Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Merlin’s Knot is my first published book of fiction. I retired last year after a career as a scientist, engineer and science writer and editor. I’m happy that I can now make stuff up. My book is set in Houston, because that is where I’ve lived since returning from an overseas stint in Norway in 1997.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The genesis of Merlin’s Knot was a writer’s exercise from a group I was in about fifteen years ago. Our task for the evening was to write a compelling opening. I had an image of a man coming out of an office building and being accosted by someone who looks like a bum wino. The vagrant approaches and says “I’m Merlin. I need your help.” That is almost the same opening line I still have. I was intrigued by the idea of Merlin showing up in contemporary Houston, and asked myself several questions: Why would he be here? How did he get from 5th-6th C Britain to Houston? Why does he need help? The questions kept coming, and the book spilled out.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I read the passage that I wrote in my last session and do a light edit on it before continuing. I find it settles my mind back into the story.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I’ve read The Lord of the Rings every decade since the 1970s. Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever was a good linking of contemporary life and an epic fantasy world. Mary Stewarts’s Merlin Series is an old favorite. In Arthur studies, I’ve enjoyed the works of Geoffrey Ashe.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m doing final editing on Merlin’s Weft, the sequel to Merlin’s Knot. I expect it to be out by the end of 2016. I’m also working on a book set in 17th century France that ties in to The Three Musketeers.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m still learning about this.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
It is important to work with professionals to polish your book. That means a good editor and a good cover designer at the minimum.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
As an independently published author, you have to wear two hats: a creative one and a business one. While telling the story, writing that first draft, keep the creative hat on. But after that, you need to start wearing the business hat more and more, until at the end, that is all you wear.
What are you reading now?
Mostly fantasy and paranormal books. I’m in the midst of the Girl in the Box series by Robert J Crane.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Since I’m retired from a career as a scientist and engineer, I plan to continue writing fiction for as long as I can.
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?
Long ones. The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire (unabridged). Tolkien’s trilogy. How about a complete handyman’s guide to being stranded on a desert island?