Interview with H.J. Ted Gresham

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I have been writing for close to four decades. My writing would probably fill a library. There's no way I could remember the first one. I have stories scattered over computer hard drives going back to my old IBM Clone I have in storage. There's stories in files I wrote before the days of the PC. I have a few dozen old stories on this computer I'm hoping to polish off and publish.
What is your writing process?
I don't work with an outline or much of a plan most of the time. I just start typing and then let the story tell itself. Of course I've done research for the nonfiction I've written. I tend to keep most of my research. The key to a good finished story is ruthless editing.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Again, it's been too long. I was a very unpopular person in school so I read probably hundreds of books growing up. I think the writer that I remember the most and whose books I consumed voraciously was Heinlein.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to design my covers to reflect the story. I use photos I've taken and work up the covers. For The New Republic of Texas I used a picture of the Texas State Capitol with a bit of modification. For my scifi novel, PAWN, I used a picture of Dallas and tossed in some aliens faded into the background. It'd be nice if I could afford to pay a professional to design covers but I don't have that kind of money.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's a hard one. I like a lot of different things. My books are my favorites. The stories are part of me. I think they're great stories. I like scifi books. I've been reading the DUNE series. Those are some really good books. I like classics, especially POE. His poems, like The Raven, are just incredible. I like Shakespeare, the Sonnets, and Hamlet, a terrific story with lots of great lines. And like I said before, anything by Heinlein is good.
What do you read for pleasure?
Science Fiction, mostly. Like I said before, I've been reading the DUNE series.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read on my phone, a cheap little LG with Android.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still trying to figure that out. I've been trying lots of different methods. I have a website business called Road Warrior Publishing where I feature my books. Mostly I just put them wherever I can and hope for the best.
Describe your desk
I move around. Much of the time, like at the moment, I sit on our front porch. I have a desk I built which I put my notebook on and work. I have a table in the house I use when I'm not outside. I used to keep a study and a desk but these days it's wherever I can put the computer down and get busy.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Lufkin, Texas, in East Texas, a very conservative, religious place. Religion played a big part in the way I thought for a long time. It gave me a sense of obligation to do something for other people. I was a crusader for causes for a long time. Later on, though, the conflicts I experienced as I began to doubt what I was taught became a part of the stories I wrote. I "broke the rules" and began to question, and to seek answers to those questions which eventually caused me to walk away from religion altogether. I think it was the conflicts and contradictions of the religious views in this part of Texas that has affected my fiction writing the most.
When did you first start writing?
After I got out of the Air Force I wanted to be a journalist. I started some classes but other things got in the way and I didn't finish them. I guess I started writing seriously about then, in the late seventies. I wrote on and off in the eighties. Of course I wrote tons of stuff when I was in college in the eighties. I studied writing and wrote a lot for history and government classes. When I got my first computer I was finally set free from the typewriter and from then on the keyboard has been my friend.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The last book I finished was the one I just uploaded, The New Republic of Texas. I got the idea from all the talk of secession a few years ago. Although I really dislike the conservative right wing nature of our current state government I've always been a Texas patriot. I asked the question, "how would it be possible for Texas to secede, what would it take, how would the U.S. President react. I tried to consider all the complicated elements involved in secession. And I threw in a conspiracy element as the trigger which causes a quiet Texas rancher decide to take on the task of dragging Texas out of the union.

The story I'm working on now, I don't know how it's going to go exactly but it's about what would happen if religious fanatics managed to eliminate the church/state divide and take over the government.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm a writer. It's just who I am. Through the years I've gone the route of submissions and rejections until I realized the chances of getting my foot in the door is just way too small so I went on my own. I know my work is good but the competition is so stiff and editors are so swamped with stuff it's just insane. The past few years publishing has changed so much, too. It was either try to get my work out on my own or just leave them on my computer hard drive. But what's the use of writing if there's nobody reading your work? So, here I am.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I don't know yet. I just signed up. Hope springs eternal, right?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Just writing. I just have to write. It's like breathing. Of course the best part is having someone read my work and like it. I was once told I have the "Gift of Gab." I guess so, I just gotta gab!
What do your fans mean to you?
I don't have many yet but those who read my work and like it mean the world to me.
What are you working on next?
I mentioned that before, I have that fanatical religious takeover of government on one burner. I'm also going through my old stuff, reworking it, making it better so I can get it published too. I have so many stories and story ideas I won't be looking for something to do for a long time.
Who are your favorite authors?
I mentioned Heinlein, Poe, Shakespeare. Otherwise, I'm not sure I can pin any down. It may sound conceited but I think I am my favorite author. I write a lot more than I read.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
These days it's a struggle. I've been dealing with a very painful illness that makes life difficult. My only medical option is the Veteran's Administration and lousy doesn't come close to what I am stuck with. My family give me reason to keep going. They are my reason. Without them, I'm not sure where I'd be. Chronic illness is a hard thing to live with. I'd like to find a way to get past it but in the mean time I'd like to figure out a way to be a voice for folks like me. I just keep going and hoping there's light at the end of the tunnel.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I can't do much. I like to fish but don't get to very often. I like to travel, just hit the road and go places. My van has been in the shop the past few months. When I get it back in a week or two I'm going to be on the road as much as possible. Lately I've been trying to figure out how to navigate this new electronic internet world and find my place in it.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually I just look for books that sound interesting. I love space opera and read that mostly. I picked up an old copy of the second book in the DUNE series and got hooked so I dug up the ebooks so I can read them on my phone. I'm learning a lot about ebook sources I wasn't aware of. I'm going to have a hard time deciding what to start next when I finish Dune.
What do you think of the state of publishing these days.
I think it's convoluted. There's a lot of changes happening that I am not all that happy about. I'm a man out of time. I would liked to have been a writer back in the days of paper books. I always dreamed of seeing my books on display in book stores. That's just not going to happen. In a decade or two book stores will go the way of pay phones. I love modern technology but I'm not crazy about what it's done to publishing.
What is your view of writing and the profession today?
I have to say I think the profession has taken a nose dive. So much of what I see these days seem to be written to please audiences rather than to say something new and different. It's a market and profit driven world. It seems to me a lot of writers are just putting different spins on the same stories and not being very original. That's pretty sad. I wish there were more original ideas rising to the top of publishing lists. It makes it hard for a writer like me who prefers to write from the gut rather than bang out stories that reflect whatever is popular. Guess I'm just old fashioned.
Published 2014-04-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Hurting Place
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 43,450. Language: American English. Published: April 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Spiritual & metaphysical
George likes being dead. When he wakes up a bottle of Gin takes him back to being dead. But leave it to a kid. One day, without any warning, this half-grown kid named Pug walks into George's old bait stand and convenience store. For George, it's all over. Pug wakes George up and passes on the only thing the boy has of value: Hope. And all because of a patch of woods called The Hurting Place.
Pawn
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 112,700. Language: English. Published: April 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Richard Cleveland didn't believe UFOs, aliens, certainly not abductions... until a dark night under ominous skies on a farm road north of Dallas, Texas. Now, he doesn't just "believe," he knows. But how can he accept them? His co-worker, Laura Bright, has known about them, for a very long time. But who can she tell? Follow their story, discover what really goes on beyond our knowing.
The New Republic of Texas
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 160,170. Language: American English. Published: April 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Hank Pennington was happy being a rancher until a mysterious man named Paul Anderson showed up one day with proof that the United States government had fallen under the control of a dangerous and mysterious cabal. There was only one way to save Texas: Secession. Hank took up the task and would not stop until the Republic of Texas once again stood free among the nations of the world.