I’ve been writing fiction for 25 years, hitting subjects all over the spectrum. After college and grad school for writing, I worked in journalism and as a writer in lodging, travel and technology content. A married father of 2, I coach youth soccer and play the grown-up version (though not particularly well). On my blog, readers are likely to find thoughts on music, travel, food, mistakes (made a few of those) and nonsense (even more). I live in Greater Seattle.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I love imagery and gripping stories—though not necessarily thrillers or mysteries. I think I probably got started because I wanted to tell stories that (I thought) others weren’t telling. Almost all my work has sprung from the question, “What if…”
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I usually get up around 5 a.m. and work until I wake the kids at 7:15. After that, if I’m on deadline, my day is pretty piece-meal, and definitely involves a fair amount of coffee. I can generate ideas and take notes at night, but that’s not my preferred time.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t. I’m very lucky that I’ve got countless ideas in my hopper.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? I had to look up panster, and I guess I’m guilty of that sometimes. That’s the way scene work seems to go. But overall, I’m a plotter. I made so many mistakes with my first, “Watching the World Fall” that it feels like not plotting a novel out is just a colossal waste of time. More-talented writers can fly by the seat of their pants, go the organic route.
5. Are you traditionally or self-published? Self-published (before Booktrope). In school, it was something we were almost taught to belittle. The reality, or the new reality, is that it’s so incredibly hard to find an agent and be that one-in-a-hundred author whose work gets championed on up the ladder, it’s almost ridiculous. Fair to say, since I don’t live in New York, the coffee customer in line before me isn’t a literary agent with an opening in her books. Self-publishing with Amazon’s service has been a boon for countless people like me, and I’m grateful.
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?
Keep at it and don’t give up hope. Professor Judith Katz taught me that most of what you need is to believe in your work. We write the stories we believe are worth writing.
7. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? So far, dreams of the potential.
8. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? “The Churning” is definitely a guy’s story—a Persian-American soccer star thinks he’s got it all (a la Premier League-life) until some jerks kidnap him. It’s nasty and gritty and full of the awful motivations that push many humans to act inhumane. I guess the genre would be literary or psych-thriller. And though it’s a book about soccer-crazed men, I like to think anyone who can tolerate lots of foul language and violence would find it a page-turner.
9. What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Since I don’t have much experience at this, I would only relate that I know word-of-mouth is huge. You’ve got to churn out a good product and then sell it shamelessly. Make sure your story’s aiming high. “The Martian” didn’t succeed only because people talked about it. That book, written with wit and authority, was damned hard to put down.
10. How long on average does it take you to write a book? I stumble-tripped my way through ten years of mistakes on WTWF. “The Churning” was thankfully faster, 2500 hours on the first go-around. The next, “Tempest Road,” has been much faster. Same with “Endgame,” because I spent so much time taking notes. I’m a kind of ideas hoarder—jot it down, record it somehow, and don’t get rid of it. From the mess, try to make art.
11. Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. I’m happy with the cover. I had a lot of input, but I think I would’ve been as happy if someone else dictated things and we went with that. I don’t feel like a visual guy. Book covers are not like songs, where I hear it and know immediately if I like it.
12.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Aside from playing soccer (poorly but immensely enjoyable) I try to be a good, involved father, and work on Websites, and put on my inventor/entrepreneur hat now and again. Some of the products I think about, I look around and wonder how or why someone isn’t making them yet. Of course, with everything I do, I’m reminded that we all get once chance around on the big wheel. Have to make it count.