Matt Johnson Takes to the Court with His New Book

Matt Johnson approached me for an interview yesterday. I was having my usual night in with a beer and a few books– did I want to do an interview about his new book? Well, yes… It literally took seconds and said yes. We sat down at around 1am my time and Matt answered all my questions with honesty and precision. The book is about basketball and if there’s one thing I love reading about, it’s sports. Sit down and watch as Matt breathlessly works his way through an interview about his true loves– basketball and writing.

MattQ) Matt, why did you write a book?

A) I wrote a book because it has always been one of my dreams. I have always enjoyed being creative and have had a goal of being an author for a few years now. I also love basketball and wanted to write about something that I am passionate about.

Q) You love basketball, too? Tell me what started your love of the game.

A) Oh boy. I would have to say that it started when I was about eight years old. I would play with my older brothers, Kent and Brian, in our driveway. Then I played for some YMCA teams and all the way up a bit in high school. I love watching it, reading about it, and playing it. It has brought me so many memories, friendships, and happy times.

Q) It sounds like, in a way, basketball helped shape your personality. Would you agree with that statement?

A) Yes, it is a big part of my life. So many aspects of basketball make up my personality. The competitiveness, the hard work it takes to be a good player, and just the love of taking on a challenge. I felt the same way in writing my book, The Biggest What-If’s in Los Angeles Lakers History. It was a challenge and one that I relished.

Q) Can you tell me about the biggest challenge you have faced in your life so far?

A) The biggest challenge of my life is helping others and being the person that I know God wants me to be. I think we all have the potential to do great things on this planet, but sometimes we fall short for whatever reason. We tell ourselves we are not good enough. I think it is important to look inside and see the potential we each have. We can each make a difference in our communities and our families. That is what life is all about.

Q) Well said! So do you spend a lot of time working with your community?

A) I try to. I have done various things, such as coaching a youth basketball team. I went on a church mission to Houston, Texas and tried to help the people there. I just enjoy helping people. It helps me forget about my own problems or worries.

Matt Johnson

Q) You sound like the all-American boy to me. Tell me about your writing process. Do you write at night? During the day? With music?

A) Ha, well thank you. I like to write at night. I am a night owl. I typically don’t write with music, as I find that the background noise muddies up my thoughts. Every now and then, I will turn on some music and just relax as I write, though.

Q) Sounds to me like you take your writing seriously. Let’s talk some more about your book. Is it about the strategy of basketball? The history? Your experiences on the court?

A) It is a hypothetical look at “what-if” scenarios of the basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers. It poses questions that fans would find interesting and would enjoy debating. For instance, “What if Magic Johnson had played long enough to have played alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant?” It’s just fun questions like that to ponder in your head.

Q) Los Angeles Lakers– you’re Californian?

A) No! Far from it, although my girlfriend is from Los Angeles and my dad grew up near there. I am actually from South Dakota. It was my dad that passed on his love of the Lakers to me.

Q) About the Lakers, do you follow them solely or do you like other teams, too?

A) I root for the Lakers because I love their tradition and many of the players they have had. So I root for them above any other team; but as a basketball fan, I do appreciate talent. I also like the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks, but the Lakers are my one true love.

Q) Let’s talk about the impact of your book. How are people taking to it so far?

A) Well, it just came out this morning and so far the sales have been a bit disappointing, but it is early. It is a short book meant to entertain, so I hope people realize that. I have received a lot of support from my friends and it has garnered some “likes” on Facebook, so hopefully people will enjoy it.

Q) I am sure sales will pick up! Give it time! Where can readers get it?

A) I haven’t set up a facebook page yet, but I am in the process of it. If anybody wants to buy the book, they can do so at CreateSpace and it will be available in the next week on Amazon.com. The best way to contact me is to add me on Facebook, or visit me at my portfolio, http://mgjportfolio.weebly.com/

Q) Well, I will be getting a copy! What do you like to do outside of sports and writing, Matt?

A) I love spending time with my family. I have two older brothers (one of which actually helped me put this book together) and two younger sisters, and parents that I actually get along with! Imagine that, haha. I also love playing guitar. I am just a beginner but it is a lot of fun. I love watching movies, especially thrillers. You will often find me in the gym or on the basketball courts, of course.

Contact Matt on Facebook or at his portfolio, listed above.

“The Burning Bush Is Your Friend!” Author David Alvin says Howdy!

David Alvin is a forward thinking guy. He’s a risk taker with the faith to know all will be good. David is also author of many books, most notably, “The Burning Bush is Your Friend” and also happens to be a guy I can now call my own friend. We have spoken on many subjects– books, music and David Frost. What did we talk about for this interview? Keep reading to take a look!

David Alvin

Q) Hi, David. Tell me about yourself– who is David Alvin?

A) I knew you’d ask this first (I HAVE read your other interviews!) I would say David Alvin is what Winston Churchill said about Russia: “A riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma.”

Nah, not really, I’m a servant of my Lord God, an acceptor of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (the term “Christian” I use hesitantly for that term appears three times in the New Testament, and two of those times its derogatory), the husband of Martha, the dad to Sarah and Jeffrey, the small business owner whose business is getting bigger every day, and a creator of words upon paper that make sense! Most of the time.

Q) What’s your business? How do you feel about running your own business? Are you a man who believes in enterprise?

A) I’ll give you these answers separately:

1) My wife and I started a Shaklee business of our own — it’s a fifty-five year old health and wellness company specializing in inch loss/weight management products, environmentally friendly cleaning products, comprehensive multivitamins, and natural beauty enhancers — last March. We’re not making near what we want to make, but doing quite well. Hey, who couldn’t stand being healthier? For more information check out our business website.

I feel running my own business — it’s good that I can’t get fired from it, for one thing, but I’ve also got a lot of help locally and an excellent support system — gives me more of a sense of purpose, sometimes makes me feel more alive, that this is something I can leave to my kids and my wife should God forbid something happen to me. You may consider my view of the man of the house being the provider a bit … um, old-fashioned, but I believe I have to be the one who doesn’t give up — at my writing, in my home life, anything.

Do I believe in enterprise? I would think that’s self-evident, but how’s this: I believe in striking out on your own and being willing to take your lumps is essential to making any achievement of yours work. I’m sure you can relate to that, too, and we can both guarantee the person doesn’t live who’s never practiced enterprise to its ultimate potential!

Q) Well said, David. So can you tell me, how your faith has guided your path in life?

A) I would say my faith has helped me most by giving me a purpose beyond myself. Certainly if I didn’t have it I would have never driven up from Florida where I grew up to remain with Martha (a two-and-a-half day drive in Summer 2002) just two years after I met her online and a year after we’d met in North Dakota and I got taken aback, “She’s THE ONE!”

I was not — at least I don’t believe I was — a thief and murderer growing up, but when I was about fifteen it came across to me, “What’s the point of life?” It’s not that I didn’t believe in God and didn’t, um, go through the motions of church attendance and being an all-around “good kid” (maybe I was TOO good; I didn’t go on any dates through high school though I did ask, and I had it explained politely by one young lady that going out with me would have felt like going out with her dad).

Faith made me/makes me a risk-taker. And taking a risk makes me a better child of God, husband, father, employee, business builder, and creative artist.

Q) Your faith allows you to take risks? Can you give me an example of this?

A) Seriously?

Q) Yes, perhaps the very first risk you took?

A) Ok, ok, I’m going to go with one that was more something I had to do rather than what I wanted to do … when I was five years old and living in Illinois where I was born, I was diagnosed with a tumor. Thank God it was a benign one, or we would not be having this conversation, but the surgery I had for the tumor was in the pre-radiation therapy days (late ‘70s), the doctor had to go in and attach what’s called a shunt to the back of my head and drain the fluid from the tumor out of my head and into an incision by my stomach.

Prior to that, I remember doing well in Kindergarten (my reading was so good that I got to go to the first grade class at my elementary school for a while and read with them) but not outstanding, at least academically.

When I moved to Florida and started school there in First Grade, oh man, did I blaze a trail! Sometimes I acted smarter than I was, but I could just pick up concepts and words faster and place them in context better. I recall I heard the word “clone” on a TV show one weekend in fall of ’78 and the next week in class we had to name words rhyming with (or was it ending in) O-N-E.

I came out with the word “clone” and the teacher was saying it wasn’t a word. I imagine it wasn’t used greatly in the late ‘70s, but I politely argued it was, and explained myself to the teacher and the guidance counselor in the room, and … I don’t know, I got the impression then you could learn AND teach as well!

Made me want to be a teacher for a long time, and in a way I still am.

Q) You have a very inspirational story there David. So let’s focus on your writing. How does David Alvin like to write?

A) How do I like to write? Usually, as it occurs to me. The idea of writing for a living didn’t really occur to me until I started to read a Janet Scarborough novel in my high school days and stopped myself in the middle of chapter three and said, “I could WRITE a better book than that!”

So I started … and got to a chapter and a half of a story tentatively titled “Suicide Progeny” as well as a few others my freshman English teacher was really impressed with. Then I put ’em aside, and university happened. Life happened. Work happened, and then gone were the nineties.

Come the turn of the century, I’d moved up to be with Martha in North Dakota and came across the older stories I’d written and found myself with a bit of time to ask, “What happened next, then what happened next, then what happened next?” incorporating some characters I’d created in high school and the few chapters became twenty-eight and that became my first novel Progeny.

That led to an idea for the second novel “Legacy” (a sequel to Progeny published in 2006) and a sequel to THAT (“Victory,” to be released soon). Then I discovered National Novel Writing Month.

Q) I know you are quite prolific. How many books do you currently have in print?

A) As of now, I’ve published nine books via self-publication — five novels, three Bible studies, and one book-length poem.

Fiction:

Nonfiction:

Poetry:

Q) Tell me more about your novels. What are they about? Where are they set? Are they connected? Do they stand alone?

A) The novels are mostly set in a world (Progeny, Legacy, Litany) where the heroic age was the day before yesterday and certain villains and powers have taken advantage of that.

The Carbonari Players my first NaNoWriMo novel was a pure fantasy, a murder mystery set in the afterlife, if you can believe that.

The Book of Numbers is a novel set during the time of the Biblical book of Numbers with Moses, Aaron, and the like fighting to set the children of Israel up in the Promised Land — that may be the novel I’m most proud of, because I wanted to tell the story it’s often hard to get even if you study your Bible, to make my readers realize it’s pretty exciting.

Q) You mentioned your non-fiction work, The Burning Bush wants to be your Friend: A Study of Exodus. Can you tell me more about that one?

A) The Burning Bush is a chapter-by-chapter Bible study about the book of Exodus, when not only does Moses discover who he is — he’s the one who sees the burning bush — but the children of Israel are reminded who they are. Originally, this was a series of blogs I wrote in 2009 and I didn’t want some “random” accident to make them disappear.

burning bush

Q) Of all your works, which is your personal favourite?

A) Depends on what time of day you ask me! *laughs*

Seriously, The Book of Numbers is my favorite novel; Litany is my favorite story (I wrote that from a first person point of view); and The Chariot of Israel (a study of the Old Testament’s book of Two Kings) is my favorite Bible study — so far at least.

Among those three, The Book of Numbers because it’s a retelling of a great story a lot of people don’t remember.

I use the capline on the back cover:

“The story everybody knows. The story nobody knows.”

Q) Where do you find the inspiration to write?

A) I keep my eyes open, really — no lightning bolt from the skies needs to hit me! If I hear something incorrectly or an especial title or a direct quote from somebody hits me — well it does, and sometimes it’ll be a year or two before I expand on it in a story or within my novel (I’ve got journals going back more than twenty years). Additionally, I have all kinds of writings I’ve accumulated which drives Martha crazy sometimes, but I’ve gotten it more manageable.

Q) What are your personal thoughts on self-publishing?

A) I feel it’s the only way you will get noticed most times. Traditional publishing requires you to know somebody who knows somebody and/or be willing to outlay major cash, and maybe end up with a lot of copies of your own book to sell …

I used to think it was my goal to be a “list” author, but now it’s not.

Q) What is your goal now, then?

A) My goal is just to write — of course, I don’t mind ending up one day on the New York Times bestseller list or some such thing — and express myself, and maybe have a few people see something in my work that encourages them to write their own.

Q) Do you ever find people writing to you asking your advice on their own writing?

A) Sometimes … or I find myself giving advice when someone wants to write or checking over someone’s work. For someone just starting out, I just say write not to impress anybody or be fearful of offending somebody, but write because you’ve got something to say.

Q) For the editing and proofreading stages of making a book happen– do you use professionals?

A) No, I don’t right now … unless you consider me one. *laughs*

Q) What’s your opinion of bloggers who get paid to do interviews?

A) Provided you know the fee up front and you, the interviewee, are satisfied with the finished product, it certainly works!

Q) David, what is next for you? Another book? Another poem? Tell me what’s going on inside your head.

A) Another novel. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but various issues kept me from getting in live. I’m also considering an upcoming movie likely to resurrect interest in the Land of Oz that might have been a blessing in disguise. It’s called “Refugees From the Emerald City. There’s also my third hero-based novel, “Victory” that I want to finish and bring out but something’s missing with it at the moment.

Q) How many books do you have sketched out in your mind?

A) Maybe five or six that come to mind right now … and childrens’ books … and another two Bible studies at least.

Q) If you could give any advice to a young writer, what would it be?

A) Start.

Don’t worry about being right, don’t worry about being accurate, don’t worry about being interesting — these are all things that can be worked on — just start.

Q) Thank you for this wonderful interview, David.

A) Thanks, Nick.

I hope you all enjoyed my words with David! Check out his entry on my Hot Books page here!

Don Keith– Putting His Own Spin on the World of Publishing

What can I say about Don Keith that hasn’t already been said a million times? Best-selling author, blogger, radio disc jockey, happy guy who just loves his work. I had been looking forward to this one for a long time. I met him through my travels and I knew he would make a great interview for “Novel Ideas.” Sometimes you just have an itch that tells you who would come across well. Don made me itch like crazy (in a good way!) When we first met, he spent time advising me about interviews and approaching authors. In a world full of huge egos, it was refreshing to meet a genuine great guy such as Mr Keith. I present the man who writes best-sellers to you now in my own golden spotlight.

don keith

Q) Hi, Don! Let me start by asking you to tell me how you got into writing?

A) I’ve wanted to tell stories on paper since I was a kid and published my own short stories for people in my neighborhood. All six of them! But I was working with a company that produced software for broadcasters and ad agencies and that put me on the road with a laptop computer. In hotel rooms at night, I could either watch TV, hang out in the bar downstairs, or finally start that novel that was rattling around in my head. I chose the novel. I used some chicanery to get in touch with a literary agent who promptly turned down the novel, but he said I could write and to submit anything else I produced to him. I did–another novel–which he promptly rejected, but urged me to keep trying. The third novel was sold in two days to St. Martins’ Press and I have kept writing since, 26 published works later!

Q) What happened to those first two novels? Did you get them published in the end?

A) The first still languishes on a floppy disk somewhere and, honestly, it is pretty bad. The second one became my second published novel, Wizard of the Wind, after I took what I learned from the editing process of the first one, The Forever Season, and did a major re-write. Lesson learned. Be honest when you go back and look at what you have written. Get input from trusted sources. If you see what you did is not very good, move on. But if there is still something there with which you can work, mold it and shape it and see if you can make it better.

wizard of wind

Q) So your experience would suggest that being turned down is remedied by trying again. Would you agree with that?

A) I admit it is never easy when someone tells you that your baby is ugly, but you must be honest with yourself first. On the other hand, wonderful manuscripts are rejected every day by agents and publishers for reasons not often understood by the writer. If you are confident your work is valued, has a potential readership, and can make money for a publishing house, keep pitching. And work on the next book while you do. An author may have the next Harry Potter franchise or To Kill a Mockingbird, but if an agent does not have a relationship with an editor/publisher who is looking for that kind of material, he or she will be reluctant to represent the work. An agent who sends material to an editor blindly or without knowing if that editor is interested in seeing such material will not be an agent long!

Q) So what happened when you finally got published? It is oft said that a book can turn you into a millionaire overnight. Did you earn a fortune overnight?

A) Everlasting fame and wealth! Not hardly. First, if a writer is writing to get rich, he or she is in for a real disappointment. If one is able to make a living writing books, wonderful, but the odds are stacked against it. Write to tell a story, introduce readers to interesting characters, and affect them emotionally. Then, if you are fortunate enough to make money at it, wonderful! As you can imagine, I get many questions like this from would-be authors, so I have a section on my web site at http://www.donkeith.com that deals with this very subject. Just click on the “On Writing” tab. I’ve also expanded that section and published it as an ebook called “Writing to be Published…and Read.”

Q) I’ve read “Writing to be Published” and enjoyed it immensely. You come across as a really friendly guy. Do you try to help all young writers who come to you for help?

A) As much as I can. I had some very kind and patient authors give me hope and advice early on and I like to pay it forward. I do get a little perturbed with those who want the book to write itself, or who want to take an idea or some characters, dash out some words, and try to sell it and let an editor “fix” it. Writing is work. Stories have to be told. Life has to be breathed into characters. If a person is lazy or is looking for shortcuts, sorry. There are none, unless you are famous or write pornography, or both.

Q) I totally agree that you have to put back what you take and learn the trade. It’s a trade that takes time to master or at least partially master. Can you tell me what Wizard of the Wind is about?

A) That book has just been republished, by the way, after being out of print for a while. It tells the story of a young man who is fascinated by the magic of radio broadcasting and the new music he hears on the radio in the 1950s. He accidentally becomes a disk jockey and rides the growth of radio’s second “golden age” to the top, eventually building his own broadcasting empire, but through greed, he loses sight of the magic of the medium that first captured his imagination and almost loses it all, along with those he loves the most. It is a metaphor for what has happened in radio broadcasting here in the US in the past thirty years, told by someone who has been there. I worked in radio for twenty-two years, then in marketing and advertising for the next twenty-five.

Q) You were a disc jockey? Coming from the South you must have spun a whole load of Elvis discs in your time.

A) Yes, and Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Allman Brothers, Beatles, Stones…lots and lots of discs. I have actually co-written a series of novellas with Elvis’s first cousin, Edie Hand. And had the pleasure of doing country-music radio from a station on Music Row in Nashville. I had guests on my show from Barbara Mandrell to Ronnie Milsap, Marty Robbins to the Oak Ridge Boys. But I’m name-dropping! I was just as thrilled to do a book with Captain William Anderson, who took the submarine USS Nautilus to the North Pole in 1958. And another couple of novels with a former sub skipper who helped develop SEAL operational tactics…and one of those will soon be a major motion picture. The director is the same fellow who directed Denzel Washington in his Academy Award-winning role in “Training Day.” See, I can drop some names!

Q) Did you ever spend time any of those country singers?

A) I met and interviewed most of them. I had dinner with Reba McEntire and she sang me a verse and a chorus of a song she had recorded that day. It became her first number one song. Ronnie Milsap brought over a tape of a song he had just cut and asked if I would play it on the radio so they could see how it sounded over the air. I did. It was “Record of the Year” that year. Barbara Mandrell called me at 6:30 the morning after she was named “Entertainer of the Year” and we did an interview while she put on her makeup.

Q) What was it like working with Marty Robbins?

A) Marty showed up that evening with a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers, and we enjoyed while doing the interview. Afterwards, he asked if I minded dropping him off at his bus. They were leaving for a tour. It was on that tour that he suffered the heart attack that eventually took him from us. “El Paso” is one of the great story-songs of all time and would have made a great novel or western movie.

Q) I agree about Marty Robins. “Gunfighter Songs and Trail Ballads” was always one of my favourite records. How about Jerry Lee Lewis? Did he ever turn up on your travels?

A) No, but I put him in Wizard of the Wind in a key scene. I wanted to represent the anarchy of rock and roll and how it was so powerful in reaching to the very soul of young people during that time. He was the perfect symbol.

Q) Jerry is certainly something else. How about Johnny Cash? Did you ever meet him?

A) Yes. His brother-in-law worked for me at the radio station. So did Hank Williams’s step-daughter and Hank Williams Jr.’s step-sister. In fact, when I first moved to Nashville, I lived for a while in Hank Williams’s home. The radio station’s owner had bought the mansion, complete with a wrought-iron fence around the pool that featured the musical notes to “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to the bullet holes Hank had put in the living room ceiling while inebriated. But there I go, dropping names again.

Q) I’m a huge Hank Williams fan. When I was nine or ten, my math tutor had every Hank recording. The LPs, EP’s– everything! I love everything he recorded. What’s your favourite Hank song?

A) Hank was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Listen to the lyrics of “I’m so Lonesome I Could Die.” Can’t believe I swam in his pool and visited the studio where he recorded many of his songs.

Q) Don, what’s your latest release called?

A) There are actually THREE new ones. Final Bearing is the submarine thriller co-written with Commander George Wallace, and the book that will be a major motion picture, hopefully in early 2014. The second is Undersea Warrior, the true story of one of the most innovative and controversial submarine commanders of WWII, Dudley “Mush” Morton, which is approaching bestseller status and is now a featured selection of The History Book Club and The Military Book Club. Third is The Spin, a novel I wrote a while back and have now published myself. It is so unique and, unlike most other books these days that have not gotten much interest from the major houses, I’ve offered it myself on all bookselling sites. It tells the story of a man at such a low point in his life that he decides to make one last, desperate gamble–putting everything he has left on one spin of the roulette wheel at a Las Vegas casino. When word gets out about what he is going to do, thousands of others join his quest, and that foolish risk becomes so much more to so many. It’s funny, tragic, moving and, I hope, inspirational. As I did with my novels, sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zones, take some risks, and listen to our hearts instead of our heads.

Q) I really want to read The Spin. It sounds like a great read. How are people reacting to it?

A) Wonderful reader reviews so far. I’m just beginning to promote it, and that is what is so difficult for so many authors. That’s why someone like you is a godsend because you can make others aware of books that may not come from the major publishers. I’ve been fortunate enough to be published by the biggest–St. Martins’, Tor/Forge, Penguin, Thomas Nelson–and want to continue to do so, but there are other options now, too, with Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, PubIt, and others. The publishing world is evolving at the speed of light!

the spin

Q) Well, I am happy to plug your books, Don! That’s my job! Where can people get The Spin?

A) You can visit my web site: http://www.donkeith.com, or simply search for me on Amazon.com and visit my author page there. I write books on subjects that I enjoy reading about. I can only hope there are enough people out there with similar interests to enable me to continue doing so. I have myriad stories to tell and a million characters I’d like to introduce you to.

Q) Anytime you’d like another interview I’m happy to do so!

A) You let me talk and expose my ego. What else could an interviewee ask?

Follow Don’s work through his author’s page on Facebook.

How did Don strike me? He struck me as a man who enjoys communicating, whether on the pages of his books or over a flaky internet connection, his warmth shines through. I will be interviewing him again. I’m sure of that. I just hope we have more time next time we meet. Adios, Don! It was a fun way to spend an hour!

Boyd Lemon Makes Sweet Lemonade– An Interview With Nick Wale

The truth is a state of mind. Boyd Lemon has been interviewed many times before and I could have just asked the same stale old questions about his life. I knew I had to do something different and I had to ask questions that would give you an insight into the man. So, who is Boyd Lemon? Well, there are several Boyd Lemons. The first is the nationally recognised lawyer who lived the excessive lifestyle of the seventies to its fullest. The second is the writer, the man who sits in a coffee shop, tapping away at a new manuscript, deep in thought. The third is a family man who adores his children and grandchildren. The fourth Boyd is one who paints and paints until his heart is content. The fifth is the world traveller who has been to lands far flung around the world. Boyd is as multi-faceted as any human being can be. I tried to ask the questions that would give me the answers to the questions his biography asked me.

 

As a writer, Boyd has written a biography called “Digging Deep” that tells a revealing tale about the failure of his three marriages. Additionally, he has written travel memoirs and short stories. He is currently working on a fiction book. The interview happened as follows:

Boyd L

Q) Hi, Boyd, I’m pleased to meet you. So why did you become an author? With such an illustrious career as a lawyer behind you, what drove you to become a writer?

A) I never felt fulfilled as a lawyer, despite forty years of practicing law–sad but true–so I knew I had to retire as soon as I was financially able. I really wanted to do something fulfilling, but I didn’t know what that could be. Then, when I was sixty-five, a publisher asked me to write a law book on the subject of malpractice by attorneys. I wrote that book, and it was published in 2006. I enjoyed the writing and publication process, but I knew I wanted to write something outside of legal topics. A writer friend of mine suggested I try writing short fiction. I told her that I didn’t think I had any creative ability, and she said, “Baloney, everyone has creative ability; it is just a matter of developing it.” So I took a stab at it and wrote a short story, and then another one and another one, and so on. Eventually, I was hooked on writing. I knew what I had to do in retirement.

Q) So you write to fulfil yourself and to live your dream. Do sales matter to you? Do you worry about the next royalty check?

A) I invested my savings and cut back on my lifestyle so that I had enough income, along with Social Security, to live the modest way that I wanted. I learned that I didn’t need a big house, a fancy car, etc. So I am in the envious position of not needing to earn a living from writing. I love that I can write whatever I want without regard to whether it will bring in a paycheck. The only reason I care at all about sales is that I do want people to read what I write and hopefully benefit from it in some way, so I have to sell books.
boyd

Q) Of all your books, the one that stood out to me loudest was “Digging Deep.” I thought it took great courage to analyse yourself in that way. What was the writing experience like? You must have learnt so much about yourself.

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages is still the book that has meant the most to me. To try to understand my role in the destruction of my three marriages was excruciatingly painful emotionally. I learned a lot of things about myself that I did not particularly like. However, in the end it was tremendously healing. I had no idea how damaging it was to hold all that in under the surface. The process of writing the book brought me a peace that I had not known, and, I believe, has helped people understand themselves and their spouses or ex-spouses or partners better. I am not the only one that had the faults and human frailties that I uncovered about myself.

Q) How have readers taken to that book?

A) I have had a lot of varied reactions. Many people have told me that it helped them understand things about their own relationships that they were not aware of. Some people chastised me for disclosing private information about my ex-wives, especially acquaintances who knew one or more of my ex-wives. I received a lot of compliments for having the courage to open up and expose myself and my human weaknesses and issues. Virtually all people praised the quality and depth of my writing, except for one guy who, when I had a special promotion of the e-book for a limited time for 99 cents, wrote on Barnes and Noble that it wasn’t worth 99 cents. Oh well. Fortunately, he was in the small minority.

Q) You can’t please everyone in this world. So changing the tempo, tell me about your book “Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany.” You sound like a guy who loves culture and travel.

Eat-Walk-Write

A) Travel is my second passion, something I have known for many years, but was not able to pursue (except for business trips) until I retired. By 2010 I had been to Paris twice for short periods, and I loved the art, history and architecture there, as well as the café culture. People actually talk to each other in Paris–endlessly, it seems. So I decided to move to Paris, originally, I thought for two years. I ended up staying a year, and I lived in a working class neighborhood away from the tourist areas, although I visited the tourists areas. There were challenges, to say the least– the primary one being the language. I did not speak a word of French when I got there, and I found it a very difficult language for a seventy year-old to learn. Dealing with the French bureaucracy as a resident alien was also difficult, was finding an apartment, opening a bank account, etc. But all of that was superseded by the magic and glory that is Paris. it was the experience of a lifetime. I kept a journal daily, and when I got home to California, I decided to turn it into a book. I miss Paris.

Q) If you could live anywhere in the world, would you choose Paris?

A) That is a tough question. My answer is, no, but I can’t think of any single place that I would want to live indefinitely. That is probably why in the past six years I have lived in California, Boston, Paris and now rural southeast Georgia.

Q) Tell me about Boyd Lemon the man. What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies, interests, etc.

A) Well, we have covered some of it. I love to travel, and not just to far away places. I enjoy St. Augustine, Florida, which is about an hour and a half drive from my home. Next month I’ll spend a few days in Savannah, Georgia, about the same distance in the other direction. I love to explore new places, learn about the history of different areas of the this country and the world. For example, I learned that St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., settled in 1540. I love good food and wine, and I emphasize that it doesn’t have to be expensive food. There are some places around here that serve amazing catfish and hush puppies. I am a fanatic baseball fan and always have been, a long suffering Dodger fan. Last summer my best friend and I took an eleven stadium baseball tour across the country starting in Anaheim, California and ending in Atlanta, Georgia. We saw eleven major league baseball games in sixteen days. I also love and am close to my four children and four grandchildren.

Q) Would be right to describe you as a family man, then?

A) I think so, despite the fact that I didn’t make a success of my marriages. I have always been close to my children, especially as they became teenagers and adults and had the freedom to make their own choices.

Q) So how do you write? What is the writing process for you? Do you write in silence? With music? Long periods of writing? How does Boyd Lemon write?

A) I write some almost every day, although it can vary from a half hour to six hours–generally around three, I would say. I find that I write best and most enjoyably if I vary the places where I write. Sometimes I write at my desk at home, but I also write in cafés, parks when the weather allows, libraries occasionally, planes and trains. I do not need silence, as long as something interesting to me is not going on, like a baseball game on TV. I do not play music while I write, because I like to be listening to music when it is playing, and I can’t write and listen at the same time. But I can write in a crowded, noisy café and just tune out the noise. The main thing is that I need to vary the place. I can’t just stay holed up at home for a long time, day after day. I have been known to get on a train, ride it for a few hours, stop and turn around and ride it back home.

Q) You strike me as a jazz fan, Boyd. Am I right?

A) Ha! Yes, jazz, folk and classical, even a little blue grass when I’m in the mood.

Q) I knew it! I grew up with bluegrass– Bill Monroe should be known better.

A) Oh, yes, absolutely. Around “these parts,” as they say here in Georgia, he is.

Q) The closest the English really get to country music is some of the Elvis stuff and Slim Whitman.

A) Yes, I am not very familiar with English music, except, of course, the pop from the ’60s and ’70’s and the later punk, etc. One of my favorite country singers is an unknown that I just happened to meet. She is from Denmark– Jessica Lynne.

Q) I will check her out! Anyway, I digress– you write fiction, too, am I right? Tell me about your fiction work.

A) So far the only fiction I have written is short, and I have published a book of ten of my short stories, and a small book of five. Several have been published in small literary magazines. My short stories tend to be about relationships, family and otherwise, and the conflicts that occur, as well as the challenges that life brings to us all. After a few short stories, I really wanted to write a novel, but felt that I wasn’t ready yet, so that is when I wrote Digging Deep. But now I am ready, and I just started on a novel two weeks ago. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far. I love writing the first draft; it is so thrilling to just let it flow, let my imagination run wild. The comes the editing process, which as it moves along gets more and more tedious. I hate proofreading, but it has to be done.

games-boyd-lemon-paperback-cover-art

Q) You do the whole process yourself? Most writers use proofreaders and editors. I’m surprised you go through the pain.

A) I use editors and proofreaders, too. I think it is a necessity to have a polished product, but I want it to be the absolute best I can make it before I submit it to somebody else, because I think that gives the work the best chance of being something worthwhile. Why should I submit something less than my best to somebody else?

Q) I agree, that’s a very responsible attitude. I must admit, Boyd, you have won a new fan here. So tell me, who are your favourite authors?

A) Oh, that is really a difficult one. There are so many. I will name a few, but understand I am leaving out many. Hemingway, McMurtry, Marilynne Robinson, Wally Lamb, Tolstoy, John Irving, Stephen King, James Baldwin, Austin, Vivian Gornick, to name a few. And I’m showing my provincialism. Most are Americans. I should have included the Brit, Franzen. He is wonderful.

Q) If you had to pick one of your books for a reader who didn’t know your work, which would it be?

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, unless a reader just has no interest in the subject matter of marriage and divorce. Then, Eat, Walk, Write. Of course, the Retirement book is directed toward a specific audience, people who are near or in retirement.

Q) Any last words you’d like to say before we wrap up?

A) Well, first thank you for an interesting interview. I really enjoyed it, and you asked more than just the standard questions. And I want to say to readers that my greatest reward as a writer is that the reader is learning something helpful to him or her from my books. That is what I have in mind when I am going through the writing process. Finally, for other writers: I know it is a struggle, and it is highly unlikely that you will become rich and famous, but keep at it; just grab that pen and notebook or computer, and sit down and write every chance that you get. It is a noble undertaking, in my opinion. We, as human beings, are the only species who can write.

Boyd Lemon

So what do I think of Mr Boyd Lemon? Well I think he is a genuine and decent man who has uncovered much truth about himself and exposed it to the world. He loves his new careers and his family and as Mr James Fant said to me the other day, “Love’s alright. Isn’t it?” Yes, I would say it is.

Links to Boyd Lemon:

Check out Boyds Amazon Author Page for more information regarding his work.

For excerpts, reviews, interviews and information about all of Boyds books see the official website here.

Boyd Lemon on Facebook

Boyd Lemon Facebook Fan Page

Follow Boyd onTwitter

Email Boyd directly at: Boyd (@) BoydLemon-Writer.com

What Is A Writer’s Writer? Welcome Back, Stuart Yates!

Stuart Yates has returned for his second interview with me. You can find the first one here. Now, I always find time for the thoughts of Stuart Yates.  I like the way he writes and he deserves the title of “A Writer’s Writer”. What is a writer’s writer? Well, like a singer’s singer– it’s someone who rarely scores a huge hit book– but is a writer who is respected around the world as a guy who is leading the way. Stuart Yates embodies the spirit of a writer’s writer and with many books on general release, he is just waiting for the public at large to notice him.  I present Stuart Yates to you again in a new light.

DonLuis

Q) Welcome back, Stuart! So how’s the new book coming along?

A) Road Kill? The rewrite has been completed and sent off to the publisher. I am now working on another, with WHIPPED UP waiting in the wings for its final redrafting.

Q) How do you get published so easily? You make it seem so simple. I’m sure a lot of readers would love to know the secret.

A) Well…I have been published by five publishers, and this spring one of those publishers went out of business, unfortunately; but I guess I have something they all like. It’s just a pity that none of them are Transworld or Harper Collins but a sixth publisher is publishing a book of mine in the spring.

Q) It must get confusing when you receive those royalty cheques. How do you keep track of them all?

A) Royalty cheques? I never worry about them. I just like to hear my publishers say the books are good, the people who read them say they are good, but I never worry about those royalty cheques. I never promote unless I have to. I have over 450 ‘friends’ on FB.

Q) I get a lot of readers who ask about advances. As a well-proven and tested author do you get advances on your work?

A) No! I wish!!! If I got advances I’d go part-time at work, and make writing my main occupation.

Q) Has a publisher ever promised to take your sales from middling hundreds to crazy thousands with one book?

A) No, none of them do very much at all. The one I have signed with for spring seems the most promising. They advertise books in trade magazines, acquire reviewers, all of that. The publisher for Burnt Offerings is ok, but it is only a part-time thing for him. He is good, gets books out in paperback and E-pubs very fast, and he takes those risks, but not much in the way of marketing. But the others? Nada.

Q) So what are your thoughts on self publishing?

A) When I began writing seriously, all those years ago, even then there was one rule that would-be writers were ´told´ to adhere to–do not pay to get your work published. I suppose that has always been my guide. Then, in 2009 after I was totally ripped off, and I was so depressed, when another publisher said they would publish my book, but that it would cost £199, I said YES.

Some of my fellow authors were outraged. Not at me personally, but that such publishers could do that. Vanity Publishing. And no serious author would touch them with a barge pole.

Well, I learned my lesson. I do not pay anything now. BUT, times have changed. The past year has seen an explosion as far as self-publishing is concerned, and many people have taken advantage. The Kindle platform has opened up the sort of possibilities that could not even have been dreamed of when I began. But, with it has come a deep concern. One, to do with quality. And two, that people are being lured into getting their name into print and are being asked to pay for the privilege.
It is seen as a ´money-making´opportunity, and the old ideals of craft and art, of creativity, are being side-lined by this idea of it being a business, a means to make money. That upsets me.

I don´t write to make money. It would be nice, but my raison d´etre is to create. I will continue to do so. Perhaps that is the real reason why my sales are so low. All this marketting malarky, it doesn´t sit comfortably with me. Publicity is essential, of course, but…the reason I do what I do is because I cannot help it. I am creative. I create. End of.

Q) You live in Spain now, am I right? Why did you leave England?

A) Yes, I live in Spain now and it was for my job. I’m a teacher and wanted a bit of a change. I looked at France first, then a job came up in Spain. I thought I would come here for a year, then go back, but the time simply flew by. I’ve been here five years now.

Q) How many books have you written whilst you’ve been in Spain?

A) Funnily enough, my first published books came out whilst I was here. Although only two of my fourteen published novels are set in Spain, it was quite an inspirational place…was, and is I suppose. Although my latest books are not set in Spain. Road Kill and Whipped Up are set in the UK, and Minus Life, the one I am currently working on, is set in a future UK.

Q) Yet, I sense you think about England a lot from the subject matter of your latest book “Road Kill” which is set on Bodmin Moor.

A) Yes, very much so. England is home. It’s where I grew up, and it will always be more of a home than Spain ever will. I’d still like to live in France, though.

Q) What do you miss about England? Do you romantically reminisce about our homeland? I always find myself doing that when I’m abroad.

A) YES! Dear old Blighty! I have been very fortunate to work in a profession that gives me the opportunity to live and work in different places. I loved them all. Especially Suffolk, I have to say. I made some good friends there. I went back to Merseyside last summer, to see my daughter. Met up with my old friends. I didn’t want to leave!!! It’s true, you never appreciate something until it is gone…

Q) So of all the books you’ve written, which is your favourite?

A) That, Nick, is an interesting question– not hard to answer as such, but because they all mean so much to me. Perhaps Death’s Dark Design if I could pick one of my books as a hit that would be number one, I think. However, I still don’t think I have written my best one! Each book I write is simply another stepping stone to reaching that.

Q) Do you believe you are still growing as an artist?

A) Definitely! With everything I write, I am becoming increasingly more self-critical, analytical. I have always been something of a perfectionist…I was very impatient at first, but I am getting better and I now want to do the best I can…but I still write fast.

Q) Do you think a writer needs to care about punctuation, or is that an editor’s job?

A) Absolutely it is the job of the writer! A writer should be proficient at punctuation and grammar, but that comes with practise. The best way to get punctuation right is to read it back to yourself OUT LOUD. You have to get the pacing right.

Q) Do you teach English?

No! History with a little bit of geography and ICT (Information Computer Technology). I would say history, however, is very closely linked to English. It requires a high degree of writing ability. Don’t forget, there is a STORY in history…listen to Simon Schama and you’ll see how true that is.

Q) I’m a history nut myself. I wanted to study history at university. Didn’t get there though.

A) Ah…I love history. It is my passion, and has been since I was a little boy. My key interest is military history. At school I teach medieval history which I love– also the time periods of the Tudors and Stuarts.

Q) So tell me, how did you get into writing horror?

A) I read Dracula when I was thirteen. I loved every second of it.

Q) What grabbed you about the book?

A) It’s sense of atmosphere, period, its brewing sensuality…but mainly its total originality. What a story! To bring together those disparate myths, legends, and realities into one vision– tremendous.

Q) Tell me about a catalyst that changed your life?

A) I watched Genesis back in 1980 and I realised something– all those dreams I had back in the late ’70s of being an author I hadn’t realised yet. I saw them again in 2007, at fifty years of age, and I still hadn’t done it, so I decided there and then I was going to write and write and write until I was published. I did and I’ve never stopped! I plan to get out at least four if not five books a year.

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and time does not wait for any man or woman in this world.

Q) True, it doesn’t. I personally think you will get a hit eventually and it will come as a surprise.

A) I hope so! Then I can give up teaching, buy a little farm house in Burgundy, and put out ten a year instead !!!

Q) Getting back to your latest book– how do you feel about it?

A) ROAD KILL? I love it even though I changed the ending at the eleventh hour. Funnily enough, I’ve just released a book called INTERLOPERS FROM HELL. That’s an exclusive for your blog, Nick! I’ve been saving that one just for you!

Interlopers from Hell

Q) Thank you, Stuart! So how would you sum up Road Kill in two sentences?

A) A tale of violence and terror, of one man’s fall into insanity, and another’s loss of himself. Both meet, but only one survives the clutches of the beast.

Q) You personally saw the beast you write about in Road Kill, right?

A) Yes, I did when I was coming home from Bodmin. Across the moor, as black as night it was…. and that tail… it was the tail that did it. I had had a drink free night, before you ask, spending a pleasant evening wargaming with my good friends and so my mind was clear. It was terrifying and the Beast closes my book which is only fitting.

Q) Well, I think we will have to stop there for the time being. I can’t wait until our next interview. Thanks, Stuart– it’s been a pleasure again.

So there you have another interview with a man destined to be read around the world. Road Kill will be available soon. I hope you check it out. I am going to make sure I get a copy. Be sure to visit Stuart’s website, also.

Stuart Yates

Everyone’s a Winner With Laura Kendall– Nick Wale interviews an Author and Self Publishing Guru

L J KendellI am one of those guys who always looks for a service offered. When people ask me for interviews, I am the first to explain what I offer. Searching through the internet I found Laura Kendall who offers her services as a “self publishing consultant.” I had never heard of one of those– so I emailed her and asked her to join me on this blog for an interview. Who I found was a woman who knew what she was doing and obviously gives more than she takes. Laura Kendall should be the first stop for all of you who want to publish a book.

Q ) Hi, Laura! So tell me about your experiences as a writer? How did you start?

A) I started in 1996 after reading a Patrica Cornwell suspense novel. I decided to write one myself and thought, “Well, how hard can that be?” I found out how hard. Mystery and suspense needs lots of plotting and twist and turns. Plus, I lacked confidence in myself so it took me until 2007 to finally finish my first book entitled A Simple Case of Suicide.

Q) How did Patricia Cornwell inspire you? What made her the catalyst for you to start writing?

A) Her novels drew me in to the point I forgot about my life and really felt like I was in the story. Her characters are real and complex just like people are. Her plots are also very intricate and keep you guessing. I loved her books and still do.

Q) So tell me about that first book you wrote– A Simple Case of Suicide— what’s it about?

A) I work as a paramedic and have for the last twenty-six years. We get called out frequently to do pronouncements of death as part of the job. I thought, “”What if I was ever called to a scene to do a pronouncement where the lead investigator said it was suicide, but clearly there were signs it was murder? What would happen if no one believed me and I set out to investigate on my own with the killer being someone very close to the investigation?” So, Paramedic Kendall Rose was born and her cohort partner CJ Wagner. Together they set out to investigate and all heck breaks loose. The book has been well received and people really seem to enjoy reading it to the point they can’t put it down and stay up all night reading. This just makes my day and it helps quiet the inner critic that often pops up in a writer.

Q) I know that inner critic well. Did you ever feel, as I have, that writing is just a dream?

A) Absolutely. I thought, “Who will ever want to read my book?” Well, it turns out lots of people do and really enjoy the ones I’ve written. Now, with the advent of the internet and the amazing opportunities for self publishing authors, the sky is the limit. I believe that every book you write and publish can be a mini-business earning you income. I haven’t mastered the marketing end yet, but I’m working on it. After writing the first book and gaining confidence and quieting a little that inner critic, the other eight just seemed to fly out. It is my passion in life to now to empower other writers to squash that inner critic and write their book – self publish it and be a published author.

Q) Are you looking for authors to work with you actively? Could readers get in touch and talk to you and gain help?

A) Yes! I obtained my Professional Coaching Certification in 2011 and discovered the niche I am passionate about is self publishing. Nothing lights me up more than seeing one of my clients write, self publish their book on Amazon, Nook and Kobo and have a new outlook and belief in themselves. It is an awesome feeling.

My website is www.adaringwriters.com and my email is ljkendallcompany (@) gmail.com for anyone who is interested in exploring self publishing and the opportunities out there. I coach clients through the writing process and publishing. I also will publish the books for my clients in paperback and ebook form if they do not want to do it themselves. What is unique about me as a publisher is I publish the book for a flat fee and hand over the reins to my clients. Their royalties are theirs to keep–100%.

Q) So, what is your flat fee?

A) My fee for publishing a book to Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle is $750.00 US. Pubit (which is Nook) is $350.00 as it requires more work to format; and Kobo is $250.00. I do not do editing as I am just not good at that, but I do have an editor I work with who is a professional coach and editor. My coaching fee is $75.00 an hour. The only time there may be an additional fee is if the formatting is horrible for the paperback version, but I coach clients through the basics so the book is usually well-formatted before it gets to me for upload. I also provide a unique cover for the book as well.

Q) Well, your fees sound very reasonable to me. How many books have you worked with? Do you prefer any particular genre?

A) I prefer fiction, self-help and metaphysical books. These are what I have mainly done for my clients and myself, but I’m always open for learning.

Q) How does it feel to be working with authors and making their dreams come true?

A) It is my passion. I believe that everyone has the answers already within them and, through coaching, we not only work on the book, but the inner critic as well. My clients are so excited and happy when they see their book live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo as well as their own website with a digital store. This has really restored my excitement and sense of purpose in my life. I absolutely love coaching, publishing, writing and most of all, my amazing clients.

Q) I know the feeling– that’s why I love doing these interviews. Just to share some of the excitement of publishing a book is a thrill. So what is next for you?

A) I’m currently in the process of writing a sequel to my book Witches Enchantment and it is called Vampire – Seduction of a Cougar Witch. I also have a third book in the Simple Case series in the works. Plus, I get to work with other authors and coaches publishing their books. I have the most amazing and awesome job.

Q) Could you give me some titles of books you’ve worked on? I’ll make sure there’s links to them with this interview.

A) Sure! A Simple Case of Suicide and A Simple Case of Revenge are my suspense thrillers; Witches Enchantment is my paranormal romance; Goddess School is an empowerment book for women over 50; Hurricane Deadly is a book I wrote after living through the terror of Hurrricane Sandy; A Daring Writer’s Handbook and its companion workbook A Daring Writer’s Workbook help writers with plotting, formatting, scene setting, character development etc.; my medical books are The Top Five 911 Emergencies and How to Handle Them Until the Paramedics Arrive and The Top Five Winter Emergencies and How to Handle Them Until The Paramedics Arrive. I write under the name L.J. Kendall for my fiction novels and Laura J. Kendall for my self help and medical. They are available as paperbacks on Amazon.com, Kindle and ebooks for Nook and Kobo.

Q) You are certainly prolific. I think a lot of authors would be making the right move to work with you. Do you ever turn down manuscripts sent to you?

A) I don’t want to say “turn down,” but if they are poorly written, formatted and edited I will try to work with the writer and coach them in those areas. With coaching, my clients are able to work through many of those areas and getting a non-judgemental opinion can really be refreshing for a writer used to rejection or criticism. I will say it is very important to have your book professionally edited. I made the mistake of putting A Simple Case of Suicide out there after having friends good at grammar and English edit. Let me tell you I got three reviews from people telling me how badly they were edited. They all said they loved the story, but my editing sucked. Reviews show up on Amazon and influence how people will buy your book. Now that the book has been professionally edited, those negative reviews have stopped and sales are picking up.

Q) That’s wonderful news! I get the feeling that you truly care for the authors you work with. Have you had any success stories yet? Or would you say each new entry on Amazon is a success story?

A) I say each person who dares to write and put themselves and their books out there are heads above the average person. That is why my writing books are called A Daring Writer’s because we as writers really do open ourselves up for review, critique and criticism. So I say all my authors are successes whether they only give their books away to family members or they sell a million. For them to have taken that leap of faith makes them winners in my book!

So there we have another godsend to Authors! If you have a manuscript and you don’t want to make the journey by yourself– or you need someone to help you make it to success– you need to meet Laura and work with her. Thank you for coming over for the interview!

A Simple Case Of Suicide!

 

Playwright Jerry Rabushka Spills the Beans About His New Book

Jerry Rabushka is another of those guys I came across quite by accident. I was looking for new people to interview, as always. I saw a posting from him about his new book Star Bryan. What did I do next? I messaged him, of course, and asked him over to “Novel Ideas” for an interview with yours truly. Little did I know that Jerry is a well read and received playwright who has worked on numerous articles for his own magazines “The Paint Dealer” and “The Paint Contractor”. Then, I discovered that Jerry is also an accomplished musician with his own band. So what did we talk about? Cast your eyes downwards to see all revealed.

A Portrait of Jerry by Brett Steen

Jerry- Courtesy of Brett Steen

Q) Nice to meet you, Jerry. So tell me a bit about yourself.

A) Well, let’s see… I’m 52, I live in St. Louis, MO, and always have. In “real life,” I’m a magazine editor. I’ve written lots of plays, a few novels, I’m a pianist, composer/songwriter, etc. I have lots of published plays that are put on all over USA and sometimes abroad. Anything else?

Q) What’s the name of your magazine?

A) We have two, The Paint Dealer and The Paint Contractor. They are both trade magazines– one for independent paint retailers and one for professional painters. I’ve been at this job for twenty years

Q) You’re a talented guy. Would you agree with that statement?

A) Well, I like to think so.

Q) What would you name as your greatest achievement?

A) I don’t know, I was just thinking about that. I tend to be an overachiever. I think getting this book published was pretty cool, plus perhaps creating a body of over one hundred plays adds up to something useful.

Q) Can you name some of your best known plays? Some have stretched over the ocean to make it to the UK, right?

A) I think my most produced are “Lotto Date,” “Seeking Asylum” and “Jack, The Beanstalk, and Social Services.” I wrote a play called “Cinderella and the Birkenstocks” that was put on in Falkirk, Scotland by the Big Bad Wolf Children’s theater, it looks like it was quite a show! They usually do Disney type plays so I was honored to be in that mix

Q) Have you ever travelled to the UK?

A) Nope… but I’ve been to 49 states and a few provinces in Canada.

Q) Detroit?

A) Not in a while, but yep– well, the Metro area, I guess.

Q) Do you think Detroit deserves its reputation as the most dangerous city in the USA?

A) Well, I know it has lots of problems, but then again, St. Louis is usually rated #3 [most dangerous city] and I live here, and it all depends where you go. I’m sure there’s parts of both cities you’d want to avoid and parts that are really nice. There is a sense that Detroit needs to “start over.”

Q) It’s been said that the police are slowly turning the tide and cleaning the city up– would you place credence in that statement?

A) just from what I’ve read, yep. A lot of cities in the Midwest have declined and there’s a move to bring back central cities rather than expand any farther out

Q) Allentown, PA is another example of a declining city. Have you visited?

A) Nope, but just yesterday I heard a step-relative was planning a wedding there. Because of my job, I would visit paint stores all over America, so I’ve been to big and small cities and there’s cool things about both. I guess it’s natural that certain cities grow and others shrink, and every place can’t be at its zenith at once.

Q)Would you say, as a writer, you are at your zenith right now?

A) Hee hee.. Actually, I think I am much improved. I’m finding a new style lately. I like to think that in creative things like writing and music, that people get better as they get older due to the experience of doing it, and just having lived longer and knowing more things.

Q) So if you could give one piece of advice to your twenty year-old self, what would it be?

A) “Be patient” plus look for support and advice from people who are more experienced because you don’t know it all. Sometimes people will do more to discourage you than anything, and you need to be strong enough to believe in yourself and tell them to shove off.

Q) Have you ever felt as though you weren’t making enough progress with your written work?

A) There was a time I wrote a LOT of plays quickly, and I felt they were suffering in quality, so I stopped for a bit just to kind of recoup. I was lucky in that I found a publisher who really likes my plays and has encouraged me to write a lot. Yep, I guess I’m frustrated sometimes. I wish i was a “bigger name” than I am. I guess a lot of us do.

Q) So how did you start writing? What starting that ball rolling?

A) I used to write little stories even when I was six years old– just always did it. Once, I showed a short story to an English teacher, and she suggested it could be a play, and while I’d written a few plays at that time, that kind of got me more into playwriting, too.

I wrote a novel at seventeen; I guess that was my first “big thing” and I’m thinking of rewriting it now.

Q) Have you looked back and thought, “Yeah, I can make this better” or do you just like tinkering with work?

A) Sometimes you look at old stuff and go “eeewww why did I ever think that was any good?” With that particular novel I think there’s a lot of good in it, but it needs to have some better overall writing. The trick is, can I keep the same perspective thirty-five years later?

However, I think you need to write a lot that might not be so good, and just learn the craft so it’s not wasted time at all.

Q) So your advice to a young writer unsure of their work would be…?

A) Keep writing, plus perhaps find someone who is supportive and not cruel. No one needs to hear “this sucks” so much as “here’s how you might improve this.”

Also, read… I’ve been reading some classic novels and I can see how every sentence is constructed with care and thought, not just slapped together, and why these people are considered masters.

Green Fence

From a production of Green Fence – one of Jerry’s plays

Q) I imagine before you agreed to this interview you checked out my work. What did you think? Did a particular interview help you decide to be interviewed by me?

A) It was that it looked professional, and I didn’t feel I’d have anything to fear about being part of something half-assed. I interview people all the time for work, and I like to pride myself on getting their points of view across, which is why they’ll talk to me repeatedly.

Q) I agree– I try to get that feel into my work. I want my readers to know you as a writer. I must admit it’s a great thing for me working with a pro like yourself.

A) Aww, thanks. I feel lucky I make a living as a writer even if it’s about paint mostly, it’s still writing. Yay!

Q) Same here, we’ve all got to eat!

A) Yep… I like to eat. Too much sometimes, but who doesn’t like a good pancake?

Q) Do you guys have pancake day in the States?

A) Not that I know of, but we should. Besides, every day is pancake day.

I wrote a play where pancakes featured prominently.

Q) You did? What was it called? I need to read that one!

A) It’s “Woof! The Road Show” about a couple guys taking a “gay romance” play on the road. There’s a scene about “I love your pancakes almost as much as I love you.”

Q) I’d love to see it. Would you say your plays and books touch upon taboo subjects?

A) Many of them do, yep. I can run the gamut from clean enough for grandma to dirty enough for your other grandma.

Q) (laughs) That brings me to your latest novel. What’s it called and could you tell my readers what it’s about?

A) It’s called “Star Bryan,” which is the name of the main character. In the tradition of books like “Moll Flanders” and “Joseph Andrews” I thought it was a cool title. Essentially, Star leaves a bad relationship and spends the book trying to “find himself,” dealing with ex-boyfriends, current boyfriend, and other hangers on… plus coming to terms that his family might not be as loving and supportive as he used to think.

It’s hard to put 236 pages into a sentence, but there’s a good synopsis on the publishers website.

For me, Star’s problem is he tries to solve everyone else’s problems, and creates more for himself as well as the people he tries to “fix.”

Q) He’s a good guy essentially?

A) He’s a good guy who makes mistakes and has a problem saying “no” when sexual opportunity comes his way and he should run the other way.

Q) I understand your book deals with the black gay scene, correct? How have people taken to your work so far?

A) Yep… almost all the characters are black. Not sure I’d say it’s about “a scene” but perhaps so. The folks who have read it seemed to like it, they like the characters in it, particularly Star’s sister Arielle. People who aren’t black and gay are enjoying it, too; it’s not like you have to BE the character to like the book.

Q) Exactly, Jerry. So, do you believe this could be a groundbreaking book?

A) Well, I’d like to think so. I know there aren’t a ton of books about this particular topic but there are a lot if you look for them. I think what I’m good at is translating a “gay experience” to real life so that anyone can be comfy reading it. However, on the other hand, I‘ve never really seen a book quite like this but since I read older writing, that would make sense.

Q) I’ve read excerpts from this book. Would you agree with me that the book is suitable for the general readers out there? It’s not specialised.

A) I think so. There’s not a lot of “inside jokes” or anything. I think anyone can relate to the idea of just trying to put your life back together and trying to figure out “who you are.” Actually, to me, one of the cool parts of the book is the whole family dynamic in how he related to mom, dad, sis, etc.

Q) Do you think the whole “gay” stigma has become much reduced in recent years?

A) totally. Not everywhere, but I think it’s less unique. When I started writing gay characters in the ’80s, it was a way bigger deal than it is now. Since I’m gay, it’s where my heart is in writing about someone, as far as I can “feel” him. I think for me, character is more important than plot, though obviously you need a good story or no one will care.

Q) You know, Jerry, I spent much of my teenage life around a guy who was gay and it really taught me a lot about life itself. Being gay was shunned in the small village I grew up in, yet this guy was almost like a father to me. I have never in my life understood why anyone would choose to be “homophobic.”

A) I think it’s taught, obviously, plus people who don’t have a problem with gay people are afraid to say so, because others will just scorn and ostracize them.

Q) Yes, I found that in school quite a bit. People found out my mother’s best friend was “gay” and suddenly people would ignore me or whatever. I think it’s important that we have books like yours to get people out of their small minds and learn to be open-minded and accepting.

A) Well, yep, it should be obvious that gay people are “just like everyone else” but it’s not, because so many people educated their community that we are horrible and perverted, etc. It makes gay folks feel like they are, if that’s all they hear. In the book, I tried to avoid a lot of that but, of course, Star has to deal with problems of prejudice, both in and out of his family.

Q) Do you think it’s important for young gay people to be open and to stand up and say “Yes, I’m gay. Get over yourselves, haters!”

A) More or less, yep. Though if coming out would endanger your life, then perhaps you should wait for better circumstances. But on the whole, you shouldn’t make being gay “your problem.”

Q) I’ve got to tell you, Jerry, I like your book a lot. When will it be available to buy?

A) Thanks, very much! It’s available now online, at Amazon and from the publisher directly at Rebel Satori Press.

Q) Thanks, Jerry. I’ve really enjoyed this interview and I hope your book is a huge success!

I left this interview knowing that this would be an interesting article. Sometimes guys you just have to send a random email to a random person to find a gem. This was certainly a gem.

star bryanLinks for Jerry Rabushka:

Many of his plays are available at:
Get a copy of the wonderful Star Bryan novel here: UK  USA
Check out Jerry’s band The Ragged Blade Band through these links!