1. When did you first start writing?
The first thing I remember writing was in third grade. It was a play based on Star Trek. I suppose that would have been when I was nine. As you might imagine, it was terrible.
2. Do you ever experience writer's block?
I think that every writer experiences challenges when writing. I don’t believe in writer’s block per-se, however. I think that if you have something you want to say, in your conscious or subconscious, it will find a way out. If you experience a true block, that may be a signal that you need to walk away for a while and reboot.
3. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Doesn’t every writer hate something he or she has written? As time passes and I mature, or my writing matures, I look back on early efforts and cringe. The things I wrote in high school are not the things I would write now.
4. What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
I like to write about people, as I see them. I suppose the theme that comes up most often in my writing is probably alienation and how people deal with that. Other than that, the use of language fascinates me. Masters of metaphor and simile - Raymond Chandler for instance - always inspire me. I would say the genre would be literary – except that it sounds too pretentious to me, and I’m not sure the ‘literary’ folk would agree. They labeled Kurt Vonnegut a science fiction writer and Raymond Chandler a mystery writer. To me, anything well written is literary.
5. Is there a message in your stories/poems that you want readers to grasp?
Life is hard. Society can be cruel, but individuals can be kind. Love is good, but most other facets of existence are not. I don’t always include facets of spirituality in my work, but I try to suggest that there is a difference between religion as ritual and having a genuine spiritual life. In a year my answer might be completely different.
6. Are experiences you write about based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Always. But that doesn’t mean you should look for exact parallels in my life or in the lives of people I know. Virtually everything I’ve ever written has been fiction. But it will include pieces of things I’ve experienced or people I’ve known. For instance, the character of “The old man” in “The Evening Train to Jackson” is based in part on my father and on other people I knew as a child. But neither my father nor those others committed suicide. So if you read the story and thought you knew my father, you’d be mistaken. There was much more to him than “the old man’s” demeanor as presented.
7. What books/authors have most influenced your life?
Ha! There’s not enough space to answer this. Tolkien, Poe, Moorcock, and C.S. Lewis all strongly influenced my imagination in my teen years. Dickens and Vonnegut informed my social conscience. The King James Bible, with all of its grandiose Elizabethan language, had an influence. As for influence on my writing itself, I would have to credit Mark Twain, O. Henry, Ray Bradbury, and Raymond Chandler most of all.
8. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would like to have learned Raymond Chandler’s process – but from what I know of him I doubt we would have gotten along very well. So I suppose I would say Ray Bradbury. In a way Bradbury has been a mentor to me via his book, Zen In the Art of Writing. I highly recommend reading it to any and every person who wants to write.
9. What are your current projects?
I am collaborating on a novel with fellow writer Gregory Purvis. It’s about survival in a post-apocalyptic America. In spite of the genre being action oriented, it is a very character driven story so far. I have high hopes that we can finish it this year.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Be kind to one another. Do unto others as you would have done to you. Find a spiritual center. Seek God, not religion. If any of that sounds ridiculous, you probably shouldn’t be reading my stuff. Oh, and have a nice day. J