Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Do I remember the first story I ever, read, no. I'm 50 years old and that was a very long time ago. I do remember a book I had when I was about 6 - so in about 1968 or 69, which was a collection of stories about animals. The one I remember most was about a bird that couldn't fly on its own, so it put a model airplane engine under its wing.
As for the impact, I don't know, but I do know all the books I've read have had a huge cumulative impact on me.
How do you approach cover design?
Short answer: I get someone else to do it.
I am a writer, not a graphic designer. I do like to have input, though. I generally try to find public domain images and use them. For me, most computer-generated images look terrible, just the wrong side of the uncanny valley so I try to stay as far from them as I can.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I've read so many books that it's hard to pick five absolute favorites, but I'll try. I can't promise to put them in any particular order, though.
Second Stage Lensmen, by E.E. "Doc" Smith. This was the first SF novel I ever bought for myself. I picked it up in a general store in Errington, BC, I've read it dozens of times since. It was the one book that really triggered my love of space opera.
Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank. In my humble opinion quite simply the best nuclear aftermath novel ever written. It's brilliant.
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read it every six months for over 20 years, what more can I say?
Hour of the Dragon, by Robert E. Howard. Howard's only full-length Conan novel. One of the books that really turned me on to heroic fantasy, or sword and sorcery.
It, by Stephen King. I'm not the biggest King fan, but It, has it. I love how well King captures the essence of a generation. Nobody can write about coming-of-age in the post-war era as well as King.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read lots of science fiction, some fantasy, occasional mysteries and thrillers. I also read lots of comics.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle, which I really enjoy using, but am perfectly happy to read on my iPhone or tablet. It's whatever is closest and charged.
Describe your desk
Three monitors increasing in size from left to right.
I have a curved desk, with a Windows laptop driving a second monitor to its right, then a Mac Mini with a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard and a 24" monitor. The laptop is for play, the Mac is for work.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a British household in a small town on Vancouver Island. I don't know how much it specifically influenced my writing beyond how it shaped my personality, except in that because it's right on the water, I'm far more likely to put sailing vessels in my fantasy novels than horses.
I can sail, I can't ride.
When did you first start writing?
In grade school, but it's taken a long time to get this far.
I first started Amadar over 20 years ago, and then wrote the first complete draft in 2003. I haven't made a dollar from anything other than writing (or editing) since 2007.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind the one I'm currently working on is that I've been a Doc Savage fan for decades and always wanted to write something similar. It's pure pulp with Zeppelins, zombies, hidden cities in Africa, and even talking Nazi gorillas. For more, you'll have to wait for Doc Vandal... (There should be a teaser in my upcoming collection...)
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted to see what I could do. I like the freedom.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I just started on Smashwords, so we'll have to wait and see...
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