1. When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to improve my skills at impressing others with entertaining stories for as long as I can remember, from when I first learned sentence structure as a toddler. Comedy was emotionally necessary to my personal survival and to my family’s continued existence. Reality was just too tough for any of us to deal with, so it was an interpersonal tradition to promote fantastical and fun beliefs, such as “he used to be a good man” about my abusive when intoxicated father. This was a recurring line that caused everybody to laugh each and every time that it was spoken. I realized that I wanted to make up funny stories, and to write jokes, ever since I got a big laugh from my first audience in preschool. I still write jokes, and I'm quick witted in social situations. I love really bad jokes, the ones that everyone goes, "aahhh!" when the punch line is delivered. Maybe it's genetic. When my son was two years old, he made up his first joke. My wife's name is Rita. He came up with the line, "diah…Rita" and continues to use it as needed to inform others about this digestive distress, whether he has it or not.
2. Is becoming an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen? The best and worst thing about it?
In my opinion, Maslow, the famous psychologist, was correct about his theorized hierarchy of needs. My first ambitious dreams were of safety and security for me and my family. The first time that I dreamed about becoming a writer was after I won the eighth grade short story competition -- a story about a redneck semi truck driver who debated Jewish and Christian theology so compulsively that he lost concentration on the road and caused a terrible highway accident. The best thing about writing is the catharsis that is achieved when I put together abstract concepts expressed in plain words and by using subcultural colloquialisms, such as the word, “ain’t” or the phrase, “I know that’s right, honey.” The worst thing about writing is the lack of focus on the job the next day after staying up too late.
3. What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
The first thing that I wrote on paper -- in Appalachia there is a rich oral history -- was a limerick that I used to sell copies of a local newspaper door-to-door when I was a very cute seven year old. I fine tuned it until it was just right. That limerick helped me set an all-time sales record for the newspaper and got my picture on its front page.
4. What made you create (your book)? How did it come to you?
I have over forty years of child advocacy work behind me. During this time, I witnessed horrors that no subgenre writer of gothic, dystopian, or apocalyptic fiction could imagine. For decades, I had met my need to write with nonfiction on various child welfare topics published by local agencies, most by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked from '82 to '97. Then, one day in 2006, during a group psychotherapy session that I was facilitating, a traumatized a little girl sat a few feet away from me, around the table used to complete therapeutic worksheets. During that session, my protagonist was born. The little girl became my role model of victimization to empowerment. I haven’t stopped writing about her since. Her name is Lacy Dawn, and I recommend that you not vex her or it’s hard to tell what you’ll get, probably a zap!
5. Who is your literary hero?
My literary hero is Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a Beat Generation poet who was born in 1919 and is still alive today. He had a way of turning moral anger into comic inspiration. His comments about the book industry in the ‘50s would be worth reading now: “The future of publishing lies with the small and medium-sized presses, because the big publishers in New York are all part of huge conglomerates.”
6. Are your characters based on your traits or someone you know personally?
I believe that fictional characters come alive for the reader when they are based upon one’s past and current relationships with real people. Then, the writer adds the aptitudes, superpowers, and other characteristics that fit that unique individual and the story. At least, that’s how I develop characters. All of the characters in Rarity from the Hollow have a real-life counterpart that I've met either personally or professionally.
7. Describe your main character in six words.
Lacy Dawn is powerful, loving, committed, determined, analytical, and dissociative.
8. Describe the worlds you’ve created in six words.
The contrasts in worlds that I created are: real / schizophrenic, harsh / comic, but both worlds are competitive and Capitalistic.
9. What scene was your favorite to write?
The second scene was the most fun for me to write: Lacy Dawn functioning as a psychotherapist for her peers at school during recess. But, several other scenes would be more comical for readers.
10. What scene was the hardest for you to write?
The third scene was the hardest for me to write: graphic domestic violence that triggered my own shame-based anger and caused me to cry as I wrote it.
11. What are you working on now?
I would love to respond that I’m putting the finishing touches on Ivy, the next novel length Lacy Dawn Adventure. In truth, I’ve been trying to self-promote Rarity from the Hollow to build name recognition, and, thereby increase the odds that the publisher will want to invest upfront costs to get the next adventure in print. I don’t have the money to self-publish.
Personally, I’m going to re-read Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins, which has had a cult following from the early 70s. I’m reading three others, but can only recommend one right now – Warrior Patient by Temple Emmet Williams. It is a nonfiction inspirational book about health concerns. I hope that I don’t need to apply its concepts any time soon.
13. What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
When not writing, my favorite thing to do is to read. I also enjoy getting anything practical accomplished even though I may not enjoy actually doing it -- home repairs, weeding the garden, getting a car to pass inspection so that it will have a current sticker on the windshield, changing the litter box -- you know, just anything that I can "count as done." My self-esteem appears to be linked to accomplishment. I also enjoy listening to old rock and psychedelic music, movies, cooking when my wife lets me under her supervision, holidays with family, WVU sports, interacting with my son -- he always has some kind of entertainment, and stirring up folks in cyberspace who are just too serious about life to have any fun at all.