TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT
YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
In the original Clash
of the Titans movie, there is a former playwright who says he used to write
tragedies until he learned life has enough of those already. Strange as it may sound, I took that to heart
in my writing. People can get a year’s
supply of suffering, injustice and misery just by turning on the nightly
news. They don’t need me to add to that
with a tale of misery. I try to make
people laugh with my writing, to say there is hope and there can be happy
endings. Walking the yellow brick road may
not be easy, but there is a reward at the end.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU
BECOME A WRITER?
To be honest, it was
kind of accidental. I attended the
College of DuPage, a community college in my area that is close, good and
cheap. I had to write papers for every
class I took there except math. I later
learned this was a program called Writing Across the Curriculum, an attempt to
cultivate good writing in all students.
The more I wrote the more I liked it, and then I started writing on my
From there I joined a
writers group at my local library. It
was fun and I got a lot of positive feedback and good ideas from them. They enjoyed my writing, and I even had a
woman say she normally avoided my genre but liked my work.
Eventually I had a
finished book, and then another and another.
Friends encouraged me to find a publisher for them. I discounted the idea for a long time because
I had heard how hard it was to get a book published. But then one day I decided it would cost me
little to try, so I started looking around.
I had a number of rejections and came across a few frauds, but one day a
friend introduced me to a publisher who might like my work. He took me on, and while that did not work
out well in the end I decided to continue trying.
WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A
MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I come up with the
basic plot for my story before writing anything. After that I begin imagining scenes from the
book. They are like movie clips in my
mind, each one running a few lines to several pages. I continue building scenes like this in my
mind until I feel I have enough for the complete story. Then I mentally stitch the scenes together
and write them.
Once I start writing
I will sometimes come up with additional ideas.
Usually these are short, just adding a line here or there. More rarely they are more elaborate are
require reworking a portion of the story.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST
ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love creating.
Building worlds and populating them is entertaining.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST
THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Marketing, no question.
I had considerable training in how to write courtesy of the many English
classes I took in high school and college.
There are also plenty of help books when it comes to writing, and I can
read the best authors to see what worked for them
But I had no training in marketing at school, and I
haven’t found any good books on the subject.
Marketing also involves being a good deal more outgoing than I normally
am. Marketing my book has been much
harder than writing it was.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A
PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I originally got a degree in biology, which seemed like a
good idea at the time. My thinking was
that I could get a lab job or work in conservation. I was able to get some seasonal work at the
Brookfield Zoo, Morton Arboretum and Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation. But as the economy turned sour the money and
job opportunities in conservation dried up, and I discovered that labs wanted
experience and training I didn’t have, and scores of people applying for each
job. With so many applicants they could
afford to be choosy, and they didn’t choose me.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST
Getting my book into print is my greatest achievement so
far. I honestly never thought it would
happen when the publishing industry is so competitive.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING
ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am currently marketing the first book, having a friend
edit the sequel and I am writing book five in the series.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
That’s a hard one to answer. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Sources include books, movies, dreams, even
the description of a really bad videogame.
I see an idea and begin turning it over in my mind, changing it slightly
as time goes by until it is unrecognizable from the source material.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
My book William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins is
a blend of fantasy and comedy, as are the sequels that I have not yet published. I have also submitted a science fiction story
to a woman I met on LinkedIn for DreamWorks Publications and a short fantasy piece
to a gentleman also from LinkedIn.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW
Read ten pages for every page you write. Read outside your genre, such a science
books, histories, biographies and how to books.
These books will provide many ideas for your writing and facts to make
your stories more realistic.
Read inside your genre to see what has worked in the
past. Do not slavishly copy it, but look
for the kind of character development and descriptions you will need to match
or beat to be noticed. Avoid overused
fields like vampires and zombies, or your book risks being lost in the crowd of
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Yes, but there is a cure.
I find taking long walks a positive way to fight writer’s block. I take nothing with me except a plastic bag
to pick up recyclables, no phone, no music, no company. I go for 40 minutes to an hour around the
neighbourhood and let my mind wander.
This doesn’t always work, but it generally does and I have come up with
some great ideas doing this.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING
Time of day doesn’t really matter to me when I’m
working. I have done good work in the
morning and after dark.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING
Location doesn’t matter when I am working. I originally did most of my writing in a
spare bedroom. I now work in the
basement. Neither one has advantages or
disadvantages for me.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN
Writing itself is the joy for me. When I am writing I enter a sort of
flow. I don’t notice the passage of time
and I feel no need to snack or pace.
Hours can flow by and I barely notice.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND
I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett and his Disc World
series. It is the kind of funny and
weird I strive for in my own. My
personal favourite of his is Going Postal, where a conman is given the job of
restarting a city’s mail service.
Pratchett can be a bit elitist at times, with the common people of his
stories being fools that need a tyrant, king or witch to rule them, but
otherwise it’s fun.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU
EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
My greatest compliment is when I hear them laugh. That tells me I did my job right.
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A
I had submitted my novel to a contest run by Create Space
and had it judged by two people. The
first one couldn’t say enough good things about it. If I ever meet him I’ll buy him a beer. The second one kept harping on how my book should
be classified as children’s literature. His poor review got me booted from the contest
(insert violent fantasy here).
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY
THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
I’ve had my share of hard times over the years. It has given me an appreciation for the little
guy and what he has to do to survive.
Superman and other powerhouse characters bore me because they can smash
their way through whatever problem they face.
It’s much more interesting to see the little guy outwit and outmanoeuvre
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU
I enjoy gardening.
Mostly it’s food plants, but I also do some flowers. I also enjoy drawing science fiction and
fantasy themes such as robots, monsters and of course my goblins. I’m not good enough to make a living off my
artwork, but it’s fun.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS
PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Well, yes and
no. My publisher originally edited my
book. He found an enormous number of
mistakes that I had missed, a very humbling experience. But it turns out he missed a fair number as
well, and a wonderful woman named Sandra Haven (who I also met on LinkedIn)
kindly pointed them out to me. The new
edition of the book has been corrected, but it would not surprise me if a few
more bugs are in there. Honestly,
sometimes I wonder if mistakes migrate into books.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
I don’t need much to
be happy. Good weather and a spaghetti
dinner helps, but a perfect day is one you make. Spend time with family and friends, write,
draw, garden, take a walk, watch a favourite movie, it’s all good.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND
WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
I have long been a fan of the puppeteer and filmmaker Jim
Henson. He did amazing work with the
kind of creativity and good humour I admire.
His passing was a tragedy, and I often wonder what he could have done if
given more time. I would like a chance
to spend time with him and learn from him.
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE
CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
you are the biggest collection of weasels alive today. You got elected by lying, cheating, stealing,
selling out your people to special interests and otherwise acting like
sociopaths. You don’t care for your own
people, much less those outside your borders.
There was a time when men of greatness, vision and wisdom led us. God willing one day we will have such leaders
again, and you vultures will be kicked out onto the street corner where you
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I plan to continue
writing. I have a lot of stories left to
tell for my main character, and I have worlds left yet to build.
26. WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO
I always assumed
Heaven had a well stocked library.
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR
Lord no! I have them do things I would never try, and
many of them have the IQ of a walnut. A
good writer makes characters who aren’t just mirrors of himself. He may use them to explore ideas he has or
take positions he is interested in, but at the end of the day they need to be
unique, different enough from their creator and one another.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY
Oooooh yes. The industry is a sort of Catch-22, where you
can’t get published without an agent, and agents only want to represent
published authors. Publishers look for
sure things, following trends rather than developing new ones. Books are given short lifespans where they
must succeed or be cast aside, but rarely do they get the support they need
from the publishers to reach that success.
It has become a ruthless and insane survival of the fittest, or more
often the luckiest.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No. I have put a lot of time and effort into my
writing. It is source of joy to me even
when all else fails. If I could not be
published, that would aggravate me, but it wouldn’t stop me from writing.
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT
TO WRITE? WHY?
You know, I don’t
have favourites. I like all the books I
have written. If I didn’t like one of
them I would have never bothered finishing it.
That has happened a few times, where I decided the story wasn’t good enough
and erased it.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A
If I can support
myself with the royalties I earn then I am successful. If I can live well and make a positive impact
in other people’s lives then I am very successful.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM
YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I want people to laugh out loud and set my book down
33. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING
A BOOK COVER?
A lot. The cover
sells or ruins a book. We all judge
books by their covers, especially for new authors we’re not familiar with. The cover has to tell the reader what he’s
getting into. I have even seen bad
books, really bad ones, sell because they had good cover art. I fell into that trap more than once. But good covers on bad books will only make
so many sales before the word gets out that the artist deserves praise and not
the author. Once you have a following
the cover becomes a little less important, but you can’t skimp unless you’re
one of the best in the business.
34. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
Every writer wants to
make it big, Steven King big with millions of copies sold and movies made from
your books. I’d like that. I don’t need that kind of money, but I know
places where I could spread it around and do some good.
I would also like to
know that I had inspired someone with my writing. That when they were at their lowest I made
them laugh long enough and loud enough that their world became a better
place. I would like one of my readers to
say I’d inspired them to write their own book.
35. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU,
YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
this. Marketing has been a nightmare for
me. My original publisher passed off
most of the marketing duties to me, offering no advice except that I should go
online. I have talked about my book
online at websites like GoodReads and LinkedIn.
I have posted the book on more sites like AuthorDen. I distributed postcard sized advertisements
about the book along with larger ads in storefronts and bookstores, plus gave
away free copies of the book.
36. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
It wasn’t to start
with. My book was originally published
through a small Canadian publisher. All
went well for a time, but when sales weren’t good he gave up on me and took on
a new author. I looked for a new
publisher, but I couldn’t find one who would accept a previously published
book. I went to CreateSpace out of
desperation, but they said yes so I can’t complain.
37. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Honest. Trustworthy. Determined.
38. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Hold on…let me get
There are a lot of
things that get to me, but mindless destruction is at the top. I am a creator at heart, enjoying drawing,
writing and gardening. I love to build
and see things grow to reach their highest potential.
When I see people
needlessly destroy things it angers me to no end. Vandalism, arson, deforestation, mountaintop
leveling, these are crimes that take things of beauty, things that needed year
or decades or centuries to reach maturity, and leaves them in ruins. The people who commit these crimes show they
have no respect for their world and no respect for the other people living on
it. They take and take, always assuming
there will be more for them to despoil.
39. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK
YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
America. It’s a history of
fortifications in North America since pre-colonial times. It was a good read, and amazing how many of
the forts fell to bad weather instead of enemy fire, or were manned and later
abandoned without every firing a shot in anger.
Some forts were built, lost to rot or storms, rebuilt, lost again, and
then rebuilt once more.
40. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE
Now it’s your turn.
41. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE
Lots of things would
help, like a better job or getting a publisher again, but to be honest I’m
pretty happy right now. Little things
like a walk on a beautiful day make me happy, or when my tomato plants produce
a good crop. You get moments like this
all the time if you take time to notice and appreciate the world around you.
42. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
My book is available
on Amazon at:
Clancy's comment: Many thanks, Arthur. Love ya humour. Also love your attitude towards current world leaders.
Think about this!