How long have you been writing for and how much of that time have you spent writing fiction?
I’ve been writing full time since 2014.
What’s the average word count for the books you write and how long does it take you to write your average book?
Most of my novels are 75,000-85,000 words long. I have written several that are 50,000 words or less and my most recent two novels are over 100,000 words long. I aim for writing 10,000 words each week plus a couple of weeks at the end to edit and format the draft for publication.
What is your writing routine (Do you have a daily word count goal? Do you write whenever the spirit moves you?)
My writing routine used to be mainly in the evenings but now I try to get my writing done in the afternoons. I write every day (if possible) until I’ve written 10,000 words then I take a day off.
How much do you research for a book before you start writing?
My SF novels don’t need any research. I did do some research for my technothrillers of not more than 10 hours or so for each book.
What do you find most difficult about writing a book?
I used to agree with Ernest Hemingway’s answer to that question which was that finishing a book was the hardest part. But after completing 29 novels, I’ve gotten used to finishing a book project. Now I would say that finding the right blend between character development and action is the hardest part.
Which of your books are you most proud of and why?
The military SF series I’m most proud of is The Glory Game series because it has complicated strategic and tactical space battles that were difficult to conceptualize. The technothriller that I’m most proud of is The Hunt for Seawolf 4, because it incorporates real world events that took place in the 1940’s and 50’s and leaves the reader wondering if the story really did happen that way.
Which of your books was the most difficult to write and why?
The Retro War sequel to my Synchronicity War series was very difficult because it involved very complicated time travel elements.
Which self-publishing platform do you like the most and why?
I self publish on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google( for some books). Amazon is the easiest to use but they make it harder for an author to make a good living because their emphasis on Kindle Unlimited where readers pay a flat monthly fee and can then read as many books as they wish, one page at a time, does not pay as well as when a reader buys a copy directly.
Would you publish with a traditional publisher if they contacted you? Why?
Yes. I think there are many SF readers who prefer to look at and then read a physical book. I also think that self-published authors aren’t getting the recognition they deserve in terms of SF awards like Hugos.
How many unfinished or unpublished works do you have?
Just one. When I started writing, I tried my hand at writing sequels to books by H. Beam Piper who died in the early 1960’s. His books have a limited fan base and when I was halfway through the fourth sequel, I decided I needed to switch to writing original material. That fourth sequel is still unfinished and probably will never be finished.
Do you prefer creating stand-alone books or series?
Most of my books are part of series which has more to do with the potential for future income that a good series can generate. When I have a idea for a stand alone book, I don’t mind writing it.
What’s one character you wish you would have created? What do you find compelling or interesting about this character?
I can’t think of any particular character that I wish I had created.
What book do you wish you would have written? Why?
Downbelow Station by C. J. Cherryh. The scope of the story universe she created and the intricate plotting is amazing.
Do you find it challenging to write characters of a different gender, race, or culture than you? Do you do any special research for these characters?
I don’t find it particularly challenging to write about female characters. In terms of race/culture, I did do research into Japanese culture to make those characters in my Whiskey Kilo One Is Down technothriller more believable. I consulted with my contact at the Japanese publishing company that translated my Synchronicity War series.
What does success as a writer look like for you?
The main aspect of being a successful writer for me is being able to live comfortably from the income my writing generates. Winning a writing award (Hugo?) would be nice for my ego but I don’t write to win awards. If a reader can’t put my book down and can’t wait for my next book, then I’ll have accomplished my goal.
Writing can be a lonely job. Do you take any special steps to ensure you remain part of the world?
I’ve establish contacts with other authors and I maintain contact with several long time friends plus a very nice relationship with a woman my age who is also creative (artist). I’ve been a student of history for many years and I try to stay informed on world events.
Constantly sitting and writing can be physically debilitating. How do you take care of yourself, physically?
I take frequent breaks during the writing session and I go for a walk every day, weather permitting.
Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?
I don’t read all my reviews but I do read reviews for a new book for the first several weeks. There’s a difference between negative reviews and bad reviews. If a reader does not like my writing style or the story pacing or not enough (or too much) character development, etc., that’s a negative review that I can understand and accept even if I don’t agree with it. A bad review is when the reviewer gives a low rating for no good reason, in some cases without even having read the book. Those kinds of reviews are difficult to deal with and I admit that even after writing for seven years, I haven’t figure out how to deal with them effectively.
What books have you read that were particularly inspiring?
The most inspiring book I’ve ever read is a non-fiction book, The Millennial Project by Marshal T. Savage (secondary title: How to colonize the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps)
Do you have a favourite author? A favourite book?
My favorite author is David Weber. I like his Honor Harrington series although the earlier books in the series are easier to read than the later books.
Do you plot your stories in great detail before starting to write, or fly by the seat of your pants?
Fly by the seat of my pants!
Of all the characters in your stories, which is your favourite?
My favorite character is an artificial intelligence named Iceman from my Synchronicity War series. A close second is Hoch Rachengel, from my High Avenging Angel series of short stories. That series is what I’ve called Space Noir. it’s dark and gritty for adults only.
Have you based any characters on real people? If they found out, how did they respond?
No living persons, just historical people.
What’s the best thing about being an independent author? The worst?
The best thing? I set my own hours and can work at home. The worst thing? No security of income. If I don’t work, I don’t earn income.
Do you make a living selling your books?
Yes but it’s getting harder.
What advice would you give to a new author?
Be prepared for failure in terms of selling success and keep on writing. I didn’t begin to make serious money from my writing until I had published my 5th book.