Interview with Bill Yancey

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
In ninth grade, my English teacher wanted us to write a story with dialogue. I had read a lot of books by then, mostly sci-fi novels, but they all had had lots of dialogue. Turned out to be easy to put together a story about a police officer who refused to give a woman a traffic ticket because she was his mother. The teacher loved the story, and the dialogue punctuation -- which was the real reason for the assignment.
What is your writing process?
I usually start with a premise, like what would happen if the nation really believed that Elvis Presley had been re-incarnated. In "Elvis Saves," I knew the beginning and I knew how it had to end. The hard part was getting the characters to go along with the story line. They were forever throwing monkey wrenches in my plans.
How do you approach cover design?
There is usually a scene in the story that sticks out in my mind. I try to produce a cover that matches or represents that scene. In "Elvis Saves," the impersonator owned a '67 Mustang with BCNU on the Tennessee license plates. In "The Last Day," a nuclear war is represented by the mushroom cloud. In "No One Lives Forever," the crash of the fighter-bomber near two tanks defined a part of the story.
What do you read for pleasure?
Science, history, and biography. You can't write good science fiction if you don't know any science. You can't write alternative history if you haven't read any real history. Characters are more real if they are based on real people.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use my wife's Kindle if that is the only way I can get a manuscript. I'm still a dead tree kind of guy.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth works best. The best way to catch lightning in a bottle or go viral is to write a book everyone loves and tells their friends about.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My father spent 33 years in the USAF. I have seen a lot of the world, as a military brat and in the military myself. When I was eleven years old in 1958, I rode in the USS Darby, a troop ship, to Europe. Also on board was Elvis Presley's army unit. He didn't make the trip because his mother was ill. She died during that voyage. The ship's company had gathered all of Elvis's movies to date as a surprise for him. All the passengers got to see the films, but not Elvis.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The book I am writing now is a fictional memoir for an intern. It highlights his internship year in a county hospital. Look for "Accidental Intern" or "Reluctant Intern" (haven't decided which title to use, yet) toward the end of 2014.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
For twenty-five years I have written stories and novels. I had seen a lot of trash get published and promoted by publishing companies while no agent or publisher would take the time to read what I wrote. It is rewarding to sell my work, although that's not why I write it. Most of what I write is done to entertain myself. That others enjoy the stories or the humor is a plus.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Having a story that throws itself out of my head, almost as if I sneezed and it showed up on the paper in front of me. It's always a kick to have something that flows, almost without planning. When the pieces fit together without me being forced to resort to some coincidence or some weird construct, that gives me great pleasure. Also, constructing a world that has an almost normal reality, but is slightly different (reincarnated Elvis in "Elvis Saves," a 3,000 year old talking raven in "Invictus," submarine aircraft carriers and brain transplants in "No One Lives Forever") is great fun.
Published 2014-03-17.
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