Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rick Schiver, no holds barred.

Some of my best friends and I do not see eye-to-eye on a number of things. It is an easy thing to fill my blog with entries from people who I am "in sync" with on ideologies and such. I happen to respect Rick Schiver and his talent a great deal. His novel, Shadows of the Past, actually made me want to see what the fuss about Lovecraft is all about. For those of you who may disagree with some of Mr. Schiver's opinions, you are welcome to do so...respectfully. I do not hold comments for "moderation" because I believe in freedom of expression. All I ask is that it stay civil. Now, please welcome Mr. Rick Schiver.

What led you to writing?

I’ve always had a creative side. Growing up I imagined myself a movie director. Even went so far as to create a short creature feature about an alien space craft crash landing in the woods behind my house. There was no script. The spacecraft was aluminum foil wrapped around a wooden frame, (Don’t tell my mom) and the alien was my brother in some pretty lame make-up chasing me and my sister through the woods. Shot it on my Dad’s 8mm camera and used my allowance to have it developed. The night of the world premier the only audience was my mom and dad. But it was pretty cool to see something I created on the screen. Writing was a natural outgrowth of that desire. Add to that the fact I’ve been a voracious reader since I was seven, it’s only normal that after consuming well over three thousand books I would try my hand at writing.

What are some of the lessons you are learning early on that caught you off guard?

Writing is hard work. When I first started I thought it would be a piece of cake. Sit down, string together some sentences, and voila you have a story. Wrong answer. The most important thing I’ve learned is to write for yourself, but with your reader in mind. Write what you like to write, don’t try to follow the trends, and don’t worry one bit about what anyone thinks of your work.

The “contributor’s copy” anthology has been taking a beating in some of the social media circles lately. Where do you stand on the subject?

It’s a non issue for me as I’m more of a novel writer than a short story writer. For me short stories are few and far between.

I have never been a Lovecraft reader, but after your book Shadows of the Past, I guess I am going to break down and see what all the fuss is about. Give a newbie to that particular genre some pointers and some good titles to check out besides the obvious H.P Lovecraft choices.

First and foremost with reading Lovecraft, be patient. Take your time and slowly consume his work. Don’t rush through it or you’ll miss the goodies. Like Poe, Lovecraft’s words and ideas are to be savored. I’ve read his “At the Mountains of Madness” a number of times and each time I come away with some new understanding. He is a writer of the old tradition using what some would call flowery language, or purple prose.

For a new reader I’d suggest getting his complete works, all of his short stories in one volume from cthulhugirl on Amazon for only .99 cents. This is an amazing deal and she deserves the rewards for all the hard work she put into compiling the collection. With this you can sample a wider range of his work at your leisure.
Poe also wrote a story about ancient gods and a forbidden place at the South Pole titled. “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” I only mention this as many believe that story inspired Lovecraft to write “At the Mountains of Madness.” To take this two steps further, John W Campbell, in the fifties wrote the short story “Who Goes there,” in response to Lovercraft’s work, to, as he said, show how a good horror story should be written. That story served as the inspiration for Hollywood’s fifties classic “The Thing,” that John Carpenter remade in the eighties.
Shadows of the Past takes the story one step further. In each of the above instances the alien artifacts never reach civilization until now.

What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?

In my opinion I don’t believe there is much traditional publishers can take from self published authors. I’m not a fan of the indie designation for writers who chose to self publish. There is nothing wrong with being a self published author, after all I’m one, but some writers carry that Indie designation as if it were justification, an excuse, to produce sub-par work and rush it to publication.

I know many will disagree with me, claiming that maybe traditional publishers should be a little more open to new writers, more willing to take a chance, quicker in their responses, faster to publication, freer with their money. They are first and foremost a business, and in business the bottom line matters. When a writer approaches a traditional publisher they should do so with the understanding that they are dealing with a business whose sole purpose is to make a profit. The writer is like a manufacturer offering a product to a retailer for sale to the reading public. Would you purchase a sub par product?

The biggest thing a self published author can take from traditional publishers is the amount of editing in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and story structure that goes into a work before it’s released. And before the comments overflow with examples of crappy editing from traditional publishers take a moment and compare the number of known mistakes with the volume of that publisher’s releases. We’re all human and we’re prone to make mistakes.

The goal of any writer should be to make their writing transparent. You want the reader to experience your work with the least amount of roadblocks and interruptions possible. For me as a writer the biggest compliment I can get from a reader is that the words vanished as they were reading. This is only accomplished by polishing your work.

I was in an online discussion with a younger writer who proudly proclaimed that he switched tense from past to present and back again in his work, on purpose, just to keep the readers on their toes. I attempted to explain to him how important it was for the writer to remove those roadblocks from the story but he insisted that his way was the best.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?

The rush to publication, and yes I’m guilty of this. Slow down, take your time, it’s not a race.
Poor editing. Edit edit edit, and edit again.

Freebies. Everywhere you turn there’s someone hawking their book “free for this weekend only,” Or bragging about their free ranking outpacing other well known authors. And again I’m guilty of this too. Lately I’ve taken a step back from freebies. After all why should I give away something I’ve worked so hard on? Unless it’s in exchange for an honest review.

Solutions? Slow down and don’t be so quick to give it away, and this bears repeating. Edit, edit, edit.

The social media is a place to connect with my readers and fans.

Share some information about your work with us:

I currently have my novel Shadows of the Past and two short stories that were published back in the mid-nineties. Bobo, and Music of the Gods, available.

What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?

Not really a question, but more a look like, you do what? Outside of my wife and a couple of people I know at work, no one else knows I’m a writer. When it comes to my personal life I’m a very private person. I know, not exactly the personality one would expect of a writer whose goal is to hit the bestsellers list. But ours is a solitary endeavor, for in the beginning there is but you,  the blank page, and a head full of ideas that usually refuse to translate properly to the page.

How do you deal with negative reviews?

I don’t worry about it. I understand that everyone is not going to be an instant fan of my work. No matter how brilliant your writing is, there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you’ve written for one reason or another. It is not a personal attack against the writer. Just the expression of one person’s opinion. One of my jobs when I got out of the military was selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door. Wanna grow a thick skin, go out day after day to have doors slammed in your face, and be verbally abused by potential customers. I supported a family for two years doing this. I’ve already heard the worst anyone can say about me, a bad review is a walk in the park.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

I read every day. I should know this writer’s name but it escapes me at the moment, he said. “Never trust a writer who doesn’t read.” You have to be a reader first and always, and a writer second.

When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?

When you can’t have a conversation with someone without them promoting their latest work by working it into the conversation. Or when someone hijacks a thread about a totally unrelated subject just so they can promote their work.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve recently completed a novella “Enter Night,” that’s been submitted to Samhain publishing.
I’m currently fleshing out the sub-plots and editing my next novel tentatively titled, “Reprisal” After I get it back from my editor I’ll submit it to Samhain.
I’m working on the outline for Brethren which will be part two of the Shadows of the Past trilogy. This I will self publish.
Writing the first draft of my novel “The Gathering,” too early to tell what I’m going to do with this once it’s done.
Plotting my literary mainstream novel “A Yellow Ribbon,” about the first gulf war.
Plus a bunch of short stories in various stages of completion. I’m determined to eventually master the short form.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?

I’m a big softy. As I’ve aged I’ve become  more sentimental. A few weeks ago a guy I’ve only worked with for a few months died in a motorcycle accident, he was only twenty four, a good kid. I had to lock myself in my office for a couple of hours because every time I thought about what happened, how much of a waste his death was, and what his parents must be going through, I started crying.

Tell us a secret.

I sometimes play computer games when I’m supposed to be writing. Don’t tell my wife.

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?

My Editor, Patricia Russo, she’s an accomplished speculative fiction writer with well over a hundred short stories published around the web and in print. She recently had a collection of her short stories released by Primvera press. The owner requested a collection of her short stories to be compiled into a book because she enjoyed her work.

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

I’m currently reading Blood Orchard by S.D Hintz and Myths of Gods by Leigh M. Lane, and rereading The King in Yellow.
Still in my TBR:
The Midnight Eye 1  William Meikle
All the Dark Places by J.W. Bouchard
Fear and Repulsion by Joshua Scribner
Unidentified by Billie Sue Mossiman
The Heritic by Jospeh Nassise
Shades of Green by Ian Woodhead
Winds of Change by Jason Brannon
Mystery Dance Three novels by Scott Nicholson


Shadows of the Past link:
Music of the Gods link:
Link to Shiny Thing:

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