Before I get into this dream business, Shannon Lawrence over at The Warrior Muse has gone and interviewed me. My completely unbiased opinion (>smirk<) is that it's a great interview, and you should all go read it. Actually, I do think it's a good interview, and it has some good thoughts in it. You'll get to find out a little bit more about my book, and there's some of my thoughts about publishing and the publishing industry that I may not have said on here, yet. So go check it out. Just click the little linky up there.
Seriously. Go. Now. I'll still be here when you get back.
As part of Rachael Harrie's platform building campaign, Cat Gerlach started up this little blog ring about what inspired us to be writers.
Rachele Alpine or Ali Cross (although, I think Ali's post won't actually go up until tomorrow (the 16th), if I followed that conversation correctly) and click through. If you continue on through the links that is the other one that you haven't already read, you should get all the way back around to me. Sounds like fun, right? And don't worry: it's only a dozen or so of us, so it's not going to take you weeks to get through them all.
Oh! and there are prizes. However, I'm not going to list all of those out, because, honestly, I'm not sure what the list boiled down to. I will tell you how to win one, though: leave a comment. Each comment you leave on each blog is worth one entry, so there's your incentive to make the full round. I do think there were some good prizes in there, even if one of them is not a copy of my book (sorry, I just don't have any available, yet, but I'll explain about that next week).
Who started my dream?
I think my answer is somewhat atypical, at least from what I have seen from other people talking about these kinds of things. I never got "inspired" to write because of some book or some author I read. The closest I come to that is, probably, The Hardy Boys, but I wouldn't really call it a moment of inspiration. I started reading The Hardy Boys sometime around 4th grade. At some point in there, I decided I was going to write one of my own. Except that I changed the names to protect the innocent. Mainly myself. Because I didn't want to get in trouble for copyright infringement, although I have no idea why I would even have been thinking that at that age. But I was.
I got out a notebook, and I started writing. Probably Big Chief (Big Chief was really pads of paper. Colored red (not the paper, just the covers). Because it was an "Indian" thing. No, no one thought anything about that back in the 70s), because that's what I always had back then. I don't really remember, though. I was making decent progress. But this was back in the days before I knew I could tell my mom to stay out of my stuff, and she had this annoying habit of getting into my things, so she found my "book" and read it. Her very supportive comment was, "Did you make up all these names yourself?" The book went in the trash. Especially since I hated the names. I felt that they were inadequate, and that was the thing she commented about. I didn't continue my writing pursuits.
But I was good at it. Teachers commented about my writing all the time, sometimes reading things I had written to the class. But I didn't think about writing anymore. I was a math/science student, after all; artistic pursuits were good for nothing more than hobbies.
By the time I was exiting high school, I hated math and science. Well, mostly math. I was so tired of it. I elected to major in English in college. I did this with the idea of writing. No, I can't tell you why. What I can tell you is that I had to argue with every counselor at the school about my choice. Yes, my math/science scores were that high. Not that my English scores were bad; they weren't. In fact, they were great, so that should say something about my math scores. I spent my entire freshman year at college explaining to the administration that, no, really, the English major wasn't mistake. Yes, I knew what my scores said. No, I did not want to major in math or anything related to it.
The English department was ecstatic with my decision, and I was, eventually, appointed a counselor from the English department.
My first real attempt at a novel was during a break from college while I was substitute teaching. It's about a dragon. I still have it stored somewhere in a box, and I still think it's a good story. I might one day go back to it. I can point to no inspirational moment for that novel, either. It was really more about saving the environment. With a dragon.
What I'm saying here, I guess, is that the decision to "be a writer" came more out of not wanting to do math anymore and knowing that I was good at writing. So, yeah, sorry for the big let down there. I didn't even follow through with it at the time. I was young and busy, and staying home at night to write never occurred to me. Then, I was out of college and working and still out at night and staying at home and writing never occurred to me. Then, I was moving to CA and getting married and, later, dealing with kids, and the whole writing thing had, mostly, just left my brain.
So how, then, did I end up writing a book? Well, here's the thing: A few years ago, I kept hearing about these Anita Blake novels and how good they are. Let me preface this by saying that I hate, hate, the whole vampire thing. I hated it in high school when everything was about Anne Rice, and I still hate it, today. Vampires are the bad guys. Period. End of story. I liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer for that very reason (I'll excuse Angel, because he was an exception); the vampires were bad. Evil. So, hey, here are these Anita Blake novels, and she's a vampire slayer, so I thought I would try one out.
Big mistake. And apologies to anyone that likes that trash, but it was trash. I started with the first one, because, you know, that's what you do, and it was torture. I'm not very good at putting down a book once I've started it, but I seriously considered it with that one. One thing stopped me. See, by about page 80, I had figured out the entire plot. Really. The entire plot to a 350 page novel in 80 pages including who the bad guy was. But I kept thinking that I must be wrong, because, really, no published author could be that bad. And I kept hoping that I was wrong and that Ms Hamilton had tricked me all the while knowing she hadn't.
The other thing I kept thinking was that I could do better. So much better. The thought that went along with it was that that thought was stupid if I then didn't actually follow through with doing better. It's like guys across America yelling at football players on TV. In other words, ridiculous. Anyone can say "I could do better," but it doesn't mean a thing unless you actually do that.
From that perspective, I suppose you could say that Laurell K. Hamilton was my inspiration, because it was because of her and Anita Blake that I decided to follow through with the thought of writing. I'd talked with my wife about it on-and-off for years, but that was all I did. Talk about it. I hadn't made a serious attempt since that discarded book about the dragon while I was in college. So I wrote a book. And it's better than Anita Blake.
At least, it's better than the first one. I was told, later, that the Anita Blake books don't really get good until you get to the third one, but, seriously, how does anyone get that far? After having all of my fears about the first one confirmed, there was never even the consideration of going on, so how did anyone ever get to #3 to begin with. Maybe I'm being too harsh? I mean, she is a big, famous author with a big, famous franchise from a big, giant publisher, so what do I know?
Oh, but wait, I do have to mention C. S. Lewis and Narnia. He's probably the writer that had the most influence on The House On the Corner. It was a very deliberate thing on my part to write about houses and the things you find there. It was deliberate because Lewis and Narnia had such an impact on me as a kid. I wanted to find places, doorways, other worlds. And I wasn't the only one. My friends and I used to play games wrapped around those ideas, and I wanted to capture that feeling in my own book. There's even a small nod to Narnia in House. How could I resist?