Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Children’s and academic books, novels (4), poetry books (2), and a few other things. I’m from New Orleans and have managed to teach language and literature at several universities in between hitchhiking 35 US states and 16 countries. Been holed up in paradise (aka central Mexico) for the pandemic. Loathe to leave but backpack is by the door and ready.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Alice” should be out on Amazon any day now. I’ve had both poetry and literary fiction shortlisted for the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize, but this is my first venture into speculative fiction — a post-apocalyptic adult hippie fairy tale. I think the magic of that genre tag says it all per inspiration. Ok, maybe a distant touch of inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice, too 🙂
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
No rituals, really. I move around. Libraries, coffee shops, kitchens (mine and friends’). I also try to hitchhike through a few cities if not countries in between writing sessions as I gather inspiration to get through a novel 🙂
What authors, or books have influenced you?
No disrespect to my contemporaries — I know there’s great stuff being done and I sometimes stumble upon it — but I mostly read and am influenced by the classics — Plato and Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen, Woolf and Toni Morrison. Also, quirky stuff like Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar. I also read quite a bit in Spanish these days, but classics (new or old) there as well — Marques, Borges, Fuentes, Neruda, Galdos. I’m also influenced by such non-fiction as Gandhi’s autobiography, Baba Ram Dass’s Be Here Now, and D.H. Lawrence’s Apocalypse.
What are you working on now?
Well, I just finished that novel, “Alice,” so I’m grinding through the marketing phase for my books right now. I do have a collection of short stories in the works, as well as a second book of poetry. Lately I find myself drawn back to my first love, poetry, which I think colors the prose in Alice.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Like many authors, I am not to be trusted as a marketing mentor. Besides pretty-hot.com and a few similar websites, I do hit as many independent bookstores as I can, so I now have a handful of stores around the country that I can count on to stock my new books. There’s also Facebook groups, my own blog and my network of like-minded blogmates around the world. And I’ve done live events in several states as well as in Germany and Mexico, but I can’t really say any of this is a magic bullet to sales.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Do it for the love, not for the money. If you do this thing for the money, you will probably (though not certainly) live a life of frustration. If you do it for the love, the money may (or may not) follow, but, well, you’re doing what you love 🙂
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
From the great British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham: “There are three rules for writing a great novel; unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
What are you reading now?
“Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy,” by Dave Hickey.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Besides Alice, which comes out any day now, and my forthcoming sets of short stories and poems, I plan to continue my geographical journeying. This year, I’ve hitchhiked through 5 countries and have a few more on my radar. That, to me, is part of the writing process.
What is your favorite book of all time?
I can’t honestly pick. King Lear? Woolf’s To the Lighthouse? Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Lately, it’s the less famous, quirky, magical, poetic “In Watermelon Sugar” by hippyish Richard Brautigan that got into my brainstem.