For the second in her series of interviews, Rebecca spoke to Guy Anthony De Marco about who he writes for and how he does it.
Hi Guy – are you working on something at the moment? Could you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there somewhere you need to be or something you need to do before you can write?
Hi, Rebecca, thank you for inviting me into your virtual home. I love what you’ve done to the place.
I’m currently working on several projects. I’m a multi-tasker, and I like having the option to switch between different projects depending on what my muse is whispering. I’m doing some line edits for a novel coming out at the end of November, The Bride, a twist on the zombie apocalypse story-line. I’m expanding parts of my steampunk novel, The Dynasty Sentinel, due out April 2013. I decided to give the Bizarro genre a go with a new novella that is in the outlining stage. If I can get it finished by the middle of November, I’ll try to force it into the hands of the publishers attending Bizarrocon in Portland, Oregon. Maybe I can wrap it around a nice bottle of scotch so they can’t say no.
Since I enjoy writing short stories, I have a dozen or so in the queue. I owe a story to several anthologies, including Quincy J. Allen’s upcoming “Penny Dread Tales 3”, Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s “Beyond the Sun”, and a crazy story for Brent Millis’ “Full Metal Orgasm” magazine.
Finally, I will be producing and editing an anthology for Fantastic Journeys, tentatively called “Creature Features”.
As far as my writing process, I have the dreaded day job for luxuries like food, shelter, and health care. I set aside time every day to write, plus I do some research, blogging, marketing, and social media (read: wasting precious time on Facebook). Because I have to write when I can find the spare time, I had to learn to ignore what is going on around me. I have a voice recorder for when I’m driving, plus I keep a small booklet for writing notes and story ideas at the day job. I chatted with Kevin J. Anderson on several occasions, and the man is a focused writing machine. At AnomalyCon 2 in Denver, he had 30 minutes of time before our panel started, so he banged out a chapter. That’s inspirational, and it shows that one must write if they wish to be a professional, no excuses allowed.
When I start writing, I usually go back several pages to read and edit, if needed. This gets my mind and muse into the groove, and I can continue on from where I left off. I try to leave myself at some type of cliffhanger so I can find the motivation to help out my virtual children.
When did you start writing? Was there something or someone which made you decide to start?
My first foray into the written arts was in 1977. I always loved reading, especially science fiction. I sent that horrific story in to Asimov’s. I’ve since apologized for subjecting them to such a brain-melting example of how not to write. I did get back a hand-written comment on the form rejection that encouraged me to keep working at developing my skills, and that had me hooked.
I had several short stories published, but I dedicated years to developing Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and modules. I played with several hard-core RPGers, and I eventually developed over 300 complete dungeons, continents worth of historical data, and a large collection of original monsters and non-player characters. My beautiful wife, Tonya, is pushing me to convert those tomes to a modern gaming system and selling them online.
I always wanted to be a member of a professional writing organization, particularly the SFWA. Luckily, I was able to join the Horror Writers Association several years ago, and I’ve been very happy with them. I am a volunteer web minion, and the HWA was kind enough to present the Silver Hammer Award to me during this years Bram Stoker Award©; ceremony. I did finally qualify for SFWA membership this year, so that was another goal accomplished.
Speaking of goals, I think they are important for new writers. Don’t fall into the trap of setting lofty goals such as quitting your day job (that takes years), being a best-selling author (that takes decades), or getting invited to dinner by the elite agents in publishing (I’m still waiting on my invitations!) Start small, like writing 200 good words a day, every day, no excuses.
Who you you write for? Do you have an audience in mind or do you write for yourself?
I’ll weasel on this one and say both. I have to write something that interests me personally, or the lack of enthusiasm will show. I also have to keep the audience in mind. Because I write across several genres, I have to make sure I don’t cross lines that are unacceptable, such as writing magic into a military/hard science fiction story or hyper-violent bizarro storylines in a steampunk submissions. Each genre fan is looking for certain mileposts that indicate a particular type of story … think of them as familiar tropes. It makes a reader comfortable, which allows the author to add in the tweak that makes the story memorable.
Are there any other writers who you really admire? Is there a book you wish you’d written? What was the last thing you read and would you recommend it?
There are so many authors I admire, it would be easier to Google “speculative fiction author” to see a list, particularly the old masters. I’ve been expanding my reading list recently and I found several authors that I will keep an eye on. Damien Grintalis published a story in Daily Science Fiction called “Like Origami in Water”, which blew me away. I picked up her novel, “Inked”, at KillerCon. Bryan Thomas Schmidt just released the second book to his Davi series, and since I enjoyed book one, “The Worker Prince”, I know this will be even better. Gene O’Neil’s fascinating book “The Burden of Indigo” is next on my list. Scott Nicholson’s “The Home” was a spooky novel, The Bizarro Starter Kits (purple, orange and blue) had some crazy stories to warp my inner child, and Peter J. Wacks time-bending novel “Second Paradigm” was a blast to read, particularly since it is the only novel I know where you can read the chapters in any order and get a solid storyline. All are recommended.
Finally, do you have any hints and tips for other aspiring writers?
I’m actually doing a series of short ebooks called The Author’s Handbook, which will be available for free on my website. The first one, “QR Codes for Authors”, is already out: http://guyanthonydemarco.com/2012/09/qr-codes-for-authors/
Other ebooks will focus on attending conventions, working with ebooks, using social media without becoming an obnoxious sales drone, etc.
My best suggestion is one I heard from several professional authors: butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, brain engaged. Write whenever you get the chance. Never toss anything you write. Make plenty of backups, your computer will implode one day. Read where you write — know what’s happening in your genre.
I also recommend you attend conventions and sit on panels. Make sure you go to author conventions, such as KillerCon for aspiring horror/dark fiction authors, to learn from those who are walking the walk. The more folks know your name in your chosen genre, the better off you will be. You’ll get invites for closed anthologies, and you’ll get to meet publishers in person. Always watch for conventions that are taking pitch sessions. Finally, always — ALWAYS — be professional, polite (even to rude jerks), and positive. Remember, saying “thank you” is always appreciated, particularly by overworked con staffers who are dealing with the difficult folks.
Guy Anthony De Marco is a nocturnal award-winning author living in the geographic center of the middle of nowhere. Between writing speculative fiction, brewing more coffee, and wishing the bills and the horrific mortgage would forget how to find him, he ponders how long it would take for a zombie apocalypse to reach his front door. His practical wife, Tonya, trains all of the small pets to trip the incoming hordes and wonders where all the coffee went by the time she wakes up.
Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, HWA, SFPA, ASCAP, RMFW, and hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day.