Zeedub Selfies is an ongoing series where I talk to myself like a reclusive weirdo. Which, in truth, I am. I developed a simple tool for authors to hone their interview skills with random questions, which ended up being way more fun than intended. Thus, I thought it would be amusing to record my own answers from time to time. And of course, feel free to play with yourself.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Ah, the plotter vs. pantser distinction. I employ a little bit of both, depending on the material. For the Immortal Wake series, I need glossaries and outlines just to keep the details straight. A great deal of world-building went into the first book, so any callback needs to be accurate. On the flip side, outlines would undermine the Max and the Multiverse series. A lot of the comedy comes directly from having no idea where the story is going at any given time. It’s also a really fun way to write.
Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?
Read? Hell yes. There is this dumb notion in the writing world that authors should never read comments and reviews. I think this is incredibly bad advice because even the most scathing reviews are opportunities to improve your writing. Granted, there will always be jerks who offer nothing constructive, but bad reviews with good points are extremely valuable. I have even re-edited published material based on them. And of course, good reviews are fabulous pick-me-ups.
Reply? Hell no. Authors should never, ever, ever, EVER reply to reviews. Readers are entitled to their opinions about your story, even if they didn’t understand it, hated something completely irrelevant, or just flat out didn’t like your face. It’s not your job to convince them otherwise and replying to them can open a devastating can of worms. There are numerous horror stories of authors responding to reviews and tanking their reputations in the process.
I would also like to encourage readers to post ratings and reviews for the books that they enjoy (on Amazon especially). They do not have to be long, a sentence or two would suffice. Ratings and reviews are invaluable to indie authors, as they are the currency by which we gain visibility. In fact, most promotion services will not accept books that haven’t reached a certain ratings threshold, so they are absolutely critical to writers getting noticed.
Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?
Yes to both. I have an inherent wanderlust that constantly goads me into visiting new places. But once I scratch that itch, I just want to stay home and enjoy the silence. My life is one big repeating cycle of “neat-retreat” where I visit a really cool place, then hide inside for months while hissing at the sunlight.
Where was a place you’ve visited on vacation that you’d go back to tomorrow?
Iceland. My favorite place on the planet, hands down.
A Nord in his element, tromping around Reykjavik
When books are turned into movies, does it bother you that they are often changed to suit the audience needs?
It used to bother me, but not anymore. My novel Transient is currently in development to become a feature film, which has given me a valuable peek behind the curtain. Print and film are worlds apart when it comes to the nature of good writing. I would watch an adaptation and think “WTF, they didn’t include that crucial part of the book!” Now I think, “I can see why it was cut for pacing.”
Do you have a day job as well?
Yes. I have worked as a Web Apps Developer since the late 90’s. I work from home and my days are very predicable, which is a great setup for a secondary writing career.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
I think every author puts a lot of themselves into their books, which may or may not be obvious to the reader. It’s impossible to see through the mind of another person, so when you write a character that does not reflect your worldview, you are creating a personality based on an interpretation. It’s never entirely authentic, but the trick is to never preach. That’s why none of my books are bound to any specific theme.
Do you play a musical instrument?
Yes. I have been a guitarist for most of my life, but my music has taken a backseat to writing. I fronted rock bands once upon a time, which you can check out here and here. They enjoyed moderate success, gaining national radio attention and even some spotlights on MTV. I adored the stage, but I look back at the music I wrote and cringe a bit. It was decent, but nowhere near as tight as my 20-something self thought it was. I think I have a much better handle on writing than I ever did on music.
Do you write alone or in public?
Alone, preferably in a dim and quiet place. I have no idea how people write in coffee shops or other public places. I can barely tolerate the distraction of my beloved cats, let alone the visual and audible assaults of a churning crowd.
Describe a special or meaningful object that you have in your house.
In front of my writing chair is a framed TREFF poster with a stylized female mime. I think most people would find it a bit creepy, but it’s a treasured art piece in our household. My wife and I had visited Tallinn, Estonia back in 2012, which just so happened to coincide with their annual TREFF festival, a visual arts event that celebrates puppeteering. It ended up being one of the coolest and most memorable experiences of our lives. We fell in love with the festival poster, which was plastered all over the city. When we returned home, my wife managed to sleuth-out the original artist (in Estonian, no less). He was so impressed by the effort that he kindly mailed us some copies, which we framed and proudly display.