Interview with Ubiquitous Bubba

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I spent my childhood in a hot, refried land known as Texas. My extended family members were storytellers in a grand Southern tradition. We spent many hours retelling and embellishing old stories which were based (sometimes loosely) on actual events. My grandmother's stories were loud, dramatic, and exciting tales that focused on the freakishly insane actions of other people. While she would frown at the suggestion that her version of events was exaggerated in any way, the truth grew stretch marks. My grandfather, on the other hand, was a different breed of storyteller. His tales would wander slowly, turning to look closer at any interesting detail on the way, disappearing down unfamiliar trails, circling in seemingly random directions, stopping to delve into the backstory of every minor character, and exploring the universe with childlike wonder.

Several other family members all had their unique styles as well. We would tell stories for hours at a time. Sometimes, a story would begin that we had heard dozens of times before, but we'd listen anyway. We knew every line, gesture, and expression, but we laughed anyway. There were times we could hardly breathe because we were laughing so hard.

I started learning to read when I was two years old. I was just bored. By first grade, I was reading fifth grade books. We would pull up to the library each week, drag in my box of books to return, and then fill it up with more. I couldn't read enough fantasy, sci-fi, or speculative fiction.

As a result, I grew to love humorous fantasy/sci-fi. When I write, I hear the voices of storytellers from my youth. I see their legacy in my writing and in my characters. I hear their laughter, exclamations, and accents in the background.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote numerous short stories in my elementary school years (ages 6 - 11). To me, the written story was only part of the fun. The real fun began with reading the story aloud to an audience. I always loved to perform and that fact concealed my love of writing. Whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would start with playing drums, performing (literally doing anything on a stage), and then writing.

I had a history report I had to write in junior high school that I almost failed. I wrote about John Paul Jones (Revolutionary War, not Led Zeppelin) from the perspective of his ship's rat. My teacher thought I was mocking him. (I wasn't...) I wrote many other short stories in high school and college. I wrote an utterly horrific, stream of (un)consciousness story in college as a non-credit side project that was around 50 pages long. My English teacher liked it and encouraged me to continue to write. Even though it was not in my major, I took a Creative Writing course in my senior year that changed my interest in writing.

My Creative Writing teacher challenged me in a big way. I learned more in that one class about the art of writing than I thought possible. In the end, she told me that I needed to write in order to fulfil my purpose on this planet. I thought she was pushing it a bit.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Characters fascinate me. Specifically, I love strange and unusual characters. I'm not interested in characters that perfectly reflect every facet of reality with absolute authenticity. I want to focus instead on the bizarre, unreal, fantastic, and improbable creatures.

I come to know my characters through their dialogue. In many cases, I will know their speech mannerisms, accent, idiosyncrasies, and tone of voice before I know how they look. I enjoy writing dialogue even more than writing action sequences.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a day job. Many authors do. It's just my way of trying to counteract the starvation clause in the Starving Artist contract.

When I'm not working or writing, I like to just hang out at home with my family. We love to do things together. My wife and I will read side by side. We'll watch movies, catch some TV shows, and just spend time together.
What is your writing process?
It starts with characters. I'll think about a character, how they talk, what makes them unique, what circumstances brought them to this point, and then start thinking about their environment. I like to place characters in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable setting and then watch them react. I'll explore the possibilities for a while, and then I'll submit it to my subconscious mind to process.

This may seem weird, but some of the best ideas are created in my murky depths of my sub consciousness. I'll have an idea of what a character is like, how they act, where they will go and what they will do in a story. I'll submit the whole thing to my subconscious mind and then think about something else. I never know how long it's going to take. Some ideas have to cook for a long time. Eventually, without warning, while I'm in the middle of something completely different, my mind says, "Ding!" and a fully formed story emerges.

I've told other writers about this and they generally look around quickly to see if they can get away. There have been times when I will examine the newly created story and argue with my subconscious mind. What was I thinking? In the end, though, I usually agree with the changes. I have to. If I don't, there's no telling what my subconscious self might do in retaliation.
Describe your desk
My desk is virtual. I write on a laptop wherever I can. I'll sit in a recliner, an office chair, a horrifically cramped airplane seat designed by sadists, or on horseback. (The horse is imaginary, too.)

On my virtual desktop, there are multiple game controllers, a very large mug of coffee, thirteen various TV remotes, a rhyming dictionary, a badly battered thesaurus, and a miniature team of scientists in lab coats who constantly disagree with each other. There may or may not also be a dragon who periodically fries scientists when they get too uppity.

I've mentioned this to some other authors who usually start pretending to receive an urgent phone call.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I recently completed the second book in The Other Universes series, Blithering Genius. There’s a problem with Time. There’s also a problem with some hair. It’s Evil. The hair, I mean, not Time. Unfortunately, the hair is also a genius, whose experiments with time travel cause disruptions across the multiverse, threatening the very existence of Time herself. When Time isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.

Blithering Genius continues the story lines from Reality Challenged as Psychann tries to pull her companions together to face a threat against Time. Psychann will need help from old friends as well as new allies. There are doppelgangers, telepathic fish, subterranean tunnel dwellers, insane computers, time travelling intelligent parasites, and the Spiders. Sorry about those, by the way.

A few years ago, I contributed a short story called The Imaginary Invasion to an anthology which was published on Smashwords in September, 2013. The anthology was called Wyrd Worlds and it featured short stories from a dozen authors. This story was a great deal of fun to write and it poses the question, “What do imaginary characters do when nobody is playing with them?” The next year, I contributed another short story called Humanity Was Delicious to Wyrd Worlds II. This anthology was published in September of 2014. Both of these short stories have also been released individually on Smashwords and Amazon. I've enjoyed writing these short stories so much that I've started writing more. Boomer's Travels is a character-driven piece about a Texas rancher, a missing pickup, and alien abduction. Deeply Disturbed Donuts is a tale about a strange Gothic donut store and the bizarre experiments performed on the local populace. Duh 'Pocalypse is the sad story about the inevitable decline of human intelligence and the poor souls who are left to wander an ignorant wasteland. There are more short stories eager to come out and play as well. I plan to keep writing these tales while working on the next novel. When there are enough short stories, I'll bundle them together in a single eBook.
Who are your favorite authors?
I would probably choose Terry Pratchett. Readers often tell me that they see some Douglas Adams in my work, but I think I’m more heavily influenced by Sir Pratchett. Not long ago, I re-read Alice in Wonderland and realized that my style has some similarity to Lewis Carroll's writing. Other authors I enjoy include David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Ursula LeGuin, and (of course) Mr. Tolkien. I love speculative fiction and humor. When those two come together, I’m a happy Bubba.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
There's always more to the story. Whether thinking about my own world or those of my characters, the story moves on. I want to meet those characters and hear their stories. I want to see what happens next.

I'm also hungry.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
WARNING! Opinion Alert! Long ago, storytellers spread their tales verbally and by painstakingly handwriting their manuscripts. With the rise in popularity of the printing press, publishers became the interface between the author and their audience. Publishers bore the cost of printing and marketing in return for a portion of the book sales. In time, publishing companies consolidated until only a few huge companies controlled a very high percentage of the market. With the advent of self-publishing, authors have regained the ability to communicate directly with their audience.

In my opinion, self-publishing has several advantages. Authors can connect directly with their readers. Authors can reach an international marketplace. Authors who write for a specialized or niche audience are no longer stifled by publishing companies focused on maximizing profits by selling to the largest possible demographic.

The downside is that it is difficult for a new author to find their audience online. It may take years before readers discover a writer. The flood of new authors self-publishing has made it difficult for some readers to find books they will love.
What do your fans mean to you?
A storyteller without an audience is a strange guy talking to himself on the sidewalk and scaring the pigeons. The encouragement and feedback from readers is fantastic. My first book was released in no small part due to the continuing encouragement from friends and readers to publish.

We authors are a vain breed. We fascinate ourselves with our creative stories and our clever words. We refer to ourselves using Majestic Pluralism or the Royal We. (Well, some of us do...) An encouraging note, a "like", or even a thoughtful review are extremely important to me. I love to share the stories with someone. When a reader connects with a character or a story, it's a wonderful thing. I love seeing the characters run off to play in someone else's head for a while.

The comments I've received back from readers is both encouraging and humbling at the same time. I am deeply appreciative of my readers and I owe them another story.
Published 2016-03-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Blithering Genius
Series: The Other Universes, Book 2. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 113,830. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
There’s a problem with Time. There’s also a problem with some hair. It’s Evil. The hair, I mean, not Time. Unfortunately, the hair is also a genius, whose experiments with time travel cause disruptions across the multiverse, threatening the very existence of Time herself. When Time isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.
Humanity Was Delicious
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,850. Language: American English. Published: September 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(5.00 from 1 review)
Imagine you are the werewolf who ate the last human. What will you eat now? More importantly, how are you going to get off this alien ship?
The Imaginary Invasion
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,350. Language: American English. Published: September 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
When our reality is invaded by extra-dimensional beings, imaginary characters may be humanity’s only hope.
Reality Challenged
Series: The Other Universes, Book 1. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 99,120. Language: English. Published: December 5, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
Someone may have infiltrated the Prime Universe in order to conquer the Multiverse. It's up to a psionic girl and her bizarre companions to stop them. It might help if they knew what they were doing. This humorous sci-fi adventure is the first book of The Other Universes series.