Interview with Gary Pearce

What are you working on next?
During the writing of 'Son of a Mountain Man', several ideas emerged that the current work could not encompass. So two sequels and two prequels were born. Several chapters of two of them were written while still working on 'Son'. One prequel is in a series format for ongoing articles in newspapers and magazines. Since it takes place in my home area of north Georgia, I will target my local publications and those in Colorado where most of the series takes place. At the end of ‘Son of a Mountain Man’, I have a preview of the next book in the ‘Son’ series called ‘The High Lonesome Freight Company’. In addition, I kept a detailed journal of using my smoker for 9 years and have done a good bit of work on a how-to book about smoking meats and vegetables.
Who are your favorite authors?
Larry McMurtry, Louis L'amour and William W. Johnstone stand out. Everyone knows Louis L’amour’s works with so many having been adapted to screenplays and made into movies. I read and reread Johnstone's entire Eagle series while researching and writing 'Son'. My neighbor Michael Newton, for whom 'Son' is dedicated, and I would sit around a campfire and recite the movie version of McMurtry's 'Lonesome Dove' verbatim. One of us would throw out a line and the other would follow up. We would go back and forth like that for a surprising length of time. He also encouraged me to read Johnstone’s works and really pushed me to write a book based on my stories that I discussed with him. Unfortunately, he left us too early and never got to read any of my works. I used the names of his wife, relatives and friends as characters in ‘Son of a Mountain Man’ and, of course, he is ‘Newt’. At his One-Year Memorial, I honored him by reading part of ‘Son’ to his friends and family in attendance.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
There is always something new to discover or know. Articles and documentaries about geology, the cosmos, historic events or characters, North American flora and fauna, I love them all. I love to research the 1800's. especially in Colorado. My wife and I have been out there many times including the area of Buckskin Joe Ghost town which is still on Forest Service maps. The fall elk rut and leaf season is our favorite time of year to visit and we are always searching for new places to go and new ways to enjoy it. Of course I love the land we live on in the West End Area of Pickens County Georgia. There is lots of wildlife to watch out for. We enjoy sitting on the deck watching our bird feeders, talking softly in case something walks up. I believe we have seen everything except armadillos.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well I mentioned sitting on our deck which we probably do more than anything else. We find it hard to leave our land once we get settled in. Obviously researching but also reading other novels, spending time in nature and taking pictures. When we go on a trip, I seldom come back with pictures of people, they are always of animals and landscapes. The first time we went to Colorado, I believe I took around 400 slides. I do a little wood and metal working and like to invent tools. I have one with a saw blade near the bottom of a metal shaft that you stick into the ground next to up to an inch and a half sapling or a blackberry thicket. When you twist the handlebar on top of the shaft, the saw cuts them down. I also designed, drew up and had built a wood processor that will lift a chunk of wood off of the ground and split it into eight pieces of firewood in one pass. It is powered by a 4-speed automobile engine. First gear splits up to a two-foot diameter hardwood and forth gear splits the smaller stuff really fast.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have read mostly paper backs but in the ebook format I just surf Smashwords for what looks interesting.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Third, or fourth grade. It was a funny poem about a little man who lived in a little house with a little mouse. I got an A+ and I still have the original. In the seventh grade I wrote an essay ‘What America Means To Me'. I received the 'Good Citizenship Award' and got to read it at graduation and I have that original as well. So the only thing left at this point was the Nobel Prize for Literature right? Anyway, I always threw myself into my writing assignments although it wasn't until my mid-twenties that I began writing for myself.
What is your writing process?
I need a theme, a lead character, a time frame and a location. Rarely do I start with all four so the research begins with what I have. For my characters, I draw on ‘characters’ that I have known, which is extensive and traits of characters that I noticed from reading or watching TV or movies as well as real life historical characters. I really love the western character actors like Ben Johnson, Dub Taylor and Richard Farnsworth and have studied them and why they are so effective. Generally, research is around 25% of the first draft. Then I flesh it out further with some deeper historical research. After that, the rewriting begins, more research and inspirational readings from other authors. For 'Son' this included rereading some of William Johnstone's Eagle Series guided by notes I had written from my first read, Zane Gray and a few others. Here I am looking for inspiration and to more completely submerge myself into the time and place I am writing about and the characters' mindset. You may have heard how some actors try to stay in character even off the set. I try to do the same thing when the words are really flowing. If I get stuck for a while I will resort to reading other authors or researching the time, place or character.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I do not remember the first I read but the first one that had a big impact on me was John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men'. I appreciated Lennie’s gentle nature and how that was offset by his uncontrollable strength and betrayed by his mental process. The love that Georgia and Lennie had for each other and the things that they were willing to endure for the other was an inspirational example of friendship. Later on I became a George Orwell fan because of 'Animal Farm" and '1984". Both were about politics which interested me especially since I was about to reach voting age. ‘Animal Farm’ describes the process of how self-governing was thrust upon those who were politically naive and how they descended so easily into a dictatorship. Next, I read ‘1984’. The sixties were the perfect time for a young man to read a story about how a manipulative government controlled its’ citizens with intimidation, technology and clandestine organizations and activities. That was in the news of the day, maybe not to the same level, but it was happening to us.
How do you approach cover design?
Besides the obvious connection to your subject, I try to find something more. Silhouettes are very attractive to me. On the one hand the shape shows exactly what the figure is while the darkness restricts the details of it, creating or suggesting mystery. 'Son" is a good example. The cover clearly shows a western horseman in the beautiful mountains. But you can't see his features, clothes, weapons, etc. Newt is a quiet man who is slow to reveal his inner self to others. In fact, he came into town unconscious and bloody, a complete mystery. Further into the novel, we find out that Newt has a lot going on inside. His family relationships and experiences, Cherokee legends and myths, and he knows there are forces that we do not understand. Mysteries indeed.
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything I read is for pleasure! Why would you read for any other reason? In fact, why would you do anything if not for pleasure? Reading the Bible makes you feel good or answers a question you have which makes you feel better. Having a knee replacement improves your quality of life and makes you feel better. Reading a self-help book improves your enjoyment of life so you feel better. Feeling better is pleasurable. I believe that there is a certain amount of pleasure in everything that we do.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been an incredible journey for me. It is a process but if you follow the instructions, you end up with a presentation that is extremely professional looking. Mark Coker guides are clearly written and very helpful before, during and after publication. I wish I had found Smashwords long ago.
Published 2016-10-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Son of a Mountain Man
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 49,090. Language: English. Published: October 17, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Western, Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure
Saddle up and skin out with young Newt, on this glorious Rocky Mountain adventure into the gold fields of Colorado. Cut-throats and thieves, mountain lions and grizzlies, all threaten Newt’s very existence. He draws on his Cherokee Heritage and uses a Crow Bear Fetish to try and save himself, succeed in a bold new business venture and win the heart of a beautiful woman, but will it be enough?