Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a father of five, and grandpa to 7. I have been writing most of my life, and started a blog in 2012. I just recently decided to unleash the story machine in my head, and I am only sorry that I didn’t decide to do it sooner. My first novel has been well received, and the books of poetry I have co-written and published with two of my grown children are starting to take off.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest novel is titled THE SLEEPING GIANT, and it was inspired by a dream I had as a teenager. I grew up in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and as kids, we always joked about the “volcano” on the horizon. When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, the threat of our ‘sleeping giant’ became very real, and I had a dream about it erupting. This idea sat in my brain and germinated for many, many years. When the time came to write it, the whole thing flew out my brain onto paper in 12 days of white hot writing fever.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really … other than I tend to get lost in my story as I write, which I think most good authors do. I do have a habit of becoming very emotionally invested in my character’s lives. More than once, I have found myself crying or laughing as I write down the scenes that are unfolding on my mental stage. My 14 year-old daughter tells me that I am strange, but I’ve seen her smile as she shakes her head and walks away from my tear-lined face, and I think she secretly loves that her dad is so “gushy”.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I learned to read and 4 and have not stopped in the 47 years since then. From Dr. Seuss to Dickens, and from Roald Dahl to Dean Koontz, I have devoured it all. The Horror/Thriller genre is where my heart lies, and I must say that Stephen King has probably been the most influential author in my writing life. His book, On Writing, was instrumental in making me stretch my imagination’s legs, and move from the occasional blog post to the novel form that I have always wanted to write. The other authors that have impacted my “style” of writing if you will, are J.A. Jance (her Beaumont series is still one of my favorites) and Piers Anthony (who I thank for letting me escape to Xanth whenever I needed a mental vacation).
What are you working on now?
I am currently deep in an epic tale of fantasy, which I am co-authoring with my oldest daughter. It is both exhilarating and a bit intimidating in it’s scope. Thankfully its female protagonist is not what we usually find in the typical fantasy story, and she is giving the story the catalyst that it needed to write itself, while we watch and take notes. It is threatening to become very long indeed, and may have to be broken into multiple volumes, to keep it from being too heavy to carry around.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am still learning what works best. I have been actively promoting where I can amongst the “free” options, since I am still not making the kind of money writing that would allow me to really promote it the way it deserves. I know that in the world of indie publishing, there are so many authors writing so many books, that to sell them in a steady way, even in low numbers, is not an easy task, and my latest book is slowly but steadily still being purchased and enjoyed. I am using the new Amazon Author’s page and a free Wix website, along with Twitter and Facebook, to share my messages, and so far this small base has been working, albeit a little slowly. I am also going to be pursuing video presentations to build my fan base, and have started making strides in that direction now.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
The best advice I can offer anyone who has a message they want to share via the written pages of a book, is to read more. All too often, I see authors who have not mastered the basics of language and style, nor the proper use of the tools of the trade (spelling, grammar and punctuation). They have these beautiful stories inside them, but they fail to transfer these ideas into other’s minds because of their inability to write cleanly and speak clearly. In the end, the creation of a novel is truly a work of telepathy, and it is one that transcends time and space. Just today William Shakespeare, dead for many years, successfully shared his vision of two young lovers in a tragic death’s embrace with my daughter. That is the power of writing, and a good author can become immortal through this gift of painting word pictures.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
It is something that I read in a book called On Writing, by one of the most prolific authors of all time, Stephen King. He emphasizes tossing out the biggest portion of adverbs in your descriptions, and keeping the focus on the story. In the end, it is the story, and not the flowery text, that matters to the reader. That and keeping your “toolbox” full and all of the tools in it sharp and oiled.
What are you reading now?
I have three books going right now. I usually have at least three or more that I ma actively involved in. On my phone, I am deep into THE LONG WALK, by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman), and on my computer, I am reading SWAN SONG by Robert McCammon. I have the audiobook version of Dean Koontz’s ODD THOMAS in the car, and a copy of my own novel THE SLEEPING GIANT next to my bed, where I am currently studying my characters motivations and relationships, as the sequel is still brewing somewhere in my brain. And at the same time, I am spending a minimum of 3 hours a day writing down the scenes that are exploding onto paper in the new novel. (My daughter once asked me how I could be reading so many stories at once. I answered her with a question, and simply asked her how many television series she was currently watching in a week … she walked away with a better understanding of her dad than she had before asking.)
What’s next for you as a writer?
This current project is epic in it’s scope and will keep me occupied for a while, but once it is done, I have three more novels that are still gestating, and we’ll see which one begins the process of labor and delivery from my subconscious once this one is in the book, as it were. I am also working hard on learning how to use video to promote my stories, and hope to obtain some help in the marketing arena.
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?
That is probably the hardest question ever … I would say that I would have to bring, both THE STAND (Stephen King) and SWAN SONG (Robert McCammon) simply for their size and the ability to take me away for long periods of time, the largest short story collection I could grab (partial to those edited by DelRay) and just to keep myself humbled, I would take along the complete works of Shakespeare (you didn’t say it had to be a small book). In the end, I think that limited number of books would be harder for me to deal with than the isolation of being alone. That probably says something profound about me, but I have no idea if it’s a good thing, or a bad one.