Many years ago… okay, about five, I gave an interview about writing, why I write, etc. Just ran across it going through some old files, and wanted to republish it here…
Welcome S.M. Muse
Where are you from and what do you love most about your hometown?
Where am I from? – A little bit of everywhere, but mainly north-western Missouri.
What do I love about my hometown? – Self-reliance and space more than anything. Living on the outskirts of a ‘big city’ teaches you to become self-reliant, to depend upon yourself and the generosity of others. Small town America allows us to stretch our wings, find our quiet, and return to simpler times. Cities may offer convenience, but small towns return us to our roots.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your career?
What did I want to be? – I wanted to be an aastronaut, that or an astronomer. (Neither one panned out however.)
How has that dream affected my career? – By teaching me it’s okay to keep reaching for the stars, and to remind me that the stars aren’t possible unless our feet are firmly planted on the ground. We all begin somewhere. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself, and never give up.
Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
Heir of Nostalgia is the first book in the ‘Valerian Series.’ It began as a single paragraph:
‘November the 17th, just five weeks shy of Christmas. On this particular night, a night like any other, Theo Valerian would meet his youngest son for the very first time- and never even realize it.’
Since that time, Phillip’s story has grown far beyond my wildest expectations. Simply put, Heir of Nostalgia is the story of a thirteen year old boy out living on the streets of New York City, in search of a father who has been missing for the past two years. It is also the story of an Engineer, Theo Valerian, about to be married, wildly successful, and seemingly making his way effortlessly through life. Pretty much, two lives on a collision course with history- add to this a madman out for vengeance, a so-called wizard that can walk between worlds, and a fallen angel on a mission to protect the last living descendant of the great Royal Family and you have a 16th Century meets 21st Century showdown that will decide the fate of an entire nation, and people.
‘Growing up has never been easy… then again, no one ever said growing up could be so hard, either.’
In many ways, Phillip’s story is the story of us all- our struggles against seemingly insurmountable odds, and how we rise above them. It also teaches us that family and friends are important, and that by depending upon each other, we can achieve incredible victories, even in the face of incredible evil.
Why did you write this book?
To still all those voices in my head!
Seriously though, I’ve wanted to explore Phillip’s life ever since he popped in my head. That, and to explore the relationships we develop with people and how they can change us for the better, and for the worse.
How did you come up with the title?
My original title was ‘A Gathering Darkness.’ It was only near the end of the story did Heir of Nostalgia appear. (It’s possibly a play on words. I’ll let the reader decide.)
How did you choose your genre?
That’s a hard question to answer; let’s just say it chose itself. Personally, I’ve always wanted to write Horror and Science Fiction, even though I first fell in love with Fantasy. (See, I told you it was crazy.) It wasn’t until I penned the last sentence in the book, and going back over it, that I decided the story was more along the lines
of Epic Fantasy. (Contemporary Urban Fantasy!)
What inspired you to be a writer?
As they say, it takes a village. In my case it was three people, Frank Herbert author of Dune, a really great English teacher by the name of Mr. Reynolds, and reading ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King. Good teachers may teach, but great teachers can stir our imagination, so can good authors, mainly by offering us the opportunities to explore ourselves through witnessing and seeing worlds we may never have gotten a chance to explore otherwise. (A great teacher, like the aforementioned Mr. Reynolds, was one such teacher. Thanks to him I was offered the chance to hear and meet an author by the name of Frank Herbert. The rest, as they say, is history.)
Who is your favorite character in your books? Why?
My favorite character has to Maggie (Magpie) from Heir of Nostalgia, which is amazing considering that she didn’t exist until about the third run-through edit, at which time she sort of just came into being.
I like her outlook on life- rebel with a cause -that and the way she was able to recover from her own ‘demons.’ She also goes to show that despite all our ‘scars’, we can persevere, through hardships, tragedies and circumstances. Bravery is not heroism; it’s simply a way of facing life’s obstacles, and succeeding in overcoming them.
Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
I believe everything you read, see and hear, contributes to your writing.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Time! It is extremely hard to find the time to write, which is why I try to write every single day. I just work it in, because I have found that if I wait until I have time to write, I’ll never write anything at all.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
It’s an old saying that’s been said a million times before by better writers than me- write! Write, write, and when you can’t stand to write anymore, write some more. (And when you’re not writing, read anything and everything you can get your hands on.) You also need to believe in yourself, even if no one else does- writing is a solitary exercise in what seems like futility, but is actually all-rewarding.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes, all the time. I believe all writers do, in one way or another. My solution, write nonsensical garbage until the block goes away. Keep writing long enough and the muse will eventually return.
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
Stephen King has to be my number one most influential writer. Why? His ‘voice’ speaks to me. Sounds weird I know, but the way he writes gets to me like no other writer out there. After King I would have to say it goes: H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos books, Frank Herbert and Dune (of course!), Robert Heinlein and Starship Troopers, Ursula LeGuin’s Wizard of Earthsea series, Susan Cooper and her Dark is Rising Sequence, Brian Jacques and the Redwall Series… like I said, the list just goes on and on.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
I filed them away them away and kept on more determined than ever. You can’t please everyone out there so why try. I write mainly for me, only to discover that there are a lot more ‘me’s out there.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A great group of friends or contacts who believe in what you are doing, and who encourage. (There are many dark days ahead if you write, you need those ‘beacons’ of hope out there to light your way.)
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Explored a series of underground waste-water drain tunnels so I could live out a D&D adventure when I was thirteen… man, the things we do in our youth. It’s a miracle I’m still alive- Bugbears lived down there!
Visit On The Web!
My website: https://phillipsjournal.wordpress.com/
My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heir-of-Nostalgia-Series/185820401526871