Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Authorsday: Dennis Collins

1.      When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As far back as I can remember I’ve always been a storyteller. I guess that the idea of writing just naturally grew from that but it was so gradual I can’t pin it down

2.      How long have you been writing?

My first story got me in big trouble with my fourth grade nun. She said that it was violent and destructive. (What do you expect from a fourth grader?) But the fact that she read it and had a reaction to it told me that I had made my point. That’s what I consider the start of my writing career.

3.      How did you pick the genre you write in?

Some of my earliest reading was Franklin W. Dixon’s Hardy Boys series. And as a teenager I moved on to Mickey Spillane. I kinda grew up reading mysteries. And my fourth grade nun had already convinced me that I could be violent and destructive.

4.      Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Some call it “stream of consciousness” or making it up as you go along.  Basically, I completely define my characters in my own mind and then create a situation. If my characters remain true to the identities that I gave them, their actions are automatic. They’ll be consistent and somewhat predictable.  The trick is in creating the right situations. Some people call them plots. If the characters are strong enough, they will influence the plot. Clear?

5.      What drew you to the subject of The Unreal McCoy?

It started with an article about a thwarted armed robbery that I read in a newspaper.  A few years later I came across the obituary of the man who derailed the bad guys. The fact that I remembered a story that I had only briefly scanned years earlier told me that the original article must have made a strong impression on me. And then one day a title “The Unreal McCoy” popped into my head from nowhere. Now I had the germ of a plot and a title. The only thing left to do was tie the two together with a book. I started writing.

6.      Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

Parts of the backstory take place in pre-world war two Italy and other parts take place in the very rugged terrain of upper Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains. Both of those situations presented challenges but if you’re persistent, the information is there and hopefully, it’s accurate.

7.      What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

My first novel was “The Unreal McCoy”and being a complete rookie, I had plenty of doors slamming in my face.

8.      What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?

It’s a little hard to answer that question because the publishing world has changed dramatically since my first book was published. But if I’d had a crystal ball back then I’m sure that it would have told me to just keep writing and stockpiling novels until the Kindle is invented.

9.      How many rejections have you received?

Hundreds.  If you want to count them all, I’m sure you’ll pass the five hundred mark.

10.  What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

Don’t be afraid and don’t give up.

1 comment:

jenny milchman said...

The crystal ball comment is great!! I agree, e pubbing has changed the landscape completely and allowed so many writers to flourish. I'm excited to see where it will all go.