Happy Monday, Blogosprites. Things have been hectic lately, but I'm hoping that the lion that March came in as will soon show its more lamb-like qualities. Once things settle down, I'm really going to try to have something cool for my followers in honor of my one-year blogoversary that just passed at the end of February. If I can pull it off, it just might be legen...wait for it...dary! (Okay, yeah, I've been watching too much How I Met Your Mother.)
But for now, I've got an interview with an author who's legendary himself. Let's chat with the fabulous Dixon Rice.
Welcome, Dixon. Tell us a bit about yourself.
That's quite some bio. How long have you been writing?
I started telling bedtime stories to my children (now young adults) and they asked me to write them down. A few got published in local and regional pubs, and a nasty addiction was born. Then I turned to book-length adult literature, and the habit spun totally out of control.
Tell us about MONTANA IS BURNING. What's the story about?
Suzanne of Unruly Guides is slaving away on a book cover and ways to improve my writers platform, and I’m guessing MONTANA will be released on Kindle and serial podcasts before all the snow melts from my back yard. Of course, that might be August of 2014…
Right, lol. How did the idea of the story come to you?
The idea of Paul Longo – a fish out of water – came to mind first, and then putting him into an unmanageable situation such as Ruby Ridge or the stand-off with the Branch Davidians in Waco, where the federal agencies assumed jurisdiction and pushed local law enforcement aside.
Is your WIP, ASSASSIN'S CLUB similar to MONTANA IS BURNING?
It also takes place in Montana during the 1970s, but that’s the main similarity.
A likable young Montanan named Ty “accidentally” becomes a serial killer when he’s targeted by a family of brutal rednecks. Every time he kills to protect himself, he feels like he’s done the community a favor – and he enjoys the rush it gives him. Alternating chapters present a bearded, thirtyish man who emerges nude from the ocean near Ensenada, Mexico. He meets a woman walking along the beach. Startled, she blurts out, “Jesus! You’re naked.” He thinks to himself, “So that’s who I am” before killing her and taking her white beach robe. Jesus walks up the coast, killing when it pleases him, and gathers a Manson-like tribe of weak-minded followers. He follows the voices in his head until he reaches Montana. He meets Ty but who will survive the encounter?
Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
My mantra is “I can’t find my own mistakes.” Once I had part of MONTANA IS BURNING drafted, I looked around for a local critique group, but there wasn’t one with an opening. So I gathered some friends together and started one. We meet for an evening every two weeks, and the group has been tremendously helpful. We’ve had memoirists, poets and YA writers, and tellers of western, romance and SciFi tales. The genre doesn’t seem to matter – good writing is good writing.
Writing a synopsis. It’s the worst, barely ahead of rewriting.
I have to agree with you there. Hate's not a strong enough word for how I feel about writing a synopsis. So, got any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?
When your characters are faced with a choice, help them to choose the unexpected route – if the choice is compatible with the character’s core personality.
Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
I need to get away from my house to create my first draft, to avoid the many domestic distractions. I’ve discovered that if I get up early, the critical editor in the back of my head is still asleep, and I can write page after page of crap. Later, I can tidy up the crap and fix the mistakes, and even move big chunks of prose around – with the help of that critical editor who’s now alert and helpful.
Other than the above, I can write in silence, with music playing, in front of the TV, on a park bench, in a car between Kalispell and Fargo, whatever.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
I would wish for the longevity of Methuselah because I feel I’m just now hitting my stride as a writer, and I am absolutely green with envy at the young writers who will grind out 40 or 50 books by the time they reach my age.
Before leaving for the Vatican to commit the crime of the century, Tango Smith flipped open his Starfish brand laptop and ordered a pair of sniper binoculars online.
Tricky! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.
My wife Mitzi will surely be considered for sainthood, and my kids have been tremendously supportive. The members of my critique group, along with writing instructor Dennis Foley and the Authors of the Flathead, have helped me develop my craft. Laura of Writers Etc, Suzanne of Unruly Guides, and Roxanne McHenry have pushed me out of my comfort zone, with the result that I expect to be Kindlated and podcasterized later this spring. And over 2,900 helpful writers, poets, editors and agents on Facebook have been generous with their time, experience and advice.
And finally, where can people find you online?
I blog every day of the year at http://wredhead.blogspot.com/ alternating inspirational and not-so-much literary sayings with tips on improving our writing craft and getting published – many of the tips contributed by my FB network of writers and book lovers. On my FB page (Dixon Rice Novelist), I post a thought-provoking country song title every day of the year; often the only thought being provoked is “what on earth were they thinking when they wrote that song?” I’m nearly finished posting my Top 20 song titles, and am thinking about going through the entire list in alphabetical order – I can easily keep it going through Christmas.
It was great getting to know you and your book, Dixon. Thank you so much for chatting with us, and I wish you heaps of success with your writing!