A very simple inspiration. A woman moved in next door to us who struck me as, to put it bluntly, looking like a vampire. A stark-looking vampire. I kidded my children about her. Called her Nosferatu (look it up if that name means nothing to you.) But it got me to thinking, what if? By the end of the 1st draft my vampire was no longer stark. She was French and attractive. By the end of the 2nd draft she had a full history incorporated - born in pre-revolutionary France, mother died when she was young, father was an awful human being, and it goes from there. By the end of the 3rd draft she rivaled my main character for attention. Juliette's story, in the end, who she is and how she became who she is, rivals, augments and ultimately interweaves with John's.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I worked in the corporate world. I was pretty good at what I did, and didn't hate it either, but eventually wound up doing it not just for me but for my family. You know, how responsibility creeps up on you? So the years went by. My job allowed me to get a glimpse, every now and then, at the possibility I might be able to write some day, but still, there was the family. After MANY years, I finally retired, and having retired, set out to write a novel. Eighteen months later, I completed my first novel, A Veil So Thin, and published it, with much exhilaration! On the one hand it's a bucket list item. I feel like I've done something special and on some level, inspired my kids to keep reaching for the stars. On the other hand, I am very serious about writing. I hope to keep learning my craft so I can make the next novel better and the next one better and so on...
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Wow. The greatest joy comes in that moment when an inspiration hits you. One version of that is when you've been struggling for weeks to work something out in your story. Could be as simple as what one person says to another that caps off a chapter. I had just such an inspiration this summer in the middle of a long, quiet hike through the mountains (tall hills, really) near where I live. It came out of nowhere and I knew it was perfect. Another form of inspiration comes out of even less. I was struggling for days with a paragraph where my main character recalls his past. Couldn't get the wording right, no matter how hard I tried. Then I just wrote a handful of words. That is, my hands just typed it! I didn't think it, it just poured forth, and it perfectly summarized his past. But to me, it was a revelation. Now where do you suppose that stuff comes from?
What do your fans mean to you?
I have no fans, except for my family. Maybe someday.
What is your writing process?
I hope my writing processing is evolving, because I think I broke every rule in the book, writing A Veil So Thin. I did have a plot outline, which that was good, but not much of a handle on my characters, even my main characters, so they were running all over the place. Sometimes that was good, as in the case of Juliette, who evolved from a stark vampire to a fully fleshed out character with hopes, dreams, aspirations, love, loss, etc. all her own. Sometimes it was bad, as in the case of John and his wife. I had a great deal of trouble getting the characterization of their marriage right, AFTER THE FACT, and almost scrapped the story after 50,000 words or so. Once I got that right, though, I was on my way. Sometimes it's the little things - we witnessed a baptism (in real life) that gave me the inspiration to add Juliette's baptism to the book. In the 1st draft that was the only look back on her life, but by the final draft she has a fully formed history, although I eventually, and grudgingly, deleted the actual baptism. I've tried to concentrate a lot on what Donald Maass calls micro-tension, which is not plot or scene but more word by word, sentence by sentence, compelling the reader to want to continue. I'm not sure I'm good at it yet, but how I see that is, writing in such a way that sucks the reader into the life of the characters, obliterating the author for sure, and to some degree, I hope, even the reader, until they're Juliette, in the flesh, heading over the pass, trying to outrun the forces of the revolution...
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was a comic book reader as a child. You see some of that reflected in A Veil So Thin. One of my favorites was a Superboy issue called "The Secret of Mighty Boy". It came out in December, 1960. I was around eight. In it Superboy encounters Mighty Boy, a teenager just like him, with super powers, from another planet. They quickly develop a deep bond, as they can be friends with one another in away they can't bond with anyone else. But it turns out that being close to Superboy saps Mighty Boy's strength, therefore they have to each return to their separate worlds and never meet again. In the last 2 panels, Mighty Boy is looking at Earth, and Superboy is looking at the planet Zumoor, and each of them is suffering the loss of a close friend. Superboy even has a tear in his eye. Now that's all kind of silly, but I was only eight, and it brought a tear to my eye too, to know that even someone as powerful as Superboy needed a friend, needed to be loved. The idea of the human spirit needing the love and companionship of others is something I still hold very dear.
How do you approach cover design?
On a wait and see basis, I would say. I had a beautiful, subtle cover designed for A Veil So Thin. I'm hoping it works, because I like beauty and subtlety, and I like the way the cover hints at the story within. But there may be something to be said for smashing the reader over the head with a cover that screams out at them. Like I said, we'll see.
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