Greg Gountanis is a mystery author and practicing attorney. Greg received his B.A. in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his J.D. from The John Marshall Law School. Amongst all that studying, his love of reading and the written word never let up. His flash fiction piece “City of Angels” appeared in Long Story Short, and his flash fiction piece “The Eulogy of Suzie Q” appeared in the Adroit Journal. Greg’s debut novel The Night Contract features wrongfully convicted heavyweight boxing champ Lance Gedrin.
When he’s not writing, Greg enjoys being in a courtroom. He works as an Assistant Public Defender in Chicago, zealously advocating for the rights of underprivileged populations accused of crime. To connect with Greg and get the latest updates on his writing, exclusive material, and giveaways, sign up for his newsletter.
The Writer’s Journey
I’m often asked what it takes to become a writer. People seem fascinated by those who love the written word and scribble away. My answer is always the same. Everybody is a writer. The label is not exclusively for those that publish, or for those that have gargantuan sales, or for those with elegant prose. The sooner you do away with the notion that writing must go hand-in-hand with the above, the sooner you can make progress as a writer. The reality is that everybody has written in life. Whether it was a poem, a short story, a grocery list, a top 5 greatest NBA players of all-time list, a Christmas wish list, etc., every person has physically written something at one point or another.
Is fiction any different? Absolutely not. Just because fiction is more of a creative endeavor than say writing a grocery list, that doesn’t mean that it should be elevated or put on a higher pedestal. That inhibits creativity and puts a lot of pressure on the muse. So what does it take to become a fiction writer? This is the second most common question I’m asked. My answer is quite simple. Embrace the writer’s journey. Embrace all the ups and downs that come with the territory. Develop the right mindset going in, and if you work at it you will succeed. New voices in fiction will always be a hot commodity. Embrace it and go for it.
Writing is often a very solitary pursuit. Creating is not a linear process. Some days you have it, and things are flowing. Other days it seems like you can’t get a single word down. Self-doubt creeps in, and it’s all too easy to succumb to the pressure and quit. But remember, one quit project is another potential masterpiece that the world doesn’t get to see. Keep at it, and understand that these little hiccups should be seen as what they truly are — rungs on a ladder to becoming a better writer. With each rung may come professional success (more acclaim and sales), or it may not. To write is not to expect anything in return. Those that want to embark on the writer’s journey need to be prepared for all it has to offer. It can offer a whole lot, or it can offer absolutely nothing. The reward is the journey.
Those that truly embrace it often are surprised by the results. Now, keep writing.
Where do writers get their ideas? How do they think of all those awesome stories? I’m often asked variations of these questions, and I usually provide the same answer. Finding ideas is the easy part. Ideas are all around us. Now, translating those ideas into an awesome story is a whole other matter. But still, finding ideas is the first step in the chain. I take all my ideas (good and bad), and I put them in an ideas folder. Whenever it’s time to write something new, I have a bunch of starting off points.
Here are 5 ways that I find helpful in gathering ideas:
- Read in your genre
- Read your favorite authors
- Notice how they introduce characters in a scene
- Notice how they end scenes
- Notice how they describe settings and emotion and conflict
- Take all these things from your favorite authors and think of your story and how to twist up the norm
- Read the newspaper
- Read about sports, news, entertainment, etc.
- Being more aware of the world around you provides constant fodder for writing
- Watch films/TV
- I don’t mean at the expense of your writing
- I mean, just like with your favorite authors, notice how characters, settings, conflicts, etc. are portrayed in a different medium… this can often be a great starting off point to generate ideas for your writing
- Start with setting
- Pick a location and start researching landmarks, which can lead to ideas
- Research controversies regarding certain locations…this can often lead to ideas
- Start with character
- Figure out your character’s occupation and this can automatically conjure up situations to place your character in based on their job
- Find out what your main character wants most in your story…this can lead to ideas of how your character goes about getting it
Is Greg Gountanis a pen name?
Does Greg respond to fan mail?
Yes! See the Contact page.
How can I keep up to date on what Greg is writing?
To connect with Greg and get the latest updates on his writing, exclusive material, and giveaways, sign up for his newsletter.
Is The Night Contract going to be part of a series?
Greg is fond of Lance Gedrin and foresees more adventures with him.
How old is Gedrin?
Out of his teen years but not yet in his senile years.
Is Greg still a lawyer?
Yes, in addition to his writing, Greg is still a practicing attorney in Chicago. He works as an Assistant Public Defender, where he zealously advocates for the rights of underprivileged populations accused of crime.
Can Greg give me legal advice about my case?
No. This website is for his writing only and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, since Greg is a public defender, he cannot be hired, and he cannot give legal advice to non-clients. He is appointed by the Court to represent indigent clients who cannot afford legal services. Any emails received regarding legal matters will be promptly discarded.
Can Greg critique my manuscript?
No. Greg cannot critique manuscripts. If he were to do so, he wouldn’t have time to write! Greg suggests joining a critique group or finding beta readers to get a fresh set of eyes on your material.
What advice does Greg have for aspiring writers?
See the Writer’s Journey. As with any endeavor in life, discipline is key. Develop a consistent writing routine. Write every day, and over time you will improve.
How do I get an agent?
Look at the acknowledgements section of the books that fit your genre and find the author’s agent. Most agents have a website with their submission requirements. Start there and build a list. Also, check out helpful sites like The Guide to Literary Agents Blog. and Agent Query. Polish a query letter and have your manuscript in the best shape possible before submitting to agents.
Sign Up for Greg's Newsletter
Get the latest updates, exclusive content, and giveaways