Monday, November 17, 2014
"I love stories of redemption": author Hank Garner talks about his path to writing and publishing
I met today's guest author, Hank Garner, through his Author Stories Podcasts: every week Hank interviews a new author in a very casual, yet informative way. Through the podcasts I've gotten to know the many different approaches to writing and publishing, and I've discovered new books I otherwise wouldn't have known of. Including Hank's own Bloom, a story where "Love, loss, friendship, and betrayal play out against the backdrop of the deep South." Hank is a great guy to talk to, and I had the pleasure and honor to be one of his guests: you can find the podcasts here. We chatted about plotting, characters, and the many joys and woes of publishing.
Welcome to Chimeras, Hank!
EEG: You've always been writing but it isn't until a few years ago that you started "to write down the stories that I have carried around in my head for years" (quoting from your bio). What was the spark that started this?
HG: My dream was always to be a writer. Since I was a small boy I would make up stories, and growing up in the rural South, I learned quickly to entertain myself.
As an adult, I have pursued writing, but in different ways. I wrote a column for my local newspaper, blogged, and published in various other short forms, so I have been writing for years, just not fiction writing. Writing fiction was always something that seemed far off in the distance, but I always knew that one day I would sit down and start writing down my stories.
In the summer of 2013 my wife and I started talking about this story that I had an idea for. For a lot of different reasons, I felt like I was ready to tell this story. The time just seemed right. I wrote out the first couple of pages of what would become Bloom. I got a feeling for the main characters and walked around with them in my head for a while and last November I signed up for NaNoWriMo and wrote over 50000 words of that book. Over the next few months I revised, cut and added to it and then published it in March of this year.
EEG: If you were to find a common thread across your books and stories, what would it be?
HG: I love stories of redemption. I believe in the innate goodness of people. Sometimes we don't live up to our potential as humans, but I think there is always hope. If I were to nail down a common thread in my writing, it would have to be hope and redemption. I don't want to become so cynical that I don't believe that people can be better than they are.
EEG: You have a large family (congratulations!): how does this inspire your stories?
HG: My family are my alpha and beta readers. I run everything past them. My wife Dawn is my first line. She is the one I bounce ideas off of, and one of her best traits is that she is brutally honest. Always. She is not afraid to tell me if an idea is terrible, or if the idea is good, but needs something more.
I also read everything I write out loud to my children. They range in age from 19 to 10, so they provide feedback from their varied perspectives. I get many ideas from them. If you pay attention around children you can learn a lot. Children have the ability to see the wonder and magic in the world that most of us adults have lost.
EEG: They certainly do! In fact I finally decided to start a YA story and I'm trying to get my kids involved. And I know they can be brutally honest (that's the best part about getting the family involved), too, so it'll be interesting to see how that goes. ;-)
Can you tell us a bit about your job as an IT tech: has this inspired any of your stories?
HG: I have worked in the IT industry my entire adult life. I have also worked in radio and television production, which I think has helped my story telling. As far as it inspiring my stories, I am not sure. My stories are surprisingly low tech for a person that has been programming computers since I was ten years old. My stories are all based in a small fictional Mississippi town called Weston. Weston is a typical small southern town, but for reasons that will become clearer in later books, strange things happen. Fantasy meets small town life is how I would describe it.
EEG: Tell us about you current writing project.
HG: My current project is called Mulligan. Mulligan is nearly finished and will be out in the next few weeks. It is the story of a man that finds himself in a time that is not his own, and with no memory of his former life. The book combines time travel, psychic powers with very real human struggles like pride and arrogance, racism, greed and selfishness. Mulligan is a tale of time travel and second chances.
EEG: Sounds intriguing, can't wait to read it! Thanks so much Hank for talking with us today!
Don't forget to check out Hank's Author Stories Podcasts, you'll find many authors you already know and new ones you'll want to go check out their books and discover their work. To find out more about Hank's books visit his website and Amazon author page.