Brian Paone

Author // Musician

Special guest, author Curtis A. Deeter

Today’s special guest on my page is author Curtis Deeter, whose short story, “Clark the Herald Sings,” was just published in the anthology A Contract of Words, which features 28 authors from all over the world, including my new short story, "Two Gunslingers." Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:

1.       Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?

 

Food. One of my greatest pleasures in life is going on adventures to new places and trying their food.

 

2.       What was your inspiration for your story?

 

Mostly, I like the idea of personifying grand, hard-to-process ideas. “Clark the Herald Sings” attempts to do this in a subtle, yet fresh way. Also, Terry Pratchett. He’s done it the best and the most digestible of any of the authors I’ve read to date.

 

3.       If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?

 

I’d wish for enough money to contribute to bills and still go and do things, so I could quit my day job and focus on my creativity full time. I’d also like to ensure my parent’s happiness. My third wish would be for pizza. Lots and lots of pizza.

 

4.       Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write?

 

Absolutely. I’ve been an avid reader since a very young age. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was the first book that made me want to write. It was so vivid and detailed and exciting at times. Then, I started branching out and saw how diverse the universe of story truly was. Needless to say, I was hooked.

 

5.       Would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no, lean toward outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?

 

I like ambient music in the background when I’m writing and energetic rock/hip-hop when I’m brainstorming. I am somewhere in between a pantster and a plotter, though I rarely wear pants when I’m actually working.

 

6.       When faced with the dreaded “writers block”, how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?

 

Normally, I’d say write through writer’s block or claim that it doesn’t exist. I still try to write through it, but I’m starting to understand where people are coming from more every day. My job sucks the creativity out of me and it’s been a struggle. Writing through has only helped on a fraction of the days. Reading, too.

 

7.       Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?

 

I did. I tend to know the beginning and I have a general idea of how a story is going to end. It’s the middley parts that surprise me.

 

8.       If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct?

 

Tough question. Rory McCann or John Bradley for Walter. They’d have to be hunch-backed, though. Sam, he’s sort of an ordinary, sarcastic kind of guy. Maybe Arthur Darvill? Or Noel Clarke. Yeah, I like nerdy shows. You caught me.

 

9.       How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in your mind? What were the biggest changes? Why did you make them?

 

For once, pretty much spot on. It was a quick write. I didn’t give my brain enough time to completely transform it like I normally do.

 

10.   What book were you reading when you thought, this stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…

 

There are a lot of books out there. I don’t like spending too much time on books that I’m not impressed by or totally immersed in. However, I did read the Hunger Game series and I’m convinced my writing is at least that good. My story telling, maybe not… but most of the young adult stuff I’ve encountered has been pretty basic as far as writing quality is concerned.

 

11.   Did you have to do any odd research for your story? How did you conduct that research, and then how was it used in your story?

 

Not for this one. Again, it was very quick. It’s more the start of an idea that I’ve thoroughly researched since submitting “Clark”.

 

12.   If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?

 

On the front porch of a secluded, lakeside cabin. With a glass of wine and snacks nearby.

13.   How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters? What inspired them? Did they take over your story or did you direct them?

 

Part of me can relate to Sam. He’s just an ordinary, anonymous guy who finds himself faced with enormous opportunity. I never really understood the concept of a character “taking over a story” or when a writer says something like, “I don’t know, Daisy just serial murdered those four jocks that she didn’t like. I didn’t see that coming at all.” Come on. Yeah you did. You wrote it…

 

14.   What do you consider your all-time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.

 

American Gods. Or Good Omens. Neil Gaiman is the storyteller I aspire to be, and there’s always something new when I return to his worlds. Same with Pratchett, which makes Good Omens an excellent 2nd pick.

 

15.   How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is ‘pantsed’ or written on the fly?

 

It’s about 60% pants, 40% outlined. Sometimes, when I’m feeling wild, I’ll sit down and outline entire sections at a time. Other times, it’s pen to paper.

 

16.   What are your favorite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?

 

Pizza. Beer. Both always help my mood. I’m a much better writer when I’m fed and doing happy-food dances.

 

17.   How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing in general?

 

It’s typical in the magical, fantasy extent. I’ve always liked imagining different version of our world. It’s atypical by being short, to the point, and dang-near written in one, furious sitting.

 

 

You can order on Amazon (worldwide), Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or get a FREE companion soundtrack CD if you order through Scout Media’s online store here: A Contract of Words.

Special guest, author David Williams

Today’s special guest on my page is author David Williams, whose short story, “The Main Event,” was just published in the anthology A Contract of Words, which features 28 authors from all over the world, including my new short story, "Two Gunslingers." Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?

Coffee. There’s nothing more beautiful in the universe.

 

2. What was your inspiration for your story?

My story is inspired by and loosely based on the true events of the murder of a wrestler known as Bruiser Brody. He was prolific during the 80s and wrestled all over the world. He was wrestling for a promotion in Puerto Rico and had a disagreement with another wrestler. The other wrestler called him into the shower area to discuss ‘business,’ carrying with him a knife. Brody was murdered. I decided to put my own spin on the story and developed a  character who was trying to climb the ladder of success within wrestling but didn’t want to wait around for an opportunity.


3. If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?

Money would probably be one. It would give me the stability and security to be able to write full time. I would probably wish for a house with an office or a specific writing space too. My third wish would be for the UK to say in the EU. #Remain.


4. Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write?

I’d say reading Stephen King made me decide to be a write but in terms of influence, I’d put that down to Lee Child and his Jack Reacher novels. I read through 16 or 17 of those novels in the space of a few months.

 

5. Would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no, lean toward outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?

I find music, unless pertinent to the story, can be distracting. However, I have found in the past that listening to white noise videos on youtube helps me focus and concentrate.

 

6. When faced with the dreaded “writers block”, how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?

When I’ve struggled with the Block in the past, I’ve taken a step away from the story and tried to write something else. I’ve also found trying to brainstorm ideas around it to help. Stream of consciousness writing has also helped before, to just write for the sake of writing helps to get the juices flowing.

 

7. Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?

I’d say I knew around 75% of the story, but the end was a part I struggled with a little. However, as the theme was a contract within the story, I thought it’d be cool to include a bit where the contract had been breached and then gets ripped up. I figured a way to work that into the story and thought the consequences would be unspoken but eluded to.

 

8. If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct?

Difficult question. I’d say it’d probably be cast by wrestlers, rather than Hollywood actors. Maybe Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin would probably be good as Andre Steele, young and cocky. Perhaps Goldstein would be played by one of the older wrestlers, Kevin Nash or Scott Hall. If I’m fantasy casting this gig, I’d definitely want Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to play Butch, and probably ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin to play ‘Cowboy’ Dean Anderson. As for the director, I’d like to take on that job for myself!

 

9. How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in your mind? What were the biggest changes? Why did you make them?

The story ended up being what I hoped it would, I’d say 75% of the story was straight forward to write. It was the last part of the story that I had to work for. Any changes made were to simply accommodate my idea for the ending; an extra sentence to explain this, or justify that, near the end.

 

10. What book were you reading when you thought, This stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…

I wouldn’t say there was a particular book which made me feel that way. I loved reading King and wanted to write but nothing really came of it for a long time. A moment of inspiration in the shower changed all that.

 

11. Did you have to do any odd research for your story? How did you conduct that research, and then how was it used in your story?

Before I started writing the story, I did want to learn as much as possible about the death of Bruiser Brody. I watched a few things on YouTube, read a few articles and accounts of other wrestlers who witnessed it. What I found out, served as an inspiration for the story and some of the characters.

 

12. If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?

I would love a cabin in the middle of nowhere, sort of like Paul Sheldon in Misery, where I can isolate myself from everything and everyone. But suffice to say, nowhere near that crazy, dirty birdy Annie Wilkes.

 

13. How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters? What inspired them? Did they take over your story or did you direct them?

I’d say I relate to Andre Steele a little, I’d love to be able to skip a few steps on the ladder of my job, but I wouldn’t kill for it, so I guess not so much.

 

14. What do you consider your all-time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.

I’d go as far as to say The Dark Tower series, is and always will be, my favourite novels. Specifically, within the series, Drawing of the Three or Wizard And Glass.

 

15. How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is ‘pantsed’ or written on the fly?

I’m actually usually more of a pantser than I am an outliner, however my story was definitely mostly outlined than it was pantsed.

 

16. What are your favorite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?

As long as I’ve got coffee, maybe some pringles or bourbon biscuits, I’m a happy writer.

 

17. How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing in general?

My other published story is nothing like ‘The Main Event.’ However, my on-going novel project is a crime thriller, which I guess you could say is similar to this story.

 

You can order on Amazon (worldwide), Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or get a FREE companion soundtrack CD if you order through Scout Media’s online store here: A Contract of Words

 

Special guest, author Jan Maher

Today’s special guest on my page is author Jan Maher, whose short story, “Dancing in the Dark,” was just published in the anthology A Contract of Words, which features 28 authors from all over the world, including my new short story, "Two Gunslingers." Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?
I’ll trade one thing I couldn’t live without for two I wouldn’t be entirely happy living without: reading and gardening.

2. What was your inspiration for your story?
A book of ideas about how to write short stories. The suggestion was to place two characters who don’t like each other in a setting where they can’t avoid one another. I think the setting came to me first: a stuck elevator. Then came the characters: an about-to-be-divorced couple on their way to finalize their divorce agreement.

3. If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for.
I’d go big on this one. First wish: that my wishes not have unintended consequences that make things worse in the world. Second wish: world peace. Third wish: Successful containment of global climate change. Is that asking so much?

4. Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write.
I very clearly remember being influenced by reading The Diary of Anne Frank when I was around 12. I was inspired and devastated by it. I started keeping a journal immediately after, and I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to write something worthy of being read and valued after my own life is over.

5. Would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no, lean toward outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?
I am a chaotic writer, but there’s predictable process in the chaos. I love to write in coffee houses. I like writing in groups, too, which is interesting (at least to me) because I’m such an introvert. First drafts are almost always handwritten in journals. Then I transcribe. I usually write a short story quickly, then put it away for a while and come back to it to edit and revise.  A novel, on the other hand, takes me years. Literally. I research and noodle for a long time before the shape of the piece emerges. I generate guiding questions for myself and follow them until some prove to be dead ends and others have what I call “sticking” power. At some point, the need to get it all into basic first draft shape takes me over and I get much more disciplined about it. At this point, revisions happen as much on the computer as in my journals.

6. When faced with the dreaded “writers block”, how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?
I never have writer’s block, perhaps because I don’t have a fixed ritual of writing. If I’m stuck on one story, I switch to another and work on it, or take a break to research/read, or pull weeds in the garden. Sometimes, I write in my journal: “Turn the page and write a story.” Then I turn the page, look around me, and just start a story based on something I see in the environment. Sometimes I make use of writing books that contain prompts, such as the one that resulted in my ACOW story.

7. Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?
I did not, not exactly. I knew that the elevator would eventually have to get going again, but I didn’t know at what point in the story of the two people stuck in it that would happen.

8. If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct? 
Hmmmm.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Janelle Monáe, Ava Duvernay directing.

9. How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in your mind? What were the biggest changes? Why did you make them?
Since I didn’t have a clear sense of the ending until I got there, that’s difficult to answer. The biggest changes I made were tightening the dialogue to not overdo the bickering, revising to contain head-jumping, and increasing the vulnerability of both characters. I don’t think I expected them to remember what they loved or valued about each other, but they did.

10. What book were you reading when you thought, This stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…
I don’t remember. I do remember trying to “crack the code” of stories that sell to The New Yorker. I gave up.

11. Did you have to do any odd research for your story? How did you conduct that research, and then how was it used in your story? 
I didn’t have to do specific research. I’d already learned about ear candling. (-:

12. If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?
A coffee house that overlooks a flowing body of water, serves light meals as well as coffee, and stays open late.

13. How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters? What inspired them? Did they take over your story or did you direct them?
I relate to my female character pretty closely, though with the distance of time. I can draw on memories of negotiating terms of child custody, in particular, but the details in my story are different. Mostly, I put my characters in the elevator and eavesdropped, so I guess they took over.

14. What do you consider your all-time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.
Hard to choose just one, but if I must: Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon.

15. How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is ‘pantsed’ or written on the fly?
I only outline nonfiction work. All my fiction, short or long, is discovered as I write it.

16. What are your favorite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?
I have a weakness for the carrot cake that my local coffee shop serves. At home, a cup of tea is more likely to be my choice. In both cases, I think it’s helpful because of the physical action of getting up from the table or desk, walking a short distance away, and coming back. Does that even make sense?

17. How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing in general?
My work is definitely character driven, and in that sense my ACOW story is typical. The characters are typical of my short stories, in that in most of my short stories, the characters have some kind of clearly identifiable goal that someone or some force is getting in the way of, and the story has to do with how they get what they want. Another thing that is typical of almost everything I write is there are elements of humor in an overall serious story. In my novels, there’s much more focus on character development over time, and on the internal life and often turmoil of the characters as they deal with their secrets, their misapprehensions, their longings, and ultimately their breakthroughs.

You can order on Amazon (worldwide), Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or get a FREE companion soundtrack CD if you order through Scout Media’s online store here: A Contract of Words.

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