Q & A with Ed
I’ve been doing a bit of guest blogging around the Web to help promote the release of my thriller novel, GOOD JUNK, the second in the Cliff St. James series. Some of the questions thrown at me are provocative, some mundane.
And just as there are no small parts, only small actors, I’d say there are no dumb questions for writers, but maybe dumb answers from some writers. Personally, I feel privileged to be published by a major New York publisher and to have gotten such good reviews for my books. So I don’t mind answering any and all questions that readers throw my way.
I thought I would share a few queries that I have gotten since GOOD JUNK was released in December, 2012.
What is the message in GOOD JUNK?
One of the things I wanted to do was riff on aspects of lethal force. What are the ramifications upon the people who find themselves applying it?
The hero of my post-hurricane, New Orleans crime novels is on a path leading him to more and more violence and death, and in GOOD JUNK I wanted to have him confront that head-on.
The book opens with St. James feeling guilt-ridden over having accidentally killed an opponent in an MMA sparring session. The guilt hampers him as he finds himself embroiled in a very intense and violent murder and conspiracy investigation. So what the story is really about—aside from the actual mystery itself—is how St. James has to forgive himself and accept what he is becoming.
What motivates you to write?
I’m a natural storyteller. I have so many stories bouncing around in my head. My problem is not having enough time to write them all.
I’ve been writing all of my adult life, but at one low point, where I wasn’t making any money with my craft, I decided to give it up. But the thing about being a professional writer is—it’s a lifestyle, it’s who you are, it defines you in every way. I started writing again after about a year because I had no choice; I had stories to tell.
I simply accepted that there was no escaping who I was and started writing again, just for myself, not attaching any outcome to what might happen with the stories I wrote. I didn’t worry if they were commercial or saleable or whatever.
Those were screenplays that I wrote back then, and I felt deep satisfaction in having completed them. I had told the story I wanted to tell, and it didn’t matter if maybe only five people on Earth—none of whom were in the movie business—read those scripts.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing! Being a true writer takes a tremendous amount of discipline, tenacity, and passion. It’s a tremendous commitment of time and it’s often a sacrifice. Writers put words on paper because being a writer is who they are. But there are many ways to reach the top of the mountain, if the top of the mountain means publication or getting paid, so who am I to say how anyone should go about it?
I could give lots of advice to aspiring writers, but generally, it’s not something they want to hear. Don’t be obsessed with the potential rewards; the reward is having created the work. Try to take your ego out of the process. Get life experience! Read books on writing and how writers work. Learn about the practical business aspects of being a writer. Take writing classes and seminars, and network a bit. Be patient, write what interests you, and stick to it.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I just read the Stieg Larsson trilogy and enjoyed it, although he sometimes gets bogged down in too much descriptive detail. But, hey, great suspense. Lisbeth Salander is an immensely cool character.
In terms of thrillers, I’ve been a huge Ludlum fan since before the Bourne movies were filmed. Ludlum was so great with plot. I love the original SHIBUMI, some of Wilbur Smith’s work, and way too many others like THE ROSE OF TIBET, and IN THE NAME OF THE ROSE, to mention just a few.
I have always been intrigued by the concept of the “warrior/monk,” and have written fiction using such characters. So naturally I read THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS by Musashi, and books by Glenn Morris, George Leonard, and anything to do with spiritual warriors and the like. So much to read, so little time.