Friday, March 21, 2014



Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I have written stories and scenes ever since I can remember. As a child I was forever coming up with little tales and such. The older I got, the more enthralled with storytelling I became.  I had parents that encouraged my creativity. My father was a man of science and loved reading just about anything. He taught me the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. My mother taught Theater and English for over 30 years. It was a rich environment in which to cultivate a love of storytelling.

How and where do you write?

Because I have a full-time job, I find my writing time is sporadic at best. That’s why I've developed
a knack for fleshing out scenes in my head while doing other tasks. I love creating scenes while jogging. At work when I get a flash of inspiration, I write it on a scrap of paper—quite often on a blank prescription pad. I usually write in the evenings. On my days off, I try to put in several hours of solid writing, but that too can be sporadic, depending on the size of my honey-do list. Perhaps that is why I only get a book out every 15 months or so.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I have three basic stages in writing: one is creating a skeleton. I am mostly a discovery writer—I know how a scene must start and end, but I leave it up to my characters as to how to get from start to finish. It’s a very fun way to create but it can lead to a lot of extra writing when a character doesn't follow the path you need. This is typically the most difficult part of writing for me. 

The second stage is going back over the scene and fleshing it out; i.e. adding some meat and substance to the imagery. As I mentioned, I basically try to write the scene I see in my mind. Quite often, adding flesh to a scene reveals something hidden from the camera in my mind. That’s one of the things I really like about the process. 

The third stage is trimming fat and making the skin (prose) smooth. I love this part of the process. It’s when creativity and continuity really come together. If done correctly the prose and story become a living thing. If not, then it’s time for some reconstructive surgery.

How do you come up with your characters/ideas?

I have a huge advantage in that, because I mostly write medical thrillers, I get a lot of my ideas from working as a clinical pharmacist. When coming up with story lines I always try to fit the best character with each participant in the story. Of course, you always want to throw in a red herring or two. And I like to add some comic relief every now and then. But overall, I try to make my characters as three-dimensional as possible. To do that, I use characteristics from people I've met, character traits I've really liked in movies or novels, and real people from history.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

Luckily, my publisher (Covenant Communications) does a pretty good job with promoting my new releases. I try to attend as many book signings as I can, and I love to do talks, interviews, and presentations at writing conferences. I wish I had more time to do all those authoresque things, but my life is too full for blogging, book tours, launch parties, and most other promotional events. I have nothing against them; I just rarely have the time.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I have a fun novella coming out this June. It’s an anthology with three of Covenant’s best suspense writers, Traci Abramson, Stephanie Black, and yours truly. My story is a bit different from my other novels in that it’s written in first person from a YA point of view. It’s about a young teen who feels compelled to solve a one-hundred year old mystery surrounding a haunted house in his isolated Nevada town. It’s called The Death House. It’s got some creepy thrills, a lot of humor, and some neat science and local legends.

Also, I just finished a cool thriller that ties two legends—the Lamed Vovniks and the Physicians of Myddfai—with an event in the Old Testament that has a profound impact on the life of a young historian visiting modern-day Wales. Yes, there is medicine involved, but this one has some religious undertones that allow my protagonist some serious introspection and growth. It’s written in the style and tone of a Dan Brown thriller. It’s titled, The Dial of Ahaz. I hope to see it published by the end of the year or perhaps the first of next.

Do you have a project on the back burner?

I have several projects on the back burner. Too many, in fact. I am working on a screenplay adaptation to my best-seller, Do No Harm. I’m also well into my next thriller titled, Infected. It has to do with a parasitic fungus that exhibits mind control over its victims with devastating effects. (No, I don’t have trouble sleeping at night. My goal is to instill my readers with those troubles.)

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

All good writers are voracious readers. There is no shame in copying the style of your favorite author, just don’t plagiarize. Then write. Write every day—even if it’s not working on your novel. The hardest skill a new author must cultivate when creating a story is the ability to step back from being a writer to being a reader. You have to be able to see your work through someone else’s eyes. Only then will you find issues with character, conflict, pacing, prose, climax, denouement, etc. And don’t fall in love with your words; be willing to rewrite entire chapters if necessary. If you’re serious about being an author, attend writer’s conferences and workshops. Leaning from others is a great way to hone your craft. Above all, believe in yourself. Even if you don’t initially have the skill, if you have a great story that needs to be told, then tell it!


Thanks, Gregg!

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