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Frequently Asked Questions

Where did you grow up?
I was born and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where I still live. My grandparents moved here from Tennessee and Arkansas. They were real pioneers. The first of them arrived in Phoenix in 1911. My maternal grandmother told me she had no form of cooling until after the Second World War when my uncle built her an evaporative cooler. I can't even imagine what it was like living here then. My father ran a small construction company, my mother went back to school and became a school teacher about the time I entered high school.

How did you become a writer?
I've always read a great deal and at an early age fantasized about becoming a writer. During my 20's I wrote a number of short stories but did nothing with them. I also started and stopped writing two or three novels. When I was 33 years old I was reading a series of books by the same author and decided to follow his formula. I sat down and with paper and pen wrote my first novel in six weeks. There was no turning back. It was a dozen years before I had an agent and publisher, but from that first experience I considered myself to be a writer.

How did you come to write Unknown Seas? It's so different from your other books.
My undergraduate degree is in history. All things in history interest me. I lived in Portugal for most of a year and when I returned decided to write an account of the Portuguese discoveries, a period of world history that is not widely reported or understood.

Why don't you write more novels?
I've never had the success with my novels that I've had with my nonfiction books. I enjoy writing them and hope to return to the genre at some point.

I enjoyed A Suspicion of Guilt very much. How much of it was true?
ASOG is my probation officer novel. I planned it for years. Nearly every incident in it actually happened.

Why don't you write true crime any longer?
I worked in the criminal courts for 15 years and had more than enough firsthand experience with rapists, molesters, murderers and con men. An occasional story interests me these days but there would have to be a unique angle on the murder to motivate me to write another.

How is ghostwriting different from when you write your own books?
When I write my own book I know the story inside out before I write a single word. When I qhostwrite, I learn the facts or story as I write. The second is more difficult and requires a lot of rewriting. The most interesting aspect of ghostwriting is that I get to learn so much on so many topics I'd normally not study on my own. You might like to visit that website for details: GhostWriter Services

Of the countries you've seen so far, which is your favorite? Why?
That's tough and I have no definitive answer. I didn't care for Calcutta at all and won't go back. Costa Rica has a charm of its own. I've enjoyed what I've seen of Europe. To just hang out, enjoy the scenery and be with friendly people, no country beats Brazil.

What is your average day like?
I maintain an office away from my home. I arrive at work between 8:30 and 9:00 Monday through Friday. The one luxury I give myself is to have no alarm but I tend to wake up the same time every day. I read email and browse websites until nearly 10 when I start writing. I stop at 11:30 and take lunch at my desk. I usually blog at this time. By 12:30 I'm writing again and usually go until 3. After that, I do clerical functions, transfer changes from hardcopy into the computer, answer letters or do research. I've usually had it by 4:30 and am on my way home just before 5. I work about three hours at my office most Saturdays. When I'm on a deadline I will work evenings and through the weekend.

What are you writing now?
I'm concentrating on ghostwriting right now while I line up my next book. I have several ideas and events will determine what I end up doing.

Is the reality of being a writer as good as the dream?
Better, in every way.
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