Although lately I seem to be buried under my TBR (to be read) pile, that is one of life’s problems I will gladly take. Especially if it means I get to make more friends!
Kidding aside, it is very therapeutic for me. I learned early on, [in] fourth grade, that I was able to construct stories and tell them in my own way, with my own words. People liked what I was able to do, so I started doing it more and more. The more my mind raced, the more I tried to keep up with it on the paper.
The therapy comes along when I want to explore a topic and see it from all sides. I am a curious person and if something isn’t making sense to me, I want to put the research in and see as many sides as I can. The more I can do that, the more I can be at peace with myself.
I sort of just alluded to it. Research. I’m not sure enough writers out there are doing enough research sometimes. I think you have to. To bring these characters to life, you need to know as much about them and their world as possible. Since you are only one person and you have only had your own experiences, it is awesome to research all of these characters and fill in their biographies with the research I do. It’s so fun to learn. Who wouldn’t want to know more about anything?
I have a whiteboard in my office that gets filled up when I am working on a project. I keep track of characters’ ticks, phrases, living arrangements, dates – anything that can ensure consistency throughout the entire story.
My routine when I write is to put on an album that is in the world of the story, or a mix that would benefit the story and listen to that while I write away. I’m a big burst writer, meaning that I sit down and spew 1,000-2,000 words in an hour and then take a break. If I have the time at home I go through this cycle about four times, but I try to make sure I get that one solid hour every day.
If I’m not in my office writing, you can most likely find me in my basement playing guitar, drums, bass, at the bar (in my basement), or catching up on a show with my wife. I try to spend as much time with the two offspring as well. They can be fun and they can teach you a whole lot about life that you didn’t already know. It’s fascinating what these things can think and dream up. The wonderment in their eyes is enough to get out of bed each day.
You write poetry AND novels. Is it hard to switch between the two?
It’s not hard for me to switch between the formats, since I’ve been doing it for so long. I actually think writing poetry helps my prose. When you write poetry, you are relying on your word choice to paint a picture. And with so few words to create that image or symbolism, it helps when it comes time to sit and write fiction because you can use some of that poetic style in the narration and action.
I do have a different mindset when it comes to my poetry and fiction. My poetry is generally reactionary. That means that whatever particular mood I’m feeling when I sit and write poetry comes across in the tone of the poem. When I write fiction, I usually have a plan that I am working through, and I want the feelings of the characters to come across instead of mine. So, completely different mindsets. With poetry I can be sad or mad or glad and that is okay. Depending on the tone of the fiction, I don’t have that luxury.
First off, thank you! For anyone kind enough out there to have read the book I did put this in my acknowledgements. I will go into a little more depth for this interview. I mentioned before that I like to listen to music while I write. I also just like to listen to music. My house is never quiet. Be it the kids, the television, or me with music in the background.
Back then I was writing more film scripts than prose and this scene got pushed back because of other projects, but I came back to it in 2007 when I sat down to write a novel. Once I penned the first thousand words or so, I knew I wanted to build to this ending. But, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for the concept that I had in my head. It was too heavy for a 26-year-old kid with no job or no kids.
In 2010, with one kid and another on the way, I showed the beginning of the story that I had written to my then neighbor, now close friend, and she told me that she wanted to keep reading. I felt so honored by that sentiment, I sat down and started writing.
I grew up in a religious family, but when I was in middle school there was a falling out with the church we attended and we stopped going. We would go to church several times a week and then all of the sudden, nothing. I went from heavily religious, to heavily secular. When you grow up religious, you are taught that when you pass, you go to heaven. When you have no church, you aren’t taught anything about death. You are left with books and personal thoughts. You must construct the idea of death with whatever science or whatever faith you can. This is what I wanted to explore in the book and this is why I had my main character face a situation where he was told he was going to die. I wanted people to ask the question themselves after reading the book, and, so far, from the people I have had the pleasure of speaking with, have done just that.
What made you choose Pen Name Publishing to publish WLYAL?
A couple of years back, I attended a book signing at the Indianapolis Public Library with my mother-in-law, Betty. There were a couple of dozen authors there, peddling anything from children’s books, to non- fiction, to genre books, to literary fiction, to young adult.
I walked around and played book cover roulette. This is a game that I play when I go to a book store. If a cover takes my attention I grab it and read the synopsis on the back and if I am still intrigued I read the first page. I was doing that and came across this cover that had a bunch of neon cassette tapes. Being a product of the late 80s and early 90s, it grabbed my attention. I picked it up and looked at it and the author asked me what kind of books I liked. I told him cynical books that are realistic. He told me I should love it then (I did).
The author I met is Peter Monn. He wrote The Before Now and After Then. This was one of Pen Name’s first books and I loved that it was an LGBT young adult book. I had just finished the first draft of WLHYAL and was shopping it. I read through Pen Name’s mission statement and fell in love with everything it stands for. I queried Pen Name and they asked for the manuscript and accepted it!
Always write. It’s the cliché answer, but it is so true. There is a reason that so many of us give that advice. The more you write, the better you will be at your craft. In addition to your writing, read. Read, read, read. Read novels. Read non-fiction. Read articles. Read film scripts. Read different genres. The more you read, the more you will find
What is the most important thing you have learned since starting your writing journey?
The most important thing I have learned so far is that I need to keep learning. I need to keep learning how to market myself and my book to get it into peoples’ hands. I need to keep learning to get better at my craft so that I can keep people interested in the words that I have . I need to keep learning how to grow as a person to present my best self to my friends, family, and people I meet. I need to keep learning.
Find him on Social Media!
Here’s a teaser!