About The Author:
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write non-fiction: primarily memoir, and topics like current events, intercultural observations and psychology. In fiction, I concentrate on speculative, epic and historical fantasy, and some contemporary works of gay fiction. These are things that are important to and interest me.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never realized I wanted to be a writer. At age eleven, I simply started writing out of need to express my emotions and thoughts. Although I’ve had other careers which would be considered primary, I have always written privately.
Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
The need to tell of situations, of events, love, life and relationships which many people shy away from.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am also a private chef, so this is something I do daily. I own a business, which is a book store, so there always something which needs updating, cataloging or procuring for clients and customers. During my down-time, I spend most of it with my son: playing video games, out in nature gardening or walking. I also enjoy travelling, learning languages, writing poetry and being active in the Native American community. I have a review/interview website which specializes in indie authors, so that takes up considerable amounts of my personal time as well.
Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?
I usually hang out in my email inbox for the most part. I response to notifications from all my sites from there. Otherwise, in order of most used:
My blog/website is called Songs of the Universal Vagabond
My review/interview site, Flying With Red Haircrow
My Twitter: Red Haircrow
My Goodreads Authors page: Red Haircrow
My GLBT Bookshelf page, The Journey of Red Haircrow
My Facebook Author Fanpage: The Redhaired Crow
What books are currently on your nightstand?
Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Life After Death: Approaches to a cultural and social history of Europe during the 1940s and 1950s edited by Richard Bessel and Dirk Schumann
The Divided Nation: A History of Germany 1918-1990 by Mary Fulbrook
An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Germany by Gad Beck
This are all areas of personal interest to me, and I have a large collection of material concerning World War 2 Europe and the Holocaust, but particularly at this time I am doing research for a work of literary fiction I’m planning, and background information for the sequel to my title at JMS Books, Night Shift…which will be titled “The Berlin Shift.”
Do you remember the first novel you read?
The People that Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was gifted to me by a family friend when I was eight years old. That’s the first one I specifically remember reading.
What would you like readers to know about you the individual?
I am very unconventional and different than any person they’ve probably ever met. I am very straight-forward, always honest and open in my thoughts and intentions. I have a very irreverent sense of humor, and rarely if ever get offended. I’ve only been angry twice in my whole life, and though in writing I may come over as very serious and methodical, if it can be tripped over, I am the one usually falling down.
Who are your favorite authors and why?
Yvegeny Yevtushenko is my favorite poet, as I find the depth and poignancy of his work exquisite. I am a fantasy and science fiction reader otherwise. C.J. Cherryh, Dan Simmons, and George R.R. Martin are just a few names of my favorite authors.
What is your favorite gay book that you didn’t write?
I rarely read fiction which is primarily labelled as gay. For books that happen to have gay or bisexual characters and/or relationships, it’s a toss-up between Maria McCann’s, “As Meat Loves Salt,” and Karin Lowachee’s science fiction book, “Cagebird.” On my to-read list is Robert Dunbar’s “Willy.”
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
Though Native American, I somehow pulled at my Welsh great-grandfather’s stock, so I actually have red hair.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I don’t believe in allowing guilt, though I realize “guilty pleasure” is a figure of speech. If it works for me and it’s on the up and up, I consider it “all good.”
Where are you from originally? Family?
I was born in Germany and have spent as much time there as in the USA. Being Chiricahua Apache, Cherokee and Welsh as far as bloodlines goes, I’ve cousins indigenously in north Mexico and Arizona, parts of the south-eastern USA and Wales.
Is there anything unique about your upbringing that you’d like to share with readers?
That my society and cultural perspective is as much German as it is Native American, so while I know mainstream America, my perspectives, responses, thoughts and ideals are quite different. I’m used to interacting and living with people from all over the world, so I can get along with virtually anyone and do so, as long as they realize there are some inherent differences. Although I speak and write English, it’s not my first language.
Your Writing Process
Why do you write?
I write because I have to. For fiction works, I have characters who need to tell their stories or ones which express things that have happened in my life. For non-fiction, I believe so many societies and people need to have a wider variety of perspectives and ideas than what might be locally around them. I try to present the alternatives.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Well, I work full-time as a private chef. I am a Psychology grad student. I have a book store I own and manage, besides which I’m a single parent with a young teen son. My schedule is beyond busy with so many things that need my attention. Between all of that, and considering the state of my health, I do still manage to write every day in some fashion whether it’s a review for my website or another I work for, or communicating with fans or friends.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Conceive, write, edit and revise to the very best of your abilities, get help if you need it and accept constructive criticism from those who have your best interests at heart and understand you and your work. That way you can be 100% confident in whatever you produce, and when/if you do receive a rejection if you submit or a review where someone didn’t like it, you still know your work and you are worthy. It just might not have suited their personal tastes or the markets to which they wish to sell.
Is there any other genre you have considered writing in?
I write in a number of genres anyway, so there’s not any beyond those I’ve specifically needed to consider.
Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?
I have an extremely hyper mind and high intensity level, so I actually calm the fifty trains of thoughts down by running a white noise machine the majority of the time.
Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?
Each week I volunteer at Native American classes for indigenous youth. They too are a high-spirited lot so when I’m there, besides teaching or drumming, I can be found cleaning up spilled paint or handing out snacks. Otherwise our cat keeps chewing up Q-tips and throwing them up, cleaning up vomit…yes.
How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?
I am what I call a mood writer. When the mood or idea for a story strikes me, general fiction or non-fiction, I try to go with it fully, sitting down and completing as much of it as soon as possible, even if that takes days. Besides that, if it is a work of literary fiction or serious non-fiction, it can take several months or more, as I feel depth of research is imperative. I only submit a work when it meets my personal standards for excellence, and nothing more can be done to improve it conceptually. Submitting is not my aim, completing what I feel to be a worthy read, is.
What would you like readers to know about you the writer?
In both fiction and non-fiction works, all my writing contains events or actual relationship details from my own life. All main characters are aspects of myself or someone I’ve known and loved, in some way. My fiction may be fiction, but it is not “made up” characters or situations. I put my whole heart and soul into what I write.
What is the best and worst writing advice you have ever received?
“Write it the way you wish to read it”, was the best advice.
The worse writing advice was more of a comment from a well-known m/m author I used to be friends with around ten years ago. She asked to see an example of my work, and I allowed her a copy of my then unpublished “A Lieutenant’s Love.” She laughed and said no publisher would ever accept it because that’s not what readers wish in m/m. It was gay fiction, and not m/m in the first place, but that affected me. As I was working in another career at the time, I put it away for years and then on a spur of the moment thought in 2009 I submitted it. It was immediately accepted with only a few corrections to grammar, and it’s been positively reviewed and accepted.
Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?
No. Although some writers seem to feel that is a necessary requirement of really being a writer, for myself, I find it to be counterproductive and useless. Some days I am more prolific and I will update my manuscript to indicate word count, but that just happens to be one of those special days. There are times when nothing’s working, and I don’t force myself to continue. It might be days even before I return to a manuscript, but I refuse to turn out what I consider to be subpar work which I will have to go back and heavily edit and revise. I think the pressure of following work count or making oneself write a certain number of hours a days is giving oneself extra stress. But in any case, as I have my review/interview site and other projects besides my own work, I always write something each day.
What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?
Independently publishing titles which has been received warmly with readers. It gave me new confidence and the knowledge that I can decide my own fate, as it were, and not only be bound to traditional publishing houses.
Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?
Confident, because I know I’ve done my best.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written eight fiction books or stories. Six are currently on the market, two are in the submission process. I’ve three others which are complete or close to it, but I am deciding whether to submit or produce them independently.
When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?
No, I’ve never felt nervous. People will like or dislike them to some degree, it’s entirety dependent on their perspective and objectivity. I appreciate when a reader enjoys my work, but it doesn’t bother me when others do not.
What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?
I have three sequels in the works to stories/books I currently have on the market: Night Shift, Katrdeshtr’s Redemption, The Night Cat, Book One, and The Coat. I also have two other books which are nearing completion: “The Agony of Joy”, excerpts can be found on my GLBT Bookshelf page. There’s also “Twin Masquerade”, a Regency romance.
Otherwise, I have several works in progress including an fantasy anthology of an intergendered species, a literary horror novel and a short story collection. Descriptions and excerpts can be found off the links above. I don’t want to forget my memoir either, “The Boys Who Died”, the first four chapters can exclusively be found at Goodreads.com. It’s stark, brutal and whimsical as befits my life.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
For the books currently on the market, there was little research I needed to do as I already had the knowledge of the things incorporated into the stories. Also, as I’d mentioned before, all of them are based on actual relationships, occurrences or an event in my own life.
For the research process for future books, I can become a little distracted when I started collecting reading materials or go out and do some legwork. For a novel set in post-World War 2 Germany, I’ve completely outlined and have a detailed synopsis, but I am researching information to create as closely as possible the settings, conditions, mentality and social attitudes of the people. As this takes me through my own memories and interviews I’ve conducted with survivors of the war or first generation descendants, it’s enjoyable but I really have to watch myself so that I stay on-target.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I usually just start writing, and then at some necessary point, I do write an outline for what I’ve written.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
My first published work in my main genre was “A Lieutenant’s Love”; which was published 9 June 2010. I’d had poetry and short stories published in the distant past however.
If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover? What is your favorite cover of all your paperbacks?
It’s a surprise to see my name sometimes, but there is no other particular emotion I feel.
What is your favorite published story? What is your most popular published story?
I couldn’t pick a favorite, as I write in different genres. Each is special to me. Right now, Katrdeshtr’s Redemption has really taken off, and I’ve received a quick turn-around of positive reviews both from readers and review websites.
What is your least popular published story? Why do you think readers don’t like or “get” the story?
I don’t have a least favorite personally. I wouldn’t submit or produce work which I felt was not my best work. But as far as reader reaction goes, “Night Shift” has received by majority positive feedback, but also had those who didn’t like it. I’ve found that readers who mislabel it m/m fiction have been the ones who didn’t.
From their comments, they’ve expressed the relationship was too emotionally strong for them. It is gay fiction, and very much based on a relationship I had, and characterizations from people I’ve known, so those who are not gay or haven’t experienced love of that strength, it might certainly seem unbelievable or too dramatic.
I think contemporary romance or fiction can be a much more problematic genre than something like fantasy, for example. With fantasy, readers usually go into the story knowing there are going to be aspects very different than their own lives reflect. With contemporary, it seems to me some readers go into a story trying to fit it into what they know or have experienced in life, not fully taking into consideration that the story is someone else’s life and views, even if it is set in contemporary times.
Is there something special you do to celebrate when one of your books is released?
Besides update my websites regarding it, no, there is nothing special I do.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
All my characters are based on aspects of myself or people I’ve known.
Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?
No, in most cases, the names of my characters occur to me in the same way the story does. They are created all together, of a piece. In the situations where I have to adjust a character’s name, it is usually to better fit their personality. If it is a name I do create, I make a point to also “speak” it. I am concerned also with how it will sound, not just how it will look in a manuscript.
Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?
Since most of my characters are based on people I’ve known, if they do “come up”, as it were, they do so as memories. For example, Derrik Lehmann from “Night Shift”, my title at JMS Books, was based on an actual person I came in contact with through a very random meeting on a train but we still became friends. I wrote about it in a blog entry “Herr Zug.”
Which of your stories would make a great movie? Who’d play the lead roles?
From those already on the market, “A Lieutenant’s Love” would have my vote, and it’s currently being converted to a screenplay. It’s short enough, yet with vivid details such as battle scenes and characterizations which I believe would be appealing.
Do you make a conscious decision to write a certain type of character with a certain occupation, or do the characters decide for themselves what they want to be?
I don’t “make up” stories in what one might think of as the traditional fiction formula. I know from creation what’s going to happen and what they’re going to be and/or become, so I am really just recording my characters and their lives.
What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
That’s kind of a hard question to answer for me, but building upon the above question and my reply, the chemistry is natural. I don’t have to create anything for them. The dynamics are their own.
Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?
I’ve been told from readers who actually know me more personally, they can often guess which character in one of my books is “me.” And I have to admit, in each of my books, save one, there is a “Red Haircrow.” If I had to absolutely choose which one is more me or resonates with my vibe, it would be Derrik Lehmann from Night Shift, at JMS Books. That’s the one most people who know me also choose.
Random Fun Questions
You have just been given the chance to be invisible for two hours; where would you go and what would you do?
Aha, that really is a fun question, but I have a boring answer: Anywhere I want to go or anything I want to do, I’d do it while I was visible anyway! Having people see or be aware of me never stopped me from doing anything I wished.
What is your favorite restaurant you can’t do without?
I don’t often go to restaurants. I suppose that’s part of being a private chef, about anything they produce “out”, I can also do at home, more to my personal tastes and more economically.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
That would probably be Finland. I’ve not explored there as much as I’ve wished to, so it’s a place I’ll be returning to for more adventure.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
I’ve had both but if I had to choose I’d prefer cats, they are not so needy, though I have one very loud black cat. My first preference for a pet of some sort would be reptiles. Since our last lizards succumbed to old age, we’ve not had any.
Name one website you visit every single day.
http://www.redhaircrow.com “Songs of the Universal Vagabond”
Where do you get your daily dose of news?
Usually from The Guardian.UK or Spiegel Online, a German newspaper.
What’s your favorite television show?
I don’t watch television.
What’s the last movie you saw in theatres?
That I chose, would probably be Alien Resurrection. Yes, I don’t go to the film theatre much either though I have a large collection of DVDs.
What’s the last album you bought?
“Devils and Dust” by Bruce Springsteen
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, for dinner, who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?
My best friends, a English and German couple. I love them both dearly and have missed seeing them since I’ve been away from Germany. They had a new baby last June whom I haven’t seen yet except in photos. We’d talk about any and everything as we always do.
What is your favorite word/phrase for the male or female genitalia? What is your least favorite word/phrase?
Anything which is proper, and anything which is slang.
What is your favorite curse word?
I rarely use them, but “fuck” or “goddammit.” The one I do say most is “scheiße.”
Where is the weirdest place you have a mole?
As a redhead, I have lots of moles and freckles, generally and improbably, considering my skin is tan.
Have you ever made out in a movie theater?
No, but I’ve seen people do so, however.
What’s the strangest talent you have?
It’s not common, but I’m ambidextrous.
Innie or outie?
Have you ever been tied up? Do you want to be?
No and no. If it were a suggestion, I would reconsider whether I wished to be around the person again.
Is there one thing all of your love interests have had in common?
My first direct answer would be: that I’ve found them all interesting in some way. Besides that, if you stood them all next to each other, because they are such a wide range of people, backgrounds, nationalities and gender ranges, the common factor would only be that they are human.
Name something you do when you’re alone that you wouldn’t do in front of others.
There is nothing I do alone that I wouldn’t do in front of others if it were a necessity.
How many drinks does it take before you get drunk?
I have a high tolerance for most alcohol, so if someone were trying to get me drunk for sex or something, they’d have a seriously expensive tab. But, considering something like Tequila, against which my Native genes almost react as if to an allergy, one shot and I’m inebriated and quite ill.
Have you ever called your love interest by an ex’s name?
The edited interview can be found at Bibrary Bookslut.