- Guest Author -
Welcome to the life of another author from the USA. Terry Persun has been writing and publishing his poetry since the early 1970s. His work has appeared in many small and university magazines including Wisconsin Review, Kansas Quarterly, Riverrun, Rattle, Hiram Poetry Review, Drop Forge, Bluestem, NEBO, Eclipse, and many others.
Welcome, Terry ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
Like most authors this is probably a much longer story than would be interesting to listen to. The short version is that I loved reading as a child and decided early that that’s what I’d do. Of course relationships, kids, college, and jobs are all thrown in there as deterrents, but I continued to write through every one of those. Once I started getting published (in the late 1970s) the road got bumpier and bumpier—publishers folding, going bankrupt, changing their minds, etc. Eventually, I got to a point where I am published regularly (in fiction) and make my living writing (mostly nonfiction).
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I’ve always been a writer. At least that’s how I see myself. Since that’s how I make my living, and since that’s what feeds my soul, I’m sticking with that story.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
A combination of the two, these days. I’ve tried many methods over the years and will occasionally mix things up with something new, but most often I ponder an idea for quite some time, do some reading around the subject, maybe a bit of research, and then just start writing. I outline as I write in case I need to go back to something, but I seldom outline before I write.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The actual writing, every day, for several hours, every morning. It’s the best part. When I write poems, though, it could be any time of day. Still love it.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Rejection letters are not always easy, but typical if you write a lot as I do. Other than that, rewriting is difficult, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it, just that it can be difficult.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
Well I’ve had several readings on that: rock star (who died fairly young), sailor (who drowned during a shipwreck); and hermit (who lived near a small lake, saw very few people, and died one winter when it got really cold and I couldn’t bring in enough wood).
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
That’s probably still to come, but if you mean so far, I suppose it’s my series “Doublesight”
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I just finished a science fiction novel I’m tentatively calling “Biomass Rewind”. It’s a complicated novel about colonization of other worlds.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I write in many genres and in many formats. Let’s see, I write poetry, short stories, novellas, novels, and nonfiction. I also write science fiction, fantasy, thriller, suspense, myster/crime, mainstream, magical realism, spiritual, and writing books.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Read, read, read; write, write, write; and learn the craft through books, classes, and anywhere else you can.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
I don’t believe in it.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
For novels I write the first two or so hours every morning. For nonfiction articles and stuff, I write after writing fiction and throughout the day (depending on my workload). For poetry, I typically write in the evenings. These aren’t set in stone, but they’re pretty standard anymore.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
In my office in front of my computer.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
The writing itself. It’s like a meditation. I feel free and alive.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I have so many. There are some fantastic authors writing today, but here goes: Priscilla Long (poetry) along with Ted Kooser and the late Jim Harrison and William Stafford. In general fiction, there is James Salter, Julian Barnes, E.L. Doctorow, and others. In science fiction, there’s Ben Bova and Robert Silverberg, and Bob Mayer. I could go on and on, as I said. But, the reason I like these writers is as varied as the works themselves. I enjoy great writing (which all portray), but also a good idea, a good story, or just beautiful sentences.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I had a reader email me one and said that he copied more quotes into his journal from one of my books than any other book he’d ever read. I thought that was pretty cool.
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
That they thought my writing was confusing. Of course, that could have been the reader, but it still hurt.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Absolutely. In fact, I don’t believe we can get away from incorporating pieces of ourselves in our writing. We can try to hide it, we can deny it, but it’s going to show up.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
My family, hiking, long walks on the beach, a good meal, a good movie…I’m a fairly happy person and love being alive, so there are a lot of things I could say I love.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Always. That doesn’t mean mistakes don’t make it through. In fact, some books with multiple editors have had the most mistakes in them.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Get up and have coffee, write for several hours, have a light breakfast, make love, shower, take a hike, maybe work on a poem, answer some emails or check social media, go to the beach to watch the sunset, have a light but delicious dinner, and a good night’s sleep.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My wife for obvious reasons: she’s my friend, lover, and partner. I can trust her and she can trust me. And I think we could have plenty to talk about while finding a way to survive.
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
Use a little common sense. Do the right thing no matter how it makes you look. Think about the people you serve and their needs.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Write and enjoy life in all its splendor.
26. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I don’t know, but suspect they help in some cases. I’m a firm believer that you do everything you’re capable of to gain visibility for your work. If that includes trailers and you’re able to do them (or can afford to have them done) then do that.
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Pieces of myself sometimes. Most times I’m so involved in the character themselves that I don’t always make the connection between me and them.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Not really. Marketing can be frustrating. All I really want is my own audience, the one I’m supposed to have. So often they are not easy to find. I guess if I’m frustrated at all, it’s with the people who could be word-of-mouth advocates and have chosen not to be.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Early on, yes. I tried once or twice, but always ended up buying another notebook to write in.
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite, but when I read the question I quickly go to two novels: Revision 7:DNA and Sweet Song.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Being satisfied with what you’d written.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
Each book might be different. But I do tent to tackle the big questions: why are we here” How’d we get hear? What makes us tick? What’s love really worth? What if a robot thought he was on a higher level than humans? etc.
33. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
I’d love for my books to go to screen. I have not written a screenplay.
34. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
If I’m doing it on my own, a lot (since I’m not an artist). Most often, I pay someone to produce a cover.
35. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
Win the Pulitzer prize in fiction and in poetry.
36. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Lots. I run my own marketing agency and realize how difficult it is to get in front of people. I also know that the best marketing for a book is a direct recommendation. Word of mouth is so important that I’d rather find one person who likes my work and is willing to talk about it versus a dozen who buy a copy and then never say a word.
37. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Some are and some are not.
38. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Interested, motivated, kind, responsible, and happy.
39. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Not much. Maybe politics.
40. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
I read several books at a time, but I suppose the last one I finished, which would be “The Drop” by Dennis Lehane.
41. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
Who knows? It might be in the middle of a novel or a poem.
42. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
A New York Times Bestseller, a Pulitzer, a National Book Award, something like that.
43. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I think you’ve exhausted my output for the day…maybe a week. But thanks.
My author site:
Clancy's comment: Thanks, Terry. Good luck. I hope you crack it for the New York Times ... As we all do.