My desk is like a medieval torture chamber. It has no function but to induce pain and confession.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up mostly in Northern California. This did not really influence my writing, but it did give me an abiding love of desert life. Compared to life in Northern California, Toledo is Siberia.
When did you first start writing?
My first memory of writing is fourth grade. I wrote a short story about a small engine plane crash. My teacher at the time seemed very impressed. Unfortunately, that precociousness went dormant for about thirty years. Since writing my dissertation I just don't seem to be able to stop.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I was hoping to provide a means of educating the non-technical manager. It has been my observation that one of the biggest impediments to the use of technology, especially information technology, is the inability of non-technical people to assess its value. This last book was by no means the last word on this subject. I think much more can be done.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I am a bit of a control freak. So, that part of it appealed to me. I also like the idea of eliminating the middle man, especially those who might interfere with the "artistic process." It is not that I reject the notion that others can add value to a project, I just don't think this can be done with lots of people you don't know and who may not have a direct incentive to see you succeed. Writing is ultimately a lonely business, much like academia.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I have not seen any success yet, if you measure those things by money or number of downloads. The truth is that I will probably never know if I am successful because my measure of success would be a major change in the way someone thought. Even if I made a million dollars from writing I might never know the impact I have had on an individual or society. However, if I ever were to learn that I had intellectually influenced even one life in a meaningful way then I would consider myself a great success.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It might sound strange to some but crafting sentences and paragraphs, and the whole process of organization, is the greatest joy. Creating something is a joy. I used to believe that "art for art's sake" was the only measure by which we could judge "true art." However, now I know that without an audience one's creation is nothing more than a momentary pleasure. To truly take joy in your creation requires an audience. It is said that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." We tend to think of this as a comment on the subjective quality of beauty, but it also implies that without the eye--and the mind behind it--there can really be no beauty.
What do your fans mean to you?
I do not have any yet. I'll let you know as soon as they start talking to me.
What are you working on next?
Presently, I am formatting two previous books that I published on Amazon. One of them I spent nearly two years writing. That's my baby, very precious. I am also reworking a novel I wrote while teaching in Japan.
Who are your favorite authors?
Non-fiction: Fernand Braudel, Christopher Lasch, Neil Postman, Joseph Campbell, Lewis Mumford, Louis Menand, Jean-Paul Sartre, and et al.
Fiction: Tom Clancy, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Herman Hesse, W. Somerset Maugham, and Patricia Highsmith. I have also recently picked up Terry Pratchett's work. Fabulous! It reminds me of Douglas Adams.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The possibility that today will be the day when everything changes for the better, not just for me but the rest of the world. As a species we have great potential, even when we don't live up to it.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to watch TV and movies. I also like to travel. Of course, I read everything I can get my hands on.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Primarily from articles I read here and there on the web. I also listen to podcasts that often feature interviews with authors.
How do you approach cover design?
I design all my covers myself. This is mainly to keep the cost of publishing low. I use an open source software called GIMP.
My main goal in designing a cover is to evoke an emotion. Non-fiction covers should evoke an "Aha!" or a "That's interesting." Fiction covers should evoke emotion. They might scare, intrigue, or even revolt. Whatever it takes to get noticed.
One of my favorite covers right now is Matt Taibbi's "The Divide." It is very artsy. I like the juxtaposition of an industrial art installation against the background of a flag, and the implication that inequality is a product of a justice system built on business interest.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"The Hero With a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell because it is a great start when learning about human psychology and religion.
"The Culture of Narcissism" by Christopher Lasch because it explains why modern liberal culture has not only ceased to satisfy but has led to the downward spiral of human expectations. Two complements to this book are Allen Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind" and "Giants and Dwarfs."
Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business" is a great read. Follow that with a read of Richard Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." Fifty years after being written, Hofstadter's work is still relevant.
I have dozens more books I could mention, but I will end with a few fiction titles: Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian," George Orwell's "1984," and J. R. R. Tolkien's "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.