Sure, I wrote a science fiction story in the 8th grade. It was supposed to be an assignment, but I colored waaay outside the lines, and ended up with 13 pages of fanciful fiction. That was about 3 times longer than it needed to be to meet the requirements of the assignment, so it's clear that I got carried away in more ways than one. The teacher sent home a note saying I had an active imagination. Mom didn't think that was a good thing.
What is your writing process?
I used to start with a legal pad and a fountain pen. I enjoyed the tactile sensation of actual writing, and convinced myself that it nurtured the creative process. I still make my initial notes and outlines that way, but I don't insist on a good fountain pen anymore. Rather than have to fill a pen with ink and arrange a space I just jump right in. I try not to think about process - just about the story as it unfolds. I write exclusively on the computer now, but I make notes to myself on a pad about things I need to fix or things I need to incorporate later. I keep the pad handy and cross stuff off as it gets folded into the work.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I remember distinctly is O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi. We read that in school. It's the first I knew that fiction could be beautiful and moving and make an impact on one's moral sensibilities. At the same time I was reading a lot of humorous fiction in Boy's Life. They made me laugh, and I liked to laugh. I also enjoyed making other people laugh, or at least, taking them by surprise. I think my writer's heart ended up somewhere in between O. Henry and outright comedy.
What do you read for pleasure?
I usually read contemporary fiction with a comedic twist, but lately I have been trying to round out the list of significant books that I feel I should have read but didn't for whatever reason. For instance, I just finished Vanity Fair and Pride and Prejudice. I especially liked Pride and Prejudice. I didn't realize that it would be so wickedly funny.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Nook handheld and a Kindle reader on my laptop. I use them both, but I probably use the Kindle reader more, just because the only comfortable place to sit and read in my house is where I normally keep the computer. When I was recovering from some pretty gruesome surgery last year, I was limited to using an MP3 player to listen to audio books. That was okay, but I'd rather read.
Describe your desk
I am always going to clean my desk tomorrow, you know, if I finish what I'm working on today. 'Nuff said.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a little farming community in west central Ohio. By little I mean less than 2,000 souls in town, one stop light, six churches, six gas stations, and six taverns. It was damn near perfect. We celebrated out eccentrics, rather than making outcasts of them. That by itself was enough to teach me to focus a quirky lens on the larger world. I wouldn't trade my hometown for anything I can imagine.
When did you first start writing?
About 20 years ago I joined a small writers group in Tulsa, OK. A friend of mine talked me into it. I'd always wanted to try writing, but hadn't a clue as to how to go about it. The group seemed a good way to get my feet wet. Turned out to be a wonderful experience, and I made fast friends and got a lot of encouragement along the way. Even so, I wasn't writing regularly until late 2009. By then I was living in forced retirement and needed a creative outlet to keep me sane. I already had developed some semblance of craft, so I just dove in. I may not be setting the world on fire, but these have been the best years of my life.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Speedster got its start when I had a little fender bender with the used import car that I drove back and forth from work. Instead of just getting the damage repaired, I decided on a whim to have the car tricked out a bit - custom paint, custom wheel rims, chrome plated air intake, and big loud pipes. I was 50 years old at the time, so the whole enterprise was pretty ridiculous. I loved the car though. I did. Anyway I approached a bunch of juvenile tuner punks at a local car show about where to get some work done and what kind of performance enhancements they would recommend, and they invited me to join their club. I went to two meetings, and realized that they were more interested in posing and talking smack than they were in cars, so I quit. The experience gave me the seeds for what I think is a very funny story about a mid-life crisis gone awry. With a little embellishment and the addition of a body count, Speedster was born.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There's a kind of Zen contentment in writing, especially when it's going well. You lose track of time, and even though it wears you out, you still feel energized at the end of it. I like that feeling. I also like the sharing. When someone tells me they really enjoyed something I wrote, that it made them think or made them laugh or even kept them up all night reading, I find that extremely gratifying.
What are you working on next?
I have several projects in the planning stage. I just finished Speedster last week, so I haven't decided yet what to start on next. It will probably be a business farce, chock full of fools, thieves, pirates, philanderers, and charlatans trying to carve personal fortunes out of the more productive efforts of the people who work for them. This will be based on 40 years of experience as a CPA and management accounting executive. I've seen a lot of things in my day, and I can guarantee you there is more than one book in that accumulated experience.
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