Vampire Uprising (Book #4 in the SKINNERS series), EOS Books, Horror / Urban Fantasy, 10/26/10
Please tell us your latest news!
SKINNERS is coming along nicely. Vampire Uprising has just been released, the fifth book in the series is in the editing stages and I'm currently working on Book 6. Other than that, I've been trying to play my way through Red Dead Redemption and several other games that vie for my attention. I just got back from the World Fantasy Convention and am now settling back in to get some work done before the holidays.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author of all time is Douglas Adams. He inspired me to sit down at my dad's computer and write a book when I was in high school. What inspired me the most about his work is the broad scope of his imagination. The Hitchhiker's Guide has it all. Drama, social commentary, quirky science fiction and of course comedy. Not only did he unleash such a raw current of pure creativity, but he made it work within a narrative and kept it running as a cohesive series. He'll always be missed.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style is very visual. I imagine all of my stories as movies and then I just decribe what I see. I'm a fan of all sorts of genre fiction from novels to comic books, movies and video games. There are lessons to learn from all of those mediums, especially for someone like me who loves writing action. I'm a huge monster fan, which translates into a gritty, visceral style that serves a series like Skinners very well.
Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is my career. I've been writing short stories since the age of 9 or so, but was fortunate enough to start working as a full time author ten years ago. I never said no to anything, which is a big part of how I've bene able to keep it as a primary source of income. It also broadened my horizons to include writing in genres ranging from mystery and horror all the way to westerns.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Even as a little kid, I wanted to direct the action. I remember leading the other kids in my preschool class to not just "play cops and robbers", but tell the robbers what they stole, where they were headed and what the cops planned to do to stop them. I always had storylines in my head and loved monsters, so I wrote a series of short stories about The Creep. This was back when I was 8 or 9. The Creep was like Godzilla and destroyed major cities. When my fourth grade class didn't have a newspaper, I started writing one. Then, inspired by Douglas Adams in high school, I started writing my first novel. That one wasn't so great, but I kept trying and kept improving. That's pretty much what I'm still doing (hopefully).
Do you have any advice for other writers?
First of all, WRITE! Don't just plan your novel or story or whatever. Start writing it. You can always edit, but you won't get anywhere until you've dived in.
Second, KEEP WRITING. I can't stress this enough. I meet too many people who want to write. Lots of people WANT to write. If you want to be a writer, you've got to break away from that.
Third, if you get an opportunity to do something professionally (on any level), do it! Agree to the job and figure it out later. You can't be bound by just one project. Do one and go to the next. Take on a job you wouldn't expect to have ever done and you might just like that kind of work.
Finally, don't ever pay to have an agent read your work. Those are scams.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
My mother is also a writer. She's an amazing poet and a prolific short story writer. She's been an incredible influence on me, although seemed kind of harsh in the earlier years. I'd hand her one of my stupid stories or that first crappy book, xpecting a smile and gushing praise. She read it and handed it back to me covered in red pencil. She treated me like a professional because she always believed I could do this for real. I know she's read some of my books, but not all of them. To be fair, I've ghostwritten several dozen novels, done two western series under the pseudonym Marcus Galloway and now four Skinners books. She's more of a Twilight Zone sort of horror fan. She's always very supportive and I know she's very proud of me. My dad only just started reading Skinners, but not a lot of what else I've written. He's not a big reader, but never approved of me being in this line of work. He wanted me to have insurance, benefits and all that. You get those in the office, but not as a writer. Oh well.
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
I do write full time. Before this, I've done lots of other things, mostly just to pay my bills. I've worked as a busboy, shoe salesman, gorcery clerk, waiter (of course), telemarketer, book store clerk, and had a brief stint blowing up baloons for local festivals. My all-time favorite "real" job was working at a video game store. Not only did I get to help people buy games, but they encouraged us to play them to show customers how they worked. For that job, the paycheck was a distant second.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
I haven't outlined for a long time. I start off with my character and piece together the main conflict. I color in my setting, put the character into it and let them go. When it seems like the right time, I step in and start messing up the character's world. If that character is good enough, they'll deal with it and I'll describe what happens.
Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it. (Pen, Coffee Cup, Pet, Blanket, Chair)
I need pencils around. Not specific pencils, but not the mechanical kind. I love the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil and when I'm stuck or thinking, I smell it while tapping my chin or forehead. Maybe that explains all the little dents on my face.
Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example..get coffee, blanket, paper, pen and a comfy place
Wake up, watch TV (Price is Right on weekdays), coffee, breakfast, putz online, write, lunch, write, video game break, write, write, dinner, TV, write, watch poker on TV while having some hot tea and a snack, write, read, go to bed. That's about 99% of my days.
What main genre do you write in?
Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
It's breen great talking to you! Enjoy Vampire Uprising. The next Skinners should be out in April of '11.