Q & A

Q: Which is more important to you, writing or playing music?

Each of them is a tempting distraction from the other. That may explain why I haven’t written more novels. I’ve always envied people who have a single-minded obsession with just one form of creativity.

Q: What inspired the Leafstone story?

It struck me that so many wonderful epic fantasy tales are stuck in an eternal Medieval twilight. The men brandish swords, the peasants drive ox-carts, and everybody drinks ale. A thousand years can go by, empires rising and falling, and yet the culture and technology remain frozen. I fell to wondering what a classic fantasy world, complete with wizards and dragons, would look like if history lurched into motion. Elves traveling in a railroad train? Why not? While imagining such a world (this was a few years ago), I was also watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just to be clear, Kyura is not Buffy, her friend Meery is not Willow, Spindler is not Xander, Alixia is not Cordelia, Arik is not Angel, and Otano is not Giles! Also, no vampires. But they’re an unlikely ensemble of ill-prepared teenagers whose hope is to vanquish an ancient evil and if possible have a little fun along the way. What more could anybody ask?

Q: What word processor do you use?

For fiction, I use Scrivener. It’s amazing. For the interior design of my paperbacks, I use Adobe InDesign.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

There are so many! Dickens would be near the top of the list. Often it’s a single book that I admire; I may not have read the author’s entire oeuvre. Titus Groan, for instance, or A Room with a View. I read a lot of mysteries (Ross MacDonald, Rex Stout, Donald Westlake, Carl Hiaasen). In the fantasy realm, Terry Pratchett, Tim Powers, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Tad Williams, among others. Should I list Kurt Vonnegut? Sure, why not?

Q: Any upcoming projects?

Yes, of course. If I’m not able to find an agent to market my story of murder in ancient Rome (While Caesar Sang of Hercules), I’ll self-publish it. You’ll enjoy meeting Gaius and Licinia, that’s a promise. I also have a hybrid YA mystery/fantasy called Substitute Girl that still needs some revisions. There will be a short story collection, as soon as I get around to it. And I’m contemplating a floor-to-ceiling rewrite of my first novel, Walk the Moons Road. Any of the novels may have a sequel, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

Q: What advice do you have for an aspiring young author?

It’s harder than you think it is. Most of the fiction I read by aspiring authors is, to be blunt, not good at all. The trouble is, most aspiring authors don’t want to hear that. They don’t actually want to learn what’s wrong with their writing so they can get better; they want you to tell them that their work is brilliant just the way it is. Unless you’re willing to take your beloved novel-length manuscript and pick it apart sentence by sentence and scene by scene, essentially tossing it into the meat grinder and starting over (without, of course, deleting any files — never delete your old files!), you’re not ready for publication. It’s a harsh reality, but if swallowing this bitter pill turns you, in the end, into a better writer, I’ll have accomplished something by being honest about it.