Interview with Alan Merrick

Who are your favorite authors?
I read a lot of both fiction and non-fiction. In terms of non-fiction, my favorite writers are (in no particular order) David McCullough, Mark Bowden, Michael Lewis, and Robert Baer. For fiction, I mostly enjoy crime and espionage novels. My top writers are John le Carré, Ken Follet, Dennis Lehane, Len Deighton, Robert Ludlum, James Ellroy, Elizabeth George, Ian Fleming, Rex Stout, and Nelson DeMille.

Authors I love in other genres include (early) Tom Clancy, Woody Allen, Tom Robbins, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and, of course, "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole, along with many others.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. Dune (Frank Herbert) - Dune is one of the most complex and fascinating books I've ever read. The political and power strategies and tactics were both horrifying and amazing to me as a teenager. Just read it again about six months ago and it still holds up perfectly today.

2. Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton) - I was simply floored by the ideas in this book. Who knew if it could actually work, but it's such an original concept! The only time in my life where I finished the book, then immediately went back to the beginning and read it again.

3. Eye of the Needle (Ken Follett) - Follett's masterpiece of espionage and suspense. First book of this genre I can remember (back then) that had a woman as the hero. Fabulous read.

4. L.A. Confidential (James Ellroy) - One of the most amazing books I've ever read. So much stuff going on in this book! Also my favorite all-time movie.

5. Black Hawk Down (Mark Bowden) - Mark Bowden is a great writer and I recommend anything he does, but to me, Black Hawk Down is his best work. It's not only an accurate play-by-play of the Battle of Mogadishu, but it's also a very personal look at the men who fought it. I found the conflicts among various military groups to be really interesting (Marines, SEALS, Delta, etc.).
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I usually know what book I'm after when I go to get it, so I don't usually need to do the (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.) search engine thing. I usually hear about a book I want to read or something new from a preferred author via Internet news sites or blogs. On occasion, if I'm jonesing for a particular author, I'll check on one of the big book sites to see if they've released anything new. That, or I'll pick up an oldie I haven't read in awhile. Ebooks are so awesome for that!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I currently use a Kindle Paperwhite. Will consider the Voyage as soon as they drop the price!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the first story I ever read, but I do remember the first story that had an impact on me. It was a book I read in fourth grade entitled "A Wrinkle In Time," by Madeleine L'Engle. I won't go into the details of it here, but I highly recommend you google it and check it out.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was a short entitled "Insecurity." It's about a man called Vander, who is going for a meeting downtown with a very powerful businessman. He goes through security at the front desk, then boards the elevator. As the car rises, he feels it stop early on a floor below his destination. When the door opens, he is met by a man named Stevens and two associates. Stevens waylays Vander, putting him through some harsh questioning and roughing him up a bit. However, what Stevens doesn't understand is that things aren't what they seem.

I wanted to see if I could just sit down and write a quick story that was both cohesive and readable - sort of a test of my imagination chops, as it were. I took a pad and paper, sat on my bed, and wrote for about an hour. When I was done I had a nice little short that I thought wasn't too bad. I've been going along great guns ever since.
What is your writing process?
I currently write long-hand for first drafts. I use Ampad Gold Fibre Retro spiral pads and Tombow Object pens - my favorite writing combination. First, I outline fairly thoroughly until I have a solid story mapped out in bullet form. I then write each scene, checking them off the outline. I try to write without stopping or doing much on-the-spot editing, striving to just get the first draft down on paper.

Once I have several scenes written, I'll continue writing those still left to do, but I add another daily session where I begin to transfer the written scenes into the computer using Scrivener. I do begin some basic editing at this point, checking for grammar or misspelled words, etc. I may also restructure certain passages if they feel a bit stiff. This overlap method works well for me.

Once I have all scenes into the computer, I print them out and begin changing or adding as needed. Once I have a completed draft, the real editing process begins until I have the final draft. I'll get cover design ideas started at this point also, as I want it ready when the final draft is done.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Short answer - age and money. I'm over forty, so having to wait x-number of years from the time my book is accepted until it's published - IF a publisher will take it - wasn't thrilling me. I'm also much happier with a 35-70% royalty that indie authors make.

Granted, we don't have the marketing machine the big publishing companies have, but I'd prefer to do it myself or hire my own people than to hope the big companies decide they like my book and will, maybe, throw some money behind it. Indie publishing is just a better fit for me right now. If at some point they approach me, then we'll see. For now, I prefer to rely on myself and hire those I need.
What are you working on next?
My next book is the second in the Terry Nines Mysteries series, entitled "Maple's Murder." It's about a well-known Los Angeles chef who is found murdered in his restaurant. I'm nearly done with the first draft and hope to have it out this fall.
What fictional character - in either books, movies, or TV - do you most relate to?
That's a tough one. I'd say, depending on my mood, it's either Atticus Finch or Johnny LaRue.
Published 2015-06-10.
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