When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I honestly can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a writer. I’ve always had an overactive imagination, and putting the stories that fill my head down on paper is very therapeutic for me; it quietens the constant buzz of voices.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on how chatty the characters are. Some talk to me nonstop, others will freeze me out for weeks then wake me in the middle of the night demanding my attention. On average though, it takes me a good six months or so to plot and write one of my Extinction Point books. I have a book I’ve been working on for almost two years; it’s one of those backburner stories that writers tend to have. I’m hoping I’ll have it finished next year.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I try to write every day. I don’t always succeed.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Yikes! I try to take situations that readers are familiar with and surprise them by turning their preconception on its head. Oh, and I’ve had a lot of fun with cliffhangers in the Extinction Point novels. Every book ends with one.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Quite honestly, there’s only ever a short period of time (a couple of weeks usually) out of the year when I’m not writing. Most of that time my head is working on plot and dialogue. But, when I have a few minutes, I’ll watch a movie or play a computer game. And I love to explore. I’ve promised myself I’m going to get out more, just choose a direction and head out. I love to do that.
What does your family think of your writing?
My wife is behind me 100% and is the first person to read all my work. She’s my biggest fan but also my most astute critic and has no problem telling me if something just does not work. My parents are both gone, but they instilled my love of reading when I was a kid, so I know they would be proud of where I am right now.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing the first two books of Extinction Point?
That people wanted to read my work. I expected to sell one or two books, but the series has sold well over 300k copies worldwide. It’s still strange to have fans of Emily write to me and say how much they have enjoyed her adventures. It really is quite humbling (and scary … really, really scary).
Do you have any suggestions for amateur or aspiring writers? If so, what are they?
Find a balance between writing and storytelling. So many new writers worry about their writing ability they forget that you also have to tell a great story too. Words are just the paint you use to create a compelling image.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do. Most tell me how much they enjoy Emily’s adventures, which is wonderful to hear. The next question is usually when will the next book be out.
What other fiction influences your work?
I’m a big fan of Jack McDevitt. He writes some great space opera / sci-fi. He has the most deceptively simple writing style. He makes writing look effortless.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Extinction Point? What about Exodus?
Honestly, there is nothing I would change about those two books. I’m happy with them both.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on a classic vampire novel I hope to have finished by the end of January. I’ve always wanted to write a vampire story ever since I read King’s Salems Lot. Once that’s out of the way, it’s back to working on the next Extinction Point book, which will probably be the last in the series.