Interview with Aaron Belchamber

What's the story behind your latest book?
"Fine English" is actually a screenplay, but it could easily become a book. I wrote 90% of it back in 2007. We went to our best friends' house to a party and met some of their relatives from New Hampshire who moved to Florida. The housing crisis was just bubbling up through the system, putting pressure on companies, governments, communities and families. Symptoms of extreme stress and financial difficulties were everywhere and, unfortunately for them, the affect on this couple manifested very clearly the perfect storm of the "domino effect" consequences that were looming. They bought a house in Florida when things looked great only to see its value plummet. The job market was contracting just when his company laid him off after 15 years of outstanding service with no warning. The mortgage crisis ruined so many lives and it was very sad how so many good people were discarded by American owned companies, its banks, and its government. Thrown under the bus.

In this couple's case, like millions of others, they actually did ship his entire department's work overseas to India. He was good-humored about it, but I know the helplessness small business owners and employees felt -- my ad agency was seeing clients go out of business, some were billion dollar community developers here in Florida. The well went dry seemingly overnight.

I thought what would happen if the little guys could turn the tables on these big international conglomerates and take charge? Not in a destructive way, like unionize and make the country a communist utopia approach, but if the little guys gave the big companies a taste of their own medicine by beating them at their own game through constructive and creative capitalism? It's possible and Fine English is a comedy of how a group of employees who lose their jobs to outsourcing could do it.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There's a challenge with any writing project, the thrill of the unknown, it's a thrilling escape into one's imagination. A writer may have written a complete outline of a story and then sit down to write to only get completely lost and immersed into this world and when you're there, it takes you to unexpected places and unforeseeable plot twists. New ideas spark a different route, just like life, you have an outline, but you're not sure until you're on the journey and there's a certain inner peace you experience being so close to the potential of your imagination.

It's a thrilling feeling when you feel like you have a good enough idea that's worth sharing that others might read. I say "might" because that's also part of the unknown! The most important part of being a writer is that you have to be content to write for yourself, for your own enjoyment of the journey and the experience to meet a challenge you alone have set for yourself. Hopefully, others may read and appreciate your work, enough so they'd be willing to pay for it. But that cannot be the means you measure your success, remember that many artists, including writers, died before their work was "discovered" and appreciated. Van Gogh's story comes to mind.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
We had a writing assignment in 9th grade English class. We all had to write a story with the principles we had been studying -- the story arc, develop the protagonist, etc. So, I wrote a story called "Psychovision" that was a six page horror story about a man who found a way to send signals through the television to turn everyone who watched into zombies who could be controlled. We all had to read our stories out loud, this part of the activity took all week. Mine wasn't just the longest, it was the last one to be read. By the time it was over, the class bell just rang, two boys came up and laughed in my face, but one girl came up after and told me how much she really liked it. Well, maybe the boys were jealous or maybe they were onto something, the point is, your writing and stories will NOT appeal to everyone, but if you find an audience -- another 10 million of that girl that paid me the ultimate writer's compliment, you're onto something. This is true hope for those who think they're engaging in "prolific futility"...
What is your writing process?
I think it's most important to have the big idea first then build around it. The concept and the main vision is like setting a goal for any project. It's a framework that gives your writing some guidance and structure. Then, you create an outline to help summarize the major milestones and events that take place within the story. Get thinking about the story, immerse yourself in the time period, imagine and empathize with the characters. Also, some scenes with complete dialog, tone and action will just come to you, get up and write it all down on paper.

I prefer scribbling as quickly as I can in pencil on a notebook, I think it's the best, most direct way to get ideas down. I haven't been able to record my thoughts by verbalizing and recording, but I know some writers who actually can record their notes this way. Sounds more efficient to me, but I guess I'm still old fashion in that sense. I mean, pencil and paper?!! Right?!!!.....
Do you remember the first story you ever read that had an impact on you?
I loved Richard Scarry's books when I was little, but the real first novel I read that made me interested in writing because of the complete world it immersed the reader in was Stephen King's & Peter Straub's "The Talisman". A close second was "The Neverending Story" by Michael Ende. To me, both books drew you into a new world and being transported to a new place and time where conventional rules of reality just didn't apply is very exciting.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"The Frontiersmen" by Allan Eckert, John Stossel's "Give Me a Break", "Contagious", by Jonah Berger, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, and "The Talisman" by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

"Benjamin Franklin" by Walter Isaacson deserves mention, too.

I find myself more interested in non-fiction, true historical books and Libertarian-related books. Sometimes, like in "The Frontiersman" life is definitely more unbelievable and stranger than fiction and that's amazing. I love American history, I love this country and I am stunned at the political ignorance that has gotten this country into so much trouble with progressivism. There's nothing truly progressive about ignoring the Constitution and degrading all the great things that made our country great. Why do so many want to bring America down when the engine of freedom and ingenuity has done more to elevate the world? Rising water lifts all ships This is why I LOVE books that espouse the principles of the Constitution and Liberarianism. I wish the average American voter would get educated about Libertarian ideals instead of listening to spoon-fed propaganda like tools. If they're too lazy to study the issues, I wish they'd just say "oh, let the Constitution decide, it's guided us these past 240 years just fine" instead of being manipulated.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I personally prefer to read real books on paper. It's more because it doesn't have a bunch of other features and things constantly distracting me -- alarms, pop-ups, etc. Reading off a device that's plugged into the Internet isn't the same as reading a real book, it's a proven fact retention goes down for those who read the same material on a computer as opposed to a physical paper book.

However, I do like the Nook and it's "paper-like" quality. There just needs to be an easier way to flip any e-reader device into "DO NOT DISTURB" mode so the distractions and any temptations for distractions aren't readily available. I guess I'm a purist in the sense of having a book and flipping over the next page, call me old fashioned!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am actually just exploring options. SEO and SEM are definitely important, especially for e-book publishing, which is a natural fit. Still, all that web marketing that everyone else is also engaging in drowns everybody out. I would recommend everyone interested read "Contagious" by Johah Berger, this helps explain why some things catch on and other things don't. It could be life changing in almost any business you are in. I really believe Mr. Berger unlocks some real key learning points that can be applied to any kind of marketing, not just online. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, so much so that people who post a web video for free can get millions of dollars of free marketing. It's happened before.

I guess in the end if your product is good enough that word of mouth will spread, that's the most important thing. Still, if your writing is good but not remarkable, it's an uphill road. Think about the word "remarkable" -- does it stand out enough for others to REMARK-et it?! If not, you might have to resort to other ways to make it part of the conversations of your target audience. I'm not saying you have to rewrite your book or whatever it is, but you might need to think of something creative to get people to share it. That's the challenge we all struggle with -- even Apple with their mighty marketing budgets struggles with how to get their next thing to catch on, if they had all the answers then we'd all be just using Apple computers but we don't.
Describe your desk
I use two monitors when I'm at the computer usually, but with my 17" Samsung Quad Core lap top that cost me $420, I'm happy to do some work in different locations. Still, when I need to be productive, it's a small desk in my bedroom where I have quiet and privacy. Occasionally, I think it's good to have background music or other noise on. Do you ever wonder why you have your best ideas while in the shower. Sure, it's because you're alone with your thoughts, but I also think it's that random, constant, peaceful noise that finds its way into your psyche. Bring a notepad with you the next time you're at a beach on the ocean and let the rhythm and sounds of the waves and seagulls help stimulate your imagination. I'm not kidding, I'm sure there's a correlation between that kind of background noise and creative juice. It's like a massage for the brain, that's how I'd describe it, at least. Man, this interview's going online, I hope some of my friends don't read this -- I'll be joke fodder at the next get together for sure....
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
The first 17 years of my life I grew up in the same small town in Vermont called Essex Junction. By the time of I was 14, I was so bored of Essex and Vermont. I probably would have been bored anywhere, though. I was a pretty unremarkable teenager, pretty lazy when it came to most things. Still, I look back and think how lucky I was growing up that small town community because I am not a city person. Peaceful, a bit slower pace for my taste, but it was a good environment. Playing Little League and walking to school everyday. The train that ran through town, the tracks only a block away from our house would shake the house as it went by.

It really was a charming place to live, but I didn't understand it. I never felt like I fit in. It seemed like there were so few opportunities, business opportunities, job opportunities, so few local collage choices. Besides, I hated high school and felt like I was suffocating -- the typical teenage struggle of accepting and being accepted, finding one's way in the world. It's not fair that because I was an unimaginative teenager I found this beautiful area boring and couldn't wait to join the Army and escape from it -- I did end up living in Germany for four years while a helicopter repairman and I got to see so much of Europe, which is a great experience, but when I knew feeling stifled in the Army after my 5 years I was going to get out and live somewhere else but Vermont. So I ended up in Florida.

By comparison, Florida was business friendly, it had a vibrant economy so I felt much more at home there. I always will feel at home in states that are business friendly and actually appreciate the virtues of capitalism. Vermont, on the other hand, is the extreme opposite. It's depressing there -- their economy, oppressed now for over 30 years by horribly unproductive anticapitalist policies -- they're trying to make it into a socialist utopia without much room for a business and the word "profit" to elbow its way inbetween all the trees and natural beauty. I guess that's the way they want to live, I never really felt welcome in Vermont. Too restraining, bordering on a communist utopian ideal. Be happy being a cashier the rest of your life. Great place to visit, definitely would never live there. Good for them if that's what they want -- extreme environmentalism, self-loathing of the human race, free health care and no jobs. Where's that money coming from? Tourism? If it's tourism, let's not forget all the carbon people burn to drive to Vermont! Such hypocrisy!!!

Anyway, back to how it influenced my writing -- I would say that there were some things that happened when I was growing up in Essex Junction that are unfair to bring up but nonetheless molded my thoughts and skepticism along with the many positive things I absorbed while growing up in a great Smalltown, USA. There was a vicious murder of Melissa Walbridge that scarred the community. I went to school with her, and her friend, a survivor of the incident, Meagan O'Rourke. I was very removed from this incident but it still affected me, these two girls were assaulted while taking a common shortcut home from school by two hoodlums who attended a neighboring high school. It was horrific and such a sad time that soaked the whole community for quite a while.

That and the Catholic church I attended and was an altar boy at had a priest who was accused of molesting some boys, some probably friends of mine at the time, but nothing was ever disclosed. All I know is I never felt comfortable around that one priest and he was one reason why I became a skeptic of organize religion. I know I will always believe in God, to me an atheist is in perpetual denial of his or her own miracle of existence -- how did time and matter ever begin using their "scientific logic", something came from nothing, I mean come on! But the fact organized religion has been used more or less as a way to control populations and amass political power for more than 20 centuries -- this is a fact that at the very least cannot be ignored. Revisionist history is well documented -- to the victor goes the spoils.

All this from living my small life in my small little home town. Don't get me started on how I feel about those zealots who condemn one half of the world because they don't believe in THEIR religion. It's so close minded an juvenile to me. Yet, it is part of human nature, I guess. Not to mention a dangerous subject from many accounts, which is why I brought it up.
Published 2014-04-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Fine English
You set the price! Words: 27,630. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2014. Categories: Screenplays » Comedy, Screenplays » Drama
Partially based on a true story. A politically incorrect comedy about outsourcing jobs back to the good ol’ USA.
Thoughts and Musings of Another Someone Who Thinks He’s Special and Has Something So Revealing to Share With the World in Hopes To Make Money Writing Instead of Actually Working the Rest of His Hopelessly Mediocre Life
You set the price! Words: 8,730. Language: English. Published: January 4, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Biography, Fiction » Romance » General
Not being particularly bright or particularly particular, I sometimes wrote my thoughts and feelings down and have decided to release some of this treasure trove of futility for public consumption.
The Legend of Raven Blackcrow
Price: Free! Words: 2,570. Language: English. Published: September 2, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead
A short story about Raven Blackcrow, an Indian from the fictional "Wamasca" tribe who was cursed since the day he was born. What happened to him and the legend around his death still haunts the South Dakota town of Daunting to this day.