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An Interview – Or Is It?

March 23, 2012

I get lots of questions about the how’s and why’s of my writing, so I thought I would do something a little different that you might find slightly amusing and hopefully useful. I am going to answer many of the most common questions in the form of a fictitious interview by Sam the Interviewer Guy. I tried to make it as realistic as possible, and it was fun to write, so I hope you enjoy my romp into the world of humor.

This is the transcript of an interview by Sam the Interviewer Guy with aspiring indie author, Daryl Yearwood.

S: What is it that you are looking for with this leap into indie world of self-publishing?

D: Short answer – to be a successful indie writer. I seem to have a talent for telling a story, and I enjoy every aspect of the writing and publishing process. I can definitely see myself writing for the rest of my life. It fits my inner identity. Plus, I’ve reached the age where digging ditches for a living has lost all of its appeal.

S: What is your definition of success?

D: Well, first the practical side. I would like to make enough money so that my family can live in a moderate level of comfort. Of course, I’d wouldn’t mind being rich.

S: Who wouldn’t? (laughs)

D: Exactly, but the real goal, for me, is to be a provider. Also, I think success as a writer comes when you have fans that enjoy your work and look forward to your next book, or short story, or whatever it is that you are writing. If you’re not writing for your fans, you’re just keeping a journal.

S: Do you think that those are reasonable goals for indie authors?

D: Absolutely. With the popularity and ease of self-publishing, I think it is well within the grasp of indie authors to generate a livable income and gain a loyal group of fans. There are people out there just waiting to read my book, so all I have to do is get it in front of them. There are readers for every writer. The trick is getting hooked up.

S: What was the impetus that drove you to become a writer?

D: Did I mention my aversion to digging ditches?

S: Yes. I believe you did.

D: Okay. Just wanted to make sure I got that out there. The most direct answer is that I like to read. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I had the belief, or delusion, that I could tell a story as well as the authors I was reading.

I originally went back to college to get my degree in creative writing with the idea that I would teach college while I tried to get a traditional publishing contract. When those dirty dogs at grad school turned me down, I had to rethink my position, and that’s when I decided to write full-time.

I had achieved success getting published in the literary world with my short stories and poetry, so I thought I would try my hand at the type of things that I enjoy reading – the fantasy and speculative fiction genres. I’m even trying my hand at a Steampunk story. Anyway, I self-published The One Rider, and it seems to be well received, so for now, that is fueling my desire to keep writing and publishing.

S: Let’s talk about The One Rider. How long did it take you to write, and where did you get the idea behind the book. It seems very Tolkien-esque.

D: Tolkien-esque is probably a good description. High Fantasy and Epic Fantasy are the labels that get thrown around. I always liked that world of elves and dwarves, but I also fell in love with the Dragon Riders of Pern when I read the series back in the seventies, so I thought combining the two would be a fun ride. I take that back. I don’t think that I actually made a conscious decision to combine them. It just seemed to happen.

I wrote the book in about a month back in 2007, then I edited and rewrote until it was published in 2012. It took so long to rewrite because when I hacked out the original draft, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I could spell the word grammar, but that’s as far as it went. After taking classes in creative writing, and grammar, I learned how to craft a story and get it right the first time. Now, I can write a book in about four to six weeks, and I don’t have to do much of a rewrite. I just have to fix the lay/lie problems. You know, correcting the technical mistakes, or as I like to call it, “Take out the stupid.”

S: So, you borrowed from Tolkien and McCaffrey to build your own fantasy world, Ashandor.

D: Yeah. Definitely. I liked those two worlds, and I had this idea of singing dragons. Everything else just fell into place.

S: Did you do an outline? I know that many writers like to have a fairly complete outline before they start writing.

D: No. I can’t do that. I write the opening and the ending, then I just write from point A to point B. Anne McCaffrey said that if she outlined a story, she felt like she’d already written it and she got bored. I guess I’m the same way. Great company to be in, though. I had a real “John Lennon” moment when I heard that she passed away. Anne was an icon.

S: Yes, she was. She influenced many of today’s writers.

D: I agree. I don’t think we would have such a diversity of dragon-based stories if she hadn’t opened the door.

S: So you followed her lead and wrote your book without an outline. How does that work?

D: I guess you would call it freehand writing, and it works great for me because it keeps me wondering what will happen next. I walk through the story as an observer and get sucked into the drama and intrigue just like everybody else. The characters do and say things that I never would have imagined had I crammed them into an outline.

For instance, I didn’t know that [SPOILER REMOVED] was going to commit suicide. Heck, I didn’t even know that character was still alive. That whole moment took me totally by surprise. Then, as a writer, you have to react to what just happened, and you do that through your characters. That’s when you get to see things about them that you didn’t already know. Those are the moments that bring out your characters’ true personalities. It’s a really odd process, I guess.

Other people have to know every little detail before they start, but I like the surprises. It’s like I’m the reader instead of the writer. That’s how I’m able to finish the writing. I don’t think I have the patience to write a book. I much prefer to read it as it appears on the page. Sounds weird, I know. It’s really hard to explain, but it’s a fun way to spend your day. Makes editing kind of tough, though. For me, that’s hard work.

S: I hear lots of writers say that they are afraid of the blank page. You hear it called writer’s block. How do you get past that?

D: I’m a retired Volunteer Fire Chief, so there’s very little that scares me anymore. (laughs) You know, I can’t relate to that particular problem. If a blank page is holding you up, put something on it. Put down your name and address, or type a nursery rhyme. It doesn’t matter what it is, just write something. Get the page dirty and go on.

What I do is write a first line, period, space, space, and a second line. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. My trick is to always go with a very visual and visceral opening line. It may be trash, but it gets me started. You can come back later and make it all shiny. For now, just start with something and see where it goes.

This is another thing that I don’t like about outlining, you get locked into a tale that sounds good in the outline, but it isn’t the real story. Your fingers will type the real story. They’re connected to that part of the brain that knows what’s going on. I believe that, at least in the beginning, writers know more about the story through the sub-conscious mind than we realize. Be open to that possibility and just start writing.

If you start with, “This was the third time that the aliens had left lime-green macaroni and cheese on John’s doorstep,” the rest of that story will write itself, and what a ride that’s going to be.

S: So, your book is titled, The One Rider: Chronicles of Ashandor – Book 1. When can we see the next installment?

D: Yeah, I’m getting a lot of that. Book 2 is called The Stone of Power, and I have a large portion finished, so I’d like to have it ready in just a few weeks. It depends on graphics and a couple of other little things, but all-in-all, it shouldn’t be too long. After that, there are two more books to complete in the series, and if things go as planned, I’ll have them all available by the end of the year.

S: One last question. What’s one piece of advice you would want to pass along to other writers.

D: Can I give two?

S: Sure. Go ahead.

D: First, don’t be afraid to let people see your work. If you want a traditional publishing contract, you have to submit. You will never think that it’s ready, so go ahead and submit it and let the publisher make that decision. If they turn you down, submit it somewhere else. Second, if you want control of the project and the lion’s share of the profit, self-publish. It’s not complicated.

S: Thanks for taking time out to share your thoughts with us.

D: Thank you, Sam.

Now, wasn’t that fun?  Be sure to leave your comments.

From → Art and Craft

  1. Interesting interview. Seems the interviewee has something to say and has now found the avenue. But I really want some more of the poetic D.J. Yearwood. I like that guy. Oh, by the way, Margie loves the book.

  2. that was fun, great idea in giving the reader a bit more information about you. any chance we’ll get a sneak chapter or two of The Stone of Power soon??

    • I put the prologue to Book 2 at the end of The One Rider. I am post more as I get closer to a publish date. Glad you liked the post. It was fun.

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