- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview an author who admires greatness.
Welcome, William ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I started writing when I was about 13 years old. I was an introverted child spending many hours alone contemplating the ways of nature, life and society. Writing became my way of channeling my thoughts into finite form, by using a story as a vehicle for expressing my answer to a question or my appraisal of an idea I felt was worthy of being recognized. Aside from wildly satirical comedies which allowed me to make fun of the absurdities of life, I tended to gravitate to idealistic stories with admirable characters I wished to exist. More than half a century later, I’m still writing, although the ideas I select to form the basis for my stories have become more personal, more “down to earth”. My inventory of literary works (some published, many still works in progress) are a richly diverse collection of themes, styles, genre and characters. If there is one common thread to them all, it would be that the leading characters are people I admire, and wish to exist.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I grew up near Hollywood, and neighbors and friends were in the movie industry, so writing movie scripts seemed a natural form for me to pursue. I submitted my first script to a movie studio in 1962 (which was returned unread as “unsolicited”), and another short script won first place in a TV script writing contest when I was a senior in high school (1966). A local newspaper write-up about my win lead to an introduction to the Story Editor of Universal Studios, and that fueled my ambitions to succeed as a writer. But in terms of publication, most of my published work has been scientifically oriented papers and magazine articles. The fictional stories lay dormant until self-publishing became a viable option.
WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
My preparation is usually research on the general subject matter, which might be thoroughbred race horses, the U.S. Secret Service, exotic animals kept in private collections, or autism and how people deal with it (as some recent examples). But the story is dictated by pure gut feeling. Sometimes I have an outcome visualized from the very beginning, but occasionally I start with a premise and simply follow the idea as it develops, as if dictated by a muse. My most recent work, “The Life of One With Three Names” was unique in that it began as computer graphic artwork of an archaeological visualization. The story evolved out of a mystery I discovered while researching the historical description of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Each story involves places, people and events that are new to me, and so the joy of writing is in the discovery of these people, places, and events. It’s a vicarious experience that expands my own world, just as reading expands the worlds of many. I write books I wish to read.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Occasionally I experience writer’s block, that classic malady that seems to throw a roadblock in our path, and finding the detour around that mental obstruction is, to me, the hardest part. I usually try to challenge my mind and deliberately put myself into a new and unfamilair position, to see from a new perspective, as a solution.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
My current book, “The Life of One With Three Names”, is without a doubt my greatest achievement to date, and may likely be for my career. The story was actually a small part of the total challenge, because it is an illustrated book, and I chose to do the illustrations in an ultra-realistic form using computer 3D graphics. So I literally had to build an ancient world in meticulous detail. So in terms of work, this book required more than a decade of diligent effort.
But this book is thematically great as well. The mystery of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is that the Babylonians themselves fail to even acknowledge that this magnificent royal garden ever existed in their city. Legend has it that the great Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar II, built the gardens for his wife and queen, who was homesick for the mountain scenery of her homeland, Mede. But Babylonian histories do not even acknowledge the identity of this wife and queen. And the premise is flawed because the King was a true and undeniably great ruler, so he must have known the merit of a proportional response. One does not give a gift of magnificent proportion to a pitiful cause, and being homesick is a modestly pitiful state of mind, not grand or admirable. So my premise was that the King didn’t build the most incredible royal garden in the history of human endeavor for the woman he loved, simply be cause she was homesick. The King must have built it for her because she was a truly magnificent queen, worthy of this tribute, a proportional response. So my first challenge was to visualize what would make this woman, this queen, great enough as a person to be worthy of inspiring the greatest royal garden in the history of human endeavor.
But once I succeeded in visualizing her greatness, I then had to explain why the Babylonians chose to virtually ignore her greatness and deny her the legacy of her life, as well as deny the existence of the royal gardens built for her. And I am pleased to say that the solution I constructed is elegant and splendidly plausible.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I have several projects in the works, dealing with diverse topics, such as artificial intelligence and the dark net (a Si-Fi story), an unorthodox First Lady who challenges America to see life her way (a comedy), and the follow-up stories of the Hanging Gardens trilogy.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I draw inspiration from many sources, but greatness of character, goodness of intent, and individuality in the face of peer pressure do seem to be frequent inspirational qualities in my writing.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
My writing spans many genre and categories. To me, the inspirational premise is important, and the genre simply is the niche the idea seems to fit best into. But I’m not usually bound by the dictates or formulas of genres. I let the story be an individual, true to itself first and foremost.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
You must push yourself constantly. Nobody can do that for you.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Occasionally, yes. But as I usually have multiple projects in the works, I simply shift to another to make progress, and then re-visit the blocked one down the road, and often I find that my new perspective resolves the block.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
No. My writing is sporatic, commensutare with my unorthodox life and work in both artistic and technical endeavors.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Anywhere there’s a computer and solitude.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
The satisfaction when the theme, the characters and the literary form gel into a cohesive gem that sparkles.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I don’t actually have a favorite. I’m intrigued by many authors and their varied styles and subjects.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I haven’t yet received any comments or feedback that stands out as greatest or worst.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Same as above.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
I’m more influenced by possibilities and goals, but I have occasionally written from experience. When I do write from experience, the story usually is a comedy. Not sure why.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I have an endless love of learning new things, and my appetite for knowledge is boundless.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I do rely on the editorial assistance of a trusted colleague, but I don’t think the process would be described as “professionally edited”.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
A day of profound accomplishment.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
It would be a person who knows how to get off the island.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
That would be a book in itself.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Keep writing, keep working, keep accomplishing things, keep trying to make a difference.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Not usually. But I do see people I admire and wish did exist.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
It certainly has it’s problems, but I think the self-publishing process has been a major breakthrough in opening the door to worthy writers who couldn’t get past the gatekeepers in the Publishing world.
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
To me, that’s like asking parents which is their favorite child in the family. Each is special in some unique way, and to label one a favorite seems dismissive of the others.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
When you write books you are confident to leave for others when you pass on.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
Depends on the book, but in general, I would hope that any book of mine may give the reader some insight into life, and the hope of a better world.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
As noted above, that’s how I got started, writing stories as screenplays. So I do anticipate or envision most of my stories being made into movies, yes.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
As I do graphics art myself, I do my own covers. My graphics ideas are different from the norm one would expect from professional graphics designers, but they please me, so I have no regrets. Each cover simply should reflect the essence of the story, in my mind.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
To change the world, for the better.
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Right now, my marketing is low-key, but I hope to ramp up the effort as my resources permit.
ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Original, sincere, thoughtful, optimistic, visionary
WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Anorexic literature (most often found in movie scripts where “white on a page”, empty space, devoid of words, is glorified.
WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Mostly technical books recently, for work on software programming and deep learning/artificial intelligence. And research reference books for future writing.
WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
Not done working, so need more time.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
The resources to accomplish all I aspire to do. The sad reality of life is that almost all accomplishments needs some resources as raw material, and one cannot make something out of nothing. I often struggle with more ambition that resources to accomplish those ambitions. I would be happy if the circumstances changed and allow me to accomplish more.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
From “About the Author” in “The Life of One With Three Names”:
Finally, I would describe myself as one who admires greatness. I really feel better about being human, and wanting to live life to the fullest, because of great people. Stories of great people give me hope. I think the woman who inspired the Hanging Gardens must have been a great person, and I’ve tried to tell a story reflecting that idea. I wish there were more great people in the world. I think a lot of our worldly conflicts and discord would be resolved if we had more great people. So when I see half of the world’s potentially great people systematically denied the opportunity to fulfill their potential for greatness, because of something as trivial as gender, I am profoundly saddened by that lack of greatness in the world. We all lose.
Clancy's comment: Thank you, William. Extraordinary graphics. Well done. Keep being inspired.