What motivates you to write?
On an artistic level, I’m motivated by the stories themselves, getting caught up in them and spinning them in the best way for the reader. On a commercial level, I stay motivated by 1) past successes and the chance that I’ll hit it big yet, and 2) my growing E-book Empire. I’ve seen the advantages of having a big backlist and lots of new stuff coming out in e-book form. That’s one reason I’ve been focusing more on short stories lately.
What made you choose the genre you chose?
I’ve always been a big fan of mysteries and thrillers, starting with Encyclopedia Brown when I was a kid. When it came time to try my hand at fiction, there was no question which direction I’d go. I read several books in the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald and got jazzed enough to try it myself.
Where do your characters come from?
Everywhere. People I’ve met, people I see in passing, people who show up in my dreams. I take little bits of many people, little tics or physical characteristics, and mix them together in the most marvelous alchemy. The characters that result often stand up on their own and develop personalities in ways that surprise the author. That’s part of the fun of writing fiction.
Who is an author who inspires you and why?
The late, great Donald E. Westlake is one of my heroes. Not only did he do splendid, often hilarious books under his own name, but he wrote whole series under pseudonyms, including the Richard Stark books featuring the thief Parker. The authors who inspire me the most are the ones who keep challenging themselves.
What are you writing now?
I just finished a rewrite of my new bank robber novel, DUKE CITY SPLIT, and my agent’s reading it now. While I’m waiting to see what happens with that, I’m writing a short story called FOUND MONEY and doing the preliminary work on what will eventually be the next novel.
What encouraging advice can you offer new writers?
Keep at it. Everything you write makes you a better writer. You might have to throw away a ton of terrible writing, but eventually you’ll get better at it. The words will come easier. You’ll be less daunted because you’ve faced similar challenges before. There’s less fear.
Don’t forget it’s supposed to be fun.