1. How does your being an English teacher influence your horror and fantasy writing?
Being an English teacher has positives and negatives when it comes to writing. It basically means that I am more than a bit OCD about the storyline, story arc, characterization, thematic elements, and various other elements. As a result, my books seem to do well. However, it also means I sometimes become bogged down in writing because I’m trying to correct too many things etc, when I should really just be trying to get the story onto the page. It’s hard to turn off the editor in my head.
2. Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?
That’s a hard one. There are inspirations and people who have supported me in my writing pursuits, but then there are numerous authors who have helped me get where I am through advice and by providing feedback on my beta reads. It’s no easy feat to write a novel, let alone multiple.
However, if I have to nail it down to just one, I think one of the biggest helps has been Scott Rhine, author of Jezebel’s Ladder and many more sci-fi and fantasy novels. He and I started publishing at the same time and met on Authonomy back when it still existed. We’ve helped each other ever since. I have a feeling we’ll be friends for life, and we haven’t even officially met yet. What a world we live in.
3. What was the inspiration for you’re A Life of Death trilogy?
I was watching Medium one evening when something occurred to me. Psychometry, the ability to relive traumatic deaths and murders through visions, supposedly develops when people are teens, but I’d never seen a show from that perspective. As Alex’s story began to unfold in my mind, his miserable life with the drunk came to fruition.
However, it wasn’t until I came up with the battlefield museum scene that I actually sat down to write the story. That scene was the first written and really the inspiration for the rest of the series. I mean, come on… who doesn’t want to see what happens to a character with psychometry when he walks through a battlefield museum?
4. Do you outline prior to writing your story, or do you work out the plot as you write?
A little of both. I tend to jot down ideas that eventually become descriptive initial character scenes, then a chapter or two. Once I have that much, an outline takes shape and I use it as a guide. However, even as I write using the outline, it’s still flexible. I’ve added and subtracted things from every book as it has progressed.
5. What current writing projects are you working on?
Really, I am all over the place. It seems that nowadays I have 4 or 5 projects going at the same time. I’m currently working on an anthology of short stories, a nonfiction piece, and two separate standalone novels, plus a few periodic short story publications for publishers.
6. How much of you is in your protagonist, Alex, in A Life of Death?
That’s a good question. Really gets to the heart of things, doesn’t it? Every author leaves a small piece of him/herself in each story he/she writes. However, A Life of Death is very personal. One of the main themes I wanted to impart in the novel is that there is always hope, no matter how bad things may be. I figured if I could reach even one person who was having a rough time and show them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that it is worth the struggle, then the book would be a success. As a result, I think the characters in the story became infused with some personality traits of myself and people I know. Alex is probably closer to representing my personality than any other character I will ever write, for better or worse. He isn’t me, but I believe he thinks like me. I hope that makes sense.
7. Is there an overall theme to your writing?
Every story I tell has a theme, but no they aren’t all the same. The A Life of Death trilogy, while revealing a paranormal mystery about the horrific nature of humanity, is fundamentally an inspirational novel. However, not everything I write is inspirational. My writing style seems to be a cross between Edgar Allan Poe and Steinbeck, at least those are some of my inspirations. Think the suspense, thrilling nature, and rhythm of Poe’s “The Raven” mixed with the characterization, controversy, and emotional connectedness of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
8. What made you start writing?
Likely a little insanity and a bit of just-not-right. What fantasy/horror writer could you really call “normal”? But seriously, the stories are bouncing around in my head, characters banging on the walls of my skull like a skeletal cage. I have to let them out every once in a while. Better on the digital page than in a mall with men, women, and children.
9. What is your best quality as a writer?
I have good qualities? Are you sure?
Really, that’s one of my best qualities. I’m a smartass. The only other one which might matter is that I have a good ear for sentence flow. Some readers have said the flow of my sentences is almost like poetry, even though it’s narrative.
10. If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional) who would you invite?
That would be one truly messed up party, but I’ll give it a go. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) would provide the ongoing witticisms (for who else but a master could lead the charge), William Shakespeare would bring the hors d’oeuvres (as a result of his tendency to pierce things with swords), J.R.R. Tolkien would bring desert (elven pudding anyone?), Robert Jordan would bring the entrees (only worry is that he’d char the pork with the One Power), Edgar Allan Poe would bring a pistol (for added excitement), and Ambrose Bierce would be a welcome but uninvited sixth who would crash the party satirically (who else could’ve written the Devil’s Dictionary). That would be one party I couldn’t miss.