Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m Elgon Williams; I’m 62.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Ohio, around Springfield. If you look for it on the map it’s about forty-five minutes west of Columbus. I grew up around a village called Selma that was a few miles from South Charleston, a town that had maybe 1500 people in it at the time
I’ve lived many places over the years, spending the most time in Florida. Recently I moved to Southern California and in about a month I’ll be heading to Las Vegas.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up on a farm. My parents were hard working people whose work ethic my two older sisters and I acquired. I received degrees from Purdue University, The University of Texas at Austin, and the Community College of the Air Force. I studied radio and television production, advertising, public relations, marketing and creative writing. I’m divorced and have three adult children, one grandson and a grandpup, a French bulldog who loves sleeping on my pillow.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Besides moving to Nevada in mid-May and my first grandson being born last December, I have a couple of new books being published, probably toward the end of the summer, one is titled Homer Underby, whichis the sequel to Becoming Thuperman. The other is titled Wolfcats, which begins a ten-part epic fantasy.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always had and active imagination. I lived two or three miles from nowhere. I had to do something for entertainment. Both my sisters were much older. So, yeah, I had imaginary friends. I started writing stories when I was in high school. I was also writing for the school newspaper. That’s why I studied journalism in college. But while I was in college, I began writing more complicated stories. Some of those evolved becoming the foundation material for my novels.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think anyone just wakes up one day and decides to start writing stories or books. It has more to do with how you’re wired. Some write because they love to play with words, love using the language to create imagery and wonderful characters. Some do it to put their ideas on paper, organize them and see where the complicated messes you conjure will lead. If you’re a writer, you write, and you continue to write. At least that’s not how it happened for me and, from talking to other authors, that seems to be the usual case.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first manuscript I wrote at college. At the time I thought it was brilliant. I’ve kept the manuscript around so that anytime hubris takes over my creative process I can look at it and be humbled by something I wrote when I was twenty-something.The writing was horrible. However, there was a good story in there if you could get past how awful I was at telling it. Ittook me years to finish my next novel, mainly because the process of learning how to write a novel was difficult to squeeze into a daily routine when I was working sixteen hours a day and had a young family.
In many ways my kids inspired me to write. When they were little, I’d tell them stories. They had all their children’s book memorized. It seemed pointless to continue reading to them. So instead I created some characters. Also, I wanted my daughters to have strong heroines.
Thesecond manuscript, one I finished when I was in my forties, became my first publication, but again it was a work with which I was less than satisfied. Still the process taught me a lot about the publishing business. Applying what I learned in college about marketing to promoting my own work, I began helping other authors to market their work.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My first published book was titled One Over X. If you recall from mathematics 1/x is a problematic thing. It causes errors in computer programming, for example, whenever the value of x=0. That figures into the plot. It’s about time travel and a main character becomes lost in the many possibilities and potentials of multiple, alternative lives.
Of my more recent books, Fried Windows came from misreading a headline. (As one gets older,I’ve discovered the need for glasses overrides vanity.) Becoming Thupermancomes from the main character talking with the lisp, because he bit off the tip of his tongue in playground accident involving the distraction of a pretty girl, a bully jumping on a teeter totter and the boy’s chin being in the wrong place.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I blend fantasy and reality in my writing. A lot of the settings are places I’ve visited or lived. The characters are sometimes based on people I know.When begin writing a story I usually lead with dialogue and let the characters tell me their story. Conflicts, relationships with other characters, and a general direction for the story usually emerge from that. Then I go back during first revision of the draft and fill in the details, set the scenes with narrative passages, and apply speech tags/action tags where needed to enhance the story.
I think what’s challenging about writing fantasy is keeping the story line fresh, avoiding the cliché, while exploring the almost infinite possibilities of imagination. While other genres tie a writer’s hands, requiring convention and sometimes months or years of research, fantasy can be wide-open. Because my stories are tied to the real world, I do a good bit of research to ensure accuracy and credibility. But with fantasy an author is free to take the real world stretch it, warp it, flip it upside down, tickle it on its belly, turn it wrong-side out or make everything completely backwards. I love it. It’s fun to play with that sort of a blank canvas. You start with a premise, like what if a middle-aged guy was able to reconnect with the ghost of his high school sweetheart? And you go from there.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of Fried Windows is based on my life. The main character, Brent Woods, tends to be an alter ego for me in many of my stories. In Fried Windows he has a family that resembles mine and it is sort of set in an area of Florida where I used to live. The place Brent works is modelled after one of my past employers. The fantasy elements come from some of my childhood memories. Other things were complete fabrications, though.
Becoming Thuperman is set in Normal, Illinois. The idea to use that city in a book came when I was riding a bus from Chicago through Normal en route to visit my daughters who lived in Champaign-Urbana. I was texting with a friend who asked me where I was. When I told her Normal, she said, “Oh, you’re nowhere near normal, mister!” I decided I needed have some fun with the city’s name. What a perfect place for two budding superheroes to live!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’ve been nomadic for the past few years. Wherever I live tends to become a setting in a book. Maybe not something I’m writing at the time, but later. When I was younger, I lived in Asia. I did a lot of traveling, in fact. I think at some point a writer must get out and about and see the world. It opens the mind. You see all sorts of different solutions to the same problems all humanity faces. And you appreciate that there isn’t a right or wrong solutionas long as it works. When it no longer works, someone innovates change. Without traveling, you don’t see that first hand. You narrowly focus on your corner of the universe. Although you can certainly write about your hometown, how much more exciting for the reader is a book set in some exotic place?You also learn how much people the world over are alike. Despite the superficial differences, we have a lot in common. We love our children and want the world to be a better place for them than it was for us.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The first edition cover for Fried Windows was designed by Fletcher Kinnear, a graphic artist the publisher engaged. The second was designed by Don Kramer. Becoming Thuperman was also designed by Don Kramer. Don is also doing the covers for my upcoming books, Homer Underby and Wolfcats.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely. Anything is possible. You are the only limiting factor in your life. If you think others are the reason for your limitations, you’re wrong. You have a choice to either accept whatever happens to you or resist it and make your own way.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
As odd as it may seem for a fantasy author, I read a lot of crime/mystery/suspense/thriller novels. It may be because I know so many authors who write in that genre. I love Grit Lit, for example. My favorite authors in that genre are Matt Coleman and Steph Post.
Matt’s debut novel, Juggling Kittens, is a masterpiece of the genre and was recently optioned for a film adaptation. His second novel, Graffiti Creek is an intense read from start to finish. I mean in the first chapter you have corrupt cops and torturing a criminal. There’s a lot a blood in that book, but also a lot of truth about what’s wrong with authority in the world and how marginalized people get brushed aside.
Steph Post’s books are deceptively accurate portrayals of life in small town southern America. Her characters have their own ways of navigating the trouble surrounding them. If you have southern relatives in your family tree, as I do, you see a lot of them in her characters. She writes beautifully about things that would normally make your skin crawl. Her latest book, Miraculum, blends that gritty style with magical realism. I loved it!
Of fantasy authors, I enjoy Rose Montague’s novels. They are fast-paced thrill rides where anything goes. Look for Jade, Jane and Jill. There is a spin-off series with two of the three books already published that follow Jewel, a character that appears in her other books. Look for Norma Jean’s School of Witchery. The first book is subtitled Jewel and the second is Ghost School.
For those who love genre bending, try Brian Cohn’s The Last Detective, which I’d have to label alien noir. It’s set in a post invasion future where a former detective is asked to investigate the brutal murder of an alien overlord.It’s entertaining, disturbing with its dark realism and commentary on the human condition carried to an extreme and it is very well written.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I had a teacher in high school who I pretty-much hated until my senior year. Famously, she told me I’d never be a writer, something she later claimed she never said. We became friends while I was in college and she served as a sounding board for me and some of my wild ideas that evolved into novels.
And I’d have to credit Zara Kramer, my present publisher, for discovering my quirky stories and giving them a chance.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I decided in 2012 that I had been in management long enough. I took a couple of years off and wrote Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman (and a couple of other projects that have yet to be published, one titled Finding It that I hope will be published soon. After that, I worked part time to pay bills while continuing to pursue writing full-time. It’s not easy.
There are a lot of people out there with books. A lot of them are awful and that adds to the noise and confusion in the market place. But there are gems out there, too. If you believe in your writing and stay with it, you can expect to make some money, provided you are willing to become your books’ proponentand salesperson. Youmust do readings, book signings, meet and greets…that’s the only way people will discover you and your wonderful creations.You can’t sell on social media. Everybody else is trying that. You got to stand out. You must convince people that you have something to say and they need to read it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Not that it’s perfect by any stretch but the things I might want to change, since there are sequels, presented curious writing challenges that led to ever better stories. So, there’s nothing I’d change.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned how quickly I can knock out a story. Homer Underby, the sequel to Becoming Thuperman took about a month to write. And the next dayafter I finished the first draft, I began writing the third book of the series. And it also took about a month. So, for readers, the good news is the series is completely written. You won’t need to wait nearly as long between books two and three as you have between one and two.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For Fried Windows I suppose I’d cast someone like Matt Damon. He’d be a good Brent Woods, I think. For Becoming Thuperman, there are two main characters who are 8-year-old kids. As we know a child that that age can be anything they want to be, so I think the door is wide open for any actors who want to become characters of Will and Sandra.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Just keep writing. If you think you have writer’s block, the only cure is to write something. Don’t be afraid of how bad a rough draft is. I can show you one hell of a rough draft. I know. Anyway, that’s why they call them ‘rough’.
Think of your first draft as a block of granite. In revision you chisel away everything that’s not necessary to smooth the roughness away. Eventually you have something that’s close to what you had in mind in the first place. The process is the same for everyone, no matter who they are or how well people believe they write.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I may be just as strange as you think.Or I might be stranger.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading a couple of ARCs for friends. One is coming out in May, titled Project 137 by Seth Augenstein. It’s a medical thriller set in 2087, but it has lots of ties to real things that happened during and after World War II. Next in the queue is Killer Secrets, a debut crime/suspense/thriller from Sherrie Orvik. It’s about a girl whose mother is institutionalized after the murder of the girl’s father. And when the girl returns home,she discovers she’d the one with a target on her back.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Ivanhoe was the first novel I read. I was seven or eight. I loved books about knight and kings.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I like subtle humor, and I have a sentimental side as well. I think what triggers the most emotion in me is a story of someone triumphing over adversity. I think we all need to know about things like that. For one thing, it puts our own problems in perspective.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I think I’d get along well with Mark Twain and Will Rogers. I also think Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and I might have an interesting conversation or two.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’m a tech nerd. Not sure that’s a hobby, but I used to build my own computers and tinker with them.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of TV. I used to watch Castle. Again, I tend to watch crime/detective things. Someone asked me why I don’t write in that genre, which of course, I took as a challenge. There is a novel I’m working on, but it blends magical realism with the crime detective genre. It may never see the light of day, but I’m having some fun with it.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love Italian and Chinese food, just not for the same meal.Hey, it has happened. My favoritecolor is blue. I have diverse musical tastes but tend toward Blues and Rock music, vintage ‘70’s stuff like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. But I also love The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.Also, I love Stevie Ray Vaughn.I’ve been following a few newer bands lately, Rival Sons, The Struts and Greta Van Fleet. I hope Rock is on its way back into the mainstream. The industry seems to have shut it out, and I keep hearing it’s dead. But there areone hell of a lot of bands out there still producing good,solid Rock music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
That future would be like hell on Earth. You see, one does not stop writing. If you are truly a writer, writing is like breathing, it’s necessary. But if I couldn’t write anymore, I’d just read a lot more.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Realistically, I’d be finishing a novel in progress, and hope the doctors were wrong.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Wait, wait, wait! I wasn’t finished!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You can find out more about me and my books at www.elgonwilliams.com
I haven’t got all the details yet, but we’ll have a special deal for Becoming Thuperman going around the release of Homer Underby in late summer.
People in the Las Vegas look for book signing events later this year.
You can find my books on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001K8TYXU
Fried Windows –https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KM6MXI4/
Becoming Thuperman – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WW61DHZ/
They are also available worldwide through Ingram. Ask your bookstore to order them.