What can you tell us about your new release, Into the Stars?
Into the Stars is an incredible story of humanity’s race into the stars. It takes place in the 2090s, so not too far off in the distance. At this point in the story arc, humanity has settled colonies on the Moon, Mars, and small colonies in the Belt. Think of the TV show The Expanse. Where things really begin to change, is when the humans finally develop faster than light travel and are now able to expand and explore beyond our own star system. I wrote this book and series because I wanted to explore and look at what that adventure might be like. The competing interests on where to explore first and how the different governments of earth would have to work together is what we wanted to show. I’m a thriller author by trade, but I enjoy reading science fiction, particularly military science fiction. I wanted to take our thriller style of writing and bring it to military-science fiction realm and explore the type of story arcs I want to read, but haven’t been written yet.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I was originally inspired to get into writing by a therapist at the VA. I had been seeing a therapist and counselor at the Veterans Administration to help me with the PTSD challenges I was going through. One of them suggested I look into writing therapy, so I did. At first, it was about writing out the various triggering events that caused my PTSD. Those events eventually led me to write a book about my experiences in Iraq and publishing it. From there, writing was more of a hobby and way of relieving stress. Then in 2016, I started to earn a few thousand dollars a month from my writing. That ultimately led me to believe I could make a career out of writing. I started learning as much as I could about marketing while my wife continued to work as my editor until we hired a full-time editor to help us craft even better books. In 2017, our writing suddenly took off with our series the Red Storm. From there, the rest was history as they say.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
This is a tough one. Growing up, I really enjoyed reading books written by Harry Turtledove. From there, I graduated to reading books by Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy. Then I started reading a lot of biography’s and books about American presidents and titans of industry. I wanted to learn about these successful men and try to figure out what it was they had, that others either didn’t or hadn’t figured out. A science fiction book I really enjoyed was Old Man’s Wars. I thought the characters were well developed and the author had a great way of telling a complex story.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I think I’d want to talk with JK Rowling. I’d like to ask her about what got her into writing? How did she come up with the idea for the Harry Potter series and how did she outline it? Did it take on a life of it’s own as she began to write the first couple of books. I’d ask her about why she didn’t give up when she’d gotten so many rejections before she got her first yes. I’d then ask her about how does an author follow up on an epic series. It’s one thing to produce a hit or killer series, it’s a whole other story to repeat that process over and over again. That’s the mark of a really good author, when they are able to keep producing hit after hit. I want to learn about that, I want to know what’s been her secret and how does she overcome the mental blocks all writers face. I think she’s such an incredible success story and I’d really like to discet what she did and really try to understand it better not just for myself, but for others to learn from.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
For me, is the freedom to write and work from home or anywhere I go. I love the flexibility. I love being able to take a nap at 1pm just because I’m tired and want to.Then I can get back to writing after I’ve refreshed my mind. You can’t do that at a 9-5 job. I love the flexibility, I love being able to spend more time with my kids as they grow up.
What is a typical day like for you?
For me, it starts by getting my kids breakfast ready. Then I help my wife get them dressed and lunches made. I usually take drive them to school while my wife starts work. I usually spend from 9 to 6 writing and handling the marketing aspect of our job. From 6 to 8pm is family time with the kids. Then I’ll either spend a couple of hours with my wife watching a movie or I’ll go back to writing depending on what scene I’m working on. But mind you, this schedule I outlined is a six day a week operation. I usually take off a solid 8 hours on Saturday, but aside from that, I work six days a week.
What scene from Into the Stars was your favorite to write?
For me, it’s the ground combat scenes. We have a couple of really good ones in this book and those are the ones I like to write the most. I spent 3.5 years in Iraq, I’ve survived more than a thousand rocket and mortar attacks, my vehicle being shot up and my helicopter taking ground fire. When you’ve lived through all of that, you gain a lot of experience and understanding of how to write these really compelling scenes. I’ve had many readers tell me they almost felt like they were reliving their own PTSD experiences from the war. For me, that’s exactly what I’m doing when I write these scenes. I’m reliving real life scene that scared the hell out of me and I put them to paper for our books. That’s why they are so real because they were very real to me.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
I can be a workaholic. I have a goal I want to achieve and I work myself to the bone to achieve those goals. Sitting in my office behind my computer screen, I have a large picture that says, “In order to become the 1%, you must do what the other 99% won’t.” I think that saying is incredibly true. Writing is a tough business, if you want to succeed in this business, then you need to work hard and you need to outwork everyone else. Because we’re self-published author, we’re responsible for every aspect of publishing from editing to marketing, to content creation and reader engagement. That’s a lot, it’s a lot to handle, but if you can do it, and do it well, it provides you a level of economic independence nothing else can. We’re finishing our forth year of writing and we’ve officially sold more than one million dollars in books. That’s incredible to have achieved in such a short period of time and it’s largely because we work hard and we write compelling stories people want to read and tell their friends about.
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