Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have both my novels published through publishing houses, so my books have always been professionally edited. If I did self-publish, I would absolutely pay someone to edit my work. A trained eye is essential before you unleash the final product into the world.
Have you ever left any of your books to stew for months on end or even a year?
It’s common for me to get a nugget of an idea and let it ferment for a long while. I’ve ‘loosely outlined’ more than one book this way.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
To tell a good story. You can be a brilliant writer and have wonderful, complex characters, but if they’re not doing anything interesting, no one will care.
Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
Dr. Suess was ever-present during my childhood, but the book that truly stands out in my memory is Harold and the Purple Crayon. It’s a fantastical tale about a child who ‘draws things into existence’ with his crayon.
Have any new writers grasped your interest recently?
Craig Hart’s new novel, Becoming Moon, really spoke to me. He’s a fabulous writer and a natural born story-teller. I’m also excited about the upcoming novel, Bridge Daughter, by Jim Nelson. The first few chapters immediately drew me in, and I can’t wait to read the book in its entirety.
It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?
My heart was broken by my first high-school girlfriend. Ironically, she and I reconnected years later (as friends) and moved in together as platonic roommates. I was convinced I could romance her back into my arms by writing the ‘story of our lives.’ The book turned out great and she loved it . . . but she still wouldn’t date me. It was a delightful introduction to the world of rejection.
Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
The beauty of writing is that it can be done by anyone. I’ve read terrible novels written by college graduates and brilliant novels written by high school dropouts. For some people the act of writing comes naturally, for others it’s endless hard work. The important thing is to put your butt in the chair and try.
Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
There might be some authors that can accomplish this feat, but I’m not one of them. My first drafts are usually ugly, horrible creatures that bare little resemblance to the finished product. Rewriting is 90% of the process.
Do you reply back to your fans and admirers personally?
I love connecting with people, which is the main reason I maintain a ‘personal’ Facebook page, as opposed to ‘author’ Facebook page. I’m always happy to answer questions about my books and/or writing process.
Why should people read your book?
To save time. Many authors aspire to create sprawling, epic tales—which is great—but I love crafting brisk, fast reads that can be devoured in one or two sittings. I often joke that my books should only be sold in airport gift shops, as they’re the perfect length for a short plane ride.
Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?
Even with a publisher, I still spend countless hours promoting my work, whether it be through social media, contacting bloggers, or e-mailing libraries to help spread the word. A successful writer is always writing and promoting their work.
Are you satisfied with your success?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had one dream in life: To have a book published. And I have. Everything else is icing on the cake.
Are you friends with other writers?
Absolutely. The majority of authors I know (I’m looking at you, Aaron Bunce) are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. I would never have achieved my success without their support.
How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book?
I did what any reasonable author would do with a chunk of their advance money: Take the family to Mall of America!
Can you tell us about your current projects?
I’m knee-deep into a third mystery about a father searching for his missing daughter. I’m also tweaking a short novel (written years ago) that I hope to release next year, and I’ve been outlining a sequel to my debut mystery, Mortom.
Do any of your family members make occasional cameos in your books?
Not directly, but I always shower my stories with the names of family members and friends. They’re fun little Easter eggs for the people (who know me) to discover.
Do you have a library at home?
I have a decent collection of Stephen King hardbacks and paperbacks, but the majority of my book collection rests inside my Kindle. I’ve also been slowly building a collection of audio books, which are great for long car rides.
How long do you take to write a book?
I’m not a prolific writer (it takes me a lot of time to get the words just right), and my writing time is limited to evenings and weekends. On average, it takes me two years to finish a book.
How do you handle book criticism (ie: bad book reviews)?
I try to focus on the positive aspects of the review (if there are any), but more often than not, the criticism is directed toward my characters or story—not my writing—which makes it easier to accept.
Is there a particular kind of attire you like to write in?
Flannel lounge pants and Mogwai slippers (from the movie Gremlins). I’m convinced both are magically tied to my muse.