The Crack in the Lens, Chapter 26: “The fickle winds swept the snow about the moor, first building a drift here then gusting it away to be rebuilt somewhere else. Some places the ground was bare and in some spots the snow was three feet deep. The going was not easy and Sherrinford pondered the sanity of his mission. Where was he to find them up here, he thought as the wind swept up a swirling column of snow that engulfed him and tore at his eyes and stung his cheeks.”
When did you first become interested in writing?
I’ve been write since elementary school. At first I mainly wrote poetry. In my teens I started writing short stories as well. In law school I started writing legal and scientific papers for professional journals. The Crack in the Lens is my first novel. I have been working it off and on since the early 1980s.
What style of writing do you use most?
I do a lot of non-fiction writing. I have had papers published in law reviews and scientific journals and filmmaking magazines. I publish seven “pocket tax guides” annually to help people fill out their tax returns. The oldest of these is the Writer’s Pocket Tax Guide. Each of those types of publications has a different style and they are all very different from writing fiction.
When I write fiction I prefer to write in the “3rd person omniscient.” It is more flexible. I like to be able to jump inside of people’s heads but I don’t like to be restricted to one person’s thoughts.
Has your style changed from when you first began as an author?
I think we will have to find out as I publish more novels.
In what way do you usually put down your ideas first?
It varies. Sometimes I write them out on paper and then copy to the computer and sometimes I type them directly into the computer.
The Crack in the Lens, Chapter 25: “He searched in vain for some landmark, but all the world was a shrieking wilderness of white. If the sun had shone, however faintly, through this blizzard Sherlock would have rejoiced. But the lighting was diffuse and seemed to be growing more faint.”
What made you choose that medium?
The Crack in the Lens was started over 25 years ago when computers were not as common. So the original notes were handwritten long hand on paper and later converted to an early word processor and converted from that to later software. I did not use a typewriter because it was easier to change and annotate when writing by hand. Today I am comfortable either with handwritten notes or directly typing into the computer.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
How do you choose your stories?
When I write non-fiction such as the legal and scientific papers it is often because a topic intrigues me and I think there are things that need to be researched any written about that no one else has written about.
My current book, The Crack in Lens, starts with Sherlock Holmes who was create by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 125 years ago. I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since my teens. In reading over the stories written by Doyle I kept wondering how Sherlock Holmes came to be the man he was. I would piece together clues from the stories and think about them. I read about the time period and the places involved and began thinking about the other people in Sherlock’s family. Mycroft is obvious but it has long been postulated that there was a 3rd brother who inherited the family estates if Holmes really came from a family of country squires. So the various characters blossomed and played out the story.
The Crack in the Lens, Chapter 7:
“Thou knowst a lot about the rocks on this moor for a sickly lad who spent half his life on the Continent,” teased Violet.
“Not half!” he protested with a laugh. “You make me sound the perfect invalid. I spent a good many summers on this moor.”
“Look at me,” he requested as he took her hand. “Do I look an invalid?”
“No, indeed,” she laughed, “as handsome and hardy a lad as ever I’ve seen.”
Then their eyes met.
“And you are beautiful,” he sighed, releasing her hand. He gently slid his hands along her cheeks and kissed her.
Who is your favourite author?
Edgar Allen Poe — He had a way of using language to express things deep inside that most of us don’t even know are there. I definitely enjoy Doyle’s writing. While I enjoy some modern authors, I don’t think many of them come close to some of the authors of the 19th and 18th centuries. Dumas, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley…. Who today has created such memorable stories?
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
Ha ha. I would think that if an author was any good that they would think their latest book was the best.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
Most of what I write takes months or years of research. It isn’t the writing itself that takes the time. The dialog writes itself as the characters speak. It is the research required to get all the details correct that takes a lot of time.
How well do you take criticism?
When you have co-authored peer-reviewed scientific papers you learn to take a lot of criticism. In the case of The Crack in the Lens, I asked a dozen Sherlockians to read and comment on the manuscript. I then made some modifications based on their feedback. I really appreciated their comments even with they were critical of some things. For example, a few thought the early chapters were to slow and thought the Yorkshire dialect was too hard to read. So I cut pieces out of the early chapters which were not necessary to the story. I “normalized” the spelling of the dialog of the Yorkshire natives. That way I could make it easier to read without taking out Yorkshire words, expressions or ways of speaking.
What do you do to overcome a ‘block’?
I don’t really understand “Writers Block.” My feeling is that if the words are not coming then you shouldn’t be trying to write. You have to obey the muse when the muse speaks but you can’t command it. Do something else.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
When I get to the end of a story it is clearly the end. It should feel inevitable from what proceeded. It should be satisfying whether happy or traumatic. But of course, when I’ve reach “the end” there is still a lot of work to do. There is more research, polishing, editing and proofing but none of that changes the story it merely makes it better, like the finishing on a well crafted piece of furniture. If during editing and proofing you keep getting the urge to change major portions of the story then maybe your story is not that well crafted and the joints are not firm.
Caverns of the Sky
In the evening, red and yellow,
Within the caverns of the sky,
Where the high winds blow and bellow,
There you run — just passing by.
As the footsteps, low and hollow,
Resound against those wispy walls
My heart whispers: “Turn and follow
Along the path of dusk’s new halls.”
Whispering winds, torn and turning
Drawn their brushes across the sky
Ending day with fire and burning
As our two hearts in passion lie.
Daylight ends; So youth and yearning;
Calling forth the stars’ new light
As we grown in love and learning
And gently comes the cool of night.
Have you had been published?
*/The Crack in the Lens <http://www.thecrackinthelens.com>/*, Novel (December 2010)
*/The Highwayman <http://www.thehighwaymanmovie.com>/*, screenplay presently filming
“Update on Constitutionality of Film & Video State Tax Incentives,” */Advertising & Marketing Review/* (March 2006)
“A Creeped Out Cast & Crew – Shadow Walking in Colorado,” */Indie Slate Magazine/* (January 2006)
“Federal Court Case Threatens State Tax Incentives,” */Advertising & Marketing Review/* (August 2005)
“Independents at NATPE 05,” */Indie Slate Magazine/* (June 2005)
*/The Scarlet Pimpernel/*, screenplay adapted from novel (2005)
“New Tax Incentives For Production,” */Advertising & Marketing Review/* (April 2005)
“The New Tax Incentives For Film & TV Investors: How Can They Help Indies?” */Indie Slate Magazine/* (March 2005)
“Seven Distribution Myths,” */Indie Slate Magazine/* (March 2004)
“Induced Seismicity and the Potential for Liability under U.S. Law,” 289 */Tectonophysics/* 239 (1998) (co-authored with Dr. Scott D. Davis)
“Colorado Law and Induced Seismicity” (1998) (unpublished)
*/Handbook of Colorado Landlord & Tenant Law/* (1997)
“Liability for Induced Earthquakes,” 9 */Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation/* 551 (1994) (co-authored with Dr. Scott D. Davis)
“International Law & Policy of Extraterrestrial Planetary Protection,” 32 */Jurimetrics/* 313 (1993)
“The Biker,” */Boulder Daily Camera/* (Oct. 1992)
“Survey of Colorado Landlord and Tenant Law,” 20 */The Colorado Lawyer/* 2023 (Oct. 1991)
Ask-A-Lawyer columns, */Boulder Daily Camera/* (1991)
“Legal Information and Options for Single Parents,” */Boulder Parent/* (Oct.-Dec. 1991)
/*Writer’s Pocket Tax Guide*/, annual, 1988 to present
“A Capital Mistake: An Apocryphal Rebuttal,” 38 /*The Baker Street Journal*/, New Series, 237 (1988)
“International Law: Implications of the Strategic Defense Initiative,” 38 */Oklahoma Law Review/* 893 (1985)
“Barker, The Hated Rival,” 35 /*The Baker Street Journal*/, New Series, 211 (1985)
Have you any publications planned for the future?
I have a trilogy sequel to The Crack in the Lens in the works. It follows Sherlock through his university educations and early career. I also plan to do a novelization of The Highwayman to be released at the same time as the movie comes out.
What are your plans for the future?
Writing, producing, world domination, that kind of thing
What advice would you give new authors?
The most important piece advice I have is not to rush to print. Set the manuscript aside for at least six months and then read it and revise it. The second most is to have a teenager proof your writing. The tend to be brutally honest. That’s what you need. Write – rewrite – rewrite.
Have you done any courses to help you?
Writing courses? No.
What do you do to market your work?
Marketing and promotion go hand in hand. Bookstores only want your books if people want them and people only want them if they know they exist. Some I keep approaching new bookstores to ask them to carry the books and I send out review copies and babble on websites to introduce people to the books.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
Are you interested in collaborating with artists?
Not at this time
Have you got hobbies?
Photography, cooking, gardening, reading
Where are you based?
Colorado between Denver and Colorado Springs.