How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
The challenge for any author is to have a clear idea of what it is you want to communicate. It’s called a premise. This can be difficult sometimes especially after you’ve already written several books. The first book I wrote was slow to proceed, only because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, or more precisely, if I actually could do it.
A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
For me it is. As a young person I wanted to be social, but for some reason I found it really hard to start conversations and found it was often easier to write things down, or at least to go over later in my head how I should have behaved. I had to find the courage to engage someone in conversation. Very often, even now for me and for a lot of authors, it is a matter of wanting to be a sociable creature.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I try to read often, but when I am writing I don’t have the time, so I immerse myself in books between projects. My favorite authors, those of whom I have read multiple works are; Tolkien, LeCarre, Cruz Smith, Vonnegut, McCarthy, Chandler, Cussler, Mary Renault, and Crichton. These are a few of my favorite things….
Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
Good heavens yes. I had gone through at least thirty queries before finding my current publisher Sunbury Press. For this reason writers groups can be very helpful to burgeoning writers because they offer advise from myriad experienced authors. Did you know that Jack London was rejected something like 600 times before his first publication?
Which of your books took you the most time to write
My first one, FATAL SNOW. It’s always the first one. It was a learning process for me. I think I spent four years on it, but while doing that I wrote over three hundred pages of a science fiction novel that will never see the light of day.
Have you ever taken any help from other writers?
You almost have to at one time or another, especially in the beginning. You get another person’s perspective and that can help you focus on the task. That is why it is good to belong to writers groups. Every community has them, you just have to look for them.
Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?
I’d be much better looking. I think I would start writing at a much earlier age. I had written several short stories when I was twenty-seven and actually submitted them to a literary agent. He responded with positive criticism, which I mistook for rejection. Just think how famous and rich I’d be now if I had done what he suggested and honed the work some more.
Do writers become narcissists once their book starts to sell?
No. They start off that way. It only gets worse. But to be sure, people flock to success.
Writers usually have a particular Muse, but some also have a different Muse which inspired different books – does that apply to you?
I find one character that really matters in each novel and build upon that person, usually a female, from someone in my life. That isn’t to say she would recognize herself in the character, only that certain aspects of the character guide the story.
Have any of your past loves inspired characters in your books?
Not yet they haven’t. I don’t seem to have any lovers that I’ve been able to use. I write my women to fit how I think they should react to my main character based on the personality I give them. The female protagonist in my latest novel, WISH TO DIE, was inspired, in part, by a Russian girl who used to work for me, but I only use her appearance and how she used it to guide the character’s development. Like the disclaimer says, the characters are fictional and not representative of anyone living or dead.
Which book is the one you keep going back to again and again?
Lord of the Rings. That is, I’ve read it a dozen times.
What is your motivation for writing more?
To improve with each novel. And it seems no matter how much I’ve written about in each book, I still have more to say. This is why sequels are so much fun to write.
If you were to change your genre, which would you choose?
Actually, I am writing in a new genre for my next series. I’m working on historical fiction. This will be about Leif Eiriksson’s discovery of Vineland as seen through a papal ambassador.
What non Fiction genre do you enjoy reading?
History. For instance, much of the inspiration for my second novel, THE MASK OF MINOS was gotten from Mary Renault’s, The Bull from the Sea.
What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book?
The Maltese Falcon. I had seen the movie a dozen times before reading the book, and it was like I was reading a screenplay. And if I had to choose which I thought was better, I’d have to go with the movie. I mean just look at who’s in it.
Do you have a library at your home?
I am a book lover. Do not like to get rid of any books I read. Not even paperbacks. In fact if I have a particular book I remember reading in the past, even from the childhood that i do not have. I’ll find it and buy it and probably never read it again, but at least I own it.
Were you a trouble maker as a child?
I was recalcitrant. Still am. So I was always at odds with my superiors.
Do you recall the first book you ever read as a child?
I have been thinking about this. As I recall the first book I remember reading was a double book from one of those book club deals. One side was Robinson Caruso, and the other side Black Beauty. I read them both, but much preferred the former.
Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?
Yes it used to. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a fabulous idea and tell myself I will remember it, but never do it. I used to hate that i tried writing it down, but never had paper, or I’ll text it to myself but the auto spell turns it into Nonsense, especially in the middle of the night. But now I repeat the though several times while lying there and that can help.
What are you working on now?
A first person account of a priest, who actually existed, and who accompanied Leif Eiriksson from King Olaf’s court in Norway to North America and back to Greenland, a country his father Eirik Thorvaldsson discovered and ruled over until his death in 1001 AD. It will be based on actual characters, but with my own creativity.
Did you ever have a rough patch in writing, where nothing in the story seemed to fit or make sense?
I have and often. That is where it’s good to have outside help, someone to bounce ideas off of, even by the time it gets into the editors hands where they can make sense out of the manuscript, move some things around or delete scenes, suddenly it all comes together. Mostly I just have to really struggle through it and hope for the best. Bourbon can help as well.
Do contemporary writers have the kind of animosity that competitors in showbiz seem to have?
My favorite line from Woody Allen’s movie, The Midnight in Paris, with which I agree, is when Hemingway says, (and I paraphrase) “I never read other authors work, because if it’s bad then I hate it because it’s bad, and if it’ s good, I hate it even more.” So, yes.