When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in kindergarten, because I didn’t care to play outside and needed to have adventures. Now I’m old and tired and not at all adventurous—except inside my head. Everything is more interesting inside my head. The rest of me is boring.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not a writer. I’ve never considered myself a writer. I don’t think in those terms. I’m just the guy with an overactive imagination who watches the characters inside my head go out and do stupid things. All I do is fill out the incident reports.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
The genre I’m writing in at the moment is a sort of mish-mash of urban fantasy, high fantasy, epic fantasy, science fiction, vampire lit, adventure, horror, and a few others. It started as a vampire story, mostly because I read lots of stuff.
How does that relate? Well, I was in a bookstore, reading something on the New Release shelf, and it was a vampire novel. About a chapter in, I thought, “Maybe it gets better.” About a hundred pages in, I thought, “This isn’t getting better, but how can I look away from the horror of this train wreck?” At the end of the book, I thought, “I want those two hours of my life back. I could eat a pen and produce a better book tomorrow morning!”
So, instead of eating a pen, I wrote one. I have delicate digestion.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
Just because it’s pegged as a specific genre doesn’t mean there’s not a dozen other sub-genres lurking in the pages. It might be easy to say The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy series, but it has action, adventure, a high moral tone, religious parallels, and a whole host of other things.
Just because I’m writing “a vampire series” doesn’t make it a “Oh, the horrors of the night, that I shall never again be graced with the sight of the rising Sun, but must endure the darkness of eternal night and the bitter loneliness of this cursed undead existence!” My protagonist is a person, not a creature, and he’s a lot of things besides “just a vampire.”
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
I’m a full-time writer. As for how it affects my writing, it means I do a lot more of it. I wake up whenever I stop sleeping. I make a grueling commute of ten or twelve steps to my office. I sit down, re-read what I wrote last time, hate it, rewrite it, then continue from there. Eventually, I make more typos than real words, so it’s time to go to bed—whenever that is; six hours or twenty-six, whenever I finally get tired.
Somewhere in there, I pause for things like food, laundry, and other necessities.
Oh, and I try to answer my fan mail. Sometimes it falls off my electronic desk though, and for that I apologize to anyone who has written and not heard back from me!
What are some day jobs you have held?
Delivery driver, burger flipper, dishwasher, radio DJ, strip club DJ, pharmacist technician, I.T. grouch, Excel macro programmer, private tutor, lawn mower, amateur axe-thrower, crime scene cleanup specialist, cremationist.
What have you written so far?
There’s the Nightlord series, books one through seven, so far.
Luna, the sci-fi novel.
Dragonhunters, which is book one of a series I haven’t had time to continue. (Nightlord books are tomes!)
Several short stories, including “Nazin’s Dream,” a tale of a poet and a genie, “Vacuum Cleaver,” a sci-fi adventure, and “The Ways of Cats,” which is either a horror piece (if you don’t like cats) or a fairy tale (if you do.)
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
I always have a general outline, but it may only have two levels of detail for the most part. I try not to let the outline be a bible to follow. It’s a dangerous thing, setting sail on the sea of imagination. There’s no telling what storms may come or what islands you may discover.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read everything. Not just the stuff you like, but the stuff your English teachers said to read. Not because you’ll learn to like it, but because it broadens your understanding of the craft.
When you find authors you love, read everything they write. When you’re stuck, wondering what to write about, or how to phrase something, or how to make a scene work, go back to those touchstones. Re-read a favorite book. Come back to yours with your other author’s words still echoing in your mind and it’ll be like having someone singing with you—all you have to do is harmonize, not go solo.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
A vampire wizard who travels through magical gates among many worlds adopts an abandoned child because the locals believe the infant girl has no soul. He raises her as his own, teaching her everything he can about science, mathematics, magic, combat, literature, and ethics.
Once she grows up, she has to figure out what she wants to do with her life. What is she qualified for? What will she do? And can her father stand aside and let her?
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing this book?
The need to eat. And the fact I have fans who will hunt me down, chain me to a desk, and stand over me with high-voltage “persuasion devices” if I don’t write it.
Tell us more about your main character. What makes him or her unique?
The difficulty with the question is not the lack of material, but where to start.
Thinking chronologically, he’s an untenured professor of computer science and physics who is involuntarily turned into a vampire. He learns of multiple worlds by being dropped into one. There, he learns about being a wizard. The vampire (specifically, a species of vampire called “nightlords”) is seduced by a priestess of a fire-goddess. This causes multi-generational issues. He staggers blindly into being a king, simply because he’s a nice guy and has no idea how his actions will be viewed by the locals.
He likes kids. Kids love him. Cats hate him and avoid him like he’s about to eat them. He doesn’t do well with losing things he loves and he loves surprisingly easily—surprising to him, anyway, since he doesn’t usually notice until he’s threatened with losing something. He is seldom capricious, but often kind, and can be a right bastard if you start off by being impolite. Never tell him he “can’t” do something. “You can’t do that!” “You keep saying that. I don’t think you understand it. You mean you think I shouldn’t. Clearly, I am quite capable.”
Hurt him and he’ll be angry. Hurt his “horse” and he’ll be much less pleasant. Hurt a child and you won’t suffer—at least, not until whatever’s left of you arrives in Hell.
He has no sense of moral obligation, but he tries really hard to be ethical. He’s not perfect, he knows it, and he accepts it as inevitable.
And, despite all of this, he has been known to demonstrate pity, compassion, generosity, and even outright, clear-cut kindness, expecting nothing in return.
What is your next project?
Book eight. I’m closing in on an ending to the Nightlord series. Then I can write more on the Dragonhunters series, as well as do some side-quest pieces off the “Nightlord” tree—a book or two from the viewpoint of other characters, I think.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Roger Zelazny, Robert Heinlein, and E.E. Smith.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I like Steven Brust’s work.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
If I had one wish for changing the world, it would be this. That everyone in the world would become a better person, so that I would be the worst person in the world. Everyone would become smarter, wiser, healthier, more tolerant, more gracious, more understanding—every single quality a human can possess. Everyone would gain them, and gain them in a degree at least slightly greater than my own capacity for such things, making me the worst person in the world.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
It’s a tough choice. If I could be a professional at running tabletop role-playing games, that would be nice. I could also stand to be a professional mattress tester. I think I could do well at that. I wouldn’t mind being a starship captain, I think, but it would depend on the type of starship. I would take the job of Time Lord in a double heartbeat.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?