LF: Please introduce yourself
So I am a near 40-year-old poet/independent writer from outside Chicago, USA. I am a husband, and I am a father of a dinosaur obsessed boy who both tolerate this love of writing that I have.
I’ve been writing since I was in my early teens and I only decided finally to really push to putting my work out there a few years ago.
In the daytime, I am a chemist who makes polyurethane foam that goes into mattresses and furniture.
LF: You have a few books under your belt. Can you tell us about them?
Absolutely! There’s “The Good Teacher” which is the second book I ever wrote (the first may see the light of day after some heavy revising), and it was my first attempt at a psychological thriller. Unlike my later writings, it’s a little more risque, a little dirtier, and a lot rougher around the edges. It follows Peter and his involvement with both his best friend’s girlfriend and one of his students. It is from Peter’s POV. I wrote it in such a way that the reader may find it difficult to trust that what Peter is telling them.
Three of my other books are a part of my Gravity saga, a space opera following a number of characters, but mainly Haden and Adrianna, two former lovers that were thrust back together after the supposed death of Haden seven years earlier. It follows their struggle to stay together as our solar system edges closer to war.
There’s part 1 for Of Earth and Ice, a scifi dystopia following a young girl belonging to the lowest caste of a city-state formed under an ice shelf long after Earth froze over. She finds herself disabled after a battle she was involved in as an officer in her city’s militia, and it will follow her struggle to be viable when I finally put out the other 4 parts. In total, it’s a big project and stands at over 150,000 words.
I have two short stories, one you were gracious enough to review and also a collection of poetry.
And finally, there’s my attempt at a YA supernatural action-adventure, The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle. It follows Agnes as she tries to survive being hunted by demons and others after her parents are killed, while learning to deal with a new master to teach her her destiny as a Sentry, one of the soldiers tasked to guard the barriers between the mortal realm and the spirit worlds.
LF: Self-published vs traditionally published. Why did you go the route you did?
When I was younger, I really wanted to be published traditionally. It was a dream to be a big, super successful writer the likes of Stephen King, or Michael Chricton, or [pick a famous writer]. As I researched and looked more into it, I started to become annoyed at the corporate machine that was the publishing industry. I call it more of my being stubborn than anything else really. I wanted full control over my creative process, and what being traditionally published meant at the time was my work being owned by someone else. Sure, there were great benefits to that, but it ultimately didn’t sit with me.
When the self-publishing craze took off, I saw an opportunity to suck at writing at my own pace. I could be responsible for every aspect of the journey and really learn about the craft and how to make a book. My work could be available to anyone willing to take a chance on me without having to pass through some gatekeeper at the big corporations. And I could write as much or as little as I wanted about anything I wanted without someone telling me what to do.
Now, I certainly have to work A LOT harder than I have been on marketing and other things to gain some success going the self-published route, but I find it much more enriching and more rewarding to take the ownership than to hand it off to a publisher.
I figure that whether I am successful or not, I can be proud of what I do so long as I always look to improve over what I wrote yesterday.
LF: How hard do you think it is, to get yourself out there and meeting new readers?
This has been one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. I’m an introvert and have been fighting with social anxiety my entire life, so the prospect of getting out there, talking to people, and selling not only my books, but myself, has been especially trying on me. Honestly, I’ve been good at hiding it, but my #1 response to talking to anyone in person is to run and hide. I have to fight against that, even when I am really excited about something I am writing or a story I am mapping out. Even as you interview me, there’s a part of me that wants to just sneak away, to pretend nothing is going on. It’s a constant battle, because I want to meet new readers. I want to find people that would enjoy my stories, even to share some of the stories I enjoyed with them.
So finding readers for me is difficult. I know there are plenty of people, like you, that are out there and willing to take a chance on an unknown writer like me, plenty of people that are big readers, I only have to find a good way to sell myself.
I’ve been getting better at it, but it takes a ton of effort and a bunch of learning as I go.
LF: What are you currently working on?
As far as actively writing, I am working on the first of a few sequels to The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle. I am almost 60,000 words in so far and have a long way to go. Agnes is going through an even tougher time in this go around as I am also starting to develop her more as a character than I did in the first book.
I have 2 more sequels to my Gravity saga being reviewed. Following more of the aftermath of Haden and Adrianna’s encounter after book 2, these two are seeing the solar system start the plunge into war.
Of Earth and Ice parts 2 to 5 are all being reviewed, and like I said before, it is a massive project and needs a bunch of work before I continue releasing.
I wrote a middle-grade story about a bird trying to compete in a great race that I need edited. I have an outdoor adventure novelette that was a fun experiment and I am shooting to have out in time for the holidays called Antlers. I have a fan-fiction Harry Potter story I’ve been tinkering with as my answer to The Cursed Child (which I wasso disappointed in) that I’ve thought about releasing on my website as I finish pieces of it. Then there are nearly a dozen stories I have in the planning stages, waiting to be written, from scifi to literary fiction.
LF: Anything else you would like to add?
For readers, I always want to encourage everyone to step outside of their comfort zone. Read stories that you wouldn’t typically read. Read from writers you would never have normally even considered. There are a lot of great stories hiding in places that you’d never guess.
For writers, always be willing to learn. Don’t be afraid to take chances with your writing. Granted, all this is coming from a guy who still hasn’t found financial success with my writing, but I think it’s way more important to be happy with what we are writing than the sales dollars attached to the books we have for sale.