I got a Kindle for Father's Day a couple of years ago, and so far that's my only e-reader. I'll confess that I still have a strong preference for dead-tree books, but after my last move, I like my Kindle a little better.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I mostly rely on the tried and true. If I see something that I haven't read by an author I know I like, I'll read that. As we all know, there are far too many books out there to read them all. We can only hope to make a tiny dent in the canon of great literature, so I mostly stick with what I know I'll like. Also, my wife is an English professor and--not surprisingly--a voracious reader. Luckily we have very similar tastes, and if she reads something that she thinks I'll like, she lets me know. Far more often than not, if she likes a book, I like it, too. That helps a lot.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read a lot growing up, but for whatever reason, I don't remember a lot of it. The first thing that I remember making a big impression on me was Irwin Shaw's Rich Man, Poor Man, which I read in 1976. It was a paperback, and I remember that it had 666 pages. (Clearly I'm not superstitious!) I loved it so much that I read it twice back to back, and I didn't really wait very long before I read it a third time. That's important because I almost never read books twice. There's too much good stuff out there, and I just don't think that I can afford the luxury of rereading books. At any rate, that particular novel made a really big impression on me. I loved everything about it, and in particular, the character of Tom Jordache just blew me away. Even now, thirty-seven years later, there aren't very many characters that I would put in the same league as Tom. He's one for the ages.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like Russell Banks, John Irving, Ron McLarty, Joyce Carol Oates, Wally Lamb, Jodi Picoult, Maeve Binchy, Douglas Corleone, John Grisham, and Cormac McCarthy. I could go on, but ten is enough for a "favorites" list.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Continental Drift by Russell Banks is my all-time favorite. It's such an incredible story with the perfect marriage of characters, settings, and plot, and it struck me in a pretty personal way. I identify with the protagonist, Bob Dubois, in a lot of ways. After that, it becomes very difficult to choose, so I'll just throw out four more in no particular order. I loved The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty because Smithy Ide is such a unique and appealing protagonist, and the story is highly entertaining and ultimately heartwarming. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb is a powerful story with a strong and remarkable protagonist in Dolores Price, and the overall message is profound. I have to include The World According to Garp by John Irving because it's arguably the most compelling character study of all time. Who doesn't love T. S. Garp? For my last one, I'll dip into the John Irving well again and pick Last Night in Twisted River. It may not be Irving's best story, but I absolutely loved Ketchum, the tough old alcoholic logger. Ketchum is not the kind of guy you invite over for supper with the family, but he's still a very appealing character--quite possibly the most complicated character since Shaw's Tom Jordache.
In case you didn't notice, I like characters, and I have a strong preference for character novels. To me, character trumps all else, including plot. Give me a book with strong characters, at least some of them complicated, and I'll enjoy it. On the other hand, I'll give up on a book with a good plot and bland characters. I can't tell you why I'm that way. I've tried analyzing it, and I've never been able to figure out the method to the madness. It's just the way that I am, and that's why I try to focus on character development in my stories. I know that I can't compete with any of the authors I've named here, but I'm pretty pleased with my results so far. I think most people would say that Clint Buchanan and his supporting cast are complicated and appealing characters. At least I hope so.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
That's an interesting question for me. I am NOT a morning person, and it's always very difficult for me to get out of bed. What inspires me? Let's just say the need to make a living. I'll leave it at that. Honestly, mornings are my worst time of day. I hate 'em.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing pretty much all my life. I've had jobs that required me to write a lot, but mostly I've written to explain and to inform. People told me for years, "Will, you write so well--you should write a book!" My standard response became: "Yeah, I write well, but I write to inform--not to entertain." In 2007, someone said that to me again, and I repeated my mantra. Later that day, I was driving down the highway, and I thought, "Why not, Will? Why can't you write a book?" At the time, I was almost forty-eight years old, and I figured, "Will, if you're ever going to do this, you'd better get to it." When I got home, I went straight to my PC, sat down, and wrote the first chapter of my first book. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is your writing process?
There is no process. I sit down and write. That's it.
What are you working on next?
I've started the third book in the Clint Buchanan Series. I have a title in mind, but I'm not ready to share it yet. Readers of the series may be interested to know that it will be a bit more like the first book. I view the books in this series much like the fast-slow-fast movements of a symphony, and the third story definitely starts out with a bang. That's all I'm going to say!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love spending time with my family, riding my Harley, teaching criminal justice classes at our local community college, listening to music (mostly classical), reading (not nearly enough), smoking cigars, drinking coffee, surfing the Net, and watching some TV and movies. I reckon that's about it. Frankly, I should probably spend more time writing!
What do you read for pleasure?
I read fiction almost exclusively, usually character novels. I generally steer clear of non-fiction, but I do like most of Jon Krakauer's books. I also read a lot of news on the Internet, but I'm not sure that's really "for pleasure." I just like to keep informed.
Describe your desk.
Two words: A mess. That's really interesting, though, because I have a well-deserved reputation for being anal-retentive. I'm not sure how my desk got so messy, but I just can't summon the energy to fix the problem.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Allen, Texas, which is about twenty-five miles north of Big D. It was a very small town (about 750 population) when my family moved there, but it's not a small town anymore. In fact, it's almost unrecognizable to me now, and it doesn't feel much like home. It's kind of sad really, but I have to say that my childhood was pretty idyllic. Allen was a wonderful place to grow up in the 60s and 70s, and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I guess that's why Allen figures prominently in both of my first two books, and people who grew up there when I did tend to like my stories. Clearly I want my stories to have mass appeal, but I've also tried to provide a vehicle by which folks such as myself can travel back to the Allen of old for a little while.
How do you approach cover design?
For my first two novels, I used Infinity Publishing to produce the paperbacks, and cover design was included. I've been very pleased, especially with the first one. The second one is good, too, but they absolutely nailed the first one. No one could have done any better.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
By the time I got around to writing my first novel, I was too darn old to beat my head against the wall for years trying to get published the old-fashioned way. If I wanted to get my stories out there in my lifetime, self-publishing was my only viable option.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I write something that makes me cry, I feel pretty good about myself, but when my stories move someone else--well, nothing can compare to that. When someone sends me an e-mail or a Facebook message and says, "That 'Absolution' chapter made me cry," it makes me think that all the tears that I cried writing it were worthwhile. I even got a message from one of my favorite authors saying that he and his wife loved that particular chapter, and of course, I floated on Cloud Nine for a while after that. I often get messages from people who say that they've enjoyed my books, and that certainly brings me joy. That's why I write. That's why any author writes. When I know that I've brought joy to someone else, I know I've done my job--and that I've done it well.
In closing, what would you like to say to all the people out there in Book Land?
I have twins hitting college in five years, so please buy my books!
Seriously, I just want folks to give me a chance. My books are gritty, and there's some adult content. I know they're not for everybody, but anyone who can enjoy an R-rated movie shouldn't have any trouble with either of my books. Regardless of what you may think about self-publishing, there are a lot of really good indie authors out there, and I'd like to think that I'm one of them. Read my first book, and I'm pretty doggone sure that you'll want to read the second--and eventually the third. Clint is a pretty cool guy, and he's anxious to introduce himself to you. I know y'all are going to hit it off just fine.
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