This Wednesday, I interview author Gerald Simpkins. Welcome to my blog Gerry!
Please tell us more about yourself, anything you like- interests, background…
I am formerly a fiber optic telecommunications tech and have now turned author for fun. I love to write, but I also like and practice a variety of practical skills such as auto and other mechanical maintenance, carpentry, masonry, house wiring, landscaping, welding, design and construction, gardening, poultry raising, and general all-round maintenance on our home and property. I love travel and photography, but don’t get to do much of either.
Please tell us more about the book or books you would like to feature today.
I wrote three books in the ‘Forever Young’ series. This is a series that is best described as paranormal, action, vampire romance, with some appeal to YA readers, especially in my 3rd novel.
What gave you the idea to write in this genre?
It was quite humorous really. I had seen what I thought was a bad vampire movie and I thought it to be quite depressing and with nowhere the incredible possibilities that such a subject should have. I had been thinking about writing a western action adventure novel set in the time after the civil war, and also about a vampire novel set in the late 1700’s. I visualized the characters and their adventures more as a screenplay than as a literary work. Seeing that depressing vamp movie moved me to where I eventually decided to write a story featuring vampires. I mean, look at the possibilities for action and adventure in such a subject, and also the great contrasts between these creatures and humans. These characters can do things that humans cannot do, and yet they have their limitations too. This makes for fertile ground for growing ideas and possibilities.
Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect with?
I suppose it is that bad or unlikely beginnings can have a good outcome, and that those good results may take time to become apparent. I also stress that there may be a really rocky, heartbreaking and dangerous road to travel to get to where the good parts are manifested.
What research did you do, and how? Or does it all come from your own imagination?
It is all from my imagination regarding the story and characters. However I always research the geography, history, and demographics of an area before I write about it. In my first novel I had to research the various monarchs of Europe, the politics of the period, proper names for the various nationalities encountered there and some history of events during this period. I also boned up on the weapons and sailing vessels of that era. I try to stay reasonably accurate about things like that.
What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve done when doing research for your book?
I was up half of the night doing research on several occasions. Just got really interested and couldn’t stop, plus the research often gave me additional ideas.
Do you ever base your characters on people you know?
No. I generally make them up as the story unfolds in my mind. I will have the main character and ideas for a couple of others ahead of time, and the rest I make up as needed to carry the story line where I want it to go.
Do you make a plan for your novels, or do you just start writing and see where it goes?
I will have no more than one or maybe two pages of notes before beginning, plus a general theme and locale already picked out. I add to those as I write, and I may finish the novel with twenty pages of notes which I keep in a spiral notebook alongside of my keyboard.
If I get stalled out regarding the story line, I will make a stick diagram and make branches that extend from where I am stalled. I will put down every single idea that occurs to me on one branch of possibly five leading from that point, no matter how silly or unlikely they are. The reason for that is that even bad ideas can generate another idea that will work well somewhere else in the story. Sometimes I reverse myself and add in a character or event at a time which I already had written about and sometimes that idea or character comes from when I was stalled out and searching for the path to take my story.
Note from Lily- Is a stick diagram the same as a mind map or a spider diagram? I LOVE using those!
Which of your own books/ characters is your favourite and why?
My favorite character is Ian McCloud, a young Scottish seaman thrust into an absolutely incredible situation simply as a result of a storm at sea and by intervening on behalf of an abused child. Ian is resilient and has a good heart, however he has a really bad temper once provoked beyond a certain point, and sometimes he is impulsive which makes for amazing adventures and situations.
I suppose my 2nd novel ‘Forever Young Birth Of A Nation’ is my favorite. I love stories of the era when America fought for independence from Great Britain. I had to do more research on this novel than on the other two, being as I wanted to tie in the historic events and characters to the plot and maintain historical accuracy as much as possible. In fact, I learned things about our struggle for independence that I was unaware of and I did put them in that novel.
What has been the most helpful piece of advice you’ve received as a writer?
I had some technical mentoring regarding use of Word 2010 and self-publishing from a good friend, but I have not had a bit of mentoring regarding writing and storytelling. While writing and doing self-publishing and promotional work, I learned to be patient, persistent, and consistent, but open to constructive criticism.
What books or other projects do you have coming up in future?
I want to write the next novel about Ian McCloud as an adventure set in France during the time of the reign of terror, when the French people overthrew their monarchy and went on a murderous rampage. I also want to write a May-September action romance story. And I still want to write that western adventure that leads a teen-aged boy to being shipwrecked in Okinawa, Japan in the 1800’s. My wife wants me to write a time-travel romance.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
Oh my yes! I am humbled beyond my ability to express it that you would put your hard-earned money up to buy even one of my books. Honing my skills and techniques to be a better writer is my primary goal, not selling books. With no small amount of good fortune and with improvement on my part, sales will come later.
I very much want to hear from my readers and to know how I entertained them and also how I failed them. I am a work in progress, but I am very approachable and open to suggestions too. Honest reviews and opinions by readers are far more valuable to me than anything a professional reviewer would tell me. The reason is that professional readers read for a paycheck while ordinary readers read for love of the genre and their passion for it.
Write me at email@example.com and tell me what you think about anything in my books, whether it is good or bad. I am very open to change as needed.