Cover design for me is easy. As I write, my wife paints. Somehow whatever she is doing seems to me to be very much connected, and applicable. I'm never lacking appropriate art. She also handles the design, adding the title and so forth. So far the designs remind me of the kind found on the pulp I grew up on. I'm not selling well (yet) so maybe the appeal isn't broad. The style matches. I love her work and Love where it takes me. The whole series associated with the cover for Attenuation reminds takes me into the world of bosons, of quarks, fermionic almost-nothings, of things we want to be perfectly ordered and understandable, but just aren't.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1:Slapstick, by Kurt Vonnegut. For its irreverance, his ability to speak plainly and candidly about things, and to present the rediculous with the same sincerity as the serious. 2:Cat's Cradle, for the exact same reasons. 3:Slaughterhouse Five. -and I'll add at this point that he manages to present horrific things in all his work, and still manage to be funny, and even kind, in the face of things. 4:Vineland (Thomas Pynchon) -again the ability to mix the bizzare with the mundane, the ability to mix the truth into fiction, being surreal even as he hits reality on the head. 5:VALIS (and in the same sentence, Radio Free Albemuth (P.K. Dick)) for the application of hard science fiction, religion, philosophy, and politics in equal portions, and with a straight face, even when being very witty, with a humour that shines through all of it even in the darkest moments.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Larry started as a backdrop, a binding agent. Over the years humanity loses and then regains contact with the signals from another star. Before long I had more Larry story than anything else, so i slapped them together, re-wrote the thing to be as complete unto itself as possible, and to act as a sort of spine on which these other stories, yet to be finished enough for publication, can hang. The Lucky Ones (or, Everything's Just Fine) was completed and released in the Amazon Kindle Store in Jun 2015. It takes place just after Larry's first Day. Possibilities for humanity surviving in a long game (the working title)- not just moving forward past our current set of predicaments, but on to the ones which inevitably follow. It shakes out as extinction. and the survival of a slender thread of life. \ I don't pretend it is earth shaking game changing literature. it is a skeleton, and the beginning of a canon. stories that would make thousand page books, cover entire series' -Larry breezes over them in one-liners. because It isn't so important, really, which heroes triumph over what villains, which empires are overthrown or collapse, and a love story, though the core of any chance at the survival of humanity, is just the means to an end. Larry is not the main character, or the protagonist. our hero is a plucky band of survivors known as the human race. (spoiler) It doesn't look good for our hero.
What are you working on next?
(update: The Lucky Ones was released in June of 2015, and is currently available only in the amazon kindle store) Attenuation books Three and four are both now about half done. and I have a twinkle of an idea for a fourth. "Letters" has a lot of deliberate loose or dead ends, and a lot of stories that are given only cursory mention or are glazed over entirely. one is the mudman bob. There will be more from Larry, More, eventually, about Phobos/New Hope. I have stacks of tiny tales -flash fictions and short-shorts, and even some poetry that will have to be integrated at some pont. Of course some day I'll have to tackle the spiders. They make sense to me, but explaining them might be a problem. Meanwhile I sporadically grind out a piece of short fiction or poetry, as well as the occasional nonfiction how-to article.
What is your writing process?
First there are just all these little stories that come. things that are going to happen. I just try to capture threm, then cobble them together. thinkythinkythinkythink. try to take notes. this part takes months to years, and a lot of 'drifting away' while pretending to pay attention to something else. hard to explain to people that that's me writing. My wife is having a conversation with me about the virtues of whole milk over 2%. I'm working out new kinds of nuclear interactions in an as yet undiscovered variety of 'dark matter'. In the end we are going to get whatever kind of milk she wants anyway, so I'm not really needed in the conversation, and take the opportunity to vacate. then i wait for the chance sit down and hammer it out. and i work as long as i can until someone starts talking to me, or a phone rings, or something comes up that demands my attention. My record for uninterrupted typing might be six hours. By the time the rest of the world has gone to sleep and I am finally left alone to do my thing, I'm exhausted. i can't afford the hotel room and the bottle of wine, but thanks, Maya, for the advice.
'Letters' is a story i've written dozens of times. I have something in the neigborhood of 200k words which are still only nebulous and disjointed parts of the story. I'm welding them them together, right now. as well as making continuous revisions to 'Letters'.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like the classic golden era of science fiction. When most those who were contributing had three things in common: 1:They were working with as much real science as they could manage, which was often substantial. 2:knew how to keep a story short. and 3:they did not have much regard for convention or boundries. Such thing as you find in anthologies like Quark (4, which had U.K. LeGuin's "Shroedinger's Cat, and also a little chose-your-own-adventure style cartoon (i don't recall the author). I love the sci fi shorts. I could never get enough of them. Venues for short fiction are all but gone, even Omni and Heavy Metal magazines seem to have gone the way of the dodo. Those that persist, partly because they are constantly flooded, overwhelmed by would be contributors, seem to lack variety. They seem only to want more-of-the-same ad nauseum, and in my opinion are lacking, therefore. I can read and re-read the works of HPL, or Douglas Adams endlessly, as well.
Describe your desk
I have a little tiny table in front of a folding couch in a trailer on a hill in a caldera, surrounded by woods. I have toys and gadgets. and coffee.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have Kindle apps, for my computer and android tab. Honestly, I'm not in love with e-reading. I still like the feel and smell and texture of pulp. and also being able to read in sunlight, which i hear kindle devices are getting good at. Can't afford one yet,
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the SouthWest US, down around the Four Corners region. I've heard folks describe the landscape there as 'the surface of the moon' or 'where Kirk fought the Gorn'. Indeed there is a lot going on there to contribute to an imagination which already leans toward science in fiction. Clear night skies with uncountable stars, and for similar reasons the sunny days leave you unable to question the power of hydrogen fusion. An odd mix of cultural influences, archaology, anthropology, and nuclear sciences.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
So far, I have had only very modest success with social media, and have tried no other marketing but leaving my business cards lying around. Most marketing technique/method takes more money than I've had to invest.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing since I was about ten, and actually got good at it pretty quick (and got better, and then inexplicably worse, and the more i grow in knowledge and vocabulary, the harder it gets for me to color inside the lines) but I was very shy about it, and anyways enjoyed drawing even more. I have a huge pile of books full of scribbles and chicken scratches and doodles and cartoons and stupid juvenile poetry, and short works and orphans. My first real publicaton was in the early part of the new century, for BentZine, out of Taos, NM, which was a mix of prose, poetry, illustration and cartoons. It was in Taos, as well, that I wrote the first version of "Letters", though that and a lot of other stuff was lost to a faulty hard drive.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was broke. I needed to pull the trigger somehow, and the self-publish game cost me nothing to get into. I might have looked around for a book deal or some attention, if time were not an issue, but not only was it time consuming and most things I had access to were middlemen that wanted to get paid up front to introduce me. DFE has been in existence since 1991, and has always been incuded in all trademarks, copyrights, etc. for everything I've done that nobody will ever see. Still a huge handicap. so far (at the time of this writing) I've made a grand total of fifty bucks from self publishing. -and I haven't got so much as a pair of dimes to rub together. At some point, maybe i'll be able to invest in some sort of promotion, but for now it remains word-of-mouth, and the mercy of the market. the best sellers are the ones people see the most, which happens by who sells the most, which happens according to who is seen the most. so promotion is important. just can't afford it.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a long list. top four? Vonnegut, Dick Lovecraft and Twain. (honorable mention to Harlan Ellison: Deathbird stories is a cornerstone not only of my work but the way I think)
and for the rest, run a search for science fiction writers of the second half of the 20th century. filter out the novelists who wrote huge tomes exclusively. then add some back in, and mix in gaiman and pratchett and adams.
Very few of my favorites are alive. I'll mention a few of those off the top of my head. Niven, Gaiman, Pynchon...
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I learned to read early (compared to most). as a result the earliest thing i read was either Maurice sendak, Tomi Ungerer, A.A. Milne, or someone like that. I still have those stories in my head, and still carry around my A.A. Milne. the first 'real' book i read was The Hobbit, followed closely by the book version of 2001: A Space Oddesey, which was also the first book i really had trouble understanding -had to go back a few years later and start over. a few years after that it began to start making sense. I ALMOST have a handle on it, these days, though anyone else I discuss it with will probably say I'm wrong.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
hasn't yet. just got started. hopefully I'll be able to update this answer in the future, and report that my readership has increased ten thousand-fold
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being someone else. Being god is fun too, but there's a lot of pressure in it. Being a different, but equally flawed and limited person, is quite rewarding.
What do your fans mean to you?
I'll let you know when I have some. I actually expect to make some enemies. I hope they hate me deeply, with passion and vitriol, but can keep it together enough that I don't suddenly need to change my name and find a new country to live in.. Everyone else? I hope they enjoy reading the stories.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Wife, Dogs, Coffee, Bacon, Eggs, Toast. In that order, and above all else. Sometimes one or the other of the dogs will be gassy, in which case the coffee gets a bump up.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend a great deal of time just sitting. sometimes trying to rassle a paragraph, to find a clever string of words, sometimes just sitting. I can do that for days at a time. Sometimes, theres' television, or a movie. sometimes a videogame. but these are things my eyes and hands do while i'm just sitting. i can sit very, very still. it seems to freak people out.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I've read exactly two e-books. my own, in kindle format, and Paroxysm by my friend Gremlin. That one took forever to finish. because its long, and because e-books seem unable to keep my focus, and also because I just have a lot going on lately, and nowhere near as much time for reading as I would like. Notes from the Internet Apocalypse is on the list, too. Another author I know of through social media.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I kinda do. Some stupid thing about rebellious youth finding love in some quasi-futuristic/antediluvian world. garbage. some of the pictures I drew for it were ok. Not great, but OK.
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