My Interview

When I took creative writing in college one of the assignments I was given was to conduct an interview with myself. An interesting idea but one I never did, until now. The following is an interview I did with myself.

Sitting down with Max one of the first things you notice is a bookshelf that is so full it is overflowing. A very good mixture of books and DVDs. Seems like that bookcase holds a lot of value to Max. It seemed like a good place to start the interview.
You have just as many books as you do DVDs, is there a reason for that? Yes. I love to read. I have been collecting books since the days of SEE SPOT RUN. RUN SPOT RUN. Ha, ha I can still see that little panda running.
So you have books from your childhood? Not anymore. The closet thing I have to a book from my childhood is a book that I bought for my daughter that I use to love as a kid.
I see you have a wide range of books. What is your favorite? I have two but for different reasons. My favorite book for the story is Cracker Jackson by Betsy Byars. That was a book I read over and over. You can tell which books I have read more than once, the front cover is torn apart and the back cover is missing completely.
Star Wars, without a doubt is the second. I am a huge Star Wars fan. My favorite book is a gift I received. Even though I had the original Star Wars trilogy in paperback my nephew bought me a hard back copy while he was out of town for a medical conference. For some reason he kind of ambushed George Lucas at a book store and asked him for his autograph, for me. That is my prize possession.
I bought my first Star Wars book for a quarter when I was fourteen at a garage sale. The cover was torn and falling apart but I loved it. I read it over and over so much I broke the spine and held it together with tape. That was the first of many Star Wars books to come.
But I only see three Star Wars books. I have some comic books in the back but that’s all I have left.
Have left? At one time I had almost had every book printed of Star Wars from the time I was fourteen till I was twenty. Then I started working two jobs and going to school and I did not have the time or money to keep up. I actually had over thirty books then Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston and I lost most of my books.
So you had more than what you have now? Yes. I only have a third of the books I had as a teenager.
Okay, so you like books. Where did you first get started? My grandmother, my mom’s mom. She got me started reading. I remember in elementary the teachers use to order books from a placed called TROLL. My parents would order a book or two every three months. Grandma came for a visit and then started sending my mom money so my brother and I could buy books to read, even if it was just comic books. As long as I was reading that’s all that mattered.
Is there anyone that you are currently reading now? Yes. I read an interview in Writer’s Digest with Laurell K. Hamilton. Afterwards I just had to read her Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. I am getting ready to start book number three.
What about all the movies you have? What can I say; I’m a big movie buff. Movies are nothing but stories told the old fashion way, with passion that makes people talk, sometimes for years to come.
Speaking of stories being told, you call yourself a story teller, what do you mean by that? Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong time period. In medieval times the common people could not read or write. History and basic entertainment was passed down by telling stories. These story tellers kept the attention of any who would listen.
I firmly believe that the art of being able to tell a story and hold someone’s attention is dying. True, some writers can write a book that is over five hundred pages and have every little detail present but they can not hold someone’s attention, well at least not mine. I hear it all the time, people have to force themselves to read through something that is boring just to get to what is said to be the juicy part of the books. I, myself, am guilty of having to force read through something because I do not want to just give up the book. My goal and hope is that my readers do not feel that way about my work.
Let’s talk about your writing career. In your author bio you say you wrote your first poem for a girl. Tell us about that. I am a shy person. I can hear the moans now about how out spoken I am but it’s true, sometimes I am very shy, to the point of blushing. Her name was Anita and she lived in my neighborhood, on the opposite side of the neighborhood but still within walking distance. We went to middle school together. I had the biggest crush on her and when we went to high school we separated. I went to one magnet school and she went to another.
At the end of summer before school started I went over to her house and we hung out for the day. I gave her the poem that I wrote while I was walking to her house and she hugged me and told me that I was sweet but she liked girls. I was crushed, my young heart was broken, and I wrote another poem. I hated her for breaking my heart. Two years later I saw her at the grocery store and we talked. We stayed friends until our senior year.
After you wrote those first two poems, is that when you knew you would become a writer? God no. To be honest I hated to write. I wrote poetry to girls because I wanted to be liked and I knew girls liked poetry. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach then the way to a woman’s heart is through poetry. But FATE was not so kind to me. It never worked. Sure girls wanted me to write poems for them and guys asked me to write poems for their girlfriends but it never brought love to me. It was kind of like a double edge sword, I hated to write but it’s what was asked of me.
So when did you want to become a writer? Actually I never wanted to be a writer; I wanted to be a pilot. I had an English teacher my junior year that pushed me to write, in turn making me hate it more. In class we had to write an essay a week but I had to write three. With my father being a school teacher himself I was not allowed to challenge a teacher giving extra school work.
One day after class I pleaded the teacher to stop. I felt like she had been picking on me all year, giving me extra assignments and then always reading them out loud in class. She sat me down and told me that I was a writer and I should not fight it. I told her I wanted to be a pilot and that was my life goal. She did not want to push so she agreed to stop. Before she let me go she told me that someday I would embrace my writing. Something would happen to me and the flood gates would open up and my story would come out. She was right.
So you owe your writing career to this teacher? Yes and no. I feel I owe my writing career to two people actually. Mrs. Jones, my English teacher, for planting the seed in my head. The second is Tyra Banks.
Tyra Banks the supermodel? Yes
How do you owe your writing career to Tyra Banks? Well it’s an interesting story. Mrs. Jones said something would happen to me and that something was the attacks of 9/11. I was working at the airport as a ramp rat on the private terminal and remember how hectic that day was. I started writing a story and it was very rough getting started. I was starting to get discouraged and was about to stop writing.
One day I saw a commercial for the upcoming Tyra Banks show. Tyra was standing in front of her childhood home and telling her story. At the end of the commercial Tyra said, “That’s my story. What’s yours?” Those five words hit me hard. No one had ever asked ME what my story was. Granted, Tyra was not talking to me directly but those five words woke something up inside of me and the flood gates opened up inside me. I found my story and it poured out of me.
I have some questions from people your fans. Are you up to answering some fan fair questions? Sure. I’m up for it.
First question, where do you plan on taking your life over the next ten to twenty years? That’s really hard for me to answer. When I was in high school I did not think I would make it to graduation. When I graduated I did not think I would make it to the year 2000. Y2K, what a scare. There is always something that is suppose to end life as we know it so I don’t tend to plan that far in advance.
What would be nice is if in ten years I no longer have to work full time. Writing can be my full time job and I can make enough money to get a good home and take care of my family.
You mentioned your full time job. Security is a big leap from writer, why did you choose security as your profession? I didn’t choose security as my profession, it chose me. Right out of high school I joined the AmeriCorps that President Clinton set up. After one year in the Corps I was given money for college so I started flight school at San Jacinto College and flew out of Ellington Field. While in flight school I needed a job that was not demanding so I got a job working nights as security. I was at an apartment complex and was shot at so I quit.
Four years later I lost my job and no one was really hiring. I had two choices, flip burgers or go back to security. I figured if I was going to get shot at then I need to be able to shoot back so I went to school to get my commission. I became a natural at it. I worked to pay the bills but soon I was wanted and requested. I was good at my job or I should say I am good at my job. Now I have job security, no pun intended.
Speaking of job security, what do you think of the current political/economic crisis in our country? I try not to. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the argument of if you don’t vote you have no right to complain but if I really felt my vote counted then I might vote. Politics is a topic I don’t get into much because I am very passionate about it and passion has a way of becoming heated.
We are in a bad fix right now and all I can do is try to take care of my family. Economics has never been my strong suit but then again, the economy has always been a roller coaster that none of us can get off of. Every roller coaster has its ups and downs so I am along for the ride.
So will anything change in the way you spend money or vote? Actually it has. My spending in a way has increased, not decreased. We are on this planet for a short time and whatever we gather here we can not take it with us. I firmly believe that good deeds will be rewarded. I am trying to do good now while things are bad so when they are good again I know they will stay good.
As far as voting, I will not be voting this time around either. I have my reasons and before anyone says anything negative about voting, I know all the arguments. I have the right not to cast my vote just as others have the right to cast their vote. Now if Jessie “The Body” Ventura was to run for president that is someone I would actually go out and vote for. That man has been more level headed and honest then most people I have ever seen running for any office.
Let’s get back to your writing. Why do you write? I write primarily because I am a passionate person. Writing is a good way to channel that passion. I have an active imagination and it’s kind of like seeing a mini movie in my mind. I write down what I see and that is how I get my stories.
Some of your writing can get pretty dark. What goes on in your mind when you write about your dark topics? Does writing about dark topics lighten or darken your mood? Yes I can get pretty dark. I even scare myself sometimes. Growing up I always struggled with depression, not knowing what it was. Later on in life I found out that depression runs in my family and that the demons I had been battling all my life, I was not alone. Sometimes those demons can come on pretty strong, writing what I’m feeling helps me to deal with it. I guess you can say the darker I write the lighter my mood gets. Don’t worry though, the truly dark stuff I keep to myself.
Okay, writing dark materials makes your mood lighter. How do you create your characters? What is your inspiration? My inspiration can come from anywhere. A show, a movie, kids playing, the rain, the zoo, nature. Sometimes I hear a story and try to put my own spin or twist on it. The one thing that is consistent in my inspiration is passion. No matter what I do, it is done with passion and conviction.
As far as creating characters, they create themselves. I know that may not make sense but like I said before I watch their story unfold and write it down. People ask me all the time what is going to happen next in the story and the funny thing is, I don’t know. I look at it this way, if I want my stories to sell then my characters need to live and breathe. They need to be someone others can love or love to hate. They need to be real and like real people things can change at a whim.
Do you still have anything from your early high school days? If you do, what is the earliest you have? Yes I do. I still have a lot of my poems from high school. You can tell they are my early work because they are very raw and rough.
So you have been writing for a long time now, how do you write? What are your rituals? Haha, ritual, that’s good. I have no rituals say for one, I have to write everything down on paper first. A notepad and pen go with me everywhere cause you never know when an idea can strike and if I don’t write it down right away I could lose it. After I have written it down on paper I type it on the computer.
So what do you do with your drafts after you type them? I destroy them. I know a lot of writers keep that stuff around or keep a journal but I honestly do not see the need. Whatever notes and changes I make they are my own. The final draft is my gift to my readers. I want people to talk about my work, not what did not go into it or what I was thinking when I wrote it. To me, that takes away from the story and I don’t want to take that away from my readers.
Speaking of journals, do you keep one or recommend keeping one for others? I use to write in a journal for school. I was forced to write in it. I have tried writing in one before a bunch of times but I just can not do it. When I write it has to flow out of me. If I feel forced then I can not write, I can even develop a block and I hate those. Everyone has different things that helps them to write and if keeping a journal helps you to write then I encourage that. Me personally, I can not.
You mentioned blocks, a writer’s worse nightmare, how often do you get them? I don’t know, they come and go. The bad thing is when I get one it can last a few hours or it can last months. I had a block that lasted eight months.
So when these blocks end how long does it usually take you to write your short stories or novels? That question is a very tough one to answer. I have written a short story, for example, THE PILLOW FIGHT, in ten minutes while HELL’S PLAYGROUND took me over a year to write. One book took a month to write while another is not complete and it’s been two years since I started it.
When I have a story idea I write and I write till the story stops speaking to me. I might get hit all of a sudden by another story and I have to start writing that story till it stops speaking to me. I have been known to work on three to four stories at once.
To date, just how many novels do you have completed? I have a total of ten short novels that I have completed. I just need to transfer them from paper to computer.
Ten books on paper? Aren’t you worried about losing them? Not really. I know it sounds bad but I do believe everything happens for a reason. If these books are meant to be read then they will be, if not then at least I had fun writing them. Publishing them is important to me but not so important that I have to give up time with my family to get them printed.
Well you have one book that has been published and another due out around Christmas. When did you know you were ready to be published? Honestly I’m not sure that I’m ready to be published even now. I’m my own worst critic. Others like my work and that gives me something to look forward to. I know I have to do my best so that I do not disappoint anyone with my work.

This interview was written on October 17, 2008.