Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, David.
It was very kind of you to ask me. Thank you.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Well, it all started on a cold October day back in 1963; the wind was howling and…Just kidding.
I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I grew up loving school and loving to read even more. When I finished high school, I received a scholarship to attend university, and after four years, received my Bachelor of Education. I have been teaching ever since and have pursued other interests; I have obtained several other degrees from university – most of them to do with languages – and now pursue other interests, such as photography and writing.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first book was “Good to Know” and it was accepted within a month of my submitting it to Dreamspinner Press. Not long, I know; you could have knocked me over with a feather.
When did you start writing M/M Romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
I’ve only been writing M/M romance stories for about nine months – reading them for only a year. What interested me about them – besides the steamy scenes – was that these were stories with real men and real-life struggles and the gay man got the guy and they were happy.
I’d grown up with so few stories like this that I couldn’t – still can’t – get enough of them. I am such a sucker for a happy (gay) ending.
How many books have you written thus far?
I have written three novels and four short stories, all published through Dreamspinner Press.
Do you write full time?
Well, yes and no. During the school year, teaching is my full-time job, so I can only spend a few hours a week writing. But during the summer and other extended holidays, I usually spend most of my day writing. Even if I travel somewhere, the laptop and stories go with me.
Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?
I’ve never thought of it that way, but I guess – in a way – the profession did choose me. Our house was full of books; whether they were fiction, non-fiction, encyclopedias or art books, I couldn’t get enough of them.
I loved how books made me think and feel, laugh and cry; I always thought it would be such a great feeling to be able to write a story that could do that to someone. (And it is!)
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
I’m not, strictly speaking, a morning person, but that is when I find my mind works best. So, on a typical day, I get up, fix myself some tea – or sometimes, hot chocolate – and sit down at the keyboard to go over my notes and then figure out what will happen next to my characters.
On a good day, I’ll spend nine or ten hours writing and planning; on a bad day, I’ll feel lucky if I get five or six hours of frustration-free writing done.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
My process is a little weird; I get an idea, let it roll around in my head for days or weeks or months until the idea has become almost like a movie playing over and over in my head. Then, I sit down and type what I’m watching in my brain. By that time, the story has written itself and I’m just a conduit.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
If there are aspects I’m not familiar with, I will spend a lot time phoning or writing family and friends who would be familiar with these aspects. I always try to submit a novel that has no technical errors in it, so my research is usually quite extensive.
How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?
I always draw the line at writing a character that is exactly like someone I know. All of my characters have traits from various people because when I’m thinking about the story and the characters I will use real-life events and situations and remember how someone I knew handled a similar situation brilliantly or poorly – depending on what is planned for the character.
How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read?
Depending on the research involved and my familiarity with events in the story, I can usually finish a first draft in about thirty to forty days. It’s at this stage that I’ll usually send it off to someone for comments and suggestions.
Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?
A little bit of both. If I’m feeling comfortable with my characters and their plot points, I can write straight through; sometimes, however, I’ll finish a chapter or a section that just doesn’t feel right. So I’ll stop and re-read until I find the line or two that seems to be throwing me off-balance.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
Knock on wood (I’m hitting myself in the head right now), I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. Before I begin typing, I always have the entire story planned out, so I always know what will be coming next; if I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t begin to write the story.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
What a great question! I guess I hope that a reader will empathize with the heros and the struggles that they are experiencing; I hope that the readers can see some of themselves in the characters and feel a little less lonely or alone or confused about something that may be bothering them. At the very least, I hope a reader will think that they haven’t wasted time or money.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
- There are some incredibly generous readers out there who will take the time out of their busy days to send me an email and let me know how much they enjoyed a story.
- Some of my fellow writers and colleagues – at Dreamspinner Press and other publishing houses – have been incredibly giving of their experiences and their time to help this new author and I will always be grateful for them and their help.
- Having a book (or books) published would not mean as much if I didn’t have people like you, Michele and Jeff or The BookWenches, who take such an important and active role in reviewing my work and the work of all romance authors.
Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?
I have this strange fascination with quotations. If a quotation inspires a story, the title is usually gleaned from that. If not, the title usually comes to me as I type the story; a word or a phrase will suddenly make me stop and say, “Hey, that sounds like a good title!”
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I was raised in a family that had every type of sense of humor imaginable; my father and brother were into slapstick and sight gags; my mother was incredibly sharp and had a biting wit; and my two sisters were very sarcastic and dark, but funny!
More often than not, people describe my sense of humor as “dry” – whatever that means!
What is the most frequently asked D.W. question?
Another really good question; I had to think about this one for a bit. “How does a science teacher end up writing m/m romance novels?” (I hope I’ve answered it?)
What are you working on now?
I am working on a novel with Heidi Cullinan (fellow DSP author and friend) as well as another novel – a solo effort about a D.E.A. agent in Detroit.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?
I’ve received a lot of really good advice that I always keep in mind when writing now. I can’t mention them all, but the best piece of advice I received was to always keep in mind, while writing, what the story is really about, what its purpose is.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I have created a website (which is quite pathetic compared to some other authors’ websites); I maintain a page at both GLBT Bookshelf and Goodreads; and I will glady attend online chats and do interviews when asked.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
I’m a really big fan of different. I like to keep the spark alive by continuing to try things that I’ve never tried before, such as the present-tense prologue and epilogue in “Sins of the Father”. I really enjoy stretching my imagination and coming up with different literary devices to experiment with.
What pros and cons surround the e-publishing industry, and how do you envision the future of e-publishing?
I don’t know if I’m knowledgeable enough about e-publishing to comment on the pros and cons, but I will write this: I can only see it becoming bigger than it already is, what with ebook readers (I have one!) and downloadable books. Not only is fast and convenient, but I don’t have to pack them in boxes when I move…LOL
What kind of books do you like to read?
My best friend calls me a “book whore”, by which he means that I’ll read anything. This same friend has a theory that I was illiterate in a past life and now I’m making up for it.
I tend to read m/m fiction (of course), but also (auto)biographies, mysteries and historical non-fiction. I have a degree in history and have always loved reading about the well-known – and not-so-well-known – figures from the past.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
That’s difficult to answer, because I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do: I am a teacher, an opera singer and now a writer.
If I did have the time, though, I would love to become an artist of some kind – a painter, a graphic artist…something like that; it’s pipe dream because I have no talent in that area, but I’ve always thought it would be so rewarding to create something visually stunning.
I recently read your novel Sins of the Father. Where did you get the idea for that story?
While I was a beginning teacher, I had an uncle who worked as a guard at the prison just outside the city. He would tell me sometimes about how disadvantaged in life some of the men were; bad homes, even worse decisions, uneducated. So, I got the idea one day to ask him if the warden would consider me doing volunteer work there – after school – to help some of the inmates earn their GEDs.
Long story short, I ended up doing that for many, many years and while working with one older gentleman, a story began to form in my head about how the inmates’ lives affected their loved ones on the outside.
“Sins of the Father” is the result.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
Honestly, the authors at Dreamspinner Press are always included and consulted when it comes to a cover for their books. So, I love everything about the covers to my books. Truly, I do.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Well, as I live near the mountains, I enjoy hiking. I’m also a big fan of camping; there is some very beautiful camping country in Alberta. I’m also an amateur photographer and I love finding discarded or battered antiques and restoring them. Cooking is another favorite activity, but that usually only happens when company is over.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
There should be a short story coming out soon entitled “Comfort”; it is about a young American in 1964 who crosses the border in the middle of the night to dodge the draft. He injures himself while doing so and is helped by a young Canadian man over the space of about two weeks; the American feels he has to move on – despite his attraction and his growing feelings for the Canadian, and the story then catches up with each of the men twenty years later.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Write what you know, what you’re comfortable with at first; this advice helped me to find my “voice”. I would also like to encourage any aspiring writers to never quit – writing or submitting to publishing houses. It may take a long time, but if it’s what you truly want, the feeling of accomplishment will be well worth the effort.
What future projects do you have in the works?
I’m currently working on a novel with Heidi Cullinan who is also an author whose works have been published through Dreamspinner Press, and I am also working on a mystery/thriller – something I’ve never tried before – about a D.E.A. agent who find himself caught up in a web of deceit and intrigue.
Can you please tell us where we can find you and your books on the Internet?
I have a very simple website, as well as pages on GLBT Bookshelf, Facebook and Goodreads.
Anyone who wishes to purchase my stories can find them at Dreamspinner Press, as well as other online retailers such as AllRomance ebooks and Fictionwise – although Dreamspinner Press is the only site I know has all of them available.