Clabe's author interview with Smashwords
When did you first start writing?
Actually, I started writing in college. I wrote short stories and poetry but none of that was ever submitted for publication. During my career, I wrote literally thousands of all kind of documents, including two books, a textbook and a field handbook and many training courses. The most interesting thing I ever wrote then was the text to a educational comic book. It was fun to invent comic characters for a good cause. However, even though I have been a life-long reader, I didn't start writing fiction in earnest until about three years ago...long after I'd retired from a regular career and my daughters were well into college.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've always loved to read. I've always wanted to write books that I would want to read. I believe strongly that writers must be readers first before they can be writers. A lifetime grab-bag of experience is a rich source for story ideas.
Do you write books in series? If so, why?
Yes, sometimes, but not all the time. I have three series all of which started with short stories.
The first, the Detective Mike Eiser Series, is a about a community as much as about the individual characters. Each book is a stand-alone story, but the main characters carry on their lives from story to story so there is a theme. The other characters comprise a community of friends and neighbors that grows from book to book. These friends and neighbors are introduced as major players in a story and then weave in and out through supporting roles in other books of the series.
The Adventures of Harry Morgan Series is a series of adventures that befall an active retired man and his friends as they respond to various situations they encounter along the way.
The Mark of the Beast Series is a series of stories about the Mark Bishop family as they struggle against the beast, and the mark of the beast foretold in The Bible (KJV) Book of Revelations, Chapter 13. The Bishop family is made homeless, destitute and persecuted by their failure to allow themselves to be marked.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book on the market is SCHISM and is part of the Detective Mike Eiser Series. It is in its second edition. Schism explores what happens when the leader of an urban criminal gang tries to recruit a popular teenager in a small Georgia town, while balancing several other criminal activities. The action revolves around a survivor single mother hard pressed to protect her sons who are growing up and are being subjected to criminal influences. The town isn't used to this level of criminal action, and tough decisions must be made. Eventually, the teenager's friends and Detective Mike Eiser bring the situation to a head and the boy’s mother helps resolve it in an unexpected way. The story combines action, some violence and humor with a surprise ending.
SCHISM is my first full length novel. My other books I term "short fiction" because they are a combination of short stories and short novelettes.
Are there any upcoming books?
Yes, ANGELICA is another in the Detective Mike Eiser Series and is expected to be released the Spring of 2016. ANGELICA is about a woman who runs from her dead mobster husband’s crime boss back to her roots in Georgia where she becomes a successful business woman and raises her son. Now, eleven years later, the mob boss has been indicted and is facing trial and wants her dead. Not because of the trial, but because he is losing everything and has tipped over the edge of insanity. Now, she faces a whole series of hit-men sent by a madman.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I've seen and done a lot of different things in my life. Authors need life experiences in order to have enough depth to write convincingly and to have the imagination to go into different directions than many others could go. Besides actual life experience, I love to read and I have used my imagination in every way I could conceive. To me, nothing in the world happens unless it is someone's thought first. Thought gives rise to action which gives rise to creation. Writing is sharing creative visualization in a form where it can be imagined by others as well. Writing expresses the joy of creative visualization.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! I know that's easy to say, but creative people rely on their fans to support them and to buy their products, but more importantly, fans are the major source of encouragement to keep on writing. You reach a point where you feel like if you stop what you're doing that you are going to let everyone down, and that's not a good feeling. But, I'm just getting started so that's not an issue for me. So, the more fans the better! I appreciate every one of them.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a novel for the Adventures of Harry Morgan Series. This series starts with a short story, GOLD STANDARD with refers to the level of friendship between two old friends, as well as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the storyline. For some time, I’ve felt that GOLD STANDARD would have made an excellent novel.
Who are your favorite authors?
Seriously? They're too numerous to count. My favorite authors range in breadth from Edgar Allen Poe to Mark Twain, to John LeCarre, to Robert Ludlum to David Balducci and John Grisham, and more recently to George Wier, Scott William Carter, Michael Grumley and Lee Child and many other mystery and action writers. From there to science fiction with classics by Andre Norton, Issac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Robert Silverburg and more recently, any number of modern science fiction writers. I read a lot, and I look for quality story lines and crave action in books.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm happily married and have a wonderful family! I thank God every day that I have the ability to get out of bed to write or to do any of the one thousand and one things I need to do every day. I'm a naturally self-motivated person who has little problem focusing on the task at hand; sometimes to the detriment of other tasks. I need to create new things. Maintenance and repetition bore me to tears.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Most of my time gets spent writing, reviewing, promoting, reading, working around the house, spending time with my family and going to college tennis matches.
How do you discover the e-books you read?
I usually search for a genre and then browse through the books listed for a story line that looks interesting. Occasionally, when I find an interesting series, I'll stick with it until I finish it.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No, I don't. I know it was back in high school or early college and all of that writing has been lost now. My current writing actually began as an attempt at screenwriting a couple of years ago. Our family has a rather unique story and I wrote a draft feature length screen play for the first part of our story, with the intention of writing a second script to go with it. I also wrote some short screenplays just for practice. Then, I put them on the shelf for a while and started writing short stories and novelettes. Now, I've moved on to novels.
What is your writing process?
I have an idea. I visualize how that idea might play out in real life trying to be as realistic as possible. None of my characters are super-heroes; and none have extraordinary help from sources like James Bond's famous friend 'Q'. So, I try to make my scenarios believable. I visualize those scenarios play by play and type them down as they occur in my mind, editing and spell-checking as I go. Finally, I give the text a final spell checking, then a careful line by line edit refining sentence structure, spacing, correct punctuation, and incorrect words, etc. Then I send the manuscript to a great editor I know. She makes sure everything works together as it should.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, I'm afraid I don't. I learned to read quite early in elementary school and I have little memory of those times. However, I do remember the excitement of being able to go to the school library and check out books to read at a very young age. I remember being fascinated with undersea adventures about divers; hardhat divers and SCUBA divers. “Sea Hunt” was a favorite TV show. I kept the love of SCUBA diving from those early books and movies long into adulthood.
How do you approach cover design?
For the novels I use well-known commercial book designers. I identify the themes that I think the cover art should communicate and sometimes, I’ll search for stock art consistent with that theme and suggest it for the artist’s consideration.
For the short stories, I try to think of a theme that dramatically summarizes the story or some part of the story while establishing a mood or an emotion. When I have an idea in mind, I begin to look for art that can fulfill that idea. Then, I go to work to bring it alive as a cover.
What do you read for pleasure?
Surprise! I read mystery action adventure or science fiction for pleasure. I have been a lifelong lover of both genre, and I have been known to read fifty to seventy books a year. I don't do that anymore, because now I use that time to write and do other things; but even so, I still read a lot because I do reviews for others and I will not review a book that I haven’t read completely.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have two Kindles, an older Kindle keyboard I don't use much anymore and a Kindle Fire HD 8.9 that I use to death!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Truthfully, I'm still looking for effective book marketing techniques. It’s all a learning process for me. They say you’re supposed to have a strategic plan for marketing, but my strategic plan is constantly changing as I learn. I started with working on establishing a social media presence and become better known as an author. But I have a long ways to go yet and a number of ways to get there.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Lutz, Florida, just north of Tampa. It was country back then; we had a farm, most of my relatives had farms or were country people. We grew oranges and cattle. I grew up and graduated from the University of South Florida in Marine Zoology with active interests in natural sciences, especially toxicology, physics and geology which led to a successful career in environmental protection, including both civil and criminal enforcement and chemical emergency response. I was also an active SCUBA diver, hunter, fisherman, boater, sailor and gun enthusiast all of which influence my writing.
Describe your desk
Cluttered. Really, there's a method to my madness and I know where everything is. At least that's the story I tell my wife, and I'm sticking to it!
Why did you become a writer?
Throughout my career I had to write literally millions of words of non-fiction. I wondered what it would be like to write fiction; to be able to use your imagination and communicate its contents to a reader in a way that he would be interested...even enthralled. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained; but I sincerely hope my readers like the venture!