Hi Steve! And welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for Art and Authors. We're thrilled to have you with us this morning. What have you written?
If I Only Had Thumbs: Chickee Chicken’s Story
If I Only Had Thumbs: Polly Pig’s Story (in press)
We All Need a Friend: Petey Possum’s Story (being illustrated)
Historic Architecture of Paducah and McCracken County, Kentucky, 2nd Ed.
I have a half dozen or so Thumbs and Friends stories in various stages of completeness. Cassie Cow’s Story is probably the next to publish.
What is your favorite genre to write?
I love children’s picture books, in rhyme. The “Thumbs” stories try to help parents and other adults teach children that helping each other is a good thing, and that accepting and appreciating differences among each other is, too. I hope, once I’m gone, that this will help the world become a better place in some small way. That’s my goal.
Peanut butter. Peter Pan, Creamy is the best. I think I could live on PB & J, with strawberry preserves, just fine. And a tall glass of milk, of course. Oreo cookies are a close second, but I can’t have them in the house, because I’ll eat the whole package in one sitting.
I'm a creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam fan, too. Why make live hard? Tea or coffee?
Coffee; I’m up by 4 a.m., and by 6 a.m. have had two cups. At 8 a.m., I have a third. Often, in early afternoon, I have a final, fourth; unless we go out to dinner. Then, all bets are off.
Pizza or ice cream?
Love ‘em both. We’re in northwest Kentucky, now, but I’ve lived on the East Coast, in Florida, California, and Indiana. Best pizza, ever, is Mama D’s, in a little place named Calvert City about 20 miles from us. Anyone who comes to the Kentucky Lake/Lake Barkley area (beautiful places, by the way), shouldn’t miss Mama D’s.
Ice cream? French vanilla, the more expensive the better. Which means, I don’t buy it very often or eat it too quickly.
Where would you like to visit?
Anywhere in Switzerland for as long as possible.
Favorite musical artist.
Other than classical, I love all music. I tried to learn to play bluegrass banjo, but it didn’t take. Now, I’m studying classical guitar. If I could listen to only one artist, I guess it would be Emmylou Harris. Solo, duets, trios, she can sing anything with anyone.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Not anymore. I did when I was younger, 50’s classics. I guess as I’ve gotten older, I have trouble concentrating in a noisy environment.
What makes you laugh?
Peter Sellers. The Pink Panther movies make me laugh as much the umpteenth time as the first. A clever arrangement of words makes me smile, as well. When I come across that, I shake my head, wondering how s/he thought that up.
Peter Sellers was an Ohio boy. Every now and then they have a Peter Sellers festival. Big fun. Favorite work of art or sculpture.
I never studied art; a gap in my store of knowledge that I’ve felt all of my adult life. I stare in awe at The Mona Lisa or The David, but I don’t know why they’re great, if that makes any sense. I have zero appreciation of non-representational art. Perhaps because I don’t understand it, I don’t like it.
I saw The David in Florence a few years back. He was breathtaking. But, I have a art major, so maybe I see things differently. How old were you when you started writing?
In my teens, I took one of the writing correspondence courses. Loved it. Although my teacher gave me good marks for my Final Exam, which must have been a VERY short short-story, I remember enough of it to know how basic it was.
I spent my working career in college and university administration and teaching. As a result, I wrote a number of non-fiction articles that were published in scholarly journals. My heart, however, has always been in fiction.
Describe your perfect evening.
(Sorry, nothing comes to mind.)
Don't be sorry, Steve. That means they all must be pretty good. Where do you get your inspiration?
I get up early in the morning, before my wife. Once I’ve walked and fed the dogs, I sit quietly and let my mind wander among common farm animals. I ponder, if I was one of them, what behavior would I like to perform that, because I don’t have “thumbs,” I can’t. If nothing comes to mind, I don’t worry about it, since my experience is that once I get my mind moving, something will pop up.
What do you do when you get a writer's block?
As I mentioned, I have a number of stories that I work on. My books are short rhymes, about 40 pages, one short verse to a page. In that sense, a “block” for me probably isn’t the same as a novelist; if I get frustrated, I can move on to a different story. But, if nothing’s coming at all, I’ll work on my genealogy, do some Facebook marketing, or pick up the guitar. Sometimes it takes a couple of days before I find the solution, but I’ve learned, the hard way, to not try to force it. For me, trying to force through a writing block is like buying a cheap vacuum cleaner: in short order, you’re going to buy another one! If I force it, I’m going to do it over.
Who is your favorite author?
Ayn Rand. Whether a short novel or the longest one, I’ve never read anyone else who makes every single word count! Including Atlas Shrugged.
Best book you ever read.
Atlas Shrugged. Have probably read it eight or nine times and I find something new every time. The story is a relevant today as when Rand wrote it, and the character development continues to amaze me. In fact, it’s about time to read it again!
Last book you read.
I’m terrible with titles and authors. Makes it hard to recommend a book to someone! My favorites are spy novels and fantasy, with some sic-fi thrown in if the story isn’t completely unbelievable. I’m reading Lord of War by A.K. Chandler. Very innovative. If the story doesn’t keep my attention, back to Amazon it goes!
What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
Well, I’m a retired college dean, and I have no illusions about making a living as a writer. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to be a musician. I think if I had started young enough and practiced enough, I could have been a decent musician.
Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My mother. All of us have our ups and downs, but throughout my life, Mother never lost faith in me. She always believed I’d amount to something. I’m not sure she was right, but she was the one person I could talk to about anything. Although she’s been dead for 10 years, hardly a week goes by that I don’t find myself saying something like, “Wait ‘till I tell Mom about that!”
If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Abraham Lincoln. Almost 375,000 American were killed in the Civil War. In retrospect, was there anything he could have done to either avoid the war altogether, or at least lessen the number of deaths? In other words, was war “inevitable?”
What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Be prepared to self-publish through something like Createspace, self-market through something like Facebook, and concentrate on ebooks. In my view, ebooks are simply too convenient, too cheap to produce, and too inexpensive (or free) to buy. Print books cannot compete now, and that trend will continue to accelerate. Format for ebooks first. Forget royalties; concentrate on commission.
If I Only Had Thumbs: Chickee Chicken’s Story.
If I Only Had Thumbs: Polly Pig's Story
If I Only Had Thumbs: Polly Pig's Story