Thanks for having me here, Beth!
Beth Anne and I have become Internet buddies and she asked me: “How did you start writing?”
The ridiculously short answer is: women!
But that answer is misleading. Hey, I am a fiction writer, what did you expect? Women were not why
I originally put pen to paper. Or, more precisely, why I put fingers to keyboard. Actual writing did not
come until much later in life.
I discovered books before I discovered women. And I discovered women before I ever thought about
writing books. As a matter of fact, once I discovered women, I thought of little else for a long time.
So, how did my quest for women come into play in my writing?
Early on in life, I realized that I was not not blessed with stunning looks and I had not been born into a
wealthy family. There would always be better looking guys, guys with more money, and any of those
other qualities that I thought young girls found enticing. Then, someone told me that women liked
funny guys. It made no sense, but I was desperate enough to try anything by that point.
Jokes are nothing more than really short stories with surprise endings. Sometimes, the jokes are funny.
Sometimes, the way you tell them is funnier than the joke itself. Either way, when you tell a joke, you
are telling a story. Writers are story tellers.
Tell a joke well and you get a laugh. A reaction! Write a story well and you get a reaction which can
be a laugh, a tear, or the manifestation of any myriad of emotions. So, in my quest to gain the attention
of women through humor (by the way, women do like humor), I became a story teller. Once I started
putting those stories on paper, I became a writer.
That is still the simplistic version of how I became a writer.
I have always written. In school, I loved writing assignments. I could BS my way through an essay
question like few others. I read a lot of books, mostly fantasy, and had the dream of one day writing an
epic fantasy story.
The problem was, I never got a good idea for a fantasy story that had not been done before and better
than I ever could write it. There are hard-drives full of starts to many fantasy stories in abandoned
computers in various closets around my house. None of them were good enough to revisit now. I now
view them as the practice I needed to write and not completely suck at it.
I busied myself writing political pieces and articles for industry magazines. It wasn’t fiction, but there
is always an aspect of story telling even in non-fiction. At least I was writing in my spare time. I spent
more than a decade coming up with and discarding ideas for a fantasy series. Eventually, I gave up on
the idea of of writing and I even abandoned my love of fantasy.
Then, in 1996, George R.R. Martin put out Game of Thrones. The book and the two that followed
rekindled my love of the genre and I started thinking about writing fantasy again. Still, no original
ideas found their way into my brain.
In 2008, I came across “The Crown Conspiracy” by Michael J. Sullivan. I probably found it while
searching for information on when Martin’s long overdue next book would be released. As much as I
liked Martin’s first three books in his series, the wait for the fourth book was like four years (and the
book did not live up to the first three in my mind). At the time, there was no end in sight to the wait
for his fifth book. I was hugely frustrated and a part of my mind asked, “How hard can it be to write a
book? What takes so long?”
Unlike Martin, Sullivan seemed to be releasing a book or two per year. That baffled me. I did some
further research and found that the whole series had already been written, they were just releasing them
at intervals. I got even more curious and did a little research on Sullivan.
He was a new breed of author called “indie.” No Big Six publisher (at the time), no huge company
backing his books. I got intrigued by the prospect of putting out my own books…of course, I had none
to put out so my enthusiasm, while heightened, still had no outlet.
A good, original idea for a fantasy series still eluded me. Then, one evening, a police officer
acquaintance stopped by our table to say hello. Cops have the BEST stories so we chatted a while.
During the conversation, he made the comment that criminals get caught because they are stupid. They
brag about their exploits and leave obvious clues. I also had the feeling that since most criminals were
very poor that they really did not have the means to “get away with it.”
Though I had heard comments like his before, this time they stuck. I started wondering if a “criminal”
that had a little means, a bit of intellect, and could keep their mouth shut, could pull off capers without
getting caught. I knew immediately that I did not want to write about a cop chasing bad guys, that had
been done. I also had no taste for writing about a stone-cold criminal.
The question hit me….what if you were asked to do something really bad for really good reasons?
Could you? Would you? This was my lightning bolt moment. I did not want the character “forced”
into crossing the line of legality, I wanted it to be a choice.
By the time I got home that evening, the story for the series and the first book had already formed in
my head. I knew that Tom Crayder was going to be a regular guy who made choices that put him in
hairy situations. I knew he was not going to be the prototypical hero in a white hat and that he would
be torn up by some of the things he had to do. Yeah, I like “gray” good guys and really nasty bad guys.
For the first time, I had what I thought was a good, original idea. It just wasn’t fantasy. Finally, I was
going to see what writing a book, a whole book, was like. How hard could it be?
In a weird way, I my writing to Martin’s slowness. I also owe it to Sullivan for being the first indie
author that I read.
For the record, call it confidence or experience, but now I cannot keep story ideas out of my brain. I
even have what I think is a good fantasy story and character rolling around in there. When the dam
broke, the flood began. I won’t live long enough to write all of the stories I want to.
There you have it. From hormones to frustration to inspiration to actually writing. It took a long time
but, when I saw “The Reluctant” climbing the Amazon charts last month, it made all of it worth the
What advice would I give to other writers? Just write. Don’t stall out looking for an idea. Write and
those ideas will start flooding your brain. I wish I had been smart enough to “just write” before I lost a
Splitter’s Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/splitter