Welcome to Writers4Higher
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Hi, Doug. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
I was always in love with fantasy and science fiction. I started reading Robert E Howard when I was eight, and Heinlein soon after. Asimov, Moorcock, Van Vogt, the golden age of science fiction. I read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and War of the Worlds at an early age as well, and devoured Frankenstein and Dracula at nine. You could say I had a love affair with the fantastic in all its forms at an early age. I used to stay up late at night, well past my bedtime, to watch Shock Theater on TV Friday nights, and would try to watch every science fiction and horror movie that came on. This was followed by Lost in Space, and then the classic Star Trek. And many of the movies and shows were really bad at that time, with hokey special effects and second rate actors. There wasn’t a lot of fantasy back then, at least not that I can remember. The real treasure in science fiction was the literature, as written by the old masters and the talented newcomers. Now when the rare occurred and one was translated to the screen, big or small, they were almost always horrible. Comics were another big part of my life, and of course the movies and TV shows made of them were even worse than the scifi. Today that has changed. The big name actors line up for the big budget, special effects laden extravaganzas that are modern fantasy, scifi and superhero movies. And sometimes the scripts are actually good as well, though more often than not they are not as good as the books they are based on.
I was also the little scientist growing up, reading books on astronomy, playing with my chemistry set, watching the moon launches. I really wanted to be some kind of scientist when I grew up, but two things interfered. I really didn’t know what kind of science I wanted to study, and I never really grew up. I was just as interested in magic. I didn’t believe that magic actually existed, but I liked the idea of it.
I spent my years in the Army, then a succession of majors at FSU, followed by Graduate School in Clinical Psychology at Alabama. School didn’t work out, and that’s a story in and of itself. So while looking for a job after losing one I wrote an anger fueled non-fiction book about graduate school and the field of psychology. One hundred thousand words in two weeks. That never went anywhere, but it allowed me to write other books, once having proved that I could accomplish that task. Wrote two more books that first year, both awful, and then wrote the first one that actually was worth anything. I fell for an agent scam that cost me three hundred dollars, probably cheap for the lesson learned, and avoided agents for many years, only submitting to the few publishing houses that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. After fifteen years of trying and failing to get published, mostly with rejection letters that acknowledged my talent but stated a belief that there was not a market for the kind of story I wanted to all, I tried self publishing, which has turned out to be a success story.
What really inspires me to write what I do is the poorly thought out work I see on TV and in the movies. There are still a lot of great books out there, but I will go to see a movie, like Independence Day for example, that has so many plot holes I feel like I am going to fall through the floor on the way out of the theater. I am inspired to turn out well thought out stories, using as much of the real world as I can put in them. Real physics, real biology, real human interactions, at least as far as I can understand them. I think most times I succeed. Not always, but more often than not.
My books? I could write a book on my books. I have sixteen on Amazon, and am always working on one or two more. I have two series of hard, far future science fiction, one doing extremely well, the other good enough. I also have a series that is a mix of High Fantasy and Military Technothriller that is doing well enough, though I was warned in the past to not cross genres like that. But I have never been one to listen to advice I didn’t want to hear. A true High Fantasy, several stand alone Military Scifi, and the one Vampire book finish the list. Some people have told me The Hunger, the vampire book, is quite good, but it just isn’t selling. I may just have to let that one rest and concentrate on scifi.
Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
Further than it has so far. I am doing well so far, developing a base of loyal fans who are asking when my next book is coming out. In my best selling series, Exodus, I have sold 25,000 ebooks of the first three, 12,000 of book 1 alone. I want to build on that momentum. I have been asked what I would do if I were offered a conventional publishing contract, and I honestly have to say I just don’t know. In some respects that would be the dream come true, as I would have an editor and a cover designer, though from what I hear I would still have to do most of my own promotion. But there would be the cost of not being able to produce as much as I want, some limitations put on me by the publisher. But right now I’m just enjoying the ride. It as such a relief to leave my state job and become my own boss. Those people are crazy in State Government, and they were making me crazy too. Now I can do what I love, travel when I want, even looking forward to buying a house in the near future. I am going to Dragoncon in Atlanta at the end of October, and will be taking a master level writing class focusing on science fiction, with some well know authors as guest lecturers. I would like to go to Europe and call it research or a future series. I’ve got my first taste of living the dream, and I want more of it. I think if I work hard and continue to keep doing what I have, I will continue to attract fans and sell books. That means listening to those fans, maybe not doing everything they want, but paying attention. Constantly learning and growing. And I might just petition the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s of America to join without being signed with a major publisher
How do you use your talents/time to help others?
I am really a big animal lover. I have four cats at home, and would have dogs if I owned my own place. I use some of my earnings to support animal charities, big cat rescue, the Humane Society, various organizations that support the preservation of nature. People where I used to work would ask me why I didn’t support human charities, and I would answer that my heart is with the animals who can’t defend themselves. On the writing front I am always willing to lend a hand. I contact people online all the time who ask me how I am getting sales, and I tell them what I did. I’m not sure all of what I did got me where I am, but it’s the only way I know how to help them. I belong to many writers groups online, at Facebook, and use that medium to help. I have tried to help some people who really didn’t want the advice, other than a one sentence secret on how to get ahead. Unfortunately there is no such secret. I had to work a lot of years to get something out there that people wanted to read. I had to take risks in putting it out where people could criticize it. And everyone else has to do the same. If they want to listen I will give them my advice, for what it’s worth. If not, then I will wait till someone comes along who wants to learn. I had to learn a lot of hard lessons, I would like to make it easier for the next person to come along.
Would you like to find Doug?
Check out the links to this talented author:
Exodus 3: Exodus 3 on Amazon
We Are Death, Come For You: We Are Death, Come For You on Amazon
Fiction with a Southern Twist