Frequently Asked Questions
When did you start writing?
I started writing stores when I was twelve. Some of them I’d record on cassette and send to my best friend in New York. A decade later, I started on my first novel.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
I was walking home from work one day when suddenly had this idea for a story. It was the basic plot for WHEN DEATH WON’T DO. I remember thinking it would make for a great book.
So I decided to give it a try, one chapter at a time. I think what helped was that I didn’t tell anyone I was trying to write a book. That took away any expectations and pressure.
After I’d written the first few chapters, I got the help of a dear friend, Pauline, who eventually became my first editor. She was instrumental in helping me find my “voice.”
Forgive me for asking, but why did it take twenty years to write WHEN DEATH WON'T DO?
Short answer? Other things had priority: Like my family, my career as a pilot…I didn’t start writing full time until 2012.
Well that brings me to my next question. What made you give up your career as a captain for Southwest Airlines in order to become a full-time writer?
Short answer: cancer. But I’m back now, so there!
Long answer: First off, that’s a loaded question. Let me set some facts straight. I didn’t “give up” my career as a captain.
In 2010, I went on medical disability. By 2012, a couple of major surgeries later, it seemed unlikely I’d ever fly again, so I devoted all my free time to writing.
In late 2013, I got my medical certificate back, so I’ve been flying every since.
Wasn't your first book TRUST MATTERS?
Yes, and that’s a heavily guarded secret. Seriously, though, WHEN DEATH WON’T DO was the original title, but I met a famous New York Times bestselling author at an author-agent conference, and he said WHEN DEATH WON’T DO was too melodramatic.
So unfortunately, instead of trusting my instincts, I changed the title to TRUST MATTERS, which I thought was cool because it means trust matters, as in important; trust matters, as in issues of trust; and finally trust matters as in issues related to a trust fund. All of which are pertinent to the book.
But TRUST MATTERS is an ambiguous title, and my original title was a lot more marketable, so that’s why I decided to republish my novel the way I should have the first time around. Oh, and the new cover is awesome. The cover for TRUST MATTERS, like the title, only made sense after you read the book.
So what's your genre?
I’m not a genre author. WHEN DEATH WON’T DO is a Family Saga/Suspense novel and THE PARADISE SYNDROME is Drama/Alternate-Universe Romance.
What books are you working on now?
THE PARADISE SYNDROME, the romance/time travel novel I mentioned before, and I THINK, THEREFORE I LIE, my first nonfiction book.
What made you start writing non-fiction?
Unlike with my novels, I don’t feel like I have that many nonfiction books in me. I THINK, THEREFORE I LIE, had to be written, but I doubt I’ll be writing more nonfiction. That said, you never know with me–I keep surprising myself.
What advice do you have for someone trying to write that first novel?
Until you actually write your first book, you’ll have that question over your head: Can I do it? What if I get writer’s block?
There’s a simple cure for that, something I learned from Stephen King’s ON WRITING: Write and don’t stop until you’re finished. Get it all out there. Don’t edit, don’t rewrite, don’t look back. Your one and only objective at this stage is finishing that first draft and uncaging your story.
It will be shit. But don’t worry, as Hemingway said, all first drafts are shit–mine certainly are–so you’ll be in good company.