I was interviewed recently.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
The biggest mistake is trying not to make one. I’m not being glib. You’re going to make mistakes. You should make mistakes; it’s the only way to learn.
Mistakes are the battle scars of the hardened veteran. Stop worrying about how to avoid them. Focus instead on identifying your mistakes and learning from them.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Oh man, that’s like asking how to deal with internet comments.
Sci-fi author Nathan Lowell likes to remind people that if you’re not getting any one-star reviews, you’re not reaching enough people.
If all you’re getting are one- and two-star reviews (minus that one from your mom), that’s a sign you needed more practice before going live. If you’re getting a mix: welcome to publishing.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself!
So, one of my favorite quotes of all time comes from mythologist Joseph Campbell, who, shortly before his death in 1987, gave a television interview at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch:
“People say that what we’re all seeking is the meaning of life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences will have resonance within our own innermost being, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about.”
I love that quote because it reminds me not to over-complicate things, which also happens to be a guiding principle of fiction.
It also reminds me that a full life is an experience-rich one, and so I need to leave room for things that scare me, like jumping out of airplanes and eating scorpions and dissecting dead people and feeling the blast of a terrorist’s bomb — all of which I’ve done.
How do you deal with creative block?
Women used to be diagnosed with hysteria. It was believed to originate in the uterus (hystera in Greek, which is why we call the surgical removal of the uterus a hysterectomy). Smart, educated people — some of the smartest of their time — believed this.
The problem is, it doesn’t exist. There’s no such disease. People can act hysterical, men and women both, but the somatization of psychological stress has any number of causes, most of which will have nothing to do with the uterus.
Smart, educated people — some of the smartest of our time — believe there’s a thing called Writer’s Block. Only there isn’t. Just as people can sometimes be hysterical, sometimes they can struggle creatively. The potential causes of that are too numerous to contemplate.
When your computer stops working, a simple reboot is often the answer. When the words stop coming, I step away and do something else. That doesn’t always work, but it’s a good place to start.
How has your creative process improved over time?
If it ever stops changing, I’ll let you know.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Yes, read. If that doesn’t work, read more.
Please introduce your books!
My latest, THE MINUS FACTION, is a serial novel (which is different than a novel series) about four underdogs who use their extraordinary abilities for both good and ill in the service of an enigmatic mastermind. It is available now.
Later this year, I will be releasing an occult mystery called FEAST OF SHADOWS that has a very unique narrative structure. It is five mysteries, each told from the point of view of a different narrator, that relates the epic battle between a reclusive eccentric and an unseen adversary.
cover image by Moon Patrol.