Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in profession writing, I went to work in the family construction business while writing novels on the side. My first book was a revenge tale/cat-and-mouse thriller titled “Killer Cain,” which was soon followed by the dark comedy “The Everyday Housewife: Murder, Drugs, and Ironing.” The latest novel, “Heaven Is a Gay Bar,” is my first semi-autobiography written in first person narrative. About eighty percent of it is true and most of the characters are based on real people. It’s by far the most challenging and rewarding book I’ve ever written, especially from an emotional standpoint.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My main inspiration for writing “Heaven Is a Gay Bar” was Barbie—the love of my life—and our bizarre on-again, off-again relationship that lasted throughout the 1990s. Those were very trying times to say the least, yet I loved her madly through it all and was deeply heartbroken when her life came to a sudden and tragic end. Her death continued to haunt me for a number of years and was seriously interfering with my creativity ‘til I finally decided to vent all my anger and frustration in a Word document. I had no idea at the time that I had a 350-page novel on my hands. I thought I was writing a short story! The time period in which we met (the early 90s) was also a source of inspiration to me. Not only was it the decade of my rebirth, but there was a lot of great music that came out during that time- plus a lot of great bands: Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, the Cranberries, and Nine Inch Nails, just to name a few. Then there was the place where Barbie and I met—a very popular gay nightclub called Angles—and all the wonderful people there, many of which are no longer with us.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. I feel the most alive and creative when all the world’s asleep, as they say… which means that I’m usually sitting at my desktop computer ’til the crack of dawn- working on my manuscript, mostly. But I’m also on social media a lot. You’ve gotta keep those tweets and posts comin’! I usually sleep ’til ten or eleven in the morning… feed the cats, do all my shopping, relax in front of the TV for a little bit and see what’s going on in the world…. I don’t start writing ’til three or four in the afternoon- sometimes five. Then I’m chained to the desk ’til the rooster crows.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Oh, that’s an easy one! I love the classics: Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights,” Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” all of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Franz Kafka… and the list goes on and on! I love gothic horror and social commentary, as you can see. Carson McCullers and Charles Bukowski are a couple more of my idols… and as far as something more contemporary is concerned, I prefer crime fiction- although I’m not very good at it, myself. Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy are two of my favorites in that genre. I also think Kazuo Ishiguro is such a brilliant, award winning writer.
What are you working on now?
My next book (still untitled) is another semi-autobiography dealing with my childhood. It’s about a twelve-year-old boy who’s at odds with his adoptive parents (his father, mostly) and sets out to find his “real” father—a brave and mighty Comanche warrior—or so he believes. I wanted to show readers what it’s like to be a half-Native American kid raised by white folks, unable to fathom why you’re so different and then suddenly being told that you were adopted. I didn’t even know what adoption was at the time!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I prefer Facebook. That’s the one outlet I’m using to promote my book at the moment, plus my Amazon Author Page and book promotion sites such as this one.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Always believe in yourself and never give up, especially when you’re trying to get your book published… or afterward, when you’re trying to promote it. Keep writing, no matter what—even through hardship or writer’s block. A brilliant idea will eventually come to you, often after page upon page of complete and utter gibberish (at least for me).
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
What are you reading now?
Actually, I’m not reading anything at all right now, nor am I watching much TV. I’m all about this next book. Stephen King was right when he said to leave the television off and stay away from other books while writing your first draft. You have to be completely in the zone when writing your book.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m hoping to be finished with the book I’m working on now by the end of the year. Then, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll try to write a screenplay, seeing that movies are my other passion. I’m not sure if I’ll have another book left in me, but you never know. I might have to wait a few years and then write about old age.
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?
1. Carson McCuller’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” The movie didn’t do it justice, although I’m a huge Alan Arkin fan and I loved his performance in that film—very touching. But the book was far more powerful and heart-wrenching in its dealing with the rejected, mistreated, and oppressed. It’s the book that inspired me the most to write “Heaven Is a Gay Bar.”
2. Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights.” I don’t know why I love this book so much. I guess it’s the romantic in me. Plus, it has to be one of the greatest love stories ever written! And I strongly agree with Brontë that love is eternal.
3. Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” I love this book for its gritty realism and strong characters. But it’s also an amazing adventure book, filled with plenty of suspense and Twain’s trademark humor and wit.