What motivates you to write?
The startling experiences of “walking through the tail of a comet” has motivated me to write. I’m minding my own business and suddenly a unique story idea or a fascinating character pops into my mind and I can’t let go of it until I form a story featuring that idea and/or character. And honestly, I believe all writers share the belief that only we can tell a certain story and the world should have the chance to hear that story. Once it starts to take shape, each event and new supporting character entering the plot motivates me to continue the development. There are hidden motivations, too. For my Tower novel, I realized only later I wanted my main character, Don Vargas, to bring out unpleasant aspects we all harbor within ourselves and allow him the chance to redeem himself (and ourselves). Talk about baring your soul!
What made you chose the genre you chose, and who are the authors who inspire you and why?
Since I started reading as a child, I was always more fascinated by stories that went beyond “reality.” In Junior High, I got hooked on science fiction and still admire the icons of that genre: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Jack Williamson, Kurt Vonnegut, and dozens more. Then along came J. R. R. Tolkien and fantasy was added to my list along with great mystery writers from Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, to many new writers such as Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander series). Most of these writers employ a spare, transparent style that allows the readers a direct connection to the plot, setting, and, particularly, the characters. Thus the imagination is sparked by the writer, but fleshed out by the reader. Though, I confess one of my all time favorite novels is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë who employed that wonderful Victorian style of detail and depth most of us modern writers are reluctant to attempt. Yes, I would love to try a tragic romantic story… from a guy’s point of view, of course!
What kind of book would you like to be known for?
Though I currently consider myself a genre writer in contemporary fantasy, I want readers to conclude I have touched on certain universal truths about the human condition and the life of the mind. I fear our exploding technology is making self-reliance and determination a thing of the past as we latch on to these “tech drugs,” which, in truth, sink their hooks into us right down to the core of our minds limiting our imagination by inundating us with information (without wisdom). I believe my genre writing should achieve the same goals as a “literary novel.” I think the reading public expects all writing to tell them the truth about themselves even when it’s a fantastic story that couldn’t happen in this life as we know it.
What encouraging advice can you offer new writers?
Be quiet and write! Get it all down on paper (or computer screen). Step away from it, come back later, and write some more. When you think you’ve squeezed out all you can-revise, edit, and let others you trust for their honesty read it. Revise some more and then hire an editor because there are many things you or your friends can’t see in your writing from mechanical errors, logic errors, and plot/character inconsistencies that a professional can detect. Once you’ve gone back and forth with your editor (Peggy Herrington in my case) and polished it to both your satisfaction, then start to “put it out there” for publication. Don’t ask how I know all this! 😉