Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in two different places. My first seven years was in Erie, Pennsylvania. When my mom and dad retired to Florida in 1976, I was their youngest child, so I naturally went with them. I finished my childhood in Lake Tropicana, near Dunnellon, Florida. Going from a city kid to a country guy gave me some unique contrasts between the different lifestyles. A good part of that has crossed over into my fiction in various ways.
When did you first start writing?
My first year of middle school, in the early 1980's. Even in 6th grade, I was itching to pen stories. I told many an adventure to those who would listen, because I enjoyed their reaction, their desire to know what's going to happen next. My mother couldn't get over how much notebook paper I was going through in the 6th grade, until she found out that it wasn't for school work. She didn't get mad, but was impressed with my diligence.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Darya Rising is a spin off story, from the pages of Passion of the Different and Passion of the Same. I like females in strong, leadership roles. I've always winced every time I heard the phrase, "the weaker sex" and I know, deep down, that a woman can be one of the most influential, powerful protagonists the universe has ever witnessed. Manly heroes are fine, I don't have anything against such men. They're needed too. However, when that one woman rises above adversity, displaying unique qualities, we should recognize her for those feats.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Over the years, I've sent out enough paper manuscripts that would scare any sane tree to death. It never failed to generate a rejection letter that started with, "While your manuscript was well written, this topic isn't popular enough to consider publishing." - Any variation of that sentence possible, got attached to my name and mailed back on the supplied postcard. (It was considered kind to mail a postage paid postcard that was self addressed for a reply.)
In 2009, I found Smashwords.
That should say it all, but it really doesn't. I went Indie to prove to everyone of those editors that they dropped the ball. I've gotten plenty of stellar reviews, my freebie novels are being downloaded daily, and my novels are just starting to glean a little bit of international attention. I do very little promotion in the International market, yet they are the majority of my sales. If I knew being an Indie author would be this cool, I would have done it the first day Smashwords opened their website for business.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The learning curve wasn't as steep as I expected it to be. When I realized that the Meatgrinder wasn't an adversary, but a tool of extraordinary powers that I needed to conquer for personal use, it gave me the focus I needed to take my work and finish what i started.
I started many novels, finishing some of them, putting others on the shelf, and with the ease in which I could publish, I started to think, "Hey, I can finish this one too! Smashwords will put this in front of readers, who will love or hate it! Yes!"
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy is knowing that I entertained a reader, somewhere in this crazy world we live on. My imagination owns a scary ability. It can conjure entire movies from scratch. Worlds. Characters. Universes. Human and inhuman. Writing these things down for another to enjoy is like opening a window into another universe. That's the joy I feel. Giving something unique, that no other can conjure, and having people enjoy themselves when they read about it. .
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. I can count on one hand the amount of fans who have written me more than once. I reply to them all, of course, and I look forward to the day when those numbers are too high to complete that task. Without fans, then who is my audience? Without readers, what are the books of the world to themselves? We need each other. I write, they read, and we're both giddy-happy about it. What more can be said? <smile>
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on Darya the Pirate. Add to that a couple of unnamed projects that may or may not get done by 2014, I intent to have my next full length novel released by 2014. I'm also working on a second edition of the Passion series, which will be ultimately renamed and released in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre, a step across the isle from the original Romance line. The edits and re-write will reflect the new genre without changing the plot and characters, so more people can enjoy the story.
Who are your favorite authors?
My all time favorites are, and in no special order; Roger Zelazny, Don Pendleton, Piers Anthony, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. There are so many more that I simply love to read, but these names are at the top of my personal lists.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh yes. I wrote "A Temporal Mistake" while in middle school. It owned many different titles throughout the decades, but returned to the original title, and original plot, only recently. How I wish I kept so many of the others from being lost!
How do you approach cover design?
Before I was a writer, I was an avid reader. I try and imagine what would make me pick up a book, to regard it with interest. If it doesn't grab my attention, I doubt it would grab somebody else's attention. I believe each book should have a unique cover, one that makes a promise about the story. Showing you a scene, or characters within that novel, is priority. Every novel I've written has a scene within the story on the cover, which is as it should be. At least, that's how I feel about it.
Describe your desk
To say that my desk is the focal point of several dimensions of other-worldly clutter, would be the understatement of the year. I hear there was a war between the paperclips and pen caps, but I think it's all hogwash. I haven't smelled anything burning behind my monitor for more than a couple of years now.
Humor aside, my desk is always a mess. I tell visiting folks that it's a statement for the chaos theory. They believe it, each and every time.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.