I was writing before Jimmy wrote Where is Joe Merchant, but I did enjoy the book. His music has always been inspirational to me in an escapist sort of way. Indiana Jones was also indeed an inspiration to create an Everyman hero that makes mistakes and doesn't always win, but that people will relate to. In creating Buck Reilly, I sought a middle ground between Carl Hiaasen's characters and John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee for a mix of humor, social issues, setting, and style.
How long did it take you to write your first book?
Is Green St LLC your personal imprint? If so, what made you go the indie route?
Greene Street is my own imprint. I chose to go Indie after years of working with literary agents and publishers who are overworked and underpaid. The publishing industry has changed dramatically, and the old paradigm does not work for many more than a handful of blockbuster writers that the publishers invest most if their efforts and advertising focus on. Plus, the time for them to accept a book and then get it out is way too long in our immediate gratification culture.
What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Tension, etc?
I love the research and writing process, especially with a dialogue-driven character-based series. When it comes to editing I do rely on outside eyes which sometimes slows down the process to await the availability of the right people, which can be frustrating.
The reminders from my editor have changed over the years. It started with "show don't tell" and "don't be afraid to kill your darlings." I used to write long sentences full of description but have continued to hone my craft to be tight, terse and plant seeds that allows each reader to imagine the details. Keeping the pace is important, and too much description or interior dialogue slows it down. Now it's mostly just cutting out redundant language to make that happen.
What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
One fun thing about my series is that I have had a number of musicians want to appear in the stories and we have co-written several songs that have appeared in the books and are available on iTunes or on their CD's, which has added another dimension to the series. I have also had my series optioned for tv and film and hope that someday Buck Reilly may come to life on the big screen.
We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of how you learned to write past it.
All writers experience rejection, initially from agents, and then from publishers, but if readers ultimately reject you, it's the death knell. I got my first agent through a famous bookstore in Paris where Ernest Hemingway used to hangout--Shakespeare and Company. This was in the early 90s.
What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing? What frustrated you the most?
I'm often surprised at how writers who work with traditional publishers often refuse to collaborate with good indie writers to provide reviews or blurbs. Again, the reviews from readers are the only barometers that matter, and I see a lot of indie writers with far better reviews than some traditionally published ones so it can be frustrating. There are literally millions of indie books available now, so naturally, people need to be cautious with who they assist, but just drawing a hard line between Indie and traditional is reminiscent of those who were certain horse-drawn carriages would never be replaced by automobiles. I'm always open to helping peers regardless of their genre, or the name of their publisher.
I wrote four books before I ever "gave in" to writing a series. That's another area where there are often splits between writers--series vs stand-alone books. Now I think writing a series is fun, rewarding and frankly easier, and I can see why readers prefer them. We all want to see a character arc, and a series is a broad arc where continued growth or setbacks are critical. Individual books are great and many of my favorites were stand alone, but in today's binge-oriented culture, whether Netflix, Harry Potter or the Buck Reilly series it is well served by series fiction.
What is the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
It is cliché, but it is also what made me decide upon the broad tenets of the Buck Reilly series, and that is to write what you know and love. Also, keep the editorializing and the author's voice out of your story. Readers want to hear your character's voices and opinions, not the author's.
Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?
Writing and reading continue to evolve. The majority of the public does not read fiction these days, and those that do often prefer short chapters and what I call USA TODAY styled writing, which is short sections that are concise and to the point. I consciously keep chapters and sections in the Buck Reilly books very tight, and use dialogue and setting to show not tell the action. As much as I love the beautiful use of descriptive language, it does not fit this genre (action adventure / suspense / mystery), and generally only works in literature, so even though I still write that way, I have to be ready to "kill my darlings" when it comes to editing.
What is the next book that will be coming out?
SILVER GOODBYE just came out a month ago.
Can you give me a short synopsis?
Silver Goodbye takes off fast when Buck Reilly, the once famous archaeologist who lost his company, fortune, supermodel wife, and parents, makes a discovery that shakes the fragile foundation of his world. The revelation sends Buck back to Key West aboard the Beast, his ancient flying boat, to search for answers to a thirty-year-old family mystery and a cache of untold riches.
To make matters worse, Hurricane Irma is ripping a path of destruction through the Caribbean, forcing Buck to race against its descent onto the Keys to save Jade and find the buried stash before the storm surge washes it away.
Silver Goodbye will shake you at the start, stir you in the middle, and blow you away at the end."
Any last thoughts?