One of the best things about being a writer is getting to know other writers. It’s so nice to meet other authors that have had similar struggles and successes, and learn about their unique path to writing and publishing. That’s why I’m so excited to announce my new author interview series!
Watch or follow my blog to see interviews with authors who write in many different genres about their writing and publishing journeys, and the books they’ve published. My hope is that it will help my readers get to know these authors better and, hopefully, find their next great read!
I’m kicking off the series with an interview with Michael Nelson. His young adult fantasy book, Annie Abbottt and the Druid Stones, was just published last month. Enjoy the interview!
About the Author:
Michael Nelson retired as a physician after 35 years in private practice. His life experiences are numerous, and he held many occupations before pursuing a health care education and career. He has visited every state in the Union and worked on most of the continents of the world. He has published three historical fiction novels under the pen name Michael Deeze.
Michael, thank you so much for being part of my author interview series. Your book, Annie Abbottt and the Druid Stones, was just published last month. Very exciting! Can you tell us who or what inspires you to write?
My father was a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber. The life expectancy of a tail gunner was five missions, he flew twenty-six. No matter how much we pestered him, he would never speak of it—ever. When he was descending into dementia at the end of his life, he gave me his diary that he had kept of every mission he had flown. It was devastating, hair-raising, and chilling. He wrote cryptically, but the narrative was beyond compelling. If I had known half of what he and the others went through, I would have had a much greater appreciation for the man who had difficulty making friends and in social situations.
I began to realize that I had lived a similar life, not quite as terrifying, but filled with excitement and wonder. I came to marriage and children later in life, and these experiences had happened long before my family appeared. I decided to chronicle the experiences after I retired, and then one book became two, then three. They provide a history of the 1960s and ’70s with a protagonist that is loosely affiliated with me, but who witnessed the events and tragedies first hand.
My father was a hero, and I honor his memory.
What a wonderful way to honor your father. What do you think is the best thing that has happened because of your writing?
To tell you the truth, I was a terrible student in English, creative writing, or anything even remotely associated with endeavors of that ilk. However, I have always been a “story teller” and I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the experience of seeing things in my mind and memories and bringing them into print. It is another chapter in a storied life, and just a gas to accomplish.
Writing can definitely be an enjoyable experience, and so fulfilling when we see our books in print. What is the most difficult thing you have experienced about writing or publishing?
That’s a tough question. I absolutely love writing, the process, and the rewrites—all of it. But the effort after publishing is very difficult to navigate. I am not a self-promoter by nature and it takes almost Herculean effort to get someone to pick up your book and read it when you are an unknown. I enjoy the writing, but not the promotion, so I tell people that they are the “greatest books never read.”
Helping readers find our books seems to be the biggest challenge for many authors, including me. Was there anything you didn’t do during your writing or publishing journey that you wish you had?
Writing and the journey to print is a solitary endeavor. I am blessed with an associated inferiority complex about my skill level. I think you can’t write until you are ready and have something to say. I see too much writing that is absolute drivel because people want to write, because they fancy that they can, but that doesn’t mean they should. I learned right off the bat that you can’t write until it’s there to be written. When I didn’t wait, I wasted a lot of time and effort only to delete it when I read it later. It took me a long time to teach myself to be patient and to wait for it.
Patience is an important quality to have when you’re a writer, with both writing and publishing. Do you have a publisher and/or agent, or are you an indie (self-published) or hybrid author?
I have published all of my work (four novels to date) through Indies United Publishing. I had originally gone with another group that was incredibly expensive and practically useless. Indies has been supportive, and useful on several levels. They are also solid individuals that I enjoy working with. Promotion, however, is still my responsibility.
Except for best-selling authors and celebrities, even traditional publishers now put the responsibility of book promotion on the shoulders of the authors in every genre. You’ve written historical fiction and young adult fantasy books. Which genre(s) do you prefer to write in, and why?
My first three novels were basically historical fiction/crime/adventure—an embellished relating of historical events from a first-person perspective, which I enjoyed very much. When they were finished, I actually thought I had done enough of that and was ready to do something else, in spite of many people exhorting me to add another book from the Emmett Casey Chronicles.
I did start a woodworking thing and found that quite enjoyable. My daughter, Isabelle, was having none of it though. She said that I needed to keep writing. I told her that I wasn’t getting any inspiration to continue. She told me to write something completely different than what I had already done. I asked, “Like what?”
She told me that from the time she was eight or nine I would take her on some type of adventure. For the next week to ten days we would journey to places, learn things, and have an adventure. She told me to write about that. I told her that it sounded kind of dry. She said make it a treasure hunt, or a fantasy. So, I began in a new young adult genre with witches and druids and magic. But the book is anything but a children’s story. I wrote it for adults and disguised it as a story for teens. Isabelle edited it and provided the encouragement, and now we are almost ready to publish the second in the series, Annie Abbott and the Red Queen.
It sounds like both genres have been equally satisfying for you. Do you outline your books before you write them?
Nope, my writing is more of a stream of consciousness. I can always repair it, but getting it on paper is the most important thing, while the thoughts and vision of it are fresh.
So you’re what is called a “pantser,” someone who writes from the seat of their pants rather than outlining the story first. Writers have found success using both methods. How do you define success as a writer?
Is there a yardstick for that sort of thing? When I send the book off to the publisher for the last time, I am satisfied that I tried my best to make a good story readable, and that there are laughs, and tears, and deep thoughts. That makes me feel successful. It would be great to sell a gazillion copies, but I’ll settle for the people who do read it to like it.
It’s incredibly satisfying to hear from readers who enjoyed our books. If you could have lunch with any author, who would it be?
I have always liked Hemingway. He was a truly unique individual, capable of incredible introspection, and blessed with the ability to express it—and not just on paper. I would have loved to sit on a bar stool in Key West with him while he held court. I would have liked that very much.
Hemingway was definitely a unique character and talented writer who had many great adventures. Tell us about a great adventure you’ve had.
The first time I was detained by the police, I was eight years old. By the time I was eleven, I was on a first-name basis with them. I grew up in the projects of the inner city of Chicago, and I learned how to be tough, and a survivor. I went to war, I went to jail, I have worked on most of the continents. I have three undergraduate degrees and two professional ones. I have three marvelous children, and an amazing dog.
Life is my great adventure.
It sounds like your life has been filled with adventures. Michael, thank you so much for sharing some of your writing and publishing process. We’ll be watching for your next book to come out.
Readers, you can find out more about Michael and his books on his Facebook page: http://facebook.com/michaeldeezebooks. You can learn more about Michael’s latest book, Annie Abbott and the Druid Stones, below.
Available now on Amazon
Annie Abbott and the Druid Stones, a fantasy novel from Indies United Publishing House, follows a young junior high school student and her father as they embark on an adventure that challenges them to the limits of their abilities, both physically and mentally. Mysterious boxes appear out of nowhere, hidden in their attic. After opening them and discovering the clues within, Annie Abbott and her father’s lives will never be the same. Co-author Michael Nelson says that the book “is about learning, but also, it’s about magic—and witches and druids and wizards and fairies and all sorts of exciting, adventurous, and sometimes dangerous things.”
Readers, have you experienced any magic in your life—however you define it? Let us know in the comments!