What inspires you to write?
Almost anything can spark an idea in me—I often feel like Allen Ginsberg in his “A Supermarket in California” where he is shopping for images up and down the grocery aisles. I shop for images in phrases that I hear, books that I read, TV shows and music that I hear, anything that trips my creative trigger.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Long before I deserved to describe myself as one. In college, I had an anthropology professor who kept pushing me to put my money where my mouth was and write something. He forced my hand one mid-term by posing several essay questions, one of which was a tease to get me to come up with a conquistador’s perspective in 1519. I gave him what he wanted, I got an A, and I started to actually use that clunky manual typewriter for things other than term papers.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I never thought of myself as a sci-fi author. It happened one afternoon when I had time to burn in my office and an idea came to me – what would happen to an ordinary human who is suddenly captured, drug off to a different dimension, lose his sight, and have to adapt to life on a planet where he understands nothing he hears, or understand anything he can’t see? From that concept came a series of four books set on Beta-Earth, one set on Cerapin-Earth, and then a new series featuring new characters set on our earth twenty years in our future. All that from one-afternoon near-nap.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
I think of myself as a full-time writer as that’s what I try to do all the time. Since I retired from teaching, I have had lots of time to work on all the aspects of writing, promoting, marketing.
What are some day jobs you have held?
For 33 years, I taught college English in Texas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. I’ve also been a co-host on an online radio show, a drummer in various Texas bands, and owner of a second-hand record store and my own advertising agency.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m always learning, especially from fellow writers who swap critiques with me in a writers’ group I belong to. I think I’m tighter than I used to be, more vivid in my descriptions, less verbose than I used to be.
What have you written so far?
In my early days (in the ‘1980s), I wrote a lot of short non-fiction: encyclopedia and scholarly articles, academic essays, the like. Then I spent about five years as a rather successful poet. Then I spent about a decade working on my first four non-fiction books on fictional espionage before the sci-fi bug bit me. All along, I’ve pumped an endless flood of book reviews.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
At first, I shopped around for a good press for my Spy Television and hit paydirt when a friend of mine became an editor of a genre series for Praeger Publishers who ended up publishing three hard-cover books for me. Then I shifted over to BearManor Media as I knew the publisher and I wanted a book more affordable than the Praeger hardcover volumes priced for libraries. BearManor published the first six books of the Beta-Earth Chronicles until I decided to go indy as BearManor never lifted a finger to help promote or market my fiction.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
Return to Alpha: A New Saga Begins is set on our planet about twenty years in the future after we’ve been hit by horrific waves of weaponized plagues released by terrorists along with the impact of global warming all over the planet. Six aliens from two other earths arrive hoping to share wisdom and perspectives from very different human cultures. But suspicious Alphans first imprison the aliens to keep them quiet before the aliens escape and go on a cross-country chase…to say more might lead me to spoilers.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Well, describing everything on different earths is relatively easy as I have the liberty to create pretty much anything I want. Using our planet as a setting forced me to dive into research about geography and the effects of climate change so readers familiar with any of the settings and science would find the descriptions credible and plausible.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Shaping a new cast of, to me, very likable and charismatic characters. If you love them as much as I do, then this book was a success. On top of that, I hope the inclusive message of the book reaches readers like it has some reviewers.