Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, the actual city, and I would say it has greatly influenced my writing. I'm sure you and many others know what kind of reputation Detroit has, and while there is some truth to it, there is so much more to the city than that. One thing people don't realize is that Detroit has a very rich history, from The Big Three, Motown, sports and the great riots from the 1960s and 1970s. No matter where you visit, the neighborhood has it's own story to tell. So to use those locations in your book opens the door for a wealth of story and setting building.
Another thing many people don't realize is the pride Detroiters feel for their city. Sure, there are some bad apples, and we are not blind to the city's problems, but there is a unique way of life and personality you find in the city that I haven't found in other places, and I have traveled extensively.
Lastly, because of the cities issues, it is virtually impossible to lead a sheltered life as a child or an adult. Most people would not willing expose their kids to some of the things that I have seen, but those things have taught me so much about life, and have really prepared me for the worse. I am not an easy target to deceive, and I owe some of that to growing up in Detroit.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing poems when I was in middle school, and I dabbled a bit with story telling in high school, but I did not begin seriously writing novella and novel length works until the second or third year in college. The thought of publishing anything didn't come to much later.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Once the thought of publishing was on the table, I had no choice but to consider how to go about doing it. Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was traditional publishing, so I looked into it, and was really turned off. One, I did not like the the idea of waiting months to hear whether a publishing house was interested. I'm known for many things, but patience isn't one of them. Two, while I am very open to editing and criticism, I did not like the idea of my story being altered merely for sales. If it is bad writing, by all means, change it. But, to change a perfectly good story just because a few more people would like it doesn't sit well with me. I guess that's easy for me to say, because I have never considered becoming a full-time writer. It is a big part of my life, but I must also use the left side of my brain to be fully happy, so science is here to stay.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me has always been the release of creativity. I literally have so many plots, themes, scenes and characters floating around in my head that I am sure that if a shrink could see them, I would be committed to a mental ward in two seconds. In order to keep from going mad, I write everything down to organize and release it. Now, once someone reads what I write and gets pleasure out of it, the endorphins really get going.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean a great deal to me. No matter who you are, there are periods when you just can't get it going. The plot bunnies and creative juices are still present, but for whatever reason, you can't change the ideas into words. That when a fan comes along and expresses enthusiasm for your work, and magically, things get moving. Of course, it's not 100 percent guaranteed, but often, it really helps.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I am not writing, I'm usually working towards my science career, teaching, reading, travelling, fostering shelter animals and/or spending time with my family and friends.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Often times, I search Amazon or Smashwords for the genres I like, then look at the covers and read the descriptions. If a person doesn't put even a little effort into their cover, I don't trust their seriousness about their writing. I'm not, by any means, saying that covers should rival what the big publishers put out, but some effort should be shown. As for descriptions, if a person can't write a few sentences to draw interest to a product that they created, I'm not going to trust that they can keep my interest for thousands of words.
How do you approach cover design?
This is a funny question, because I am terrible at cover design, but I fully understand how important they are. If I plan on designing it myself, I try to keep it as simple as possible without it being a total bore. I've learned that if your ideas exceed your skills, you're going to make something ugly. So, I really look at what the main plot of the story is, and then look for a subtle way to convey that. There are lots of options available to you if your work is in the middle grade or young adult genres. If it is not, like mine, you have to be very careful. If you get too cutesy, you're going to mislead some folks.
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