Welcome to Strange Candy Reviews Noah, thank you for stopping by.
Can you give us a little information about your book/s?
I have three titles available. First, I have a novella called The White Hairs. It’s an unusual story about a white furry creature named Farshoul. The story begins with him participating in a ritual with his people. He is learning how to leave his body and travel in the wind and the snow. When he returns to his physical self, despite what he has experienced, he is told that he failed. He never left his body at all. Farshoul is left with no choice. He has to discover the truth of his experiences on his own, without any help from his society. It’s a gently moving philosophical story.
I then published a short story called The Song of Ballad and Crescendo. It’s available for free on Smashwords (99 cents everywhere else.) This is a love story and a fable. It takes place in a mythical forgotten time when the sky used to be covered with stone and everyone had to whisper so that massive rocks wouldn’t fall and crush them. The story is illustrated with a series of my photographs.
Luminous and Ominous is my first full-length published work. It’s an end of the world horror and science fiction story. Henry Willingham gets three days warning that an alien vegetation has invaded the world. He has to decide which friends he saves and what supplies he gathers. There isn’t enough time. Some terrible decisions get made. Then, after a year or so underground, Henry and two other survivors walk through the transformed ruins of upstate New York, past alien trees and alien animals trying to survive.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Early on, I think I saw all arts as one. When I was a child, there was no real difference between drawing a picture or telling a joke or writing a poem. By the time I got to high school I wanted to write and draw comic books. But I reached a point when I discovered that my real talent, and my real passion was for writing.
I started with comicbook plots, then poetry, then I sang in some bands in Boston and wrote all of my own lyrics. Then eventually I started writing short stories, then movie scripts, and then finally novels. I see my work as having really evolved from fully-gilled fish to woolly land walker. My hope is that the next stage will be when my work starts to glow in the dark.
How long does it usually take you to write a book?
I’m not yet at the point when I have written enough books to know what normal is. I wrote my first novel in a month. My second took two years. I then started and abandoned a few. Luminous and Ominous took me a few months. Since I published that, in late November, I have been hard at work on two novels and a novella. When I’m “in the groove” I think 3,000 words is a decent day.
What was the hardest thing you've had to research?
Without competition, that was my senior project in college. I went to Bard College, in upstate New York. I graduated with a multidisciplinary degree in Philosophy and Creative Writing. My senior project was on the expression of experiences.
That said, I do a considerable amount of research for my writing. I am working on a science fiction novel about magicians now. To prepare for this I have read about the Hermetic magicians, the alchemists, Emperor Rudolph II of Prague, John Dee and Edward Kelly’s communications with angels, etc, etc. I’ve read several books on the history of stage magic. I don’t approach a book about magic as a Dungeons and Dragons-esque opportunity to just make up a story off of the top of my head. I take it seriously.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Far more chaotic than I wish it were. Life isn’t simple. I do also teach. I have a lot of other responsibilities. Also, the fact that I do do so much reading and research for my books means that a large portion of the time that I spend on my stories doesn’t immediately result in any pages at all. But, all of that being the case, I am still hoping to publish four books in 2011.
Do you think you have an interesting writing quirk?
“Quirk?” I don’t think of my work as quirky. I hope that there’s a lot about the way I approach my work which is interesting, at least. One thing that readers might want to know is that I do give a lot of thought to the symbolic meaning of the events in my stories. The symbolism is never the point. The plot must always be paramount, but if you see a snake in my story, I will have considered what snakes represent on the psychological level and how this symbol relates to the others in the story.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I put a lot of intentional work into inspiring myself. I carefully select the books I read, movies I watch, music I listen to. The walks in the woods, the drives across the country, the hours spent walking through the streets, the time I spend abroad… It’s all intended to generate ideas.
There is a myth that authors and creative people are simply gifted their ideas like Christmas presents which require no work or effort. There is nothing harder than keeping the fire burning.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could have a single coherent thought which went on for hundreds of pages.
What do you think makes a good story?
Ha! Is that all you want to know? I’ll tell you what I aspire to. I like to be imaginatively competitive. However original my ideas have been in the past, I always want to surpass them. Whenever I read a book or watch a movie and the ideas amaze me, I see that as a challenge to be more original than they are. I never steal anyone else’s ideas because my stated goal is always to try to outdo them. I wouldn’t be satisfied with any work wherein I wasn’t at least trying to accomplish this.
But of course, writing is even harder than that. We need to make people care. We need to move them. We need to be of psychological use. We ought to be honest. AND we have to catch all the typos…. I’m telling you, writing is hard!
Why did you choose to take the self published route?
I did seriously consider submitting Luminous and Ominous to agents and publishers. Here’s why I didn’t. If I were to submit the book, I could expect to wait 6-9 months for a reply. IF I were lucky enough to find someone right off the bat who was interested in my book, I could then expect to wait another year or more to see it actually published.
Instead, I published the book with very little delay. It’s done. It’s in the world. More than 500 people have read the book in a little over four months. I have moved on and am working on a sequel and other works. I’m getting a modest check every month. I continue to own all of the rights to my work and I enjoy 100% creative control. I have begun to build an audience, and I have earned a 4/5 star average of reviews on Amazon.com with 26 reviewers. I’m off to a good start!
Do you have any advice for others who are thinking of self publishing?
Edit. Take the time and catch all the typos. Also, spend some time thinking about if the book is the best it can be.
Then do it.
Name five things you can't live without.
- Input: Movies, music, books, ideas, conversation. Deep thought.
- Output. I need to write and create.
- Friends and animals.