Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have written two books now.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is a novel in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre called White Jaguar – An Inspector Marco Nayal Novel. I like reading in the genre myself and when I moved to Mexico and started getting serious about my writing, I knew I would set the novel in the Yucatan area where I live. There aren’t many books in this genre featuring Mexican police detectives as the protagonist, so I thought it fitting to do something about that.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I wouldn’t say unusual, but I am disciplined and structured. I am definitely one of those ‘plotter’ types and find I have to be thorough with my research and laying out the structure of the story line. I learned this lesson the hard way because in my first draft I burned through my storyline in 50,000 words. Then I got into all kinds of silly problems trying flesh out the story to something actually readable without just padding. On the bright side, it forced me to think really hard about what I was trying to do with my novel, the story and the characters; always a good thing for a writer.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I have read my way through a wide range of fiction authors, many of them in science fiction like Asimov, Heinlein, Dick and all the others of that era. In my own genre, I am influenced somewhat stylistically by the Nordic noir writers (I am Norwegian) like Nesbo, Adler Olsen and that hole cohort, but I confess to liking Lee Child, as well as Baldacci, Patterson, Grisham, you get the idea. On the technical side of writing, I will say my primary influence is Jon Truby although he advices more on scripts than on full size novels.
What are you working on now?
I have a long backlog of projects, a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Most immediately, I am starting on the sequel to White Jaguar and the new troubles waiting on Inspector Marco Nayal.
In tandem with that, to give my right brain a rest as it were, I will engage my left brain to do a book on project management to share what I learnt in my working life (I am retired) from 40 years of delivering projects.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Since I am just starting out, I could ask you the same, because my advice at this time wouldn’t help that much, except maybe one thing: as a new author I have time but little money, so that means I try to do whatever I can that is helpful, but doesn’t cost money. For example, I list my novel on as many free listing services as I can find. We’ll see how it goes.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
You already know my writing bias: make a plan, work on the structure of your story (and yes, even non-fiction should tell a story). I break the story into scenes like for a script. Then I schedule writing time and sit down and write. Let me repeat: SIT DOWN AND WRITE. Put everything aside. Learn to get into writing flow fast. I’m still learning myself, but I write non-fiction pretty steady at 2000 words an hour and fiction maybe about 1000. The fiction output is really dependent upon how well I planned the scene I am working on. I knocked out my first 50,000 word draft for White Jaguar in 21 days after committing to writing daily for 2 hours. Of course, sometimes things are really flowing and I do more than 2 hours, but sometimes I flame out a lot earlier. The I spent the rest of the year churning that first draft to 96,000 words before releasing on Amazon. Learning point: Final product depends on more than just writing speed: the editing part is a real bottleneck and self editing is just plain hard – it’s a skill all in itself. Get an external editor if you can without breaking the bank. I will probably go that route for my next one.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Get clarity, be clear or words to that effect. If you aren’t clear about your story, your characters or where you’re going with all this, for sure you can’t expect the readers to be either. Nobody likes a confusing or muddled story, so be crystal clear on your intentions. Then do your best job writing. My point is: if you’re not clear in your head, it won’t be clear on the page.
What are you reading now?
Funny you should ask. I haven’t read fiction in over a year because I have been so involved in my own story work. I read a lot of non-fiction for other purposes, but I am ready now for some different inspiration. My wife has a lot of books from the Nordic noire genre so I am looking forward to catch up with the latest in that genre. My Spanish is getting to the point that reading is getting easier so I have a book by Paul Coehlo in Spanish on my desk. In addition to that, I am playing with some ideas for a novel in a particular genre and will be reading in that area to get a feel for where it is at stylistically and story wise. Don’t ask: I am not ready to talk about this part of my work, yet. But stay in touch and find out:)
What’s next for you as a writer?
As I mentioned above, I have a fairly well formed premise and story capsule for the sequel to White Jaguar plus a rough draft for a book on project management. I took a break from blogging last year so I want to get a little more regular there.
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?
I would take Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead. Then I would get all volumes of Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy and the follow-ups and glue them together and call it one fat book. Then I would take Michael Gruber’s Tropic of Night. Finally, I would take Gabriel Garcia Marques’ On Hundred Years of Solitude.
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