Interview with Bill Riales

What's the story behind 'The Ghost of Henry Cotton?'
I grew up in Tunica, Ms. A lot of authors change the name of towns where their stories are set to avoid, well, any number of things--lawsuits, maybe. But I didn't. While every character is fictitious, the town is not. I wanted people far and wide to be able to 'google' the town and see where it was happening. So that was my thought--put my home town front and center. Other than that I had collected all these little scenes from my childhood and beyond that just started to gel into a story. I actually started writing this book in 2000. Off and on for a decade and then I put it away along with other novels for about 5 years. I just decided to dust it off, let people read it and see where I am.
What are you working on next?
I have two new books I hope to publish soon. The working title for the next one is 'Kill Room.' It is a story about a working television news journalist who runs up against a story about a local corporation that might just be too hard to crack. I have one other book in the works as well.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have many favorite authors. By default I have to mention Stephen King, since my wife has an entire section of our library devoted to him. But my other favorite authors include Falkner and Hemingway. More present day authors include Jack Kerley, Ace Atkins and Greg Iles.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like yard work and gardening. In fact, I probably like it too much. I also play music, upright and electric bass and guitar. I've been doing that since I was 16 and sneaking into bars to play sets solo or with a band. I also go to the gym and generally take care of tasks around the house. This is all outside of my TV work which gives me lots of access to various events or people I would not normally encounter. It is its own reward.
What is your writing process?
I'd like to say that I have one, but I really don't. I write when I can. If I have an idea for a good story I try to get in front of the computer and write it down. But I essentially follow a thought from Louis L'amour, who said he could sit down on a sidewalk on a busy street and begin his next novel.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Ha. Well since a news organization is still paying me to do a morning show each day--the paycheck. That being said, I do rise at about 3am every weekday in order to do that. But once my feet hit the floor, getting to the studio and being with my colleagues is its own reward--an incredible amount of fun.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The fact is I just got tired of rejection and the insecurity that comes with putting yourself out there. The indie, ebook route gave me the opportunity to let people read my book and decide for themselves, rather than putting it in the hands of only one person in some glassed NY office. And I figured the route could go backwards--publish it like this, and if enough people like it, perhaps a major print publisher will pick it up. I don't know about that. But I do believe it's more fun this way.
Published 2016-03-07.
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