Welcome to Ask the Author! In these series published authors will share their experiences with us, allow us a glimpse into their creative processes, and shed some light on the steps that helped them become a published writer. We do hope that emerging authors or writers-in-the-making will find these interviews useful.
About the Author: Adam Rocke, is a co-author of Lackbeard and REX, published by Common Deer Press.
What do you write about?
I typically choose topics, genres or storylines that interest me — unless I’m being hired for a project. If it’s a work-for-hire, so long as I feel like I can do a kickass job - even if I’m not totally jazzed by the subject matter – I’ll consider it.
Why do you write?
Simply put, I LOVE TO WRITE! Plus, I really don’t think I’m “qualified” to do anything else. I was never cut out for the 9-to-5 grind. That’s not to say I couldn’t do it if I had to, but a typical job just isn’t in my wheelhouse.
What do you love about it?
No two days or stories are ever the same.
How long did it take you to write your first book?
My first novel, written while I was in college, took six months. It was flat out awful (for many reasons) and I shelved it. Permanently!
My first nonfiction book — a mixology guide that included crazy stories from my Hollywood bartending days — took about two months to fully write, but there were years of experiences involved.
What inspired it and what motivated you to finish the story?
The novel was a story I had toyed with based on an adventure I had taken part in. It just never really came together like I had hoped, and I deemed it not worthy of rewriting. But I was glad I finished it, anyway. It felt good to take a concept to term, even if I wasn’t happy with the final result.
The bar book was a fun project that I saw a need for in the market. Turns out I was correct, as I would pen and publish a total of seven mixology books; six were illustrated by Shag, “kitsch culture” artist extraordinaire, and are now collectors items.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
These days, finding the time to work on all the stories I really want to is easily my biggest challenge. When you’re writing for a living, sometimes you have to work on projects that pay the bills as opposed to projects that are labors of love.
What do you do besides writing?
I’m fortunate to make a living from my writing. But I have numerous hobbies that keep me busy. Scuba diving/freediving, rock climbing, competing in 3-gun tactical competitions, and spending time with my dog, Taylor.
Describe your ideal writing weather?
The weather has never played a role in my desire to write (or not to write). I’m not one of those “Oh, it’s a perfect, sunny day — I’m going to the beach instead of staying in and writing.” Besides, inspiration for writing can come from anywhere, at any time.
Where do you write best? What is your preferred writing space?
Anywhere, really. I’ve never been partial to a specific place. I can sit at my desk, chill on the couch with my dog beside me, take my laptop to the beach… Doesn’t matter.
Time of day?
I can wake up in the middle of the night and work on something, or get up at the crack of dawn and write. Just depends on my mood.
Inspiration or discipline?
I know some writers set a schedule, or strive for a specific word count per day. I don’t work like that. I just write when I feel like it and, since I truly enjoy it, it never feels like work, even though it technically is.
How do you overcome the writer’s block?
I learned a tip from Stephen King many years ago. When you’re on a literary roll, and know exactly where you want to go with a specific chapter or paragraph or story, don’t finish it! Save a bit for the next day. That way, you’ll always have a place to start. And you’ll never have writer’s block. At least, I never have.
The First Publication
How did it feel when you got you first acceptance letter?
It was a victory, and a relief. I had sent out fifty-six queries, and this was back in the day of “snail mail.” When I finally got the publication offer, it was quite special.
Who was the first person you shared the news with?
I called my parents. They supported my decision to become a writer, even though they knew there were no guarantees.
How did you mark the occasion?
Considering it was for a mixology book, I went out for drinks with friends!
If you could talk to a writer, alive or dead, who would it be? What would you ask them?
Hunter S. Thompson. He was a mentor of sorts, even though I wouldn’t call him a friend or even an acquaintance. But I attended two parties at his home, and on both occasions I was able to have brief conversations with him. There were two questions I had asked him (I can’t go into detail) but he never answered either of them. He looked like he wanted to, but he didn’t. So given the chance, I’d resurrect him and press him for answers to those questions.