Interview with Edward Clark, author of “The Secrets We Withhold”

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

When I first started writing over 20 years ago I much preferred a fountain pen. It felt more personal and I got lost in my stories easily. Today I prefer the computer. It not only saves me time but still has the same effect as the pen for me. I find that scratching out mistakes or redoing an entire page is less stressful and still produces the same outcome.

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

I had written short stories since the age of 5 but it wasn’t until I was 14 that I truly knew this is what I wanted to do. Even with knowing what I had a passion for life gets in the way and can turn your passion into a hobby.

What inspires you to write?

I have many things that can inspire me to write. The one thing that stands out the most is if I can look at a situation and add on to it. This then may become one of my stories. An old man sitting alone at a park bench could spark many story ideas. It could also be something as simple as a child telling a wild tale to one of their friends and then adding lots of details.

How often do you write?

I attempt to write something each day. It could be a short story idea for a new book or even continue on the current one that I am working on. While this is not always possible I do attempt to get in a chapter within a week.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?

I think this can be true in some cases. I personally don’t look like the typical writer always involved with my kids and functions. I have found that the idea of being a loner comes from preferring to get lost in a story can be more fun than going out. Some don’t understand that the writer gets the same joy from writing down their ideas as the ones who enjoy an afternoon at the mall.

Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?

Writers block is by far the worst feeling in the world for me. It usually hits me when I let a story sit for more than 3 weeks. I will be all ready to jump back into it then lose where I was going next. I have had it last a matter of minutes to 4 days. If I leave myself a note of what I was planning next then I can usually resolve it pretty quick.

Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?

There are two things I use to overcome writers block. The first is leaving notes either on sticky notes at my computer reminding myself what was going to happen next. This is by far my favorite because it saves me lots of time and gets me back on track as I reread what is already done. When this does not work I usually go outside and go for a walk. I come up with ideas just watching my surroundings. As I come up with new ideas for stories I find myself floating back to my original. Sometimes it clicks by the time I get home other times it takes a few days.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

I do both actually. I reread my entire book when finished and correct any errors I see. I then turn it over to several others to proof read and edit. I then make the corrections and then pay someone to edit it for me.

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

I have actually let 4 books sit and stew for more than 10 years. As I have gone back through them slowly I have learned how much my writing has improved. Some require a major rewrite while others just need some editing.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

I find the most important thing about a book is getting the attention of the reader. Wither this is the book cover or back summary it should have a hook. If I can get past one of these two I will read the first couple of chapters. If by then I still find myself bored I won’t continue. If they have a slow beginning but keep me interested by the second chapter I would read on. Much like television if it’s not going to keep your attention you’re bound to toss it aside.

Have you ever designed your own book cover?

With limited fund yes I have found that designing my own book covers has become essential. While not the greatest artist skills I still find that I can use my 3d modeling skills to pull off a decent cover that goes along with the book summary very well.

Does a bad review affect your writing?

I think one bad review would not affect my writing too much. More than a handful of them would make me rethink it a lot. In this case I would want to find out what they didn’t like and correct it in later books. I find any negative feedback as a learning tool and improve instead of giving up.

Do you read any of your own work?

Sadly no I don’t seem to read my own books after I have written them. I know personally I would pick out every little flaw that I saw. I wouldn’t enjoy the book as much as I should mainly because I would be questioning why I said this instead of that.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

I find that most writers put a little of themselves into books. I do it with each character I create. I look at a part that needs to stand out and then draw from how I would deal with it. I draw from all of my experiences and throw them into the story.

Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?

I get lucky in the fact that all of my immediate family is supportive of my writing. Not only do they give me ideas but also enjoy reading chapters as well as the completed book.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I do find that once I get an idea in my head for a story it’s hard to not stop writing. Sounds weird but I will tune out everything else and go into it deeply. This can be a good thing but with a family it can be a pain as time has to be split up evenly.

Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?

I personally know several authors and I wouldn’t say they are wealthy. Some are doing ok while others still work full time jobs on top of being published. I think marketing and having a lot of luck can play a part into this misconception.

Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?

I have never heard of one single author who has the ability to do this. I would love to have this gift it would save an amazing amount of time. I even go through 2 to three drafts before moving on to another person to proof read.

Do you believe it is more challenging to write about beliefs that conflict with the ones you hold yourself?

I think this would depend on the story. If there was a good story to be told I wouldn’t have an issue with their beliefs. I would present the reader with an unbiased look. I would prefer for them to make up their minds not be swayed by my own ideas.

Is writing book series more challenging?

I think this would depend on the idea you have in mind for a story. If it’s a shorter story where you can see and ending then I would say writing a series out of it would be a challenge. I prefer series because most of my ideas I can drag on for a long time without losing the main concept of the entire story. I can go for many books and still have an idea of what could happen next.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

I am currently working on book 3 of my mystery series. This book is one of my favorites so far because of all the twist and turns that are revealed in each chapter. I think the reader would become easily engrossed in the sudden surprises that the plot takes. I also am working on a horror book at the same time that has readers already jumping out of their seats just from the small preview.

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