On the other hand, I think almost everyone who is driven to write is also driven to seek an audience. Someone trying to use writing as his or her primary income would naturally need to have an audience to make money, but my day job provides most of my income, and yet I seek readers just as zealously as if I would starve if I didn’t find them. For me writing and communication are inseparable. If I didn’t have something I wanted to share with other people, I wouldn’t be writing in the first place. In the long run, my desire to share overrode my fear of self-revelation and my fear of the possibility that people might not like my work.
Do you plan to publish more books? Now that I have started, I don’t think I will be able to stop! I see Living with Your Past Selves as the first of at least a three part series, and I am already at work on the second novel in the series. (There is something about the main character, Taliesin Weaver, that demands further exploration. Also, the ending of Living with Your Past Selves pretty much cries out for at least one sequel.) I am also considering some non-fiction projects that make use of my teaching experience. I’m about a third of the way done with a short book giving parents advice on how to communicate effectively with teachers, and I’m seriously considering developing a book of writing tips for high school students that will merge text with instructional video. When will I stop writing? I guess when I die…unless of course I come back.
Every writer has his or her own idea of what a successful career in writing is. What does success in writing look like to you? I started out with the idea that successful was bringing enjoyment to people. Since a number of people seem to have enjoyed Living with Your Past Selves already, you could say that I am already successful. Unfortunately, as soon as the book was published, I started thinking about sales figures, about the possibility of eventually being able to sell to a traditional publisher, about getting the book made into a movie, and so on. Yes, I’d love to be a bestselling author. Yes, I’d love to see the book become a movie. At least once a day, though, I remind myself that achievements like that, as satisfying as they would be, are not the reasons I started writing. At the end of the day, it is how much enjoyment I bring to readers that matters most.
When did you begin writing? My writing career has really had two beginnings. I wasn’t conscious that I wanted to be a writer when I was growing up, but I have been writing as long as I can remember, and so I would place the first beginning somewhere in the little remembered days of early childhood. Even way back in fourth grade, my peers got a big kick out of some of my stories—and I got a big kick out of writing them.
By high school I was trying real short stories, some of which I submitted to magazines. I didn’t get any of them published, though some editors sent encouraging “I can’t use this particular piece, but keep on writing” kind of notes.
By the time I got into college I was working on a novel, The Wanderer, which, since I was banging it out on a typewriter, took quite a long time. These were the days when one mistake on a page probably meant retyping the whole page, and just typing the final copy after all the revisions were done took six weeks. I finished near the end of the summer in 1982. After that I convinced myself that the demands of teaching precluded writing, even as a significant hobby, and I forgot about it—or so I thought. The urge kept nibbling away inside of me, though, and during the summer of 2012—exactly thirty years after my last major attempt—I completed a second novel, Living with Your Past Selves. You could say I had a kind of false start early in life, but that the second—and true--beginning of my real writing career dates to that summer.
What book genre do you like the best? Fantasy or young adult would be the easy answer, since that’s what I have been writing so far. However, I am one of those people who have a hard time picking a favorite. I also love science fiction and horror, but really my tastes are eclectic—if a book is well written, I’ll probably want to read it, regardless of genre.
If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? “Don’t give up on your dreams—but have a plan B.” I have seen people keep plugging away until they got what they wanted, even though at first their goals seemed impractical. I know people who believe truly can accomplish the seemingly impossible. That said, people don’t always succeed. I have become determined not to give up on my writing, but I haven’t quit my day job. (I love being a teacher anyway, so I won’t leave that profession until I retire, but even if were in a job I didn’t like as well, I’d never leave it until the point at which I knew I could support myself.)
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? The influence I have had on the many students I have taught over the years (approximately 4,500 of them by now). I can’t claim that being in my class is a life-altering experience, but, based on the students who have come back to visit, I would say a number of them have learned from me, not only about critical thinking and analytical writing, but about life.
Genre - Fantasy / Young Adult
Rating – PG13