Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As I approached retirement age, I looked for a way to supplement my social security income. Since I have my B.A. and M.A.T. in English and my MBA studies, I decided to go into the business of writing novels. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with my characters and with the process. Now, I’d keep writing even if I never sold another novel.
I considered myself a writer from the time I made my decision to write. I considered myself an author when I got my first manuscript done.
Published author came ten years later. I spent many of those years studying the craft of writing so that I can produce the best possible story to enchant a reader.
Q: What is the best part of the writing process for you?
I enjoy editing. As I peal off excess words, I feel like a sculptor who chips away stone to get to the image inside. Or, in my case, the story inside.
Q: The worst part?
Facing a blank page is the hardest.
The decision on where to start the novel is crucial to the novel’s success. Capturing a reader’s attention with the first words on the page requires refining the thoughts by choosing or eliminating possibilities. It takes a significant amount of decision making to begin a novel. Our choices affect everything that follows.
Q: What comes first, plot or characters?
I write in historical settings. I choose my setting/time period first. I ask myself: What story problem can arise because of this time and place? Then I ask what type of character(s) is best suited to resolve the story question? From there I create at least five major crises the character(s) must face. Those crisis points are the story plot. As you can see, the plot comes last.
Q: Your biggest piece of advice to aspiring novelists?
Never give up. Stay optimistic.
When I speak to readers, I often have people come up to me and say that I’m an inspiration to them because I chose to change the direction of my life as I approached retirement. I stayed with the new direction until I succeeded by being published. I gave them hope to follow through on their dreams and not let age or a need to retrain themselves hold them back.
Out of all this journey, I learned to stay true to myself, stay focused on my goal and keep walking step by step toward that goal.
Q: What surprised you the most when you became published?
I was surprised by how I suddenly became an expert on writing and marketing a novel. I knew the same amount of information on the day before publication, but afterward people in audiences looked to me as an expert to give them guidance on writing and marketing their own books.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?
I’m an example of never giving up on your dream. I’m a senior citizen who plans to write novels for the next 15-20 years.
When I decided I wanted to use my education to become an author to supplement my social security and keep me active and alive after retiring as a database administrator, I had a ten-year plan. My employer unexpectedly went out of business in 2003 in the aftermath of the dot.com bust. I suddenly found myself without a job and in early retirement. I could have decided that my world had fallen apart and why bother, but I stuck to my dream and accelerated my writing process.
Uncannily, it ended up being the ten years of writing that I envisioned. I sold OUT OF THE DARK and MATILDA’S SONG to Samhain Publishing, Ltd. These novels are e-released and will be in print in bookstores in 2009.
My most recent excitement as an author was to find I am being sold in Britain by Libresco (iliad e-book reader) for ?2.25, and by Amazon-UK and FantasticFiction.co.uk. I wonder what the British will have to say about an American writing novels set in 1120 A.D. England!