When did you start writing?
While I wrote here and there in grammar school, I didn’t rediscover writing until college, which is when I realized that was what I wanted to do for a living. I wrote my first short story in 1990, while living in Hollywood working post-production for the Disney Studios. It took another eighteen years until someone actually paid me for my writing.
Where do you get your ideas?
Something someone says. Stray, random thoughts. An article in the news. Just about anywhere, and I don’t usually go looking for them. I got the idea for Breathers because I wondered what it would be like to be a zombie rather than one of the humans running away from them.
Who is your favorite author? Which authors influenced you?
Chuck Palahniuk, especially his earlier novels, and Lullaby was what inspired me to write Breathers. I loved the blend of dark comedy and social satire with the supernatural premise, which is something I’d done in a few of my short stories but never considered doing in novel length. I also appreciate the humor of Christopher Moore, Nick Hornby, and Kurt Vonnegut. The majority of my early short stories and novels prior to Breathers was inspired by a steady diet of Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson, and Robert McCammon, among others. And, of course, I devoured everything by Stephen King, who is the reason I wanted to become a writer.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Anywhere from six months to two years. Breathers took me two years to write, though I didn’t work on it every day, while Fated took a little over a year to write. My three early novels, which will most likely never see print, took two years, one year, and six months to write.
Do you write an outline?
No. I know that some writers create full outlines, chapter by chapter, and have all of their major plot points planned out. I can’t do that. While I generally have an idea of how the story starts and where it might end, I like to discover the story as I write it. Sometimes this means I end up going in a direction I hadn’t planned on, and other times it can get me in trouble because I’m not sure where I’m going next, but it’s just what works for me.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I read. I golf. I go to the movies or enjoy the company of friends. Most of the time, I wonder if I shouldn’t be spending more time writing. Or if I’m ever going to be able to finish my next book.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer?
Write what you want to write, not what someone else tells you to write or what you think people would want to read. If it doesn’t resonate with you, it’s not going to resonate with anyone else.
Do you answer your own email?
Yes. I try to answer them as soon as possible, but sometimes I’m unable to get to them right away. So bear with me. I’ll respond, I promise.