Being the co-author of A Protocol for Grace has been a privilege and a burden. I have been working on the book with Christine Enking for many years now and have been impressed with Christine's tenacity and generosity. Christine has done most of the heavy lifting as far as self-publishing goes and I have gotten fully on board as I have looked into Smashwords and their publishing methods.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It's too early to tell as we have just recently begun the process, but we are optimistic and, like most authors, hopeful. I do like the many e-publishing platforms that Smashwords offers and believe that multiple possibilities increase the chances for success.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There are few things in life as satisfying as having the words come together in a way that manages to express exactly what I want to say exactly how I want to say it. I do not particularly enjoy writing as I find it labor intensive. And working with a co-author—even one as generous and collaborative as Christine is—does not make things easier. But there is a great deal of satisfaction when the effort comes together in pleasing manner.
What do your fans mean to you?
Don't really have any fans at this point. Our book is not necessarily a pleasant read. It is a gritty and haunting story and it is our hope that it will engender discussion and perhaps even controversy. It will be interesting to discover if we garner any fans and, if so, how they will express themselves.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a semi-autobiographical novel entitled The Darkness and the Light. I am also working on my personal memoirs but they are intended solely for my children and grandchildren.
Who are your favorite authors?
Yikes! Not enough time or space. The books I have loved most and have read and re-read have been by Fitzgerald, Golding, Heinlein, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Pat Conroy, Urusula K. Le Guin. I love mid-20th century science fiction and short stories, too. ("An Apple—A Measure of Oats" by Cecilia Dobrowski is one of the greatest pieces of writing ever!) M.L. Stedman is a recent discovery.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Learning how to be retired! I also have 2 adult children and 3 grandsons who are the joys of my life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I watch a lot of movies and Premiere League soccer from England. I have a woodworking shop and am constantly tinkering around my house. In the summer I golf, fish, and sail. I love crossword puzzles and the like (but not sudoku!) and I usually read at least a couple of hours a day.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I don't read ebooks myself. I had a reader a few years ago but found that I still need the tactile reality of a book. I guess I'm just old-school that way. I'm glad the technology works for others, though.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do. It was a terrible tale of a man trying to escape from a prison camp in World War II. I was 10 or 11, I think. I look back with pride on the ambition, but it was loaded with clichés and very, very short! He got shot a just outside the fence, a few yards from the safety of the woods. He died thinking of his wife and children thousands if miles distant and as gazed on the nearness of the trees and the possibility of escape and realized he had been "so close, so close! So far away!" Sheesh.
What is your writing process?
I am a streak writer which means i write when the mood hits me. Not a good process if one is interested in results. But my professional life has been consistently enervating and I find writing hard work so the two have been fairly incompatible through the years. Now that I'm semi-retired and rapidly moving towards complete retirement, I'm hoping to make more time to write and to become more disciplined in the craft.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I can remember reading by myself was a science fiction book which I remember as "The Little Men." (Not Alcott! I have never found the book so who knows what it was?) There was a scene in which the protagonists in the story were climbing a steep cliff and were falling off, one by one. That's all I remember but that scene has stuck in my head for over half a century. I also vaguely remember "The Boxcar Children" and "The Hardy Boys."
How do you approach cover design?
I look a lot of other books and adapt what I like. I don't ever remember being much influenced by a book's cover so I don't freak out over it. I like our current cover which was very collaborative between Christine and me, and I already know what I want for the novel I am working on. It is important to me that I like the design regardless. Others may know what's "best," but I know what I like.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Don't be ridiculous! Five! Only five! OK, I'll play. "The Lord of the Flies." Golding. Read it as a adolescent and it struck me. I've written several major papers on it for school and college. "The Great Gatsby." Fitzgerald. A good story and beautiful prose. "The Water is Wide." Conroy. Perhaps the world's longest poem. Just gorgeous writing. "Legacy of Heorot." Niven and Pournelle. Great science fiction. Based in science fact and extended to a compelling story. "The Light Between Oceans." M.L. Stedman. A beautiful story beautifully told. Ask me next week and I'll five different ones.
What do you read for pleasure?
The newspaper. Science fiction short stories. Books recommended to me by friends. Poetry.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an i-Pad but seldom use it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Too early to even attempt an answer here.
Describe your desk
I have 3 actually. All piled high and deep with papers, tools, reading glasses, and other stuff. Haven't seen the top of any desk for years.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I moved as a child. North Dakota, Iowa, New York City, North Dakota again, Minnesota. A short stint in Cameroon. I believe that all writing is, to some extent, autobiographical. So my childhood experiences have helped shape who I am and that always comes out in my writing in one way or another. I am grateful for the variety I experienced in the geographical differences of people, cultures, and language differences.
When did you first start writing?
As a child. I got more serious in my late teens and was a prolific letter writer for many years. (How I still miss getting snail mail!) I wrote book reviews for my church library in my early 20s and frequent letters to the editors of various papers. I have written poetry for over 50 years. Some of it is actually OK. As an educator and counselor, I have written numerous essays on educational topics and personal growth.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Christine asked me to help and I said yes. See Christine Enking's author page for more information.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.