I've decided to start swapping author interviews, and I was really excited when others were actually interested in doing so!
My first interview is of Don Carey, who's book Bumpy Landings, (Cedar Fort), comes out late 2010 or early 2011. I met Don through Twitter (go Twitter!), and am thrilled to present him to my readers.
How long have you been a writer?
I always enjoyed creative writing assignments in school, and got about 5 hand-written pages into an epic novel as a teen, but for the most part I let music scratch my creative itch.
As a youth, I had a strong interest in film production, and almost changed colleges so I could get a film degree. In 2002 I started looking into making short movies, but the only part of the process I could actually manage was to write little screenplays. As I worked on those, it soon became clear that I would probably never be able to pull off even simple little films, but the stories themselves were actually pretty good, and so I decided to concentrate on writing.
What kind of a writer do you believe yourself to be?
I believe myself to be a totally awesome writer. And humble, too.
Seriously, I'm still trying to figure that out. As for technique, I've always believed in being organized and having a solid foundation in place on which to build a story. I need to know where a scene is going before I can do much about writing it. Otherwise, the countless possibilities will paralyze me.
Which authors do you look up to the most?
I was afraid you'd ask a question like this. I realize this answer is going to sound like it's full of cheese, but I really haven't met a writer I DON'T look up to. There are so many great people working this gig, and I feel honored to be numbered among them. But, of course, you want me to name names. I will, but this is an extremely incomplete list.
I have put Julie Wright, Josi Kilpack, Annette Lyon, James Dashner, The J.S. Savage boys, Tristi Pinkston and Robison Wells on the list. I wrote up a little bit about WHY I look up to these writers, but that made this answer way too long and I decided it would be a good post in and of itself, so I'll be putting that on my blog in the next few days.
In which genres do you want to write? Are there any you are particularly drawn to, but don't ever plan to use?
I have always been a fan of science fiction and, to a lesser degree, fantasy. I have quite a few science fiction projects percolating in my mind, including a half-written novel and a short story I hope to submit for publication this year.
My current story is a contemporary romantic coming of age, however. I grew up in Hawaii, and that's where this story is set. In Hawaii I had many friends from Polynesia and Asia, and came to know and love the strong spirits of these great people. I would love to tell the stories of pioneering Saints from the Pacific in much the same way that the stories of European pioneers have been told in recent popular LDS fiction.
Where do you get your inspiration for writing?
I have a hyperactive imagination, and it is constantly coming up with "what if" scenarios. These often come from news stories, historical accounts, and books or movies that didn't live up to their potential. I like to try and follow those scenarios in my mind and see where they end up. More than a few I think have promise.
Tell us about Bumpy Landings. Where did the idea come for this book?
As I mentioned earlier, this a coming-of-age story set in Hawaii. At its heart, it's about Jordan MacDonald, a young returned missionary struggling to maintain the independence he gained on his mission once he returns home. I'm an aspiring pilot, so I use flying as the symbol of Jordan's independence. And since the book is set at BYU-Hawaii, there's a bit of romance thrown in, too.
My pitch is probably too long to include here, but can be found at http://donaldjcarey.com/books.
This book started out as a screenplay in 2002 and came from a "what-if" idea that has absolutely nothing to do with the current story. But it introduced me to many of the characters, and over the years I whittled away at different concepts until the current storyline finally emerged.
How long did it take to write it?
I picked at the story for five years before I stumbled upon Tristi Pinkston's Writing Challenge in October of 2007 , and decided to get serious about writing this book. I took pages to the 2008 LDStorymakers Bootcamp, and applied the things I learned as I wrote and rewrote through the rest of the year. At Storymakers 2009 I pitched the book to a publisher, and based on that feedback I polished and submitted to a handful of publishers later in the year. I got my contract with Cedar Fort this past February.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
First, there are very few good writers. Most - if not all - published authors owe their success to being good RE-writers. Give yourself permission to write dreadful prose. Then, once you have a draft, revise and rewrite until it absolutely shines.
Second, recognize that there is an awful lot involved in making a publishable story - character, dialog, plot, conflict, voice - and in order to become good, you need to learn and practice. That means reading and writing. A lot.
Third, accept yourself as a writer. It took me a long time before I would tell anyone about my writing, and I felt guilty for taking time to write. But if you want to be successful, you need to allow yourself the time to write. Even if you don't aspire to writing as a full-time career, you need to treat your writing the way you would a part-time job. Schedule the time, and stick to that schedule. Doing so will require sacrifice, but the results will be worth the effort.
Thanks so much for suggesting this interview. Best of luck to you and your release of The Key of Kilenya!
My own comment on his advice: follow it! He knows what he's talking about.
For those of you who're interested in swapping interviews, let me know! My only requirement is that you have to have been accepted for publication. That way we can help each other get the word out about our books!