Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I've been writing since highschool. As a sophomore I had visions of becoming a journalist, and even began the "Writers Digest" writing course. At the time I enjoyed reading sci-fi books, so that's what I wrote about initially. But then I got caught up in the Vietnam War and joined the military. After I got out, I found that my ability to put words on paper would pay very good in the nuclear utility industry, and it did!!
What makes writing your passion?
I wouldn't consider writing a passion, but it's close to one for me. My real passion is music and writing my own songs; something I talk about in my first book "Happiness is a Cool Reactor." Unfortunately, my music ambitions couldn't pay the bills when you're young and married with two children to raise. So I had to do music on the side, after my main job activities were completed. Some of the side stuff was playing in various bands during my life, a few of which I highlight on my webpage gjreed.com.
How long have you been writing?
I would say most of my life if you count writing plant operating procedures, emergency drill manuals, inspection and audit reports, various high-level management assessment reports, and hundreds of other documents during my over 40 year career in the nuclear power industry.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
It felt great! I wanted to create an educational, historical and semi-autobiographical account of the nuclear industry during my time in it, and I think I was rather successful in accomplishing that. I didn't expect it to make any money, but I did want it to be an interesting book for those that did decide to purchase and read it. And, to be honest, I wanted to leave something for my grandkids to read that highlighted some of the events I experienced during my lifetime.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
My character choices in both my books - Happiness is a Cool Reactor (my first book) and The Real Night Order Book (my second) - were people who played a role in my adventures. Both of my books are non-fiction and based on real people and events that took place during my lifetime.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
I don't consider writing a career since my career days are over. I now think of it simply as a hobby. Nevertheless, I get annoyed when I can't find the time to do everything I want to do. Especially since I turn 71 in about a week and I don't think I have much time left to accomplish everything I would like to.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
It happens from time to time, but what I normally do is to revert back to my original outline I envisioned for the book, and just skip to another part of it that I had planned to write about later. Then when I'm back on track with where I had left off, I simply need to weave the train of thought from the current section into the section I had skipped to.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
Being a writer IS hard work and definitely not an easy way to make money. So the only advice I would give to new authors is to write for yourself, for a purpose YOU believe in, and don't do it to try to make someone else happy.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Be sure to take all the english and latin classes you can, and don't forget to take a typing class in high school so that you have a leg up on being able to quickly put your thoughts on paper.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I read them, and sometimes I wish I had done a better job at editing. However, I don't think any book could really be bad, since each one served its purpose to either fulfill the goals and enjoyment of the writer or to entertain and/or educate the reader.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I feel good. Sometimes I wonder if a person said it was good simply because they are a friend of mine, but when several say it was good, then I tend to believe them; very satisfying.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I think that's the best way to do it. It's hard to write about something you haven't experienced yourself in some way or another. Even in my sci-fi scripts, I think it's important to base it on real science with maybe a slight stretch of the imagination, but not off the wall ridiculous. That would ruin the story for me.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I am a real life character in both of my books, so the comparison is genuine.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The book cover can be the eye catcher that can sell your book, but I believe the content is more important. If readers don't like what you wrote, they probably won't buy your next one.
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 usually connect with my readers, but when I do, I prefer connecting in writing.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I feel good and thank them for the recognition. Although I've never liked getting awards and public announcements about something special they think I did, I will tolerate it sometimes just so they feel happy.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
It has changed over time. When I was a teenager, I liked the sci-fi stories of Isaac Asimov and Gardner F. Fox (especially his book The Hunter Out Of Time), but as I got older (and especially after serving time in the military) I enjoyed reading Tom Clancy's books. Today, I'm a Don Keith fan for his books about submarines (like Torpedo Run).
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
No, I don't have a dream about being a great writer. At this time in my life, I just want to capture some of the things I've learned over my life and try to pass it on to future generations.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I've already updated and re-published my first book as a second edition. I probably would do it again if I had the time and money. I would do this mainly since it was written to capture important concepts of a technology (nuclear energy) that few people understand and are generally afraid of. I would like to share my knowledge of it (which from time to time I think of something else that I should have included) and why it is an important technology for the future of mankind.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
No, I wouldn't like to do this. I am who I am (as Popeye once said), so I have never dreamed about this and wouldn't even consider doing something like this. I like my life just the way it is.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I would tell them they're wasting their time. Life's too short to worry about people who just like to tear others down.
What would you say to your readers?
I would ask that they enjoy my books, learn from them, and to get on with their life. I need no defense of or praise for my work. It is what it is. And as for me, I'm a very strong introvert and I am happiest when I'm playing music or in front of a computer.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
My wife and I have been married for 49 years, and in that time we've moved over 25 times. I was born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and have lived all over the country, but have returned to central PA and currently live in Altoona. I have two grown kids, six grandkids, and 1 great-grandchild.
What is your day job if you have one?
I no longer have a day job, unless you count enjoying life with my better half.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
My hobbies include writing music, playing guitar in the local wednesday night jam sessions, and doing genealogical research along with my wife about our family histories.
Did you have a happy childhood?
I would say yes, even though my biological father and grandfathers were not part of it.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
I think it was my early childhood experience of learning how to read. My mom would spend time reading to me and helping me read books on my own. I really enjoyed that very much with fond memories still.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I started another book which again would be a non-fiction, but this one would be based on what I've learned over the past 25 years researching our family's genealogy, and it would highlight the individuals in our family that came to North America as Hessians that fought in the Revolutionary War.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
I think it's important for high schools to focus more on the technology present in today's society. In the early years, children need to learn the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but before they graduate they should grasp the fundamentals of electricity, electronics, chemistry, biology, and other engineering technologies that would make them successful later in life.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
I would wish for a peaceful world with no wars, a world united in the goal of mitigating the effects of climate change, and I would wish for a world where no one had to live in impoverished conditions.
What is your favorite music?
I love mild rock and roll, but also enjoy good country western tracks.
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