We’re at the middle of the third week now. Not much longer to go. Here’s today’s interview. The original posts are found here and here.
I’m a full-time ad designer for a chain of newspapers which publishes in Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia and several other states. I currently live in S.W. Virginia in a remarkably isolated area with my wife Angela and a horse, dog, cat, and several chickens. I’m a native Canadian so I still miss (after almost 8 years!) my daily Tim Horton’s coffee. I actually dream about it.
I first thought myself a writer when I was 10 years old. I’m 55 now, so it’s been awhile. At my former job, I was an ad designer, a columnist, part-time editor, did pagination, and helped set up the plates for printing. Occasionally I’d insert flyers if there was time. So I’m familiar with the business.
Writing, for me, has always been the best means of expression. Novels have always fascinated me… the pacing, the character development, the plotting, the nuances. I see them as journeys and I’m drawing the map. I look for the poetry in language, the shadings and subtleties. I try to avoid the obvious, and I abhor cliches. Lately, my style tends to be non-linear, exploring subjects from different times in their lives… I think it gives a more three-dimensional aspect of the characters. I like the idea that I can shuffle the chapters in my work and it will still work. When I’m not writing, I’m a very boring person, but my wife likes me. She, too, is a writer, a poet, an artist and an awesome person. We’ve been married for 13 years and still enjoy each others company.
Ordinary Handsome is my favorite work and I’m working hard to promote it and get sales moving. It’s about a dying Oklahoma town – Handsome – and the secrets and hardships of a handful of men who live there. It’s primarily about dying and not knowing it… or avoiding it… or denying it. The horrors of becoming a ghost, literally and figuratively. I’m unabashedly proud of it, but I’m terrible at self-promotion.
What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?
I wrote a short humorous story as a class assignment when I was 10 years old. Being a very shy boy, I was overwhelmed when everyone in the classroom stood up and applauded. The story was something about mixing up toothpaste and Brylcreem. I don’t remember the story, but I remember the reaction.
What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?
I love how real a story can become, and how the characters sometimes do such unexpected things. I don’t like the periods between writing projects… that’s when the self-doubts start to creep in.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?
I’m not sure I believe in it. I’m always searching for ideas and always challenging myself. Though I may not be physically writing something, I’m always working on ideas. Sometimes painting yourself into a corner is not a bad thing… you either scrap the idea, or patiently wait it out. A single word can be enough to get me thinking. “Handsome” popped into my head one day. A town. Oklahoma. A ghost town. And then it began. A single word, a color, a quote… it’s all there for the taking if you’re paying attention to what drives the imagination. I don’t believe the imagination can ever be blocked.
What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?
A novel titled “Branchwater”. It started out as a series of vignettes and developed into a full-blown novel. The most challenging part is finding the time to write it. I have a short attention span when I’m writing, and if it’s not working, I toss it. If I don’t stay on top of it, I’m going to lose it. So I always try to find the time.
What supports you in your writing?
My wife’s encouragement. My stubbornness. The fact that I have no other talents I wish to pursue.
What are you currently reading?
“The Grapes of Wrath”. I read it in high school, but really, this is the first time.
Where can our readers find you and your books online?
I’m going to be a brat about it: Ordinary Handsome – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0