You work full time as a technology executive, how do you find time for writing?
Balancing work, my personal life, and writing is a huge challenge. I also now have a new category competing for time which is promotion activities. For some reason, I have an internal alarm clock that goes off at 6am, even on the weekends. So, I typically write from 6am to 9am on Saturdays and Sundays. I sneak in small amounts of time on weekday evenings, when the writing is going well. Lately, I just try to make a little progress every day.
“Do You Realize?” is the winner of four literary awards. You must be very proud of this accomplishment. Does this recognition add any pressure in terms of writing another book?
I am proud of this book and I absolutely feel the pressure for my next book. But it’s not due to winning awards, it’s understand everything that comes after publishing a book. There is an advantage to be a first-time novelist and being a little naïve. I’ve learned so much and now all of that is in the back of my mind when I write. It means a slower process, but hopefully it also means an easier time through editing and rewriting. I certainly want my second novel to be better than my first and that ups the stakes.
Did you always want to be a writer/Author or is this a recent decision/calling?
I’ve always been a reader, and a reader that enjoyed guessing where the story was headed. I think that’s the first sprout of a writer. I tried my hand at writing a novel in my thirties, but the story dried up. I felt like I didn’t have enough to say. When I hit fifty I felt a strong urge to try again. And this time, I had a much broader set of experiences to draw upon, and I was able to put together a full story.
Did working in the field of technology help you in wring this book?
Only a little, it’s not necessary a creative, left brain career. However, being a leader, I did have to learn to express my thoughts and ideas in a way that others could understand. And I like to think that it has given me an ability to explain some complex subjects in a straightforward manner.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Authors?
Yes, my advice is to start, now! Writing is a muscle and the more you exercise it the stronger it will become. So, if you’re not ready for a short story or a novel, just journal about your life. Write about your past, write about fears, write about your dreams. Write down your unique observations on life and you will be surprised how they become rich fodder for stories down the road.
Herman Melville once said, ” To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” I am always fascinated with how Authors come up with their story-lines/ideas/themes for their books. How did you come up with the idea of “Do You Realize?”
My novel came from several different places. First, I had just hit fifty and was going through a bit of my own mid-life crisis. When you realize half of your life is over, it’s hard not to spend some time think what’s it all about. In addition, I had been reading some science books that I was finding fascinating, everything from quantum mechanics to stellar evolution. I had some ideas to tie some of that thinking together. In addition, you should see some parallels from “It’s a Wonderful Life” in my book, which is one of my favorite movies. Finally, I have kids that are moving though life and now and then I sit down and write them letters with some thoughts and advice on life. I borrowed from all these things and tried to tell a story that would connect these subjects.
Out of all the characters who have written in this book, do you have a favorite character and if so, why is this character your favorite?
Shiloh is by far my favorite character. I enjoy his enthusiasm and positivity. And while he has some sage advice, he also has some naiveté about him that makes him vulnerable. He’s a bit socially awkward but he can overcome it with an eagerness to make a difference. A reader told me that George is my ego, Shiloh my superego and Cade is my Id. It’s been a while since I’ve studied Freud, but I guess it sort of works and it certainly made me laugh.
What do your friends and family think of you becoming an Author? What has their reaction been to your book?
They went through the five stages of support, lol. It starts with Disbelief, they often think your joking when you tell them your writing a novel, or that you’ll never finish. Then it’s on to Concern, what if it’s awful, how do I break the news to him? Next is Acceptance – I guess he’s serious about this, so I’ll begrudging support him. After they read it, it’s often Surprise, how did you do that? Where did you find the time? And then finally they come to Pride. They finally begin to tell others and find ways to help. This is a cliché, but the only one to really support me from day one was my wife, she was more confident in my abilities than I was.
Are you currently writing a book? If so, can you give me a brief synopsis on it?
My problem is that I’m working on two. The first is an adult fiction story that takes place in a downtown Minneapolis Irish pub. It’s intended to be somewhat fun and lighthearted, but underneath are some serious and even dark themes. It starts with the opening of the pub in 1890’s and follows the pub to modern day. There is a cast of somewhat broken characters that find each other to form a different kind of family. A pub setting is also a great scenario to discuss themes from many different viewpoints.
The second story is a young adult science fiction story of a group of children in a world with very limited resources. Everything about their world is different but they still go through many of the same challenges, fear, peer pressure, concerns about growing up, etc. It’s more of an adventure story. I wanted to take on some world-building and end up with a story that my future grandkids would enjoy. I really need to pick on and focus on it!
How long did it take you to write Do you Realize?
It took me seven months to write the first draft. Then it was an additional year and a half to find a publisher and go through three rounds of edits and rewrites. The rewriting was much harder than the first draft, but the book was exponentially better after. My primary editor was fantastic, and I learned so much from her. She was brutally honest and set high expectations for my rewrites. It was a little like going through boot camp, but I came though the other side as an author.
When you are not busy working, writing and spending time with your family, what do you like to do for fun?
I love music and we always have music playing in our house. My wife and I try to get to three or four concerts a year, the smaller and more intimate the better. I prefer classic rock or alternative, but if it’s good I enjoy a wide range. I also coach youth athletics (soccer and basketball) and really enjoy seeing kids improve and learn to be part of a team. My wife and I like to travel, but with three kids, it’s limited. I’m also a horrible golfer, but I do enjoy it.
Stephen King once said “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time to write. Simple as that.” Do you agree? If so, tell us what you enjoy reading!
Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and I’ve found his advice to dead on. I think reading make writers better plain and simple. I love science fiction, but I try to read many genres including historical fiction, fantasy, science, popular fiction, and the occasional business/management book. There is never enough time for reading and my ‘to be read’ list is depressingly long. After writing my first novel, I now occasionally find a new emotion when I read which is jealousy!