Audiobooks (all new in 2018): Imp, The Night Has a Thousand Wings, The Ether Bunny, Little Women with Big Guns, Sinbad and the Argonauts. In process for imminent release on Audible/ACX: It’s Only Funny If You Laugh, Krakenstein vs. Koalatron, Weedeaters: The Complete Acropalypse.
What gave you the idea for Sinbad and the Argonauts?
I grew up on movies like The 7thVoyage of Sinbadand Jason and the Argonauts, and I missed those amazingly entertaining adventure tales because no one’s really doing them right now. Realizing there was room to expand the myth-based fables of both Greek and Arabic legend, it hit me that in this era of fusion concepts, and given the vague time settings involved in both, I could do what (as far as I know) no one had done before: have Sinbad run into Jason and the Argonauts after the whole Fleece adventure (and its mythological aftermath). When I realized they might have to go pick up Heracles at some point, and that Jason had left him behind on Talos’ Island of Bronze so the demigod could search for his young buddy Hylas, it all started coming together. Since then I’ve completed the trilogy with Sinbad at the End of the Universe and the upcoming Sinbad at the Dawn of Time, both of which also feature Jason and company because by then they’re all in the same mess together. Thank you Charles Schneer and Ray Harryhausen!
How long have you been writing?
Although I was outlining my own “Godzilla Versus” stories while daydreaming in sixth grade, I didn’t really take a shot at the literary world until after almost twenty years in the aerospace business. Working third shift there in 1998, I had some time on my hands, so I ended up writing a sequel to the Tristar Godzilla movie from that year and eventually registered it with the Library of Congress from 1999 to 2004. By 2004, I’d seen several things in subsequent Toho Godzilla movies that seemed to come right out of my screenplay, including the concept of shooting down at the monsters from an orbiting satellite (Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, 2001) and Godzilla blowing up his opponent from the inside (Godzilla 2000—love that movie). And even the Legendary Godzilla movie from 2014 featured Godzilla blasting breath down a monster’s throat, which was the climax of my screenplay for “Godzilla vs. the Thing” (my title). Whether this stuff was sheer synchronicity or not, seeing those scenes reproduced in the movies made me realize I knew how to write. P.S. I forgive Toho if they ripped me off, of course, because they informed my imagination in the first place. And now I have my own giant monsterverse in the form of the Krakenstein series, so it’s all…cool.
Answer: I’m in my 21styear of fiction writing.
Tell us about your past books and stories?
My first completed novels are my Dragon’s Game Trilogy books (Mushroom Summer, The Ballad of Chalice Rayne and Dragon’s Game), which are my “personal” statement and the core of all my writing. Ironically, I’m not sure anybody’s read all three through yet besides my wife, but the truth is that everything I’ve written since is intended to point my readers and listeners back to that original sf/fantasy vision, which I began in 1999 and completed in 2011. Freed from the burden of my opus, I’ve been extremely busy since then, putting out the Sinbad Forever Trilogy, Weedeaters: The Complete Acropalypse (a sort of Day of the Triffids sequel with way faster triffids that evolve into “manweeds”), The Oz Files (a gritty comedy detective story set after Dorothy left L. Frank Baum’s magical realm, narrated by the Not Remotely Cowardly Any More Lion, “Rory Mayne”, in the style of Steve Martin’s comedy Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid), Krakenstein vs. Koalatron (sequel nearly complete as of this interview), Ghost Hunter (a grim adult tale inspired by movies like The Haunting, The Uninvitedand Legend of Hell House), Aramander and the Mist (the first installment in a twelve part novella series involving magical musical instruments and the return of the children taken by the Pied Piper), and two sf/fantasy/horror collections featuring short stories and novellas: A Year in the Borderlands, a month-by-month (and holidays!) account of the “Other Side” of existence, and Playing With Reality, which features a dozen shorts that appeared previously in various J. Ellington Ashton Press anthologies along with a new novella, a piece of flash fiction and several previously unreleased short stories.
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?
My favorite novel is Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, which after about six decades is still scaring off Hollywood. Obviously a complex guy, Heinlein’s “kinky hippie manifesto” changed my perspective on everything back when I read it in the 1970s. The book’s two main protagonists, “mentor” Jubal Harshaw and “student god” Valentine Michael Smith, are among my all-time favorites. The philosophy is deep, the un-thinking impressive.
A book that disappointed me? I confess that I watch a lot more stuff than I read, because to me screenwriters (like Sir Nigel Kneale, Joss Whedon, Sam Raimi and more than a few others) can be every bit as informative and entertaining as print writers. But this is about books, so I’ll actually go with a novella that’s actually very good, and introduces a classic literary (and cinematic) nemesis, but does it in a rather objective and “dull” style that simply can’t match what Howard Hawks/Christian Nyby, John Carpenter and Eric Heisserer/Matthijs van Heijningen have done with the “Thing” movies based upon said story: Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. It’s a brilliant concept, but it’s told in a dry, detached, almost documentary manner whereas those movies are all “personal”.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
With my “big story” out of the way early, I’ve loosened up, tried different styles, even wrote a short story in second person present tense. Thanks to lots of D and D I now understand even more about people’s quirks than I did when I started. I’ve gotten to where I now Google search for proper wording, titles, etc. right on the spot, but some of that comes from having to do it while editing others’ works anyway. I guess I’d say that I’m more of an objective writer now than ever before…I just want to tell the story.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m not big on the word pride because in our society it’s somehow considered both a virtue and a weakness/sin, and my gut instinct leans toward the latter. My Dragon’s Game Trilogy books are my monument/statement, but of course as one writes more, the work gets smoother and faster. It probably won’t be everyone’s favorite of mine, but I actually love Little Women with Big Guns because it wheels along with a wild plot, running over expectations the whole way. That one has a sequel on the way too, anonymous one-star reviews be damned. I thoroughly enjoy writing about Liane, Amee, Mag and Eliza.
What are you doing next?
Revenge of Krakenstein is nearly done. Next up are Blood Ridge, a mystery set in the Old West with supernatural overtones; Xyla and the Sirens, the second novella in the Piper Gods series; and a dark comedy whodunit called One by One that turns the concept of old “isolated mansion thrillers” on its ear for twisted laughs.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Patience is the ultimate asset. Also remember the Golden Rule, because it applies to indie writing too. Help everyone you can, especially those who act in kind. Teamwork is pretty important. Find trustworthy friends, but don’t rush. And remember, you don’t have to go through some indie company to put your work out—BE your own company. Just make up a name and do all the uploading yourself unless you, like me, luck out with a great indie alliance like Kent Hill Productions/KHP. I put out my more commercial stuff through KHP and my quirkier stuff I put out solo under my Fire Dragon “company” logo.
Aerospace engineer, university physics instructor, metal engraver, dental lab tech, archeology lab assistant manager, pizza delivery guy, K-Mart patio worker, handyman…you can see how I ended up independent writing. My fantastic mate Jackie and I live a little back in the woods from the bluffs that edge the Mississippi River in Godfrey, Illinois, with a rescued cat preserve as our backyard (yeah, they all come in all the time but we have coyotes so we ended up with some serious pet fencing here). I’m into all things supernatural, love rock music to the point of having a Top 100 Bands and Artists list (Stones rule!), and yeah—we watch a lot of TV shows.