Author’s Roundtable: Douglas Wickard

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I began writing when I was young, around 12 years old. It was a thought, an idea that always lingered, rolled around in my head. I didn’t actually start taking my writing seriously until I was living in New York City and began working on my first musical, “Waiting.” There was a flood of creative energy, overnight it seemed, and the next thing…I was writing music and lyrics, (never trained) a synopsis, hiring a book writer, attracting a producer and picking an agent. It was all very frantic, weird and wonderful!

What books or stories have you written? Published? Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

Three musicals, all optioned for Broadway back in the late 80s, early 90s: “Waiting,” “Head Over Heels” and “Lovers & Liars.” “A Perfect Husband” is my first published novel, although I have three trunk novels waiting for deliverance. I write thrillers. Suspense. Mysteries. My character Sami Saxton has hit a nerve with the female reading public as an unusual anti-heroine. Sami is coming out of a bad marriage, a troubled career and entering into mid-life single, sexually frustrated and wanting more. In an attempt to regain her sanity, Sami makes the bold decision to move to the country house her father built seventy-two miles from the city surrounded by acres of forest. What Sami encounters is a run-in with a serial killer who’s been using her father’s abandoned basement for a hobby much more sinister that woodcarving.

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

My best friend, Patricia, had a cottage in Montague, N.J. The exact house I wrote about in “A Perfect Husband.” I stayed in that cottage while I was writing my second novel, “Nothing Sacred.”. The first idea came while finding stories for Patricia’s second novel. The title at that time was called “The Killing Fields.”

Are the books based on personal experiences?

No. I hope not. I have a very imaginative dark side. 

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

The advice I say over-and-over again is just do it. There is a romantic, artsy-fartsy romantic notion about being a writer. It has an appealing seduction over people. Writing is tough work. It takes time, commitment, dedication and the absolute need to want to be alone for long stretches of time. It isn’t very glamorous. You don’t want to witness me early in the morning while I’m writing…

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

My editor, who is now deceased, was a legend in the publishing industry. She edited Thomas Keneally, Jackie Collins, James Patterson. She worked in publishing her entire life. I had no idea independent, self-publishing was so strong. I come from the old school. You write the best book you can, rewrite it again and again, give it to an editor before submitting to an agent. The fact that so many books get downloaded on Amazon without proper editing only hurts the author. I know, people get excited, they want to hurry the process, become a national bestseller, but in the end, it IS the writing that will either get the book extended readership or not.

What is the hardest part about finding a professional editor?

That job is ahead of me with my next outing. But, I will DEFINETELY have one. For sure.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Confidence. I languish the years I wasted getting other people’s approval rather than just doing it!

How do you find enough time in the day to write?

I write early in the morning, usually before the sun comes up. I love that peaceful, nocturnal time. I also work full-time, so I have to fit it in. Writing is now my full-time job, my other work is supporting my writing at this time.

How did you find time to write your books?

I don’t have any choice. Writers will understand this. Besides my pesky little friend, procrastination, I am not whole when I am not writing. I feel like my day is empty without characters swimming around planning their lives through me.

Do you set aside a special time to write?

As I mentioned, always early morning. My writing gets the best out of me. I can never write after a full day at my other job. I’m exhausted, need to sleep to get up early for the next session.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

No. Not that I can think of, except keeping my sanity intact. That’s all.

Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

I call it “the zone.” One of the reasons I must get up so early is because time can speed by at tremendous speed while I’m writing. I will sit down, turn my light on, and look up and four hours have passed me by. I need to know I have time on either side of the zone, so I don’t lose concentration. I can’t be distracted by constantly looking at a clock or my cell phone. It’s annoying and so bothersome.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

I feel all writers work through things with their art. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious. Each new work I start, I have to find the hum. What’s underneath the story? What’s the universal conflict my characters are working out? Working on? Working through? And, how do I infuse that hum into my plot? I find this gives my work foundation, truth, core values.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I am a voracious reader. When I’m not writing, I read all the time. Even while working on a piece, I read. I read everything. Now, I have a Kindle full of indie authors.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers? What kinds of information do reviews offer authors like yourself? Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Unfortunately, unless you’re published by the big six publishers and their subdivisions, all small press e-book writers and indie authors don’t have the same sort of platform. We can’t get reviews in trendy magazines and/or newspapers. We have to generate our “worthiness” with the reviews we collect from readers. Most buyers don’t want to risk paying cash for a product or brandname they don’t know, so they wait until a substantial  amount of reviews showcase the work and the author. I am humbled daily by my stellar reviews. I never imagined when my book went live that I would amass such an amazing string of high ratings. When my first three-star review came through, I was okay with it. I mean, not everybody is going to love my work, and I also realized the reading public gets emotionally involved with characterization. If something triggers an unpleasant emotion, they will either hunker in to that feeling or avoid it and disengage. My books push the envelope. I test the human will to the breaking point. I never want to write anything less than this way. Some readers will go for it, others won’t. I accept their unfavorable review with appreciation and gratitude.

Check out Douglas’ author website here.


2 thoughts on “Author’s Roundtable: Douglas Wickard

  1. I enjoyed learning more about Doug very much. He has helped me with my own writing and I learned to be a better writer by reading A Perfect Husband. I gave this book a 5 * review and it’s a pleasure knowing him.

  2. Pingback: One of the Best Decisions I’ve Made « Lori's Inner Goddess

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