Interview with F. A. Schneider

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have enjoyed reading great fiction since I was barely big enough to sit on my Dad's lap. Sometimes, he would read to me (and my brothers) from a big book of Pushkin's fairy tales. He would read it in Russian and then translate on the fly into English. I still remember the scary pictures of Baba Yaga who would sit in her evil hut (mounted on twisted chicken's feet!). Pretty soon he was having us do book reports to "earn the right" to watch TV. I started to write in high school and kept on in college. Then came life... Finally, when I heard a little about John Paul Jones' career in Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great, I started reading about his life. Pretty soon I knew that I just had to try to tell his story. As I started in on this project I rediscovered my old love of writing itself. Hopefully life won't get in the way of writing the whole series!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love the feeling of creating a story out of nothing. You start with a blank screen (or paper) and an idea. The idea falls into the screen and dies. Then something starts to sprout. First it is just the bare shoot. Then a leaf appears. Then another. Then another shoot. More leaves. Winter comes and blows away the weak shoots and leaves. Finally you have a structure that can carry all the leaves and even a few blossoms. Once in a while you "finish" a blossom and you look at it and suddenly realize it has more shades and petals than you planned for. So you prune and trim a bit. And gradually something beautiful has appeared almost on its own. How does that happen? Is there a bit of the breath of God at work in it? That reflection of a Good and loving God, fighting its way into reality, even in the midst of our own self-inflicted tragedy - isn't there something miraculous about joy that springs to life despite all?
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The thought that God has planted adventure, challenge, and an occasional blossom along my path. And, of course, my wife and three kids are always ready to scatter all of these along the way as well.
What do your fans mean to you?
Hmmm. Probably a lot more than they should. Ego. Ego. Ego. Peter Kreeft writes somewhere about how we are so often tempted to find our value by the size of the splash we make in the eyes of other humans...
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords makes it possible to actually focus on writing rather than marketing. (I know... I am supposed to be really marketing as well.) Honestly though, not having to spend time finding agents or publishers means that I can worry about the craft of writing. If it sells, fine. If not, at least it is "out there" somewhere and my ego can be at least partially satisfied.
What are you working on next?
Volume 2 of John Paul. "The Dogs of War" is the provisional title. The quote comes from Julius Caesar. Just as Into the Breach was borrowed (and modernized a bit) from Henry V. A little irony in the title, though. The Seven Years War ends in the first pages of Vol. 2, so there shouldn't be much war at all in it. But those pesky Dogs just don't tend to return to their cages quite so easily. And the subtext of the Shakespeare quote is actually that of revenge more than war. Which is a hint at one of the key drivers of the action in the story.
Who are your favorite authors?
Anton Chekhov. (I love his short stories. While I was working in Moscow, we ran monthly "salons" to discuss them with our Russian friends. His plays are OK, imho.) Flannery O'Connor. (She is amazing in every way. I love the honesty of her journals and essays as well.) C. S. Forester. (How could I not love Horatio Hornblower!) Dostoyevsky. Isaac Babel. C. S. Lewis. Chesterton. Oddly enough, most of the stuff I really love I don't take the time to read. After all, how do you find the time to read the good stuff when you have to read stuff like "Clarissa?" (Just a small piece of the excruciating homework to help me get a feel for language and usage in the 1740's and 50's...)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Counseling graduate students at Yale and thinking about politics, sociology and faith.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Germany, Texas, Russia, and Nebraska (in that order). Germany is shrouded in mists. It is romantic, filled with castles, and haunted by the image of my mother. These are all gone now. I think I often write to try to find these things again. Texas. Well... Texas is a place where you get to run around and catch lizards and play with their tails when they come off in your hand. That part of life is not quite gone and I like to find an occasional squirming tail in my writing these days. Russia. Russia is real life. It is a non-stop slow motion train wreck. Great writers (Dostoyevsky, Bulgakov, Solzehnitsyn, Dovlatov...) have painted living pictures of this thousand-year tragedy and the testimonies of thousands of forgotten saints who have served along these long and beautiful tracks. Many of my friends are following in their steps even today. I have spent many of my own years since Sept. 1, 1969 trying to understand the meanings and glories of this behemoth. Selah. Nebraska is hope. I would like to think that someday Nebraska, Texas and Germany will all move to Russia. In the meantime, I will write stories that might hint about how that could happen.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first good story I ever wrote was about how I got jilted after homecoming. Turned out I was just a trophy date for the dance. Then again, so was she. So I got what I deserved. And, the story took the reality of those feelings and built from there.
Published 2014-09-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Unto the Breach
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 79,810. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Colonial America, Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
1761. As a teenage ship's apprentice, John Paul is thrown into the physical and human maelstroms of life on the high seas during the height of the Seven Year's War. Though Paul will go on to become the "Father of the American Navy," he must first survive this first voyage and navigate the treacherous waters of scandal and conspiracy that threaten the lives of every crew member on the Friendship.