How did you get involved in writing?
I didn’t really get into writing until my early twenties. I actually hated writing until then. I’ve held a deep love for reading since I was two and picked up my sister’s copy of Cinderella, but for me, writing as more of a chore you did for a passing grade than something you did for pleasure. I was also horrible at receiving any form of criticism, which didn’t exactly grease the wheels of the editorial process. “You gave me a C- for my term paper? Go fuck yourself, lady.”
The advent of social media is really what changed everything for me. I signed up for MySpace around the age of twenty, and was amazed to discover that people other than my friends were laughing at the bulletins and blogs I published there. Blogging fed my need for instant gratification, so I wrote more in order to garner more attention for myself.
Before I was really sure of what was going on, I’d amassed thousands of followers, and was shortly after picked up to work with Tucker Max and his entertainment company Rudius Media, for which I wrote for roughly ten years. For the first time in my life, I was naturally proficient at something, and that excited me and pushed me to pump as much content out as I could. I knew writing was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.
Did everything you write about really happen?
Yes, everything I write about actually took place in real life. I go as far as to send my stories out to the people who are in them to verify my facts before they go to print. I’ll change a name here and there for anonymity’s sake (some people aren’t comfortable being in the spotlight, and that’s fine), but everything I write about is authentic. I feel like it’s pretty much impossible to lie in the age of the Internet, and who wants to go out like James Frey? Not me, that’s for damned sure.
Why did you choose to focus on nonfiction writing?
Pure laziness. Nonfiction just came to me more easily, so I stuck with it. Also, I love telling people stories about my life. Fiction is my go-to genre for reading – in fact, I read more fiction than anything else – but I’m remarkably terrible at writing it. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s not pretty.
How do I get in touch with you regarding speaking events, readings, interview requests, etc.?
For any and all inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will you sign my book?
Of course I’ll sign your book, you weirdo. Just make sure you mail it to me with return postage included, because Daddy Warbucks isn’t paying to mail your book back to you. Mail to: 62 Calef Highway (Lee Market Place), #170 Lee, NH 03861
Do you ever get “writer’s block”? What do you do to fix it?
If somebody tells you they don’t get writer’s block, they’re blowing smoke up your ass. Everybody gets it. When I first got serious about writing, I used cigarettes as a way to break the block. When I found myself struggling with something, I’d walk outside and light up. By the time I stubbed the cigarette out, I usually had a solution. Of course, that’s not a sustainable SOP if you want to enjoy life without a cancer kazoo bored into your neck, so now I work my problems out on the treadmill at the gym, settling in for an hour playing the latest RPG, or by going for a long walk with my dog.
What do you do to stay focused while writing?
I have one weird quirk I exhibit while trying to remain focused, where if I realize I’m on a roll with my daily writing output, I’ll take whatever song I’m listening to at that moment and play it on a loop for hours and hours. It’s irrational and incredibly annoying for anybody who happens to be in the house while I’m doing it (my wife has never balked at a credit card bill for a pair of headphones because of this), but some part of me truly believes I’m able to extend my hot streak that way. I’ve been doing it since my mid-twenties. Will it work for you? If you’re crazy like I am, maybe.
What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?
The biggest challenge for me has always been learning to wear more hats. Once upon a time, an artist, musician or writer had a manager, accountant, agent, personal assistant, public relations specialist, security team, masseuse, drug dealer, et cetera. All they had to do was create, and the assembled team handled the less glamourous work necessary to sustain the business of creation.
That may still be the case for those already well established in their respective industries, but for those in the process trying to break into them, especially in the literary world, it’s no longer a simple game of finding an agent who will work with you and petitioning the publishing houses, who will in turn take care of the marketing and the book jacket design and the speaking engagements. Decision makers are less willing to take risks on unproven authors, advances are dwindling, and the publishing industry is undertaking great changes, largely against its will.
What does that mean for today’s aspiring writers? It means you have to become your own manager, accountant, agent, personal assistant, public relations specialist, debt collector, graphic designer, and perform every function of the assembled business team pretty much all by yourself. You have to wear all of those team hats on top of creating your art. That means learning to use basic accounting and graphic design software, handling your own pre-order program because Amazon won’t do it for you, scheduling your own book signings and interviews, managing and timing your own cost effective marketing strategy in a way that builds continuous momentum through your entire release, and hiring talented friends who are willing to help you with your projects. If that felt like an exhausting paragraph to read, trust me, it’s even more exhausting to live.
The full weight of the world now rests upon the shoulders of the independent creative. That is something I consistently struggle with, because all I ever want to do is write and let everybody else handle the things I’m not comfortable with, but it’s something I get better at as time goes on.
What has been the biggest victory in your writing career?
Any writer who has endured the poverty struggle and come out the other side intact will tell you finally getting paid to write and no longer having to slug their way through meaningless job after meaningless job in order to survive is the biggest victory in their writing career. I am no different. I openly wept the day that happened for me, and I wake up every day with a profound sense of gratitude for not having to spend my days suffering panic attacks in a cramped cubicle, or trudging through a steaming salt marsh in the middle of August for a mosquito control company.
Will there be a Magic Sunglasses sequel?
From what I can tell so far, there will be two sequels to The Adventures of KungFu Mike and the Magic Sunglasses. There are a lot more stories to tell.
What is your favorite book?
That’s a question with an ever revolving slew of answers attached to it, because my favorite book changes fairly regularly. As of right now, it’s The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Beautifully written and savagely honest, The Glass Castle still haunts me to this day after having read it back in 2006.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
There is nothing I can tell you that Stephen King already hasn’t told the world in his interview with The Atlantic back in 2013. As far as I am concerned, that is the definitive short list of advice for aspiring writers, and every one of you should own a copy of On Writing. That book is a god damned treasure trove of good information. Read it. Internalize it. Tattoo it to your soul.
Actually, I do have one piece of advice for you — stay away from writing groups and seminars. Writing groups are typically filled with people who think it’s more important to be identified as a writer than it is to actually produce writing of any merit, and writing seminars are run by literary snake oil salesmen who prey on the desperate. If you want your writing to get better, all you have to do is read and write. That’s it. That’s the biggest secret these people keep from you, because there’s no money for them in making that public knowledge. Read as much as possible, and write as much as possible. You do those things, and you’ll be well on your way.