How often do you read?
Anymore I read very infrequently. The last time I sat down and read was maybe a month ago. I got a random, free book on my Kindle that I read maybe 6 pages of. Before that I think the last time I read something was when I got most of the way through High Moor earlier this year. I have always read at a slow speed since I mentally read it out loud. I have tried to learn faster reading skills and was able to noticeably increase my speed. However, it seemed to lose a lot of the enjoyment doing so.
Do you find reading to be important?
Yes, very much so. There are many stories that the best format is literature. You can learn how to express yourself, understand others, give your creativity a workout, and many other skills.
Are people who read often the best people?
No. If they go out of their way to inform you that they read a lot or how great people who read a lot there is a chance that they are an elitist. Elitism is another form of dick. Don’t be a dick.
Should people read frequently even if they dislike doing so?
In general a person shouldn’t do things they don’t enjoy if they don’t enjoy to do so. They shouldn’t give up on it because of this. There may be a type of literature they haven’t tried yet, or an author, or get into the right mood. If they have given it a good try and still don’t enjoy it then don’t read.
What is your favorite book? Author? Genre?
My favorite anything is often really hard to choose. I don’t have a single favorite book, but some I would list among my favorites would be Marc Cerasini’s Godzilla series, all of the Terry Pratchett books I’ve read thus far, The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, the MtG book The Brothers’ War by Jeff Grubb.
As for authors I really enjoy the work I’ve seen by Geoff Johns (specifically his work on Green Lantern some years ago), Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, and probably some others.
My all-time favorite genre is horror. The very polarized good vs. evil, the cliché archetypical characters, monsters and villains, the ability to show humanity at its very best and worst, and the ability to really overlap it with practically any other genre. I have always loved monster movies, be they giant monsters like Godzilla, classic monsters like werewolves and vampires, mythological monsters, or brand new ones. My time studying zoology has really seemed to increase my interest in this while decreasing my ability to suspend disbelief. I do really like trying to come up with realistic creatures, or trying to mentally dissect the monster on the screen.
Where do you start with a story?
Where I personally start is anywhere and everywhere. I’ve had stories begin with a random scene, a character concept, some kind of theme for the world, spring boarding off of ideas from other sources, or anywhere else, really.
Is it more important to build a world around your characters or to create characters that fit into your world?
I would say that it is far more important to have malleable characters in a static world. The more consistent the world your story occurs in the easier it is for readers to stay in the story. It is easier to achieve this as an author if you work on creating a consistent world. If you change the world to accommodate characters it can easily lead to contradictory circumstances if you’re attempting to accommodate for multiple characters. However, it is important to make a world suited for the characters you want in it. There is a certain degree of give and take between the two that is required to make a good balance.
What form of writing do you prefer? Genre?
My overall preferred form of writing would be short stories. For literature I have found it to be the most satisfying overall as I can get the story I want to tell out in reasonable time while having enough room to clearly tell the story. I used to prefer poetry for similar reasons, but over time I’ve found that it wasn’t quite adequate for getting the story itself across to the reader clearly. However, I still turn to poetry for quick ideas, non-narrative expressions, and the like. I have mixed feelings about longer formats, such as novels. I do like being able to work more in depth with an idea, really flesh out characters, and take a reader on a long journey. The problem for me, however, is that I have a hard time sticking to the long journey of writing it.
Is literature your preferred creative medium? If not, what is?
Literature is not actually my preferred medium. I would actually list it as third. My first would be visual media such as television or movies with second being music. I tend to think visually and mentally narrate stories that I’m either writing or reading in this way. It can be difficult sometimes to try and translate that to a purely written format and get across what I see in my mind clearly and efficiently. At some point, after I get through at least one or two projects that I’m working on right now, I want to move on to tackling script writing. I think it is something that I would be good at. Music is simply impactful. You can practically run the full spectrum of emotions in less than an hour on a full album. Like poetry it is the fastest way to get a story across with any efficiency, it gets right to the climax and you can experience the entire story in minutes. This kind of experience is something that I have not been able to find a way to translate it to longer stories. If feels like there is too much dead time in stories for me to be able to effectively get across a similar experience that can be done with music.
What subjects do you consider to be off limits to the hands of writers?
As a general rule nothing is off limits, nor should anything be off limits. If it exists, if it can be thought of, if a single person can envision it than it should be a part of literature. I will say, as a means to not turn that into an invitation to write the most horrific, obscene pile of excreted prose possible, that a person should limit themselves to what they are capable of writing. If you don’t know how to write specific types of characters either learn to or limit your use of them. Writing things you don’t know how to write well does not end well. And, for the love of all that is literature, never, ever use something like rape as a tool to motivate the hero to jump into action. By doing so you make the victim nothing more than a violated plot device. Write people as people, not plot devices as people. It isn’t off limits; you just suck at using it.
What influences your writing?
Everything. I get inspiration from each and every part of my life. Let’s take a recent example with the story I tried to write for the second Sojourn Anthology. I first got the idea when thinking about horror movies and how The Descent is rather unique with its entirely female cast. Then I started thinking that would be a good kind of story to write and went with it. I sort of went with the beginning of the movie where they all were on a group vacation; only I kept the story inside the cabin itself. For the character interactions I thought back to what my brother and his friends were like and tried to just switch the genders of those involved. For the two women in a relationship I took queues from my past relationships, and for one of those women I based her half off of an ex and half off of Tara from Buffy. If it inspires you, use it. Don’t steal it, however.
Do you prefer to write male or female characters? Any preference in regards to other aspects of characters such as ethnicity, orientation, or religion?
I imagine I’m better at writing male characters, and only marginally do I prefer writing them. I am male and have been my whole life so I can associate with other males easier, and I am able to picture myself as the male characters easier as well. I think my go to character type would be white, rational, straight male. That is who I am and I used to use myself as a generic placeholder character. Though, more recently, I have consciously tried to diversify my use of characters for several reasons. Part of this is that I don’t want to get in a rut of using the same type of characters. I also want to get better at writing overall and using characters that are new and unique people is a good way to do this. Lastly there is sort of the self-conscious feeling that I need to diversify because there should be diversity. For the most part I have tended to not address the religious nature of characters. It hasn’t really been an aspect of any story I have written in recent memory.
How hard is it to write characters that differ drastically from you?
I’m not really sure to be honest. This isn’t because I try and avoid characters that are different. I think it is more that I have learned how to place myself behind other viewpoints. Trying to imagine things as a character that sees the world very differently from me is more of an exercise in adjusting to a viewpoint than it is a burden.
Is it easier to write the good guys or the bad guys? Which are more fun to write?
Which is more fun? Most certainly the bad guys. I feel like there is a lot more wiggle room with them, I can explore so many different aspects of what the character could be than I can with the good guys. There is also the freedom in them not always having to be a bad guy. That is a bit more difficult when you start with someone as the good guy. Which is easier? I would say neither is necessarily easier. Sometimes you get the good guy who just falls right into place for the story while you’re stuck working out what makes the villain tick. Other times it is the exact opposite scenery. They each produce their own challenge which is something that I personally love.
What are some advantages and disadvantages to literature versus other forms of media?
Being practically the only person responsible for how the story turns out is both a major advantage and sometimes an equally big disadvantage. In music you have the entire band that needs to perform the song right, the sound guys who need to mix it correctly, and so on. Film is even worse. You have all the actors who need to act the script you wrote, a director, producer, sound and visual effects, post production, and so on. In literature you have to put in less effort to the story telling experience, you can say the damsel in distress screams and the reader imagines just how she screamed. You don’t have any budget to worry about; there can be explosions, 500-ft monsters, and any sort of event you want.
However, there are certainly severe limitations to literature as well. As I’ve said before it doesn’t have the instant oomph that music tends to have, and at least for me is well below most film media on the oomph scale. I’ve also mentioned how I tend to think visually, and this is something that is hard to translate well to the written word sometimes. The biggest roadblock I’ve hit is in literature you can only have one thing happening at a time. You can say multiple things are happening at once, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have to describe them one at a time. In film you can have multiple layers going on at once. The main, foreground story can happen while silly antics occur in the background, for example. Another one is subtleties in the background. One example that I’ve thought about a lot is from the movie Alligator. There is a scene where the main character and a rookie cop are down in the sewers. The rookie shines his flashlight around, but just as it passes over the massive alligator they look away. Sure, you can say that happens but it feels like it has lost most of its significance to just state it. That, or perhaps a scene where events occur out of the main focus that you can easily miss yet still add to the story. Say someone is walking through the park at night. From a bush you can see for a half second the gleam of animal eyes. A little bit later you can see the back of a large animal move through the shadows. All of this is occurring while the character is talking on the phone or otherwise drawing your attention to them. Then, seemingly without warning to those who missed the queues, the beast attacks. If you were to write this everyone would know what is coming, or no one would. It is really hard to get some kind of middle ground here.
Are you guilty of writing your own Mary Sue?
Yes. However, I feel quite proud that I try to stay far away from Mary Sue fanfic. A small victory, but a great service to society.
How do animals fit into your stories?
For the most part my stories have no included a strong animal element. There are a few exceptions, though. Honeymoon involves the ghost of a wolf from the early 1900s, and it is sort of a hero. Perhaps more of an anti-hero but still a hero. I have toyed with the idea of doing animal horror. Something along the lines of Jaws, Anaconda, or any of those movies but trying to make it at least scientifically plausible. That last part has made it rather difficult.
Have you ever considered making one a main character?
There is a story idea I had been trying to flesh out that would have had a primarily animal cast. The story would have been about animals at the human society, with the main character being a young dog that had just arrived. Outside of that I can’t recall any ideas I’ve had that would have had animal main characters.
(less serious -->) How about an evil bunny antagonist?
The Monty Python bunny and Bunnicula both make this a very tough niche to do well in. However, I’m sure it can be done.
Current Residence: Thic Chair, Colorado
Favourite genre of music: Metal
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