Interview with Vincent Berg

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
That's an easy one. It was only a couple years ago, and I just published it as a book a short time ago ("An Unknown Attraction"). But if you're asking about earlier works, I wrote, illustrated and created my own book back in the third grade, which I still have. It was a school project, where we wrote original material, hand made a binding and made it as professionally as we could, all this back before the advent of personal computers or printers! It was typical little boy fair, with adventures of wild men and wizards, but it's entertaining to read now!

But it's what happened in between that's fascinating. I've always loved to write, and I learned from my father how to write long detailed letters. While he was overseas in the Navy, he wrote everyone he knew, and when I was in College and he was in Vietnam, all my friends could gather around the lunch room each time I received one, just so they could read it.

However, as much as I loved to write, I never saw myself as a writer, and thus I never studied English in college. I was always unhappy with the direction of modern literature, and felt that every book sounded alike. However, I'd always write things for myself. I was a hobby artist, always carrying a sketchbook around, and the pages would be alternately filled with both sketches and interesting story ideas.

When I became disabled much later, I had time on my hands, so I tried my hand at writing. But I never got very far. Despite having interesting ideas, I'd always lose interest after either a few pages, or a single chapter at the most.

It was after years of doing this that I realized that while I could suspend my disbelief long enough to read a short novel, I couldn't do it long enough to write one. That was when I decided to abandon how everyone advices you to write. I sat down, ignoring all the standard admonitions about writing and the next thing I knew I had 150,000 words and figured I needed an editor.

What I like to do is to tell stories. My family is the same way, and my brother is releasing his first book which consists of his stories as a hunter (a professional hunting guide). My sister writes non-fiction text books, but is now thinking of telling stories as well.
What is your writing process?
I have an unusual writing process. First of all, I never use outlines. Instead I get an idea and then let it ferment in my mind, until the ideas start to expand so much they start overflowing my mind, and then I have to scramble to write them all down.

My first book's plot "An Unknown Attraction", was essentially an excuse to throw random people together to see how they reacted. I'd just create a scene, mix the people, and then record what they said and did. It was a great process, but then I decided to try writing off-the-cuff, without first writing out a full first draft. The story ended up drifting and the number of characters really got out of control (see "Racing the Clock").

After that, I decided to change my basic writing style. I decided to cut way back on my characters (think dozens instead of hundreds!), and I changed how much I repeated myself. Essentially I removed all the characters who weren't essential to the plot, and found ways to eliminate what my main character had to tell everyone. However, that screwed up my entire writing process. My main motive was to see how random people interacted, so removing all the minor people took away much of my motivation in writing.

That substantially slowed the conclusion to my "Catalyst" series. "Building a Legacy" took FOREVER to finish! It's finally being edited now, but it turned out much improved. What's more, the frustration with the story caused me to explore new areas in the story, so it went in a couple of unexpected directions, which also tremendously helped the story.

The other thing I do is start out with an ending in mind. I don't know the details, so I don't know where the story will take me, but I know where the story is going in general. Since I like prologues and epilogues, I typically write the final epilogue about a third of the way through the book. I revise it multiple times as I proceed, only writing the final version when I'm done.

A couple cases on point, in one case (don't read further if you don't like spoilers), I knew my main character was going to end up dying, and I had an idea what would happen afterwards, but I never knew exactly HOW he'd die. I never figured that out until I was near the end of the series, and only knew the details as I was writing the final scene. That helps keep the writing fresh, because I never know how the story will turn out, despite having all the steps laid out well in advance. Even when I edit, I add in new subplots, new characters, remove scenes and reorganize chapters. I never know where my story will lead me.

The other thing I do is to set out a challenge with each story. Something that I have to work hard to overcome. This is probably really BAD advice for most writers, but it challenges me, and causes me to take the task of writing much more seriously.

In my first book, I decided I wanted a more legitimate explanation for a harem. In another, I wanted to see how many characters I could include without killing the story. In yet another book, I decided to kill off virtually everyone in the story. But in each case, I don't just dive in and see where it led. Instead I'd discuss the issue with other writers, I'd read up on how other writers handled similar challenges, and I let the ideas stew in my mind until it ripens. Thus much of my story development time comes long before I actually sit down to write.

My newest challenge, in "The Resurrection of Hope"--a new "Great Death" book--I wanted to have multiple main characters, with the story jumping from one to the other, as each one visits a separate city with separate problems to deal with. (Think "Game of Thrones" for someone who did it successfully, just like Tokein handled the death of a major character successfully.) That was why Great Death 3 took so long to start. I knew what was supposed to happen, but I didn't quite know HOW to write it yet!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, I can't remember my first story. I read a LOT as a child and as a young man, and the books started flowing together into one big jumble. I also have a slightly odd mind, in that I can't process certain memories, but I seem to retain other nonessential stuff for ages. That works in writing, because I can always call up random details, but it doesn't work in real life, because I can't remember birth dates, anniversaries, or even what people look like.

I have NO visual memory at all. I talked about my writing process before. One thing I didn't discuss was that I use photographs to overcome this hurdle. When I think up a character, they're simply empty skeletons. In order to flesh them out, I search for images that seem to best portray them, and then try to transpose the personality and details of that one image onto the character as I bring them to life. Each of my characters contain essential bits of many people from my past, but the little details of what makes them come alive come from these outside 'details'.

Luckily, I had an extensive photo library to aid me when making drawings and paintings, examples of things you'd commonly see, like birds, or people leaning at odd angles. When I started writing, I started focusing on images of interesting people, and built the library up with photo sharing sites. Since I never publish them, I'm in the clear in my usage. What I do is similar to drawing inspiration from watching people on the streets. Unfortunately, unless you have one of every character type living in your home town, sometimes you have to shop around for who best fits.

But getting back to early stories. Two early stories that my parents and siblings continually tell me I idolized were "Harold and the Big Blue Crayon" (because he could create his own worlds, which could go anywhere), and I worshiped the children's cartoon "UnderDog". I thought that was the best thing in the world, and I'd swear to anyone I knew that Underdog could easily best Superman in a fight. (It was an argument I rarely won, by the way.)

But having Asberger's, I've always had trouble figuring people out, so I started reading early in an attempt to study them in a world where they made more sense: namely a fictional one where the writers knew what they were supposed to do. Thus I started to read the harder books while still in grade school. I read "The Gulug Archipeligo" before I went to high school (when it first came out), I'd read the New York Times whenever I could (before I ever lived in NYC, simply because it was a better written newspaper), I'd always read extended serials, long before they were popular, and I'd always imagine alternatives to the story. Trying to imagine what the story would be like if you changed certain aspects of it.
How do you approach cover design?
Ah, that's an interesting one. Having been interested in art for a long time, and knowing design and having my own camera, I know how to put things together myself. Essentially, I know just enough to be dangerous!

Generally, I try to pick the most dramatic scenes from my books. Then, not having access to unlimited models of various sizes, shapes, ages or nationalities, I try to find photos I can use. I usually end up using Stock imagery, where I pay so much for multiple pictures, which I then merge into what I want in Photoshop. Not everyone can accomplish that, and I wouldn't recommend it. I'm also sure a Publisher would freak out if they saw the cover images that I create.

My first images were probably my best, as they were the simplest. Just a couple people, a majestic scenery that gives a feel for what they're facing, and a title. My later covers are way too complicated and busy. I wanted to show the central characters in New Orleans (where the first book takes place), having a couple characters reacting to him, and showing him 'glowing' with a mysterious aura (all part of the general thread of the books). However, the detailed images of New Orleans all involve rich photos of the buildings, which overwhelm the eye and overshadow the characters on the cover.

This approach, of using stock imagery to create scenes from my mind, didn't work all that well. First of all, I needed one figure for the main character, Alex, and occasionally one for his sister, Cate. Using random pictures wouldn't have the consistency I needed.

I solved that by recruiting my nephew, who was visiting at the early part of the summer. I photoshopped him over the stock imagery I had, and voilà, I had the exact expression and I could control how it looked. Unfortunately, he lives across the country, and it's hard to impart my vision to a middling photographer at the other end over a telephone. So I continue to struggle with the images.

But the cover design is my last roadblock for each book, and will usually hang me up for weeks as I struggle with just the right image, and then trying to balance all the elements to get it to come out just right.

My advice for others, save yourself the headache and spend the money to have it done by a professional!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Ah, a difficult question, as my favorite books are usually whatever I'm reading at the moment.

Right now, I'm reading the "Game of Thrones" series (to help me figure out how to handle multiple character changes in a story), "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls" (isn't that a great title?), and a couple of different history books.

But it brings up a different question, about what kind of book I aim to write. I love the old timey feel of a book, where each author's sentences sound uniquely like his own. Nowadays, with authors being told to write simple sentences that anyone can understand, I can't differentiate between the thousands of authors currently writing.

I rarely pick a book by it's description or it's cover. I'll use the description to see if I'm interested in the first place, but I have a very simple test for any book I read. I open it (assuming I'm in a book store) to a random page, pick a random paragraph, select a single sentence in the middle of the paragraph, and if that single sentence holds my attention, then I figure the entire book is SO well written that I could easily read the entire thing, no matter where it takes me or what the topic is. And I'm rarely disappointed with my choices.

Oh sure, I'm sometimes frustrated with an author's choices; their endings, their characters, getting factual information wrong, but I'm rarely disappointed in the book itself.

That's what I aim for in my own writing. I want someone to be able to recognize my literary voice any time they see something I've written. Unfortunately, I'm hardly a wordsmith. I never studied writing to discover how to stitch words together. Instead I merely assemble random ideas, and assemble unusual stories out of them. But that's the kind of book that I'd love to write.

Another favorite of mine are the old 'Southern Lit'. They're almost impossible to find anymore, as they're not the most consistent sellers. Generally you'll find a couple bookstores scattered across the south (where else) that will carry a bunch of them. Books like "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," that focus on the unusual eccentricities of individuals, rather than on action or a fast paced plot. Again, I'm not up in that league yet, and I don't think I can carry off a purely personality driven story yet, but I'm working up to one. But it's individuals that fascinate me, and how they respond differently than expected. Fast paced stories are kind of a dime a dozen. They start to sound alike. Most of them are designed to read like movies, rather than to invoke deeper thinking into the nature of things.

Oh, and finally, I shouldn't forget, I double majored in college. I studied Economics and Philosophy. I took Economics purely so I could get a job, but my real love was Philosophy. The irony is that I never got a job in either one, going on to get a job in computers, working as a consultant in both Chicago and Manhattan. And when I burnt out there, I eventually took all the experiences I had and the history of the people I'd met, and used them as inspiration for my writing.

I doubt I could argue philosophy anymore, though I still remember the basics of many philosophers. I can summarize the Hegelian Philosophy of History, just like I can still recite the Gettysburg Address by heart. They don't help much in everyday life, but they flavor how a person approaches life, and how much they value both education and knowledge. So you can add "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" to my all-time favorites list.
What motivates you to write?
Several things, actually. Generally, I think for a long time before I finally hit upon a promising premise. Not everything will work the way I want. Then I flesh it out. But what motivates me to write is the sheer surprise. Writing is very much like reading. I get surprised by what happens in my stories the same way my readers do. My characters do things that I never imagined. That's generally a sign that your writing has taken on a life of it's own, when your characters get up and act on their own.

That first happened to me in "An Unknown Attraction". I'd envisioned an exciting group sex encounter (all plot related, of course). I got part way into it (you'll recognize it if you've read it), and my characters got up and walked out of the scene on me. I had to beg and plead with them to come back, promising them anything in return. They finally did, but brought a list of demands. The lead character could have oral sex with his followers, but no intercourse. That was when they laid out the 'no nookie without cutie' rule, stating they'd only have intercourse with him if and when he found himself a steady girlfriend (again, it's plot related).

That one independent action changed the flow and nature of the story.

The surprises that I find in the story extends beyond just the first draft too. During the second draft/first revision, I'll remove characters or whole chapters, I'll create complete subplots, introduce conflicts and add foreshadowing of what's to come, as well as add in a few 'false starts', just to keep readers guessing. I never really know what's going to change.

The same is true when it goes out to the editors. They'll bring up a variety of issues, and I'll have to wrestle with how to resolve them.

When it comes to later edits/revisions though, the motivations get more complex. Then I'll focus on the language and flow of the writing. I'll try to improve how the story reads, taking delight in improving the story. However, that's a more subtle motivation, so it's not quite as compelling. Editing is hard work, so you've got to treat it as work.

The other thing I do when writing is to set out specific challenges. Usually I'll set a single challenge for a book, but sometimes I'll do more than one. So I set out to kill off the main character in one, kill off everyone in the book in another, and include a 'cast of hundreds' in another.

I realize any one of these challenges could cause the entire story to fail miserably, so I take the writing much more seriously. I read up on the subject, talk to other authors, and read other books where the authors handled something similar. Then I let the story sit and gel for a while, until I figure out the best approach to take to minimize the potential damage to the story. Thus in "Love & Family", when I killed off the whole cast, I put a LOT of work in making the characters fascinating, and in building an interesting dynamic between them . That way the readers would want to stick with the story through the difficult sections. When I released the book, many people told me they couldn't finish it, but I did such a good job preparing for it that they almost all told me they'd read the rest of my stories, even if they couldn't continue with that one. That's when you know you've accomplished something difficult!
Where do you get your story ideas?
I get them from a variety of sources, but generally I weave together a lot of far flung data I've accumulated over the years. Thus my "Great Death" series featured scientific theories about the origins of life, factoids about comets and space junk, details on how viruses enter a person's DNA, and my initial reaction when watching the very first "Star Wars" movie.

My "Catalyst" series bounces between a lot of different themes, like Cate's response to guys obsessing about women's breast sizes, when the women themselves don't know what their own sizes are.

I also have 'advisers'. These are often other writers, who I turn to for advice. I have a 'science' adviser, who'll debate the scientific merits of my stories, and suggest possible directions to take it. (He was the one that suggested the 'quantum brain' idea for the Catalyst series. I knew about Quantum physics, but had never taken the concept of a quantum brain seriously, until I suddenly saw how it would help explain the scientific basis of the story. He also helped me figure out my the plagues worked in "Love & Family", and what the eventual repercussions would be.

Authors provide insights into stories that editors just can't. They understand issues of pacing, timing, build up, let down, easing off, foreshadowing, and many other things that normal people just never consider. And when presented with a writing challenge, they enjoy finding a solution.

But the magic behind my stories are the people, and they come from a variety of sources. From people I've known personally, to imagined traits I see in random people, to stories I've heard about others. I weave all of those together to try to create real, vital characters. And it's usually the characters that make a book live or die. A crappy story can succeed if you care about the characters, while a fantastic story just won't float if you don't care about the people in them.

That's why I'll stop and listen whenever people tell personal stories. I love to listen to complete strangers tell me about family conflicts, or about their troubles at the office. I never know if I'll ever use the information, and if I do, I disguise it so it would never be recognized by anyone. Many people recognize themselves in my stories, many more than the people they were actually based on.

And finally, my readers give me great insights. I answer every single reader letter, whether they praise me or condemn me. If they criticize me, I ask them what they thought I did wrong. But readers bring whole different perspectives to a story, and by addressing those issues I hadn't seen when first writing the story, I make the stories that much richer.

That's not to say that I'll follow everyone's advice. If an idea doesn't fit the story, I'll explain to them why I can't use it. If they think my story is stupid, I'll ask them to explain what I did wrong, and if I believe I made the right choice, I'll explain my reasoning. They don't always agree, of course, but their input is almost always valuable.

A case in point occurred at the end of "Grappling with Survival". Near the end, there's a scene where they discover a male pig companion to the one they'd rescued in the start of the story, meaning they can now restore a major food source. It was meant to show that the heavens were looking out for them.

However, one reader wrote me a letter, explaining why it was wrong. He pointed out that when you run across an adult bore, there's no question what sex it is. If you don't understand that comment, try Googling the back end of a bore!

That produced a discussion of his days on a farm as a youth, and that information inspired an entire side thread in the sequel, where that same pig (or actually it's mate, since I had to switch the sexes of the two pigs) plays a central role in the story. That's how inspiration works. You never know where it'll come from, so you listen to everyone you can to pick up information that you can use.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was an NBPK (Navy Bra,t Preacher's Kid). When I was young, my father's job as a Navy Chaplain kept us moving every two years. Everyone deals with that kind of movement differently, but I loved meeting new people, new environments, and leaving my troubles behind.

That tendency transferred over to my traveling around as an adult, and all those experiences, always being in a different environment and being the 'odd man out', helped me to see things not only from a different angle, but from seeing just how many views there are of the same things.

I think that affected my writing. Instead of seeing the world as just one thing, as a solid thing that's simply a background for everything else, I tend to see it as a changing tapestry, always shifting and rippling. One's perspective is not only different from everyone else's, but it changes for each given circumstance. Thus I tend to write complicated plotlines where elements from a bunch of different places all work together to create confusing situations. My heros just don't seek out solutions, they have to uncover them. They have to struggle to understand just what is happening, why it's happening, and they only figure out over time the best way to handle it, making mistakes along the way.

I was also exposed to a lot of different cultures, both American and others (mostly European). While my brother leaned to imitate the accent of anyone he was with, changing his accent multiple times while conversing during a dinner party, I went the opposite route, attempting to erase all traces of accent entirely.

The result is that my language is, in a word, odd. I like discussing complex topics with intellectual people, so I write that way too. I write complex sentences which most authors shy away from. But I also tend to use a lot of European spellings (British English), but I also use accent marks for many words when I write too. It causes some confusion, but it's how I speak. And often, if my editors don't pick it up, the only time I notice I'm using a non-American word is when someone points it out to me.

Now I'm not talking about referring to throwing my fag out the window, or checking under the bonnet to see what's wrong with the car. I'm talking about inconsistent spellings of words. Instead of using all American or all British spellings, I tend to use a mixture of both. I have no real clue where I developed that habit, but I suspect it was from reading a lot of different literature over the years, and picking up odd words here and there that have stuck with me.

However, whenever someone points it out to me, I always try for consistency to keep from confusing my readers. So if I catch it early, I'll make a point of always using the 'correct' usage in the proper context. But if I've already used the word multiple times in several books in a series, I figure it's better to stick with it than trying to change it after the fact.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Since it takes so long to write, there's a multi-phased feedback. When I'm writing, I'm motivated by discovery, finding out where the story is going. As I've said, after a while, the story takes on a life of its, so I'm as surprised by what happens as the readers are.

During the editing process, which is typically long and tedious and involves rereading the same thing over and over again, I focus on finding new and better ways of conveying the same things more efficiently. I take great delight in trimming excess phrases, rewriting sentences and making confusing segments easier to understand. Unfortunately, for everything I cut, I also end up adding just as much.

Once I release the material, though, there's a whole new sense of reward. The biggest thing is the feedback. Sure, sales are always a positive reinforcement. As nice as it is to see download counts, when you see actual book sales, you know that people are willing to lay down cash for your work, and that means a lot more than simply saying 'I read it and it was OK'.

But my biggest joy (once the stories are released) is the feedback I receive. When people write to me, pointing out errors, questioning my assumptions and suggesting alternatives, it fires up my creativity and makes me reexamine the story all over again.

Some of my best ideas have come from reader feedback. And often, the feedback comes in from left field. Readers will react to things that I never envisioned would become an issue. When I first wrote my Catalyst series ("An Unknown Attraction"), I was shocked that readers HATED the lead female role of Cate, Alex's sister. I saw her as his main support, the one figure who kept him going and kept him grounded, but readers saw her as overly aggressive, demeaning and abusive.

Well, that's not completely true. It tended to fall into two camps. Those with sisters or daughters loved the self assured character who'd stand up for herself, while those who didn't have close female relatives had real trouble relating to the character. But in either case, I never saw the conflict until it hit me in the face.

I then went back and reexamined it, saw several similarities to my own life, and decided to address the issue in the story itself. So I wrote an entire chapter, Cate's 'intervention' (Chapter 15), where the women in the story sat Cate down and outlined all of the ways that she was undermining her brother. Because she'd never realized exactly what she was doing, she took it hard, but it really opened up the character. Not only did it address the issue directly, but it added a depth to her character. She realized she had a problem with how she reacted to her brother, but because it's so hard to change who you are, it added a layer of complexity to the character.

I'm continually surprised by what trips readers up. The kinds of questions that editors point out aren't the things that readers react to. And when I see just what an effect it has, it's important to address those issues, so I see the writing of a story as an ongoing effort. Everyone someone points out an issue in one of my stories, it provides a new insight into the story for me, and I can enrich the story with that new insight.

This is NOT a common approach. Talking to other writers, many tend to consider a story completed and done when they finish with it. This is worsened by the amount of time it takes to get a book published. Going through a traditional publisher, where it takes years from when you finish the story to when you first see it in print, a writer ends up distancing themselves from it, and when it's finally released, they're already on to another story. But the immediacy of publishing yourself gives you more of an open window into the story. By getting to it sooner, I'm better able to react to issues, and I'm more willing to address perceived issues with the story.

So, overall, I'd have to say the greatest joy in writing is to see how readers respond to the work. I had an issue with my "Great Death" series, where women in particular seemed to have trouble with it. I couldn't really get a grasp on what the issue was, since readers that abandon a story will rarely tell you why they quit. It wasn't until I actually watched someone reading it (in this case my mother and sister-in-law), that I realized what the issue was.

The whole 'kids growing up sooner than they're supposed to' and their saying 'we're aware of what's going on. We may not want to get involved, but don't try to hide what happening behind closed doors that affects all of us' really tripped up women readers. It seems they had trouble abandoning the idea of childhood innocence. Even with the wild changes that occurred in the book, they just couldn't see children reacting like that.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean everything to me. It's feedback to my stories that keep me grounded, and their questions about the story help me to address issues in them. Knowing I've written a story that affects people means more than the few spare dollars the books produce. Having people respond to an issue, or say they see something in their own lives in my stories means I'm hitting the right notes in a story.

Writers write in a vacuum. We need silence to concentrate on a story, and having people talking while we're writing makes it almost impossible to focus. So it's only the feedback we receive after a work is complete that allows us to see how successful it was.

A musician know when a note is true or not, but a writer only knows if his writing is on the mark when he sees how people respond to it. If the story doesn't ring true, it comes across as hollow. But there's no real mechanism for writers to realize this other than reader feedback.

The best example of this was in "Love and Family During the Great Death". I knew, going into it that I was going to write a depressing novel that few people would be able to complete. Knowing that, I put it aside for a long time, contemplating how to address it. I talked to other writers and read other books that addressed the deaths of main characters in their stories, and then I waited until the ideas could gel, the concept fermenting until they were exploding from my head.

In order to address the more depressing aspects, I decided to focus on the people in the story, hoping the rich and complex relationships in the story would help the readers wade through the depressing segments (which mainly occur in the last five chapters).

The end result is that many people wrote me what I call 'quit letters', where they say 'I loved the story, but...'. They then detail why they couldn't continue. However, for this story, the overwhelming thread was that while the story was too depressing for them to finish, they ALL said they loved the characters so much that they planned to read anything else that I wrote. That even though I'd failed (in making the overall story readable by my readers), I'd succeeded by reaching them. Even though those readers couldn't stomach the story, I'd created loyal readers. That's a powerful statement for a writer. It says that your words are more than just a page filler, that they reach out and touch people.

That book is still my least successful book, but it's sequel, "Grappling with Survival", is one of my most successful. Once I killed off so many characters, the readers picked up the sequel (which had fewer deaths and only of the more minor characters) and ran with it.

So, if nothing else, when you read my stories, remember to drop me a note if you see anything that makes you question it. If something bothers you, if something sounds 'false', or if you see something that I missed, PLEASE, take a moment to write me a response. I promise you, I take every response to my stories seriously, even those where they call me an idiot and a hack. Each perspective gives you insights, and sometimes the negative responses give more insight than the positive ones do. Besides, I've developed some wonderful relationships with several of my readers.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on a couple of pieces. Once I finish the Catalyst series, I've got a new one, "Stranded". It's a 'space alien' adventure with a twist, where the bad guys are the humans, and the innocents trying to survive are the aliens and those attempting to help them.

It should be interesting, but I'm taking it in an unusual direction. I'm trying to change my marketing approach, so I can tap readers who've never heard of me before, so I'm directing it at a whole new market. It's shorter, less complex, and I've removed all the sex and romance from it.

Because it's shorter, I'm also going to promote the print version. With my other books, I basically ignored the print versions because the price of the print copies was SO high that it just wasn't feasible. But I'd like to see this new work listed on bookshelves and stocked in libraries. I'll probably return to the more 'complex stories', but I wanted to see whether this approach would work or not.

Beyond that, I'm finally tackling Book 3 of my "Great Death" series, tentatively titled "The Resurrection of Hope". After once again sitting on it for a long time, waiting to figure out how best to approach the story, it's flowing quite naturally. This one takes another sharp left turn in the series, abandoning the story of David and instead focusing on the actions of his many followers, who he sends out into the wider world attempting to spread his 'cure'. The multiple points of view in the story was a major stumbling block for me, but I really think it's going to be another dramatic and successful work.
Published 2013-09-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Seeding Hope Among the Ashes
Series: Great Death, Book 3. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 132,530. Language: American English. Published: November 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
The man telling the country how to survive an apocalyptic event must teach the nation how to heal themselves. Six young girls set off in multiple directions, taking David's cure to different cities in the hope everyone can treat their own people while not getting killed. This sequel follows each girl as they journey to different cities, convincing reluctant survivors to let them make them sick.
Series: Unknown Visitors, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 122,470. Language: American English. Published: March 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
"Never Leave Anyone Behind" is a familiar refrain for Servicemen. A crew is incapacitated in a strange land and a hostile government tries to capture them and steal their resources. What if you're not in the military? Do you put your family's lives at risk, especially if they might not live. Josh Evens discovers a shipwrecked alien and tries to protect it and it's crew from his government.
Building A Legacy
Series: Catalyst, Book 6. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 176,930. Language: American English. Published: December 16, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
With time running out, Alex faces life with a new confidence even as events and those around him change abruptly. Alex feels relieved of the need to save his people, but he still feels responsible for them and wants to leave a strong legacy. But what will that legacy be? Follow along as he adjusts to new challenges as he struggles to continue, in this, the last book of the "Catalyst" Series.
Touring Under Pressure
Series: Catalyst, Book 5. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 208,420. Language: American English. Published: October 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Leaving the familiar supportive environment of New Orleans after being exposed, Alex takes his mission on the road. Along with the blur of life on a concert tour, there are dark trends as well: Alex is now nationally known, the media is hungry for news and there are multiple people eager to hurt him. As he travels the country, they learn more about him and what drives people to love or hate him.
Racing the Clock
Series: Catalyst, Book 4. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 184,690. Language: English. Published: September 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Alex seeks to find as many new followers as he can during the limited time he has left, as he comes to grip with the knowledge that his abilities will likely kill him. Before that happens, he hits the road with his sister and an ex-cop serving as a bodyguard. Along the way, they learn much more about him, about his followers, and about leading a mission when one doesn’t know the way.
Normalcy Is Harder Than It Looks
Series: Catalyst, Book 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 242,490. Language: American English. Published: July 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
Having wrestled with trying to preserve a 'normal' last few months of high school, Alex faces an even harder time, as not only does he have to explain to those he loves what his life has become, but he faces several people who seem to hate him as much as his followers adore him. What's a confused teenage atheist religious figure to do?
Trying To Be Normal
Series: Catalyst, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 176,690. Language: English. Published: June 26, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Having returned from New Orleans with a whole new life, Alex tries to become just a normal young man as he returns to school. Can he blend in for the next two months despite having several women following him around? And will his abilities really be invisible to everyone around him? Book 2 in "The Catalyst" series.
An Unknown Attraction
Series: Catalyst, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 157,760. Language: American English. Published: May 29, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
While visiting New Orleans with his family, a young man finds women mysteriously attracted to him. He acts as a catalyst, activating strange abilities in them which he doesn't understand. He's not ready for the responsibilities of adulthood, yet he's called upon to lead a string of followers. Where, he has no idea.
Grappling with Survival
Series: Great Death, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 171,870. Language: American English. Published: January 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
A Post-Apocalyptic world unlike any other. Instead of banding together or fighting each other, here the survivors find a world with few resources, little trust and no desire to intermingle. Fears of disease prevent survivors from reaching out for help. How does society survive if the survivors won’t participate? Book 2 of the "Great Death" series, but can be read without having read the first.
Love and Family During the Great Death
Series: Great Death, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 217,730. Language: American English. Published: November 18, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
A man and his daughter drive into a massive meteor shower that disrupts their lives, but it’s only the beginning. It’s the beginning of the end, or is it? An Apocalyptic tale that focuses on individuals trying to maintain love, hope and family amongst death and dying.