When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I realized that I wanted to be a creative writer as a teenager shortly after reading my first few science fiction adventure paperback novels handed down to me by my brother.
How long does it take you to write a book?
My first book took me several years to write. My second novel took a year. After some success I was motivated to write on nearly a daily basis. Now it generally takes me 6-12 weeks to write a novel.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How much I love my characters. They became so real that I felt compelled to protect them. I might kill them off during the story but I refused to make them simple, random or unpredictable. Each has their own values, fears, desires and motivation.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Though I don't get a chance to connect to my readers as much as I'd like, it is always great to get their feedback. Most talk about how much they love particular characters and hate the villain. I also get a lot of comments about the unpredictable twists and turns in my stories.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me. Once I get on a roll I just keep writing. I have finished the first draft of a manuscript in as little as 3 weeks because of it.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
When I am mentally and physically exhausted from operating my other business, I don't write much. I want my novels to receive the focus they deserve. Also, when I don't feel the creativity flowing in a story, I'll shelve it until I do. It is frustrating, especially when I promise a sequel to be ready soon. But I'd rather put out a quality book than simply crank out installments in a series.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Originality is my primary focus. Reviews of my novels testify to that. However, it is hard to be a successful writer if you don't cater to the desires of your readers. In that regard I try to make sure I give them the right amount of content to balance things out. This includes action, character development, intimate scenes, and so forth. I try not to over explain technology or spend pages on meaningless descriptions. My readers want the story to flow smoothly, so I do my best to deliver a product that they can read in one sitting.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
A couple of my favorite authors took a while for me to really get into their style of writing. These are CJ Cherryh and Brandon Sanderson, and for different reasons. I attempted to read The Way of Kings 7 times before it hooked me. After that, I read everything that the author had published.
At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?
After they have completed their first paragraph of their first story, but only if their mind is full of potential content for the rest of the book. Writing is a joy, an expression of self as much as it is a profession. There is a vulnerability to it. Once you have begun a journey in mind and in written word, you are a writer. Once you have completed a novel or other piece of literary work and received feedback, you are an author.
What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?
Lack of creativity is what it means to me. I never have trouble writing in general. If I don't feel that my current story is going well, I'll stop and start writing something else. I don't have any unfinished books. It is just a matter of time before I go back and give the story the focus and effort that it deserves.
Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
I don't intentionally model characters after people that I know. However, when developing a person in my story I naturally associate qualities and weaknesses that are present in people that I know in real life. It is a requirement if you want to keep your characters realistic. I can see benefits and pitfalls in having a story entity mimic a real person. The biggest benefit would be predictability, but it could also be the biggest problem. Even when writing from a rough outline my stories twist and turn at the will of the characters. I wouldn't want to restrain that by staying a hundred percent true to a real personality.
What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
The plot and the main character come together hand in hand for me. My first successful series wouldn't have gone anything like it did if the main character wasn't well defined and a good hearted and overly shy young man. The rest of the characters tend to spring forth from the story as it goes.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
I consider myself a creative storyteller more so than a wordsmith. If a reader wants to be wowed by an author's vocabulary or eloquent writing style, they shouldn't bother with my novels. My stories speak more to the person that wants to join in the joy and sorrow of genuine characters while riding quickly through a fascinating and unpredictable journey.
How much research did you need to do for your book?
I write sci-fi fantasy, so there is not much required research. However, I do my best to keep things realistic enough within the genre. It can be challenging to do when you have aliens, superheroes and vampires. I would have to say that most of my research is easily handled by Google with queries like: Does the Vega system have any planets?
Tell us more about your book/s?
I'm a What If kind of writer. My very first novel (not my best, so don't bother looking for it) was when I asked myself: What if all the mythological creatures in human history were really shapeshifting aliens mimicking the intelligent life forms on other planets. Another series came from wondering how people would respond once they realized that they had been spending their entire lives buried in a survival silo instead of flying through space on a colony ship? I like to have a familiar base to ground the readers, believable characters, and a story line that never goes as expected.
At heart I am a sci-fi fantasy writer that is eager to tackle many sub-genres. Zeus to Infinity (sci-fi space opera), The Forgotten Colony series (sci-fantasy with time travel, faeries and aliens) and the New Earth Trilogy (post-apocalyptic) are my best works in that regard. However, I first began acquiring a following by writing harem adventure. I felt that there was a hole in that genre that I could successfully fill. If a reader is not the least bit shy about sexual activity in their books, I have 3 series that have quite a following: Dystopian Girls is post-apocalyptic. Island Girls is sci-fi alien contact. Dirty Girls is sci-fi fantasy time travel.
Readers will find in all my novels a male-oriented view of romance integrated in the story. To what degree varies between the different series and individual books. I don't like arrogant, dominant main characters, so you won't find those in my books. Some MCs are shy and clumsy while others are capable but kind hearted.