- Are you a full-time author, or do you have another job as well, and if so how do either of these fit in with writing time?
I have a full-time job as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex, software-intensive systems. That restricts my writing to evenings and weekend mornings.
- Do you write on your novel daily, or do you try to have days off?
I work on one of the two books that I’m currently writing at least 4 days a week. I also spend some time each week marketing my books.
- Do you go back to published books and want to change them in any way?
One of the great advantages of being an indie author is that I can go back and make improvements and fix mistakes without having to wait forever for a traditional publisher to approve a new edition. Also, by using Amazon’s CreateSpace print on demand (POD) for paperbacks and using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Smashwords for ebooks, I can make changes and have them show up in the books in anywhere from a couple of days to less than two weeks. I therefore fix all mistakes that readers notify me of and make major improvements if I believe they are worth the time and effort.
- What do you think is the most effective marketing for your books?
The right book blog tours can do wonders. However, no single marketing approach is adequate by itself. That’s why I literally use dozens of marketing techniques. By the way, one of the two books I am currently writing is Free and Low-Cost Marketing for Indie Authors, and you and your readers can download a free copy of the current draft (roughly 85% done) from my author website between now and when the final manuscript is completed.
- Did you write as a child, or did you come into your talent as an adult?
While I wrote science fiction short stories as a teenager, I didn’t have sufficient experience and practice to be a successful author. It was only after I had written 7 technical books and innumerable technical papers and articles that I had practiced the craft of writing enough to become a sufficiently good writer to be a novelist.
- Is your the world in your book like Earth, or is it a fantasy world?
The first three of my Hell Holes books take place in present-day Alaska. Hell Holes 4: A Slave on Hell will be a prequel that starts approximately 20 years ago and merges with Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back near the end of that book.
- Do you prefer to write as a series or one off books?
I like series, which enable me to build off the earlier books, reusing characters and locations. A good series creates a world in which many stories can be told.
- Do you like to use lots of subplots, or do you think just confuses?
I don’t tend to use subplots, which can slow down the action. Books with lots of subplots are also much harder to write, both because you have to avoid inconsistencies and subplots can limit your freedom to tell your main story.
- Can you tell us a little about your protagonist and your antagonist and how they relate to each other?
My Hell Holes trilogy haves three main protagonists, and each book is written from the first person viewpoint of one of them. They are (1) Dr. Jack Oswald, a petroleum geologist who teaches at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, (2) Dr. Angela Menendez, a climatologist also at the UAF and the wife of Dr. Oswald, and (3) Aileen O’Shannon, a 1,400-year-old demon hunter originally from Ireland. They are being attacked and chased by an invading army of demons: devils, imps, gargoyles, and hellhounds. It is not until book 3 that we even hear about the main antagonist, the queen of the demons, and not until the prequel that we get to actually see her.
- How do you think you would feel if you received a really bad review that seemed justified?
My first thought would be, Damn, now I have to go back and potentially invest a lot of time making extensive revisions, and that will prevent me from writing new books. Luckily, such reviews are extremely rare. The key is to view all critical reviews as incentives to make improvements rather than as a personal attacks.
- Do you think all readers should do reviews to help the writers improve?
You certainly can’t force readers to leave reviews, but a well-written review is very valuable to both potential readers and authors, especially indie authors such as myself who are responsible for our own marketing. Good book reviews are a great marketing tool and often provide valuable information that can be used to improve your current and future books.
- When you receive reviews, do you find yourself influenced to make changes?
I love reviews that explicitly mention what the reviewer liked and didn’t like; they can definitely improve both my existing books and future writing.
When hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appeared overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, geologist Jack Oswald picked Angele Menendez, his climatologist wife, to determine if the record temperatures due to climate change was the cause. But the holes were not natural. They were unnatural portals for an invading army of demons. Together with Aileen O’Shannon, a 1,400-year-old sorceress demon-hunter, the three survivors of the research team sent to study the holes had only one chance: to flee down the dangerous Dalton Highway towards the relative safety of Fairbanks. However, the advancing horde of devils, imps, hellhounds, and gargoyles would stop at nothing to prevent their prey from escaping. It was a 350-mile race with simple rules. Win and live; lose and die…