DM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! First, tell us about your writing style and your upcoming novella.That’s actually a bit of a difficult question. When I was a kid, I used to strive to write like the authors I loved. I wanted so badly to write like Bradbury or King. I think I finally developed a style of my own when I gave up trying to mimic theirs. That being said, I think of my writing as a bit sparse. I’ll go into rich description on occasion, but I try to trim away as much as possible. It keeps the pace of things moving. That also helps to give those fuller descriptions an extra punch…if there’s a lengthy description of something or someone, it’s because it’s important.
Aurora is hard to categorize. The publisher is calling it a science fiction romance – which is true – but it’s also a conspiracy thriller with metaphysical aspects. It’s a novella, but there’s a lot crammed in there. A lot of it is focused on what it means to be human and what makes us who we are.
DM: What was it like working with Pill Hill Press and Bourbon Penn?Pill Hill was a great small press. They published a lot of my early work, and it was a fantastic experience. I learned quite a bit about the publishing process and the realities of “being an author” working with them. Unfortunately, they have gone the way of so many small presses and shut down a while back, but they had some great people on board editing anthologies for them and they published stories by quite a few authors that I really respect and who I think have a lot of talent.
Bourbon Penn is a publication that I have admired for a while. Erik Secker finds these stories that are weird and beautiful and unexpected. I was so pleased when I got that acceptance. Working with Bourbon Penn has been great. All of the material from each issue is also available for free on the website, which gets all of the stories a lot of exposure. That’s so important for any author, especially for one that’s still just trying to get his name out there.
DM: What advice can you give to writers just starting out?Thick skin and undying persistence. Taking a rejection personally, even an unnecessarily harsh one, is counterproductive. If an editor comments on a story try to get something useful out of it. If a rejection doesn’t include comments, try to decide for yourself what needs improvement. When it comes to writing, feelings are supremely important, when it comes to revision and the submission process (and especially rejection) feelings only get in the way.
At the same time, if you really want to see your work in print, you can never give up. I keep every rejection that I’ve ever gotten, and it’s quite a stack. To be honest, while I hate rejection as much as anyone, seeing all those pages makes me sort of proud. I can look at that stack and say it didn’t keep me from fixing those stories and sending them out again. Even the greats had to deal with rejection, and if you can’t handle that, you need to consider a different passion.