One morning, about five years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. I threw it up on the Internet just for the hell of it, and a few months later I was notified that it was to be included in an anthology of the best short stories of 2011. I even got paid for it! I’ve been writing ever since.
Since your latest novel is a historical adventure featuring some infamous literary characters, have you always had an interest in history and/or classic American literature?
Yes, I have always loved to read about history, and I think I’ve read most of the classics—American and otherwise.
How many hours of research were involved in the writing of "Resolution: Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure".
I don’t measure research in hours. Depending on the book, it could be months or years. The book I am currently working on took about a year of research. Resolution took about three months.
Do you always have a full story mapped out from beginning to end before you start writing?
I usually sit down to write a book with no idea where my characters will lead me. I start out with (I hope) a killer first sentence and the last paragraph of the book. Then I set out to fill the in-between space with 100,000 words. I find that the easy part. Sometimes I will bring my characters to a certain place, only to have them rebel when we get there. They tell me they want to go somewhere else and take off on their own. I have no choice but to follow.
Writers are also avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure
I love to read Steinbeck, Jack London, or Beryl Markham when I want to experience beautiful writing. When I just want to sit down with a book and read it in one sitting then Lee Child or Baldacci will do (I can’t put their stuff down).
Do you want your novels to simply entertain readers, or are they meant to didactic in nature?
My mission, first and foremost, is to entertain. I tend to be a bit didactic on occasion, but the message is always embedded between the lines. Some people pick up on it, some don’t. But my job is to keep people turning pages.
Have you got any advice for those budding writers out there?
Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life.
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