How did you know you wanted to be an author? It began when I was in the sixth grade. I loved writing stories and I had a teacher (Mrs. Gooch) who encouraged me. My mother also bought me books and took me often to the library–a place that I found magical and magnetic. She often read to me and I could “see” the story unfolding before me. When I could read myself, I began to devour everything I could get my hands on. Reading took me places I could not, as a boy, otherwise go. As I used to tell my journalism students at the University of Illinois, if you want to write well, read well.
What is your advice for aspiring authors? Try to write as much as you can from your own experiences. They are real and uncontrived and if you incorporate those experiences in your fiction, your work will have a truthful ring to it. Beyond that, KEEP AT IT! Don’t let anybody (editors, agents, etc.) discourage you. At the same time, be willing to accept constructive criticism from those who have experience as authors, editors, agents, etc. Notice I said CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Some people criticize just to be criticizing–or to be malicious. You must believe in yourself, your work, your vision, and your story. If you don’t, who will?
Do you have any writing rituals or practices?I have taken over the upstairs bonus room in our house. It is about 500 square feet. In it, I have my rather prodigious library, a good sound system for playing classical music, a large screen TV for watching sports, the Discovery, History, and National Geographic channels when I need a break from writing. My window looks out onto a plant and boulder-strewn foothill that rises in front of my house. Another window looks down onto the Temecula valley some 2,000 feet below. It is quiet and soothing. Couldn’t have a better place to write.
I like to listen to music when I write. Most often, I listen to Mozart, Haydn, Telemann, William Boyce, and Beethoven. Classical music, played softly, is inspirational and helps me think. However, I also like the jazz of Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, The Modern Jazz Quartet, George Shearing, etc. and I will on occasion switch from classical to that.
What message to you want readers to remember?Most authors LOVE to hear from readers. We are always interested in what readers like or don’t like about a book, its story, its characters, etc. So don’t be shy and contact us. Most of us have websites or email accounts and are easily accessible.
How can fans get in contact with you?There are many ways to contact me.