Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Written is not the same thing as published. But I’ve published three. Before I was writing science fiction, I was writing poetry. I was so proud of this one that I made a special trip to New York on the Amtrak, just to visit the Poet’s House and get the book into their library stacks. If it’s still there, I have no idea but if and when I ever finish my second poetry book I’ll be going back. I’m far too into science fiction to do it right now.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Beneath the Black Crescent the title itself comes from naval stories like Under the Black Ensign,(there’s a million titles like that with any number of other flags or ensigns) where folks are pressganged into being pirates or serving on vessels. And indeed, one character had been acting as a hired assassin on the Crescent’s behalf, while another fights in the arena against Crescent mercenaries.
I’m not a huge fan of swashbuckling adventures so the similarities end there.
But the title reveals more about the book. The group called the Black Crescent does loom over the book and adds to the tension of the story. There is also the fact that the tunnels lying beneath the part called the Black Crescent, are where some of the action takes place, and where, the characters will be returning to in the future. Sure the Crescent are trouble, but the real importance is that lies “beneath.”
This is my way of un-subtly hinting to readers, that this is going to be important and you should watch out for these Crescent Folks.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Oh a ton. I used to only write at 4am and only when I had not touched a drop of coffee. Now I only write well when I wake up at 7am and I drink plenty of coffee.
I like tiny laptops with tiny keyboards and when I can’t find one, I have a tiny bluetooth keyboard I can use. On road trips I’ll dictate into google docs, and the program misinterprets me so much that only I can remember what I had intended to say and change it into something other than gibberish.
I write in chunks, and most of the chunks have a beginning, middle and end. I think this comes from reading a lot of short stories by Chekhov and Joseph Conrad and from writing poetry. Each poem has to have a certain movement to it, a finality at the end that also reveals something and informs the rest of the writing, and each poem should have a title that serves a purpose, so my chapters come out the same. Rarely do I have a chapter whose only purpose is to continue something that was said in the previous chapter. They all have a meaning of their own.
This is book two. In book one, I was writing a little more like Vonnegut. The chapters were rapid-fire whenever possible and short….unless the character Sebastian was talking, then they tended to go long, because he is a talker.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I don’t ready in the genre that I write. In science fiction I like Arthur C. Clarke. The rest of the time I like late 1800’s literature, early 1900’s, especially American writers, but really, across the globe, anything from that time period can hold my attention.
What are you working on now?
At the time of this writing, I’ve just published the second Atlas book.
While I was writing that, I managed to write a hundred page novella about one of the side characters. Edwina had hardly been introduced, but I was already working with her. She is sort of a combination of my two main characters, the unlikeable, and often injured Julian, and the very capable, very likeable, but also very full of himself Sebastian.
She’s got some unusual abilities we have not seen on the world of Atlas. They’re hinted at but not explained in book two. But this story goes into depth with them and people who read it will understand her very well when she comes around again in Atlas three.
That’s almost done. I’d like to write another two or three chapters before I proofread it, and should be publishing it in april or may. Sooner if I can make more room in my schedule.
And then there’s book three. I’ve got no production timeline for book three yet. I need to take a breather and think about the broader story arc, which I’ve planned and how long I want to drag this series out. As much as I like having a completed set…many things are still being revealed. I think Atlas has a cough up some more secrets before I can even begin thinking about an end to the books.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I tell a lot of people about the book, I don’t want each one of those interactions too feel like me asking for money. So I give it away on amazon. And if people like it, they can payfor book two.
I’m also a painter, so selling paperbacks at art markets, especially the one in New Orleans, while not super profitable, has been a great way to meet people, to get advance readers and to grow a little email list. I can see how digital books make it possible to work on a much larger scale, but for someone who’s just starting out, with no budget, work with your local libraries and bookstores, don’t expect them to sell copies, get out there and do it yourself. People will remember those in person meetings.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
You can only do so many things at once. I wanted to sail around the world. I was working on different boats, learning to sail in rough weather, at the same time I was trying to become a painter and a poet and learning to write novels. One day, the captain says to me: you know, if you really want to be a great sailor, you can’t do anything else. (Yes, I know it’s strange to think of sailing as a profession, but there are a few people out there who want to be famous sailors. Is that a real thing?…I don’t know.)
Anyway, I realized he was right. I was on a path to do some amazing sailing on old schooners and probably run a ship of my own someday and it was going to be to the exclusion of everything else.
Now, I think writing is different. It’s one of the few things you can do that works around your own schedule. But that early phase, when you’re developing your craft, and this later phase, of building a career, earning a living at it, that’s not going to fit nearly in alongside the rest of your life. It sometimes means writing to the exclusion of everything else. And when you see those periods approaching, and can make the time for them, you can make room for them and well, as to the money part, the jury’s still out. I’ll let you know when my books become wildly successful.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Advice doesn’t mean anything. Read the Tao Te Ching, read Plato. Understand the way in which your own experience distorts your understanding of reality. A great side effect of understanding your own motivations, is that it becomes easier to write believable characters.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading the fourth Wheel of Time book, and an advance copy of JW Lumpkin’s Redemption of Trust fantasy novels.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have a few more books to write in this series. But I’m thinking of a new series, something very similar to what I’m writing now, but a little more in the Fantasy sphere and less Scifi.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Edible books? I don’t know.
I would bring Walden, Moby Dick, collected short stories of EA Poe, and collected short stories of Chekhov. I would probably get sick of Melville and toss him in the ocean, but the rest would be worth re-reading.