This is a very good question. A reader is the life blood of the author. It's true that the writer should only write what entertains them, but it's the sharing of that work, from one mind to another, that is essential. There is no greater compliment when a person who has read your book expresses their enjoyment. Without having a fan base you are all alone in a shack on the top of a hill. With your fans there's a party in that shack which has now become a mansion.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on three new books. I'm nearing the editing stage of the fourth book in the RIVERTOWN CYCLE, and have started an Elizabethan murder mystery and a dystopian science fiction.
In the RIVERTOWN CYCLE, the worlds of Faerie and Rivertown are going to come crashing together. This will present some interesting problems for Colin and the gang.
As for the Elizabethan mystery there have been a few problems. One problem I've faced was knowledge based. To acquire knowledge of that time I've had to do a lot of research. This has created a bit of a monster where the history tends to overwhelm the plot. I'm dealing with it by writing a screen play first. A screen play tends to distill everything down into dialogue and description. After that's done, I'll use that as a map to write the book.
For the dystopian science fiction things are a little less clear. The world is a place where sex is mandatory and refusal thereof is an indictable offense. People don't have children in the normal manner anymore. You must apply through the state, then you show up at the hospital and pick the child up. A tidy world that is totally devoid of love and the essence of art. The heroes of this book are on a journey where they indeed do discover where babies do come from.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, the list changes all the time. But here's my list: J.K. Rowling (impeccable plots), J.R.R. Tolkien (writes like from another time), Robert Jordan, Edgar Rice Burrows, Alan Burt Akers, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, George R.R. Martins, Bernard Cornwell, Robert. A. Heinlein, Isacc Asimov. All of them have influenced my writing to a great degree.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing and developing an interesting story. Oh, another author I failed to mention was Cornelia Funk. In comparison Funk and Rowling use two different styles. Funk likes the characters to tell her where she should go, Rowling likes to plan things out and then follow the plan. I do both. The idea of creating an idea and drawing it out of the page is almost magical. You are taking the most ethereal of things, ideas, and using the mind to form flesh around them. In essence you are dealing with creation and works that will outlive you. This is highly exciting, and in my opinion the most difficult of art forms. I've danced, I've acted, I've painted, but writing is often the isolated act of creation.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to run and bike and paddle my canoe. I also began a bee keeping venture. One of the interesting things about writing is that you draw on your own life experiences. Did you know that the bee keeper and the hive have been existing in harmony so long that I believe the hive is not complete without the keeper. The hive recognizes the pheromones of the keeper. I also find myself observing human behavior. We, as a species can be the most amazing and the most disappointing of creatures. We can be sublime with inspiration and then in the next moment descend into the barbarism of insanity. I also teach.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Well, to let you know I'm a great advocate of the classics. Some other authors I haven't mentioned is Hermann Hesse, and Vladmir Nabokov, Shelly, Stoker, Dickens, Burrows, Shakespeare etc. I downloaded all of these onto my Blackberry (about a hundred of them) and am going through them. Right now I'm reading Hermann Hesse's Siddartha...amazing. So, back to the question, I discover ebooks through the library and through the Guttenberg project.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I don't remember the details of the first story I ever wrote, but I remember the desire, the need to write it. It was a fantasy and it was epic in proportion, which was the problem. I had this overwhelming desire to create a world I could control, a world of heroes where all conflicts could be overcome. Of course the story died about several pages in.
When I was studying journalism my photography instructor said this about my pictures: "You have the content but lack the technique to pull it off."
That's the way it was then. I had tonnes of desire but zero technique. Hopefully I've fixed that problem.
What is your writing process?
This depends on the story. Each story will demand a different process. I've explained the problem I've faced with the Elizabethan Murder Mystery, of having to write a screen play to control history and focus on characters and plot.
But I have developed a method of writing, so here it is. I like to write in the morning, as early as possible, because the answers to the questions of the previous day seem to be there. I like to write a certain number of pages each day.
I force myself to stuff each chapter summary into a grid so that I can see where I'm going. If I don't do that the continuity of the story suffers.
When a story takes an unexpected turn I go back and straighten things out. As a result, I rewrite the story about four times and that includes the editing process. When I am sick of the story I start feeling it's ready for someone to read.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes, I do. I was in grad 4 and struggling with learning how to read. I had seen, on the television, an episode of "Return to the Planet of The Apes." Through Scholastic Tab my mom bought me the book adaptation. I loved it because I could see the television episode again as I read. You see, that had been my problem, I was struggling with decoding language, and the language I spoke was the language of images. So, now when I write, I have to see the images in my mind and then everything is all right.
How do you approach cover design?
This is a struggle. The design principle is simple you use the 'Z' pattern. The eye generally moves from left to right from top to bottom. The image you are using should be just off centre. That's the easy part the difficult parts comes with the selection of the image that is going to interest the reader. There are some people that are brilliant at this. A good cover design can lead a person to open the book, a bad design and the book remains forever closed. I know, as a reader, what I don't like. I don't like the covers of Romance or Erotic novels that truncate the human form. Form me the subtext is that flesh is for sale, a commodity to be bought and sold. I'm still looking for someone who can come up with a type of cover that will be associated with my books.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Harry Potter series:
You can't really look at the Harry Potter story as a collection of books, but one, big book. Why is this 'book' so important? It's magic. Not since Dickens has such interest been aroused on an international scale. The other thing about this 'book' is that it's organic. The writing style and tone of the story changes with age of Harry Potter. It is simplistic and child like in the beginning to evolved into all the emotional confusion of adolescence.
2. Tolkien's Lord of The Rings
The three books submitted as one book. This is epic in form and world. Tolkien developed a world, a language a way thinking before fleshing out the story. This is an example of love and a world as substantial as ours. This is the opus of all Fantasy writers. It wasn't the first fantasy written. Take a look at Beolwulf, at Sir Gwain and the Greene Knight, and Spencer's The Faerie Queen, but it's the first time that as a culture we are able to point at something and say, "Ah, so that's what fantasy is all about."
3.A collection of short stories by Nabokov
I find Nabokov's novels rather disturbing, especially his dalliance with pedophilia, but his short stories...oh my, he is absolutely brilliant. It is said that Nabokov saw language like you would see colours, that he then took those colours and constructed his story. His prose is so tight that every word is important.
4. Another series! Alan Burt Akers' Dray Prescott series.
This series touched my as a young teenager. I was having a difficult time with school, with socialization, with everything and I consumed this series like oxygen. Why, I asked myself, why was this so important to me. And the answer was, the hero, no matter what happened to him, no matter what conflict he had to endure, no matter what someone did to him, he was able to overcome it. He had the qualities I wanted....and of course, he got the girl.
5. Last but not least and the most recent Hermann Hesse's "Siddartha." The story of a man in search of enlightenment is an internal psychological thriller. Hesse was a German writer who could peel off the layers of humanity and look at the cause of things, the experience of being human. I find this so very important to me, because in Hesse's characters I see myself and sometimes it's very humbling to look into that mirror like pool and see ourselves, our true selves staring back.
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