You and your wife own a bookstore, all day you are surrounded by books, did you always love books and/or reading?
I don’t remember not being able to read. I’ve always loved reading and was the kid that asked for books for Christmas. If I received a trilogy on Christmas Day, I’d have it read before the New Year started.
Who are your favorite Authors? What is your favorite book?
I grew up reading Golden Age science fiction and short stories of the pulp era. I love the works of Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Joe Haldeman, Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Picking my favorite book? That’s like asking to pick my favorite limb. I’m attached to them all, but I’ve probably re-read “The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman the most. I first read it at age thirteen and re-read it every couple years and get something new every time.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
I find I write best at night. After we close the store for the day, I go home, eat supper, and then come back to write at the store. I love writing being surrounded by books and the store cats, Huck & Finn.
Between owning a business and writing, do you ever have time to read or engage in other hobbies?
I’ve written a webseries with Bill Robertson called From My Shelf Books Vs. The Evil Empire, and also acted in it, though calling it acting may be a stretch. I did meet my wife while participating in a short play festival produced by Hamilton-Gibson Productions here in Tioga County. I wouldn’t mind doing another short play, but haven’t had the time lately. I also enjoy movies, anything from documentaries to cheesy horror films, and follow a couple television shows—such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Also, being a writer is a sort of allowance to read or check out anything of interest—from a class on stage combat to visiting a museum or the largest Viking longboat in existence.
As a reader I often think of how I would have ended books differently (if I did not care for an ending/or if the ending is ambiguous) Do you, as a writer, ever think, as you are reading, how you would have written the book differently?
I seldom do. As I life-long reader, I am seldom surprised by how a book ends, but I usually don’t think how I would have finished it. I’m more apt to get a fragment that leads me to a story idea of my own.
Do you think being an Author makes you more critical of other Authors books? Or, are you more supported of their books because you know what goes into the process of writing?
I enjoy stories and how other people tell them. Every writer is different from the skill or writing to the skill of storytelling. I do find I appreciate skilled writing even more, especially the subtle things—such as filling in backstory without pulling me out of the narrative, or worldbuilding without boring me. I am more understanding of the time it takes to put out a good book. Even a short work can take time. Sure, I wait in anticipation of the next book of a series, but I want it to be worth that wait.
Are your story lines (or characters) ever based on people and/or situations in your life? If so, how do people react to that?
My story lines aren’t usually taken from personal situations. I’ve never faced a wolf the size of a bull moose. No character is based any one person, but sometimes I’ll use an aspect of a person, like a character trait, but each character I create becomes their own special person. My friend’s sense of humor, was a big influence on the character of Tom in Operation Ragnarok. I actually decided to name the character Tom, because my friend’s name is Tom. He personally loved it, but I did have his permission to do that. I don’t think I’d have done it otherwise. Finn, our store cat, has a cameo in Operation Ragnarok, and all our cats are members of the notorious Cat Board in the Totally Ninja Raccoons, our cats don’t seem to mind.
You write a particular genre, what draws you to this genre?
Operation Ragnarok is basically mythical adventure. I loved mythology growing up–Greek, Roman, Norse, Native American Mythology. It’s a way to describe the way the world is. It’s storytelling at the most basic level.
Do you have more book ideas in mind?
I always have ideas. I’m working on a follow-up to Operation Ragnarok, but also have a young adult book that I’ve done some plotting on some as well as another book in my children’s series, The Totally Ninja Raccoons.
How long did it take you to write Operation Ragnarok?
It’s hard to put a time stamp on it. I actually first wrote Operation Ragnarok as a screenplay, but what do you do with a screenplay? If you don’t know anyone in Hollywood, or aren’t lucky, you don’t do anything with it. I put the screenplay in a drawer and ignored it, but it wouldn’t stay there. I wanted to get the story out, and decided to novelize my own screenplay. Once I started to do that, it probably took me four months of writing after work to get it where I wanted it to be as a novella.
Reading is an escape for me. I love to relax and read. What do you do to relax?
I do read to relax. Writing does often cut into the amount of time I read, but I read every day. I read every night before bed. Sometimes it’s several chapters, and sometimes it’s only three or four pages. Who am I kidding; it’s almost at least a chapter. Yeah, I don’t sleep much.
Who did your book cover and how much input did you have on it’s creation?
Operation Ragnarok is a very Tioga County book. Annette Redman did the cover, and she lives and is from Wellsboro Pennsylvania. The concept was mine, but I find it best to let an artist do what an artist does, and that is create. I told her what I was thinking of, and she brought it to life. So, the cover really is a product of her creativity. It matches the spirit of the book exactly, at least I think so. I have a different illustrator for my children series, the Totally Ninja Raccoons, and that illustrator has always chosen what to put on the cover. He always reads the book, and I’ve suggested things, but have always loved the final product.