Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was a kid. After college, I wrote mostly awful short stories while building my career and having kids. Once my kids got a bit older I decided to give a novel a try and Storm Forged was born from that effort.
What makes writing your passion?
I love to tell stories. Verbally you can reach a few people, but with writing you have the opportunity to reach a lot of people. Nothing is better than when someone comes up to tell me how much they loved one of my books or that my writing helped them get through a bad time.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing with the goal of publication in 2008,
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Disbelief. I couldn't believe that anyone would pay me to write and then it went on to win and award and Seanan McGuire tweeted about it. Blew my mind.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Our son loved Power Rangers. After watching way to many episodes on a Saturday afternoon, Tommy, the MC of The Darkest Storm was born. Our son was only 5 at the time, so I based him on a future version of what he was then.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
The waiting. You finish a book and its done. Well, not really. I shopped for years for an agent and, eventually, got one. When he submitted my books to traditional publishers, you wait for a long while to get feedback.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Usually for me, it's not a block, but exhaustion. When I hit that point, I take a break for a fixed set of time, usually a week. I treat my writing like a job, so I try to produce every day, though sometimes it is doing social media, applying for cons, or doing interviews.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
What keeps me going is interacting with my readers. I sell at conventions so I get to interact with them one on one. My advice is if you don't love writing, do something else. There isn't a lot of money in publishing outside the top 1%, so if you aren't driven to write, go make videos, start an Etsy shop, or do another form of art. Writing is a lonely business and has rejection baked into it.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Start publishing earlier. With the long waits beginning as an older writer makes it seem more urgent to get books out.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
I do on occasion, but not often. I try to take lessons away from the bad reviews. If many people are saying that x bugs them, I know to avoid it in the next book.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I'm happy that they enjoyed the book. At the end of the day, I'm a story teller and if they found it entertaining, I'm good.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Yes. You really can't help it. When things in your life are taking your attention, the characters in the stories tend to mirror that, even though I don't intend it that way.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I usually go for Michael Ward in Darkest Storm. He's a dad trying to do the best he can in a bad situation. I don't base any characters on myself.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
To sell a book, the cover is the MOST important thing. To create a fan, the story has to be the most important.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I love talking to my readers. I send out a monthly newsletter and respond to my readers when they email me. It is such a rewarding feeling to know that your books mean something to people.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Gratitude is usually the feeling I have. It takes around a year to produce a book, so knowing that people are reading and enjoying my work helps me keep going through the rough patches.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
How much space do we have?
Seanan McGuire has to top my list. She not only read and tweeted about Storm Forged, but she spent time chatting with me about how to improve my characters to be more engaging and balance them out.
The other is Terry Brooks. I got to spend some time with Terry at a convention and he was so nice and we ended up chatting with our wives for an hour or more.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
Neil Gaiman. If you're going to strive for the top, he's it in the writer success area.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
No. Even with the errors and places I could have done better, I'm really proud of the work I've produced. Could I write a better version? Maybe, but where I was in my life and my writing journey are reflected in each book and you can't recapture those moments.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
I'll refer back to Neil Gaiman. How amazing is it to have your books made into TV Shows.
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.
This is why I shy away from reading reviews. Frankly, I ignore them.
What would you say to your readers?
Thank you!!!!!! Without readers, all the work I do would be pointless.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I am married to my wonderful wife, Hope. We have 2 children who are both adults now. I live in Charlotte, NC and am a huge Panthers fan.
What is your day job if you have one?
I am a computer programmer.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love to woodwork, 3D Print, and brew beer in my spare time. I'm also a video gamer, mostly Warcraft and Hearthstone.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
I had teachers as far back as elementary school that taught creative writing and it just stuck.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I have one book being shopped by my agent. It follows Jess, an elemental witch, who is part of a coven that are tasked with protecting Earth from things that come through interdimensional portals.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
Music, shop classes, home economics etc. The hands on classes taught me far more skills than math ever did.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
To be a successful author
To be financially secure
to have myself and my loved ones be healthy
What is your favorite music?
Rock and alternative. Springsteen, Rush, Shinedown, Liz Phair, the Regrettes, Twenty One Pilots. The list goes on and on.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I'm a closet Olivia Rodrigo fan.