His first book, Accidental Lessons was awarded the 2011 Royal Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature. His second memoir, Any Road Will Take You There won the 2013 Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writer’s Association for nontraditional nonfiction, and has been re-released by DREAM OF THINGS Book Publishing. His collection of essays – There’s a Hamster in the Dashboard – will be released by DREAM OF THINGS in early 2015.
You also may have heard his voice regularly on the radio. He’s a reporter and anchor or CBS radio and has produced a number of radio documentaries for public radio.
What inspires you to write?
This may sound terribly cliché, but I have gained inspiration from a lot of people and not just writers. My sons inspire me with their passions and enthusiasm. My mother inspired me with her tenaciousness. My father inspired me with his unconditional love. Bob Dylan’s lyrics inspire. The music of alternative artists like Dawes, and Iron and Wine stimulate my creative side. And so many writers! Jack Kerouac’s free spiritedness that fills On the Road and The Dharma Bums certainly inspired Any Road Will Take You There. His compulsion to travel for the sake of travel, for insight, for redemption is the essence of my memoir. Hemingway also inspires me, and so do more modern-day writers like Chuck Klosterman and Paul Theroux. I love Annie Dillard. I could go on and on. In fact, I am frequently inspired, even in some small way, by the writer I’m reading at the moment. The simple leap of faith to put words down on paper deserves a celebration.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am a “let’s see where this takes me” kind of writer. Personal stories and creative nonfiction permit me to start with an idea and then just start writing to see where it leads. I truly believe that the real stories come out of the work, they rise out of the writing. It’s in the rewriting and drafting that you finally shape your narrative. But it has to be born out of the writing first.
What advice would you give other writers?
Make writing a discipline. Think of it like working out, walking the dog, brushing your teeth. Do it every single day. Map out a daily place and time, and write. Even if it’s just notes, a simple poem, a meandering stream of idea. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it becomes a habit. Don’t wait for the muse. Instead, knuckle down and do it.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I started with ideas of self-publishing, which I think has great merit for certain genres of writing. My material–usually personal stories, memoir or creative nonfiction–don’t get as much attention through self-publishing. At least that’s my experience. I was lucky enough to find a publisher for my first book, and then after self-publishing the second, ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE was picked up by Dream of Things Publishing in Chicago. I am very grateful.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
i think these are great times. It’s the democratization of publishing. If you want to get something out there you can do it, literally, in a matter of minutes. No gatekeepers. On the other hand, traditional publishers are no longer taking risks. They can’t afford to. If some of the great writers of this early century were to be writing now, they may have a very hard time finding an agent or publisher that would be willing to take a chance. I hate to see book stores closing, but along with that we are seeing some wonderfully strong independent shops blazing new trails.
What do you use?: Professional Editor
What genres do you write?: Memoir, personal stories, creative nonfiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print