Interview with Gerard Gardner, author of “Diabetes, An Answer To My Prayer”

How important is research to you when writing a book?

Very. It doesn’t matter if the book is fiction or non-fiction, research is a critical component for me because I want my readers to learn something while enjoying the book. In fiction, my plots may be made up but the research helps me to bridge fantasy with reality so the experience can be more realistic. In non-fiction of course, I want to ensure that I have a sound basis for drawing whatever conclusions are being presented.

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

When I started writing I always started with longhand so I could edit as I converted the writing to text in the computer . Plus, it gave me a sense of freestyle when I put it on paper. Fate however taught me to be far more efficient. Once I had a nearly completed draft of a novel that I hadn’t committed to the computer, but not long before our divorce my soon to be ex-wife threw the manuscript out while I was away on a business trip. Now I write straight to the computer with plenty of back up.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

For me it was hard when I first got started, mainly because I had trouble discerning whether or not my time could be better spent elsewhere. Once I completed my first book, it got much easier knowing that I had something to show for the time spent.

Over the years, what would you say improved significantly in your writing?

My ability to communicate succinctly. I used to be one of those people who would use ten words to communicate a greeting when a simple ‘Hello’ would have done a better job.

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

Yep, I’m doing it now with two. Part of why I do it is to use my gray matter (my brain) and to not let myself get stressed over time frames. Although I’ve been writing for a very long time I’m still a very new book writer, so for now I use that stewing time to visualize where I want to take my readers. It also helps me organize the flow of the book, but the upside of waiting for me is once I hit that flow mentally then I can write for hours and days on end.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

I think it is critical since you only have about 5 or 10 seconds to get a reader to take notice and for he or she to decide if the book is worth looking at more in-depth.

Have you ever designed your own book cover?

No, and I never plan to. I don’t have a creative eye but I found a great guy who does. Scott Mosher of Ambient Studios did my book cover and interior and I’ll keep working with him as long as he’ll have me. He asks all the right questions and delivers an incredibly great product.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Write, then write some more. Use your draft to get your thoughts on to the medium and don’t stop to edit, this way you can see what you want to say. There will be plenty of time to reshape while you do the re-writes. I’d also recommend that you choose a topic that you love or want to learn more about because that will keep you engaged, but never forget your readers while you are doing the writing. Put yourself in their shoes and try to see what they will see before settling on the finished product.

Do you read your own work?

Always. That’s how I can measure my growth.

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

I actually have three projects that I think will be of great interest, two of which I hope to complete and bring to market within the next 12-18 months. They are all celebrations of life in a way, but told from three different perspectives. One in particular is a guide on how to beat what may seem to be insurmountable odds.

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

This is an area where I am incredibly blessed. My sons have been tremendously supportive as have been my sisters. One of my sisters acted as my second editor and did a phenomenal job, and will likely be the first editor on one of my next books.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

That is a long story actually but yes, I do contract work for now and I will keep working until if and when I can make an exceptional living from writing. But because my day jobs put me in different working environments it has actually helped my research for some of my writing.

Do you have a daily habit of writing?

Not currently because of my schedule and other conflicts. But I do research nearly every day and posit my findings in an easily accessible file so that when I’m able to write I can get right to it.

People believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true?

Not for me and the people I associate with in general. I think if you’re wealthy and well traveled as a result of the writing then that is indeed glamorous whether anyone thinks so or not. But most people I’ve run into see published writing as a combination of artistry and accomplishment more than anything.

Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?

Both actually. I’m fortunate in that I have traveled all over the U.S. for both business and pleasure for many years, and really enjoy it when I’m doing it. But I also appreciate the relaxation I get when I’m at home, especially on cold and rainy days.

Now when you look back on your past, do you feel accomplished?

I’m getting there. Writing to me is my third and final career, and I hope to get out of it what I did in my previous careers. I was very successful in business and then lost it all in the crashes, and the dynamic of those careers has changed significantly. I’ve been writing on and off for nearly 16 years but only as a hobby until my first book got published in 2015. Now I see myself as a writer who still has dues to pay, but I’m driven to find success and each time I pursued what I loved the success was big. And I love writing so for me that feeling of accomplishment is not quite there but it is only a matter of time.

Did the thought to give up writing ever occur to you?

Not really, especially once I put more time into it. I don’t like giving up on anything I set out to do unless I’m forced to for whatever reason. My first book took me much longer than I wanted it to but the longer it took the more committed I became. I will say that I experienced some incredible angst when I sent the first couple of chapters out to my prospective editor and two of my sisters. They were the first to read them and I was on pins and needles waiting for their reactions. All of them were positive (my sisters’ were positive vs. polite), but even if they came back negative I would have picked up the pieces and finished. My view of goal setting is that the only time you fail at anything is when you give up, I wasn’t about to start giving up.

Do you think you still have a story to tell to the readers?

Absolutely, my next three books will be non-fiction like my first, but I also have the fiction storyline from the manuscript that my ex-wife threw out. Once I’m done with the non-fiction, I’ll be going full bore with fiction because there is so much more to write about!

Can you tell us about your current projects?

Only in that they are about life events that are meant to encourage and motivate those who are struggling and to give comfort to any news junkies who are too used to seeing the bad in people because of the headlines.

What would you say is your biggest failure in life?

Not living for myself. But let me elaborate. I built a successful career and was getting close to a seven figure income. I had a net worth of nearly $1 million and climbing which I achieved in a fairly short amount of time, but I never paid attention to the personal toll it was taking on me. I ate a ton of stress at work and a ton of it at home and got incredibly sick because of it. What I should have done was learned how to form better partnerships so that I could have carved out some time for me to stay healthy.

Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write or can you just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I consider myself lucky because once I sit down to write it doesn’t matter where I am. I’ve written on planes or in the airport, cafes and libraries, restaurants, and my living room. That stems from something that served me well in my business career where I learned to tune everything out except for the client I was focused on. Sometimes I would be so engrossed on the phone, my assistant would come in and leave something for me and I’d never know she’d been there even though I was looking at her while she did it.

How many children to you have? Do you see any young writers in any of them?

I have three sons and a daughter-in-law of whom I could not be prouder. My oldest son has incredible writing talent and we are working a short story together that has book potential.

Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

For about the last six years my life was an absolute nightmare because of a very ugly divorce from a very ugly individual. Because of the extreme impacts it had on my health, I don’t know if I could have survived it had I not used it as a basis for segments of my book. The book helped me to understand the health impacts, the physiological impacts, and more importantly the remedies I could use since the divorce left me without resources to where I went without medications for three years while managing diabetes and heart disease.

Do you blog?

Yes, but right now only intermittently. I blog when I need to take a break from writing, meaning I use it to go off-topic and just free-write. But sometimes I’ll use it to help me forge timeline disciplines.

How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?

I’m a newbie when it comes to social media, but learning very fast because I see the tremendous value it offers. I’m approaching it cautiously and using it to watch trends, my next focus will be to write a weekly value-add piece based upon the trends that I’m seeing. That will take the place of my current blogging activities and be more content oriented and relevant than my blogs have been in the past.