By Amber Bell
How do you answer the question, “Oh, you’re an author? What do you write?”
I write Literary Fiction, Satirical Fiction, and an occasional Mystery.
How would you describe your writing to someone not familiar with your work?
It’s a blend of the tragic, tragi-comic, and the mysteries are sort of hardboiled. I try to portray my characters as flawed people struggling to grapple with the capriciousness of life.
Have you encountered people giving you feedback on The Secrets Of All Secrets who do not understand satire and what did you do in those situations?
Actually, no. Almost all people who have commented on it, either in person, or in a review, have remarked on how funny they thought it was. There was one reviewer who didn’t like the book, but from the review, I could tell the reviewer didn’t really even read the book. If someone is ironically challenged, there’s no real remedy.
How would you describe the humor you use in your writing?
Ironic, playful, sometimes witty, sometimes Marx Brothers.
Which of your characters would you like to have as a best friend and why?
I would say there are two characters from my books I’d like as best friends: Zane, from The Secrets of All Secrets, and LaVeda from How We End Up. Zane because he’s funny and ironic and LaVeda because she’s so intuitive.
If you had to switch places with one of your characters for a week who would you
choose and why?
Hadley, from How We End Up. Dare I say it could be interesting to be a sassy woman who abuses drugs and alcohol?
Which character has been the most difficult to write and why?
That would be Jackson Levee, from How We End Up. I had to make sure he was a different person than I am, although we share some characteristics. He is also both a sympathetic character and an arrogant one, so I worked hard to find the correct balance between the two.
Would you say your writing style is more character driven or plot driven?
Definitely character driven but with vivid story lines.
Which of your books did you have to do the most research for? What does your
research process look like?
Definitely The Secrets of All Secrets. There are many references to philosophy, science, arcana, and books like Von Clausewitz’s On War, a book on the code of the Samurai, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Blaise Pascal’s Pensées. Some of the material I was already familiar with, but I researched other material when the need for it in the book appeared. I use both written texts and online information.
Do you have any set rules for yourself about how or when to write?
I tackle the bulk of my writing during summers when I’m not teaching. Otherwise, I pick at the work when I have time. In the summer, I try to adhere to a schedule: Mornings from 8:00-12:00; afternoons from 3:00 to 5:00 or so.
What helps spark your imagination when writer’s block hits or you’re just looking for a new idea?
I pace or I take a walk on a trail in a park. My imagination gets fired up when I walk.
What have you learned about yourself from your writing?
That I have much more self-discipline than I ever thought I had.
What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Expect and accept rejection. Be true to yourself and create an authentic story with complex, believable characters. If you land a publishing contract, be prepared for the stretches of time between the contract and the editing process and between the editing process and publication. Once you’re published, don’t anticipate making millions from your work.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and how different is the reality from what you had expected?
I don’t think I decided to be a writer. I had to be a writer. The only decision involved was forcing myself to sit down and do it instead of just fantasizing about it. Before I sat down, I had no idea about how much work writing requires.
With self publishing being an option, what made you choose to publish with
The exorbitant amount of money they promised me. Kidding. I wanted to be published by a traditional press that vetted my work before offering me a contract, and I wanted a professional editor to edit it. TouchPoint also impressed me when I sent them a query, and within an hour they responded by requesting the manuscript. The editor they assigned me, Kimberly Coghlan, is first rate. She appreciates my work and has offered many helpful suggestions. And TouchPoint Press is a friendly, welcoming place.
What are you currently working on?
I have an idea for a novel that is just in the development stage. It’s a seed that will bloom into a flower–soon, I hope. I envision it as a cross between the gravity of How We End Up and the satire of The Secrets of All Secrets.
When can we expect your next release?
The Mourning Islands. It’s a mystery. It’s to be released sometime in 2019, according to TouchPoint Press.
What amazes you the most about your life?
That I finally got published and that TouchPoint Press published my second novel and that they have accepted my third novel. It’s doubly amazing that my novels have received several awards. The Secrets of All Secrets was awarded Finalist in the 2017 Independent Author Network Awards. How We End Up was awarded Finalist for Literary Fiction in the 2018 International Book Awards and Finalist in Literary Fiction in the 2018 American Fiction Awards. It’s currently a Finalist in the running for the Top Shelf Magazine awards, with the winners to be announced this month. If this keeps up, I’ll probably change my name to Finalist Wells.
Tell me a random fact about yourself.
I once worked in a Psychiatric Hospital for adolescents, and there were instances when I was required to physically restrain a patient who was acting out. Please note that I said I worked there. I was not a patient there.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I encourage people to read my work and be on the lookout for my future books.
Books by Douglas Wells