Monday, February 7, 2011

Author Interview AND giveaway!

So, this is my first author interview and my first giveaway! : )
My interview was with Allan R Shickman and both him and the interview were great! I laughed at a lot of the answers. So, first, the interview:

First of all, I want to say thank you to Mr. Shickman for agreeing to do an interview with me!

Thanks for inviting me.  I rather enjoy being interviewed.  I guess I like talking about myself and my work.  The trick is to get me to stop.

1. Where did you get your inspiration from when writing both Zan-Gah novels?

A writer gets a big inspiration, and a lot of little ones along the way.  My big inspiration was from traveling across the American west.  The terrain was so different from what I am used to in St. Louis MO.  I always maintain that a change of geography is good for artists.  They get to see with fresh eyes what the residents are all used to and have long since stopped looking at.   Pikes Peak, seen from the prairie, and hovering up there in the clouds, can really blow away a newcomer.  If you lived in Colorado Springs all your life, you probably wouldn’t pay much attention to Pikes Peak.  Anyway, I started dreaming about problems of survival in the more barren places I saw.

As for little inspirations, I get them anywhere and everywhere.  I heard something about a certain species of bird on NPR not long ago that was quite useful in my new book because it triggered off a whole series of ideas.  It was just a chance listen, and it turned out to be really important.  Do you listen to National Public Radio?  You should. 

2. Are any of the characters from either novel influenced from yourself or anyone in your life?

Zan is modeled after my ideal self, and Dael is taken from my secret dark, antisocial  self.  I don’t suppose any writer creates a character that isn’t a part of him.  I am sure Charles Dickens dug into his own soul to find Ebeneezer Scrooge.  Where he got that terrific name, I can’t imagine.  I sometimes name characters after family or friends.  My nephew, Rider, provided the name Rydl.  I am naming my new villain after my brother-in-law—but I asked his permission.  He thought it would be funny.

3. What do you enjoy doing besides writing?

Eating and girl-watching.  And girl-watching while I’m eating.  But seriously, I like to cook.  I spend a lot of time following world and national events, and every once in a while I dash off a letter to the editor.  I have had a dozen in The New York Times.  

4. I read your bio and it sounds like you've done it all! Out of all the experiences you've had (actor, author, teacher, artist) which did you enjoy doing the most?


5. Are you currently working on anything else?

I have been writing a third Zan-Gah book.  It concentrates mainly on Zan's twin, Dael, who is seeking in his self-imposed exile to repair his shattered life.  He will go to live with the crimson people (already introduced in the second book).  I am going to call it Dael and the Painted People.  It is going really well, and I think my readers will like it.  Writing sequels is tricky.  People don’t always like the second or third book as well as the first.  They even expect a decline in quality.  I am pleased to say that lots of readers, though not all, have said that the second book was even better than the first.  I don’t want the quality of my books to decrease, or my inspiration to flag.  The coming book has some fresh ideas.

6. Have you ever travelled somewhere to research a location that you used in your novel?

I purposely made a trip to Onondaga Cavern to have the experience of being inside a cave and to gather details of information.  Deep within the cave it is (or once was) so dark that species developed without eyes.  It was fun to learn about and see that, and I used it in the first Zan-Gah.  My state, Missouri, has a considerable number of famous caves.  Exploring Onondaga was an experience to remember!

7. Have you ever experienced any sort of writers block? If so, how did you overcome that?

The first measure to overcome writer’s block is to sit down in front of the computer-word processor.  Actually, writer’s block has not been a great problem of mine.  I take lots of notes whenever ideas enter my mind.  All kinds of random ideas come to me during the day or night, and I jot them down before I forget them.  I use 3 x 5 cards, which can be arranged.  That’s the key.  When I am ready to write, I have hundreds of random ideas, by then sorted and put in order.  Numerous notes are at hand, starting with chapter 1.  No problem with writer’s block!  My biggest difficulty is working out the plot, but I am writing away long before I know how the book is going to end.

8. Is there anything you would like to tell your readers and/or fans?

Don’t read too fast.  The idea is not to get done with a book, it is to savor it—feel its emotions and enjoy its details.  I don’t want my readers to barrel through something that I wrote with tears in my eyes.  My mom used to say, “Don’t eat your food so fast, you aren’t even tasting it.”  Same with books.

9. Finish this sentence: "I can't live without..."

...Oxygen.        Awright.  I can’t live without a good laugh once in a while.  The paper didn’t come today because of snow, and I really missed the funnies.  Also, I can’t live without NPR.  Honest.

10. What's a normal day like for your when you are writing a book?

I write for a while in the afternoon, and continue after dinner deep into the night, mostly refining what I have written.  Then I run off a copy of my latest work and wake up my wife and ask her to tell me what she thinks of it.

11. Is there anything that you like to have close at hand when writing?

My cat—provided she doesn’t sit on the keyboard.  But I often go out with a pad to write over coffee somewhere.  I bring my stacks of notes, sorted and wrapped with rubber bands.  I don’t bring my cat, but I might leave behind a rubber band for her to play with.

12. What interview question are you most sick of answering? Don't worry about saying it if I already asked! : )

The one I am most often asked is where I got my inspiration.  I don’t mind answering that question, but I am afraid I have often repeated myself.  Maybe one of these days, just for variety, my answer will be: “I sold my soul to Satan, and he promised to make me a great writer—but he didn’t, the devil!”

I want to say thank you again, Mr. Shickman, for willing to do this interview with me. It's been an honor.
Thank you!  I feel honored to have been so enthusiastically received by Fay-Bay.
I'm so happy with the way the interview went! : ) And, I have to say that I'm super excited for the third novel in the Zan-Gah series!!!

And now for the Giveaway! : )
I'm holding a giveaway for a signed copy of both 'Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure' and 'Zan-Gah And The Beautiful Country.'

The Rules:
-You must be 13 or older to enter.
-Contest Deadline is February 20th, 2011
-You don't have to be a blog follower but you'll gain an extra entry if you are.
-If you twitter about the giveaway, I'll give you +1 entry and if you blog post about it I'll give you +2 entries
-The contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada only!
-I'll be forwarding the winning address to the publisher, Earthshaker Books, and they will send out the books to you.
-Only ONE entry per person!

Thanks guys and good luck to everyone who enters! : )

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