Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I never really took my fiction writing seriously and I had another goal in mind: working in the music industry and I focused all of my energy toward achieving that. And I did too. I took a decade long detour through the entertainment industry and got to be a tiny bit of Hollywood history. After that I was working in radio for a while and then I thought I’d been writing so long maybe I should make a serious attempt at fiction writing. But it wasn’t like riding a bike, it took maybe a year and a half before I used all that writing training to get it into high gear! I got signed for a futuristic crime thriller trilogy and now I’m working on my seventh novel and second series.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Brede Chronicles came about as a result of my own author insecurity. I’d gotten a really bad review on some short story or something, I can’t even remember now and I went into a really downward spiral thinking I’d never write again. They say writer’s block doesn’t happen but it does to me at times. Finally, after a year I decided to distract myself with other characters for a while. When I began I wanted to write something deep regarding religion but I couldn’t make it work and besides the new characters were taking over the story. I never really wanted to make a statement about anything deep, lol! So I started thinking about the two main characters, Alekzander Brede and Elektra Tate. I started with their names and knew them and what they and I wanted them to be. Alekzander Brede is half-human and hates his human side. Even his last name, Brede, means ice and that fit him as a cold hearted alien who behaves as he sounds. His first name I spelled with a k and a z to give it a more harsh sound. Elektra Tate? Well, she was my little scamp kind of character grew up out of her element as an orphan in New Cairo, Egypt Earth 2107. Both of them grow a lot in this series, especially after they share a lot of emotional trauma. It is on the dark side, not the typical romance story there’s violence though not too gory. I usually don’t use gratuitous sex or violence since there are a lot of other, darker places to go to that work better most of the time. I do have my characters swear a lot though.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I was going to say no, but I guess I am different than most authors since I just sit down and write if not everyday then pretty much as I can. I call it linear writing either horizontally with characters leapfrogging over each other toward an end like a centerfold crease in a checkboard with the black and red squares or vertically as in opening up a document and start writing down the page to the end. I’ve only met one other author who writes like that when we were speaking at a library. I have absolutely no writing rituals at all. I don’t outline, rarely write scenes out of order and don’t do character charts. I also don’t do revisions unless an editor specifically. My first draft is the only draft, so that kind of separates me from most authors I think.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Good Lord! I’ve read everything from Milton to Mad Magazine and pretty much everything in between. I think probably (as every current writer will most likely say) Stephen King. I read Carrie when it first released and I think I still have the original embossed black cover. He taught me about inner dialogue/monologue and about how to express a dark scene/character and how to create a cliffhanger. I love Colleen McCullough for her Masters of Rome historical series (I adore ancient historical fiction, Christian or not) where her research was both extensive and impeccable and she put a GLOSSARY at the back of each book! I took Latin in high school so of course I loved that series! Also I think what kicked off everything in terms of novels was Shakespeare’s MacBeth. I read that when I was like 8 years old (yes I was precocious, lol) and it taught me about foreshadowing, irony, and most of all the psychology of criminals and pretty much all humans in terms of guilt! Also I credit the World Book Encyclopedia set for enmeshing me in ancient history particularly Egyptian. That’s my favorite of all cultures and genres. I haven’t started writing a true historical yet. I do have the bones of an actual Western crime thriller that was born of visiting Tombstone, Arizona. Just haven’t had the time to work on it!
What are you working on now?
I’m feverishly writing Brede Book Two! In March of 2015 I suffered a full-on cardiac arrest, spent weeks in a coma and then in rehab for months. The doctors said I’d be a vegetable and never use my hands again. Everyone is still shocked that in less than a year I’ve pretty much come all the way back with a few little problems. So I haven’t had a lot of free time to write or promote and am behind for my publisher who is very patient with me. I hope book two is as good as book one. I got a bit off-track there.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Goodreads has come back as one of the major sites I’ve come back to though I’d pretty much given up on them. Amazon as always rules the roost. And then review sites and I have several readers and reviewers who are faithful fans. I like reviewers a lot but it’s gotten so pricey it’s difficult to find something that works. Lots of reviewers couldn’t afford to give free reviews, even voracious readers they may be, because it cut into their lives and time and effort so they started charging or and this became a cottage industry in the last few years with paid for blog tours. And inevitably, those grew into marketing businesses which of course were also paid for by authors. I can completely understand that evolution, it just makes sense for reviewers to charge. It’s just sometimes too much for authors to use too many times. In person signings, presentations in libraries, and book fairs can up readership as well.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I say this constantly to new authors: learn your craft beforehand! Go to writing groups either online or in person at a workshop. You may have a great idea or story but if you don’t know how to write it and write it well it will always show. If you’ve never read a book seriously that shows too. Don’t use words you use in everyday life–write the dialogue the way you’re supposed to not in your dialect or incorrect emphasis. If you aren’t sure there are groups online that you can ask a question and they will be glad to help you and won’t make you feel you don’t know anything. The only stupid question is the one not asked and that is true! Ask away! You may start an entire discussion thread with other new authors who have the same question and a seasoned author who will be glad to answer it.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
There are two pieces of advice I have used to guide my life: “The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path.” Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave and from a fortune cookie in a restaurant:
“You are in your own way. Stand aside.”
That may sound idiotic but I’ve based my career(s) on both of them and I’ve achieved almost everything I ever wanted. Things that can sound impossible or too difficult or even scary I’ve managed to accomplish. I just have to remember to stand aside, lol!
What are you reading now?
Just my upcoming manuscript unfortunately! I wish I had enough time to grab up some books I’ve seen and delve into them but I’ve got so many changes going on in my life along with book two I can’t. I do love textbooks though. I finally learned to love them especially the history ones. Well, okay, I’ve always loved the history text books, but lately I just have gotten into others. I wish I had time to read organizing magazines too!
What’s next for you as a writer?
Well, I think it’s time maybe to submit to an agent or two. I really love and support indie publishing houses. They pay attention to you, they double check your grammar, pacing, etc., and they have absolutely magnificent cover artists most of the time. I’ve never and I mean never had a bad cover for any of my stories or short stories. They teach you things that you should already know for a bigger publishing houses. I’ve always been intimidated by agents though. It’s time to put myself in the path of the gods again…
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?
First, the Bible because I would have time to really study it (especially if I had the Chronological Bible) at last. Second, I think, would be the entire World Book Encyclopedia set again. I wish I still had it or the latest version though it’s more than one book. And any or all of the Harlequin 1960s romances–they were so much fun to read! Okay that’s all more than one book except the Bible but if I had to pick one Harlequin book it would be Dark Star! That was my first Harlequin read and I still have the original printing!!