My blog guest today is author D.R. Racey. Because both of us agree how rare it is to find solitude in our everyday chaotic life, I take David to one of my favorite spots for a little peace and quiet, Balboa Island. This time of year it isn’t that touristy or crowded, so we take the ferry over to get across the channel, a five minute ride. Once we get there, we start toward the beach where we find the only sound to compete with is the surf.
David, you’ve already published four novels with another four planned for the future, which one was the toughest story to write? And was it tough because you couldn’t get a handle on the characters or for some other reason?
Vickie, I think “War 8000 Miles From Home” was the hardest for me to write. I tried to keep the book as real as possible without talking about real situations that could compromise the lives or soldiers still in combat. Obviously the book is historical fiction, so the actual events in the book have been made up from events that “could” have taken place during the war.
Understandable. For those that don’t know you, you’re an active member of the military. You’re also a husband with three children. With all that going on, how in the world do you find the time to write?
There isn’t any time. I try to write the meat of my stories while I am on leave since my work schedule is so very hectic. My wife needs her time, and I better give it to her…or else. The kids also need their time. I’m not even going to mention how much time I spend on social media promoting my books and other indie authors. I don’t like to think of my writing as a hobby, but the things happening right here and now are what I have to focus on first. It is a delicate balance between everything.
That is so true. Balancing the dreaded, time-consuming promotions with everything else is a challenge. Do you remember the very first character you ever created? How old were you?
I am too old to remember back that far. I always kicked around ideas in my head, but I never really put anything concrete down. In 2000 I wrote the original draft of Conflagration, which at the time was titled The Phoenix Blade. Eight years later I found my original manuscript in print format while cleaning out my closest and rewrote the entire story. This was when the main character in the book was given the name Valus.
OMG, I remember coming across a mystery I’d written while doing the very same thing, cleaning out my closet. Do you suppose we all do that? Which makes me curious, what do you do when you’re having difficulty with a scene? How do you get past it? Do you talk it out with someone you trust, or maybe act it out?
My wife swears I have OCD and ADD. She is probably right, too. I talk through my books with my wife, so even if she never read one of them, then she would still know the general synopsis of the book. If I just can’t get past writer’s block on a certain area then I will shelve that story and go work on one of my other novels or do some social media networking to promote my books.
Did you always have the confidence to put your work out there for the public, or did it build slowly over time?
Heck no. I always played with it to see where it would go. I tried to get a literary agent in 2008 when I rewrote Conflagration and was turned down by over a dozen agencies. The book sat on the computer for four years before doing another rewrite and edit. At that point I self published it. I said to hell with the traditional methods of publishing because my book belonged out there.
A dozen agencies? David, I can top that. Try 85 before I had an agent for a whole year and a half. Who influenced you the most to become a writer? A parent, a teacher? And did you know in your heart that was what you were meant to be?
I started writing as a hobby. My mind is always wandering around and thinking of new ideas. I have four books I am currently working on, but I have the basic ideas for four other books already in my mind. My wife is the one that keeps me motivated to keep chasing my dream and working on following the path of an author.
Are you ever tempted to write outside the genre you’re best known for?
Oh, I do write outside my genre. My genre is actually fantasy. I love writing about elves, dwarves, orcs, giants, dragons, and magic. Blood Rites is a paranormal werewolf novel and was different for me to write. I am also working on a science fiction novel and the sequel to Blood Rites currently. The out of genre books are a little different to write because of the way the stories need to flow. With fantasy, the writing can be abstract even when following a set sequence of events.
Elves, dwarves, orcs, giants, dragons, and magic. That is so cool If you could sit down with one author and ask one question, which author would it be and what would you ask?
I would like to sit down with R.A. Salvatore or Terry Brooks. Both of them are pioneers in the fantasy genre. The question I would ask either of them is. “What do you think of my book?” To get an honest answer from either of them would be very enlightening. The reviews from all my readers mean a lot to me, but I would like to know what a master of the fantasy genre thinks as well.
R.A. Salvatore or Terry Brooks? Both good choices. Do you pay attention to negative reviews or criticism at all?
I do pay attention to negative reviews and criticism. If someone just writes “Worst book ever. Don’t waste your money,” then I ignore that review as hater propaganda. If someone actually leaves a valid criticism of the book with why they though the book was lacking, or sucked, then I go back and look at my work to see what I could have done different. That doesn’t mean that I am going to change my story, but it does provide me feedback that helps me grow as an author. Bottom line is that I want to write novels that are enjoyable to read.
On the flip side of that, how do you handle praise when people gush over your work?
The same way I guess. Everyone loves to see five star reviews, but three and four star reviews can be good also; it isn’t just how many stars someone clicks as their comments in the review. I have had some three-star reviews that really captured the story and what I was trying to do for my readers.
What kind of environment do you prefer around you when you write? Complete solitude or a bit of static noise in the background? Does that include listening to music to set a scene?
I have three kids living in the house…and a wife. I have learned to write in basically any environment. I like it when the TV is on, even if I am not paying attention to it. Sometimes my son will sit right next to me with his Nintendo DS turned on max volume and asking me questions every thirty seconds. That is just part of the writing experience. If I write a monster eating a little boy in a book one day, you know where I got the inspiration.
LOL Woot!! Another writer who creates while writing during chaos, even if it is monsters that eat little boys. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t at the laptop writing?
I am a busy body type of person. Last summer I started working on a boat project then had to stop when the weather got cold. I gave the boat project away a few weeks ago and someone else is going to finish it. I also like to make chainmail armor. I work on it on occasion as a hobby; it is super time consuming and a very slow process. I also create all of my own cover art, but I guess I am still behind my laptop, just not writing.
What is your favorite character in your own work?
Valus from Conflagration, Book One in The Phoenix Blade Trilogy, is my favorite character. He was my first real hero that I created and I tried to make him as real as possible. I didn’t just make him a fighter, but I gave him depth and let readers see the more tender side of him as well.
One last question and we’re done. Where can people find your books? Contact you online?
My books can be found on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble in ebook formats. I also have all four books published in paperback format through Amazon.
Blood Rites: A paranormal action thriller. Can Daniel escape the ravaging lycan pack?
The Phoenix Blade Trilogy – Books One and Two
Conflagration: Book one in The Phoenix Blade Trilogy. A fantasy novel of magic, good and evil.
Lineage: Book two in The Phoenix Blade Trilogy. A fantasy novel of magic, good and evil.
War – 8000 Miles From Home: Historical fiction novel about one platoon’s struggled during the War in Iraq.