Article 15 Blog Tour Interview
October 31, 2019
How did your journey as a writer begin? Did you always want to be an author?
Truthfully, I started as a reader—way, way back before I ever thought about being a writer. In elementary school and junior high, I consumed mass quantities of bios, mostly of baseball and football heroes. One book, though, I particularly remember is Sabre Jet Ace about Joseph McConnell, the first jet ace of the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War, who flew F-86s (which my dad worked on at North American Aviation.) I’m pretty sure it eventually pushed me over the edge into becoming a pilot.
Later, when I moved into fiction in high school English classes, it seemed like maybe I could do that, so I took a few “creative” writing courses. But after I flamed out of the Music Conservatory my freshman year of college, I retreated into verse because I wanted to be a better songwriter. I chased that dream for a long while, then escaped to Colorado. And there I started having some ideas for novels that just kept coming and coming.
Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre you write in?
With regards to living authors, definitely Carl Hiaasen is my favorite. I still enjoy his first book, Tourist Season the best. I don’t know if I exactly fit into his Florida-Crazy-Man genre, but I keep giving it my best shot from different parts of the U.S.
What’s the best part of being an author? The worst?
Being done and holding the finished print book in your hands—it just never, ever gets old. There’s really not a worst part as far as the writing goes. What the heck, it’s fun. You’re making stuff up and having a grand old time with it all. I guess when I am absolutely forced to take off my scribbler’s hat and put on my “Author’s” hat and deal with all the promotion and marketing and all the bull crap that comes along with it that is probably the worst part. But that’s not writing.
What are you working on now?
When I finished my very first book, My Brother’s Keeper, I always intended it to be a series following Hawk, a World War II fighter pilot, as he kind of wanders through different aviation based adventures in the years after the war. Well, some shiny new stories and characters kept cropping up and distracting me again, and again and again. I’m finally back to it. This time Hawk finds himself in Congo during the Sixties flying old T-6 Harvard training aircraft, fighting Simba Rebels as part of the civil war. It’s called Jungleland.
Do your characters ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?
There’s a great book called Being Written by Willian Conescu where one of the minor characters conspires against the author to get a bigger part in the story. That’s the way I feel almost all the time. About halfway through the manuscript for In the Black I was floundering around because the book had so many characters and plot upon plot upon plot that I thought, “Gosh, I should get organized or something.” Right at that time I found a picture of a spreadsheet used by Joseph Heller when he wrote Catch-22 and since In the Black was my homage to Yossarian and his gang, I thought. “This is perfect.” So, I did the spreadsheet thing and had everything all laid out perfectly, except…none of the characters cooperated. They were all off on their own doing their own things, despite my best efforts. What could I do except go with the flow? Consequently, I now work without a safety net, which others call an outline.
You’ve written around 10 books… Do you have a favourite?
I feel like I never finish a book so much as I abandon them and leave them to their own devices out in the publishing world. And what ends up happening is that my favorite book is always the one that I’m working on at the time. It’s almost like having a series of affairs, sort of the Stephen Stills thing: “Love the One You’re With.” That being said, when I look back fondly, In the Black and Somethin’ for Nothin’ are really the two that tug at my heartstrings.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have one unpublished novel that will never see the light of day. It was my very first, called The Twilight War. It was an odd combination of John Fowles and…gosh, I don’t even know what the heck else I threw in there. Some stones are best left unturned.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Let’s see…a pitcher, shortstop, and outfielder…a quarterback, wide receiver, or defensive back…a formula one, then an Indy car driver…Sergeant Saunders, Captain Rock Torrey, General Savage…a cop, an F.B.I. Agent, a lawyer, or, once in a while, a robber…an actor…a pilot…a rockstar…Gosh the world was just full of possibilities. And here I ended up scribbling down bald-faced lies.