Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author?
My first writing adventure began at age eleven after reading an enjoyable adventure story I thought I could write. I learned a lot from trying, including that it was much harder than it seemed. The result was disappointing, but good experience. The inspiration to write kept coming back and each time I wrote another piece I could see my writing improve. Years later, I wrote a full length novel, thinking I would write the most fearless tough guy, but no matter how much I tried to bring the story to life, it fell flat. From that, I learned that for a story to jump off the page, the characters have to have passion. They have to be motivated toward something and to care. Nonchalance is not a workable story element.
After that, I wrote short stories, but kept coming back to novels. Theres something about having the time to develop characters and explore them in action that has been quite satisfying for me. When I got the inspiration for the Rebel series, I first wrote Rebels Divided. Annabelle Scott was one of the co-protagonists and she insisted I write her own story, which became The Rebel Within. The ideas for the Regina Shen series and for Xenogeneic: First Contact had been percolating in my mind for years before they turned into novels. I hope the passion I felt for these stories and for the characters comes through.
Do you write every day?
I try to write every morning, which I find as my most creative time. I get very possessive about my mornings for this reason and feel let down if I get distracted and cant at least contribute something. Unfortunately, last June my older brother suffered two strokes that have left him in a nursing home. Ive had to set aside writing in order to help him relocate and get situated and then to help my mother.
Have you ever rewritten a story because it strayed from your original plan?
Yes. In fact, Ive just rewritten a space/first contact story I wrote a while back which became Xenogeneic: First Contact. I didnt like how the original story turned out. The basic idea was good, but one of the characters kept getting in the way. If it was just a matter of the character taking the story somewhere I hadnt anticipated, that would have been fine, but he was undermining the story itself. It took a while to figure out and accept what I had to do with this character to make the story work.
Did you base your characters off people you know or just let them grow as you wrote?
Inevitably, my characters arise from aspects of people Ive met, read about or conjured up in my mind or as some combination. Sometimes they arise from the situations in which they find themselves. Ive always been around strong women and Im sure their influence rubbed off on Elena Pyetrov (Xenogeneic: First Contact), Regina Shen (from her own series), and on Annabelle Scott (Rebel series). Beyond that, my stories come together in my mind with a what if situation and what type of character might be interesting in that situation. However, there has been no intent to base any of my characters on real people.
As an author, what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore?
What is most enjoyable to me is exploring new ideas and situations with interesting characters, in other words, the creative process. Even my first rewrite is fun in that I get to expand upon my initial thoughts and enrich the story. Editing is definitely a chore. I wish I could do the creative writing and development and telepathically order the draft to clean itself up based on my experience with editing. Part of the problem is each time I read, I come up with more things to change. In fact, sometimes Ill change it one way and upon rereading change it back to what I originally had. It can be frustrating, but its also necessary to make sure the story flows as well as I can make it.
What advice would you offer to people wanting to write or considering giving up?
I believe theres something fundamental in the human spirit and heart to want to communicate stories. Writing is hard work and a solitary activity, but if you have a burning desire to bring a story to life, then you owe it to yourself to give it a try. If youre considering giving up because its hard, ask yourself why you wanted to write in the first place. Often what blocks us is pursuing our writing for the wrong reasons, such as fame, recognition or success. Write because you have a passion to tell stories and it fulfills you on a personal level and then see how it connects to readers.