- Guest Author -
Welcome to an interview I conducted with an author from Texas - Arlon Boozer. Arlon is retired from the Shell Chemical Company. He travels the US in a motorhome and has started writing e-books, currently only available at Amazon.com. arlon also writes a travel blog, and a thoughts and ideas blog.
Welcome, Arlon ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I got out of the U.S. Army in 1964, married my wife Kathi and began college. We had two sons while I worked in the day, went to night school and finished college at the University of Houston in Texas. in 1973 I began working for Shell Chemical Company and retired in 2003. Kathi and I sold our home and bought an RV and have been travelling the USA ever since.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
In 2014 I saw an Amazon add about Kindle Direct Publishing. I had two books of poetry I had written during the ‘60s & ‘70s and did not know how to get them published. I decided to write a short story and learn Amazon publishing process. I published RV Park Avenger, then published a book of children’s poetry. All of a sudden I was a writer.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I get an idea about a topic and just start writing. I think it’s fun not knowing what my characters are going to do. My wife is my editor and she lets me know when what I write does not make sense or when it might be offensive.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
There are three things I probably enjoy equally. Writing itself is fun and enjoyable for me. Learning to format to self publish is enjoyable, although it was hard for me to understand cover art techniques. Third, I get a kick out of seeing my books on the internet available for purchase.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The hardest part of writing is getting the idea about what to write about. The hardest thing about the writing/publishing process is marketing.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I have had a varied career, never going back to the same type of work twice. I worked as a labourer, an apprentice carpenter, a grocery store manager, a bill collector, a loan officer, and pipe inspector for large diameter pipe used in gas pipelines. Then I worked as a painter’s helper, a dispatcher for a trucking company, a lab technician, a maintenance foreman, a maintenance supervisor and finally retired as a team coach.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I feel like getting my first story published as probably my greatest achievement. I do think something greater will come.
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I have just finished combining my three short stories into a novel. They are all stories about Averal Saunders, an RV traveller. I started with myself as a model and he quickly became different from me. I wanted wider distribution for my novel, so I learned to format for Smashwords. Then I wanted a paperback version, so I learned to format for CreateSpace. My paperback proof should arrive during the next few weeks. If it is okay, I will approve it for distribution.
My next story is going to be about a guitar player and song writer.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I am inspired by being alive. It doesn’t take more than that. Kathi makes being alive worthwhile.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I guess my category would have to be considered fiction-general. I really don’t like that, but it’s all that fits the categories available. I enjoy character development. I’ve thought about writing things that are easier to sell and I may do that in the future. Now my mind is stuck in fiction-general.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
My tip to anybody about anything is do something. If you want to write, put something down on paper. You can figure out everything else later. If you do not start, you are stuck forever.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
What I consider writer’s block is trying to decide what the characters are going to do next. That happens to me occasionally. What I do is write. What I write may not go next, but it will usually fit into the story before it is completed.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I could write all the time. Kathi and I are best friends, so I try to make myself available to her whenever she needs me. If I sense I am boring her, I take a break to allow us to do something together. Sometimes I miss a clue and she has to tell me she needs my attention. I am always glad to give it.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I sit at my computer desk in our motorhome. We travel around the country and wherever we are, when we stop I am home and back at my desk.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
This is similar to question four. I think I get the greatest joy when my editor tells me the story is okay for publication.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I currently have three favourite authors. I have read most of Robert B Parker’s stories. I like the Spenser Hawk relationship. I like the Longmire series by Craig Johnson. Johnson writes about a remote county in Wyoming and his Longmire character will never stop trying to accomplish his chosen tasks. The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child is great because Child displays Reacher as the man many of us would like to be.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I think the best compliment I had was from my brother-in-law. He asked, “Where did you learn to write like that.”
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Readers have mostly been complimentary. My worst comment was from my editor. She told me, “You can’t say that. It’s not who you are.” Of course she was right, so I did a quick re-write.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
I do not see any way a writer can keep themselves or their personality out of what they write. I pay attention to the world and my character do the same.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I read a few books, probably nearing 80 the last two years. Kathi and I enjoy casinos. She loves the slot machines and I love watching her love them. I also work Sudoku puzzles that make me think.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
No. Although Kathi is so good she may start demanding a share in the royalties.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
We are family oriented. The only thing that can keep me from a perfect day is when Kathi or one of our boys is unhappy. That ruins the day for all of us.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
I am choosing Kathi, because she will edit my answers. (I would have chosen her anyway.)
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
Care more about your people than you care about yourself. What I see consistently is people in leadership positions devoting all their energy into keeping their position. They give people what they want them to have, not what they need.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I will keep writing. I may have to take a time off from travelling to reduce my expenditures.
26. WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Beyond Band of Brothers by Dick Winters & Cole C Kingseed, The Complete Sherlock Holmes collection by Arthur Conan Doyle, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and Of Time and the River by Thomas Wolfe.
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
I see myself and other people I know in my characters. Never a complete person, but just traits and characteristics I have felt or observed.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
I would not even try to find a publisher. They reject so many good stories because they only see their vision, not the vision of an author. I would never have confidence in them. I like self publishing.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was 70. Why stop now.
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I still have not written my favourite. I think it is two years away. I am going to keep honing my skills and knowledge in my next story. Then I plan to write something more commercial that also would interest a lot more people.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Success is having a lot of people enjoy your stories. Most comments I get are positive, but I do not have a large audience.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I would like people to know they read a well written story that allowed them to feel the emotions of the characters. I would feel great if people ended my books wanting to read other things I have written.
33. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
The covers have been the hardest part of my publishing education. I have redesigned most of my covers since my first attempt at each.
34. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
I lead a simple life and that is okay with me. If my family is at peace it is a dream for me.
35. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I have puzzled over a lot of marketing techniques, but have not found any that seem to be working. I have come to the conclusion that money is not the answer. Marketing has to become a way of life that does not take any time and energy. I use the internet and social media to get my name and title in front of the public, but I am going to concentrate on writing and plant seeds in the market and let them grow.
36. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
All of my books are self published.
37. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Serious, stoic, congenial, old and tubby.
38. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
39. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
The last book I actually remember reading was Killing Jesus. I thought it was an excellent history book.
40. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
I’m too tired to continue.
41. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
Peace in the family. That’s probably all I need to say about that.
42. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I tend to be long-winded. I’ve probably written too much already.
My Website: www.arlonhboozer.com
My travel blog: www.travel.arlonhboozer.com
My Thought and Ideas blog: www.thoughts.arlonhboozer.com
Clancy's comment: Wow, Arlon, I envy you cruising around the USA in a motorhome. Keep going. Keep writing. Stay well.
Think about this!