I busted my first chops on Vladimir Nabokov, who ruined me for a few decades until I learned not to emulate him but, instead, to emulate the part of me that is so moved by his work . Beyond that, my fave authors are: William Gibson, Joyce Cary, John Updike, John le Carre, Raymond Chandler, vintage Robert Heinlein, Paul Auster, Harper Lee, David Wagoner, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis,Old Man Tolkien, and most of all, J.L. Borges.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Desperation, devotion, duty, dogs, and my bladder.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Poorly. But I am the house cook, and the family calls me The Dog Whisperer.
What is your writing process?
Sit before computer with face in hands wondering if I would even recognize a plot if I wrote one. I reach around in the fog until my mind touches something, then type it into the screen before it vanishes.
How do you approach cover design?
WIth great loathing for the people who design graphics software, who are obviously mentally damaged idiot savants who can magically use such software to great artitic effect but couldn't teach how to use a microwave much less explain step-by-step procedures.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly non-fiction. I think that dropping out of school in freshman year high school kept alive my love of learning. Also, I adore taking the bookmarks out for a spin and reading some of the eloquent blog posts that grow on the internet like obscure plant species.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm old school and use a laptop.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
It's early to tell but waving my hands in the air and saying Lookit me! seems crucial. The other crucial thing is quality. Being one's most ruthless critic makes for a hostile inner life but steadily improves the writing until it almost looks like something I'd want to read even if some other lucky, best-selling, undeserving, barely talented, hack of an author wrote it.
Next to poverty, a writer's main fuel is, I believe, jealousy. ;)
Sorry that you have to cut'n'paste to see it but I feel t's worth the trouble.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Chicago. It gave me a few adventures that I can use as templates for scenes about dicey situations and dire trouble. My old man was a fireman who told wild stories at the dinner table, teaching me that larger-than-life persons really do exist, and that the unadorned truth is difficult to believe.
When did you first start writing?
Purposefully, not until my early 20s, and then only with ample procrastination, lack of confidence, and an inflated view of my talent. But looking back, I was forced by my 7th grade teacher to write rather than learn how to diagram sentences with the rest of the class. This taught me how to plagiarize sci-fi from whatever anthology I had that month, and that has served me well.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The good side of a seemingly apathetic sociopath, the bad side of his very compassionate abductee, the indisputable truth that dogs are creation's finest living beings, the secret worlds (not magical, merely secret) that might exist in our reality, and the riddle of how someone without a functioning conscience might get to heaven if there is such a place.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
An aversion to agents and glossy paperback covers.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It's a fairly easy platform on which to publish, it has a solid grasp of 'grapevine marketing', and gives an author a way to get feedback from readers while surveying the competition.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Piecing together prose that provides a reliable stream of translated wonder, showing readers things they've previously never seen, ideas they might never have considered before encountering them in my work, and, above all, creating those minute out-of-body experiences whereby the reader sees or otherwise senses what the words are trying to say: they are *in* the gondola of that balloon, they *feel* the cold loneliness of a winter window with its dead spider curled up as if for warmth, they (this is the hardest part, IMO), share the protagonist's sense of love for another being.
What do your fans mean to you?
A reason to try harder and earn their appreciation.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.