After setting up my Goodreads Author Page, it asked me a handful of questions about being an author. I thought I’d share my answers here.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Two things: 1. Seeing the world I’ve created flourish, especially watching the characters grow, change, and evolve. For example, I have one character who’s quite young when you first meet her. She’s a little silly and clumsy, but throughout the series of books, you’ll see her grow and mature and actually become a bit of a badass. 2. I love seeing readers grow attached to my characters, thinking about them when they’re not reading, wondering what’s going to happen to them next. Book 1 ends with quite a little question still lingering, and all of my beta readers are DYING to know the answer. I love to see people fall in love with the world and the characters in it, just as I have.
How do you get inspired to write?
Music, first and foremost. I’ve been a musician most of my life, so music has a powerful impact on me. When writing, I listen to a few different soundtracks that fit the genre of my books. I call it night jazz, but there are different names for it. It’s the slow, breathy saxophone stuff. I love it. It puts me in the mood to write. The soundtrack to Chinatown is great, as is White Heat Film Noir, a compilation of different songs. I love John Barry’s score for Body Heat (never saw the movie, and I know it’s not the same genre, but it fits perfectly). A lot of other John Barry music fits the bill. Also big on my list is the soundtrack for the video game L.A. Noire. Oddly enough, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to listen to music, so I listen to white noise to drown out the background. Watching mystery/crime drama TV shows and movies also give me some ideas.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
I’ve always loved crime noir detective stories; the hardboiled detective, the gloomy weather, the grit and shadows. For several years I’d been wanting to write something in the genre. I was at the pub with an old high school buddy, brainstorming ideas for new creative content. The seed just kind of planted itself during the discussion and started to grow. I knew the type of story I wanted to write. I knew who I wanted the killer to be. But I knew very little else. A few days later, I was home sick in bed and reached for my iPad. I just started writing. Six months or so later, I was finished with my rough draft with plans to create an entire series.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
Well, maybe I’m lucky, but I really don’t struggle with writer’s block. If I have a conundrum or continuity issues that need resolving, I’ll often sleep on it. Many times I’ve come up with the solution in my sleep. But actual writer’s block isn’t really a problem. There are some days when I just don’t feel like writing. I’ll take these days and work on some of the graphic elements I use in my books. I’m also a graphic designer and have produced TONS of conceptual art, blueprints, schematics, etc, for my series that I hope to include in a companion guide someday. That said, when I don’t feel like writing, I’ll work on that stuff to keep me in the universe. Chances are, I’ll be back writing the following day.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished working on the Kindle and paperback versions of Book 1, which are now available on Amazon. I’ve since resumed work on revising Book 2 in the series. The rough draft has been complete for a while, so I’ll be spending the next few months grinding the heck out of it.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Not necessarily in order:
1. Read your genre.
2. Take all these “Rules of Writing” you see on blogs and so forth with a grain of salt. Every author has their own opinion, and that’s all these are; opinions. Apparently, Elmore James says “never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue.” I personally find that quite boring. But that’s James’ opinion and style and it definitely works for him, so great. You’ll find these so-called “rules” from different famous authors are broken left and right by other famous authors. Use what you learn to create your own style.
3. Read your manuscript out loud. If a sentence you’ve written makes you tongue-tied when you read it aloud, rework it.
4. Revise, Revise, Revise.
5. Programs like Hemingway and Grammarly are great, but they are not to live by. They are not always completely accurate in their assessment. I use them both, and if any sentence or grammar choice is flagged, I THINK long and hard whether or not I really want to right it that way. But the software can be hit or miss at many a time.
6. Join a local writer’s group. This is where you’ll get some of the best feedback. You’ll make new friends. They can definitely help you in your writing endeavor. I found one on meetup.com.
7. Not everyone will love your work. Keep a stiff upper lip when someone critiques you. At the same time, very few people are experts, so they’re just giving another opinion. Use balance and discernment (not pride) to determine if the advice you’re given really will make your writing better, or if the person giving it simply may be wrong. This can be challenging.
8. You’ll often hear “write every day.” I don’t write every day, but I think and plot and create ideas in my head for my books every day. I do SOMETHING every day to keep my mind in my universe. If you can’t write every day, you should be doing something (no matter how small) to further the advancement of your writing.
9. Find an editor. It might be hard to find someone you’ll work with well. Some say, “Pay me, I’ll take X weeks to edit, then give it back to you. End of business deal.” You may be okay with that. I, however, like someone I can work together with through the editing process, bouncing new ideas, concepts, and changes back and forth. This type of arrangement may be harder to find, and I was fortunate. You’ll find editors who’ll work on your script for a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Just be sure to communicate with them, be clear on what you need, and learn what they are willing to provide.