How did you know you wanted to be an author?: Storytelling/writing/music has been my life-long journey of exploration and learning—learning about humanity at its very core and about myself. Being a storyteller is a gift and some might say a curse, as there is never a day that goes by that I do not find myself wanting to, needing to—write.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?: I have been fortunate to meet a few people in the business who offered some sage advice which I apply in my writing. Norman Jewison, a Canadian film director, told me, “Harold, just keep writing.” I do write—daily, some days I write a lot, other days I write very little. Some days it is a real struggle, other days the words just flow. Some days I write garbage, some days I don’t. One thing I know for certain is that I will sit down and write or type something every day. Don’t be afraid of honest feedback, brutally honest feedback is better, it’s the only way to improve a story and improve as a writer. Robert McKee told me that writer’s block might just mean that I have not done enough research in preparing to tell a story. Research that is rich in the right kind of detail gives a writer a lot to work with, and the challenge then becomes whittling down and selecting only the relevant details and determining the order of revealing them.
Do you have any writing rituals or practices?: When I first started writing, the results-driven part of me wanted to know how long it would take to write a screenplay or a novel. I would ask other writers how long it took them, trying to apply it to my creative endeavors. I have written stories in as little as two-three months, and on the other end of the spectrum have taken up to two years. Now, I realize that the creative process takes as long as it takes to complete a story. With each story I write, my process continues to evolve. Usually I have a germ of an idea that bounces around in my head for a period of time. If it continues to resonate with me I start jotting down thoughts about what the story might be. If it still is resonating perhaps a few months or even years later, I start to flesh out the idea and begin more serious research. I usually find that some aspect of the idea links back to a desire to grow as a person and increase my knowledge about the subject. The writing process for me is also a learning process about myself and the world around me. I find that as the research process continues, I continually fight the temptation to jump in and begin writing the story. I usually try to outline at least the major aspects of what the story is, or is becoming, and once I have a solid sense of the major pieces of the story, I begin to write the story. Writing a story always provides some real surprises and new insights which add layers to the story.
What message do you want readers to remember?: Story is life well told! As a writer I want to tell stories that entertain, but are also cerebral, tug at a person’s heartstrings and truly shake them to their very core. For me, it is not so much about what I have to say on a subject—it’s what it causes the reader to feel deep down inside. If a story evokes a strong response, if a character pulls the reader in, if it causes a reader to pause and reflect on life, and perhaps talk about their emotional experience, that is the greatest reward I could ever receive—I will have succeeded as a writer.
How can fans get in contact with you?: Through my websites.