- GUEST AUTHOR,
EDUCATOR & JOURNALIST -
Today, I welcome a man who has done it tough. This is one of the most interesting interviews I've ever conducted.
Welcome, Bobby ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
My real journey started before I could even draw a letter. My real mother died when I was quite young, which landed me in the foster system for a while. Not that she’d ever been a terribly great a mother figure. The few memories that still linger from back then were truly awful: I’m cold, hungry and, usually, injured in some fashion.
She died while locked in a mental hospital, where they spent weeks weaning her off all the drugs she was on when she got arrested. They told the family she died of a seizure one night, five days before she was supposed to be released.
I’m told I was quite near feral when I came to live with my aunt and uncle, who later adopted and raised me. Anyone slightly raise their voice—as one is prone to when correcting an unruly child—and I’d bolt and frequently do a wonderful job of hiding. It’s probably the only thing kept alive back living with my real folks. But a very unappreciated by most folks trying to get me to mind. I was just 3-years-old, so I have no idea how long I lived in foster care—my folks tell me it was about six months—about the only thing I say about it today that bears repeating is they’ve me to four different families during that time, each one worse than the last.
Complicating my problem was the fact no one taught me anything (except to run and hide well). I couldn’t dress myself, clean myself, use the bathroom by myself; you name it, really. And because my mother was born about six months too soon in the mid-940s she was what most people called mentally retarded back then. She even spoke with this very unusual nasal twang that made her hard to understand, and I’ll be damned if she didn’t find a perfect match in my real father. Considering their butchered language skills is all I had around me to learn from, nobody had a clue what I was saying, a constant source of frustration for me, and I could pitch one hellova fit before I’d bolt for cover. I’m sure everyone wrote me off as some kind of window licker. That I wasn’t is a sheer miracle. But things pretty much stayed that way, me frustrating the fosters enough they’d finally call and have me moved.
I figured I’d just keep on that way forever, until I came to live with who became my adopted parents. That very first night in my first ever bed all to myself (I’d always slept on a floor pallet everyplace else), the woman I came to know as Mom was a teacher. She did something no one else ever dad: She read to me, and she continued to do so until I was reading books and newspapers by myself. Then I read to her.
But, I LOVED stories. They were new to me, and I couldn’t get enough. Little Golden Books, Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, Muggins Mouse, Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss: She read them over and over, sometimes twice and three times a night. I heard them enough times, I memorized what you were supposed to say at each page, something she discovered one night when she tried to speed one of those stories along one day and I corrected her. Next day, we’re back at it. Only now, she’s pointing out each word, having me sound out letters and draw them out with colors and a Big Chief Tablet. Now as I said before, I was only three, so I truly had no real notions of time yet. Mom told me years later I hadn’t been there a month yet, when she started trying to teach me reading. But I do know this: By the end of summer, people understood me when I said things now, I wasn’t wearing diapers for the first time ever, and I found few reasons to ever run here, unless someone was playing with me. But I was reading everything I saw, my cereal boxes, road signs, car logos, newspapers, you name it. I was even doing some simple math problems, with a year still to go before I could enter school.
But it was definitely a supernatural love of a good story that drew me in to this line of work. I later got introduced to the rest of the family, this ginormous Czech Catholic family, my head nearly spun off. I’d be in constant social acclimation around them, just never really fitting in, particularly with a couple of the ringleader cousins, and bigger and older than me by a year or four, who reminded me regularly that I wasn’t one of them. But the elders—the parents of some of those same mean kids—were loaded with these great stories and voices to tell them. And they elated to have someone my size absorbing every word.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
Before I got to junior high, I never did much with writing—other than write lines, hundreds of thousands of them—I will not _________ in school, with nearly every word or group of words (like “run in the hallway,” “throw rocks,” “have peeing contests down the trough urinals”) you could imagine to fill that blank. I’d go through packages of notebook paper on those and still have to practice my cursive that night for homework. Or work out long division problems I couldn’t stand. Or conjugate every verb in the dictionary, diagram about a billion and two sentences, or my most loathed subject: SPELLING. Many more years like those first few years and I’d probably be an auto mechanic, or a carpenter or and a professional janitor, just so I wouldn’t have to even hold another pen again.
But we wrote our first research papers in junior high, in several courses: health, social studies, science and the largest of all, English. Personally, I had a lot more fun drawing pictures in art class, or program those old TRS-80 computers systems in BASIC so they’d play video games or play hacky sack outside with my friends. Still, I noticed that writing seemed to come a lot easier to me than it did a lot of my classmates. It just made sense to me. I liked the deliberate purpose of it. Of course, those were hardly fine literary works in the eighth grade. I should write stories when I grow up, my teacher told me. Yeah right, I remember thinking then. That’s not a real job. I’d gotten raised by a farm family, all of whom lived the Great Depression was still on, but everyone held a fulltime job outside the farm, most working at least 50-60 hours each week, always rushing home to feed hogs or cattle, milk the cows, collect eggs, cut hay or plant a corn crop or vegetable garden. We grew or raised almost everything we ate. I remember begging more than once for hot dogs like everybody else ate because all we ever ate was homemade sausage, beef tips (or as we called it, stew meat) or steaks (it’s hard to believe I was ever young enough to dislike steak).
In my second semester of seventh grade, my principal came to me one day asking that I write some stories on the academic contests we’d just finished (various speech and interpretive readings, debate, mental computations, and news writing contests, which I won) and later, on our school sports teams to turn in to the local newspaper. Well, I did, and right about the time I was certain they’d lost it or thrown it in the trash, it finally ran. Seeing my words in print was such a thrilling experience. It never had a by-line attached, but I knew the words were mine. I loved the way that made me feel, almost as much as I liked hearing those stories as a kid.
But the real kicker for me as a writer came with an experience a couple years later in Austin with a rather famous First Lady from Texas. I wrote about in the introduction to the book I’ve just finished for my MFA thesis projection, a story collection based in South Texas where I grew up that winds up reading more like a coming of age story told in memoir.
I moved to Liberty Hill, a little nowhere place on the northern outskirts of Austin, especially back then in the late-1980s. Most Hill Country towns seemed a good decade or two behind the times back then, but that’s where I wound up for a couple of years. Me and a handful of friends would gather in this one teacher’s classroom everyday for lunch to play board games and such, especially during the colder months There were a good eight of us who gathered pretty regularly, which effectively pinned our teacher there on campus every day. Something none of us ever even considered, I don’t think. He started harping about it one day out of the blue and left us with an ultimatum: He’d been kicking around this idea of forming this school club, and provided we join it and urge at least one friend to do the same (not in attendance presently), then we could keep returning there as long as we wanted. He wound up calling it the political science club, which thought was about the stupidest name ever thought up, but we played his stupid little game and did as he said. We figured him for the idiot. We’d just continue playing our games and ignore this club business.
He insisted we named officers, so they pick me as president. I got called to the principal’s office a few days later. Our charter was approved. In fact, we had a large enough group of participants to getting a small budget allocation. I can back and reported back to our teacher. It was like he was expecting that news. He flipped open the paper, and pointed to this one-man theatrical production called The Return of LBJ starring Lawrence Lukenbill (who we knew as Spock’s brother in Star Trek V, at the time) coming to the Paramount in Austin, Just so you know, the paramount is a far fancier place than any of our country asses had ever been. But between the school money and our teacher paying the rest, we could actually go see how the other half lives for free. Dress nice, he warned us (which I thought meant wearing my cleaning white high tops and acid washed jeans was going to look stellar; I actually had to borrow a pair of pants go to this thing. Several of us did. None of else could afford slacks, not that late in the year.
Mind you, none of us knew diddly about who LBJ was back then. Most of us between 12 and 15. Politics, especially those happened before we were born, may as well have been dealing with the cavemen for all we care. Those were ancient times. Surely this guy never did any thing that had any impact on us…
Boy, were we wrong. It was quite a show, at least we though so, anyway. We learned all sorts of things about the man himself but did so laughing or damn near in tears. For most of us, it was our very first look at a live performance beyond Mrs. Johnson kindergarten class at Christmastime. This was some else entirely. Swept up by the show and the ovation, I get the hair brained idea to go back stage and meet the actor. I asked our teacher about and he said lead on. I probably asked the fellow they hired to pick up trash after the show, but says, oh sure, through those doors right there.
It’s a maze backstage, dark, and we had no idea where to go once we passed the doorway the janitor sent us through. Still, there’s no turning back now. I listened for voices and went toward them. Finally, it opens and there he is, talking shop—something about the lights—to some girl with a clipboard. He sees us and begin our way to greet us. The girl departs. He shakes our hands, all 19 feet of him because my five-foot-ten frame felt like a midget next to him. Great Show, I tell, and then panic seizes me. I’d been so focused on navigating me way here, I hadn’t thought up anything else to say. I’d blown my entire load in the first second. Now what? Thankfully, he graciously took over until the others arrived.
When I say others I’m not talk Blake and Sheila from down the way. No. I’m Congressman Jake Pickle, one of LBJ’s key cabinet members who spoke endlessly on how realistic his portrayals of certain parts of the performance were and what it was like to deal with such things, like civil rights legislation, for real. The other person to walk a short while later was none other than Lady Bird Johnson, LBJ’s widow. And the conversations went an entire other way, the actor so humbled to be standing there, taking compliments from the very man’s wife. Why I spoke up when I did, I’ll never know, but when Lady Bird lamented that the press hadn’t shown up to cover his opening night, I crack off that I plan to be part of the press someday.
And you’ll be a very good one, she told me, then reached over and hugged me, as she asked me about college plans and where I’d like to work someday (Texas Monthly is what I told her; that’s still a dream of mine). I apologize for the length of that answer, but there you have it. After that moment, I was gonna be a writer for sure. I launched a school newspaper that very night. And wound up working as a journalist for 25 years before we had a parting of way. Why did I do that? Aside from meeting people my country ass shouldn’t even be near much less have them shown genuine interest in what I was doing, and later learning that what I did could really make a difference, every once in a while. I couldn’t think of a better job, really. And it’s a pity the coming generations may never even see that, given the state of affairs in print journalism these days.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I had a general idea of what the story line would evolve over the course of at least three stories: 1) a main event that’s a bit spooky for all involved, 2) how sharing that narrative back home –at first nearly bragging and remorseless but later, panged by guilt and not even wanting to tell the story, 3) as such stories can become if left to their own devices, suddenly common idiocy can become legend. Some even survive long enough to witness all three stages, and let me tell you, that’s bizarre…
As I went to work on telling such a story in three parts, it occurred to me that no one is entirely shaped but just one occurrence. Rather, it’s an array of things, some occurring decades before a character was born even, that can play as much a role in someone’s life as anything he might take part in himself. I did in my life, anyway. And from there on. It’s hipshot, all day long. Turns out, I believe I managed to pull off that same style five distinct characters yet have them all merge in the end. So, I even managed to toy with the form a bit.
Still, writing almost always taking some unanticipated turns on me when I get going. Sometimes a pairing of words might spark a two-page rant that might give me on good, useful sentence in the eventual story, but I never would have refined those words with the rest. All writing, in my opinions lives in a near constant state of evolution. If you accept that about it. There’s not a single story I’ve ever written that couldn’t probably some sort of change to later on, particularly the farther you get from the actual event itself.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Anything is possible within contents of the page, and by simply arranging letters in certain patterns I can make cause you to feel.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Anything is possible within contents of the page, and by simply arranging letters in certain patterns I can make cause you to feel.
That, and getting started in whatever forum you might be working. I remember graduating college with English degree planning to go land in a newspaper job someplace. But I had no fulltime experience. I couldn’t get that experience until someone hired me, and no one would hire me until I have that experience. More than 100 publishers at newspapers large and small turned me away for those exact reasons, before I finally got hired 10 hours away from home. My big challenge then: The Houston Post, a direct competitor to the surviving Houston Chronicle (The Post, in my humble opinion, the better of the two journalistically) was purchased by the Chronicle and closed, effectively making Houston a single paper market and flooding Texas with hundreds of experienced, sought-after writers.
As I now try and emerge the literary writer, I’m finding it every bit as difficult as it was then, just getting a few words to grace someone else’s page.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I was a pig. No really. Throughout much of the 20th century, Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas, was your basic American roadside tourist trap. It had a beautiful sparkling, clear waters that spring-fed, constantly churning the sandy river bed at depths of up 100 feet that you could see, clear as day, from the water’s surface. And for just $5 per person, you, too, could ride around in a glass bottom boat and see for yourself. Of course, there was also a trained macaw parrot act (another $5), and the star attraction (you needed $10 to see it), the submarine theatre featuring Ralph the Swimming Pig and a host of lovely mermaids. Now the mermaids were actually a host of lovely sorority girls and the pig was, well, a pig. It swam in front of the audience before as a comic relief before it turned into this underwater ballet for the mermaids as the theatre was submarining. My first job in college was working at this resort as the costumed pig character who made rounds in the park for photo ops with guests and general hijinks with anyone around. Mind you, I essentially climbed into a parka in triple degree heat, walking around on asphalt. Most folks would be close to keeling over from heat exhaustion after about 15 minutes in that suit. I once did a promo in nearby San Antonio where I had to stay in that suit for three straight hours.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I don’t that what we accomplished was necessarily all that great, but I do know this experience made me realize that true power words can carry. I was wrapping up my first year in Sealy as managing editor of their newspaper, and because I didn’t know I asked the local charities in collected gifts/donations/toys/etc. for the needy at Christmastime there. I’d living in towns with less than 2,000 people were four or five churches had competing drives at these times, and Sealy had an abundance of churches. My staff looked at me like I took a crap on carpet, right beside the front door. What are you talking about? They said. There’s never been anything like that here.
I researched our bound copies. Sure enough. There wasn’t a single thing. That bothered me. Now the paper historically had this gimmick subscription drive through December. You renew through December, we wrote your name on a paper ornament and decorated our Christmas tree for us.
I decided to hold a staff meeting the next morning to see how my staff might feel about putting one together, it being the holidays and held the potential to produce a lot of work. They didn’t let even finish that statement. They were on board and we started brainstorming ideas. To stick with something established at the paper, “The Sealy News Giving Tree,” which already had some nice promotional ads made, we’d do the same thing with donations for the drive. Now who do we give the stuff to? My bookkeeper says, hang on, and dials her father, head of the county’s Child Protective Services Division, Texas frontline agency to removing children from unfit living conditions.
He said they had nearly two dozen kids displaced for the holidays from right there in our county, from infants to teenagers. I got with the bookkeeper and our front desk to establish a formal routine for donations, so we didn’t get accused of pocketing it all. And we all parted, everybody doing their part to getting the words spread as quickly as possible. I banged out a Tis the season for giving released and explained what we had going on. Just eight more editions before Christmas. I was already drafting concessions mentally about we could all do better next go round. It was a first drive, after all, and it would my fault for not planning it out sooner. Besides, it’s a first drive ever. They’re aren’t expected to do well, anyway.
Slip ahead a couple weeks: Two editions ’til Christmas… We have just $70, all cash, loose in a copy boy below the counter. I tree is bare, and it’s looking like a total flop, and to be honest, it rather pisses me off. Kids pulled from homes because they have shitty parents, and now they have to spend Christmas of all times with complete strangers and all wealthy townspeople here cat even give us a few $5 bills to round off to $100 for them. What am I missing? Surely, it’s something obvious. I dug through the mountain of crap that was my desk looking for the wish lists my bookkeeper handed me a few days back. As someone who has typed far too many poorly scribbled notes to the Jolly Old Elf that begin:
I WANT… (a bunch a crap no one needs or understands). It’s usually transposed, misspelled and sold out long ago. I been really, really good.
Still, none of the posts so far had helped a lick. I needed something else. And I sure wasn’t going to fill this thing up with but a bunch of damn toys their parents can sell off to buy more drugs. I’m riled again and I started looking through the lists. That’s when it finally jumped out at me.
Just one of those kids asked for a toy: A 12-year-old girl for her 3-year-old little brother, written by an unmistakable child’s hand. She was just twelve but didn’t anything for herself. The rest needed some extra clothes. They’d outgrown the ones they had or didn’t have a chance to grab what they needed when things really got really bad, maybe some personal items—shampoo, toothbrushes, deodorant. And then there were the babies, 15 or them, all still in diapers, who could used warmers clothes and … There it was: Blankets!
I mentioned earlier those few remaining memories I have from my time in situations like theirs: I was cold, hungry and hurt. Cold the priority. Hungry I got used to, and I healed fast. But cold, I hated the cold, and I couldn’t get away from it. It was always there. And I lived in the Texas Panhandle then, where it’s flat as a tabletop and the wind seems to blow straight from the North Pole itself. In fact, something a lot of people may not realize: there are several places in the northern Panhandle that are closer to Canada than they are to someplace like Waco or Killeen, both of which are fairly central to most destinations in Texas. So, it gets damn cold up there. Sealy was no place near that, but sure could use my disdain to address that one need a lot better than I had. Even most of those older kids, the ones filling out their own forms, were asking for blankets.
I got out of abstracts, that day, and dealt with something real, something close. And I wrote. There’s no way of proving it, but I do believe a neighbour called CPS for me. It’s why my mother took me and rode all night from Lubbock to Port Lavaca, and I believe based on the stories I heard from people who would recognize such things with clarity, whatever she was taking to stay awake that whole trip, I think she likely overdosed on, which is why things ended the way they did for her. I could be wrong, I’m sure, but it sure seems to make sense. And it was based in those blankets.
And c’mon people! Kids like them don’t always know love, I wrote. I know this because I was one. It’s a hard place to be at the beginning of life. And as much as we’d like to, there’s not always a lot we can do to help them, other than put them in touch with the help they need. CPS has already done that for us. But we can all make sure none of them are cold. Just days remain before we draw our collection to a close. Help those who need it most this Christmas. It’s the least we can do…
And I waited. And waited and WAITED. Nothing. I was set to empty my bank account, at least try and give them a couple hundred dollars to help out. I was seriously admitting my own failures for not having begun this along sooner. But that’s when I noticed a strange amount of noise coming from outside. The girls in my office were headed my way, smiles painted on them as if Christ himself had wink at them from outside. You got to come see this, they were saying. So, I went, and I could believe what I saw.
There were 22 lowboy trailers lining the road outside my office, one for each child, thanks to help from my own ad girls.
No one knew my story, nor theirs, but I’d gotten them to feel, they said . And Act. What I was looking at was every student organization’s efforts at the high school (mind you, they were out of school already for the holidays. They tracked other members and school faculty down at home to accomplish what I was seeing) and all they had to do was pass around that article. When we tallied up everything, Cash donations rang in at $17,000; some of which they had to spend on storage buildings for all the stuff we brought (which was included in that figure by the way)—including an entire horse trailer filled ceiling to floor with nothing but… Yep, you guessed it…
I still tear up retelling that, but it also showed me the true power these little squiggles on a page truly holds.…
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I need to wrap up my book by Sept. 1 in order to get my degree in December. I’m also traying hard to get a few things published so I have more recent bylines top share and hopefully get to lead up my own MFA program someplace someday.
I’ve also been quite busy trying to build an e-following, hopefully in anticipation of an actual publication with this book, either in as a whole or in portions in various periodicals or anthologies
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
The fact people can and do occasionally go out of their way to get others that extra nudge they sometimes need, much like those high school kids did for a few other kids that Christmas (2004, the same year, by the way, much of the entire Texas Coastline was blanketed in snow, an extremely rare site, especially on Christmas Day), or even like Mr. Clancy here, lending a hand to writers clear on the other side of the world.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Having written the news for as long as I did, I’m quite found of true stories told well, so I suppose that makes me partial to narrative essay or creative nonfiction. Because there are several outright fictions in my book, mixed in with the not, I’ll likely label the entire work as fiction even though there’s probably more truth in its pages that fabrication. But even in my fictions, I like my realisms. I don’t read near the amount of sci-fi or fantasy because it can stray so very far so very quickly. And lastly, I suppose. I’d like to someday be a better lyricist and poet.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
I work with true new writers as part of my day job, teaching introductory English courses at the local junior college in my town. Develop a habit of writing daily and stay at it. It’s like most things: the more you practice, the better you’ll do when you’re in a pinch. It’s all about practice. Always remember, too, these words aren’t really ours, not unless you’ve crafted a language that is indeed all yours with which to write (which means you haven’t written We’re just borrowing them a bit. As such, should someone more experienced offer a suggestion or two, at least try it on for size. And last, read constantly. That’s food for those of a writer’s disposition. And sure, we all have our favorites, and it makes make reading enjoyable. Try and mix it with those you have to/or otherwise have been meaning to get to. But reading is key to writing better.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
My problem actually goes the other way most days. I get chasing something down some vortex of details and lose my way. It creates a block of sorts, but one with a lot more words. If I had a hard time getting going, I typically focus on just one rather simple detail and detail with it in its entirety first. Just sound of the keys clicking typically gets me going sooner or later.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I typically like posting my web content in the mornings, gets me caught up on world events and check my schedules so that later when I work creating new material, which I prefer doing in the evenings, I’m not distracted having to check this or that then.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I wrote every page of my current book and done most of my grad school and electrical program studies in the corner office I set up in our living room.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Witnessing the response those words can have in someone else.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I have several actually, but my newest favorite is fellow Texan Joe R. Lansdale, author of the Hap and Leonard series on the Sundance Channel. I fell in love with style in another H&L series book called Honkeytonk Samurai back in 2016 after hearing him give a brief reading on NPR. I’d like to think we two have similar voices and style, but that is perhaps giving mine far more credit that it deserves. A collection of his that I just love is Sanctified and Chicken Fried, 2009, and I can’t wait until I wrap up my current semester’s work is done to begin his latest, Jack Rabbit Smile. Lansdale is a wonderful storyteller. I hope the same is said of me someday.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
“You had me tearing up and everything, you asshole…”
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I don’t get it…
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Absolutely. Part of that comes in having lived enough of this one for about three of us, I think. But it definitely affects one perceptions, and that has a great impact on how you experience anything new.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
My bride, Jenn (we’re technically newlyweds, having tied the knot in November, but we’ve been friends for close to 30 years now). I love riding my motorcycle, too, and I love seeing my students succeed, when that thing that vexes them suddenly becomes clear and it all falls into place. I can think of few things more satisfying than knowing you play a part in someone else’s understanding.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
For the scholarly books I’ve worked on, we were the professional editors, as was the case in most in most everything I ever did in a newsroom. My Winds of Change book in 2008 (a 100-page pictorial history of a Texas institution turning 75) was indeed a project of the entire newsroom. I know for a fact that it was covered by at least a dozen sets of eyes before it ever went to press. I’ve not yet had opportunity to make use of a professional editor, but I’m sure I’d welcome it once I cleared the cost hurdles. The more people you have of a common vision taking a look at something, the better, I tend to believe, because once it goes to press it’s too damn late.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
I had as near a perfect day as I could possibly ask for on the final day of my honeymoon last November. We stayed at this amazing B&B way out in the middle of nowhere in the Texas Hill Country. I woke up when I pleased. We were the only people there basically, so we have free of the whole place, I got to stroll its expansive grounds as I enjoyed my morning coffee, and it stayed nice and cool our entire stay. Plus, I got to listen to my favorite music all day, read and write when I pleased, I got to check out the world’s largest cap-gun museum (one of many amazing collections there, and our hostess was big on making sure our wine supply never ran dry. The absolute hardest part was having to leave it behind, but we are definitely heading back there again. Check out my photo album from there at https://outlawauthorz.com/i-dos/
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
I’d probably have to go with my fishing buddy, Bubba Cox, because he’s a much better fisherman than me and we’d never starve with him around. Of course, let me bring a few books, and I bet stranded would start to sound much more like a vacation.
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
I’ve done that, several times now, during my reporting career. In my country, Mexico, and several European nations. It was rather daunting at first, right up until I discovered they were probably more scared of me. The slightest off-hand comment made could have far more drastic impacts on their futures, not so much the other way around. I’m still on first name terms with most of my state’s elected leaders. I get much more enamoured with meeting writers I like, probably because after reading someone else work, it feels far more intimate, like you gotten to know them on a much deeper than just some grip-and-grin handshakes meeting, as is so often the case with said world leader. Some of my friends, traveling on an agricultural trade mission had a much different sort of meeting in the early 2000s with the one exception to the political standard you often find among such people, and it occurred with Fidel Castro in Cuba. He wined and dined them at a nearly all-night dinner party he hosted for them. Of course, he controls the press and everything it would to say in his country. He was far less concerned with constant show of politics that so many other world leaders wind up focused on.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
After I get my MFA degree (creative writing, a terminal degree) in Dec. 15, 2018, I hope to continue in my publishing career, finishing one of three novels I’ve begun or one of the poetry collections I have in the works. I’d like to find a more permanent teaching position at a college or university someplace I’d enjoy living (preferably in my home state) and until that comes along, perhaps investigate some residency options in places I might use as a research base for a couple of nonfiction books I have in mind.
26. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I have no personal experience with these so I could hardly speak intelligently on the subject. I’m sorry.
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Absolutely, in Long Gone & Lost especially.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
At least once a day. I’ve only been submitting (submittable.com, primarily) 70+ rejections since Feb. 10, 2018
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
At least once a day. Usually as I’m opening said rejections…
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I’m done with this one yet, but it is by far the most creative anyway.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?
I’d like to be able to do it and do it alone one these days and starve to death.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I leave the feelings to them, but I would hope an empathy, perhaps, a better understanding of what makes someone like me tick.
33. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
I’ve never written a screenplay. I wouldn’t mid giving it a try. And oh, yeah, I’d like to get on TV. Though I don’t know exactly where TV would air some of them especially
34. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Quite a bit, I’ve worked longer of cover design on my 2017 book , and I didn’t physically build it – that was just planning.
35. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
I’d like to be able to write for a living exclusively, be able to travel with my writing, maybe even buy a big-ticket item or three. Or at least break first hump. Maybe even spend the season out at Trois, that place from my honeymoon; and I’d like to be able to help other writers in some real fashion.
36. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
37. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
38. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Should’ve started long before now
39. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Should’ve started long before now
40. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
At the Edge of the Sea, Pushing Water II by Charles Alexander (Poetry) and yeah, I thought so
41. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
What’s this switch do?
42. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
One of the grants I apply for coming through so I can attend a couple writer conferences this summer and pick up an agent/editor /publisher.
43. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Clancy's comment: Wow. I applaud your determination and stamina, Bobby. Well done.