I’m proud to say that I’ve lived the sort of life that permits me to recount a great story about an experience in just about any crowd. I’m a college dropout. I manage a $3m company during the day, and try to find time to write in the in-between spaces. My wife and I are partners in a turnkey mixed media enterprise, which also includes a third partner (who is an independent filmmaker). I’m involved in the Represent.Us movement, as well as with my wife’s not-for-profit, Tailored to Hire. My resume makes no rational sense, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve held a number of unique jobs over the years, including comic store lackey, major medical claims adjudicator, Unix systems administrator, and alarm dispatcher. I’m not afraid to take risks – I’ve successfully flipped houses, and walked away from lucrative jobs that didn’t ‘fit’. I have friends all over the world, thanks to my having been on the Internet since 1988, in one form or another. I actually met my wife at a ‘geek party’ in the early 90’s. I collect rare and unique, first-edition books, often inscribed or association copies. I also have a cat, who I’m fairly certain is bent on world domination.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest is called, ‘Not on the List’ (due out in late February). It’s my first comedy/fantasy, and also the first in my stab at a series. It centers around an entire universe of beings, Gods, creatures, and concepts who all live among us, though we cannot see them. The premise is that a demi-god was killed, but that Death was not responsible for his demise. This leaves him more than miffed, and develops into a world-wide search on the part of his retainers to determine who the offending party was.
What do you have coming out in the future?
I’m working on the second in the series, mentioned above, called, ‘Uncharted’. It follows a lot of the characters that I developed in the first work, while introducing new ones through a new premise.
I also have a revised edition of my second work, ‘Guerrilla Business’ hitting the shelves in late February as well. It contains roughly 40% more content than the original, and also updates a few spots that have changed since the initial publication in 2012.
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
It’s funny. When I began writing, I never considered that I might actually write a second book. To date, I’ve written a mystery, a fantasy, a magnum dystopian opus, a theological/philosophical piece of science fiction, a marketing book, and some other odds and ends. I challenged myself to try new genres, just because I desired the expanded capacity that it could potentially afford me as a writer. In fact, all of my short stories are in first-person (rather than third-person omniscient) as a test of my ability to write in that manner. I also never name the protagonist in my short stories. No idea why – I just don’t.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I read voraciously, so I think I pick up bits here and there. I have vivid dreams. And I’m talking about ‘blockbuster film with a cast of thousands’ dreams. If someone could record their dreams for the big screen, I’d be rich. My mind is a crazy place when I’m sleeping. My dreams, too, have led to moments of insight that have inspired me.
No. Though, I have been told by many that they see a lot of me in odd places. My brother pointed out that, in one of my works, a sixty-ish, African-American nurse reminded him of me. I never saw that coming.
What authors inspire your writing?
It depends on the genre. With that being said, the big guns, for me, are Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Ayn Rand, Haruki Murakami, Robert Charles Wilson, and David Mitchell.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I read everything, and try to ‘mix it up’ a bit. Mostly, I enjoy thought-provoking fiction, mild science fiction, mild fantasy, and philosophical works that don’t insist upon being so, too much.
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
As I mentioned before, I’m blessed to have had a fairly unique life. I’ve pushed myself hard to be where I am today. Along the way, I went out of my way to be a social butterfly, to take an interest in anyone who might be around me, and to try new things at every opportunity. This has led to a veritable cornucopia of life experience to draw upon, and a lot of what goes into my books – even if it is just a snippet – stems from those experiences.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I try to read, but time just sort of drifts away. Between working my day job, and then working on my business endeavors at night, I just don’t have the time that I once did. I love to travel, though, whenever the opportunity presents itself.
It was ridiculous, it was humbling, it was heartbreaking, and it was cathartic. My first novel was awesome (or so I thought). When I re-wrote it a year or so back, I was almost ashamed. I learned quickly that the world of the writer is all about who you know, perseverance, luck, and some backdoor shenanigans to get yourself on the right people’s radar. I waited almost 5 years after the completion of my first novel to publish it. Since then, I’ve had seven published works, and have several more in the pipeline. I’ve been offered the opportunity to yield the rights for publishing to a third-party, but so far it just hasn’t felt right. I’m sort of interested to see how far I can push this experience on my own.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
I’ve tried to be tongue-in-cheek with my novels. With the forthcoming one, I sort of gave up on that. I just noodle around a number of ideas and – when the right one hits – I feel it, and I roll with it.
Is your book a stand alone or a series?
All of my works, to date, are stand-alones (much to the consternation of those who wish to see an expounding on a character, or a love interest). My upcoming work will begin a series, though I don’t know that I’ll remain solely committed to writing that series. I tend to get distracted by new ideas.
Do you read the genre you write for or do you prefer other genres?
Yes, and yes.
OoOoOo, I’ve never been asked that! The main characters in my first novel, Emil and Laura, will suffice for this answer, I think. I’m picturing Emil as a suave, Matt Bomer type, and Laura as a gawky-but-loveable Amanda Peet.
Have you joined any writer’s groups?
No, not to date. I’ve actually developed a lot of my own writer’s resources on Facebook, however. I saw a need, saw that no one was filling it, sighed, and – like a masochist – set them up myself. It’s a labor of love, and it’s gratifying, but it is, at its core, work – a whole lot of work.
Have you won any awards for your writing?
Not a one. I don’t know what awards I’d even be considered for, given the expanse of genres that I travel through.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Finding time, and editing. The comedian Mitch Hedberg (God rest his soul) once said something that I’ve always recalled. It was (and I’m paraphrasing for brevity), “Sure you’re a good chef, but can you farm?” To me, editing is like that. I’m a storyteller and a facilitator. Those are my strong points. Editing - and doing it well - are things that I’ve begun to master out of necessity. I have a long, long road ahead, however, and I’m not ashamed to say it. Thankfully, I have a great group of folks who help me, gratis. Apparently, they’re sympathetic masochists. I also do all of my own layout, and cover design. I wanted to learn how, so I just did. It turned out that I love cover design, and I’m glad that I do these things on my own. It’s gratifying, and something that I can be proud of.
I’m fortunate to seldom reach a point of writer’s block. I can hammer out a story on almost any given day, and find ways to make things tie together; make them work. I’m lucky, in that regard, and I know it.
Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
I think Myrtle ‘Dora’ Groves (from ‘Last Rights’) wins that title. She’s a snarky, no-nonsense, teen hacker with a grudge against anything she can find. I really want to say more but – in her case – we’d be getting into spoiler territory.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences?
In no particular order: Gene Kranz, Cal Ripken, Henry Knox, Ayn Rand, Neil Gaiman, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Stanley.
What is your preferred writing environment?
I have an inoperable back condition (apparently, modern medicine hates me). I used to write in my office, but I now do so in an oversized chair with a laptop podium. I actually quite like it. I have a large window to my left, and the room is cozy, and filled with books.
It’s quirky. I’m not afraid to push the limits on some things, but I’m also a sucker for a great, ‘unexpected’ love interest. Most of my novels have at least one love interest (some of them more). I also like an open-ended ending. I’m not afraid to make situational endings unexpected (which really gets under the skin of some of my readers), but I also dole out closure, too. In the end, I don’t want my novels to be expected, or like everyone else’s.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
This is humiliating. Ready? I have a general idea of where I think I want to go. To date, I’ve never gotten there. Every novel I’ve ever written, I’ve written without an outline, etc. I just let the story take me where I feel like it wants to go. I know I’m in a super-minority on this point, but I enjoy writing unfettered, in a manner where I can change things up on a whim, and see where it goes. Frankly? It’s liberating.
With many publishing routes available today, which felt the most reliable to you when it came to the many choices?
I only had once choice, and that was to self-publish. I’m blessed to have a day job that takes care of my needs, as well as a wife who has grown from humble beginnings, to taking calls from the White House. We’re a symbiotic pair that is so rare in this day and age (and I’m obscenely mental for her). As such, I write as a hobby, but also to attempt to ‘make it big’ on my own. I feel as though I have the God-given gifts to ‘get there’ by my own hard work and perseverance alone. Perhaps that’s a fallacy, but I’m willing to give it a go, just the same.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
I’ve always written. When other kids were asking for toys or bikes for Christmas, I was asking for a typewriter. I used to hammer our stories to amuse myself, my family, my friends – anyone who would bother to read them. I don’t even remember a time when I wasn’t crafting a story.