I’m so pleased to have Craig Hart here today for a Q & A. Read on for more information about his book and the interview.
About the Book:
Do You Love Thrillers? The New Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Is Here! Don’t Forget To Breathe… A woman dies in his arms…a drug dealer offers him $10,000…a gunman is determined to kill him. And then everything goes to hell.
Shelby Alexander is an aging ex-boxer and retired fixer, whose activities often flirted with the wrong side of the law. Looking for a little peace and a slower pace of life, he moved to Serenity, the small Michigan town where he grew up. But trouble follows men like Shelby, and he finds himself embroiled in an underworld of drugs and violence that may prove to be his undoing. The first book in the new Shelby Alexander Thriller Series, Serenity is an action-packed read with a lovingly rendered cast, witty dialogue, and a main character who doesn’t know when to quit.
If You Love These Authors, You’ll Love the Shelby Alexander Series: Nick Stephenson, Mark Dawson, David Archer, John Hemmings Christopher Greyson.
Q & A:
1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.
As the stay-at-home dad for twin boys, my writing happens whenever they’re not taking the house apart brick by brick. This generally means either during their lovely afternoon nap or after the even more lovely bedtime. I do have a sitter come in twice a week, and that affords a few hours to really focus on the project at hand.
My perfect writing environment would be a cabin on the shore of Lake Michigan. My dream–and this actually will happen, mind you–is to own such a place where I can go a few weeks a year and do nothing but write and yell at the seagulls.
2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?
I started writing in my mid-teens, although I’d always loved reading. By the time I was in my early twenties, writing had become my obsession. And it hasn’t let up much since. I’ve learned how to temper that obsession a bit (although not well) in order to function as a normal human, but I don’t think I could not be a writer. Having said that, I can’t profess to always love writing. I almost always love having written, but that’s a different thing altogether. I often loathe the writing process, and dread sitting down at the keyboard. There are those days. On the other hand, the times when the muse is generous and the words flow…that’s a high I wouldn’t trade for anything.
3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?
I have a literary bent (which readers will find on full display in my 2015 novel Becoming Moon), so I admire writers such as Hemingway and Capote. I don’t pretend to write like those giants, by the way, but they inspire me nonetheless. I also enjoy the Prey novels by John Sandford and some stuff by Lee Child and Michael Connelly. By the way, if you all haven’t seen the Amazon series Bosch, made from the Connelly novels, check it out!
4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?
My newest book, Serenity, is the first in a series of Serenity thrillers, starring Shelby Alexander. The books will all be connected, with recurring characters and continuing storylines, although each book will contain a resolution as well. I have the second book well underway and am planning the third. I intend to have the next two finished and available by summer 2017.
5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.
It varies. Sometimes it happens in a moment and I am suddenly presented with a plot line or character that works. Other times it is like hacking granite. More often it’s the latter. In this case, I often resort to outlining for plot and freewriting for characters. In the case of characters, it’s useful to get as well acquainted with them as possible. The better you know the characters, the more you will understand their motives and potential actions, which in turn opens up all manner of avenues in the plot.
6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?
This is going to sound like a plant, but it’s Shelby Alexander, the star of the new series. He is an aging ex-boxer who is struggling with his declining physical prowess and the ongoing relationships with his temperamental daughter and the too-young-for-him girlfriend. I find him fascinating. He can be tough as nails, but also has a vulnerable side that shows up, especially in conversation with the girlfriend (and occasionally the daughter). I suspect that Shelby (and I’ll have to ask him to be sure, although he’ll probably just blow me off) is having a difficult time accepting change in his own life and prefers to think he can continue his tough guy approach to life forever. We all know how that is going to turn out for him; hopefully he’ll figure it out before it’s too late.
7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?
You can pop over to my website and go to the contact page! Fill it out, and that will send me an email, which I always read.
8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
Average…that’s a tough one. Becoming Moon took three years. Serenity took about two months, from beginning to the final edit. I don’t intend to ever again write a book as fast as I wrote Serenity. I’m very happy with how it turned out, but it also exhausted the hell out of me. I’m sure there are writers who write like this routinely, but I’m not one of them. I’m planning four months each for the next two books, but I’d take six months and be happy.
10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?
It’s a tie between Shelby and Nigel Moon, the eponymous character from Becoming Moon. Put those two together and you have the kind of person I intend to become over the next few decades: crusty, surly, but with a good heart and gummy, fifty-year-old peppermints covered in pocket lint for all the kiddies.
11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?
Probably sitting around wondering why I felt so unfulfilled. No, seriously, I would have likely stayed in my job at the public library system or shuffled off to teach English at some college no one’s ever heard of. Both of those things actually sound fine to me (as long as I could write on the side).
12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?
I once had a woman say that my work inspired her to give writing another shot, even though she had stopped years ago. I don’t think she meant professionally, but just as something she could do that might be cathartic. Anytime someone finds my work inspiring in some way…yeah, that makes it worth it.
About the Author:
Craig A. Hart is the stay-at-home father of twin boys, a writer, editor, Amazon bestselling author, lover of the arts, and only human. He served as editor-in-chief for The Rusty Nail literary magazine and as manager for Sweatshoppe Media. He also served as director for Northern Illinois Radio Information Service, an outreach that brought daily news and information to the visually impaired.
He has been published in The Orange Room Review, Voices, The Stray Branch, Red Poppy Review, The Mindful Word, Inclement, Right Hand Pointing, 7×20 Magazine, and others.
In 2015, Kindle Press published his novel Becoming Moon. NPR affiliate Northern Public Radio featured Becoming Moon in their Winter Book Series.
Besides his award-winning novel, Craig is the author of The Writer’s Tune-Up Manual, The Busy Writer, and The Girl Who Read Hemingway. He is also the author of the new Shelby Alexander Thriller Series. The first book in the series, Serenity, launched on Oct. 31, 2016.
Craig lives and writes in Iowa City with his wife, sons, and two cats.
Huge thanks to Craig for joining me today!