When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
My desire to write novels has hit me in waves through the years. It would creep up and stand on my shoulder and shout into my ear, “You can write compelling stories. You must write!” A couple of times I took a few minor steps, but self-doubt would inevitably knock it off my shoulder. Or my type A personality of performing fifty tasks at once would wear down my creative edge. I finally listened to my inner voice about two years ago. I locked myself away from every responsibility possible and focused on creating my writer’s mindset. Then, I started pouring out my thoughts. Fifteen pages into the story, I knew I could do it.
On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
This is my first! From the initial word until the final edit the creative process for Committed lasted about sixteen months. With future books I hope to complete the process in six months or so.
Where do you find writing inspiration?
Every person, story, interaction, vision, song, movie, dream, and job I’ve experienced. Depending on the scene, I might draw upon a similar emotion I felt at some point in my life. Or I might recall something I witnessed or even heard about second hand. Probably like many authors, I’ve been able to put myself in another person’s mind to see and feel the world through their eyes.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I think I wrote my first fiction book in the first or second grade. I can’t recall the title, but it involved a stork who was lost. I guess you could also say I was “self-published.” I remember drawing the cover art and piecing together the pages into a bound book. I was one proud boy.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think it’s more interesting to think about how a story is told. I could tell you two different stories: One is about a terrorist bomb-maker who meets and falls in love with a Jewish girl and must decide if he’s going to follow through on his assigned mission to blow up himself and the market his girlfriend’s parents own. The second story is about a black bird landing on the same mailbox every day when a young boy goes out to get the mail. The first story certainly sounds more compelling, more suspenseful. But it all depends on how it’s presented, how it draws in the readers, how it evokes emotion, and how it concludes.
Does your family (and/or close friends) know that you write and are a published author? If so, are they supportive of your efforts?
I came out of the closest in steps. I wrote my first manuscript with my wife being the only person in the know. Then, I shared it with others. After deciding to go the self-publishing path, I first completed a mammoth amount of research, had my cover art created, and picked a target release date before I shared the big news. My wife has been my number one supporter from day one. But as I’ve taken each step more and more people have encouraged me. Lately the support has been phenomenal. I’m very appreciative.
Is there a main genre that you would like to write for?
I have a number of story concepts that traverse outside of my current genre. One that stands out is a series of kids mystery books targeted at ages 8-12. On the way to school my youngest son begs me to tell him stories. Over the years, I’ve developed central characters and plots that take place in various locations. I’m curious to see if I could turn that concept into a long-running series. I think I could write about twenty of them.
Are there any other types of fiction/literature that you enjoy reading?
As much as I love fiction, in particular mystery / suspense / thrillers, I’m a sucker for a well-written memoir of someone I’ve long followed and admired. It’s shocking to admit, I realize.
How important is reader feedback, good or bad, to you?
I think an important skill for writers of all types is being able to weed out the extreme views and find that thread of constructive feedback. If you can treat the comments like those received in a focus group, it should help you further connect with your target audience.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I enjoy a good workout. It allows me to not feel guilty when I’m sitting on the couch watching my teams play baseball, basketball, football, soccer, etc…Outside of playing with the kids at the park, I have to live vicariously through the athletes I watch now. My joints just can’t take the pounding. I coach my youngest son’s soccer team. My wife and I love going to the movies, and we love to travel – although we rarely get a chance to do it. But when we do, nothing beats reading a great novel while on the road.
What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring authors?
I think it’s difficult for anyone starting a new endeavor to determine if they should put their head down and forge ahead or solicit feedback from anyone who offers it. A lot depends on the writer’s personality. Trying to adjust your concept or narrative based upon Uncle Joe’s opinion might take you down a trail you’ll never escape. So, part of the journey of becoming an author is learning the most productive way you work as a writer. And don’t look at this as a single decision. Life evolves. We (hopefully) learn and grow. Book to book, you can alter how you work and from whom to solicit feedback. But, mainly, set your expectations so you can succeed. Look for opportunities to build your confidence and over time your wings will sprout and take you to places you never imagined.