Waterline Writers Interview and Reading
If you're an author, you do public readings of your work from time to time or participate in writing panels or Q&A sessions about your process and/or your work. That means you need to have a bio ready. It also means that, like famous actors promoting a movie, you get asked a lot of questions you've been asked before. And, since I recently did a reading for the fine folks at Waterline Writers, where I've read before, I needed to do their usual author questionnaire for use in their promotional postings. Like a weary actor, I answered their questions, just not in the way they probably thought I would. How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer? Mrs. Pate, in the 1st Grade, was quite insistent about it. Right after I learned to read my first word, "look," with an eyeball drawn in in the middle of each "o," Mrs. Pate made us write it down. Then came "see," with eyeballs drawn in each "e." (Mrs. Pate was either surreptitiously letting us know that Big Brother was watching or was secretly part of the Illuminati, indoctrinating us with her rendition of the "all-seeing eye.") Soon thereafter, I was looking and seeing Spot run from Dick and Jane for reasons never clearly explained. My first experience with non-traditional writing was when my Speech teacher insisted upon an essay on some form of communication, which I found irksome, as the main reason I took Speech was to avoid having to write an essay paper. So I wrote a fairly mundane paper on codes and ciphers, then encrypted it with a key-word cipher and super-encrypted the coded version by trans-positioning the letters in each word backwards. It was, frankly, quite irksome to then type up. From there, it was to college where I joined my buddies in the dorm in turning in fake papers in the name of the Playmate of the Month every time we got an essay assignment or take-home test. I'd tell you what Adam Smith's "invisible hand" did, but it would never get past BATV's censors. It did, however, garner a B+ for an un-enrolled winsome lass. I suppose this is a smart-alecky response to the question, but if you know my writing, you know that it is often smart-alecky (though sometimes it can just be smart, and other times just alecky). Describe your writing process. I am a lazy writer--I don't write anywhere close to every single day--but I am reasonably efficient when I am writing and can be fairly prolific when I am under deadline (whether self-imposed or external threat). I generally have less than a page of notes before I start a book and only a few jotted lines before I start a story, but I pretty much always know where I am starting, where I am finishing, and at least one thing I want to do along the way. Tone is important to establish up front, but once I am going I just think cinematically about what should happen next to move the plot along and keep the reader interested, then write it up. Please understand, this is different from listening to what the "characters" want to do. I'm a control freak and the characters do what I tell them to; after all, they don't really exist. What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline? I actually never intended to write Forced Conversion or any book. I wrote short stories (one novella length) and screenplays and was planning to attend World Horror Con with my writing friend, Jean. Jean pointed out there were going to be publishers there doing pitch sessions and I should sign up for a pitch. I replied that the program made it clear they didn't want short story pitches and, since these were New York publishers and not Hollywood agents, no one wanted to hear about my screenplays--a statement which remains true to this very day. Jean insisted I should pitch something anyway because it would be good practice. So, I pulled out a short story idea I'd made some notes about, which was set in the near future and had a fair bit of world-building backstory, and put together a single page pitch sheet which started with an action sequence, moved through a road-trip that provided an opportunity to learn about the backstory, and included the gist of the short story sequence I'd envisioned as a scene about three-quarters of the way along. Went to the con and did my pitch. When I finished, the editor said "Is this book finished?" I said "No, I just wrote up the pitch last night, but I write fast and here's a copy of my novella so you can see I can write." Then he said, "I'll read your novella on the plane home. If I asked you for three chapters to this book, would you send them to me?" Of course, I said "yes," but once I walked out, I panicked, thinking he was going to read the novella on the Sunday flight home and ask me for three chapters of the book on Monday or Tuesday. So I started writing, eventually finished the book a few months later, sent it to him, then twiddled my thumbs for almost two years before he got back to me with comments and a rejection. So I sold it elsewhere, via a short story editing contact. What are you working on now? I'm more than halfway through the first draft of Wet Work, a sequel to my spy novel, Net Impact. So, when you grab your copy of Forced Conversion at the break, you can also get Net Impact just to be ready for the sequel when it comes out, hopefully later this year. And, if you've already read both of those, please post reviews on Amazon or your favorite blog as soon as possible. Heck, you can do it on your phone during the break. Because reviews are important, especially to the Amazon algorithm. Math teachers never tell you how important algorithms are in real life. Maybe they're part of the Illuminati conspiracy, too. You'd have to ask Mrs. Pate. Hope you enjoyed my responses. Here's a link to my reading: https://vimeo.com/205261748.