What was your environment like growing up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was reading when I was two years old, and both my parents were readers who placed tremendous importance on literacy and use of language. Intellectual capital was always more prized than financial capital, so while we weren't wealthy, we were rich in the classics and in intellectual curiosity. That framed my perception of life, where to this day I'm more interested in the philosophical and the literary than in pop culture or money. I don't watch TV (ok, that's a lie, I have a DVD player and was addicted to 24, which was about the last thing I watched), so whenever I have downtime, I automatically go to a good book. I believe that to be a decent writer, you have to read. A lot. You are what you eat, so to speak, so if you don't feed your brain a healthy diet of good prose, you're starving your intellect.
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When did you first start writing?
A decade ago, but it was crap. Actually, I had been writing non-fiction (brochures, ad copy, manuals) decades before, but that didn't really prepare me for creative writing. I wrote my first fiction 10 years ago, and after four drafts, realized it was awful and should never see the light of day. So I wrote another, and it wasn't as bad, but it still sucked. I thought I might have nailed it about 5 years ago, and shopped that effort, to be told when it got shopped that it was wonderful, but didn't fit with what the market was looking for at that time. Which pretty much confirmed what I suspected - that if you weren't writing about glittery vampires back then, you weren't on the radar. I decided to continue writing to improve, as opposed to trying to get a deal. Took me until about 3 years ago before I really thought I had a handle on it and had developed an interesting and distinctive voice - but then, what to do with it? I understood from my earlier foray into querying that I didn't have the temperament to spend years soliciting agents, and years more waiting for a deal, so when the self-pubbing revolution hit, a friend of mine suggested around January of 2011 that I consider jumping into the water. Took me until June of that year to work up the nerve, get a decent cover, get my first offering edited, set up a website and get familiar with social media. I've never looked back since, and consider it the first step in a new life. So far so good.