I’m so pleased to have been given this opportunity by Dannie. I’ve come to know him fairly well, but this will allow me, and you, to find out even more!
You run a blog on your life in Thailand, which is where you reside now. Please tell us how it came about that you moved there in the first place, and how you met your wife?
First, Sandra. Thank you for having me at your site again. I enjoy your emails and blog; I’m the one who smiles in the reading!
I worked for many years raising - or giving a little help to my wife - our three great children. I decided to take my wife home for a visit after the kids were grown and on their own. She is from
. I also wanted to try and let my mind relax. It’s worked out well for both of us. I find a peace here and my muse is pleased that I give her much of the attention she seeks. We’ve been here for nine years and are now thinking of returning just to be with our children and grandchildren. I think I have learned to deal with the pressure of the electronic, fast paced world. Thailand
When did you start writing?
I actually didn’t start writing novels until I found the freedom of time. I have always been a storyteller and daydreams have been with me all my life - just ask my teachers. When writing novels came to me, it was like a dam had burst and my fingers couldn’t be held in place. I think I’ve always been a writer searching for a talent that laid waiting, like a man hungering for love but not knowing how to see.
How did you know you wanted to write?
I’ve always, since an early age, been a reader. Traveling with the writer to far off worlds that I wanted to live in. I was amazed at the books I read, wondering how someone could write so many words and think of so many places. One day, many years ago, I began to put my daydream to words and it was fun. Then something - my muse - sprinkled magic dust on a few pages and I’ve been lost in new worlds and situations ever since. There is a magic when I - and I’m sure most fiction writers - begin to write a thought that won’t leave unless it’s on paper or computer screen. In truth, I just sit back and enjoy the ride, as I hope my reads do and enjoy the people and place I meet along the way.
How long have you been writing for?
A long, long time, Ha!
My first novel took about fifteen years to finish. It was a good story, but the writing wasn’t. I knew then I had to learn much more to be a competent writer. I’ve come a long way since that first one. At my previous job one of my duties was to write out explanations on how to perform a task that men, sometimes far away could understand and complete the work without questions. I think I was pretty good at it. I also had to talk people through task - real time -and make sure it was performed safely and quickly. I learned a lot about dialog and real conversations during those years and it has helped me in my novels.
When was your first book published?
My first book - probably my fourth or fifth manuscript was published in 2010. Tyler Hill’s Decision started off as a little story I wrote for my grandson. I had watched my three children go through school and the heartache they suffered from kids who teased and badgered them because they were, mixed. My wife is Thai and I, a variety of white - with Cherokee Indian. I have always been proud of my heritage and I wanted my children to feel that pride, but I didn’t have the words to counteract the cruelty they had to sometimes endure. I wanted to write a story that my Grandson, Tyler, could read and perhaps gain some insight. I hope and pray he isn’t subjected to the harder side of childhood but if he is, I hope he will think about the story I wrote. The book actually turned out to be a good story with underlying messages that don’t hit you in the face, but do touch the reader.
Who inspired you to write, if anyone?
This may sound a bit self-serving, but I think I inspired myself to write. I was reading Fantasies at the time and it always bothered me that the hero never had a girlfriend or lover. I mean what’s the point of saving the world from evil if you’re not going to impress a beautiful girl and you go to bed each night alone? So, I started writing about a hero with a smile on his face at night - silly right? I’ve also been lucky in my associations. I’ve never had a big bag full of friends, but those I have aren’t the kind that found it funny in making someone feel like an idiot. I give a lot of credit to my Mom and Dad for raising me with values I can take anywhere in the world and I’ll do the right thing.
I know about your muse, but could your share with readers a little about 'her'?
My muse is delicate, needful, loving, punishing.
She often sits on my shoulder wearing a sheer wrap, inciting me.
When I abide in other than her will, a wraith swirls,
watching my every move; coaxing my thoughts.
She has no time for other than her wants.
What reason could I have to ignore her?
These are a few lines I wrote about my muse. Real or not, I feel a tickle on my shoulder when my writing is on track and flowing without my help. When I work on my little farm in Thailand thoughts come to me that will not stop until I sit and write. I sometimes feel like a crazy man until I’m doing what I must and my muse is pleased.
To read the full version titled 'My Muse', click HERE.
To read the full version titled 'My Muse', click HERE.
As far as your wife is concerned, what does she think about your writing?
There can be no greater gift to a writer, or anyone else, than that of a supportive person by ones side. That is my wife. She has never in our 36 years together, said stop or forget about this nonsense in whatever I’ve decided to try. When I write I see and hear nothing of this world. I live in my own creation. When my eye and mind clear at the end of the day, she is there waiting and welcomes me back. Honestly, I could not do what I do without her.
Has she read any of your books?
I’ve never been asked this question and wondered how I would answer if asked. English is my wife, Julee’s second language. She quite good at it, but reading is difficult for her. My novel, In Search of a Soul was a work done is anger and depression because of an agent telling me I wrote in a too simple and too easy to read style. I set out to show them what my vocabulary was capable of. I do have a large vocabulary, but I feel more comfortable using everyday language.
I often read passages of my works to my wife and she loves the story I wrote for Tyler. To me, that’s what makes this woman who can put up with me so wonderful. She knows when I’ve written something great. She sees it in my eyes and that’s enough for her. Thank you for asking, Sandra.
Besides your muse's helping hand, do you have any rituals you go through whilst you are writing?
I used to get completely naked, cross all my fingers and toes and my eyes, jump in a circle three times to the left and three times to the right while shouting, “Look at this!” Actually, I only got to do that twice and then my wife made me come inside and stop scaring the neighbors… Are you laughing? (Roflmao! I sure am) I do like a quiet place to start and usually just as the sun is rising, but once I begin nothing penetrates my little world. Even on my short breaks when I walk to our pond, my wife ignores me and lets me do what it is I do.
Are there any particular genres you prefer to write in, or does whatever flow make you happy?
I think because of my reading habits - I’m still an avid reader - I write what I catch on the breeze as it floats by. I write what I call, in the redemption genre. I enjoy leading characters with flaws and the characters that bring them back. My latest book, Death’s Door is a thriller. It has humor and romance along with the suspense and thrills. I’ve been told by my editor that’s it’s my best yet - I hope readers will agree. You will gasp, cry and laugh out loud. In the end, I hope readers will still be smiling and thinking about some of the messages hidden in the story, and of all the characters.
I sometimes wish I would or could stick to one genre - maybe someday.
Do you target a specific market with your books, or are they aimed at any age?
I’m terrible at marketing - I couldn’t sell ice water to an Arab in the desert. I just want people to read what I’ve written. Some of my books have adult, sexual, subject matter but it fits the story. Tyler Hill’s Decision was written for young adults, but it’s also a story adults will enjoy. In Search of a Soul is a sailing adventure, but I’ve found it is a story women love to read! It is by far my best seller - until Death’s Door starts reaching the readers.
Who are your favourite authors?
In my youth I read J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings - I was captured by his fantasy. Did you know he was born in South Africa? (Yes, I did :D) I didn’t until recently. I also read the classics and learned to think on a different level. Since we’re in South Africa, I must say that the works of Wilbur Smith showed me descriptions that were so vivid they danced before my eyes - Stories of Historical Africa. As of late, I’ve turned to independent authors and when a story is edited and presented in a professional manner, I find them new and exciting. Many authors stand out in my mind - not for their marketing capabilities, but for their abilities of telling a story. My hat is off to anyone who takes the time to write a manuscript and turn it into a novel, for the readers! Glenn Starkey is one of the writers I look up to and learn from. There are many others.
How do you feel when, or if, you receive a negative review and what if anything, do you take away from this to better your writing?
I mean this from the bottom of my heart: Reviews mean people are reading my books and I’ve impressed them enough - good or bad - to write. I love reviews. Some authors say they don’t mean anything, but I’m here to tell you they do! I take what readers say and use that knowledge to make my writing better. The truth is I’ve only received one 2 star review and it wasn’t that bad. I did get an offer from a person I’d never met to be a beta reader for one of my books. This person read three pages and began to tear the manuscript apart. It devastated me for months - but not enough to stop writing. It was one of the main reasons I didn’t publish in 2011. Yeah, I’m a sensitive guy. I’ve never felt that way when someone actually read what I’ve written and took me to task. A first feader for Death’s Door laid out things that weren’t working, repetitive words and areas I should improve on. He wanted my book to be better. What more can a writer ask for? And I made the changes. I respect people who criticize for improvement.
What would you like a reader to feel once they reach the end of one of your books?
That the book was worth the money spent. I hope my writing stays with them a while and they think about the people they’ve met and the hidden messages.
You have graciously done a guest post for me titled 'Readers are Important'. I agree - they are. Do you think that book blogs are important too? If yes or no... why?
I’ve given a little of my answer earlier about reviews. Reviews aren’t so much for the author, but for other readers. The great bloggers who take the time to review or promote a book are so important in that they present an author’s works to potential buyers. I love your blog, Sandra. I’ve picked up so many gems for my reading from your reviews! My TBR list is your already read list. I trust you. Giving an honest review is important to readers and writers and you are among the best at it! Book blogs are so important to independent writers. (Thank you, Dannie.)
You are one of the most humorous authors I've met, and one who always manages to put a smile on my face. What sort of people have you come across in this virtual world?
Laughter makes the world go ‘round. It’s so true. Smiles do a body good… tired of my clichés yet? (Never!) I like to meet people who are happy and in most cases that involves a sense of humor. Wait! My spell checker has switched to British English and it’s trying to make me spell humor as humour - what the heck do I do now? (See what I mean, always making me laugh or smile) My editor will charge me double for my next manuscript! Okay. I’m all right.
I’ve met more people I call friends on the social media than I’ve ever had before, and they’re people from all over the world! It’s a dream come true for me. Really! When I was a young boy I loved geography and used to dream of meeting people from strange lands. You must remember that I’m a rural southern boy raised in the South a long time ago. I once met a man from Italy and I was so excited my mom thought she might have to give me a nerve pill. I’m still the same way but I try to hide my excitement. Can you imagine knowing and talking to people from Japan, China, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, England and everywhere! And Bob’s your Uncle - it’s happened! Did I say that right, Sandra? (lol, you did!) I’ve been writing all this time just to use that great phrase. (And it's spot on)
I really am a funny guy - why,, every day I tell my wife, “I’m so funny, I make myself laugh.” It never brings a smile to her face, but I know she’s laughing inside - I hope.
Last but not least, what tips would you share with new writers?
This is the easiest question yet. Read and write - write and read! You can’t become a writer without reading and writing!
And of course, never go outside naked yelling, “Hey, look at this.” And then tell people you did.
Is there anything I haven't asked you that you'd like to add, Dannie? If so, the floor, or page, is yours!
Well, you never asked me about my kilt! (Seriously, I could interview you once a week, and I know that not only would you keep answering my questions, but you would most definitely have me in stitches!)
Introvert or extrovert?
Tea or coffee?
Sweets or savoury?
Do what? I like sour stuff.
Dogs, cats or neither?
Dogs mostly, but cat are okay too.
Summer or winter?
Night owl or early bird?
Social mogul or occasional participant?
In the middle
Dannie, many thanks for your time once again, it’s much appreciated. It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting you. I sincerely wish you nothing but success with all your books, and may you write many, many more.