I was born in the South, and have spent the vast majority of my life here, but I enjoy traveling and look to do more of it in the future. In my early years I attended various institutions of higher learning, so many that I’m skeptical I can remember them all.
During this time, two career paths appealed to me. First, there was acting, which I pursued with great relish. I performed in various plays while attending various colleges, subsequently cutting my teeth as a paid performer in a couple of outdoor dramas here in North Carolina; First for Freedom and Strike at the Wind. And I loved it.
But then I had to face the unpleasant reality, which every potential actor must at some point confront, that there are only two places where one stands a reasonable chance of being employed in his or her chosen profession, New York and Los Angeles. And while I’ve never been afraid of hard work, a cold hard look at the realities of the acting life convinced me that my talents would best be utilized elsewhere. And it had always been my intention to merge acting and writing together at some point anyway.
So I decided to pursue writing exclusively. After all, one can write anywhere, whereas with acting one must go where the jobs are. And as a lover of books, the thought of producing a work of literature with the potential of touching another reader as so many have touched me in turn, well . . . that excited me.
The thing about writing, though, is that one must practice the craft rigorously in order to improve. The question I had to ask myself then was, at what point would I be good enough to satisfy the standards for my own work which I applied to the books I read? Because only when I reached that point (or so it seemed to me) would I stand a chance of impressing the editors at traditional publishing houses, whom I knew to be drowning in slush piles.
So I wrote, straining to produce work which would at least get within spitting distance of what was being produced by those whom I greatly admired. Then, after spending a number of years composing the first draft of a fantasy novel I’d titled The Caballa, I did what I had once done with acting; I took a cold hard look at what I had wrought and — while it showed promise — had to admit an unpleasant truth to myself, “You can do better”.
That was a low point for me. I had spent so many years working on that book, only to realize upon its completion that my vision had not been the equal of my ambition.
So I decided to give myself a present, and write something just for me.
I can’t say exactly why I chose the subject matter I did. I’ve always been attracted to good vampire fiction, but at the same time so much of it didn’t make sense to me, not to mention how saturated the market had become. But, as I reminded myself, this book isn’t for ‘the market’, remember? This is for you.
After a false start with a storyline that ultimately didn’t grab me, I began again, giving myself over completely to the reader inside, and watched Penelope Ember drive up to my main character’s front door.
Have you ever heard from the odd writer, who talks about how a given book seemed to write itself? Well, this one did just that. Not that there weren’t times when the story hit a traffic bump, but that simply appeared to be my brain’s way of saying that there’s something wonderful cooking in the oven, just give it some time to bake. For while there are those authors who say that one should do one’s best to write through a block (and while there may well be times when that’s good advice) on this occasion it wasn’t the right advice for me. I wanted nothing more than to keep exploring this story, to be surprised by the varying directions it took, and the characters who sprang to life on the page, but only if I felt fully charged and up to the task.
Then, when it was finally done, I took a cold hard look at it, and for the first time in a long time, I felt good about what I had created. Really good.
And I wondered, what now?
I believed I had created something special. Not just the one novel, but a concept for an entire storyline, involving multiple characters, and how this incredible conflict would suck all of them into its maw. But some of what I wanted to do was unconventional. After all, if you come up with what seems to be a promising character readers might find compelling, what nitwit would then follow up with a second novel centered around a completely different character? And what editor would purchase the first in a potential series in which the lead character in the first book becomes a supporting actor in the second? Who’s going to take a chance on something like that?
Then I reminded myself, “This is for you, remember”?
So I made the decision to self publish House of Shadows.
And as of this writing, I’ve just completed the second book in the Breed Wars series, The Secret Room.
So what comes now?
I guess we’ll see.