Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m an author and playwright in Louisville, Kentucky. My writing has appeared in literary journals, anthologies, newspapers and magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post and The Boston Globe Magazine. I have published one other book, Three in the Morning and You Don’t Smoke Anymore (Etchings Press, 2020), which won the Etchings Press 2020 Book Prize for a Chapbook of Prose. My plays have been produced across the country, some receiving Audience Choice accolades at various festivals.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is a collection of humorous short stories titled (Mostly) True Tales From Birchmont Village. It’s based upon several short stories that I first published in The Saturday Evening Post about a close-knit community of quirky eccentrics navigating through their perceived crises and calamities. I really liked these characters so I was inspired to write more stories to follow them during the course of a year in their lives. I guess I wanted to create my own version of Lake Wobegon, with perhaps a dash of Mayberry thrown in as well.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I wouldn’t consider my writing habits unusual – more structured and regimented. I try to write for at least an hour a day, usually first thing in the morning, when the house is still and quiet, just the ticking of the clock on the living room wall and the furnace (or air conditioner) kicking on and off, before the demands and realities and responsibilities of the day come calling. And if I’m really lucky, I’ll wake up with an idea, or a plot, or just a couple lines of dialogue to work with.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I would say that my interests are varied, but at my core I’m a huge Hemingway fan. I like to go to Key West every now and again, and whenever I do I have to make a pilgrimage to the Hemingway Home and Museum, to the house out back and the second floor, to gaze upon his writing studio and take in all the inspirational vibes. As a playwright, I’ve always admired Sam Shepherd and his use of dialogue, how he could convey so much in so few words, something I strive to do not only in my plays but also in my fiction. For sheer poetry of language, I turn to Charles Bukowski. And being from Louisville, I of course admire one of our native sons, Hunter Thompson. When I was in school, I can remember reading his articles in Rolling Stone and being amazed that you were allowed to write like that, to actually insert yourself into the story! One of my tattoos is a caricature of Hunter Thompson.
What are you working on now?
I have several projects that I’m excited about. There’s a novella that loosely recounts my harrowing experience trying out for the varsity basketball team when I was a freshman in high school that I’ve had lingering around for a few years and I’m now finally getting into final form (fingers crossed) to release this fall. I also have a novel out on submission that centers on my fandom for professional wrestling, and another novel that I’m about to begin my third round of rewrites on that involves a recluse whose prior life comes calling for him in an unexpected way (how’s that for a teaser!). Both of these novels are kind of gritty and honest, and influenced from my time living in a small town in Eastern Kentucky.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Hopefully this Awesome Gang website will prove to be one of the best in promoting my book! Aside from that, I just use whatever other resources I can, from social media to my website to seeking out reviews, and not to underestimate good old-fashioned word of mouth. I have to admit, I enjoy the writing much more than the hustling, but it’s all part of the game.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write what you know, write what you want to read and perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It could be intimidating at first to share your writing with the world. I know it took me a while before I could hit the “send” button (actually, not to date myself, but when I was first starting out as a writer, it was putting that manila envelope in the mailbox!), but I’m glad I did. Also, have a thick skin (which is still a work-in-progress for me) because this is a highly subjective endeavor, and what one person might love another person might hate for absolutely no reason that would make any sense to you.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Several years ago, I attended a reading by another of my favorite authors, Nick Flynn, and during the Q&A session he relayed a conversation he once had with a young actor on the set for the film adaptation of one of his books. This kid asked Nick how to become a writer, and Nick said his response, without being dismissive or flippant, was to “just write.” And despite all of the writing seminars and classes I’ve attended, that simple piece of advice, to “just write,” has stuck with me – and going back to that question above on my writing habits, that’s what I try to do every day, to “just write.”
What are you reading now?
I’ve been so busy on this book that I’m afraid the books on my nightstand have started to pile up, but once I can get a break, I’m excited to read Billy Summers, the new novel by Stephen King (another of my favorite writers – and I guess I have so many!).
What’s next for you as a writer?
Aside from the projects I mentioned above, I want to go back to writing plays, especially now that theaters are starting to reopen. I get such a thrill sitting in an audience and watching people react to something I’ve written, which is completely different from someone just telling me that they’ve read my work. It can be a little stressful, especially if the audience doesn’t react exactly how, or where, I thought they would, but it’s also a total rush.
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?
Let’s see, in looking at my bookshelf, I would definitely grab my dog-eared copy of Fear and Loathing, and Sam Shephard: Seven Plays (we can count that as one book!), and maybe either Ham on Rye or Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame by Bukowski, and what’s a desert island without The Old Man and the Sea.
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