I saw this meme over on Writtenwyrd’s blog and thought it looked worth doing. I love to hear this kind of thing about writers but I won’t specifically tag anyone. If you’d like to do it, tag yourself.
Your genre(s): Since I started writing I’ve had a goal, a silly one perhaps, of trying to publish something in every genre or style of writing. So far I’ve managed SF, Horror, Fantasy, Western, Thriller, Y/A, Poetry, Erotica, Nonfiction science, Nonfiction essay, Humor, Literary, Flash Fiction, Novel, and Short story. I’ve yet to publish a Romance, a Children’s Story, or a Gay/Lesbian story. (Are there any I’ve forgotten?)
However, by far my main interests are in Fantasy and Horror. These genres make up probably half of what I read, and somewhat less of what I’ve written. It would be far more than half of what I write if it weren’t for the Nonfiction I do.
How many books are you working on now: I’ve tried to work on more than one book length project at a time and have generally failed miserably. I have been able to work on one Fiction and one Nonfiction project at the same time. But I find even this very hard. I can only manage it if I do one early in the day and the other late, and if I'm absolutely ruthless with myself in switching. I tend to get excited about something I’m working on, and I don’t want to let it drop for something else.
Are you a linear or chunk writer: Almost totally linear. Very occasionally, I will jump ahead of the linear sequence of a story and write a later scene, but only if something really intense or visual occurs to me. And when I get started on a project I tend to work my way straight through it.
The POV you’re partial to: I love to both read and write in first person. It just seems such a nice and natural storytelling technique. However, some stories just can’t be told that way, and I do enjoy third person limited. I typically don’t like omniscient viewpoint or second person, although I’ve written a story in second person.
The Tense you use: I added this one because I find it interesting. I write almost everything in past tense, but I have been experimenting lately with present tense. There are some really nice things about present tense but it also poses difficulties. The “immediacy” of present tense is unparalleled, but the forward momentum is so powerful that it’s tough to bring in the background detail that you need to develop character. At least that’s what I've found.
The theme that keeps cropping up in your books: Sometimes I don’t really even understand the concept of theme. I’m never conscious of a “theme” when I’m writing. The main thing I want to do in a story or book is to affect the reader. I mainly want to create a mood, or I want to drag the reader headlong into a story and keep them wondering what’s about to happen next. Certain things do crop up again and again in my stories, though, so I guess you could call these things themes. These are, “the nature of heroism,” and “the nature of violence.” My characters also struggle with issues of guilt and responsibility, and they’re usually pretty hard on themselves. A lot of my early writing dealt with religious elements, but that has fallen off as I’ve aged.
How many days a week do you write: This depends a bit on whether I have a deadline coming up or not, and whether school is in session or not. Typically, I write six days a week. I seldom write less than three hours a day when I’m off. When school is in session I often go several days in a row, however, without being able to get any writing done. And on other days I’ll only manage an hour. If I’m really tired from a long week at school I may take the whole weekend off just to recover.
What time of day do you get your best writing done When school is in session I write whenever I have a free moment. If given the choice, I’ll tend to write in late afternoon and evening, and late at night. I believe my best writing often comes at night.
Who are your mentors: My mentors have always been books, not books about writing, but novels. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, John D. MacDonald, Louis L’Amour, Ray Bradbury. These were my earliest mentors. Since then I’ve been mentored by thousands of authors.
I almost had a real life mentor once. Francis Gwaltney was the only writer I ever knew who came from my home town of Charleston, Arkansas, and when I found out he taught at Arkansas Tech University where I went to undergraduate school I went to see him to talk writing. He was very encouraging, but, unfortunately, less than two weeks after my discussion with him he went out to celebrate the publication of one of his books and died choking on a chicken bone. I didn’t want to kill any more mentors so I never tried to get another in real life.
My favorite authors to read: There are way too many to list here. The ones I mentioned above, of course, though I’ve pretty much read everything they’ve written. Some other great writers that I love or have loved are Poul Anderson, J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, James Lee Burke, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Ken Bulmer, Andre Norton, C. L. Moore, Peter Matthiessen, James Baldwin, Clive Barker, and Wayne Allen Sallee.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Ed Gorman, Michael Connolly and Cormac McCarthy.