4 in 1 Guest Bloggers: Talking to My Selves RE: TIME ON THE INSIDE – Caution: Pen Names Can Lead to Schizophrenia (A Round Table Discussion Among the Pseudonymous)
Robert W. Walker, Geoffrey Caine, Stephen Robertson, Glen Hale, & Evan Kingsbury
Robert W. Walker has penned over forty novels but many he credits to his pseudonymous creations. Rob’s archeological horror series was done as Geoffrey Caine, his Decoy Series and The Handyman was done as Stephen Robertson, a single title cult favorite, Dr. O came about from the pen of Glenn Hale, while his Fire & Flesh and FleshWars began with the pen of Evan Kingsbury.
Robert recently sat down with all of his “selves” for a round table discussion with himself and himself, himself, and himself again. The results are curiously interesting, some of him thinks. Perhaps a cautionary tale to those contemplating use of pen names?
Rob: Over the space of the next several blogs, I want to put questions of interest to Goeff Caine, Steve Robertson, Glenn Hale, and Evan Kingsbury to get their views on various subjects relevant to writing and writers. Question number one is a simple but deeper than you think, all important one: How important is it to your writing process, gents, to schedule TIME, and does this lead to other opportunities in weaving the novel?
Evan: You either control time, or time will control you; simple as that.
Geoff: There are times, indeed, when the world and problems impinge on any artist or writer, as when the roast is in the oven—reality and everyday business all of us must deal with, which at times can become so overwhelming as to cause the hardest working writer to experience a block. However, to get any writing done, yes, you have to have a plan of action, and time is an extremely important thing to plan out and use wisely.
Stephen: Learned long ago that in order to create something worthwhile that time has to be on my side. Doesn’t matter whether it’s AM or PM or both that you work (like we do), but it is highly important that you make that date with yourself and stick to it as much as humanly possible. If you work or have other responsibilities, you still must get to that chair and work an allotted amount of pages or ages—minutes and hours, I mean. Whether that’s one hour a day or three or three hours a week.
Glenn: Robertson’s right. It’s not how long or short a time period you have to work with but that you work with a time frame. In fact, I gotta agree with everyone here. All good advice. Sometimes this commitment means you hafta “stiff-arm” the ones you love. That is the people around you have to understand that this time you have carved out for writing—for yourself—that you are damn serious about it.
Evan: Exactly, and if you are truly a writer, the work is more important than the roast in the oven.
Rob: Sounds like a consensus that time is either going to work against you or for you depending on the level of your determination and commitment. I’ve burned a few roasts, and once I failed to burn the thing! Simply forgot to turn it on. However, I got a fantastic chapter done in Salem’s Child that day.
Stephen: Been there, done that. You were so involved in the world within that you lost track of time in the world outside you. Which is a necessary evil to creation; creating a fictional world that is—just as I did in The Decoy Series, which has a new life on www.FictionWise.com thanks to you, Rob.
Rob: You’re welcome, pal. Brought back a few of my own early titles online at Fictionwise too.
Geoff: Happens to the best of us, this loss of time; can sure make the wife pissed. In Curse of the Vampire, Wake of the Werewolf, and Legion of the Dead, now entitled the Bloodstream Series on FictionWise.com, I completely lost myself and any sense of time while creating the character and events surrounding Dr. Abraham Stroud—ancestor to Van Helsing.
Glenn: Same for me on Dr. O. The one series killed before its time!
Evan: What’s the famous Robert Frost saying on the subject? Something to the effect that ‘If the writer doesn’t cry, then the reader doesn’t cry’. So that losing of time Rob talks about is part and parcel of becoming your characters. And if you are totally in the moment, and you can make yourself laugh, jump, tear up, then you’re on the right path.
Caine: Become the monster to do villains.
Robertson: Become the mouse if you’re doing a child’s story about a mouse!
Hale: Talk about schizophrenia.
Rob: I know what you mean, both of you. On Daniel & The Wrongway Railway, my first novel, a YA, and on my first commercial contract, Sub-Zero (1979) things like that happened throughout. Daniel was a real tearjerker and still is, but working on an ice age mystery in Sub-Zero, my fingers became so cold that I couldn’t work the keys. Had to cut out the fingers in a pair of cotton gloves to keep going.
Evan: Same happened to me during the writing of both Fire & Flesh and FleshWar, except for one important difference; it wasn’t cold but HEAT. It became so hot for me, I literally had to strip to my waist, and before it was over, I had to take a cooling shower. It was after all about Spontaneous Human Combustion and a creature that “smokes” folks like we smoke Camels.
Hale: Hot time in the ol’ book tonight, eh?
Stephen: If I’m hearing everyone right, then scheduling time gets you there—eventually. So you are prepared. In learning, when you are prepared, you see the patterns and connections because you have been in training.
Rob: Eventually puts you in a frame of mind to be “there” yes—to take advantage of the opportunities offered up by the subject matter, the storyline, the setting, the characters, and imagination and research. All combining thanks to the TIME you put in. As in any artistic endeavor, athletic endeavor, or truth be told—
All of US: ANY ENDEAVOR!
Rob: Which takes us back to time, commitment, determine-Nation! If a newbie or wanna-be writer were given a full four years just to work on his or her craft without any guarantees of ever seeing a word in print, would the student writer take up the challenge and make something of it?
Evan: Which returns us to attitude. The proper frame of mind to be a writer has a great deal to do with our control of time, of persistence, of patience, and our trust that in doing and working with our hands and minds, we eventually find ourselves capable authors. But we must also remember to have fun with it. Van Gogh worked with his hands and mind over many years, struggled mightily, yet he loved the work. Not that my plague novel FleshWars is a Van Gogh.
Geoff: I had a blast with the vampires, werewolves, zombies and freedom of the horror novels featuring Abe Stroud, I can tell you. Spending time with characters you have a real connection with is why we forget the roast in the oven or that it’s tax day zero. Not that I am anything like my monsers. Did that come out all right?
Rob: Final word on time and time control. If you don’t spend the time, you’re not likely to be transported body and soul to your own fictional world. And if not, then you are only half writing. When I created the horrendous, villainous Lauralie in Final Edge, I wanted to go out to purchase a gun, hunt her down, and put this despicable female serial killer down. However, in the real world, I know there’d be dire consequences for shooting B.B.’s at the damned squirrels out back of my yard. So which world do I want to schedule time in, eh? Call me crazy but . . .
NEXT TIME ON – As Rob’s Head Turns . . .
Robertson says: The ultimate goal is to not just crawl around in the psyche of the characters but to become the players.
We’ll take up other issues with My Selves that hopefully will bear fruit and keep me from the Asylum.
Hoppy, Hoppy Writing y’all . . .and thanks to my guests, Geoff, Glenn, Evan, and Stephen.