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Archive for November, 2019

Dr. Richard has been involved in the field of Photonics for over 30 years. He received his BA in physics (honors) from the University of California Fullerton. He was in a full scholarship PhD program in physics at the University of California Irvine and a PhD program in philosophy at Claremont Graduate School. Dr. Richard completed his two dissertations (involving human interpretations of laser and electro-optical images) while under top secret clearance. He also has an advanced placement teaching credential, an advanced certification (from the University of Wisconsin) in laser and optical design; and other advanced certifications in fiber optics, computer programming, technology business development, financial products, dance, anatomy and physiology.

website & social links

WEBSITE → https://www.tetrastatum.com

TWITTERhttps://twitter.com/DrRichard_ISTAR

FACEBOOK → https://www.facebook.com/istarsfx

Would you call yourself a born writer?

 

Absolutely. I started writing advanced technology scripts for various industries 30 years ago.

What was your inspiration for Tetrastatum?

To create a new model of movie media that takes people to a more advanced mind set of viewing their own reality.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

My creative, academic skills and advanced technology skill set make it easy for me to write books in a short window of time —

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I think and create 24/7.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I wanted to incorporate a novel with a new form of image time travel that will help people better take charge of their understanding or reality and how to control their destiny. It can be done, with my model, for any media.

What do you love most about being an author?

To see people stimulated about there ability to understand their power.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

Tetrastatum was a self-published book, but there are infinite other publication and lecture platforms for this kind of work.

About the Book

In their debut novel TETRASTATUM, authors Dr. Richard and Tim Smith combine heady concepts about the universe with a thrilling science fiction story about the search for a new kind of time travel. The result is a stunning mixture of dense cosmology and old-fashioned storytelling that will appeal to a wide readership, from science professionals to lay fans of science fiction.

Dr. Richard” and “Tim Smith” are the pseudonyms of Dr. Richard Connor and Marcus Rodriguez, respectively.

TETRASTATUM (‘the fourth state’) is the culmination of my 30 years working in the field of photonics,” Dr. Richard says. “I am an avid reader of sci-fi, and I wanted to create a new type of work that is both educational and entertaining in the genre. TETRASTATUM gives the reader a unique understanding of the existing laws of physics and extends them to provoke further thought from novice readers as well as advanced experts in the field.”

Kirkus Reviews notes that “authors Dr. Richard and Smith … tell their cerebral story with a heady mix of dense theory and absurdist humor.”

The Independent Review of Books declares:  “TETRASTATUM is like nothing you have ever read before. This is an impressive work of science fiction …”

The San Francisco Book Review adds that, “These recurring themes of characterization and distortion feed into the concern that is being voiced over the current state of our political climate…The layering of these themes is ultimately what gives TETRASTATUM a relevance that will keep readers turning pages and asking questions.”

“The book ultimately explains how human perceptions alter the future and puts forth a model based on quantum physics to explain ‘reality’,” Dr. Richard continues.  He calls science fiction “the perfect genre to explore socio-political ideas within the context of futuristic technologies and scientific theories.”

Dr. Richard and Smith are currently working with Norith Soth on adapting TETRASTATUM into a screenplay. Mr. Soth has penned work for Justin Lin (“Fast and Furious”), Stephen Chin (“War Dogs”), and Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead”).

order your copy below

Amazon → https://tinyurl.com/y6tlmpbj

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TG Wolff writes thrillers and mysteries that play within the gray area between good and bad, right and wrong. Cause and effect drive the stories, drawing from 20+ years’ experience in Civil Engineering, where “cause” is more often a symptom of a bigger, more challenging problem. Diverse characters mirror the complexities of real life and real people, balanced with a healthy dose of entertainment. TG Wolff holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

★ WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS: ★

Website → www.tgwolff.com

Twitter → @tg_wolff

Facebook → www.Facebook.com/tina.wolff.125

BOOK BLURB:

One night in Rome. One car. One dead scientist. Italian police investigate, but in the end, all they have are kind words for the new widow. Months later, a video emerges challenging the facts. Had he stepped into traffic, or was he pushed? The widow returns to the police, where there are more kind words but no answers. Exit the widow.

Enter Diamond. One name for a woman with one purpose. Resurrecting her CIA cover, she follows the shaky video down the rabbit hole. Her widow’s run unearths a plethora of suspects:  the small-time crook, the mule-loving rancher, the lady in waiting, the Russian bookseller, the soon-to-be priest. Following the stink greed leaves in its wake reveals big lies and ugly truths. Murder is filthy business. Good thing Diamond likes playing dirty.

“TG Wolff’s novel is for crime-fiction fans who like it action-packed and hard-edged. Written with feisty panache, it introduces Diamond, one of the most aggressive, ill-tempered, and wholly irresistible heroines to ever swagger across the page.” –David Housewright, Edgar Award-winning author of Dead Man’s Mistress

★★★★★ORDER YOUR COPY★★★★★

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2NgYhGg

 

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I call myself a born puzzler. I live to wonder, figure, solve, and twist things around. When someone reads my stories, they are seeing the end result of combining these. Words are one of my favorite mediums because you can do so much with them. Long stories, short stories, poetry, anagrams, histograms, crosswords, etc., etc., I also enjoy playing with numbers, shapes, and music.

What was your inspiration for WIDOW’S RUN?

A while back, I had heard a discussion on NPR about the classic private investigator detectives. It argued that one common characteristics, thr one that made them who they were, was having nothing to lose. No family to protect. No reputation to preserve. None of the bright spots of life that keep most of us on the straight and narrow. The concept struck me as freeing. I wanted to create that kind of character and see what kind of trouble we could get in to together.

Thus, Diamond was born. As WIDOW’S RUN is an origin story, it was a natural for her first case to be the one that made her who she is: solving her husband’s death. With no concern for consequences, wicked skills, and suicidal tendencies, I had a detective who ate rules for breakfast.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Color me embarrassed: I don’t know. I write for my own entertainment, so I didn’t sit down one day and decide to crank her out. I wrote Diamond as she came. First we toyed with each other, dancing around the structure that would guide us. I wanted short (because I tend to be long). She wanted fast. She wanted to do it alone. I knew she would need help. I wanted something people couldn’t put down. She wanted her husband’s killer. When we sat down to write, it happened fast. It was a few months to the first draft, since I do not write full time. Then came editing—my own, my beta team, and my professional editor. Pencil down was a year or so after I started. Didn’t feel like that long. But then, when you love what you’re doing…

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Disciplined? I am when I need to be. Most of the time, I don’t need to be.

A typical day depends on which day it is. I have two kinds, we’ll call them internal and external. On an internal day, I’ll walk, swim, drive, stare off my back porch like I’ve overdone the meds. On the outside, it doesn’t look like anything special is going on. But inside…oh, inside I’m in my private movie theatre watching scenes unfold, refold, and unfold again but better. Scene by scene, step by step. Who said what? What did her face look like? What did he drop? Was it sunny? Did anyone let the dog out? If I need to research something, I do, but lightly. If I need to try something, I do. Mostly, I daydream. And then it happens: the scene is set.

Time to go external, translating the “movie” into digital letters. This is where I “look” like a writer, sitting still and in front of a keyboard. It can take up to three or four internal days to get to an external one. When I do finally sit, words pour out. My fingers can’t keep up with my brain, so I always have solid days of editing ahead of me. But it’s all good, and after editing, it’s even better.

I don’t set blocks of time or days to write. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to. When the details fall into place, the story writes itself. I just have to keep up.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I said previously how Diamond and I wrangled over the structure of the book. Neither of us wanted something that was a copy of something I’d previously done. This was her story. I purposely constrained myself to let her voice come through. First, the story would be told in under 13 chapters. Second, each chapter was limited to about 5,000 words. Finally, each chapter would have a story arc of its own while moving the main story along. Plotting the mystery was challenging as there was limited room to introduce suspects, reveal clues, and tie up all the ends. I had to be ruthless evaluating the value of scenes. Widow’s Run moves fast, making every word count.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love the “figuring” of the mystery. In order for the reader to have a credible puzzle to solve, all the details need to be developed and then sprinkled about in non-obvious ways. It’s like creating a scavenger hunt or hiding Easter eggs for kids. Playing the game is fun; creating the game is a thrill all its own.

I do love when people say I made them think or made them laugh. You always wonder if someone will connect with what you’ve created. When you write, it’s just you and a keyboard. It’s not like you’re on the Tour de France and people are cheering you along, ensuring you are on the right path. You put yourself out there in a very raw way. The positive feedback helps assure me that I’m not as weird as the voices in my head say I am.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I am with Down & Out Books, who specializes in mysteries and thrillers. I am very happy working with Eric Campbell and Lance Wright. They understand the genre from both a reader and business standpoint, helping inform my stories and make them stronger. I believe in the value of a team. No individual can do everything well. When you have an understanding of your weak points and surround yourself with others who can shore you up, that’s when you get the best possible outcome. I don’t need someone who thinks like me; I got that covered. I need people who challenge me to make what is put in the reader’s hands better. That’s what Down & Out does.

 

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William M. Hayes lives with his beautiful family in a small suburb in New York. His passion for writing became apparent in his twenties, and he dreams of retiring to a secluded beach house where he can write all day.

Website → www.williammhayes.com

Twitter → https://twitter.com/WMHayes_Author

Facebook → https://www.facebook.com/WilliamMHayesAuthor/

Would you call yourself a born writer?  No. I’m a storyteller.

What was your inspiration for Save Him? I needed a sci-fi/military story to fill my portfolio, and Save Him came to me.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? About six months. As for the rewrite, I lost count of the years.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.  I’m a disciplined writer. I write three to four hours a day, six days a week.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book? Just about everything.

What do you love most about being an author? Telling a story.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?  I self published. I was under the impression that traditional publishers don’t take on new clients these days. Do they?

About the Book

 

Rydel Scott, a brilliant scientist working at a secret military lab, accidentally discovers a form of time travel while working on a project designed to save wounded soldiers in the field. Rydel’s sister, a woman of faith, tells Rydel on her deathbed that she has received a message from God. The message—save Jesus Christ from the cross.

And Rydel Scott travels back in time to do just that.

It is believed even the smallest change to the past can cause catastrophic repercussions for future generations. An elite military unit is sent back in time to hunt Rydel down before he can alter history and possibly kill millions in the process.

The unit and its commanding officers, Colonel John Adams and Unit Commander Ray Catlin, become divided. Catlin, a devout Catholic, claims he witnessed a miracle by Jesus upon arrival in Jerusalem and fervently believes in Rydel’s mission. Adams hasn’t believed in God since he was a boy and his only concern is the safety of the people in the present. They must now choose between the fate of Christ and the fate of present-day mankind.

They must decide if they will Save Him.

Order Your Copy below

Amazon → https://tinyurl.com/y3veph29

 Barnes & Noble → https://tinyurl.com/y4rw4sgm

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Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology.  Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.

★ WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS: ★

Website → www.britlunden.com

Blog → https://britlunden.blogspot.com

Twitter → https://twitter.com/BritLunden

Facebook → https://www.facebook.com/britlunden

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I would call myself a born reader. I’ve read books my entire life and they have brought me great pleasure. I always wanted to write and only with the advent of online self-publishing engines has allowed me to fulfil my dream of writing. I didn’t consider myself an author until I started winning awards and recognition. I think I was surprised to be included in this category.

What was your inspiration for “The Devil and Dayna Dalton: The Bulwark Anthology (Book 9)?”

I wrote Bulwark, the first book in the Bulwark anthology, for a group of authors who never wrote any other books in the series. Later, I was approached by a new group of authors who asked if they could use Bulwark in a new anthology. I agreed and the series was born. I wrote this latest book because in the original I felt I had given Dayna Dalton a raw deal. When I read the reviews, I realized readers saw her as cunning and shallow. It made me think about what motivates people’s behavior. Sometimes, if you understand the components of a person’s life, you can sympathize with their actions. “The Devil and Dayna Dalton” is about a woman on fire internally, misunderstood, and under appreciated.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I wrote this story in three days.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am so disciplined, it’s painful. I work full time as the CEO of a global corporation. Writing is something I do when I need to decompress in the evenings. I’m up at six am, at meetings, in the office by 7 am. My assistant works with me all day on the social media that comes from promoting close to one hundred books of assorted authors and genres. Aside from my corporate job, I manage my son, author Michael Okon’s writing career. I leave work in the afternoon, watch reality TV, or do yoga and after I read with my grandchildren on FaceTime, only then do I begin to write. At 6 am the cycle starts again.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The story just flowed. Once I wrote the first line I pretty much didn’t stop until Dayna finished telling me her story. The biggest challenge is always afterwards, finding the appropriate cover, formatting and marketing the book. The story is the easiest part.

What do you love most about being an author?

I am connecting with a diverse and fascinating audience. I love hearing reader’s take-away from my stories. The fact that I’ve entertained, started a conversation, shifted a perception, or even brought comfort is the most rewarding experience.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I have self-published over fifty books. Currently, I am publishing my children’s line with a small press under the name, Carole P. Roman. My children’s books are both fiction and non-fiction. I also self-published a self-help book about the marketing and promotion of books. Finally, as Brit Lunden, I self-publish my adult fiction.

About the Book

Reporter Dayna Dalton’s reputation has been ruined since birth. The daughter of wild child, Becky Dalton, is expected to follow her mother’s footsteps; never given a chance to prove she’s different. Dana’s been in love with Clay Finnes since she was a teenager. Her unrequited love for Sheriff Finnes leaves her empty. He’s happily married and unavailable. Instead, Dayna finds herself stuck in the revolving door of bad relationships. But this is Bulwark, Georgia, a town where strange things are always happening. Dayna is doomed to this loveless life until she can find someone who will appreciate the depth of her character. Can she overcome her fears and look beyond her own perceptions to accept a greater love?

★★★★★ORDER YOUR COPY★★★★★

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2oemkM6  

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After his graduation from Harvard Law School, Michael Bowen worked as a trial lawyer for thirty-nine years before retiring in 2015.  He focused on franchise and distribution disputes, but found time to assist in representing the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team in complex litigation over a proposal to put a maximum security prison across the street from County Stadium, and to represent numerous pro bono clients, including one who had been sentenced to death.  His career in fiction began with the 1987 publication of Can’t Miss, a “gently feminist” (St. Louis Post Dispatch) novel about the first woman to play major league baseball.  It continued through publication of one political satire and nineteen mysteries, culminating in 2019 with False Flag in Autumn, a follow-up to 2016’s Damage Control (“ . . . consistently delightful . . . . Bowen’s ebullient antidote to election season blues . . . . ” Kirkus Reviews).  During his legal career he also wrote numerous published articles on legal and political matters, and co-authored the Wisconsin State Bar treatise on the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (paperback and movie rights still available).  He lives in Fox Point, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, with his wife Sara, who is also a Harvard Law School graduate and a published lecturer on Jane Austen and Angela Thirkel.  www.michaelbowenmysteries.com

False Flag in Autumn

INTERVIEW

Q:      Congratulations on the release of your latest book, False Flag in Autumn.  To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A:      False Flag in Autumn asks why there wasn’t an “October surprise” before the 2018 mid-term elections, and whether there will be one before the presidential election in 2020.  It features Josie Kendall, whose memoirs will not be titled Nancy Drew Goes to Washington, a manipulative Washington apparatchik who is engaging, ambitious, cheerfully cynical, and (as she puts it) not possessed of “an overly delicate conscience.”  A rogue White House aide has tabbed her for the role of unwitting pawn in 2018’s planned October surprise, which leads to her being caught up in the more nefarious scheme planned for 2020.  Knowing that the stakes are high and could quickly get personal, Josie will have to decide whether to keep her head down and pray that the prospective victims die quickly and without too much pain, or to venture outside the Beltway bubble where the weapons are spin, winks, and leaks, into a darker world where the weapons are actual weapons.  She ends up on the side of the angels although, Josie being Josie, these angels play a little dirty.  I decided to write it because, after a lifetime as a reasonably savvy political junkie, I spent 2016 making one wrong prediction after another, and I wanted to see if I could at least imagine something weirder than what was actually going to happen.

Q:  What do you think makes a good political thriller?  Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements?  Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A:      The single most important element of a political thriller is heart.  The protagonist has to care about something – country, cause, ideology – larger than himself or herself, and the reader has to care about the protagonist and at least one of the potential victims.  As Lenin said, “The death of millions is a statistic.  The death of a single human being – that is a tragedy.”

The second indispensable element is believable action.  A punch in the mouth hurts; you don’t just shrug it off.  People don’t exchange snappy patter during fistfights. Most people have no idea of whether they could fire a gun at another human being, and in combat situations they don’t act like robots (or like Hollywood action heroes – but I repeat myself).

high_mbowen

The third critical element is human weakness, shared by the protagonist with other characters.  The protagonist should have at least occasional doubts, make serious mistakes, and perhaps shiver a bit at times when he (or, in this case, she) looks in the mirror.

Q:      How did you go about plotting your story?  Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A:      I firmly believe that plot flows from character.  I had detailed portraits of my main characters in my head before I typed the first word of the story.  Characters being true to themselves will go a long way toward shaping the plot because, after all, the plot is basically what the characters do, and well thought out characters won’t behave randomly.

I had the basic premise in my head before I booted up my computer.  I didn’t prepare a chapter-by-chapter plot outline, but I did work out a reasonably detailed synopsis of the plot in the initially successful pitch that I made to the first publisher I approached.  At the same time, twists and turns inevitably developed, and the plot evolved as I dealt with them.  I think it’s important for writers not to have too much of an ego-investment in their initial conceptions.  You know things that you don’t know you know, and that knowledge will bubble to the surface as you solve basic problems – e.g., after twenty pages of talk, I need an action scene pretty soon – that come up while you’re telling the story.

Q:      Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her.  Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A:      Since Josephine Robideaux Kendall was fifteen years old, she has wanted to work someday on the White House staff; to fly one day on Air Force One, working out talking points for the president to use in discussing a crisis that arose after the plane was in the air.  Her uncle says that her mind, like the rapids on Louisiana rivers, is fast but not deep, and she agrees.  She knows that she is smart but not (yet) wise, and that she is capable of serious moral lapses, but when they occur she confronts them honestly, without kidding herself.  I had developed Josie thoroughly in Damage Control, and in False Flag in Autumn I let her grow from the harrowing experience that she had in the earlier book as a result of her flippancy and misjudgments.

I prepared a sketch of her, but that was mostly for the benefit of the publisher.  I knew who Josie was and would be.  I didn’t do “interviews” with her.  That idea frankly never occurred to me.  On reflection, it would have been fun but I’m not sure it would have moved the ball very much.

Q:      In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain?  What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A:      The key to Hank Sinclair is that he’s book-smart but not gut-smart.  Washington is full of people like that (some of whom have run for president recently).  One of my law partners, who had worked on the staff of a governor and labored in that governor’s effort at a major party convention to get himself put on the ticket as the vice-presidential candidate, told me that the core, single-minded attitude of anyone on any elected official’s staff is “Can do.”  A staffer wants to accomplish whatever the candidate wants, regardless of what it takes, what the risks are, or whether it’s right or wrong.  Put that together with book-smart but not gut-smart and you get Watergate – or Hank Sinclair.  He doesn’t have to be evil.  He simply has to be useful to people who are.

Q:      How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel?  Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A:      The key to excitement is suspense, and the keys to suspense are foreshadowing and investment of the reader in the protagonist (or in whoever is in peril).  Action itself is very useful, but it is secondary to and derivative of suspense.  The reader doesn’t know what’s going to happen, and has to care whether one thing happens rather than another.  Once you’ve accomplished that, you can (as Raymond Chandler put it) have someone walk through the door with a gun in his hand.         It is very important to genuine excitement that action not be arbitrary, that it flow organically from the plot.  You can’t have your protagonist get into a fight just to prove to someone else (the leader of a gang of outlaws or terrorists that he’s trying to infiltrate, for example) that he’s tough or capable.  (That trope, by the way, was a staple of westerns and private-eye TV shows in the 1950’s and 1960’s.)      Finally, action has to conform to character.  Josie Kendall grew up in Louisiana and she knows how to handle firearms, but until she has to find out the hard way she doesn’t know whether she’d be any use in a firefight.  (Neither do I and, odds are, neither do you.)  As she says when considering options in a tight situation, no one will confuse her with Jack Reacher.

Q:      Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself.  What tools of the trade do you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A:      The most important element of convincing setting is concrete detail.  In Vienna, lots of people ride bicycles at night.  In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, streetwalkers don’t ply their trade east of the Milwaukee River.  In Washington, D.C., everyone hates the Metro, locals have an aversion to tourists, and a lot of people who smoke hide their indulgence like eighth-graders sneaking behind the gym because the optics are bad and Washington is a city where people care about optics.  In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a key police force is the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff and his legions of deputies – and people are not particularly shy about smoking.

In a perfect world, an author can get to some facet of the essence of a particular place.  In the American south, generally, there is a sense of history, and in the American Midwest a sense of identification with a particular locale, that would seem alien to someone in, say, New Jersey or California.  In Washington, one such defining element is the perpetual tension between elected officials (especially presidents), who are viewed as transients, and the permanent government (or “deep state,” as some call it these days) that plans to run administrative agencies forever.  How do you figure out what that defining feature is for a particular place?  Three ways:  (1) live and work there for over a year; (2) marry someone from there; or (3) visit there for a while, keeping your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.

Q:      Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something that you discovered after completing the first draft?  Is this theme recurrent in your other work?

A:      I have had the basic themes of my Washington crime stories firmly in mind since I published Washington Deceased some thirty years ago:  Washington is a place where people do things – both good things and evil things – for reasons that would make no sense in (say) San Francisco or Chicago or Atlanta; and where, somehow, for some reason (the genius of the Constitution?  Divine providence?) messy compromises get worked out and the United States muddles through one crisis after another without catastrophe and sometimes in startling triumph.  Somehow a zeitgeist of depraved and sordid cynicism leads to people rising above their limitations and actually shocking themselves by doing what’s right for their country.

Q:      Where does craft end and art begin?  Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A:      Let’s not kid ourselves:  in mystery writing, art and craft are basically the same thing.  We’re telling stories about good and evil, free will and determinism, logic and intuition, causation and randomness.  Such storytelling is an art if it’s done right (that is, in a craftsmanlike way), and it’s a waste of time if it’s not.  It’s an art if it engages the reader, which can be done only by those with a confident command of the craft, and it’s a flop if it doesn’t, no matter what literary pyrotechnics attend it.  G.K. Chesterton wrote that it may be a finer thing to be a lyric poet than to be a wit, but it’s a lot easier to pretend to be a lyric poet than to pretend to be a wit.  The same thing is true of writing mysteries and thrillers:  their art and craft is that they work for readers (or they don’t).  If they don’t, you can tell right away, and you know that neither art nor craft is involved.

In theory, of course is it possible for conformist or mindless or ideology-driven editing to negate the creative brilliance shining through an author’s work.  In over thirty years of publishing fiction, however, I’ve never had a bad editor.  Every editor I’ve ever worked with has done everything he or she could to bring out what was best in my work and to cast aside what detracted from its quality.  Hence, I’m more than a little skeptical about whether this theoretical possibility is ever realized in practice.

Q:      What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A:      That depends on the definition of “successful”.  If a “successful” novelist is one who writes bestsellers, then the three keys are (1) knowledge of the target demographic; (2) willingness and ability to tell a fast-moving story using an eighth-grade vocabulary; and (3) a talent for developing fresh premises to hang those stories on.  If a “successful” novelist is one who gets critical acclaim in high-minded publications, then the three keys are (1) achieving first-hand or at least second-hand contact with the people, mostly in New York, who determine the orientation of those publications; (2) willingness and ability to tell stories that reflect that orientation; and (3) a talent for developing fresh premises to hang those stories on.  If a “successful” novelist is one who writes stories that he or she (and, ideally, others) can still read with pleasure twenty years after those stories were published, then the three keys are (1) an imaginative knack for asking “What if . . . ?” and then following the implications of that question to an emotionally satisfying conclusion; (2) a willingness to pound a keyboard until your brains fall out and a coherent narrative structure has taken shape; and (3) a talent for developing fresh premises to hang the resulting stories on.  Careful readers will notice a theme here.

Q:      A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life.  Thoughts?

A:      I don’t agree.  Homework is something you do, even though you don’t want to, because you don’t have any choice.  Professional writers do have a choice.  Anyone who could be an author could, if nothing else, sell fraudulent securities or successfully manage a house of assignation.

Q:      Are there any resources, books, workshops, or sites about the craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A:      The closest I can come – and it’s not particularly close – is Evelyn Waugh’s memoir A Little Learning.  Beyond that, the truthful answer is no.  I don’t mean to suggest that I’m so good that I couldn’t have benefitted from resources such as these.  I simply mean that I never consulted them.  Because I was practicing law full time, I had to either write fiction during the times when my partners were playing golf, or not write fiction at all.  Studying about how to write better simply wasn’t an option, because even my partners didn’t play that much golf.

Q:      Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A:      Two things.  First, unless you so fervently want to write that nothing I might say could possibly dissuade you, then don’t take up writing as a profession.  Effective fiction should proceed from an urgent inner need that cannot be satisfied except by written expression.  Second, believe in the stories you tell.  There are plenty of successful writers who don’t, and in general they are unhappy people.

 

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