What books have influenced your life the most?
“Eaters of the Dead” by Michael Crichton. I was too young to be reading that book at ten years old, but I’m glad I did because it sparked my imagination with viking battles and fire worms. “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse I read on a road trip to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and finished it sitting by a river. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz had some wonderful and twisted tales that kept me up at night as a child and have stuck with me. “Blood Meridian” by Cormack McCarthy is an adventurous piece of literature written so beautifully that you can endure the dark and gritty nature of it.
Do you have a set schedule for writing or are you one of those who only write when they feel inspired?
Both. In an ideal atmosphere when life is cooperating I have a set schedule for writing. Sometimes, life can get tough and unexpected events will occur. If the inspiration isn’t there, the characters and the story are still developing in my head. They don’t go away. I have to try and sometimes that means staring blankly at the page and pacing like a rat in a cage until I work out the flaws.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I don’t want to know what happens next. I love just following an idea or a character and putting them in impossible situations that force me to figure it out. There are certain scenes I want and an overall idea of the story, then I connect the dots in between or just see what happens. An outline is a last resort, but sometimes necessary.
Have you ever experienced Writer’s Block? How long do they usually last?
Consistently. Figuring out that next step is part of the fun and that can take months or even years from a concept to a finished story.
Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Free-writing exercises where you just write without stopping to think about it. Sometimes it will be gibberish, but you might subconsciously write something to take out of the notebooks and into the story. Try. Sit down, pace, meditate, whatever it takes to work through it then sit down and try to write. Sometimes, however, it’s just time to take a break and get some real life experience. Go on an adventure and observe what you see and feel.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone else to do it for you?
I edit and edit until I get to read the story without finding mistakes. Then I pretend I sent it to someone whose opinion I value and edit it again. Then I have a professional editor show me what mistakes I missed.
What did you want to become when you were a kid?
A marine biologist. It turns out I suck at math.
Do you read any of your own work?
I have to read all the worst versions of my stories multiple times until I can fix the mess. It’s the nature of writing and editing.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
What I can’t gain in my own life experience I have to get from others through observation, conversation, or imagination. I put as much of myself into the writing as I can, but there are some experiences that are beyond me and require some empathy and focus to comprehend. That’s when I can leave myself for awhile and try to understand another way of thinking to expand my consciousness.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Of course. I just expand the scale, twist the facts, and add a metaphor.
Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?
Not even remotely true. Don’t write if you are expecting to make it rich. Write what you want and be passionate about it, then you can find an audience for your work. Finding the time can be tough, but just keep at it when you can.
How do you see writing, as a hobby or a passion?
A passion. There are stories and characters circling in my head all the time. Trying to piece it all together is a constant struggle of life and fiction. From the planning stage, to notebooks and post it notes to gather and connect ideas to the first awful draft. The tweaking, modifying, and thinking through multiple drafts to the finished product. I’ll write until I’m dead even if I’m the only one who enjoys what I do.
Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
No. It’s a struggle. Your first draft will likely be a mess of barely connected plot and bad sentence structure if you’re lucky. Edit until it’s right, then send it off for someone else to point out your mistakes.
What do you do in your free time?
I dabble in a bit of everything and enjoy painting, making sculptures from bones and driftwood, taking apart antique typewriters, and getting outdoors to take photographs.
How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book?
A 200 mile thru-hike over the span of forty days along the Ozark Highlands Trail.
Does it get frustrating when you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind sometime earlier?
If I didn’t always have a pen, post-its, notebooks, and dry erase boards around I’m sure it would be very frustrating. Always have a notebook and pen ready.
Have you ever destroyed one of your drafts?
Yes. I scrapped an entire manuscript to all but one chapter near the end and started a new draft with it. I hope all copies have been burned. It was a learning experience.
Are you working on something new at the moment?
Yes. The dark fantasy sequel to the “The Blood of Winter” and two sci-fi novels.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
It’s been fun. Very dark and twisted in a way that expands the worlds I’m building and my imagination. I have been going back and forth between two projects from fantasy to sci-fi depending on what kind of mood I am in. One sci-fi novel is a dark comedy and horror that’s a mix of fight club, Stargate, and the Matrix. I can’t tell you more until they are closer to completion or I’ll just end up giving spoiler alerts.
When can the readers expect your next book in print?
I’d like to finish a novel every two years. In my current situation it’s tough to find the time to write. I am very close to finishing the dark fantasy sequel and I’m working on it when I can. One sci-fi novel is half done and the other is complete through multiple edits but will need more research and life experience to add the finishing touches.
If you were given the opportunity to form a book club with your favorite authors of all time, which legends or contemporary writers would you want to be in your club?
H.P. Lovecraft, Herman Hesse, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Cormac Mccarthy, Michael Crichton, George R.R. Martin, Jules Verne, Clive Barker
How big of a part does music play in creating your zone?
A very large part. If I have my music and headphones I can write in a crowded cafe or a tiny studio apartment. I have a playlist with hundreds of songs without lyrics: original scores, classical, even chill and tribal, whatever can keep me in the mood and let my mind play in its own world.
What advice would you like to pass on to young writers of today that is unconventional but true?
Learn the rules and their purpose, then break the rules and create something new. The chances of you suddenly making it big as a published and well paid author is very low, so dream big and write because you enjoy it and if you keep at it someone will take notice.