|Do you want to argue with these guys?|
|Can I ask you a question?|
One of the perks of being a writer is getting to meet some of the most interesting people. Whether it is at conventions, store signings, through the Earth Station One podcast, writer’s groups, on social media, and sometimes just from people I run into on when I venture out of the cave I call my office, and they have questions. Sometimes they are about writing or what I’m working on. Other times they’re out of left field. I thought it would be interesting to share some of them along with a few answers. Regardless of where they come from, here’s a few of the latest.
Check out past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, Part 8 here, and Part 9 here.
I don’t really hit blocks that stop me from writing. Life does enough to keep me from working and doesn’t need any help from my subconscious. I sometimes get stuck on story points, but when that happens I hop over to another project while I sort it out. I do occasionally get bouts where I just don’t feel like sitting down to write. That usually lasts until I actually sit down and get started.
Q: What TV shows of your childhood have influenced your writing or affected you as a writer?
As I got older, I got into shows that were darker in tone like The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, and the like, but I still love a good hero character too.
|Evil Ways 2013 cover|
I think a cover’s style varies depending on the book itself. The art/painted covers work great for pulpy novels, but for modern day thrillers like Evil Ways or Deadly Games! (free plug) I think the photo cover works. I’ve not tried to make an abstract cover as yet, but I have sketched a cover design for a novel I’m scheduled to write in 2014 that will probably fit that mold. I admit, I have killed a publishing deal or two over bad covers. I wish I had fought harder to change the original Evil Ways cover from 2005. It was awful.
|Evil Ways 2005 cover|
Q: Who are your favorite artists in comics right now?
This is one of those lists that will obviously change from month to month, but here goes. Steve Epting, George Perez, Greg Capullo, Art Adams, Amanda Conner, David Aja, and John Byrne are all artists whose work I enjoy when I see it.
Q: Who are your favorite writers in comics right now?
This one will also change from month to month. Gail Simone, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder, Jonathan Hickman, and the writing duo of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray.
|Brubaker & Epting's Velvet|
No, but it helps. I can say from experience that I’ve met a creator or two whose work I enjoyed and had a bad experience that has colored my view of their work. Conversely, I’ve met creators whose work I wasn’t as big a fan of before meeting them, but he or she was very nice and personable, and that has colored my opinion of their work as well, only for the positive.
Part of being a writer (or artist, actor, musician, etc) is selling yourself as well as your work. In a perfect world the work alone would be the only thing the audience is concerned with, but that is not the world in which we live.
Who Wants To Live Forever. There is the regular version and an instrumental version. Both are phenomenal. Don’t believe me. Give ‘em a listen for yourself. This song was part of the Highlander soundtrack.
Q: How many novels or installments do you write in a month’s period?
This is a difficult one to answer because not all writing assignments or even books are the same. When accepting a writing gig from a publisher I am given a word count to hit. That word count determines the size of the book, cost, and other factors relevant to getting the book out. My job is to make sure I hit that number. There is usually a little grace of one to two hundred words because it’s tough to hit the exact number so we get close to it.
Q: Acting or writing, If you could be a stand out star in which profession would you chose?
|This explains it quite well.|
Q: Are you a "shitty first draft" writer? Able to get the whole story down before you begin to edit and polish? ... Or are you an edit-as-you-go kind of writer? Trying to get everything as perfect as possible during the writing process?
|Good advice at any age.|
Q: Go back in time, meet yourself at 18 years old. What #1 piece of professional advice would you offer?
Make a plan and stick to it. When I was 18, I had the dream to do this writing thing, but lacked the focus. I was all over the place. I would tell myself to focus and to try not to keep pushing aside the dream for things that at the end of the day were unimportant. When I was younger, I sacrificed a lot for my “day jobs” that was rarely, if ever, reciprocated. By the time I learned to say “no” to the extra things the day job wanted I basically started the writing career at step one. It was a lesson I wish I had learned sooner.
|There are rules?|
Sometimes. Real people have inspired characters. It happens from time to time. Usually, it’s taking a person’s personality and/or mannerisms for a character so I hear that person’s voice clearly.
When I was writing Evil Ways, I was told by advance readers that the characters of Harold Palmer and Franklin Palmer did not “feel” like brothers in the novel. I looked at how my brother and I dealt with one another, how we communicated. I thought about that and decided to give one of the characters a bit of my personality and the other a bit of my brother’s personality. Suddenly, the characters interacted in a way that made the reader feel that brotherly connection. It added a little extra something to the characters.
|The Purple Prose of Springfield|
Purple Prose has its place. Some writers do it with relish (see what I did there?) I write to fit the needs of my characters and story, not to mention my publishers to an extent. Some characters might use a language that is more purple than others and that’s okay. To be honest, I don’t really think about it. I don’t recall ever pouring over a manuscript to look for passages of purple prose. I also haven’t had publishers come to me complaining about my prose being purple so either I don’t write it or else it just doesn’t matter.
|Art: step by step|
I only handle the writing side. Plot is usually just a few lines (either typed or just in my head) then I head straight into scripting. Once it goes through art, I then adjust the script as needed. Sometimes the art will show emotions that I have in the dialogue so I can cut some dialogue as the art sells it without the extra words. Sometimes I have to add words because something might not be clear in the art or the artist didn’t leave enough room for dialogue.
Q: How do you pick and choose questions for your list?
I’d love to tell you that there is some great mystery to it, but the truth is, usually, if I get a question then I'll put it on the list. I haven’t received any questions that I refuse to answer. Yet. I say yet because I’m sure there will be someone out there who reads this answers as a challenge. :)
|The truth revealed.|
I do a little promotion daily, but I try to avoid constantly doing “Buy My Book” promotional posts. It’s a fine line between promotion and spam. You have to be careful that you’re doing more than telling people to “Buy My Book!” because that type of promotion turns people off big time. Part of my promotion is posting writing updates, excerpts from stories, starting and participating in conversations on social media, and even this Q&A column. I also update my website often so there’s something new for visitors to see when they stop by. Maybe, just maybe, it will showcase something he or she might like to buy and read.
|The late, great Stephen J. Cannell|
This is a tough one. Plus, it has one of those fluid answers that will no doubt change from day to day. Stephen J. Cannell is definitely on the short list. Although I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, we did converse via emails for a short time before his death. One of the things that struck me was his sincerity and attitude. He treated me as a peer, not just a fan. He asked me about my books, which was pretty cool. To me, this shaped the way I deal with others I meet who are also creators.
Absolutely. Drawing from real life experiences adds a certain amount of weight to fiction because it adds a ring of truth to the story. An example: When I was a child I suffered from night terrors. Most of this comes from my parents telling me because I remember so little of it, but apparently I was good at screaming like a demon in the middle of the night while sound asleep. I remember my dad giving me a small Bible to keep under my pillow when I was younger. He told me that it would help keep the nightmares away. And it did. Sure, they still happened, but it eased my mind and made sleep easier to come by. I eventually grew out of it, but I still have that same small Bible, ratted and torn, nearby when I sleep.
Evil Ways (boy, I’m just plugging the hell out of that thing this time around, aren’t I?), you know that something happens to FBI Agent Palmer in the climax of the story. When we pick back up with him in Evil Intent (I’m working on it, I swear), he’s having some issues getting over it, which is causing him to have nightmares as well. It’s a nice parallel between what he tells his daughter about nightmares and what he himself is doing to combat his own fears.
Q: Does your protagonist have any (physical) scars?
Evil Ways (that book again!), Harold Palmer has some scars from an accident as a child. He and his brother were playing somewhere they weren’t supposed to be and were injured. There’s also something that happens to him in Evil Ways that will be followed up on in the Evil Intent novel coming in 2014. I gave a hint about what it is in the question above.
Q: What is your Favorite Quentin Tarantino Movie?
Reservoir Dogs. Love it.
Q: What’s your favorite Robert DeNiro film?
Q: What's your favorite episode of Stargate Atlantis?
The two part “The Storm” and “The Eye” are standouts. I also love the “Vegas” episode in the final season. Actually, there aren’t too many episodes of this series I don’t like. Might be time for a rewatch. If you’ve not watched it, give it a shot. You might like it.
Q: Favorite TV series finale? (Part of a Breaking Bad discussion)
Q: Are you involved in local writing groups and organizations? Attend monthly meetings? Participate in the group's events? How do these groups help you as an
Not so much these days. This is mainly due to my crazy schedule. When I was first started writing prose I took a creative writing extension course at the local college. I got a lot out of that and joined a writers group. Reading my work aloud in front of the group gave me instant feedback, but it also helped me get over the shyness I suffered from in those days. Both were valuable .
Zombieland. I enjoyed her in The Amazing Spider-man also.
Q: What’s the best movie remake of all time?
I don’t know about all time, but The Thing and The Fugitive top my list of favorite remakes. True Grit is another remake I enjoyed.
Q: What is your favorite Paul Newman movie?
Q: I am very excited to see "Fat Chance". I've been following the production on the Facebook page. Just wondered if you knew when it will be released on DVD and if it will be at Redbox?? It looks like it will be funny. Is there any fart/poop/toilet humor? I know it sounds immature but that type of humor is my favorite! LOL. It makes me laugh so hard.
Fat Chance will be on DVD in 2014, but I don't really know dates yet. The production company has distribution so RedBox is a possibility. I really don't know. When any of that is announced, I'll certainly share it here and everywhere I can.
Also, if you're not already, please follow the Fat Chance Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fatchancemovie This is where details will be released first and foremost. They are also slowly but surely releasing photos and production diaries.
Q: Who is your favorite female superhero?
I’ve always liked The Invisible Woman, Spider-Woman, Supergirl, and the Black Widow, but the top spot would have to go to She-Hulk. I don’t know what it is, but I love that
Q: Being a writer, do you have to have peace and quiet to knock out a story?
Peace and quiet is best, but it hardly ever happens.
I cannot write with the TV on. I get sucked in to whatever is on the TV, even if I've seen it multiple times. I've tried to write with it on. It just doesn't work. I usually have the radio on or music playing on my laptop. I end up tuning it out, but I like that background noise. Since I don't currently live alone, having the headphones on with music playing helps block out the noises the others in the house make, at least a little bit. I write on a laptop since my desktop computer died. I can take it outside, which is nice. I do have a desk, but it becomes a catch all for everything. Very cluttered.
Great question. I have had a few people who have helped me in my journey, but if I had to single out one person in particular, it would be Harriette Austin. I met Harriette when I took her creative writing night course at the University of Georgia. I wanted to write a novel, but was having trouble. Having the class and instant feedback really helped me a lot. My first published novel, Evil Ways, was mostly written while taking her classes. I don’t see her as often as I used to, but Harriette has been a friend and mentor for many years now. I should give her a call and say hello.
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