Interview With Author E.E. Williams

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)

E.E. Williams, author of “Tears in the Rain,” “Tears of God,” and “My Grave Is Deep.” All three are available on Meanwhile, you can follow me on my blog at ee‑

What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?

Noah Greene, my protagonist, is me. Or the me I’d like to be. 

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

Movies. Books. The stories other people tell me about their lives. The news. My Noah Greene novels are all inspired by the old private eye movies I watched growing up. Chinatown. The Big Sleep. Farewell My Lovely. The Maltese Falcon. I wanted to write a character like those PIs. Jake Gittes. Philip Marlowe. Sam Spade. Interestingly, as I started writing, Noah has more bravado than bravery. He grows into the kind of PI he wants to be over the arc of the three books.

How do you deal with creative block?

I read. Sometimes a word, a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph from another book suddenly inspires me. Fortunately, I don’t haven’t had to deal with writer’s block, though it did take me more than 30 years to write my first book. But that had more to do with a busy schedule, lots of moves, lost manuscripts, thrown out manuscripts and general laziness.

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Well, grammar for one. If you don’t know the difference between their, there and they’re, you’re going to lose the reader. Spelling errors. Those are basic. On a greater level is loose plotting, incorrect names and places, motivations that make no sense and loose ends.

Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Keep ’em short. Make sure the title actually captures what’s in the book. For instance, in “My Grave Is Deep,” Noah finds himself buried in a pit in the Everglades with a dead body and a live snake. His grave is, well, deep. “Tears in the Rain” came from a famous line in the movie “Blade Runner,” but it also refers to the ending and the tears characters shed.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

No one likes bad reviews. No one likes criticism. They SAY they do, but it’s not true. But, as a journalist for 42 years, I kind of grew a thicker skin. Few people take more abuse than journalists, except maybe lawyers. And, if you allow yourself to really see what people don’t like, what they’re criticizing, it can make you a better writer and improve your next book. My wife reads my manuscripts and it stings when she doesn’t like something. I pout a little, then think about her opinion and eventually wind up agreeing with her. My books are better because of it. 

How has your creation process improved over time? 

Well, it didn’t take me 30 years to write the second book. I still write in fits and starts. I have many, many, many friends who are highly successful writers, much moreso than me, who get up in the morning, write every day for several hours, take a break, then go back to writing. I’ve never been able to do that. I’ve gotten better, but it’s still a struggle for me.

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

There’s an old saying about writing. It’s better to have written. That’s the best part. Finishing. Getting everything you wanted to say out there. The worst is revisions. Rewriting and then rewriting the rewrite.

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I certainly want to entertain readers. If you can’t do that, you won’t sell any books. But in the end, no matter what genre you’re writing in, it’s you in there. You on the page. Your thoughts. Your opinions. Many times your life. Much of my own personal experiences are in my books. My protagonist, Noah Greene, loses his infant daughter in childbirth due to a doctor’s error. That happened to me. His marriage falling apart happened to me. His love of old detective movies is like my own. So, to answer your question, you have to satisfy yourself first. If you try to outthink your readers, you’re going to fail.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

A great deal. I like to play mood music when I’m writing. Pieces that will touch me in some way. As I mentioned above, my emotions about losing my daughter are in every book. Those are still raw, 44 years later.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

I’ll write a couple of pages, get up, walk around, listen to music, then sit down and go over what I’ve written. That helps. I’ve done a lot of author interviews over the years, and many famous writers write longhand. Robert Ludlum did that. Richard North Patterson does. I’ve tried that, but it doesn’t work for me. It might work for others, however.

What are your plans for future books?

I’m writing a fourth Noah Greene novel right now and I have plans for a book of mostly, perhaps somewhat true stories about my youth.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself:

I grew up in Ohio and attended Kent State University. Yes, I’m old enough to have been on campus when four students were killed and nine others wounded by the Ohio National Guard. I wanted to fly jets, but somehow wound up in the Kent State student newspaper newsroom. Once I saw my name in print, I was hooked. I started my career as a sports writer in Miami, covering golf, tennis and pro football as backup beat writer for the Dolphins, including their undefeated 1972 season. After a few years, I moved into editing (more money) and eventually became Sports Editor of some of the country’s largest newspapers, including the New York Daily News and Cleveland Plain Dealer. After 19 years, I moved into News and served as News Editor, Managing Editor and Executive Editor and, finally, General Manager at several newspapers. I have a beautiful granddaughter who lives with her father (my son) and mother in Cleveland. If you can’t find me, it’s because I’m sitting in the dark, at a movie, watching the magic happen.


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