# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Originally I come from a screenwriter and independent filmmaking background with over twenty years of experience in the arts and entertainment industry. My directorial debut was entitled 17 & Under, and won my first awards, garnered successful distribution, and landed me squarely on the filmmaking map. Since then, I’ve been a part of many successful productions, with my latest film The Boatman. I won Best Director Idyllwild Film Festival among many other wins and a Best Director and Best Film nominee of the prestigious 33rd Annual Imagen Awards. Now I like to turn my storytelling skills into long-form narrative fiction. My first novel is entitled Weeper. Weeper is the multi-generational story of the relationships between the members of two 19th century Appalachian families; the True’s, a family of “warners” (early funeral directors), and the Fenn’s, a family of “weepers” (paid mourners). My current is Collodion. It is the second in a companion series after Weeper. All three will submerge into the macabre world of the nineteenth-century death industry; postmortem photography & embalming.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
Many of the characters, places, ships, and things in the story were true, historical people, places, battles, and things. In the Kindle edition, you can use their “X-ray” and click on their names, and it gives a ton of interesting facts about the place or person, or thing.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I’ve always loved movies and from movies the stories behind them. Screenwriting countless scripts gave me the knowledge of how to create a great story. With that said, I like solitude, but I put on some quirky music, not too loud. Mostly soundtrack music from films in the same genre that my story is in. Another thing is sometimes I go on drives and have my phone to record my thoughts. Also, other writers inspire me immensely like Charles Frazier (Cold Mountain) Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides) I don’t even come close to the prose these guys produce, but they are an inspiration.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I used to get that a lot. It’s no motivation. But now I can write all the time. I don’t get creative block, I just write. Many times I will later come up with a much better idea and rewrite. I do get tired and quit for the day. You just have to write. Sometimes it sucks, but just rewrite it later.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Thinking the first draft is good.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I want something ironic or something that would make a reader say, “What is that?” The title of Collodion comes from the substance that is used both in wet plate photography and in embalming, the two professions of my two main characters. The cover for my second book is an interesting story: The two people on the cover I found in nineteenth-century tintype photographs. They are real people that lived long ago. I bought them and used them on my cover of Collodion. I do not know who they are. Just regular people that lived long ago.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I am a filmmaker as well, so I am very used to negative feedback. Typically, it’s half the people love you, and half hate you. If you got something really good, maybe it’s 75% to 25%, but you will always have the haters. I used to try to justify myself on social media, but now, if I respond at all, it’s an “I’m sorry I didn’t please you. That’s for reading.”
# How has your creation process improved over time?
Simply by doing instead of saying I’m going to do it. It’s now easy for me to sit down and just start writing.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The best and most surprising was the fact that I get so involved with my characters. They live in my head, and I’m sad to leave them when a story is done. The worst is the fact that it is so difficult to break out and get noticed in wider markets. New writers don’t have a huge publishing house to help them with press and marketing.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Hmm. A little of both, and what I mean by that is that you start out for your own satisfaction, but you must send it out to beta readers and editors and many many of them to make sure your story is good. From what they tell you, if it rings true and is a good idea, I change it. You must be able to be criticized and also take only what you believe is right from them. But nine out of ten times, they are right. An author has blinders on when writing. You think it’s perfect, but that first draft ain’t.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
I love this question. Absolutely they do. Now, I love writing so much that I feel the characters live with me and in me. I even talk to them in my head, or they tell me what they would or wouldn’t do in a story. I feel the emotions the character is feeling. It’s funny, I’ve had people walk in on me while I’m writing, and I’m crying my eyes out. That’s why I like solitude.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
Sometimes I think of a story with characters, and then I flip the character or environment. For example, the character is a young woman. What if I made the character into an old man? Who would that affect the story? Would it make it more interesting? I need a story I’ve never heard of before. I don’t want to write a story that is a different take on another story. That’s not my style.
# What are your plans for future books?
The third and final book of the “Death Shall Have No Dominion” series will be next. They are all a companion series meaning small characters are the main characters of the other. I am working on the third now, and it will more or less sum up all of the unfinished business from several of the characters. The first book is called “Weeper” and is more of a multi-generational story of the relationships between the members of two 19th century Appalachian families; the True’s, a family of “warners” (ancient funeral directors), and the Fenn’s. a family of “weepers” (paid mourners). The whole series is on the thread of macabre death practices. Little Miss is a big character in the first book as is Augustus. After that, I plan to convert a screenplay I wrote into a novel. It’s a modern-day drama. I’m moving outside of historical fiction.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I am the 32nd generation grandson of King William the 1st, also known as William Conqueror. Also, I own a sperm whale tooth, and it sits in a glass case. The tooth came from the whale the smashed to bits the Ann Alexander, a whaling ship out of New Bedford. My great, great uncle William DeBlois was the captain and survived in a rowboat till another ship picked him. Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick stated in a newspaper that he believed his novel may have cursed the Ann Alexander.