Frequently Asked Questions
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Probably when I was in third grade and turned a writing homework assignment into thirty pages over the course of several weeks. Then again, I have no memories before the age of about ten. My mom does have a pretty sweet little book I wrote when in kindergarten called the Creachur from Mars, so it’s entirely possible I knew way back then. The easy answer: as long as I can remember.
Where do you get your ideas?
Occasionally, something mind-blowing will pop out of a dream, a snippet of conversation, or a song lyric. I often plan out the day’s writing during my morning shower—and sometimes, with fresh mind and relaxed body, I’ll hit on something I think is brilliant. Most often, though (and I suspect many writers will tell you this), they just happen in the course of writing. My best stories tell themselves. I am little more than the fingers on the keyboard, or the grip on a pen. What my characters do is more driven by who they are than who I am, and the better I know them, the more freely they find their way onto the page. It is incredibly common for me to pick up an old tattered notebook or open an old computer file and discover things that I almost can’t believe I wrote. As much as I’d like to be impressed with my unequivocal writing genius, I know that I’m little more than a conduit.
What advice do you have for writers?
I’m probably the last person that should be giving you advice! I can mostly only repeat the same things that have been said a thousand times. Write every day. When you're not writing, read. If you can't do either, observe--you never know where or when inspiration might strike. If there is one thing I might be able to add, it’s based on my answer to the last question: know your characters. Visit them often, have a little chat with them now and again. They’ll tell you most of what you need to know. Oh, and use a thesaurus! You don’t need to use the biggest words, just the right ones. Those usually escape me the first time around.
Who are your inspirations?
These are innumerable and far too many to name, but here’s a short list: Shakespeare, for showing me the beauty of language and my English teachers for showing me how to wield it. Stephen King, for making me want to write every single time I read him and for teaching me that it’s great fun to scare and be scared. Clive Barker, for the mindfucks that completely obliterated the safe little walls I’d put around my creativity. Thomas Harris, for showing me that it’s possible to root for the bad guy—just a little bit. Cody McFadyen, for making me shit my pants—he pointed to the edge and then pushed me right the hell over it, and it’s totally beautiful down here. C.S. Lewis, for creating a world that I revisited many times throughout my youth; my imagination has its roots buried in Narnia somewhere. George R.R. Martin, for gleefully and unapologetically killing off the good guys, even though (and maybe especially because) I hate him for it. Carlos Ruis Zafon—goddamn, Shadow of the Wind was gorgeous. Mark Danielewski, for turning everything I thought I knew about reading and writing and literature on its head, sometimes literally. J.K. Rowling—wow. Just wow. Tolkien, Hemingway, Clancy, DeMille, Twain, Cervantes, Poe (oh, how I love Poe). I could go on, but I’ll refrain so that you can go read now.
Do you have a routine?
I do, though it’s entirely too easy to fall out of it. When I’m behaving and—not coincidentally—writing most effectively, I treat it like a regular job. I set my alarm for the same time every day and leave the house altogether, usually for a nearby coffee shop. If I’m lucky, my friend and writing partner, Jessie Chandler, will meet me there and (hopefully) keep me on task for four to six hours, five days a week. I shoot for a bare minimum of a thousand words a day, but when “in the zone” I’ve cobbled together as many as five thousand (though not necessarily good ones). Sometimes those hours and words are dedicated to a particular story; sometimes they are divvied up between blog posts or monkeying with my webpages, sometimes to editing (which is much more difficult to quantify). I find, however, that I write (channel?) Aleksandr Zorin best at night, just before bed, thumbs flitting over my phone. In the dark. Maybe that’s just where he lurks.
Outline or freestyle?
I know many authors that swear by outlines. And though I rarely use them myself, I totally get it. Most of my stuff begins with just a concept or a loose plot, simmers in my brain for a while (the longer the better), and then I set my characters loose. If I know my characters as well as I should, then (as I mentioned earlier) they’ll do most of the heavy lifting for me. Every now and again, as with Chaos, I’ll drop a big obstacle in the way and try to come up with a viable solution and then figure out how to incorporate it into the storyline. In Aurix the Bold, I just tried to keep young Aurix in near constant peril. It was exhausting, but it certainly kept the story moving forward.
How much research do you do?
That depends on what I’m working on, but usually A LOT. I find much of what I write (and therefore research) fascinating, so in that regard, I'm always learning something new. In all of my writing, I try to be as accurate as possible, and I'm extremely lucky to have a handful of excellent resources that really know their stuff. Where there are errors, the fault is mine alone--most often because I failed to ask. I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if the FBI keeps a close eye on me when I’m working on a psych thriller—I’m on their website constantly. And while you might expect that one would need to do far less research when creating a world from scratch, that was hardly the case for me. I really wanted to weave as much substance and meaning as I could into the fabric of Valeria. There are all sorts of hidden gems throughout Aurix the Bold if you care to look for them—even our young hero’s name has significance.
How can I read your books?
At present, all of my books are in various stages of production. If you are interested in beta reading my novels and providing me with constructive feedback, send me a message through the contact button below.
If there’s anything else that you’d like to ask, just drop me a line!