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: Michael Seese is the author of The Extraordinary Etab of Julian Newcomber, published by Common Deer Press.
What do you write about?
I have published two fiction books, two nonfiction books, and a boatload of short stories. Plus I write flash fiction. And poetry. And magazine articles. Oh, and songs.
Why do you write?
I write because the words are in my head. That sounds oversimplified, but it's true. The words just knock around in there, and I have to do something to get them out.
What do you love about it?
There are two discrete aspects of writing that I love. First is the sheer creativity of the whole process. Either the “flash of inspiration” that becomes a poem, or short story, or a book, or the “aha moment” that solves some self-inflicted plot hole, and ties up my problem with a nice, neat bow. Second, the process of editing. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to language, and I love nothing more than staring at a sentence and rewriting it to death until I come up with the perfect words.
How long did it take you to write your first book?
The first one I completed, I probably wrote over the course of six months. But at the time I was unmarried with no kids. So I had a lot of free time. Plus, I never was one to just crash on the couch and watch whatever is on TV. I keep busy. The first novel I started, I began in the 1980s, and finished around 2014. The moral of the story, kids: PERSEVERE!
What inspired it and what motivated you to finish the story?
The one that took 30 years? The book is called NIGHTMARES; it’s a YA novel about a 16- year-old whose nightmare literally comes to life. The idea really did come to me in a dream. I eventually finished it because I hate leaving things undone. PS I'm still looking for an agent and or publisher for that one. Hint, hint.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
The most challenging aspect of writing is not letting myself get distracted by shiny new things, also known as “The Latest Inspiration.” A lot of my writing is scattershot. I write the first three chapters, then some pages five chapters away from that. Then I back up and write something between those two. Then I write the end. Stitching them together is actually a lot more work than writing straight through in the first place. (I can only assume, since I can’t actually write straight through.)
What do you do besides writing?
You mean besides having a day job, and being a husband, and being a parent, and being a scout leader, and walking the dog? Not much. There's barely time to sleep.
Describe your ideal writing weather? Where do you write best? What is your preferred writing space? Time of day?
With regard to all the questions about the weather, the place, the time, I do most of the first draft in my head, often dictating it. (In fact, I'm dictating this while driving my car.) When it comes time to make sense of it all, yes, I do have to sit down and look at the words. But I do have no favorite time, space, day of the week, whatever.
Inspiration or discipline?
I can't really say I have a specific source of inspiration, as ideas just pop into my head. With regard to discipline, the best habit I've developed is what I call "brain-writing" or, as mentioned above, dictating. First, I truly believe dialog sounds much more authentic when spoken, rather than typed. More importantly... Most first drafts, I now write using Google Docs. Google Docs (or Office 365) is great because it makes your work accessible from any device. So if I'm sitting at my laptop, I can open up a doc and write. Or if I'm cooking dinner, and an idea comes to me, I don't have to say "Darn it. I'm busy with dinner, and can't run down to the office to fire up my laptop." I just pull out my phone, and dictate it. (Or type it; whatever works.) The point is, writing that way takes away the excuse, "Oh, I can't find the time to sit down and write. So I'll just skip it." Plus, I know my Great American Novel is backed up.
How do you overcome the writer’s block?
What's that? Seriously.
The First Publication
How did it feel when you got you first acceptance letter?
It's the second best feeling in the world of literature, the first being actually holding the book in your hands.
Who was the first person you shared the news with?
How did you mark the occasion?
I sat down and kept working on the next book(s).
If you could talk to a writer, alive or dead, who would it be? What would you ask them?
William Shakespeare. Though I would be hard-pressed to understand more than 50% of what he says.