalism degree and was a newspaper staff writer in Arizona and Illinois for ten years, conducting the last interview with novelist Erskine Caldwell.
He is the winner of the 2005 Alligator Juniper Fiction Prize and the 2005 The Writers Place Award for Fiction. Gray’s novel Well Deserved won the 2008 Sol Books Prose Series Prize. His novel Not Famous Anymore was awarded a grant by the Elizabeth George Foundation and was released by Three Towers Press, an imprint of HenschelHaus in 2011. His novel December's Children was a finalist for the 2006 Sol Books Prose Series Prize and was released in 2012 by Tempest Books as the young adult novel King Biscuit. He has written a sequel to Well Deserved called The Last Stop, and another two novels called Blue Sparta and Fast Eddie. Recently he finished a novel entitled The Salt Meadows. A lifelong Chicago Bears and Rolling Stones fan, he lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and teaches as full-time online English faculty for South University, where he is one of the founding editors of the student literary journal Asynchronous and sponsor of an online readings series featuring fiction and poetry.
Visit his website at http://www.michaelloydgray.com/, his blog http://odious1.wordpress.com/, or follow on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/michael.l.gray.562, Twitter http://twitter.com/moonpie125