Frequently Asked Questions
Who are some of the authors who inspired your own writing style?
As I mentioned in a Q&A interview found elsewhere on this website, I greatly admire the writing of—in no particular order—T. Jefferson Parker, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Stephen Hunter, and Elmore Leonard. As a child I was influenced by Leslie McFarland and all the other authors who, under the name Franklin W. Dixon, wrote the Hardy Boys series. Also, it is impossible for me to put down a Pat Conroy book once I have started reading him, and for sheer quirkiness, I admire and respect John Irving. I’m also a huge fan of great espionage, and two of the masters of that genre are John LeCarre and Trevanian. Shibumi is one of the greatest spy thrillers ever written, and The Summer Of Katya is simply an amazing mystery.
What is your favorite movie?
I am a huge fan of movies, and whenever my extended family gets together around the dinner table, talk always turns to the idea of a “perfect movie.” With that in mind I have to say that Casablanca is, in my estimation, the best film ever written, even though the script was largely created "by committee." Just about every line in that movie is memorable, and nothing is wasted. It’s a writer’s movie, from start to finish. Plus, Ingrid Bergman isn’t all that hard to look at!
I have a great plot for your next book…may I share it with you?
No. Every author will say the same thing: the plots, characters, settings, and dialog of any fiction book must come from the author him/herself. I’m glad you have come up with a plot; maybe you should explore writing it on your own.
I just finished that novel based on the plot I mentioned. May I send it to you to read?
This may sound selfish, but the answer is no. I like to help new writers polish their craft, but writing is an all-consuming endeavor, and most writers simply don’t have time to read other authors' unpublished works. There's also the issue of liability, since there's always the risk that something you've put on the page is also something I've put on the page. I have as much respect for lawyers as the next person (read into that what you will), but I don't feel a need to line their pockets with my money.
However, If you'd like to email me with questions about your plot, characters, dialog, or storyline, I would love to hear from you...and I will respond.
Of course, if your book has already found a home with a publisher I’d be more than happy to take a peek at it if you want an honest opinion or a review quote.
One exception to the above: When I speak with students or participate in writers' groups, where commenting and critiquing is expected, I will read other writers' work with pleasure. But in those cases it usually involves a couple of chapters or poetry, so the time involved is sensible, and everyone benefits from the process.
How can I find an agent?
That’s a very difficult proposition, which you probably already know…or you wouldn’t be asking the question. Writer’s Digest is a great source, as is the Association of Authors' Representatives. Google also is a great place to start, and try researching agents on Writer’s Net on the Internet.