The Jaguar Conspiracy
Tell us something about yourself. A mini-biography of sorts.
I grew up in Oklahoma, graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Zoology. I taught high school students for 8 years as a science teacher/wrestling coach. I got a job offer from a petroleum data company as a friend of a friend and worked for the company for almost 25 years, in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Houston, and Calgary in that order. I took early retirement in 2008 and moved with my wife to the central coast of California. I have written three columns in Jaguar magazines since 2006. Two are produced in England and distributed to 55 countries around the world.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I always wanted to be an artist of some sort. My sister was a talented artist, winning a scholarship to Kansas State University. Unfortunately she had all the talent when it came to painting and drawing. I played in bands in college and still enjoy guitar but never really achieved to a high level. The writing offer in 2006 finally fulfilled the urge to create.
How much of your personal life do you incorporate in your writing?
I’ve written over 120 columns for my classic Jaguar magazine columns since I started in 2006. I’ve interviewed Jay Leno at his 100,000 square foot garage with 135 cars, attended the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and found cars owned by one owner since the fifties gathering dust in various locales. These experiences provided a rich tapestry from which to draw characters, locales and plots. Many times a character is a mix of two or three different people I’ve met or a house might be a location of one house but the actual house from another meeting. I take these experiences and try to make them a little bigger. I call it the Brad Pitt version.
Tell us a little about what you’re working on right now.
I’m contracted for a three book series with Mitchell Morris Publishing for the Michael McAllister character. Book 2 is tentatively titled Hope Against Hope. I’m on the 12th rewrite but I worked closely with Tracey Mitchell, my publisher, down the stretch on the first book and her ideas really amped up my characters, descriptions, and writing style. I’ve taken a little time off for marketing lately but between now and the end of the year I plan to use what I’ve learned to make some serious improvements in the second book, especially in the style of the writing. I had planned on working on a screen play for The Jaguar Conspiracy but after talking to some Hollywood folks I know I now believe that was an unrealistic goal. I think I might end up being a one book a year guy. I’ve roughed in about 1/3 of book 3, Deadly Contract, and I have an absolutely fantastic idea for a book 4 if I can sell the first three successfully.
Is there anything surprising you’ve learned about the publishing industry that you’d like to share with us?
Change is happening so fast. Some authors will be left in the dust if they can’t adapt. I think websites are falling out of favor and social media might be more useful as far as promoting and selling books. The ability to sell eBooks on a worldwide basis offers so much potential to an author.
What’s the most rewarding aspect about writing?
In the brief period of time since the release of my book I’ve already been contacted by readers in Europe thrilled by the story taking place along the California coast. I had those feelings reading the James Bond novels. I find it very rewarding to receive positive reviews from people all over the world.
Do you feel you chase the market or do you write from the heart, knowing you’re writing the best you can and someone will eventually publish your work?
I think my story and character are unique. I have no interest in trying to copy another writer.
Do you work on paper or a computer? At home or in an office? What time of day do you write and why? How much do you write a day?
I work on a computer. I am a very fast typist. I have a desk in a little loft in our townhouse. I tend to write very late at night and into the early morning when my wife is asleep and the room is dark. I have a little fake Maltese falcon on my desk and some classic car die cast cars for inspiration. When I sit down for a session I can usually get 1000-1500 words but many times the writing is rough and will have to be improved considerably in a later session.
The inevitable: are you a plotter or a pantser?
My first book was a pantser and it took me 6 years and 22 rewrites to go from the original idea to publishing. I ended up cutting out almost half of the writing and had to move chapters around. Now I work out an outline first and fill in. My second book has taken less than a year from original idea to a finished manuscript, although I do not have a polished manuscript yet. I still figure out details as I put the whole thing together but I don’t want to go through what I did with the first book again, nor does my publisher.
Who is your favorite author in the whole world and why.
When I was a young boy the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming captured my imagination with his descriptions of the main character’s style and the exotic locations. His books made me love to read and I found every one of the series and read them. I discovered Raymond Chandler much later and his books made me want to be an author with a detective character traveling through time, getting older as he goes, and taking on various cases. His command of the language and his description of characters and locales are second to none in my opinion. When I need inspiration, I usually reread one of his books.
And, lastly, who has impacted your writing the most?
Tracey Mitchell. She’s challenged me in every way and elevated my writing, almost by brute force.
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