LET’S TALK WRITING #9 with author, GLENN STARKEY
Today, November 25, 2016, one day after Thanksgiving, I give thanks that my work as a book reviewer has introduced me to the amazing author, Glenn Starkey. I read Glenn’s book, BLACK SUN, some months ago and cried at the ending. That usually only happens to me when I watch movies! My reaction made me super curious to learn more about Glenn Starkey, and a visit to his website was eye-opening. He is a prolific writer with an impressive personal career beyond his artistic career as an author. If you missed my book review podcast of his book, Black Sun, you can still listen to it and read my review HERE on VIANVI. I’m currently reading Mr. Charon nd Glenn has kindly gifted me all his books. Am I a happy camper…er…reader! My sincerest thanks to Glenn for taking the time to share his views on writing with us below. Enjoy reading what he has to say and PLEASE leave Glenn your thoughts below the post here on Vianvi. That is what “let’s talk writing” is for. So let’s talk!
1) Why do you write?
To some degree it’s a compulsion. I grow quite antsy when a story is floating through my head, especially when the idea is strong. But more so, I believe it’s the urge to create a world that I can fully transport a reader into, away from their everyday life and temporarily make them feel as if they are living the story.
Writing is certainly not a hobby. The demands upon a writer to learn the craft, to create a worthy story, to weave a thousand things together to become a single tapestry of literature, are tremendous. And atop it all, authors place themselves under varying levels of stress from the first word until the last. Yet, something compels a true author to continue their work to the end.
Writers are artists. I paint the canvas of the reader’s mind.
2) What do you write?
While some authors prefer remaining within one genre or writing books in a series, I decided that the real test of an author is to be able to write anything—any genre. This can be a double-edged sword because readers may want only certain books from you, such as a sci-fi, and you may lose them when you write a historical fiction. But, you may gain a historical fiction reader. The beauty comes when readers enjoy any books you write, even though they may prefer a specific genre.
I have challenged myself to write a variety of novels: a paranormal young adult, historical fictions, mystery-thrillers, and action adventure. To date none are a series and each is different from the other.
Another interesting point is that I write the types of stories I would want to read. I never set out on the journey of writing to appease specific readers because you learn quickly in this business that you cannot please everyone.
3) What is your writing process i.e. how do you go about it?
Most people believe published authors have some mystical process they follow which inspires them to churn out volumes of written works. I’ve asked this very question of well-published author friends and they laugh because they know there is no singular process. It’s all a matter of the habits and routines we individually develop over time. The process solely depends on you, your work and living environment, and what you feel most comfortable with doing that permits you the greatest freedom of thought.
I use the mornings to research, develop notes, and deal with the business side of writing. Afternoons are for the real world – house repairs, chores, errands, a hard hour at the gym to clear my head… But come evening I am ramping up to go to my office and write. I’m nocturnal and prefer the solitude. A brief read of what I previously wrote helps me jump back into the story, then with notes scattered across my desk I begin for the night. No magic; just self-discipline. And whatever you do, DO NOT have a candy bowl near your computer. Self-discipline goes out the window.
4) Have you ever written something you didn’t want to write but others encouraged you to write?
A publisher wanted me to write a Young Adult book. I balked because my novels are oriented toward adult readers. I had a hundred reasons as to why I wasn’t a Young Adult writer. After several discussions and me walking around in circles wondering what to write, I accepted the personal challenge and wrote “Mr. Charon.” Upon completing the project I discovered I felt quite good about having written the work. If the proper idea surfaces again, I may write another Young Adult novel.
5) How do you feel when you are writing?
Writing is an emotional roller coaster. Depending upon the scene or type of book you are writing, it may weigh heavily upon your mind for days, make you feel despondent, or the reverse—feel extremely good. The subject matter can turn you inward to examine your soul, drag up old, painful memories, and leave you mentally and physically exhausted. Each book I write is important to me because I want to evoke as much emotion from the reader as the writing conjured from me. Being a USMC Vietnam veteran, there are times when I release more feelings into a part of the book than I realize—but that can also have a cleansing effect too.
A well-published friend once told me that a good writer is filled with inner demons that must be released from our soul onto paper. He was right.
My first rule is not to argue about a negative review unless the reviewer is making personal attacks. So far I’ve been lucky in that respect. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to your books; hopefully, the opinions will be good. But if you have five well-written reviews and they all state that there are problems, then there must be a problem in your book somewhere.
I have seen authors on social media pages write fire-breathing replies to reviewers because they didn’t receive a five star rating as they believed should happen. Authors that jump on social media and start arguing about an honest negative review they received only make me think of them as beginners. It waves a big flag about the author.
Authors should learn from the reviews they receive. I’m always curious about what parts of a novel that readers found the most interesting; who were the most favored or despised characters—and why. Critiques can serve good purposes. But if a writer doesn’t have thick skin concerning reviews, then they may be in the wrong business.
7) What discourages you most when it comes to writing and how do you overcome it and continue?
Writing is a tough business. Not only do you have to write a good book, but you also get wrapped up in the marketing side, reviews, contracts, and promotional aspects. When I start becoming fatigued from pushing myself too long without proper sleep, it becomes easy to feel dissatisfied with what I’m writing, wonder if the story will make sense to anyone other than me, etc., etc. When I get that sense of despondency, I walk away from my computer for a couple of days, do other things, clear my head, and within two days I find myself wanting to return to the story or project.
Writers’ block—I do the same thing…walk away, do other things and do some gym time to clear my head. An author spends hours on end at their computer so you MUST have some form of physical exercise. If you brag about sitting at your computer all day and perform no exercise, then you are penalizing yourself, your creativity, and are destined for medical maladies.
8) Have you published anything you’ve written? If so, what and where can we preview your book? Provide a link to where you sell the book or to your author’s website or blog.
I presently have six published works, of which, several have won awards and were fortunate to receive excellent reviews. They are available at every major online bookseller (Apple iTunes/iBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and more) in either soft-cover print, eBooks, or both. For the true aficionado of books, most of my works are available in hardcover as well.
At the present time my publisher and Amazon are at war with each other so all eBooks from my publisher were delisted—but, thankfully, the print books are all present.
Most booksellers offer the opportunity to read a chapter of my books, but you may also go to my website www.GlennStarkey.net where I have blog articles and placed reading samples of each novel. At present I’m having difficulty with the “Contact Me” page of my website so if you have questions or comments, feel free to write to me at JGStarkey@aol.com.
My current project is a non-fiction work for a local historical society. They were given a Civil War diary written by a Union cavalryman who moved to our community after the war. The diary is in a ragged state because the soldier carried it with him in his saddlebag for two years. This has been an interesting project because each page had to be photographed, magnified, examined and then transcribed, plus the additional research to include with the book has been intensive. I would never have thought about taking on such a project until the day came and I was challenged to see what I could turn out for them. Again, the writer’s challenge came into play.
Barnes and Noble
9) What is your preferred writing genre and why?
I favor historical fiction with a lot of action-adventure. Truly for me, my preferred genre is whatever story is within me at the moment trying to break free onto paper. I may include a love angle in my novels, but I have no desire to attempt a romance novel. There are sufficient romance writers in the world for now without me entering the field.
10) Have you tackled more than one genre or style in your writing career? If so, which ones?
As stated in a previous question, yes, I have tackled numerous genres. I’ve also written in first-person and third-person styles.
Glenn Starkey is an award-winning author of six published novels. He is a former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant and Vietnam veteran; worked for U.S. State Department Security; law enforcement in Texas, and retired from a global oil corporation as security manager overseeing a major refinery, chemical plant and their marine shipping facilities in Texas City, Texas. He’s been a consultant, lecturer, and interim security director of a major Gulf Coast port. For the last seven years Glenn has volunteered at his local school district to mentor elementary children with their reading skills. He lives with his family and a 98 lb. Labradoodle in Alvin, Texas, where he is also a Councilman for the city. When not writing, he enjoys long discussions with his grandson, Caleb, about ideas for future novels. Feel free to contact Glenn through JGStarkey@aol.com or www.GlennStarkey.net. His novels are available from all major booksellers.
Novels By GLENN STARKEY
YEAR OF THE RAM
THE COBRA AND SCARAB: A NOVEL OF ANCIENT EGYPT