Guys! Can you believe it’s March?! I feel like I have been waiting for this month FOREVER. I’ve got some pretty exciting stuff happening this month, (including my cover reveal for The Wanderland Chronicles TONIGHT), and I have to say I am one happy panda!
BUT before I get TOO carried away, today ALSO happens to be the first Friday of the month, and you know what that means…
Yep! A new Author Radar!
This month’s author is another PenName Publishing author whose name seems to come up in our team conversations all the time as someone to ask for information, advice, or great song recommendations. Basically, he’s our team go-to, so I was super excited when he agreed to let me feature him and share his wisdom with you all. So, I shall let him get to it! Ladies and gents, I give you, Ralph Pullins.
When did you start writing?
I have always been a writer in one form or another, but I started writing novels about three years ago. I was unexpectedly fired from what I had assumed, up until that point, would be my last job. I decided that I didn’t want the unemployed time to be wasted and so I worked on doing all the things that I had been putting off because the job had been so demanding, which included finishing my novel. And after that, I realized that it was possible, that if you just keep plowing forward you will eventually finish, and so I decided at that point that I would write a book a year for ten years. So far I am on track to meet that goal.
Who inspires your writing? Why?
Other writers. Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palahiniuk, Kurt Vonnegut. Inspiration comes from so many sources; my kids were bugging me to write something that they could read, so I wrote a middle grade book. My second novel Flagg was inspired by a pen and paper RPG I played with friends a bazillion years ago. I never really know what my yearly project is going to be in January, I just cast around and see what happens.
Do you have a writing ritual? What is it?
I try to write on my lunch hour at my pay job, and in the evening. I generally put on headphones, and some big non-lyrical beats and just pound on the keys for a while. Some people seem to think that writing is a magical talent or something, when really it is work just like anything else worth doing. It is fun and rewarding and disappointing and awesome and terrible all at once, but mostly you have to be willing to put in the work first.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t writing?
I have a wife and two kids, so most of my time when I am not working is filled with family or family related stuff. Time that isn’t filled for me, I fill with video games or movies, I watch football, play a little guitar, ride my bicycle, nothing really extraordinary.
Are you working on anything new right now? Care to give us a peek?
I just started a new novel, a sequel to Flagg. It is great to have a pre-made world and characters to work with so all the brain dump stuff is already out of the way. It is a supernatural horror thriller thing, fun and action-y and bloody as hell. Good times, and a lot of fun to write.
I hear you’re a bit of a music buff. What’s your favorite writing music?
Writing music is confined to instrumental music, or electronic, stuff that doesn’t have words. I made a playlist, mostly SBCR and The Bloody Beetroots, big loud beats that I am very familiar with that can block out the noise of the world, and let me tune out so I don’t get in my own way. For regular life I listen to a lot of Punk, a very selective amount of Hip-Hop, and I occasionally dabble in Americana, on a blue moon.
Have you ever ‘killed off an enemy’ in your writing?
I actually asked Dori Dupre if she would mind if I killed off one of her characters that I found so repellent, and she said I could, so Brother Doug from Scout’s Honor is going to get thrown bin to a wood chipper, or maybe eaten by something horrible in the new book. I generally do my best to not blend too much with reality, just because I think it breaks the suspension of disbelief if there is someone too recognizable in there. I have a 50,000 word work that I have basically abandoned because it is too close to reality.
Where did you get your idea for Antiartists?
Antiartists arrived as a whole story; I wondered what if there was a flaw in the marble of the David? What kind of a person would try to destroy it, if they knew about it? I remember I was driving home from work and the whole story built itself before I arrived. I got home and wrote an outline for it, and completely abandoned what I was working on at the time. I have always been interested in the willful destruction of things. I live near Detroit, and went to school in Midtown, and every day I would see all these buildings, burnt down or with all the windows broken out, and I wondered what is that impulse, to just break things for no reason? I sometimes feel it too, I am not excluding myself at all, it is just curious to me, and so I went for it.
What is one thing you wish people knew about you as an author?
I wish people knew that not just myself, but pretty much every author I have ever heard address the subject, we are all pretty much just going to it with no maps or guidelines, and there is no formula for success, and there is no writing tip that will change you from a wanna-be to a real writer. All of us, we just sit down and we write. And there is no such thing as a “real” writer, there is just people that write, and people that don’t. If you write stuff, you are a real writer. I wish it were different, that you got a certificate or something, but there isn’t. Wait, what if there is, and I just haven’t made it yet? Better keep going, I guess. I want that certificate.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read a lot and write a lot. This is the only piece of advice that any writer needs, ever. There are tricks and tools and entire books that have been written: “Finish your Novel in Thirty Days,” or “Write a Bestseller Today,” or whatever, but first of all, if you know how to do it why haven’t you done it yourself, and secondly, how many people have done what you said, and how many of them are bestsellers? My advice for writers is stop reading advice and start writing. You don’t need a permission slip, there are no forms to fill out, just sit down and start pounding the keys, like the rest of us do. This is the real key: if you keep at it, you will eventually finish. You have to finish the thing or nobody, even your family and friends, will want to read it. Who wants to read an unfinished story? When you’re done, find a couple of people you trust, that you know are smart and who you are able to listen to if they have something to say, and have them read it. Listen to them, but remember it is your story; you don’t have to do anything they say. A little arrogance helps with the inevitable rejection. There’s a ton of advice-y stuff out there but the main thing, the most important thing is to pick up the pen, pound the keys, get started and finish. Professionals finish.
Want to know more about Ralph? Connect with him on Social Media!
Can’t wait to get your hands on Antiartists?
Buy it HERE
Want to hear more of Ralph’s thoughts on writing (along with some other pretty great authors? And lil’ ol me!)?
Check out this Author Roundtable put on by Pen Name Publishing!