Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
In 1990, I began writing marketing and sales materials for the computer industry. I started college at age 40 which required a lot of writing. I found interest in writing short stories and this progressed to longer novellas. In 2014, my first book, non-fiction, was published (Carving Hope Out of Depression). In 2018, my second book (fiction) was released, with a third book being released in June of this year (Persuaded: The Story of Nicodemus). I’m currently writing in four different manuscripts.
What makes writing your passion?
A late-in-life discovery is that I love to write. Creative art is a characteristic trait that runs deep in my family. When comparing the oil and watercolor images my family produces, my stick figure drawings are sad comparisons. Proclaiming to be an author seems almost disingenuous, especially when I look back at the dismal grades achieved in English classes of high school. I'm certain my teachers would find this news rather earth shattering. However, writing opens channels of creativity, one never thought imaginable.
How long have you been writing?
1992 is the year I officially began writing.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Nervous excitement would describe my feelings when I saw my first published book. I was giddy with excitement at the potential I could achieve status as an “author.” The sales volume was low and so the excitement diminished quickly.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Selecting characters that readers can associate with is important to my books. Knowing the reader will emote with the character and become ingrained into the story sets my style apart from some authors. Character choice is based upon the scene within the story and the goals I wish to accomplish. I will also select characters that will convey any hidden messages within the pages of my books.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
With the advent of self-publishing and the internet, the publishing world has become increasingly fierce with competition. Publishers are less likely to risk investment in new authors but rather focus on established, household name recognizable authors. It’s extremely difficult to breakthrough into commercial publishing.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Whenever I find myself stumped for material or unable to create words on a page, I do the following three things. One, I edit my manuscripts. Often, while editing my work, a new thought or idea will pop into my head or inspire me to continue writing. Two, I read. I love reading all types of books. While reading, I sometimes get inspiration for my own stories. Three, I set a manuscript aside and won’t touch it for weeks or months. I’ve even started a completely new manuscript for another book I have in mind, only to return to the original manuscript due to inspiration during the creative process on the new book. Often, I dream about the stories in my books and will “see” chapters unfolding. These dreams provide insights into breaking the writer’s block I may experience.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
Writing is an expression of the mind in a tangible form. The power of creating stories that others will enjoy urges me to continue writing. The reader feedback is also important because it encourages me to write more. Honing the craft of storytelling and placing the words on paper so that other people will want to read them is not an easy adventure. Like any other skill, it takes years of hard work to be good. Never quitting is the best advice I could ever share.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Put down the comic books! When I was in grade school, I was part of an experimental program where students were taught speed reading. As I progressed through high school, those of us who were part of the study were given aptitude tests to see if the speed reading improved our ability to comprehend. Nearly all of us earned poor grades in English classes and so the program was a failure. I found comic books entertaining, but literature boring. When I entered college, I had to re-learn the art of reading. Once I was hooked, I couldn’t stop reading. At present, I’m in the middle of reading three different books.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Good or bad, I read all my book reviews. A review is a window into another person’s perspective on my written work. If the reviewer is critical, I try and learn from their review so that I can correct future mistakes. I always ask myself: “What did I learn from this review?”
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I am always fascinated by a good review. It amazes me when someone points out an interesting clue or hidden meaning in my work—some of them were ones I never even thought of. Good reviews encourage me to continue writing.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Taking tid-bits from my life and the lives around me is what makes a story believable. I have often tapped into my personal life experiences to season my stories with interesting and often funny stories.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I’d prefer to keep myself out of playing any particular character in any of my books. Other than the non-fictions book I wrote—which was about my life escaping depression—I’ve not developed any characters upon my personal life.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Every article I’ve read indicates the cover is as important as the material inside. With a marketing background, I believe the statement is true.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I don’t mind chatting with or writing to readers. In fact, I’ve corresponded with readers around the world. Because of time constrains for writing stories, I do limit how much time I spend corresponding with readers.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Having the appreciation of my work from unsolicited sources is always encouraging. I’m humbled by some of the comments I’ve received. Having worked so hard to improve my writing, it is always flattering when others comment on my skills as a writer. I don’t pursue the appreciation, but I welcome it when it appears.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I have two favorite authors. First, I like everything John Grisham writes. He is an engaging author that can capture one’s attention and hold until the last page. His stories are terrific and always have hidden messages about humanity. Second, I love the works of James Michener. He writes lengthy tomes on subjects of interest that includes a wealth of research. I walk away feeling energized and my mind expanded when reading his stories.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
Comparing myself with anyone else, would be an exercise in futility. I would like to be recognized as an author and earn a modest income from my stories. Overnight successes like J.K. Rowling are few and far apart in the publishing world. It would be nice, but realistically, it seldom happens. Writing is a craft that must be perfected and I believe many authors have achieved success in the writing world because of their efforts. I would love to be the next discovered number-one author, but in the meantime, I’ll keep doing what I do best and try to make my writing better.