Who do you have in mind when you write?
My characters. I like to imagine them in their settings and what they would be doing. It helps me to get my creative flow going when I write.
Have you always aspired to be a writer?
Yes, I have; but I thought it was just a dream for a long time until my wife kicked me in the butt, so to speak, to get my work out there.
Tell me about how you became a writer—what was the first step for you?
Tough one! Well, I guess it all happened when I used to write short stories for my nephew. I started to actually enjoy writing and creating fantasy worlds and having fun with it. Seeing the smile it brought to my nephew really made my day, so I guess that was my first step.
Do you think anyone can learn to be an effective writer or is it an unnamed spiritual gift?
I believe everyone has the ability to become a writer if they just take time to see the world around them, not as we’re told it’s like, but look at it through the eyes of a child. See it all new, and take time to enjoy the little things. If you can do that, I believe anyone can write.
Was there a point at which you felt this would be a career?
Not until my publisher told me they loved my book and wanted to make a series. Now I believe I can make a career out of it.
Is there a book you’re most proud of?
Actually, I’m very proud of my second book. It has been nominated for two awards, and kids have responded very well to it.
Writing is so internal, in the head, how did you release the pressure before you began writing?
To be honest, I find writing very relaxing. I feel no pressure. I enjoy writing and love to see the final product when I’m done.
On average, how long does it take for you to write your ideas down before you start writing a book?
Not long at all. Actually, I write an outline first. I map out what my story is about, which characters I want in it, and then once I have that done, I sit down and go to work.
What would you say is the “defining” factor in your writing? What makes it yours?
Having fun and enjoying the characters I’m writing about.
How do you guard your time to do what’s most important?
I spend my time with my family and dedicate myself to my writing in my free time. I have an even balance. Both are very important to me.
What are some of the more common distractions you struggle with, and what ways have you found to overcome them?
Life gets in the way at times, but I never give up. I find ways around distractions and keep on plugging.
What kind of review do you take to heart?
Ones that involve children’s opinions about my book.
How do you decide what your next book will be about?
I actually just go with the flow. Whatever catches my eye, I go with it, and that’s my next project.
Was there a link between your childhood and your vocation as a writer?
My father always pushed me to try hard, never give up and don’t take no for a answer. That’s the way I live my life, and I think that helps me to be a writer today.
When you start a new book, do you know how a book will end as you’re writing it? Or does its direction unfold during the writing, research and/or creative process?
When I start writing a story, I have a ending in mind; but sometimes while I’m writing it, I may decide to go in another direction. It really depends on me and how the story unfolding as I’m envisioning it in my mind as I write it.
How do your books speak to people, both inside and outside the reading world?
People tell me they find them cute, they like how I write, and like the lessons their kids get out of them.
How do you see your role in impacting and influencing society?
I hope my writings can help parents and kids to bond together and do more together as a family.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to do?
I actually work as a producer for my wife’s radio network, and I enjoy that very much. If I wasn’t a writer, I would do that full time. I really enjoy working with people and enjoy all the challenges that comes with being a producer.
What are some pieces of advice that you would give someone on writing well?
Young writers often make foolish mistakes. What is a mistake to avoid? There’s never any mistakes. Just write from the heart, and if it fails, don’t give up. Try again.
Could you talk about one work of creative art that has powerfully impacted you as a person?
The Hobbit is one of my most favorite books. I love how the author draws you into the fantasy world and opens your eyes, and you just walk away with such insight into that amazing world.
What relationship do you see between imagination and creativity, and the real world?
I draw my ideas from the real world then use my imagination to turn them into something more. I put it all together and write my story.
For a writer, it is easy to become an elitist. Have you ever, or do you still, struggle with pride as an author?
No, I enjoy writing, and I don’t let it go to my head. I enjoy what I do, and I keep my pride in check. Plus, I have my wife who will keep me in line.
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