My Name - I was named after my Grandpa John and my Grandpa Andrew. Grandpa John worked as a machinist at a bakery for almost his entire life. Grandpa Andrew emigrated from Slovakia and worked as a coal miner when he was a young adult and then changed professions and worked as a locomotive engineer.
Interesting Person I Have Met - I met Captain James Lovell (Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, Apollo 13) at his restaurant in Lake Forest, Illinois. After a business dinner, some of my co-workers and I were able to talk with him for ten to fifteen minutes about his days at NASA. I was honored to be able to shake his hand.
Interesting Places I have Been - I have traveled to Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Japan on business. But the most interesting place I have traveled to was to an electric power plant inside the Arctic Circle. The plant used a crane to carry tree bark from a lumber mill to the power plant's steam boiler. The crane was not working properly, so I had to work with them to fix the problem. It took me about sixteen hours of flying and driving to get to the small town where the plant was located. It had one blinking yellow stop light, a KFC and a hotel (that had been built onto the side of someone's house). Even though I went there in June, the high temperature was in the 40s and it snowed overnight.
Most Harrowing Moment - I worked in a chemical plant, as an instrument technician, right after I graduated from college. One day I was asked to test a transducer that was located on the top of a separation tower in the ethylene plant. The tower was over 250 feet tall and was the tallest structure in the county. To get to the top, I rode in the basket of a crane. When I reached the platform that was on the top of the tower, I had to climb out of the crane basket and onto the platform. I was of course wearing a safety harness when I did this, but climbing from the basket to the platform was terrifying.
Prized Possessions - God has blessed me with a great life and numerous belongings. I have a guitar pic that Gene Simmons (bass player in the band Kiss) threw into the crowd during a concert. Actually my wife was the one that was able to get the pic. She was standing close to the stage taking pictures of Gene and he tossed the pic at her. Other fans standing nearby saw Gene toss the pic and a melee ensued. My wife as able to wrestle through the fracas after getting kicked in the nose, grab the pick and stick it into her pocket. She presented me with the pic after the concert. (What a wonderful wife.)
The Questions and Answers:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started out writing articles for engineering magazine about ten or twelve years ago. The company I work for helps find magazines that will print them and encourages us to write them to promote ourselves and the company. After having some success with this, about five years I got the idea to write a novel. I didn’t really know what I was doing or anything about indie authorship at that time. It’s funny to think how much I have learned in the last five years, as well as how much more I need to learn. I currently have two independently published novels (Footprints and The Scorpion) and one in the works.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It has taken me about fourteen months to create my first two books. The one I am currently working on will be about the same, as I hope to have it released in November.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I put in a 40-hour work week, so my writing time is limited. I normally put in four or five hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I wish I could spend more time writing but it’s just not possible. But on the bright side, writing a book over an extended period of time gives you a chance to process the story line to make sure it’s realistic and allows you to come up with ideas to make it more enjoyable. I wrote both “Footprints” and “The Scorpion” this way.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmm… this is a tough one. I don’t have any really weird ones like I have to eat green M&Ms or wear the same tube socks while I write. I guess I’m kind of anal about backing up my work. I’m also anal about consistency. If I call a piece of equipment a “handheld”, I want to make sure it is spelled and formatted the same way throughout the entire book. So it’s not “hand-held” in one chapter and “hand held” in another. Other than that, I can’t really think of anything. Maybe I’ll have to invent a quirk so I’m more interesting.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Inspiration tends to hit me in a few different ways. Sometimes when I’m reading a novel or a comic book or watching a movie I’ll be listening to the story and pinpoint something very small and trivial happening that might have legs to be its own piece of work. I write these ideas down on a list for possible future stories. Music lyrics tend to hit me like that too. I also have the random lightning bolt that hits me while I’m working on something, like cutting the grass.
I tend to write about real things and situations and create a story around it. I commonly use Wiki-pedia to get some details on these things and situations. In “The Scorpion” there is a character named the “Folsum Street Avenger”. His name was created from an event that happened about ten years ago in San Francisco. I used Wiki to research the event and then inter-twine it into the story.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
About five years ago, I got the idea to write my first real novel. So that would have made me 46 years old. I guess I’m a late bloomer.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to go to the gym. During the winter we like to watch movies. In the summer, my wife and I barbeque and relax on our deck. I like putzing around with my old El Camino sometimes too.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
It’s very difficult to introduce your book to the public. I read that there are 70,000 new books sent to Amazon (worldwide) every month! Having people find your book in an ocean that enormous is very difficult. Getting your book in front of people is so difficult. But I guess organizations like yours and GoodReads and Author’s Den are there to help.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
I tend not to have a favorite author, actor, sports player. My mind never worked that way. I guess I just love to read books (and watch movies) with twisty story lines, and I thought that I could write books with that same kind of excitement. “The Scorpion” really falls into that category. I think it’s great when readers tell me “Wow… I didn’t see that coming!” And once I heard that, I was hooked and I wanted to write more of them.
What do you think makes a good story?
I like to read mysteries and thrillers that have a techy, futuristic aspect to them (think Blade Runner). And that’s pretty much what I write. I love the unexpected and find it really entertaining when the storyline twists you into knots, only to have it become one hundred percent clear in the end.
I received a copy of a rock-and-roll tell-all novel as a Christmas gift a few years ago and I thought it was incredibly interesting. I’ve kind of followed that band wagon for the last five or six books I have read. While they aren’t necessarily epic novels of exceptional writing, they do draw me in, reminding me of past times and places and I find them hard to put down. And isn’t that what a good book is supposed to do?