A Conversation with Author Erik Hertwig – PART 1

 

  1. A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that? Most creative writers are introverts.  While those who are extroverts may view that as socially inept it is not really.  The creative spend their time thinking, creating, solving issues, or answering questions about society that others simply ignore.  That ability is what helps them create to wonderful worlds you enjoy reading about.

 

  1. Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis? As an Secondary English teacher I see myself in this question.  However writers who want to capture the differences of characters, such as the ones found in Mark Twain’s work would not be possible if an author fully followed the rules of English.

 

  1. If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

 

  1. What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special? Children’s books are filled with wonder. When a child experiences the wonder of reading opportunities open for them. I try to make my intermediate children’s books fun and entertaining to build the joy of reading for them for a life time.

 

  1. How important is research to you when writing a book? Research is paramount in writing a book. If you fail to research and your book suffers from having incorrect information it destroys your reputation and sales. Putting time and effort into research is just as important as creating quality characters and settings.

 

  1. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand? When I first started writing I loved to write with ink on tablet paper.  I discovered this method was extremely time consuming and I could type faster when the information went from my head to my fingers.  I could not type as fast when I tried to type reading off a page.

 

  1. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer? I knew I wanted to be an author when I was in 1st I wrote my first book then and was asked to read it in front of the school.

 

  1. What inspires you to write? I have a picture of a quill pen that sits next to my desk to remind me to continue to write.  I have set deadlines on calendars to encourage myself to get on a schedule track.  Now I have enough ambition and desire to succeed that I do not need any outside reminders to inspire me.

 

  1. How often do you write? When not engaged with my teaching or presenting duties I sit down to write every as often as possible.  I desire to write everyday but some during busy times I look forward to my weekend creative opportunities.

 

  1. Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired? Inspiration is the elixir of creativity but if you plan, outline, and organize your writing you can often pick up where you last left off.  I find this allows me to write more often than I did only when writing when inspired.

 

  1. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something? When I come up with ideas I typically sit down and work out any ideas I have into a notes page, outline, or create backstory for the ideas. I have found out that book ideas and titles come to me faster so the more I write the more I find out I need to write.

 

  1. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day? On days that I work I like to hit between 500 and 1000 pages if I can.  On days I set aside to write I try to hit 4000 words.  When I focus on writing one of my short stories or intermediate children’s stories I typically set a month aside two write, edit, and storyboard pictures.

 

  1. Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that? Creative writers typically are introverts. Introverts like quiet times and places.  My wife is an artist and she has found out she needs quiet time to reflect and create so when she sees I am sitting down to create she either leaves me alone to do it or she joins me and creates her own work.  The wild crazy life is something an introvert does when they are researching for one of their projects.

 

  1. Do you think writers have a normal life like others? I own a Jeep, care for my fruit trees, sit by the fire, and do yard work like anyone else might do.  I have coached robotics for several years and while some might consider that nerdy it is just as exciting for my athletes as any other sport but much more time consuming than the high school coaches of other sports spend at it.

 

  1. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you? I plot as much as I can.  When the creative writing takes me in another direction I go as far as it will take me and then readjust my plots and plans.  This has worked out very well for the fantasy novels I have worked on more than it has for the children’s books.

 

  1. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing? The hardest thing about being an author is all the knowledge and skills you must possess to be successful at it.  You need to be creative and have editing skills but you also need marketing, sales, web page skills and so many much more until you have an endless supply of cash promoting you so that others may be hired to do the other work for you.

 

  1. What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing? For me being creative is the easiest part of it because it comes naturally to me.  Being an introvert has helped as I can plot and plan my writing at any time between classes and down time at doctor’s offices and so forth.

 

  1. Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last? I am a trained researcher.  When episodes of writers block hit I spend my time researching, outlining, planning, and learning about the other aspects of writing that I need to know.  Napping often helps during the worst episodes.

 

  1. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it? In order to overcome writers block one needs to remove distractions, submerse yourself into a creative environment, art, reading, movies, or think about your characters in their settings.  What are they doing, what do they need to do? And so forth.

 

  1. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? When I was younger I read as many Star Trek books (Author didn’t matter) and Dragonlance Chronicles (Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman) as I could find.

 

  1. Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing? I have improved efficiency, created worlds, and have experience completing the whole book creating experience.

 

  1. Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you? I am a member of a writing group.  While I do spend many hours rewriting my own work I can ask members of the group to edit some of my own stories.  Soon I hope to offer pay to some of them to help me out with it.

 

  1. Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year? I have difficulties editing my work shortly after completing it.  Most of my work sits for at least three months before I go back for a next go around.  My children’s books often wait years and sit around for several edits before I have the art work completed as it is expensive to pay illustrators to create and recreate pictures when you change them.  They often do not look like the other pictures in the books if they are not done together.

 

  1. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion? I watch TV shows all the time and breakdown the errors in the story.  It seems no one goes through to make sure the story works.  That is the most important part.  If there are continuation or structure errors in your work people lose interest in them when they find them.  Movie companies actually pay people to find them but they don’t find them all.

 

  1. If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why? My first children’s book ‘Emergency’ has been pulled off Amazon’s ebook site so the pictures could be redone.  The first three books will be marketed together and the pictures need to be consistent.  While I did edit the book again to improve the flow the art work was done by a different person and would not match the art from the second or third book.

 

  1. What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title? “Don’t judge a book by its cover”… people do it all the time however.  Titles need to stick with people and cover art needs to be eye catching.  The days of people lined up for an author’s latest work are becoming fewer and fewer by the day.  Attractive cover art draws in the readers.

 

  1. Have you ever designed your own book cover? I design my book covers with words and have artists do the actual art work.

 

  1. Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?   Danielle Steele’s sexy art covers have probably sold as many books as her writing.

 

  1. Do you attend literary lunches or events? I try to attend them when I can.  I have tried to set up events at schools and libraries but coordinating them with travel tends to be expensive.

 

  1. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing? When I set up the events there is usually a minimum purchase sales number I need to achieve before I make the journey to the event.  If the event is in my town I do not usually have this stipulation attached.  There are many non profit groups attached to library and schools that can help make this happen.

 

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