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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What inspired you to write your first book?


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Interview with
Doug Lucas


1. What inspired you to write your first book?

Retirement… retirement and boredom if the truth be known. There were other factors, but those two are the prime suspects motivating me to write. After all…how hard can it be to sit down and just write a story with enough skill to make folks think you've become a literary giant?

Years ago I watched my wife start a book, join a writer's group, and read everything she could get her hands on about the correct way to write a novel. She had a super story to tell, worked her heart out learning the craft, and managed to finish half the book before putting it aside, disgusted with life in general and writing in particular. This was to become another factor in my decision to write and have a book published. When I say it's a factor, I mean the turmoil she went through before she became apathetic towards the notion of finishing her book.

I would watch her write something she dearly loved and share it with her writer's group or friends. They in turn would say this is great…but if you just wrote it this way the story would be so much stronger. She in turn would take their suggestions to heart and make the suggested changes. Once again they would read what she had liked and changed because of their suggestions to improve or strengthen it and make even more "if you just tweak it this way" helpful hints. I watched one evening as she shut her "faithful Tandy" down, boxed her paper copies of the story and floppy disks up and walk away from the whole idea.

Anyone who has ever started a book can understand those actions and they don't require explanation. What does require explanation is it was the very first time I'd ever seen her fail to finish anything she’d started. When I retired I wondered if I could finish a book, without being forced to kill my computer…because other than my wife, no one would see it until I was done.

So you might say it was more a stubborn determination to see if I could finish a book, than a desire to write or publish a novel. That would change after I received three rejection letters from literary agents.


2. What specific writing style or genre do you enjoy writing in?

I'm not sure what a specific style really means. If you're referring to consciously emulating a particular author…there is only one I try to stay true to…me. Each book I wrote is my story, therefore it should be told my way. I don't think like Stephen King or Tom Clancy, why should I attempt to write the way they do? I also don't have the education of most of the famous authors whose books I've read; therefore what I know about grammar is what you'll read. I do try to avoid grammar mistakes, but I pretty much write the way I talk. If you find a book I wrote boring, then most likely we won't be spending an afternoon in the local bar chatting…unless of course you're buying.

As for genre, well that's a grave of a different depth.

Once I managed to get the first book published, I decided to see if I couldn't write several more in slightly different genres. I know that an author who wants to be famous is supposed to only write in one genre to develop a following. I don't expect to be famous, find telling the same story monotonous and I've got to admit I like the challenge of seeing if I can get a few readers to try each different book.

At this point in our little blog together I'll admit I didn't know there was a genre labeled pedagogy, never had any intentions of trying my hand at non-fiction and of course didn't even want to compete with a book titled "All About Dinosaurs."

Having admitted to those facts, then the confusion surrounding the release of my last book, “Flats Teachers' Test," becomes a funny story pointing out that when things go wrong…they really go wrong.

My publisher released the book with a three day give away on Amazon, which is free advertising as far as I'm concerned. I checked it the morning it was released and was pleased to find it was listed as number one in its genre. Later that afternoon I again checked on the book's progress, this time paying closer attention to little things…like genre and category. Yes…I had to look up the meaning of pedagogy…I'll also bet a few of you will be doing the same thing right about now.

I'd been a little shocked to discover I'd been beaten out of the number one slot by a dinosaur. But must admit I was pleased I'd managed to stay ahead of "Enticing and Exciting the Non-Reader." (Just barely…but I did stay in the number two slot!). What scares me is if my fictional characters are listed as non-fiction…does that mean they'll be using an absentee ballot in the next election? Now that would be an honor for not only for my fictional characters, but me as well.

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