You can check out all of the past installments of Sometimes I Get Asked Stuff... here.
|Filed inside my brain.|
Mostly, I keep stories in my head until they are ready to be written. I do occasionally make notes though.
Q: What was the last thing you read or wrote that made you laugh out loud?
Q: When would you say you were given the gift of writing?
I’m not sure. When I was a kid I had the urge to write, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until my 20’s.
Q: Why write Thrillers? What’s the appeal? You seem fond of the government agencies as well. Why is that?
As far as the appeal, it allows me to write in a modern setting, which I don’t get to do as often as you might think with some of my workload. The Pulp stories I write, for instance, all either seem to be set in the past or the distant future. Writing books like Evil Ways and Deadly Games! allows me to explore now.
Q: If you want to branch into a different, non-sci-fi, genre, would you use a different pen name? Do you lose credibility in sci-fi if you pick another genre--horror, fantasy, romance, mystery, espionage thrillers, etc.? Or would you use a different nom de plume for each one. And would one lost respect for a sci-fi author who wrote, say, legal thrillers or romance? Or would you just not care as long as the books were interesting?
Q: Do you read your own books once they come out?
|"Who writes this stuff?"|
Q: How long do you spend on research for each book, and do you visit places if you set stories in certain towns or cities?
The Ruby Files, Lance Star: Sky Ranger) take place in the past so I spent a decent amount of time researching when things were created. When were seaplanes created? When were binoculars created? When were they available for civilian use? When did payphone come into use and where? How much did a pack of smokes cost in 1936? Things like that.
I also research characters when I take on work for hire gigs where I’m using pre-existing characters. I like to do my due diligence and get to know the character so he or she will feel right to fans of those characters.
On the other end of things, there are also revisions, new drafts, and rewrites. Just like with movies, there are segments from books that end up on the cutting room floor.
What? You mean you try to work without the net? :)
I’m actually a bit more productive without the siren call of the internet constantly calling to me. Of course, it never fails that when the internet goes down is always when I need to look something up. Go figure.
Q: Fill in the blank: “If I won the lottery, one of the first things I’d do is _____.”
|I could write/live here.|
Q: What's the most annoying trend in New Pulp?
Feeling that we need to treat existing pulp characters as period pieces. Pulp is not a period piece. Pulp can be now. It doesn’t just work in the 30’s, 40’s, etc… Secret Agent X, for example, is a character that I think could absolutely work in a modern day setting. The character does not need to be set in the 1930’s only. I know many will disagree, but this is one that bugs me a bit.
What does New Pulp get right? Obviously, I’ve not read everything, but I think the stories being told are good and really fun in most cases. I think New Pulp has also put some older, obscure characters back in the spotlight, which is nice. There are some great characters out there that have gotten a new lease on life thanks to the New Pulp revival.
What does New Pulp do wrong? It’s all subjective, but in some cases (not all, mind you) I feel like we’re just treading water, writing stories to fit that mold, but rarely trying to break that mold. Again, these are all generalities.
Catching up on deadlines? Doesn’t sound very deep, I know, but I’m enjoying telling stories and I don’t want to keep the publishers waiting.
Q: How much do the politics/personal life of a creative artist (and I'm talking actor, comedian, comic book writer/artist, musician, etc.) influence you?
I try not to let the political, religious, or personal beliefs of actors, writers, artists, directors, etc. (let’s just call them creators for simplicity's sake here) color my appreciation for their work. Some are able to separate the work from the personal and that’s fine. There are some actors who I see on social media saying things I don’t agree with, but yet it doesn’t stop my enjoyment of their acting work. I’ve never “banned” anyone that way.
This is why I’m always careful in my public interactions. As a creator, you are not just selling your product (books, movies, DVDs, music, whatever) you are also selling yourself, or at least your public persona.
All of the above. I know that sounds like a canned answer, but it’s the truth. I have dreamed stories and had them simply pop into my head in a flash of inspiration. Other times, it’s like mining for gold as I dig and dig to find the story. The brain is a tricky thing and I usually start working out story ideas, plots, dialogue, etc. there before I sit down to write.
A little of both. I have work times throughout the day, but sometimes inspiration strikes and you just have to dive in.
Q: What do you think of invitation-only anthologies? How about those that accept the writer before the story's even in?
Q: Your favorite Jessica Alba movie?
Q: How many books have you written?
I’d have to count to get an accurate number, but I am nearing somewhere in the neighborhood on 100 stories, some short, some novels, some comic books.
Q: How many books have you started but never completed?
There is a handful of manuscripts in my files that have been started that I’ve not gotten back to as yet. I plan to finish them all though. We'll see if that happens.
JAWS. That shark still scares the hell out of me.
On the fictional side, Aliens. They’re creepy.
Q: I kind of hate writing fight scenes. Sometimes I just can't seem to come up with a new way to punch a dude. How do you deal with fight scenes?
Writing fight scenes can be tricky because it's so easy to fall into the same basic fight descriptions. If I get stuck and know the artist working on the script, I ask for input that way and we choreograph the fight together.
Caffeine helps. I also take breaks, move around, that sort of thing. Sometimes just getting up out of the chair and walking around a couple of minutes is all it takes to refresh me.
Q: What's your favorite way to approach editing? We all have to do it, what makes it easier for you?
I actually prefer to do my pass of edits on paper. I print out the pages and read them that way, making notes right on the pages. I think I see things a bit differently reading them on paper than the computer screen and that helps with the editing process.
In a recent work for hire project, one of the characters in the story I was adapting was a complete asshole and just not fun to write for me personally.
Q: Characters or plot first?
It varies for me. Sometimes I have characters and I put them in a situation and see where we go. Other times, I have a plot and determine which character serves that story best.
I still prefer to read a good hardback novel, but I’ve read books in all of these formats.
Q: When you publish through your own imprint what program do you use for formatting and such?do you always run a print copy first?
When I publish something through BEN Books, I lay everything out in Microsoft Word, save as a PDF and upload that. Always order a proof copy first. It's the only way to be sure what it's going to look like.
Oh, sure. I sometimes take personalities of people I know, occasionally actors, but usually people I know personally, and share those with characters to help me find their voice. I started this practice on Evil Ways when I gave the protagonists, two brothers, the personalities of my brother and myself. It really made the character interactions come alive in real ways that worked well in the book.
After my first novel came out, a coworker called my desk at the day job one morning and said, “You bastard! I’m tired and it’s your fault! I didn’t get any sleep last night because I sat up all night reading your book!” That made my day.
Q: What inspired your current project?
The publisher asking for more stories featuring the character.
Q: I know lots of folks who are self-professed DC nuts or Marvel zombies. But why? What is it that drew you to the stories of one company over the other?
|A small sampling of my comic collection|
Q: What are you reading?
At the moment, I am reading Van Allen Plexico's Legion 1: Lords of Fire, the first novel in his new The Shattering series. It’s good stuff. You should give it a look.
Also, please sign up for my mailing list. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll happily add you to the list.
If you’d like to check out my work, you can find my books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, and more.
Thanks for listening to me ramble.
Let’s do this again soon.