Sunday, August 13, 2006


Books in Print: Peter and Beth

Books in Process: The Other Side (working title) - a sequel to Peter and Beth

Welcome Doug,

1. When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote a handful of one-act plays in college and then for the next thirty years wrote nothing. I began my first novel (Happy as Kings--unpublished) in 2000 (see below for the reason).

2. What inspired you to write your first book?

I was reading Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being and suddenly realized that I too could write a novel. This had always been a dream of mine, but I think it took many years of reading good novels before I understood the various elements that go into writing one.

3. How did you approach writing your first book?

Since my first novel was heavily autobiographical, I didn't use an outline but basically followed events according to their actual chronology. In Peter and Beth and The Other Side, I worked from a well-thought-out outline--knowing, however, that I would be making many changes along the way.

4. Who or what influenced your writing?

Because I've read so much, I couldn't point to any one or two writers I model my work after. I try to keep my prose straightforward and almost conversational, always with the goal of keeping my book "reader friendly" but without compromising my artistic integrity. My underlying goal as a writer is to write the kind of novels I myself would like to read.

5. Why do you continue to write?

I love it. There's something magical about looking at a blank computer screen and then filling it up not just with words but with a never-before-dreamed-of world. I also love the act of revision--I suppose because I'm compulsive about saying things in the absolute best way they can be said.

6. What do you hope to accomplish through your writing?

Aside from increasing my income (perhaps the most formidable task), I would simply like to become a better and better writer. For me, writing is an end in itself.

7. What has been your experience as a published writer?

The good news is that there's a tremendous sense of accomplishment. The surprising news (though I guess it shouldn't surprise me) is that people who don't read novels aren't especially impressed that I wrote one.

8. How do you promote your book(s)?

My goal at this point isn't to sell my book but to find an agent who believes in my writing and believes that he or she can sell me to a mid-size if not to a major publisher. Right now I'm concentrating on getting Peter and Beth reviewed, with the objective of increasing my credibility with potential agents.

9. What advice would you like to share with other writers?

Whatever it is you're thinking of writing, don't be in a hurry to sit down and write it. Let the story germinate in your mind for a while (in general, the longer the better). There's a readiness factor, and I think it's important for a writer to learn to recognize when a story is ready to be put into written words.

10. Any other comments you would like to add?

Writing novels, for me, hasn't been all peaches and cream. When I'm in the middle of writing a first draft, I become obsessed with it to the point where it definitely disrupts my life. It goes without saying, though, that the satisfaction I get from the end result is well worth the disruption.

Thank you, Doug, for sharing your thoughts and time with us.

Interviewed by Kaye Trout - August 13, 2006