Welcome, travelers, to a new interview feature. Today, we’re going to be talking to a talented new author, Malik Griffin, who is bringing some fresh attention to his debut story ahead of working on new material that he’s itching to show off when it comes time. Griffin has promoted his previous work, A Real Head Scratcher, with Tellest already, but we’re going to be using this opportunity to learn more about him and his process. Read on to learn more about Malik Griffin.
Tellest: Greetings, Malik! Thank you for taking the time to allow us to speak about your previously published story, A Real Head Scratcher, and about your writing journey, and what might be next on the agenda. It is always nice to talk about someone who likes to create worlds and characters, and I have no doubt that it will be interesting indeed talking to you about what you’ve crafted thus far. It will be fun bringing your work to a new audience as well!
Malik Griffin: Thank you for having this interview with me. I’m happy to be able to talk about my work!
T: In each of these interviews, I like to start by asking about original inspiration. Every writer has something that sent them on their journey, and I’d like to know what helped you to take your first steps. Was there perhaps a favorite author that you had growing up, or did someone in your family or your community inspire a love for storytelling or fantasy?
MG: To be honest it wasn’t anything too specific. I suppose one source of information would be old fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, Three Billy Goats Gruff and other folklore that deal with talking animals either being the main antagonists or going on misadventures. To this day I’m still interested in some of those stories.
T: Most of those old fairytales and folktales are part of the public domain, so you would have nothing holding you back from retelling one of those if you wanted. Had there ever been a part of you that wanted to dive into something like that?
MG: Oh yes, in fact years ago I made a short story about Little Red Riding Hood with her grandparents being the villains and a pack of wolves being her allies. It was quite a graphic short story I did in college.
T: Have you thought about publishing something like that? Perhaps reworking that so that it speaks to the skills and talents you’ve picked up along the way?
MG: I haven’t put much thought about working on that specific piece as it was quite a while ago. But reworking it into a much longer story would sound like a fun experience.
T: Now, the book that we’re currently promoting on Tellest is what I would describe as a short epic, as it casts light on some unlikely characters who must go on a perilous journey. A Real Head Scratcher was originally published back in 2021. Have you been seeing a bit of a resurgence in that of late?
MG: I haven’t had too much resurgence in it at the moment as I’m trying to focus on new works.
T: Can you give any hints to what you’re currently working on? Is it something in the same vein of A Real Head Scratcher, or is it something completely new and different?
MG: Oh it is something far from this story. I am still in the planning stage, but it dives into horror and the genetic modification of creatures.
T: It sounds as though written projects are the ones you are most focused on, but do you lean into wanting to tell stories in other mediums as well, like graphic novels, or audiobooks?
MG: I always thought about doing graphic novels or comic books, but the issue with that for me would be finding an affordable enough illustrator. For the moment now, I prefer to focus on novels.
T: Perhaps the most interesting concept about your novella is that the aforementioned unlikely characters we talked about are, in fact, fleas. How did you come about deciding to tell a story about insects who are oftentimes overlooked? Was there a reason that they made for better talespinning than human characters?
MG: I suppose it would be because fleas are typically on the bottom of the food chain and have a large number of predators. That along with their size and the fact that they need a host to survive greatly raises the stakes for them. I feel that they would make for better protagonists than humans because while they have a high level of intelligence, they are still animals with their own world perspective that is vastly different from humans.
T: You bring up a very good point with needing a host to survive. It isn’t quite like fleas could go off on these epic quests without putting down roots, so to speak. Then again, you could probably take some creative licenses, I’m sure, and breaking those limitations would likely be a lot of fun.
MG: If I decide to continue with this story, you can definitely expect creative liberty to help build up the tension.
T: Certainly, there are some benefits to writing a shorter story—you don’t have to sacrifice so much of your time, and you can tell a more concise tale. But it almost seems as though your words have to be so much more carefully considered with that in mind. How did you wrap your head around wanting to tell a smaller tale as your debut?
MG: I thought something short and straightforward would better attract a sizable audience. With it being so short, it makes for a good read one could finish in an afternoon if looking for quick entertainment.
T: With your next projects, are you sticking with quicker, snappier stories, or are you going to try to take on something a bit more sizable?
MG: A longer and more detailed story is a great way to go. I will hopefully be able to either make a sizable enough novel, or an anthology is possible.
T: While writing a story is an achievement that should certainly be excited and appreciated, it is not the end of the journey. When it comes to the process after “the end”, what have you experienced with A Real Head Scratcher? What sort of challenges or surprises have you had along the way while trying to bring it to market?
MG: Really, the biggest challenge is just to get it properly noticed and readers interested.
T: What other plans do you have to try and get the word out? Have you considered live events like conventions or book readings?
MG: I currently haven’t thought of other plans aside from trying to spread the news of my work through online promotion.
T: A Real Head Scratcher ends in a precarious place for the heroes that the reader comes to enjoy spending time with. Did you have any plans on continuing that story where you left off, or are you interested in exploring something new?
MG: In the future I may plan on continuing on the story with old and new characters. At the moment, I’m more focused on newer projects.
T: A big part of the process of telling people about your stories is telling people about yourself. To that end, if someone wanted to learn more about you, where would you direct them? Where could readers go to find out about Malik Griffin and his stories?
MG: I tend not to get on social media too much to discuss my personal life but my Amazon page and soon my Facebook page would be the best to direct them.
T: Some air of mystery can be appealing, but readers want to know more about their favorite authors. What kind of fun facts could you share about yourself that you think your readers would like to know?
MG: Well, I’m the type of person who generally likes to write stores or think of stories about creatures, whether fictional or real. Whether they be dogs, dinosaurs, dragons, mutated animals, etc., I always was fascinated with them and usually like where they are not bloodthirsty creatures for the sake of it. I sometimes like giving them a personality.
T: If it was an anthology that was planned as your next path forward, would that be the common thread? Would you be telling stories about a wide array of creatures and monsters?
MG: It would be something I throw in every now and again to take a break from the more longer stories. I would definitely include creatures and monsters in these stories, ones that many are familiar with and ones that aren’t too common in modern media.
T: Malik, I wanted to thank you for spending your time with me answering some of the questions that help to give readers some more insight into your world. I hope that you found it entertaining, and that you feel you have enlightened future fans to your process and your art.
MG: Thank you as well. It was a pleasure to answer these questions and give a bit more insight.
T: Once again, I’d like to thank Malik Griffin for being a good sport and going through these questions with us. It was a lot of fun getting to know him a little better, and to learn what he’s up to when he’s not promoting his most recent story. Keep an eye out for more from Griffin in the future, and if you want to see his current focus, check out A Real Head Scratcher on Amazon today!
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