Tell us a bit about your family. I’m happily married, the father of five children. My youngest son, Ben, lives at home, and was recently in a serious sporting accident. He’s now recovering from a traumatic brain injury, and we’re very happy that he has survived. This is me with Ben, and my son Spencer and daughter Danielle.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear? That’s easy. I simply look at my past successes and use those to help inspire me and give me courage.
What’s your greatest character strength? When I was a child, I used to pick beans and strawberries for a living. (I went to work at the age of four, which was common in those days.) I learned then that if you keep working when others get tired, when you work when they’re worn out, when you work while they’ve stopped and gone to sleep for the night—you’ll accomplish far more than they ever dream. I’m persistent.
Why do you write? I write because I have to. It’s the creative impulse. As a child, I once began to draw a picture of knights in battle. It required thirty pieces of paper, and it filled up the entire floor in our kitchen. My mother watched me work on it for hours every night and worried that I was insane. So she called a doctor in to come see what I was doing. He was a nice man who asked me a lot of questions about my picture, and I showed him how the battle was so even, but if you looked closely at the center of the picture, the good knights were beginning to triumph over the evil ones.
Afterward, I heard my mother whispering to the doctor in the other room. “So what do you think? What’s wrong with him? Is he crazy?”
“No,” he said, “He’s not crazy. He’s an artist. Congratulations.”
I think that if you’re going to succeed in this business, at some level you have to feel driven to do this. When you’re learning the craft, there won’t be any crowds cheering you on, saying, “Keep it up! Someday you’ll be great!”
You have to discover the joy of writing within you.
What writing are you most proud of? Every writer has certain works that they enjoy most. My most recent novel, Nightingale, has won several awards, including the International Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel of the Year, and the Hollywood Book Festival Award for Best Book of the Year. I quite like it. You can find it for sale at www.nightingalenovel.com as an e-book, an i-book, a hardcover, or as an audiobook.
What books did you love growing up? The first book that I ever remember reading and re-reading was Swiss Family Robinson, a book that I loved, but which seemed insane to me as a ten-year-old. After all, what Swiss family is named “Robinson?” And on what continent do African ostriches live next to Asian tigers and Oriental pirates?
Later I learned to love Aesop’s fables, Lord of the Rings, and then I moved to science fiction, like Dune, along with various philosophical novels. There are so many that I’ve loved, it’s hard to name them all.
Who is your favorite author? I have dozens of “favorite authors,” people that I admire for different things. I love Orson Scott Card’s use of voice and argumentation, for example. I love Shakespeare’s character dynamics, and I love the poetry of Theodore Roethke and Robert Frost, the beauty of their wordplay.
I think that as an author, you need to read broadly, and then try to adapt the strengths of others as your own. For example, one fairly new author that I admire is Shannon Hale. Her use of metaphors just seems to spot-on to me.
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Genre - Science Fiction/Fantasy
Rating – PG13
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