Storytelling has always been a strong passion of mine. I grew up under the harsh conditions of child abuse and poverty, with books, movies, and television being my only escape. At eleven years old I picked up a pen a tried my own hand at telling a story. I instantly fell in love, and have been head over heels ever since!
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
While in middle and high school, the stories I’d write were becoming more frequent, with students and teachers alike giving me validation that this was something I was actually good at. No one ever said, “You should be a writer when you grow up,” so with it never really occurring to me, I just spent a number of years dabbling in different forms of storytelling, before going off to film school to study screenwriting. Eventually I woke up to the fact that the business is based a lot more on who you know than what you can do, and so I set my sights on writing books.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I once read that the world will only allow you to have one true greatness. Since then I’ve also learned that it will try its damnedest to make you be specific. Case in point: I grew up being in love with a variety of different stories, so it was only natural for me to become a versatile author. Little did I know I was breaking a so-called rule, with so-called experts telling me I should choose only one genre and stay in it. But people I’ve admired from the past – those who decided to go against the grain and be true to themselves-- taught me otherwise, and so I became the multi-genre author I was meant to be.
And yes, this means my ‘style’ often changes, really from one story to the next. For example, with my dramatic horror novella, The Mirrored Staircase, the story was telling me it wanted to unfold in kind of a poetic way. Quite different than my latest book, Riker’s Calling, which had me bringing it to life more like a movie, hence, I was able to draw from my screenwriting days.
Tell us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
When I’m writing is when I’m happiest, but as an indie author, I have to take on the monster of marketing more often than I’d like. That may soon change though, as I’m exploring the idea of teaming up with a marketer, who’d be responsible for taking care of most of that for me.
But yeah, when I’m writing, nothing comes before it. TV, the internet, the world – can all wait, as I start my day with a good stretch, a good meal, and then let the magic flow!
What is the thing you struggle with the most while writing? And how do you defeat it?
I recently passed my fifteenth anniversary of being legally blind, after having lost total sight in my left eye eleven years prior. As you can imagine, this is one of the toughest things that can happen to a storyteller, whose used to using their sight to read and write a lot more than the average person. I now have to pace myself, having only so much time in a day before my remaining sight becomes too strained. There’s been times when I felt like it was just hanging on by a thread, with me asking, pleading with the universe, to just give me some more time.
It’s a daily struggle, but I’m a warrior.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Riker’s Calling, my first Crime Thriller. It started off as an idea for a short story, to be submitted to a few crime magazines. Anyone who has ever taken the submission route knows that it takes forever, and even then you may not get published, as it takes talent to spot talent. The further I got into the story the more I began to realize its potential, along with the fact that it would be better served as a novella. Now I see Riker, the main character, as someone who has at least a few more adventures to take.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’ll be releasing my autobiography, Power of the Pen, in the near future. I’ll leave it up for readers to find out if Riker’s Calling reflects any of my own life
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are really important. For me, they have to fit the character I’m writing. For example, with my novella Bleeding Perseverance, where an American martial artist goes to Afghanistan and falls in love with a girl from there, I wanted her name to really represent her character, and so I chose Karida, which basically translates to Purity.
What is your favourite part or scene in the novella?
I have quite a few, but one that stands out is a scene that involves Riker trying to convince his niece to attend college. Wise beyond her years, she says she’ll consider it, then shows that she’s a true artist with just two sentences…
“Treat your passion like a pastime, you’re a hobbyist. Treat it like it’s your life, you’re an artist.”
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn a number of new things from each book I write, and hope that my readers are able to do so as well. With Riker’s Calling, my research included me delving into the world of tattoo, as one of the main characters is a tattoo artist. As a result, I developed more respect for the art form that it is.
Can you tell us anything about any of your current work(s)-in-progress? And what can we expect from you in the future?
In addition to my autobiography, which will be a no-holds-barred look into the diverse life I’ve lived thus far, I might publish a few surprises before the year is up. And as for Riker, he’ll definitely be back!
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
I absolutely love to read, but like an unforgettable film or an amazing piece of music, a great book is not easy to come by. And then there’s the whole issue with my limited sight. When my vision permits, I love to get my hands on stories from Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Ken Follett.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
My greatest joy is story, so when I’m not writing or reading it, I’m watching it. And it doesn’t always have to be fiction. Compelling news stories, documentaries, etc. I have a soft spot for them too.
And finally... if you were ever stranded on a deserted island what would you miss and which three books would you take along?
I like to be in the know, so I’d miss being up-to-date on what’s going on in the world. Three books I’d like to have with me? Pillars of the Earth, Misery, and Tale of the Body Thief. But come on, don’t I get pens and paper as well?!
Thank you for spending your time with us, Rico. Good luck with all your future projects.