A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
Although I’ve had bouts of social ineptness, my writing doesn’t stem from any social awkwardness, it comes from my wild imagination. Since a very small age I’ve been a storyteller and the one publication that is available to truly capture my beginnings is the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Without a doubt in my mind, Calvin grew up to be an author. Seemingly, it was like Bill Watterson spied on me as a kid and created his Calvin.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
If I could have been the author of any novel it would have been Shogun. Shogun was the epitome of a man thrown into circumstances much larger than himself. It had adventure, war, intrigue, deceit, love and the final message that not everything is as it seems. That’s writing for me.
What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
Oh boy, that’s a tough one. Genre you say? My genre is I write about the social woes that need fixing in the world. The Harbinger Series is about achieving a sustainable America without the help of the government. Yet at the same time it’s about world domination, the dilemma of patriotism over all other things and lastly it is about God. My book Yocto seems it’s about one thing, but what the reader ends up with is something very different. My self-proclaimed writing style is, “Sleight of Hand.”
How important is research to you when writing a book?
That depends on the book. For the technical parts of the Harbinger Series there is a certain amount of research that must be done. That research actually never stops, it’s an ongoing thing and sometimes discoveries made later on create storyline changes, both good and bad. I really strive to make every scene written in my books to have an air of believability in them.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing very late in life. I travel a lot and I was in Seattle four years ago when I realized that I needed to start making better use of my free time, plus it was my time to leave my mark on the world as I’d found my voice. I had been writing in my head for years and finally decided to draw a line in the sand and begin writing daily from that point on. I was forty-nine and by my fifty-third birthday I had completed eight novels.
What inspires you to write?
That is a simple one for me, and the answer is just one word. Inequity. I always fight for the little guy, I write stories where I can embrace setting things right, unfortunately life and my novels don’t always work out that way, but I try to inspire people to be better.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies;is there any truth to that?
Currently I’m a Regional Manager for a medical company and I’m their face on the west coast. So I really don’t have the luxury to be shy. That is one of the huge advantages of starting to write later in life. I’m on my second career, the first being in law enforcement. Between those two careers alone I have and will spin many a book. I use my current job’s travel to embrace many new areas of the country. I’m always watching, always listening and rarely do I ever take a trip that doesn’t reveal some new thing or person to me that I will morph into my writings. So for me, the social aspect of my life is intrinsic to my writing.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
This is one of those facts I almost don’t like to reveal, as it’s hard to say without hubris that I write whole novels in my head with no physical notes. Not just one either, I stack them up waiting to be written. At no time do I have less than five ready to go completely written in my head, all I need is the time to write them.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
I’m writing about some real deep issues in my fiction. It’s near impossible to write about real deep issues without being on a soap box. Because I chose to take on many tough issues unabashed I needed to learn to write from that soap box without writing from it. That is the hardest part of writing for me, not being too preachy, yet getting my point across.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
It all starts with reading. I actually wrote the first sixty pages of Harbinger in 94. I was a hotshot detective and I had a great idea for the beginning of a Jason Bourne like book. I was hooked on Bourne and aspired to be the next Robert Ludlum. It was fun churning out those pages but then I got to a point and just went, “Now what?” It stalled out. Fast-forward twenty-two years and me consuming countless books of every kind and all of a sudden I realized I had a voice and a lot of things to say. Then I remembered my book in 94 and resurrected it with meaning. No doubt about it, my voice came from reading, life experience too, but reading was what really did it for me.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I use a combination of things. I have an editor, but before a book gets to her I’ve had it gone through several times by a group of erudite people in my circle that are helping me get to the top. Of all my secret weapons is a man named Adam Hochman and he is the smartest person I have ever known, so the second read through is always an audible read to Adam, who is dyslexic and needs my audio. We are the dynamic duo.
What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
A great cover is a must, and through the Blessing of the Lord, I was introduced to Andrei Batt. Andrei is a citizen of Romania whom I met through the 99designs website. Andrei and myself are simpatico and to meet someone who can extrapolate my thoughts and turn them into a tangible thing is special and I’m blessed in that department. Titles are writing, so as far as I’m concerned a writer better have a good title as it’s the first hook to gain interest in moving further with the potential reader.
Which book inspired you to begin writing?
Actually it was a film. Before that day in Seattle when I drew the line in sand and committed to writing daily, I had taken my wife to the movies. Now surely I’m going to offend someone here, but I took her to see, “The Expendables Two.” I was so infuriated at the insipid storyline and action that I groused to my wife all the way to the car. I was ranting that many things in the movie were greatly inaccurate and just downright unbelievable. Finally she turned on me and said, “If you can write better stuff then do it!” Challenge accepted.
Do you read any of your own work?
I do. I will let great periods of time go buy and re-read a book. I am currently doing that with the fourth Harbinger book and I have to say, I have to stop myself from getting caught up in the story and forget to edit. I guess that’s a good sign.
Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?
My writing style is self-proclaimed, “Sleight of Hand.” No one I know has read one of my novels and even come close to guessing the ending. I have a book coming out soon named Yocto that holds so many surprises the proof readers had no idea what was going to happen. My books are all completely fresh concepts, I have no rehashed stories, only original and all my stories move at a very fast pace and leave the reader with that epiphany moment where they say, “Ah, I get it now.”
Do your novels carry a message?
Hugely, as I have alluded to earlier. Harbinger is about a making and maintaining a prosperous America. Yocto is about our food chain and what would happen if it started rapidly dying off. The Meth Chronicles covers through short stories the horrors of a drug that is a plague on our society. And finally Tropannos is a story of the medical world and the secrets they hide from the public. All my stories have an air of truth or an air of believability to them, and I try to have a message as well.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
I have been accused of making Matt Hurst, protagonist in the Harbinger Series, in my own image, but this is not true. Albeit it is true I did his job for eleven years, I was never a Matt Hurst. I do add my experience to Matt, but he does many things I would not do. I’m a lifelong chess player and Matt clearly is not. If Matt were me though, the book series would not be any fun as I would have found a way out and not fallen for the girl.
What books have influenced your life the most?
This is a question I love to answer because I will do anything to talk about War and Peace or The Count of Monte Cristo, and cover your ears if Catch 22 or Shogun are mentioned for I will talk them off. Let’s not forget American legend Hunter S. Thompson, he had a place in my voice as did all the rest. Ludlum had his time with me, as did Grisham and Baldacci. All of them swirl in my head and coalesce into one voice—mine.
From all that we have been hearing and seeing in the movies, most writers are alcoholics. Your views on that?
I don’t drink and never have yet I think Hemingway’s observation to write drunk and edit sober is hilarious and if one has ever read his writing, then one could understand he was not kidding. Mentioning him though reminds me that he broke my heart in, “A farewell to Arms.” He toyed with my heart, making me believe in his drinking American. Making me believe in everything will be alright, then boom, sleight of hand. That book broke me. That lovely old drunk broke me down and made me weep. People drink to escape, I write to escape. I’m blessed to be a happy person who has avoided that monkey on my back, but Hemingway sure had it down.
Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
My honest answer is no. Well, let me rephrase, yes anyone can be a writer, but only a very few are skilled enough wordsmiths to not only spin a engrossing tale, but to keep the reader guessing and wanting more, all the while leading to a culmination that makes sense. I say this because of all the people I know, I’m the only novelist. I know plenty of guitar players, tennis pros and actors, but no actual novelists. So yes, anyone can do anything they put their mind to, but writing at my level takes being a bit of a virtuoso that does not come through practice; in my humble opinion it’s a gift akin to a baseball pitcher. Yes, everyone can throw a baseball, but can everyone throw a complete game in the majors?
Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
Word perfect first drafts? I would love to be that writer. I know one, and he is brilliant. I do not write perfect. I can never get “lead and led” right. I place commas in places they don’t belong. I forget to use “They’re, don’t and cannot as a single word.” My hats off to the writer that can pull that off, but we all have our strengths.
How does it feel when you don’t get the recognition you deserve?
That’s a tough one. When I see Hollywood rehashing all these old shows and movies, I think, “Man, look over here you guy’s.” I have so many great stories just waiting to be discovered. So many that would make awesome mini-series, movies and published novels. My saving grace is I know who I am and how I really stack up against the big boys. I believe I’m definitely a contemporary of the great writers of our time and I’m sure I will get my shot one day. It’s hard to knock me down.
Now when you look back at your past, do you feel accomplished?
I wrote Harbinger for a lot of reasons. To prove to Mrs. Reynolds I was not just full of hot air, but also to show my children that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. I showed them what it takes, that achievements come through hard work and sacrifice and that you can speak out when you see injustice and try to do something about it through passive resistance. That is what Harbinger embraces, change through like-mindedness and passive resistance. At least in the end it does, but it takes on some rough seas before it gets there and that is the fun part.
Do you think you still have a story to tell to the readers?
Again with the hubris thing, it’s hard to look at someone with a straight face and tell them I’m as good as Stephen King, but the fact of the matter is I believe I am, I can feel it inside of me. I’ve written eight novels in four years, part time. I never run out of stories and I’m not stuck in a genre battle with myself or a publisher. I am myself and sometimes being me is creating work like The Meth Chronicles, and sometimes it’s creating a techno-thriller like Harbinger, but then I break out of all of it with Yocto. I placed Yocto in Techno-thriller, but it could be released in a number of other genres. A publisher might knock me for being all over the place, but deeply rooted in the center of my work is my message. What is my message you ask? My message is that we stop being ignorant. We stop listening to the people who created the problems and figure the solutions out together before it’s too late. My first salvo in this passive resistance movement is The Harbinger Series.
It offers real solutions to many of the woes our society faces right now. It’s my message to my kids that, “Yes I did see what was happening, and yes I tried in my own way to help make a change.” To the fans of the series, I left enough clues that some of their favorite characters will soon have their own books out, but it doesn’t end there. I have been witness to something in the medical world that I will reveal
in Tropannos, something very disturbing and real that I will put my own unique fictional twist on. So yes, I have plenty more to say.