This holiday season, I’ve decided to promote some of my writer friends and ask some of the questions that folks ask me. Today’s guest/victim is:
At what age did you start writing or know that you wanted to write?
I began writing sometime in grade school, and it was just the sort of horrible, imitative stuff you’d expect from a grade schooler. But the urge to create stories never left me, it just took different forms, and I learned from each one of them.
Where do your ideas come from?
I work to get them. I usually have a desire to get some kind of vague feeling of a goal accomplished, and work to figure out and decide the ways to get there.
Do you base your characters on people you know or know of? Family or celebrities?
I haven’t based full characters off of anyone, but I have taken characteristics from people I know, or have known. And I’ve selected a few character names based of some friends.
Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go?
I plot. I have to plot. I have to know in a general way how the story’s going to end. And I like to know at least some of the major plot points along the way. That said, I’ve found that knowing too much in advance is a hindrance. I greatly enjoy when I get a new idea for story progression that fits perfectly and opens up new avenues to reach the right ending that I hadn’t thought off when doing the early work on the story.
Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what do you listen too?
I’m one of those people that wants as much quiet as I can get. Music, even without a singer, distracts me. If I’m plotting or working through a knot in the story though, sometimes music and background activity is helpful. I never know if a stray bit of someone else’s conversation might inspire just the right thought.
Which of your characters would you most like to meet in person? Which character of another author would you want to meet?
I’d love to meet my character Maricin from The Artifice Conspiracy. She’s someone I was delighted to imagine and I’d love for her to tell me things about herself I’ve never thought of. As for others, I’d like to have a conversation with Roy from the webcomic Order of the Stick.
Which of your stories/books/works do you consider the best?
The Artifice Conspiracy is the first novel I’ve written that was of publishable quality, so I’m going with that one. I am hopeful though, that my latest one will always be my best (so afar).
How much do you write each day/week?
On the days I have a writing session I aim to complete at least a thousand words. If I have a good reason for not reaching that many, I don’t beat myself up over it though. A few hundred words that work great are better than a thousand that don’t quite do it.
Do you have a routine when you write?
Nothing strict. I usually prep by having a cup of tea while sitting (or pacing) outside and going over what I’m going to be writing and need to accomplish.
What is your latest project/release?
The latest work out is the first one, The Artifice Conspiracy. My current project is a followup to that.
Do you have any signings or appearances coming up?
The only one that’s for sure is MidSouthCon in Memphis this coming March. I’m reviewing my calendar for 2016, seeing where I might be able to go, who might be willing to have me, and how I can make it all work with my day job.
Who were your inspirations?
I’ve read scores of writers and learned something from all of them. But the one author who inspired me in the most productive direction is David Baldacci.
The above David Baldacci. Also Ace Atkins, Ken Sholes, Brandon Sanderson, and James Lee Burke.
What book do you read over and over the most?
For the most part I don’t re-read books. I’ll sometimes go back and skim something I’ve read before, and that’ll be enough to remind me of everything I liked about it. Or I’ll hunt down some passages I really enjoyed (this especially with James Lee Burke). I do enjoy reading comics and webcomics over and over though. The good ones have so much there, and spread over so much time, I forget things. And I ’ve probably read Watchmen more than a dozen times. Not sure what that says about me.
Is there a book or book series that you recommend to people?
Nothing’s going to be universally appealing to everyone. Even the classics. Some will grab people some won’t. If I know the kinds of books people enjoy, I can usually think of something else I think they’ll like. If they haven’t already found it on their own, that is.
How much of you is in your characters?
Probably more than I think! I’ve tried to make my characters different from me because how I would react to things would probably make for a short and boring story.
What genre do you prefer to write? To read?
I write fantasy. I’ve never really tried anything else because nothing else appeals to me so. I enjoy dealing with the absolutely fantastic and making it work in a sensible (and interesting) way. I enjoy a variety of genres but have found myself gravitating toward thrillers these past few years.
Do you prefer writing short stories or novels? And why?
Novels by far. I like all room they afford.
What are you working on now?
I’ve written something over half of the follow up to The Artifice Conspiracy. Same setting, about a year later, and focusing on different characters.
Is Writer’s Block ever a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it.
I’ve been hit by writer’s block occasionally and the best way I’ve found to deal with it is to just sit and write whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to have anything at all to do with the story, or it could be just me ranting on the screen at being frustrated and what I want to do and how I’m not sure how to get there and if I do this then that won’t work but I could try this except for this effect it would have and so on until I’ve got a few rambling paragraphs like this one. Generally by then I have at least a single good thought about how to proceed and I force myself to follow through on that for at least fifteen minutes. By then I’ve usually got something going, even if it’s something I’ll need to radically change later.
What 3 things do you feel every aspiring writer should know?
You have to be ready to sit and write and ignore the rest of the world for long periods of time. You have to be ready to deal with and move past rejection from publishers and the public. You have to understand the first draft won’t be the final draft – re-writing is crucial and irritating and magical.
How do you use social media in regards to your writing?
Imperfectly. Social media does not come naturally to me. I’m still struggling with developing a way to put it to better use.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, have you ever engaged a reviewer over comments they’ve made?
I have read reviews and found them inspiring. I’ve been lucky enough to not have anyone troll me about my writing (but I’m sure that day’s coming). The only time I answered a review I copped to an observation he made about my tendency to name as many people and places as I can. He found it distracting but liked the book, and I just wanted to say why I tend to do that, and tell i was glad he enjoyed it.
In the future, bad reviews will come and I hope to learn from them. Not all people are going to like what I write, but a well done bad review can be instructive.
Thanks Wes. To find his books, click below: