1.Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start writing? I was born and raised in central California. Fresno is basically a desert—dry and hot in the summers. But as a kid the heat didn’t faze me like it does now. As a kid it was the perfect place to explore and be creative. Across from my house was a field with rows of olive trees. My friends and I would build tree forts in the thick branches and pretend to be spies or travelers from other worlds. If you’ve ever seen the movie Stand By Me—that was my childhood. I think about those times when I need to energize my creative thinking. The young are blessed with a natural ability to be creative. I strive to hold onto that magic!
When I wasn’t playing outside in the scorching heat I was curled up on my Superman bedspread reading fantasy and sci-fi books. The ones that impacted me the most were The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. I was about ten years old when I finished the Hobbit and immediately felt this enormous loss. I missed Middle-Earth. I missed Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf. It was like my best friends had moved away and I’d never get to see them again. That’s when I decided to fill that void by writing my own story. It was very similar to Tolkien’s world only the characters were called Darbies and not Hobbits.
2.Tell me about the books you have written and the most recent ones. How did you come up with the ideas? So far I’ve written two full length novels and a book of short stories. The first novel, The Silver Earth Seed, was definitely inspired by the Narnia series. The idea of a bridge connecting our world to another more fascinating world still excites me today. I infused that idea with an experience I had traveling in the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France’s Basque country. I fell in love with the beauty of the Basque villages, their customs and folklore and I just had to incorporate those experiences into my book.
The idea for Deacon Leeds and the Pyramid of Symbols sprang from an article I’d read about a Russian research station called Vostok, situated above a frozen lake in eastern Antarctica. The Russian scientists had just discovered fossilized palm fronds and deduced that at one time Antarctica had been a tropical paradise. I got to thinking, what if there was an ancient civilization still thriving below the ice? That thought led to a flurry of writing and a few months later Deacon Leeds was born.
3. How did you get so interested in the genre you write in? I’ve always been attracted to fantasy because there are no limits to what you can create. I love having the freedom to invent gadgets and creatures and worlds that are vastly different from our own. It’s also what I enjoy reading.
4.What is the hardest part of writing to you? Writing is hard, no question about it. There are days when the words flow so wonderfully that I can’t stop writing. But we all must eat and sleep at some point in the day! Then there are those days where my focus wanes and I can’t seem to get in the groove. The dialogue comes out choppy and stilted. And those days are tough because it affects confidence. But the hardest part is ignoring all the distractions and sitting my butt down in front of the computer and just writing. No matter if it’s an easy day or a hard day, the toughest part is sitting down and putting fingers to the keyboard.
5.What is a typical writing day for you? When and where do you write? I’m at my best in the morning. I wake up early, usually around 5am. I know, crazy, huh? I brew my instant cup of coffee and head to my very tidy office and shut the door. I say tidy because I absolutely cannot concentrate if I’m surrounded by clutter. The stapler must be in its place, perfectly aligned with the tape dispenser. Otherwise I can’t focus. Bielka (my Siamese cat) must be fed and occupied. One meow and my concentration will be broken. Once I’m in the zone I can write all day. But usually life interrupts at some point. My goal is to write at least two hours each day.
6.What advice would you give young writers who are reaching their goals to be an Author? Read and write everyday. The more you do so, the better writer you’ll be. Also, read critically. Really focus in on the mechanics of writing and how style changes from author to author. Keep a dictionary close by and catch all those words that you normally skim over to strengthen your vocabulary. Keep a notebook and fill it with new words and clever phrases and metaphors. Read different authors and different genres. Read books on writing. Read author interviews for time-tested advice. And just keep writing. And one day, when you’re holding your very own book in your hand, it’ll all be worth it!
7. Are you working on anything right now? You betcha! At the moment I’m writing a sequel to The Silver Earth Seed. The working title is The Tusks of Odoben and it should be released in November 2012. After that I’ll begin writing the sequel (or perhaps a prequel) to Deacon Leeds and the Pyramid of Symbols. I’m also polishing off a short story called Deathwaves that I plan to make available digitally very soon.
8.Do you have any favorite books or authors? My all time favorite author is Orson Scott Card. I loved Ender’s Game and all the sequels. But Card has a treasure trove of novels—more than 60, I believe. In 2004 I attended Uncle Orson’s Writing Class and Literary Boot Camp and came out with a wealth of writing knowledge. He’s a master of character development. In fact he’s written a succinct manual called Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint that’s a must-read for aspiring writers.
9. Which book of yours would you most recommend? Start with Deacon Leeds and the Pyramid of Symbols. It’s such a quick read. The chapters are short and they end with a hook to tease you into the next chapter. I had such a fun time writing that book. I hope the enthusiasm translates to you, the reader.
10. Why do you write? I love the process. From the birth of an idea to fleshing it out on paper. I love watching the story unfold. Writing is a lot like reading in that much of the time you don’t know where you’re going. It’s an unearthing of your very own story. It’s tough work, but it’s also extremely entertaining. There are times I can hardly sleep because I’m so eager to write the next scene. It’s just plain fun! And when the story is told and the last line is typed, it’s truly an amazing feeling of accomplishment. That’s when you want to share it with the world.
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