What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Like many writers, the morning seems to be the best time for me. I don’t get up that early, but if I start writing before the trivia of the day starts cluttering my brain, I find I do better work.
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t stay in a genre. Since I write purely for myself, my writing is based on an inspiration that strikes like a bolt of lightning. So, my first published book was a memoir, because Mark Twain said “Write what you know.” And because my life had been – interesting to say the least. But I always gravitated toward fiction in my short stories, and so Fluffy’s Revolution turned out to be young adult science fiction. It was inspired by a news article about geneticists injecting human DNA into the brains of unborn mice. I workshopped it in a novel-writing class at UCLA, and when I introduced Fluffy to the class, they all said, “Oh, it’s YA.” I said, “What’s YA?”
What do you think are the elements of a good story?
#1 Truth. In fiction, using something that’s true in real life gives the story more authenticity. #2 The rise and release of tension. Of course, the story arc they teach you in writing school is a good rule of thumb. But I’ve seen authors throw that out the window and produce gems. #3 Visuals. Make your readers see it like a movie. #4 Surprise. If your readers, like me, are reading for entertainment, the story should take a lot of unexpected twists and turns. When I critiqued songs for nascent songwriters, I said the same thing: The melody and chord changes should include an unexpected and emotionally satisfying turn. With a novel, it could be many unexpected reveals and denouements. #5 Know how it ends. You may not know what’s going to happen next, but always know where you’re going to end up.
What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?
Predictability. Tired tropes. Action without emotion. Over-explication – telling rather than showing.
Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?
I’m not competitive. I don’t write for fame or fortune. I write because I have to. And I can afford to. I view all authors as allies and potential teachers. I read their work to become a better writer.
Are there any authors whose work you admired at first that you then grew to dislike?
The only thing by J.D. Salinger I’ve read is The Catcher in the Rye. I read it when I was in high school at the age of sixteen – the same age as its protagonist, Holden Caulfield. I guess I liked it okay, although I can’t remember for sure. Everyone else my age was reading it then, and so I read it. I re-read it recently, when I got the idea to fictionalize a trip to Europe I had taken when I was seventeen. It fell flat for me. As an adult, Holden just wasn’t holdin’ my interest. I found him dull, slow, inarticulate, and immature. In short, he was not a sympathetic protagonist. Why the book sold over 60,000,000 copies, I have no idea. But my tastes have never been those of the mainstream.
What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)
Method and Madness: The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and the spirited and riotous counsel of my memoir teacher, Erika Schickel.
Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?
I usually do dash off some kind of outline, but without much detail. And then I completely ignore it.
Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?
It’s with a mixture of pride and shame that I admit that I am virtually genre-less. If an idea grabs me, I go with it. That said, I spent quite a lot of time writing short stories for a themed collection called Tales from the Hereafter, all first-person narratives by people who are dead. I’ve always been fascinated by the metaphysical and the notion of spiritual evolution, so I will likely return to that niche from time to time.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
Although I’m sure this will no longer be the case when you publish this interview, I’m now reading Up Jumps the Devil by Michael Poore it’s a debut novel and I am greatly impressed. The idea is completely original and his writing is razor-sharp and witty. I highly recommend it. I just downloaded the Kindle of his second book, Reincarnation Blues, which sounds right down my alley.
After twenty years trembling on the brink of rock stardom and fifteen years working at record companies, Ted Myers left the music business—or perhaps it was the other way around—and took a job as a copywriter at an advertising agency. This cemented his determination to make his mark as an author.
His nonfiction has appeared in Working Musicians (Harper Collins), By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution of 1969 (Backbeat Books), and Popular Music and Society. His fiction has appeared online at Literally Stories and in print in the To Hull & Back Short Story Anthology 2016. In 2017, his epic and amusing memoir, Making It: Music, Sex & Drugs in the Golden Age of Rock was published by Calumet Editions. In 2017 and 2018, more fiction appeared in Iconoclast magazine, The Mystic Blue Review, Centum Press’ 100 Voices Anthology, Culture Cult Magazine, the Ink Stains Anthology, Vol. 9, and Bewildering Stories. Fluffy’s Revolution, published by Black Rose Writing, is his first novel.
Find Ted’s Books:
My Amazon Author page, https://amzn.to/2RJM2CD, contains all of the books available on Amazon in which my work appears. A dedicated website for Fluffy’s Revolution will be unveiled with the release of the book in March 2019, as will my Facebook Author page. My WordPress blog is here: https://tedmyersblog.wordpress.com/. I don’t pay much attention to Twitter, but my Twitter account is here: @TedMyersAuthor
Connect with Ted: