When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his oldest daughter’s volleyball team, or chilling on the PlayStation 3 with his twelve-year-old.
He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only seven places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.
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?
Saturday mornings are my time to shine. The wife goes to yoga and the kids always sleep late, so as soon as I’m up, I sneak into my basement office with a cold Mountain Dew. Music is always a necessity, and—depending on the project—can vary from heavy metal to movie soundtracks. Inspiration is also always welcome, but not always present.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I imagine every writer experiences some form of writer’s block at one time or another. For me, writer’s block most commonly takes the form of crappy writing. The only solution is to keep plowing ahead and hope the muse eventually shows her face again.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Writing is 90% dedication, perseverance, and hard work. I would love to say good writing is most of the battle, but it’s not. Timing and luck play a huge factor. All you can do is believe in yourself and try to make as much luck as you can.
What are your current/future projects?
My second novel, Resthaven, will be released in April 2016, and I’m knee-deep into a third mystery about a father searching for his missing daughter. I’m also tweaking a short novel (written a few years ago) that I hope to release next year.
Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?
Many authors aspire to create sprawling, epic tales—which is great—but I love crafting brisk, fast reads. Stories that can be devoured in one or two sittings. I often joke that Mortom should only be sold in airport gift shops, as it’s a perfect length for a plane ride.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
Unless you’re an extremely well-known author, a great title and cover are a must. A strong blurb will entice a potential reader to open the book, and if the first pages draw them in, you’ve hopefully acquired a sale, or even better—a new loyal reader.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
That people will hate it. One day I can think my writing is great, while the next day I can think it’s garbage. It’s incredibly hard to be subjective about your own work, which—I imagine—is common among most authors. All you can do is write the best book you can and hope people will enjoy it.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
The town of Mortom is modeled after Farmington, Iowa, where my father grew up. Many of the landmarks in the book—like the cemeteries—are true to the landscape.
What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
Nothing in particular (story-wise) comes to mind, but as far as genre goes, I really like books are that infused with fun, quirky characters. I think I would enjoy writing comedy.
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?
In junior high I discovered the book Misery (Stephen King), which inspired me to write a story of my own. It was a ridiculous tale with a nonsensical twist, but my folks—God bless ‘em—said they loved it. After that I was hooked.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
Each stage of writing has its own challenges and joys. It’s exhilarating to start a project from scratch and see what comes out, but it’s also fun to polish, tweak and tighten the final product. That said, first drafts come more easily to me, whereas revisions can often feel endless. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours on a single paragraph, trying to get the words just right.