Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am an experienced high school English teacher. I am an alumnus of Tel Aviv University (Overseas Student Program), Carleton University, and the University of Windsor.
This book, my debut novel, was inspired by my experience as camp photographer at one camp, issues of alcohol and drug abuse at overnight camps generally, and classic works of literature. I live in Toronto with my wife and two children.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.:
Question: What inspired you to write Happy Campers?
Answer: I was camp photographer at one camp, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and spent a fair amount of time at another great camp. At both camps, the camper safety issue was present (as a result of activities some of the staff were engaged in), as it is to some degree or other at all camps, and I thought there was a compelling story to be told, one with a strong message. It’s a fictional story, and I highly exaggerated the extent of the issues, and set the story at a fictitious camp. Also, I had wanted to write a novel for over 10 years, but lacked the proper story, until just a few years ago.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?:
Once I have the story, I write whenever I can, for as long as I can- in the evening, on the weekend, during lunch breaks, and other times, whenever possible. Once I started, it became an obsession, and I loved every minute of it.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?:
Perseverance. It’s not easy writing a book, but I found it very fulfilling, especially after wanting to accomplish this for so many years. Getting published the traditional way is even harder, so again, perseverance is key. It’s all really worth it in the end.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?:
My novel is a work of General Fiction. I suppose I’m most familiar with this genre, and felt it was appropriate for the story I was narrating.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?:
I believe it has become increasingly easy to be self-published, and much more difficult to be published the traditional way.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?:
I was published the traditional way. Once I finished the manuscript, I started by trying to get a literary agent, since one is typically required if you wish to be published by the large publishers. Some indicated initial interest, but none ultimately committed. After many months of contacting hundreds of agents, I decided to shift my focus to smaller, independent publishers that do not require an agent. Ultimately, I received a few offers, and signed on with Itoh Press, which was the best of them.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?:
My novel is a work of General Literary Fiction. It was the most appropriate genre to tell this story.
What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?:
This happened all the time. I would get to the computer as soon as I could to capture these ideas. They always got stuck in my head, so I never forgot any of them.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?:
No, I just wrote until I finished telling the story I wanted to tell.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?:
I think reviews are very important. Readers are curious to learn what others think about a book before committing time and money to buying and reading it.
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?:
Absolutely! There is an over abundance. All you can do is write the best book you possibly can, and hope readers will connect with the story.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?:
My novel is set mostly at an overnight camp. I feared someone might think the camp I’m describing is their camp. It’s not; my camp is fictitious. It could be any large camp, anywhere. In reality, it doesn’t exist, except in my imagination.
What is the intended audience for you book?:
Adults, but anyone over the age of 15 or 16 could appreciate it too.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?:
I can’t type the proper way, with all ten fingers, so Happy Campers, over 90 000 words, was all typed with one finger. I’ve become fairly quick for typing with just one finger, but it’s still one finger.
What makes a good story, why?:
A good storyline, well-developed characters, strong writing, and substance. I also like to use irony, foreshadowing, allusions, symbolism, and other literary techniques to add another level of meaning.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?:
Names are very important in my novel. Simon Green, the protagonist, was named this way because Simon, or Shimon in Hebrew, means to hear; in the novel, Simon hears and sees many things as he roams around the camp grounds doing his job as photographer. Green suggests that he’s naive, or inexperienced about certain things. Miranda Devine’s name is highly ironic, since she’s very evil. Haze, (Jake Hazelton) is appropriate, since he’s often high on marijuana, and Ted Savage’s last name suggests he is a brute savage.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?:
I’m always curious to read what people think of the novel. I’ve had some great reader reviews so far, and I appreciate them, but at the same time, I’m aware that you can’t please everyone. Some books may not appeal to some people, for whatever reason, and that’s to be expected. Try not to allow it to discourage you.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…):
None of the scenes were easier or harder than other scenes to write. I had the story mapped out, and everything fell nicely into place.
Were your characters based off real life people/events or did you make it all up?:
My characters were all made up.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?:
William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies, the Shakespearian tragedies, and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner were the main literary inspirations, coupled with my wonderful camp experiences.
What are your thoughts about eBooks vs. print books?:
I, personally, prefer print books. There’s something about the look and feel of a physical book that I love. However, I realize there are many advantages to ebooks too.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?:
For me, writing is a labour of love and a creative outlet. I’m a high school English teacher by profession, and writing is something I enjoy doing on the side.
Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?:
I did proofread/edit my novel first, before the editor at my publisher made her edits. It’s important to have another set of eyes review your work, since they may catch things you miss, even if you’ve read the manuscript multiple times.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?:
My cover was designed by my publisher’s graphic artist. I love the way the front cover looks. It is completely befitting.