An Interview with the Author
What was one of your most memorable stories you have written?
Discussing the American flag at a meeting I attended, an elderly man stood up and said, “That flag is pretty important to me.” He spoke his quiet words with such a strong sense of conviction. I interviewed him later and he told me a remarkable story.
Just a nineteen-year-old kid, he landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima at noon on the first day of the invasion, February 19. 1945. “At about one o’clock, they hit us pretty hard for the next three days and nights.” It’s unimaginable the hell he experienced. He and others pushed ahead, and he spent another three days in a bomb crater near an airfield with a handful of men. On the morning of February 23, he looked up and saw several marines running on the top of Mt. Suribachi. He thought they were crazy to expose themselves to enemy fire. He turned away for a brief moment wand when he looked back, the American flag was flying from the summit. Four hours later, Joe Rosenthal took the famous photograph of the larger flag raising on the summit. On the island for thirty-eight day, his unit, along with many others, received a PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION. The citation is equivalent to awarding the Medal of Honor to an individual. I asked him if he sometimes thought about his experiences. His response was immediate. “It’s never left me.”
Describe your desk?
My desk. It’s like the cockpit of an airplane. Everything is within arms reach. Just do a three sixty and the world is at my fingertips. We have a den in our home that is used for my office. Small but it gets the job done. It’s my favorite room and serves multiple purposes. It has a window that looks out the front of the house so I know the world exists. It has a chair that my wife sits in to read the paper, eat her breakfast and lunch and visit. I’d go nuts if she wasn’t close by for part of the day. Like my wife, my desk also serves as a breakfast and lunch counter. I finally move at the end of the day and we eat in the living room watching TV. I tell you, my life is grand. I have a bucket full of grandkids so their pictures are under glass on my desk. But most of all, my den is a replica of the D-Day invasion in WW II. I have notes on all four walls. Its a beautiful room. Don’t get me wrong. My wife and I have an active social life and we travel. But the den is a magic place. It’s where I spend time with some of my favorite people, the characters in my books. They’ve make me cry, put a lump in my throat, and make me yell for joy.
When did you first start writing?
Interesting question. Best answer. When I was a young man working for my dad. I had these words in my head. They haunted me, so I wrote them down. And what were they, poetry? I can remember one night getting up to write a poem. The words never changed. It is one of my favorites. Another time, it was sitting in a bar and still later, a warm afternoon on the beach. Again, two of my favorites. I wrote my first one in high school. It was an angry poem. I still have it. Bottom line, I decided to try and get them published. I met with an agent or publisher. I can’t remember. Long story short. He wanted to publish my work. Fantastic. But he needed a hundred poems. A whole book. And I had only twenty-five. So the writing slipped away and was forgotten. My poetry is different than most. Much of It has an Elizabethan quality. Can’t tell you why I write in that style. It’s just natural for me. I told myself I could never write a book. I didn’t know how or where to begin. But then Grace paid me a visit. Oh, I swear she wouldn’t leave me and demanded I tell her story. And look where I am today. On my fourth book. And then there is Sarah. She is nagging me big time to tell her story. She’s next. I can hardly wait.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
I served in public office at the local and state level. I know first-hand what goes on behind closed doors and the ugliness of politics today. Those experiences were the genesis of my book, The Rescue of Liddie MacArthur. I wanted to continue the political theme and write a second book, The Hungry Lions. Didn’t work. The story conflicted with Liddie. So I kept the political theme but changed the stage to The Beijing Memorandum. I’m working on it now. Lots of political shenanigans. It’s a great story.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have an ugly answer. Sorry. Tried going the traditional route. I lost all respect for literary agents. And I’m not going to waste my time on the “why.” I have talent that’s been reinforced with people who know a good story when they read it. So look out, Boston. We’re going to take this puppy on the independent road and see if the reader agrees with me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Discovering the “kicker” and falling in love with my characters. What in the devil is a “kicker?” Simple. It’s the phrase or sentence or two that jump-starts the scene and triggers all that follows. Let me give you an example (protected by copyright) from The Beijing Memorandum.
Equal in all ways.
The best the People’s Republic had to offer.
Those few words kicked the horse out of the gate and took me for a wild ride as the two giants in character met for the first time. It was a blast to write.
Another love is some of the characters in the books. They become my friends and remain with me long after returning the book to the shelf. The elegance of Pamela and the heartache of Grace. The toughness of Drummond and the dedication of Cody. There are so many of them, each special in their own way.
What are you working on next?
The Redemption of Sarah Jane Bartlett. Oh, she is going to take you and me for a ride around the block. Sarah is the kind of woman you love to hate. But what happens to her after “Handsome Jack” dumps her and marries the sweet flower girl? That’s Sarah’s story.
Who are your favorite authors?
Started with Louis L’Amour. He and I rode a lot of trails together. And we saved the “schoolmarm” a hundred times. Moved over to early Danielle Steel. Especially, Five Days in Paris. And then of course. there is Irish Born by Nora Roberts. I like Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Oh such an easy question. Live life and write. That’s better than toast and jelly.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Hopefully, it’s with my wife. Otherwise, its those doggone chores.
How do you approach cover design?
Another easy one. I want it to be simple so a quick glance tells the reader everything they need to know. Hard charging red background is great. And most importantly, I want to knock the reader’s socks off. An equally easy question is what I don’t like, having to take my entire lunch hour to understand all the nuances of the cover. Or even worse, a long-haired, beautiful woman struggling to keep her gown up while standing next to some bare chested clown holding a sword.