Typically, my desk consists of my lap, my laptop, whatever beverages and/or snacks I may be needing set somewhere within arm's reach (ideally)...that's the benefit of using a laptop is that I can take it with me wherever I may want to sit and write. It could be out in the cockpit of my sailboat, at a picnic table overlooking the bay, or just lounging on the settee. I have no designated "space" that I write. I used to, and I found that it became overburdened with useless things that I didn't need. After awhile, the collected "stuff" just had this energy about it that was rather disagreeable to me, so now it's just me, my laptop, maybe my cat, and whatever else is around and beside me. It changes all the time.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Well, this is, of course, assuming I ever "grew up"! I don't like to think of having done that. Rather, I just got older. But to answer your question, I've lived all over the place. From the dry plains of the South to the mountains of the North, boat coasts and even on up into Alaska. The longest I've ever lived in one location was for...well, let me check my watch. Seriously, it's been like that. Right now, I'm coming up on five years, but even at that, I've moved between two different locations...even if they were only five miles from one another.
Now, how this has affected my writing is simple: I have been exposed to many, many different cultures, backgrounds, people, regions, dialects, slang terms, you name it. It's made me more globally aware. Do I wish that I had settled down in one place? No...because then I wouldn't be who I am today, and I like the person I've become. This diversity has helped me to grow as a writer. I wouldn't change it for the world.
When did you first start writing?
I think I first started messing about with short stories in the second or third grade, but my first serious attempt at writing was when I was thirteen. I had just started working on a science fiction story at that time, and I had the help of two of my English teachers for review and editing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I really can't answer this, because it's still developing. I sometimes think I'm not writing it, but just taking dictation from somewhere else. I do remember that one of the chief images in the book, the sandships, first came to me in a dream many years ago. For some reason, I recently remembered that dream and just started hammering away on a book, not knowing where it was going, what the plot was, who the characters were...and in less than five months, I had the first book completed!
What's the story behind it? It's a space opera. There are many different plots going on at the same time. The central theme is that this planet's sun is about to collapse. That doesn't sound like much to go on, does it? But when you start throwing in politics, religion, manipulation, intrigue, espionage, powers of the mind, fantastic wooden sailing ships that sail the currents of the air...here is where it starts to get interesting.
Do I know the story behind it? No...but I'm learning as I go along.
What promted you to become an indie author?
When I wrote my first novel, "Do the Gods Weep As Well?" under the name of J. David Watson (the sequel to which is long in coming), I had invested years of research and development of the characters, learning about the region of the world they inhabited (my ancestral lands of Scotland that I hope to one day visit in person), and intense study into magical herbalism, meditation, and the training of priestesses within a metaphysical understanding. Finally, over 500 pages later, I was ready to submit the first book for publication. Dozens of unanswered queries and over fourteen rejection letters later, I was disheartened to say the least. So, I self-published.
I didn't have the social media we have today, nor did I have a budget for advertisement and promotion, yet it still wound up coming to the attention of the Forbes Book Club, where it wound up on their recommended reading list for two weeks.
My royalties for that book are virtually non-existent, but from the ashes of that came the understanding of how I can still get my work out there and into the hands of those who want to read it, without being beholden to a corporate entity. Through publishing independently, it is my hope that it will likewise come to the attention of a publishing house who will want to work with me, and then...we shall see. In the mean time, I'm enjoying writing, and others are enjoying reading my stories.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an old, first-generation Nook. I'm not into all of the bells and whistles of this device or that app - I just like what is comfortable and "works".
What are you working on next?
The second book in the Pridewar series. After that, the third, then the fourth, fifth, sixth...wherever it takes me, that's where I'll be. If it ends, I'll start something else. I have a few projects on back burners, to include the long-awaited sequel to my first novel.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I teach sailing to adults and science to kids, so this takes a good chunk of my time. When I'm just wanting to relax, sometimes I'll watch a movie with my wife, play with the cat, surf the web, maybe play some music or draw, or play World of Warcraft for a couple of hours or so. I also enjoy cooking, boating around on San Francisco Bay, and connecting with friends and family on Facebook. Sometimes, I might even get in a little sleep!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes...I even drew the cartoon characters for it. It was a short story about a stray dog named "Chip". His was a simple life, full of simple pleasures. I think I wrote this when I was about eight years old.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I could identify with the characters as they seemed, at times, to mirror my own life. To this day, I try to keep that sense of adventure about me. It's hard, at times - there is always something to try to distract you, or make you adhere to rules and regulations and responsibilities. Sometimes this is a good thing, but often it winds up trying to corral your dreams as well. I try to keep that adventure kindled as much as possible.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I would have to say that it's a combination of everything having to do with writing. I love it when I come up with a good character background and watch as it develops. Plot twists that "work", finishing a final edit, a good story line development...it's all good. As for the greatest joy, I'd say that comes from how others react to my work. When I see that look on their face when a lead character does something funny, or someone gets what's coming to them...even just the shock when something surprising or unexpected happens - I know I've done my job. They're in the story. They're a part of it. And when they look at me and tell me they want more? Yes...this is what it's all about.
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