What’s your story? How did you get into writing?
I think the first time I realized that I wanted to write was when I’d finished reading the first truly massive novel of my life. I was nine years old and I’d just finished The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks. It was 709 pages of awesomeness to my young and impressionable mind and it fired me up beyond anything I’d read or seen up to that point. I knew that I wanted to be able to write stories like that. What I didn’t know was how much work it would take to get there! Fortunately, when we’re young we don’t consider obstacles as anything but fun hills to climb over!
From there it was just a matter of writing stories and learning from them as I wrote them. They were terrible, of course, but over the years I did my best to improve my skills. I was rejected from traditional publishing probably a dozen times or so before I found a small publisher that took me on. I met my first real editor then and after she untied me and lowered her red whip I finally began to get it. I started to understand writing and reading better and suddenly the world opened up to me.
Sure, I still had a lot to learn and I argue I still do, but thanks to the pain of an almost sadistic editor that saw something great in one of my early raw stories, I know how to learn and grow as I need to.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Two things – 1) Keep writing. 2) Invite criticism. Don’t just accept it, but invite it. Find the people who don’t like you or your work and challenge them to tear you down. Then build yourself back up by improving.
Oh, and as bonus advice, ALWAYS get a professional editor, at least for copyediting / proofreading. Always.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing the second book in a new series right now that is very left field for me. Traditionally I’m a science fiction and fantasy kind of guy. This time around I’m working on an espionage series that centers on an agent from the Department of Homeland Security. That’s not so unusual or out of the ordinary, it’s the extra steamy romance that also take place in the series that is a departure from the norm for me. I like to branch out and widen my horizons when it comes to writing and this is my latest attempt at it. The story’s not about the smut though, it’s about the character(s). I’m a huge believer in characters and character development.
What has been the most challenging part of publishing or marketing your book?
Other than maintaining a day job and a happy family life while writing a novel a month, I’d say marketing and sales. I’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and even money on advertising and promotion and I have never once recouped the investment. What I’ve found that works the best is just writing more books and fighting tooth and nail for every sale I can get. I fantasize about joining the Amazon 1 million+ books sold author ranks, but at my current rate I’m about 50 years away from that. Fortunately for me, I’m a long term goal kind of guy.
What has been your favorite part?
Writing! I’ve learned so much about the process and skill it’s been very rewarding. I’ve also learned a lot about myself circumstantially. Digging out emotions from readers through the characters means I have to find those emotions in myself, and sometimes that means going into scary places. I’ve learned to understand myself and others a lot better through the process of writing and I think that’s made me a much better person in general.
Who are your favorite authors?
Amongst the big names I’d have to say R.A. Heinlein, Terry Goodkind, Raymond Feist, Robert Howard, L. Sprague DeCamp, Terry Brooks, and Stephen Donaldson, just to name a few. There are great indie writers out there too, such as Bob Stewart and J.E. Taylor, that can always get me caught up in a story in no time.
What gave you the idea for your current work?
My current project is an amalgamation of inspiration. My wife got hooked on the 50 Shades books and from there started voraciously reading Sylvia Day and other smutty romance and murder / mystery books. She got me looking into the possibility of expanding my writing to include romance / erotica, but some feeble attempts in the past hadn’t met with much success. So I decided to push it from softcore into fully fledge plot driven erotica and see what happened. But I needed something to keep me interested too. Sure, sex is fun and interesting, but that’s a drop in a bucket. To stand out and keep me going I needed characters and a story behind it. Tying in the mystery / danger element I decided I’d join the government agent bandwagon and see what happened. The result pleased me immensely, even though sales of my first book, Forbidden Love, haven’t exactly been stellar. The feedback I’ve gotten has been very rewarding – sadly the sales have not.
I said earlier I’m a long term goal kind of guy and I meant it. That’s why I listened to readers who wanted more of an earlier softcore book I wrote called Sex Sells and decided to take the incredible characters in that book and tie them into book 2 of my Homeland series. The working title is “The Broken Slipper,” and it focuses on Special Agent Sarah Ford as she investigates some possible terrorist funding enterprises in the southwest and tries to put her own life back together after what happened in Forbidden Love.
If you could be any character in the book, which one would you be?
Oh wow! Now I’ve painted myself in a corner. Amongst all my books I can think of a few great characters to be. In my current project I’m a little stumped. There are a lot of women in the book thus far and while I think strong female characters are awesome, I have to go with the male character named Rodney who is laid back and easy going. He uses his skills to help out and put things together for the other characters. In fact, without him most of what happens in the book is even possible. But he’s not a grandstanding kind of guy.
What other books have you written and/or are working on for the future?
Oh wow, how much time / space do I have for this? The book I’m working on right now is my 38th book – or 38th to be published. In the past I’ve written mostly science fiction and fantasy. I have several series of books out, Wanted, Dark Earth, Vitalis, The Lost Girls, The Blades of Leander, Voidhawk, Homeland, and The Order of the Dragon. Voidhawk, Dark Earth, Homeland, and Vitalis are ongoing series with no end in sight. The Order of the Dragon is a sequel trilogy to The Blades of Leander, with book 2, Chasing the Dragon, in the hands of my editor for a hopeful release in early July.
What’s next? I have so many options it’s hard to tell. I may write the third book in The Order of the Dragon series or I may write a fourth book in my Vitails series. I’ve had ideas for a new supernatural / paranormal / urban fantasy book as well, but I think that one would be a stand-alone novel and I haven’t had much success with stand-alone books. Fans are clamoring for more Voidhawk too, so it’s always an exciting and tense moment when I finish one book and try to figure out what I’m going to write next. Usually I jump write in the very next day though. I don’t believe in wasting time that I could spend writing, otherwise how am I going to get it done inside of four weeks?
What’s your favorite quote?
Just about anything by Nietzche, but the two that stand out the most in my mind are, “That which does not kill you makes you stronger,” and “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough in an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
What’s your favorite supernatural creature?
The current trend towards metrosexual vampires has made me nauseas, so I don’t dare show any compassion or kindness towards them. For the same reason I’m torn about declaring any fondness for werewolves, although I’ve written a few into my stories and have one as one of the main characters in my Voidhawk series. That leaves dragons and demons high on my list. Dragons are cool, of course, but easily over played / used. Demons, on the other hand, can be the gift that keeps on giving. I’m particularly fond of the succubus, but just about any demon will do in a pinch. Case in point the new idea I’ve been tossing around involves a Princess of Hell that’s somehow been stricken with complete amnesia as to what / who / how she is. Sounds complicated, but I’m working out the details in the back of my head while I continue pounding keys on my current project.
Links and stuff:
Dark Earth: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0053KJ6PM/
The Lost Girls: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005V0F2SY/
Blades of Leander: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A0O4G9C/
The Order of the Dragon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CS2XH7G/