Interview with R.L. Herron

When did you first start writing?
Actually, I was in grade-school. I was a precocious reader and my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Bliss, got me access to the "grown-up" side of both the school and the public library. I was reading Dickens at age ten, Dostoevsky at twelve and writing my own stories for fun. By the time I was fifteen I had written poems, radio scripts, one-act plays and tons of short stories...but I didn't submit my first story anywhere, trying to get it published, until I was seventeen.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
It's been said I'll read anything and everything, and have been accused of having a photographic memory...at least for words (just ask my bride...I once told her the manufacturer's name that was stamped on the sink drain on public water faucets). I'm particularly fond of printed books, and they are my preferred medium. However, I do own both a Kindle and an iPad.
Describe your desk
I actually have two. One is in my office upstairs, where I have my books, an eight foot, self-made desk, a computer, a large-format printer and two barrister cases full of the old cameras I collect. The other is my laptop on the kitchen table, where most of my writing actually happens.
What's the story behind your first book?
My first novel, REICHOLD STREET, grew out of several short stories I had written. Those stories all dealt with a group of kids growing up in a working-class neighborhood during the tumultuous Vietnam War era. I suppose there's a lot of autobiographical sentiment in those stories, even though both the place and the characters are fictitious.

I decided to put the short stories all together, so I added a lot of material to make it more cohesive...with the thought of creating a novel with viewpoints from many of the characters. It must have worked. One reviewer said: "Imagine J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye), William Golding (Lord of the Flies) and Stephen King (The Body) sitting down to write a fast-paced coming-of-age story set in a working class American neighborhood in the turbulent 1960s."

For me, that was pretty heady stuff. I might have written it off to reviewer exuberance, if I hadn't received other fabulous reviews from both Top Book Reviewers and Compulsion Reads. REICHOLD STREET has also been seen in Publishers Weekly, and the prestigious publishing review organization Kirkus Reviews, known for their often harsh comments, said it was: "Skillfully written and emotionally charged." It was a Readers Favorite Gold Medal Winner the year it came out, too. That was icing on the cake, as far as I was concerned.
What are you working on next?
I just finished a new fantasy/horror thriller that got its start from some research I was doing on the Cherokee Indian "Trail of Tears" story. I published it in May 2016. I also have a fourth book started in the "Reichold Street" series. I also have plans to write a memoir about life in occupied Hungary during the Second World War. It's based on some old personal journals and letters from my wife's extended family, who lived in occupied Hungary during that time period.
What is your writing process?
I like to create a character idea, or maybe several, giving each one of the characters specific traits (build, education, religious belief, accents, way of talking, etc.) that I will use for them throughout the story. Then I posit a "what-if" question and let each character react to the situation and tell me their story in their own words.

When I do this without any preconceived ideas other than character, I'm always surprised by where it goes. I think that's a good thing. It means my readers will be surprised, too. I don't like outlines, because they tend to make you move in a straight line from A to B to C, filling things in and real life isn't like that at all.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, wow! There are so many! I'm a prolific reader. I love the writing of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and old sci-fi writers like Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. But I also enjoy the hard-scrabble, terse writing style of Jack Kerouac and Cormac McCarthy.
What do you read for pleasure?
Usually fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction or well-crafted adventure, suspense, thriller stories. Lately, I've been reading some interesting historical thrillers by Brad Meltzer.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I look forward to every morning as another opportunity to be creative. One of my favorite author quotations is from the very prolific old sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov, who once said, "If they told me I only had days to live I wouldn't mourn...I'd just type a little faster."

In some ways, that's me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I take a lot of pictures, fool around with my collection of old cameras (I still use film, when I can find it), do some watercolor painting and read. I'm always reading. I subscribe to two local newspapers and I probably go through 30-40 novels a year. In the summer, I toy around with my vintage Corvette. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends, talking, laughing and just enjoying life.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I feel like I've always been writing and submitting fiction, although I didn't get really serious about it until I left the corporate world. I discovered the big publishers (and even a few of the better small ones) won't even talk to you without an agent. I tried finding an agent for a couple of years to go the traditional-publishing route, but just finding one willing to take a chance on you can take a long time.

I decided I didn't want to devote years to locating an agent who might...or might not...be able to interest a publisher in my work. Then, if the agent was successful, having to wait additional months (or years) just to see something published. I'm an impatient sort and that didn't suit me at all. Besides, at my age (68) who knows how many years are left to wait for something good to happen?

There's no stigma anymore to self-publishing, and I knew I could turn out decent work. I wanted to see my work published, and didn't want to wait. So, I did it myself...and with six books, three award-winners and multiple 5-Star reviews to my credit, I'm very glad I did.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I have SO many stories to tell, I feel compelled to write. Completing something entirely new and believable that people enjoy reading is a thrill.
How do you approach cover design?
I have a background in commercial design. It was my major for my BA degree, and I worked for many years in advertising agencies, a lot of it as a designer and Art Director. I'm very familiar with layout and design...I enjoy it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've done a little bit of everything. I have a web site and a blog...and a media site for interested journalists and bloggers. I use social media a lot, too. I call them The Twitter and the Book of Face. I try to arrange five or six book signings every year, and spend a lot of time just talking to people. I find word-of-mouth to be the best method for selling, so I talk about my books everywhere...handing out business cards and bookmarks that I always carry with me.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are the population of Nirvana for all writers. I try to answer every question they ask, and treat them like friends, rather than customers...because, if they like and buy my books, they ARE friends.
Published 2016-06-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Blood Lake
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 49,710. Language: English. Published: May 9, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
After the discovery of gold in their territory, the forcible removal of all Cherokee from land they had lived on for generations began. It has gone down in history as "The Trail of Tears." Award-winning author R.L. Herron has created a spellbinding horror/thriller based on a Cherokee curse that has followed one American family for eight generations with relentless, supernatural horror.
Street Light
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 67,400. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
In the electrifying thriller, "Street Light," the final book of the Reichold Street Trilogy, Paul, and the other Reichold Street characters discover that not all evil is found in war. Some of it walks on the streets of home.
One Way Street
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,940. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Historical » USA
Paul Barrett follows in the footsteps of his friends and enlists during the turbulent Vietnam era. He comes home to discover the horrors of war have followed him. He finds the love of his life and thinks he has finally left all his nightmares behind, only to be discovered by a murderous stalker in this gritty, spellbinding sequel.
Reichold Street
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 81,550. Language: English. Published: March 17, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
(5.00 from 1 review)
A new kid in the neighborhood. Bullying. Family dysfunction. Murder, suicide, madness and war. You'll find all that, and more, in "Reichold Street", by Ronald L. Herron, a 2012 Readers Favorite Gold Medal Winner.