Telling stories by which I can share my own experiences, interests and passions--those parts of my past I myself don’t want to ever forget. Like growing up amongst Polish-Americans near Detroit. My love of Great Lakes lore and legend. Ice hockey. Staring out through a tractor-trailer's windshield at the passing countryside. Practice in and appreciation for traditional Korean fighting arts. Combining my interested in trains and electronics into a career as an electrical engineer. And, of course, my several decades now in various anime, manga and anthropomorphic fandoms.
If you could go anywhere in the world to live, where would you go and why? Describe your residence once you get there:
Białowieża Forest and Belovezhskaya Pushcha, straddling the border between Poland and Belarus. I'd take up housekeeping in a one-room stone cottage near the end of an abandoned railroad line last used by the Nazis to ship out rough-sawn timber westward toward the Reich's factories. Maybe, just maybe I'd be lucky enough to spot a werecat from the Forest Clan out on a hunt. Luckier still if they allowed me to live to tell about it.
Do you have a muse or a person who inspires you to write? Tell us about them:
Late one night while working on a job site on a rail transit system startup my muse accosted me, slashing away at my subconscious without even having the decency to tell me her name. Jerk. I tossed and turned on my rack back at the hotel all the following day trying to ignore her. My muse she be a werecat, you see, and she demanded I write. Employed fangs and claws to make her argument without a moment's hesitation. Demanded I recount her struggles, her family's struggles, as if her very life depended on it. Which, of course, it did. Without me...there would be no her.
Before long Pawly told me she and her clansmen lived under their Affliction's constant berserker threat, hostages within their own bodies. Forced to live as societal outcasts while hiding in plain sight. Not quite fitting in anywhere in society, yet dependent upon it for their survival. Not so different than my own lifelong struggle with mental illness. Like them, I move through my days passing myself off as "normal", anxious and fearful of what might happen if people really knew me.
She persisted. Pawly wasn't about to let me give up on her, give up on my ability to tell her story. She was much more certain than I was, excising my every doubt:
"I don't know how!"
"You can learn."
"But what if I fail?"
"You'll learn what not to do, then. "
"I don't have time!"
"You have twenty-four hours in a day, just like everyone else. Spend your time doing fewer things, and you'll have all the time you need."
"But what if no one wants to read it?"
"Write the books you have in your heart to write. Even though they might well not be the books any one person has in their heart to read. You’re not writing for them anyway."
Pawly was right on all accounts. A year writing the story, a year revising and editing the story following reader feedback, a year to pitch the story to agents and editors, nearly another year waiting for the book to release following a contract signing. Even in my darkest moments, facing dozens of rejections, she was with me. Goading me on. Ensuring I wouldn't quit. Even despairing after agent/editor submission guidelines stating "no vampires, no werewolves!" in this post-Twilight world meant "no shifter characters of any kind" (well, except for paranormal romance--but I hadn't written a paranormal romance.) “The right people will get it,” Pawly reminded me, quoting Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame.
Of all the books you have written, tell us about your favorite one and why it was your favorite:
ALWAYS GRAY IN WINTER, my debut novel and first paranormal sci-fi thriller in my werecat family saga series. Because holding the book in my hands made me realizes--my dream of giving Pawly and her family tangible form had finally become reality. I've got books left to write, but they would not have reason to be had not ALWAYS GRAY been written and published first.
What book are you working on right now? Do you have a release date you can share with us?
The next paranormal sci-fi thriller in my werecat family saga series is named FOR WHILE THE TREE IS GREEN. It's a prequel, taking place while a teenaged Pawly and her twin brother Tommy are Growing Up Werecat. She learns of her secret werecat heritage after she unexpectedly morphs for the first time one fateful Halloween night. Together with their blended human-werecat family, she and Tommy struggle come to terms with their "Affliction". Their uncle Ritzi, a scientist and a werecat both, must take up his deported father’s research to help contain the twins' ascendant bloodlust. An investor approaches offering to fund Ritzi's endeavors after the Affliction turns on Pawly's werecat mother and begins to ravage her body. A man whom Pawly and Ritzi will come to learn the hard way is no angel.
No release date as of this writing to share, but the manuscript is currently under publisher consideration.
Other than writing, what else are you passionate about?
I've been a train buff since boyhood and an electronics geek since Dad convinced Mom I could be trusted to wield a soldering iron and not burn the house down. Today I make my living as an electrical engineer designing, constructing, testing, and commissioning railroad and rail transit signal & communications systems across the United States. I love the work I do and am grateful I can provide a decent living for me and my family doing it. I'm not much of a "camera-totin' railfan" anymore, but I have been known to work on the track gang at a nearby 15"-gauge "live steam" tourist railroad... http://dellstrain.com/
What have you found to be the most difficult part of being an author?
Knowing what advice to take give serious consideration to and, more importantly, what advice not to. Everybody's path, everybody's success metrics are different--what worked for them/there/then might well not work for me/here/now. I've come to understand that advice and feedback are important, and I'm grateful to receive it. And that I'm under no compunction whatsoever to do any of it. Because, like it or not, I am the final arbiter of what advice is actionable and what advice isn't. What will help me tell the stories I have in my heart to tell and get them to my readers, and what won't. Like martial arts legend Bruce Lee counsels "Adapt what's useful, reject what's useless, and add what is truly your own."
We want to come visit your library. What books might we find on your shelves that we wouldn’t expect to find?
A lot of shoujo manga! Though I suppose that might not be completely unexpected, given my werecat family saga's de facto protagonist is herself a young woman. And a fighter to boot. Reference my collected Sailor Moon and Fushigi Yuugi graphic novels.
If money were no object, what philanthropic contributions would you make and why?
Tell us about your most memorable moment as an author:
The first time I signed a copy of my first book. Though, looking back on it now, the experience was more than a little anticlimactic. Kinda like when I reached "THE END" in my manuscript, when I finished those many rounds of edits, when I first received a publisher offer, when I opened the box containing my author copies. Those were all treasured moments, sure, but they don't seem nearly as momentous now as they did then. More like "okay, achievement unlocked, now on to the Next Thing." Because there will always be a Next Thing until the last book of the story I have to tell has been published.
Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Why?
At one time in my life I was quite the extrovert. But now, not so much. I've discovered that my work, my interests, my ambitions, my writing make me boring company around many people. It's far to exhausting for me and them both with all the explanation I have to undertake just so they have a frame of reference to understand just what I'm on about. I live in a place where nearly everyone likes football, hunting, and/or fishing, and I'm passionate about none of those things. When I'm around my kindred spirits, however, I'm very outgoing. But when I'm not around them, I'm not. "Cast ye not thy pearls before swine," and all that. It's challenging for me to expend energy around people I don't know well enough to know whether they indeed march to the beat of the same drummer I do.
You’ve got a whole weekend to do whatever you want to do, how are you going to spend it?
The shore of Bois Blanc Island's "West End", gazing out over the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge. While seagulls cry, the lake breeze blows, and lake boats pass by close enough to skip a rock off their hulls. I'll sleep in late, walk in the sand all day, roast weenies and marshmallows by the fire every night. And do little else.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give a younger version of yourself?
Yes, you should enlist in the Navy. Or the Coast Guard. Don't let people in your life talk you out of doing something simply because they're close to you.
The sky is the limit…tell us anything else you would like to tell us…
Buy my book. Buy other "indie" authors' books. Review them on Amazon and Goodreads. Talk them up with your friends, especially those on blogs and social media (and make sure you tag the author so they know!) Our books need to reach their audiences--copies need to get into the hands of the people who will most appreciate them. And when our readers buy our books, review our books, and blog/tweet/post/talk about our books to others, they're helping us do just that.
Where can readers find you? Please list your social media, website, and other links you’d like to share below: