How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I am about to publish my sixth novel (The Mortal Vestige, Book Three of the Immortal Wake), which completes my second trilogy. I have also published three Max and the Multiverse shorts, which brings my total titles to nine. My next book will be the first of a spin-off series that takes place on the Durangoni Space Station from Max and the Snoodlecock.
At the moment, my favorite book would be Thursday Midnight, Book Two of the Immortal Wake. I wanted to write a sci-fi thriller similar to Blade Runner, which I thought would fit very well into the world established by Transient. It was a big risk and I had no idea if it would work, but I was thrilled (pun intended) with the result. Ben Ragunton of TG Geeks wrote a glowing review that I consider my Author Oscar.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Definitely the lobby scene from Thursday Midnight. I can’t say much about it without spoiling the action, but anyone who has read the book will know exactly what I’m talking about. The scene involves an abrupt shift in tone that needed a pitch-perfect transition. It was a difficult sequence to get right and it remains one of my favorites.
Do you prefer being intoxicated to write? Or would you rather write sober?
I only drink when I blog. (And yes, I’m enjoying a tasty IPA while writing this.) But no, I can’t imagine being intoxicated while trying to write or edit a book draft. There are just too many details to keep straight, which is hard enough with a clear head.
If I looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?
Good beer, frozen fruit, and wheat tortillas, three things that we always have on hand.
What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special?
That would be the Very Large Array, a radio astronomy observatory in southern New Mexico. You have probably seen it in movies, notably Contact and the Terminator series. I am a certified astronomy nerd and the VLA is an iconic instrument in the field. The site is located in the Plains of San Agustin, which is a remote area with zero light pollution. Getting there is a gorgeous trip through the desert hills and when you first see the antennae off in the distance, they look like tiny grains of rice. The massive dishes (27 of them) are 82 feet wide, so it’s a humbling moment when you walk up and stand beneath one. I have visited numerous times and it never gets old. It’s a scientific wonder in the middle of nowhere. I feel like a kid every time I visit.
Nerding out at the VLA in New Mexico
Have you ever designed your own book cover?
I design all of my covers at this point, which is typically frowned upon in the writing world. BUT, I have two things going for me that most authors don’t. First, I work as a Web Apps Developer and have a comfortable grasp of design software. And second, I have an illustrator wife who can guide me through the dos and don’ts of effective visual design.
Most authors should invest in professional cover design because few things can repel a reader faster than a poor cover. I worked with several pros before I figured out my own groove. It can get very expensive, but it’s the most effective investment that an author can make. If you have a limited budget, then I would put every cent into cover design.
What is your definition of being a successful author?
This is a hotly debated topic in the writing community. Some authors define success as a single sale or happy reader. Others define success as the ability to live off the proceeds of writing. I fall into the latter camp. Until I can cite writing as my primary source of income, it will remain firmly in hobby territory for me.
Who is your favorite artist or musician?
I fronted rock bands once upon a time (which you can still check out here and here). I wrote the music and served as lead guitar and vocals when performing. My greatest influence was Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. He is my guitar hero to this day. I even got to see him perform in a very frightening manner.
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
I was an amateur herpetologist as a youngster. I love reptiles and kept many as pets. My favorite was an eastern kingsnake named Stumpy who loved to eat the copperheads that I caught around the house (I had a special tool and knew how to handle them). To this day, I react to snakes with the same glee that most people have for puppies.
What is your best marketing tip?
Invest in paid ads (assuming that you have good covers and quality editing). They are the best way to grow your audience, far better than live events and social media. The latter two can be effective, but they require a lot more time and effort. A single BookBub promo will do more for your visibility than an entire year of blog posts and conventions. They are very hard to get and require some persistence, but the ROI is incredible.
I go into further detail with these posts:
A Marketing Breakdown for Indie Authors
Rethinking Author Branding: Why Social Media is Marketing Poison
My Big Fat Social Media Marketing Experiment