Felicia A. Sullivan asks me about writing … and zombies

Felicia A. Sullivan, who is editing my upcoming novel, LOSING TOUCH, asked me a couple of questions about why I’m a writer, how I write, and what my plan is for the inevitable zombie apocalypse:

LOSING TOUCH, coming June 25 from Post Mortem Press.

LOSING TOUCH, coming June 25 from Post Mortem Press.

FAS: The first question is, are you tired of answering the same old questions in interviews?

CAL: I don’t think I’ve done this long enough to be tired of answering any questions. So either I’m a newb, or I love talking about myself. Maybe a little of both, and neither are particularly flattering.

FAS: Have you always wanted to be a writer, or did you just kind of fall into it?

CAL: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 10. I read THE HOBBIT in fourth grade and I was absolutely hooked. I knew I wanted to do THAT. I’ve always been good at mechanics and majored in broadcast journalism, but I didn’t start writing seriously until about five years ago when I decided that, if by my mid 30s I wasn’t going to do it, I never would.

FAS: What’s your process? Do you have a set writing schedule, or do you wing it?

CAL: Start writing. Keep writing. Finish. Edit as I go, as I catch things. It’s not the writing process I taught as an English teacher, but it’s what works for me. I guess that’s a testament to what I think of formal education. My only rule is 500 words a day. Miss a day and I generally make it up the next with a thousand.

FAS: What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

CAL: I like reading almost everything. My favorite authors are J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and John Steinbeck. I also love Faulkner, Shirley Jackson–my goodness, I could go on if I let myself, but that gives you an idea. Writing is pretty much speculative fiction, and of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, I seem to gravitate toward horror the most. If I knew why, I would tell you.

FAS: What was the first book you wrote, and how successful was it?

CAL: The first book I wrote was called GRIMNIR’S OATH. I didn’t publish it. I didn’t even shop it. It was a high fantasy novel in the vein of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and it is safely tucked away where no one can see it. Not that it was a waste of time. It taught me how NOT to write. That was back when I thought I needed to sound like Tolkien to be any good, and it was shit. After that, I discovered my own voice, and the writing comes much easier now.

FAS: How do you spend your time when you are not writing? Do you have any interesting hobbies?

CAL: When I’m not writing, I’m chasing my kids down. Two boys, aged 9 and 7. They run me ragged, but they’re the best.

FAS: Does your family support your writing dreams/career/goals?

CAL: Absolutely. My wife is great at running herd on the kids while I barricade myself in the bedroom to write. My parents and brother are dedicated beta readers.

FAS: How many books have you written, and which one is your absolute favorite?

CAL: I’ve written two novels: GRIMNIR’S OATH (see above) and LOSING TOUCH. LOSING TOUCH is by far the better of the two, but GRIMNIR’S OATH will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first…

FAS: Do you read reviews of your books? How do they affect you, whether positive or negative?

CAL: Of course I read reviews of my work. They are generally pretty positive, though the negative ones are good, too. You can’t please all the people all the time, and the bad reviews keep you honest. If there weren’t any bad reviews, you’d start to wonder if the good ones really represent actual people or if they’re just friends and family blowing smoke up your ass.

FAS: You know the last question always is: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? So yeah, answer that, but then tell us (whether you write in the genre or not) your plan for riding out the zombie apocalypse.

CAL: Write every day, like an exercise regimen. Don’t let your writing muscles get flabby. Don’t think about writing. Simply write. If it’s shitty, don’t publish, revise. But write, write, and write some more.

My plan for riding out the zombie apocalypse is to die early. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Post Mortem Press will release LOSING TOUCH June 25, with special “street availability” during the 2013 World Horror Convention incorporating the Bram Stoker Awards® June 13-16 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. The Aberdeen Tap in the River West Neighborhood is hosting the Chicago release event on Sunday, June 23.

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