About Dave Riese:
Born in 1946, I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, graduating from Arlington High School in 1964. I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, majoring in English literature. During my junior year, I studied English Literature at Oxford University and travelled in Europe.
After graduating in 1968, I enlisted in the Air Force one step ahead of my draft board’s invitation to join the army and travel to Vietnam. I married Susan, my high school girlfriend, during leave between tech school and my posting to the Philippines at Clark Air Base. During my final two years in the military, my wife and I lived near Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington D.C.
Discharged from the military in 1972, I attended Boston University on the GI Bill for a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. The following summer, I was hired by the University of New Hampshire to script and film videotapes about government social programs for the elderly.
My videotape grant ran out in 1976, but luckily at that time, companies were eager to hire people for their IT departments. Although I had no computer experience, I was hired by Liberty Mutual Insurance to attend their three-month training course. I learned later that the major reason I was hired was my writing and communications background. An English degree can be a valuable asset!
During my 35 years in information technology, I worked in the financial and insurance industries. I retired from Massachusetts Financial Services in spring of 2012.
My wife and I moved north of Boston in 1974. Our daughter lives in Ireland with her husband. Our son and his wife are both pediatricians working in Rhode Island. We have four grandchildren.
Since retirement, I spend 3 – 4 hours a day, writing, usually in a local coffee shop.
What inspires you to write?
One inspiration comes from the books and stories I read. By this I don’t mean the subject matter of the work, but instead the tone, point of view, and writing style. These factors trigger a memory that inspires me to write or to rewrite an existing story that isn’t working in its present form.
Another inspiration results from a connection I make between a past event in my childhood and an event either in my adult life or in the life of my children. This connection forms the basis for a story that, in the end, may be far different from the original events.
My recent book was inspired by my friendship with an elderly Jewish woman I frequently met in the coffee shop downstairs from my office. When she learned that I was a part-time writer, she told me many stories about her experiences growing up in Montreal before and after WWII. Her story about her engagement as an 18-year-old girl astounded me. She invited me to ‘write it up,’ thinking it would make an interesting short story. Instead it became the basis for my debut novel, Echo from Mount Royal.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I start writing the first draft, I may have some ideas, observations, bits of dialogue written down, but I never have an outline. When I am well into the writing and have a clearer idea where the novel is going, I will create a list of the scenes that I must complete to finish. Nothing is ever cast in stone. During the editing process I will find scenes that can be omitted or combined with another part of the book. In some cases, I will write the subject of each scene on a Post-it note and use them to rearrange scenes to clarify plot or to have the characters behave consistently. I always keep a list of minor changes or additions I don’t want to forget.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I sit down to write, I often imagine that I am going to visit friends and spend the day with them. At first I will take charge of the visit to get things started, but eventually they exert their influence and I am content to become an observer. As I write, I watch them acting out the scene and listen to what they say. I often feel the ideas go from my subconscious directly onto the page. Things happen that I never imagined. The characters may begin to act out one of my own experiences. They say things I wish I had said at the time. While in this semi-unconscious zone, I let them do what they want and only rein them in when they risk going off the plot’s cliff.
What advice would you give other writers?
When asked how she wrote so many books, Nora Roberts answered ‘Ass in chair.’ That’s the best advice for aspiring writers. Spend time each week and write. Not ‘thinking’ about writing. WRITING.
• Keep a journal to record thoughts and impressions. It’s amazing how those little notes can inspire you years later.
• Write a first draft without stopping to think too much. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, using the right word. Let it simmer. Then edit, edit, edit. Sculpt the work with revision after revision. Editing is when the book is created.
• Don’t show anyone your work until you’ve gone over it carefully 5 times.
• Develop a thick skin. Don’t argue when someone offers criticism. Some of ‘my’ best ideas have been suggested by other writers.
• Join a writer’s critique group. You’ll learn as much critiquing others’ work as you will from their reviews of your work.
• Send out your work to websites that publish new authors — not to make money, but to get your work out there and gain self-confidence.
• Never give up. Don’t panic if you think that you’ve got ‘writers block.’ Sit down and write whatever comes into your head. You are a writer as long as you write. Publishing doesn’t make you a writer.
• Take time to live your life. You don’t know everything when you’re 25 or even 40. I’m still learning at 68.
• Read, read, read. Everything. Never be without a book. Take two with you in case you finish one while you’re away from home.
Observe, listen, and daydream. Good luck.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
In my research about publishing, I was dismayed to learn how long it takes to get a book ‘out there’ using the traditional route. At the age of 68, I didn’t have the time to wait 2-3 years (if I was lucky) before holding a book in my hand. I also realized that I would be responsible for marketing my debut novel no matter how it was published. I also didn’t want to sign away my rights to my book only to see it in the Orphanage of Remaindered Books after 90 days on bookstore shelves. That’s when I decided to independently publish my book. I chose a local company to help me. I liked the personal touch as well as the ongoing marketing support in my local area.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I don’t believe that the printed book will ever disappear. Nothing is more satisfying than holding a book in one’s hands. Big publishers will always have the bestselling writers and those authors who want the cachet of a publishing house. But independent publishing will continue to absorb more and more of the market. Independent bookstores are more accepting of taking self-published books on consignment. Independent authors know their audience and are creative in their use of social media. The media industry no longer has a monopoly on telling readers what to read. Every independent book bought by a reader is one less book purchased from a big publisher.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Literary fiction, women’s literature
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.