What do you think are the elements of a good story?
My favorite genre is historic fiction. To do it well, the author must pay close attention to setting. The reader should be made to understand the culture, the time, and place. I like lots of what are called info-dumps, though I understand many readers find them to be tedious and to also distract from the plot. Perhaps info-dumps work best in science fiction. Kim Stanley Robinson uses them frequently. A well-written author’s note at novel’s end helps as well, especially when the author tells what is true and what has been invented. A bibliography is useful for those readers wanting to learn more about the historic aspects of the novel.
You’re invited to a dinner party. Are you:
- Off in a corner talking to one or two people
- At home reading or writing your latest work
If I’m there at all, I’m talking to a small group, or I’m at home reading a good book.
What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?
I suspect that most aspiring writers think it’s easy and that they are going to be the next mega-bestselling answer to Stephen King, James Patterson, or Nora Roberts. The odds of that are very unlikely. Writing is a job! Treat it like one. Master your craft. Read, read, think, and write.
Are there any authors whose work you disliked at first and then grew to like?
As to authors I might not have liked at first, that’s hard. My relatives liked those books written by Jean Plaidy. These seemed to me like books for refined, even stuffy, English ladies, but when I tried a Jean Plaidy book about Anne Boleyn, I rather liked it. Plaidy was known for inventing the subgenre of Royals Romance. We owe her a debt for solidly launching this sub-genre. Jean Plaidy was actually a pseudonym of Eleanor Hibbert, who also wrote books under these names: Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Ellalice Tate, and Anna Percival. She wrote over 200 books in 50 years and according to Wikipedia, had this to say about writing:
“I love my work so much that nothing would stop me writing. I never think of the money I’m making. When I finish one book I start on the next. If I take even a week’s break I just feel miserable. It’s like a drug. … If anybody says to me, ‘You look tired,’ it’s because I haven’t been able to get at my typewriter. Writing excites me. I live all my characters and never have any trouble thinking of plots or how people would have said something, because I’m them when I’m writing.” I wish she could have loaned out this imagination. I’d have been happy to rent it for a year or so. Present-day writers such as Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Tracy Borman, and Anne Easter Smith are among her heirs.
What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?
I’m still new to this and have not found an effective marketing technique. I’m still looking. It’s hard to say what works. Some experts insist you have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, and a website. I am told that agents won’t look at you now unless you have a platform and a loyal brand following. AuthorBuzz can put you in front of lots of book club readers. But I have not tried it; it’s expensive. A virtual book blog tour might help the writer of romance novels. I did not find it helped my nonfiction efforts.
How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?
It’s hard for me to say. I know it has worked well for several writers. EL James got her start writing fan fiction on an erotica website. Richard Paul Evans self-published his first novel to much success. I would use it, were I successful, to update my readers on what I was working on or just letting them know a bit about what I was doing. But I find it a bit overwhelming.
Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?
As of today, I have only written one book, a journal. I suspect my strength is in nonfiction. I’d have loved to write the kinds of historic fiction I enjoy reading. I would have loved to write a long, sweeping novel about a particular French empress who, in my humble opinion, is vastly underrepresented in this genre, but I just flounder when I try.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I read many books and broke my previous record by reading 366 books in 2018. I just finished a fantasy book, Starless, by Jacqueline Carey and a young adult novel, Blended, by Sharon M. Draper. I plan to read The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding, by Jennifer Robson, which tells the story of the wedding dress of Queen Elizabeth II. I am to review it for Library Journal, which recently chose me as its Audiobook Reviewer of the Year for 2018. I have enjoyed my 12 years reviewing some 90 books for them.
If you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him/her?
I would interview these two authors: Gary Jennings and James Clavell.
I’d ask them these questions:
What made you want to become a writer of historic fiction?
Was there a book you wanted to write but were unable to?
Do either of you speak a foreign language? Your novels are set in the most exotic places, and knowing the language connected thereto would be a help in penetrating the culture.
And if they were up to it:
4) What character do you think would make a fabulous historic novel? And what setting would be the most exotic and interesting to you?
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy reading, dining out, and simply getting out to walk. I think of myself as a reader who has writing ability, not a writer who must read to keep abreast of what’s out there in book land.
Find David’s Book:
My 2017 book was Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile. It can be found at http://www.dldbooks.com/davidfaucheux/ The cover is there on the site. An abridged version of Across Two Novembers should be out by March. I do not yet have the cover photo for that version.
Connect with David:
I can be emailed at email@example.com
I may very well be a member of the last generation of blind people who mainly attended a residential school. Some of us were, however, actually mainstreamed during high school for part of the academic day. That probably sounds strange: going to a residential school and being taken to a nearby public high school for several subjects each day. It was unusual to a point, but I do think it helped those of us who participated to better prepare for attending college and being in the so-called sighted world. I was glad to have had the chance to take Spanish I at the public high school, as our residential school did not offer it. I was also pleased to participate in the Literary Rally for American history, placing first in state. These opportunities simply did not exist at the residential school. I do regret, however, the insistence of the administration of the residential blind school on sending mainstreamed students to three separate high schools in as many years. I never got a chance to put down roots at any. I am not the best at learning new places, and this was stressful, as I knew I would always be accountable to the blind school’s staff.
I can’t say much about college, as it was rather a lonely time for me. I originally wanted to major in Spanish, because I thought being a translator or interpreter would be interesting. After several semesters, I realized that whatever the mysterious language gene was, I might not have it. Rather than lose my Spanish credits, I switched to English with a linguistics option and minored in Spanish. I had been told that a major/minor combination was a good strategy. I recall feeling anxious throughout my college time. I worried I would not always be able to keep a full-time course load or would not do well in my courses. These worries mostly proved unfounded, as many worries are, though I did have a bad experience in a linguistics class. I look back on it and realize that I had no clue what to major in or how to pick a career. I would have benefited from an internship program of some kind midway through college to gain experience and even talking to a concerned mentor.
After graduation, I attended a training center to learn skills that would be helpful in my life. I have mostly lost touch with the people I met there. It was an exhausting time for me because the training was intense. I do feel thinking back on it that the state Voc/Rehab agency should have conducted exit interviews of clients attending this and other training centers. There seems to be little accountability or efforts to find out which centers truly have best-practices.
Then it was on to get a guide dog and to work as a medical transcriptionist. I ended up having to leave the medical transcription field because I was not able to maintain the extremely fast speed and achieve the high output of reports. It was then that I found a halftime braille teaching job which, I did for several years, until stress caused by an indifferent management made it necessary for me to leave.
I found myself back in college. This time it was to obtain a Master’s in Library and Information Science. This was during the late 1990s, when the Internet and World Wide Web had suddenly become hugely popular. I thought I had picked a happening career. I enjoyed my coursework and met several people in my classes, two of whom I still email. My guide dog, Nader, died midway through library school, and friends helped me get to class because I was having problems with one of the long routes. I thought about getting a second guide dog, but I knew that if I left school, I might not return. I experienced difficulties in finding a job, but did do some consulting for several online library projects. I then learned that I have fibromyalgia and have found it hard to work since. I maintained an audio blog from 2004 to 2009, but then gave it up. I also attempted to study scoping, but had major problems with software incompatibilities. Scoping is a kind of legal editing. The scopist prepares what the court reporter transcribes.
I have recently been working with an editor, Leonore Dvorkin of DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services, to prepare the abridgment of my first book for publication. I also want to explore podcasting.
I’m rather glad we can’t see the future. This is not the future I had envisioned, and I hope I can get a handle on the fibromyalgia and figure out some way to have a part-time job. Friends from library school are at the point in their careers where thoughts of retirement are not amiss. I realized that won’t be a phase I’ll end up experiencing. I try to keep on keeping on and to find the positive in daily events and even to maintain a gratitude journal.