Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.
There are only three more weeks of summer, but that just means there is still time to have our fantasy vacation, and take along a good book. Maybe even get a little crazy with Dave Hardy’s Crazy Greta…
How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
A Sword & Sorcery adventure set in 16th century Netherlandish art by Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch.
How long did it take you to write this book?
I started in late 2008. I completed the first draft in 2010. I didn’t really finish up the draft I submitted until 2011. I had a few other projects I was working on, so I’d work in fits an starts. I’m like that, easily distracted.
You and me both! How many drafts do you go through?
I never keep count. I just work through fixing little typos and grammar problems, while noting larger issues. Then I work through those while noting any more I find. I just keep going until I don’t see any more problems.
When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
I’m a weekend writer. I work 8 to 5, Monday to Friday, so I might work a bit on work evenings, but I really dig in on the weekends. I start losing steam the more the day wears on though.
That’s to be expected with a day job, unfortunately. Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a desk in the front room of the house. Most of my books are right at hand, along with notes and a place to put my cup of coffee or cold drink.
What do you drink or eat while you write?
In the morning it’s coffee, one cup after another, with cream and sugar. In the afternoons and evenings, it’s likely to be water. I’ve cut way back on sodas. I used to knock back Coke and Mountain Dew like it was going out of style. I also found my pants were getting very tight. Nowadays I go easy on the sugary drinks, except coffee.
Yeah, it is hard to get down a coffee without plenty of sugar *wince* Typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
I used to write in pencil on paper, but now it’s my computer. It saves a lot of time. Sometimes I’ll still work with pencil and paper in comfortable chair if I need to work through an idea.
There is just something about putting it down on paper that helps the process along. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
It depends. For less intense writing I’ll listen to music. Right now I’m listening to the Skillet Lickers an Old Timey band from Georgia that recorded back in the 1920s. When I’m writing Sword & Sorcery I’ll listen to Bifrǿst, a German post-Punk/Industrial/Gothic music group my friend Cornelius Kappabani fronted.
I haven’t even heard of those groups! What do you wear when you write?
Jeans and a t-shirt.
Do you have any other writing rituals?
Does procrastination count?
If only it did… How do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines?
I use loose outlines, modifying as I go. For novels I use either a three or four-act structure with six or nine chapters in each act. I have a pretty good idea of where each chapter is to start and end, but I’m flexible as to how to get there.
I don’t think I ever thought about a book being like a play, with acts and scenes; I like that analogy. How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I prefer third person. I tend to splash my settings around, so I often need a scene from a secondary character’s view. In Crazy Greta I stayed close to her. I’ve written a few first-person stories, but with those you need to have it under control, since everything needs to be in that individual’s view.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I’m pretty arbitrary. I am less likely to consider finding the perfect name that represents that character’s personality and relationship to the protagonist than to think: hey can I write this joker’s name a half-hundred times without misspelling it.
That is probably a pretty good idea that most of us wouldn’t think of until we realize we hated the character’s name because typing it was a pain *LOL* Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
Matt Teel, the editor at Urania.
Matt is pretty awesome! What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I called my wife. I was at work, so I wasn’t going to wait until I got home to tell her.
I don’t blame you, news like that needs to be shared immediately *grin* If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Paula Malcomson, she played Trixie in Deadwood. I was taken with her mix of rage and concern for others, which is what I tried to give Greta. I loved her look, beautiful, yet strained, in Deadwood so in a lot of ways she’s how I imagiend Greta.
What is the first book you remember reading?
The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss.
Gotta love Dr Seuss, there is just something so appealing about his stories to kids… and the young at heart. What book is on your nightstand right now?
Hornblower and the Atropos. Also Banners of the King, by Michael Ross, about the revolt of the Vendée in 1793.
Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
I feel guilt about nothing! I liked The Legion of Space, and I’m proud of it!
How do you organize your library/book collection?
Fiction is organized by author’s last name, that is the ones I have room on a shelf for. Non-fiction is organized by subject, myths & legends, history, exploration, true-crime, literary history, etc.
That’s quite a variety of genres, it’s rather impressive. Did you always want to be a writer?
When I was a kid I’d make up stories and write them, then I’d act them out with Legos or toy soldiers. Later D&D was how I’d try to tell a story. Then I thought, why not try writing one? It was a long time before I worked up the will to write & finish.
I used to love playing with lego, but generally played out stories with my dolls instead. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
That’s a tough one, as I think a lot about the writers that influence me and the genres they created. Maybe it would be King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard. Or perhaps Red Harvest (Dashiell Hammett), A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs), or Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy). There’s a lot I could wish for!
If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
Robert E. Howard, I’d let him talk about anything he wanted & I’d listen damn careful, because I wish I had a tenth of his talent and skill.
Sounds like quite a role model. If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Once I might have said Conan, or Solomon Kane, or the Continental Op. These days I think I might want to be Doug Hoover from The Hereafter Gang by Neal Barrett Jr. (a fantastic writer of tremendous imagination). In the end Doug got it all figured out, what more could you want?
What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
A good review. Maybe a lot of quiet time.
What is the best advice someone could give a writer?
Just write, keep moving forward, damn all doubts and obstacles, just keep writing.
Doubt really does seem to be quite an obstacle with as-yet-unpublished authors. What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I briefly lived in Iran, in an American community outside of Isfahan, back in the days of the shah when the US was selling him lots of advanced military equipment. I was in fifth grade and my father worked for the US Navy and that’s where his job took him.