What was the inspiration to write for a younger audience?
I may have a beard and a few gray hairs (okay, a LOT of gray hairs), but really
I’m just a big kid and always will be. I love the freedom that kids give
themselves when exploring worlds and universes, so I can think of nothing more
fun and fulfilling than contributing to those colorful (and sometimes mysterious)
Do you eventually want to write for adults or young adults?
Well, actually, I started my writing career by writing for adults. Over the years
I’ve published several short stories for adults, and even published a small novel,
Bruisers, a few years ago, about Oklahoma wheat farmers on a road trip to
Colorado. I do have a couple of large concepts in mind for the YA audience, and
look forward to writing those one day, but for now I’m having a blast writing for
the middle-grade audience.
What’s your writing process?
(Location, how many hours a day, how many cups of coffee etc.)
My usual writing location = the back corner of the world where the shadows and
the dust bunnies go to retire. (Professional Tip: Give the shadows heavy metal
iTunes and ear buds, and feed the dust bunnies peanut butter crackers, and
they’ll leave you alone for as long as you need). My usual writing time =
CRAZY. I tend to write for long stretches at a time, often for upwards of eight
hours or more. And I can’t even count the cups of coffee I consume while
writing! One time I drank so much coffee during a writing session that I zipped
back in time to stop myself.
What are your thoughts on Bigfoot?
I’m a total believer, and in fact, she and I go way back (yes, I’m pretty sure
Bigfoot is a female; how else would Bigfeet still be around?). I saw her once,
from my car, in 1993. She was headed through the woods near my house,
running so fast that we didn’t have time to have a decent conversation. One day
I hope to see her again, and ask her what the big hurry was.
How much have your growing-up experiences found their way into your writing?
I would say a TON of my youth goes into my writing. The woods that I write
about in my books are the same woods I explored as a kid; the caves that my
characters crawl through are the caves I scouted with friends as a young man.
What is your favorite reptile?
I’m a really big fan of bearded dragons. They’re sweet-natured, they come
equipped with their own battle armor, and like their name implies, they wear
amazing beards. Well, more like spiky neck fluff, but who’s judging?
If you were a building, what kind of building would you be?
Most writers would probably say a library, but I think I’d rather be a post
office. In a post office, all the words and sentences go to the places they were
meant to go, which is a better metaphor for the writer, I think.
Your series is character-heavy. How do you come up with names for all of you characters?
When you write a series set in the Old West, you can’t just go to Facebook to
grab good names. Sometimes I consult old 19th Century census
records for interesting names; sometimes I get inspiration from other novels.
Your bio says you’re a drummer and a singer. Did you play in any bands?
I’ve played in LOTS of bands – mostly as the drummer. My first “official” band
(i.e., a band that played actual gigs) was The Subterranean Homesick Blues
Band, a rock blues band that my friends and I formed in college. Most recently, I
played drums for a fantastic rock band called Sweeper (but had to quit to write
books!). These days I play the guitar and bang on cajóns and congas for an
acoustic duo named Cover 2.
What author was most influential to you? In what way does your writing reflect this influence?
I’m tempted to say that Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe were my two
greatest influences, but honestly, my biggest inspiration has been Ray Bradbury.
More than any other writer, Bradbury had the power to send me instantly into
another space when I was a kid. When I started writing, I tried to mimic
Bradbury’s style. My writing today “remembers” Bradbury in the way that I
approach writing metaphors and poetic sentences in my stories.
What do your tattoos mean?
The sleeve on my left arm is a compilation of paintings by the English Romantic
poet, William Blake, and the French artist, Gustave Doré – a compilation that
tells the story of Good and Evil. The sleeve on my right arm is my version of
the Tree of Knowledge, with the Tree growing from an open book and pages and
leaves swirling in a wind together to symbolize the scattering of creativity and
knowledge over the world (deep, huh?)