Author Confessions, Day Twenty-Eight

Who do you ‘channel’ when you write?

Usually, it is me – either something from my past or just one or more of the facets of my personality. Other times I think inspiration hits based on either what I am going through at that moment, or by a song, or sometimes even just seeing an Open Submissions call for a themed anthology. We all have had different life experiences. Most of us have been in love, have been hurt, have hurt others. These experiences are what I channel most.

The Last Ride is straight from my past – so much that I consider that story to be Creative Nonfiction – all the events are nonfiction (to the best of my recollection), but the canine POV is clearly fictional.Thankful is also based on my past working in retail decades ago. Waves is based on my late Grandfather’s past.

Only the Dead Go Free and Endless Skies are both inspired by songs. Only the Dead Go Free was further spurred by an Open Submission Call for an anthology called A Haunting of Words, and Endless Skies by an Open Submissions Call for a writing contest with parameters which met the theme I already had planned for it.

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Author Confessions, Day Twenty

Do you have writing pals or do you ride solo?

It really depends on the story. In general, I write solo, and after I have revised enough so that either I am happy with it or just plain tired of looking at it, I turn it over to my Beta Reader team. I gather feedback from them, and if I agree with their suggestions (or the majority feel strongly one way) I make adjustments accordingly.

In some cases, I employ a few Alpha readers earlier in the process. I did this with Only the Dead Go Free as I wrote it with a particular themed anthology in mind, and I wanted to ensure it met the requirements. It’s also my first completed horror, so I checked with a few experts early on to make sure I was on the right track.

While most of my works will be just by me, I do have a few WIPs in which I am collaborating with other writers:

  1. My first planned novel, Ursa Major, will have a ‘crossover’ scene with a novel fellow Scribe Lauren Nalls is working on. We were talking about our stories and discovered we both have a scene in them which takes place in 1983 Big Bear, California. We decided that in both novels the MCs would meet the MCs of the other novel.
  2. My eldest daughter and I are working on a coming-of-age superhero novella together. This will be targeted at middle-school age kids and is the closest thing to a Children’s book in my queue.
  3. I am working on a biography of my lifelong friend with him. This story chronicles the physical, legal, emotional, and societal injuries he sustained from a horrible accident, and how he has been recovering from them.

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Author Confessions, Day Eighteen

What is your favorite quote from Only the Dead Go Free?

Without giving away any spoilers or getting too graphic, it might have to be this:

“Questions bubble up like water-borne carcasses until I hear his final words thunder in my head. “Only the dead go free” he had said, right before he–”

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Author Confessions, Day Fifteen

Tell a secret about your WIP.

Only the Dead Go Free is based on a song of the same name by the rock band Transpose. Many of the scenes are based on the lyrics in that song.  You can hear the song here.

Bonus secret – although it never explicitly states it, the story takes place just outside a small California mountain town, mostly in 1975.

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Author Confessions, Day Ten

What do you like best about your writing?

I know I still have a lot to learn about writing. I think my strong point is my ability to describe, to paint a picture. Depending on the scene, this may be something beautiful, funny, sorrowful, or in the case of Only the Dead Go Free, disturbing.

Personally, what I like best about my writing is the creative release it gives me and knowing that I have entertained a reader (if I’ve done my job).

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Author Confessions, Day Nine

How do you choose character names?

This really varies per story. The most important factor is making sure the names are appropriate for the culture, language, and time period of the story world in which they reside.

Probably half of my stories are set in contemporary time periods within the USA so most names will work. In those cases, I will often use the names of people who’ve helped me out in the writing career thus far, unless of course the character is evil or dies in some horrible way. For Only the Dead Go Free, I chose the two of the three names somewhat randomly

For Only the Dead Go Free, I chose the two of the three names somewhat randomly. I wanted a 1970s, rough feel for the antagonist, and Earl works well. Fiona is really the only innocent in the story, I chose her name simply because it is a beautiful one to me and not the name of anyone I personally know very well. Wendy was a little more deliberate. I wanted a name that might subconsciously resonate with the reader and possibly evoke both a sense of fear and addiction. The name Wendy was not only used for the wife and mother in The Shining but also for the heavily drug-addicted prostitute in Breaking Bad.

Roar is set in 1920s Louisiana, and the main set of characters are in a traveling carnival. A lot of research was done to ensure the names fit with that. There is also a sideshow called The World’s Largest Lion, and his name is, of course, Tiny. The same is done with any story I have that takes place in or has a character from another country or time on the ‘real’ Earth.

In my upcoming short The Snow Bride, the story world is a fantasy one, and the native tongue in this frigid landscape is based on Mongolian, so the names are Mongolian.

Similarly, in my novel series Destiny Reborn, a small group of travelers travels across 5 different continents, getting exposed to 30+ cultures. The group is constantly changing as some of them leave or die as others join. The names of these characters are based on the language spoken by their culture.

Since it is Friday, I am going to nominate another author for Authot Confessions – the very talented and prolific Kari Holloway. I’ve read quite a bit of Kari’s work, and she is another author you really want to follow!

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