Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have written a novella and a novel and I am currently working on a sequel. As far as pastimes, there is nothing I love more than digging on the beach for clams. I blame this on my parents for taking me to Cuttyhunk Island, MA as a child, where there is an abundance of shellfish and not much else.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is Exodus from the Seven Cities. What inspired me was a life long love of all things action and horror. There are so many books out there that feature people who are miraculously prepared and have all the necessary skills when a problem presents itself. But that isn’t how life is. Most of us aren’t weapons experts, nor do we necessarily have all the skills required to easily survive the apocalypse. I want my writing to be a tip of the hat to the common man, an homage to the ordinary person who is required to do extraordinary things in a time of need.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Because I work nights I wrote mostly on my days off between the hours of 10pm to 7am. Even though I have worked nights on and off for the better part of a decade, my body still naturally wants to sleep during the nighttime. As a result I frequently wake up to a computer screen with pages and pages of one letter like “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” because I fell asleep with my hand on the keyboard.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I have always wanted to be an author but there was a time when I found myself too self-conscious to write. It’s strange because I was the only person who was going to see my work; if it was bad I didn’t need to share it with anyone. One day I wrote to my favorite author, Orson Scott Card, and asked for advice. To my surprise, he responded and gave me a whole list of helpful recommendations. The most important thing Card told me was to get over myself when it comes to feeling self -conscious. I took his advice and haven’t looked back.
From a purely consumer perspective, another author I really like is Scott Lynch, who wrote The Lies of Locke Lamora. This book has everything a person could want. The main characters in this book have skills but they work for them and nobody is a Jack of all trades. This book was dark and gritty, two things I absolutely love in fiction.
What are you working on now?
I am working on an unnamed sequel to Exodus from the Seven Cities. The Seven Cities Saga will not be a never-ending story but I do have more to say about this world. The sequel is planned out and I believe it will take the reader on a great journey.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
We are about to find out.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Everyone says that if you want to be an author you have to write, but what they don’t tell you is that you have to be willing to edit. I literally removed a 10,000 word segment from Exodus from the Seven Cities and rewrote it. I probably rewrote every sentence at least one time. It is no exaggeration to say that I read Exodus a dozen times, plus my wife read it around six and numerous family and friends also read it and gave me feedback. I wouldn’t say editing is Hell because, let’s face it, you’re sitting in a chair and not roasting in eternal fire, but it is extremely frustrating and time-consuming. My advice is this: be willing to edit for hour after monotonous hour.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I was told in my twenties that emotions are like waves. There are crests, or high points, and there are troughs, which are the low points. When you are at the bottom of the trough it seems like nothing will ever get better. All you can see on either side of you is a wall of doubt and failure. This is called the window of despair. When you’re in the window of despair the trick is to keep moving toward your goal. Eventually you’ll start to go up the other side of the wave. Eventually you’ll reach the crest again and you’ll wonder what you were thinking when you were in the trough. All of those doubts and worries will appear to have been foolish.
We all have disappointments in life. At some point we all end up in the window of despair, sometimes more than we’d like to admit! I was raised with the belief that I could accomplish anything as long as I put all of my effort into it. But as an adult I learned something different: that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how badly you want something, there are times when life deals you an unfair hand and there is nothing you can do about it.
The trick is to keep moving, get through the window, and reevaluate your goals because there is a life on the other side of the trough and it’s good.
What are you reading now?
The Remaining: Allegiance by D.J. Molles. It’s the fifth book in The Remaining series. If anyone hasn’t read The Remaining and they enjoy survival horror they should pick it up. It’s a great series that was originally independently published and then got picked up by a traditional publisher. It’s different from Fall of the Seven Cities and Exodus from the Seven Cities because it features a highly trained Army bad ass and my series features a failed Realtor and an undesignated Navy seaman, but it’s a great series and well worth picking up.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Aside from the next book in the Seven Cities Saga I have a few other projects in mind. I have a pretty solid story line for a series of crime novels that start off with a murdered rookie police officer. The other is a fantasy series where the tone of the books will be a mix of Conan and The Lies of Locke Lamora. I will probably write the crime novels first because I want more experience as a writer before I attempt the fantasy series.
I’d love to continue in apocalyptic fiction but I also want to write in more than one genre.
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’m not going to cop out on you and tell you I’d bring a survival guide, since I don’t think that’s what this question is really asking. I would take Robinson Crusoe to give me perspective, Skeletons on the Zahara to help me understand that I don’t really have it that bad, The Hobbit for escapism, and War and Peace because I’ve never read it, I probably never will, and its Amazon description says it’s 1296 pages long, so there musts be something in there that’s worth reading!