Interview with Michael LaRocca

What is your writing process?
If an idea doesn't move me enough for me to spend a year with it, it's not worth writing about.

I start with characters and conflict, and finally a first chapter. That probably takes as long as writing the rest of the book. My characters tell me what they're going to do, and I'm sorry if that sounds weird.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I lived in China for six years, Thailand for five, and Vietnam for one. When I got home in 2011, I raided the local library like a beast. Once I finally exhausted that resource, I bought a Kindle. I love it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth, which might explain why I'm still broke.
Describe your desk
I can write anywhere, literally, and I have stories that are sure to bore you. My desk is pristine except for the computer, because I need plenty of room for the cat to roll around. Don't look at the table beside the desk, though, or in the drawers. They're a wreck.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in rural North Carolina. Imagine a list of east coast towns you've never heard of, throw a dozen darts, and assume I lived in at least one of them for at least a year. I'm currently in Durham and need to visit Roxboro more, since that's where my mother's family lives.

But really, how could where a person grew up NOT influence his or her writing. I grew up in a long oral storytelling tradition, though, and I've been told that writing dialogue is one of my strengths, so there's probably a correlation.
When did you first start writing?
Age 9, 1972, I wrote my own comic books and told them to the neighborhood kids. They were popular, but let's all be grateful they were never published. I guess we'll say I "got serious" about it when I was included in the 1982 Who's Who in American Writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I retired from writing fiction again. Three years later, a passage in Incognito: The Secret Life of the Brain by David Eagleman made me stop reading just long enough to realize, "Oh crap, I could build a novel on this." My longest retirement was ten years, and I've probably retired more than Brett Favre, but seriously, I'm retired now. You kids get off my lawn.

(Seriously, a book idea that can't do that to you won't motivate you through what it takes to write the thing.)
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I rarely write in the same genre twice. I switch from book to book, and sometimes within the course of a single book. I've always been aware that large presses don't know how to market me. I started with small presses that provided free editing, which I desperately needed. (Every author needs editing. There are no exceptions.) But as those publishers have gone out of business, I've reissued those old titles, fully edited and looking good. I like being able to control all the business-y aspects of being an author.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
My short story anthology has led to many people telling me "it changed my life." That's why I write, but why then had I only sold 50 copies? On Smashwords, I changed the title one day, and over 10,000 people downloaded it in a single week. Thank you Smashwords! That was information I needed.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Ask any author. There's a feeling we get when we're writing something and it's all just working. The zone, the flow, the whatever. A lot of the writing process itself, to be honest, is grunt work. That other stuff is why I write. Oh, and the aforementioned "you changed my life" emails are nice. I originally became a writer to change lives.
What do your fans mean to you?
Shonda Rhimes taught me how to accept a compliment. Say thank you, smile, and shut up. In person, if you want to talk about my writing, I want to change the subject. But I do appreciate every fan. You write what you'd like to read, and people with similar tastes find what you've done and appreciate it. Given that, having absolutely no fans at all would probably suck.
What are you working on next?
I started my editing and proofreading business in December 1999. I started teaching myself to play piano in July 2014. That's what I'm working on. I really do want to stay retired this time. You kids get off my lawn.
Published 2016-06-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Make Money Editing From Home
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 6,250. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
Make money editing and proofreading from home, full or part time. Honest, legitimate, reputable work for anyone who's literate and willing to work.
Skull Dance
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 83,530. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
A terrorist with a little technical know-how and twenty pounds of smuggled plutonium could make a bomb powerful enough to destroy a city. That's what we should be worried about.
How Red Is My Neck?
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 48,600. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
Can a serious author venture into humorous writing without destroying the last few shreds of his credibility? Let's find out! Dog stories, cat stories, redneck stories, horse stories, the infamous hog stories, and of course stories about China.
About Writing
You set the price! Words: 12,580. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
Everything I've learned over the past 30 years about improving your writing, publishing it, and promoting it after the sale. Since the first 20 of those years involved collecting hundreds of rejection letters, we can hope I've learned a lot. Never pay to be published!
The Chronicles of a Lost Soul
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 48,700. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
(5.00)
A collection of short stories that mix humor, horror, and American existentialism. Over thirty years to write it, but you can throw it away in a matter of minutes.