Or my web page!
I’m originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. I went to university at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City where I got degrees in Economics and Teaching as well as certification to teach English as a Second Language. Between 1999 and 2010 I spend nearly nine years all together teaching English in Japan. I came back to the US with my family in 2010 and just moved to Nashville in the Fall of 2012 where I continue to teach English as a Second Language.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
The Reflections of Queen Snow White is essentially about dealing with grief and finding purpose once more after the “happily ever after” has ended. Back in 2006 when I originally wrote the source short story, in the space of about three or four months, both of my grandfathers died unexpectedly. During the same period, my wife also lost a grandmother and a grandfather, so there where a lot of funerals going on over a very short amount of time. Now funerals, by their very nature lead to a certain introspection about one’s own mortality, but particularly with the sudden passing of both grandfathers and, as a consequence, how hard my grandmothers took their deaths, it led me to wonder on their behalf – “So… What now?”
They had both had wonderful, loving relationships – many long, happy years together (over 60 years). In the case of my maternal grandmother and grandfather, they had never loved anyone else, having married straight out of high school. There was no question in my mind, nor indeed anyone who knew them, that theirs had most certainly been a real-life “happily ever after”. Now it was over. It made me wonder, “When your life has been so closely tied up with and centered upon one other person for so long, what do you do when they are no longer a part of your life? How do you pick up the pieces and move on?” That was the original kernel of the idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
How do you create your characters?
I think to write a really believable, well-rounded and engaging character you have to be able to get inside that character’s head and understand their motivations – what really makes them tick. In general I try to base my characters upon people I know, amalgams of people I know, or real life figures that I feel like I just “get”. I think as a writer, empathy is extremely important.
In the particular case of Snow White, I really drew upon her back ground as described by The Brothers Grimm. When you think about it, she had a pretty horrible upbringing. Both of her parents died at an early age leaving her with an abusive woman who hated and despised her to the point she even tried to kill her. She was driven away from the only home she had ever known and forced to cook and clean for a bunch of social outcasts in the forest in order to survive. All of this, I thought, would lead to some pretty serious emotional and psychological baggage that has really added to her depth as a character.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I’ve always had a little bit of the “writing bug” I guess. As far back as elementary school I was writing little stories on notebook paper and binding them with marker-illustrated shirt-boards. I wrote a lot of crappy fan-fic in High School. I think I have always considered myself a writer, but an author… Now that’s a different story. I actually did not feel comfortable characterizing myself an author until very recently – shortly after the release of this book actually. There was so much weight to the term.
When I think of the word “author” I have visions of Poe and Emerson or even Steven King or Tom Clancy. It frankly felt a little pompous to insinuate that I belonged among their mighty literary company, which is what I felt like the word “author” implied. However, once I really began promoting my work in earnest, once I had the ISBN number and the web site and reviews coming in and requests going out on a daily basis, I really started to feel like my writing had suddenly ceased to be a hobby and instead was now a vocation and priority of mine. That’s when I really began to feel like an author.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
Well, first I drink A LOT of coffee. I suppose though that I am most productive when I can be alone, but not alone, if that makes any sense. If I am completely by myself at home, I find that I get distracted easily: I think of chores that need to be done or get sucked into piddling on the internet. On the other side of the coin, if there are too many family and friends about, I end up talking to them and not getting much done. I work best when I can be around people but apart – like at the library, a coffee shop, or a park. There’s something about having just a dull hum of bustling around that helps keep me alert and focused.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Everywhere – movies I watch, books I read, dreams I have, the news… I carry a little black journal-type book around with me so that whenever I do get an idea I can quickly jot it down. Some of those ideas turn into stories.
What do you like to read?
I love Tad Williams and Tolkien. I read all of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series. I think that Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Is one of the most interesting and creative fantasy books I have ever read. I even acquired a healthy appreciation for Robin Hobb, although I usually hate first person novels. More than that, I read a lot of academic writing and I think the combination of both fiction and non-fiction as well as a number of non-fantasy genre works (James Clavell’s Shogun and Liza Dolby’s The Tale of Murasaki for example) have really influenced my writing as well. Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens is high up on the list too.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
First, middle and last, mind your craft. Always seek to improve. If your work isn’t good. If it’s loaded with typos, grammar errors and plot holes, if your story is convoluted and characters shallow, nothing else you do will matter. Share your writing with people you trust not to just stroke your ego, but rather give you quality, honest feedback. Accept criticism graciously and be doubly critical of yourself. Sadly, being a competent writer does not guarantee success. However, it IS a mandatory first step.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just that I really appreciate the chance to be here and I hope all of your readers will check out The Reflections of Queen Snow White on Amazon in The Kindle Store. The reviews have all been really positive and I think that you will enjoy it!
Available on Amazon here:
Feel free to check out my Facebook page:
Or my web page!
I’m also on Linked-In!