The Amazon.com Interview
Amazon.com: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
W.R.S.: Writing and reading have always been two of my greatest passions...but interestingly enough I didn't start out to get published. In fact, I wrote 5 novels before I ever tried to find a publisher!
My earliest memories of writing are from the 4th grade, when I was a sports columnist and junior editor for the school newspaper. With several dozen fiction and nonfiction book credits, suffice to say that I've come a long way since those days. <g>
Amazon.com: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
W.R.S.: Nowadays I rarely have time to curl up with a good book next to the fire but on those rare occasions when I do find the time, I relish every moment and the book you'll find in my hands is almost always a work from a science fiction great like Asimov, Tolkien or Orson Scott Card. Both Asimov and Tolkien were big influences in my early fiction writing -- I set out to create world settings that were equal to those of the masters.
In later years, I discovered McCaffrey, Clarke and Heinlein. And I can still recall the first time I read Dragon Rider's of Pern, 2001, and Stranger in a Strange Land.
Amazon.com: Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)? Do you have a favorite location or time of day (or night) for writing? What do you do to avoid -- or seek! -- distractions?
W.R.S.: The life of this writer is not a pretty picture when I'm working on a book. Ask my wife, she'll tell you. <BG> Primarily, this is because I'm always burning the candle at both ends. I usually spend at least 10+ hours a day writing, researching or conceptualizing for a book project.
Amazon.com: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions or similar events? Do you interact with your readers electronically through e-mail or other on-line forums?
W.R.S.: I like to help people (or at least I try to), it is what my how-to books are all about. Still, I am a rather private person and certainly not a charismatic public speaker. Hence, I do most of my communicating with readers from behind the keyboard. Whenever readers write to me, they are surprised to find that I answer. Lately with the successes of my books, conference coordinators, bookstores and the press have been trying to coax me out from behind my keyboard. So if you see me at a workshop or seminar, remember public speaking is not my cup of tea...<g>
Amazon.com: When and how did you get started on the 'Net? Do you read any newsgroups, mailing lists or other on-line forums? Do you use the 'Net for research -- or is it just another time sink? Are you able to communicate with other writers or people you work with over the 'Net?
W.R.S.: When I began using the Internet, e-mail was in and the Web was just a crazy notion that Tim Berners Lee was working on. If I had to put a date to it, I would say 1988 was the first time I used FTP, Telnet, Usenet and all those other basic tools we've all grown to hate since the Web made everything so easy. Ever since, I use the Net for research and long distance communication daily.
Amazon.com: Any last words?
W.R.S.: Before I finish this interview, I'd like to thank all the readers who have helped spread the good word about my books! I really enjoy creating books and am truly delighted when I hear from readers. If one of my books has helped you or touched your spirit, I invite you to tell me about it. It'll probably make my day!