In four years I published eight books and contributed to several anthologies. That’s pretty good for me. I know writers who are single parents holding down two jobs, who wait until their kids are asleep and write into the early hours. I know writers who have gone through life-threatening illnesses, medical emergencies and personal trauma and didn’t stop writing. I know writers who publish a new book every two or three months. I wish I could be like them. I am not a fast writer and as I get older I want to make time for other things I enjoy, so I do.
I admire the aforementioned authors for their hard work and dedication, which, in my usual rambling way, brings me to my guest, R. Mac Wheeler, who has published twenty-four books in a little over two and a quarter years. Although he completed his first book quite some time ago, he wrote and published the last seven in the past two years, a little over three months per book.
Linda: Hello, Mac. Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on publishing your twenty-fourth novel!
Mac: Thank you. To clarify, I started writing in 1987 and ended up with my first novel (which I subsequently split into a three-book series) and sixteen others. In 2011 I made the decision to self-publish. Took me almost three years to get sixteen of those published, and I wrote an additional seven novels in the last two years.
Linda: It’s an accomplishment any way you look at it. I wish I had your literary stamina. Let’s start with an easy question. You live in South Florida with your wife and dogs. Who runs the household?
Mac: Ha ha. Like I’m going to answer that one. “Oh, honey, does this make me look fat?”
Linda: It wasn’t a trick question.
Mac: Really? Then it’s . . . who rules your household?
Linda: The dog.
<Mac and Linda high-five>
Linda: So, Mac, when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Mac: Sitting at a traffic light one day on my way to work, my door flung open and an ogre ripped me out of my car. I knew he was an ogre just like that. You can’t miss the tusks and snout. He dragged me along on this epic journey to secure peace for his warlock and witch friends. Oh, the stories I could tell about the dragons we came across. We survived many near death experiences that changed me – in a dark way, let me tell you. We became – ”
Linda: <interrupting> Seriously?
Mac: Would I lie to you? I suppose you’d rather I said I wrote my first story in fifth grade, which really jazzed me. Creative Writing and Journalism in High School began to gel the dream. But after an interview with the local paper and realizing writing didn’t pay, I changed my major in college to Computer Science. I didn’t start writing again until I reached the empty nest stage. There. Satisfied?
Linda: So your ogre friends, and others, inspired you to write fantasy. And you went on to write fiction in a range of genres, right?
Mac: And non-fiction, such as brain surgery and rocket science. But since I don’t know much at all about those things, I make up lies about my neighbors and their late night séances, my ogre and elf friends, and such. Actually much of what I write about is the bare-butt truth, cross my heart. I just change the names to protect the guilty.
Linda: <glaring> Next question: Do you come up with a plot and stick to it, or follow the Muse?
Mac: During a trip to Black Lake, I met a wizard who went by the name of The Muse. He was a cranky, smelly troll, though, and I wouldn’t follow him out of a blizzard.
Linda: Mac! Ten or maybe even twenty people are going to drop by to listen to us! This is a serious blog and you’d better get with the program here.
Mac: I typically come up with the character first, mull and cogitate over him/her for weeks, and the character starts to tell me about his/her life, and it turns into a story.
Linda: I can barely hear you. Are you sulking?
Linda: You are sulking.
Mac: I’VE DRIVEN MOTORCYCLES LIKE AN IDIOT, SHOT LOTS OF GUNS, RIDDEN HELICOPTERS, JUMPED OUT OF PLANES, RAPPELLED DOWN CLIFFS, EXPLORED MINE SHAFTS, SKIED, KAYAKED – ALL WITHOUT A NET. REAL DRAGON-SLAYING MEN – LIKE ME – DON’T SULK.
Linda: Now you’re shouting. What would your wife think if she knew you shouted at an old lady, huh?
Mac: You’re older than old.
Linda: Yes, old enough to be your mother. In fact, one of my sons is your age.
Linda: What is your problem, Mac?
Mac: It’s that word you keep using: serious. I used it in a novel once but had to take it out. It didn’t make sense.
Linda: <sighing> How much time do you dedicate to writing per day.
Mac: After walking the pups every morning, it’s all writing until I break at 5:30 to prepare dinner for my wife, we watch the news, and I treat myself after that with my reading time.
Linda: What do you read? Who are your favorite authors?
Mac: I read the back of the cereal box every morning. Tony the Tiger has interesting things to say.
Linda: <warning tone> Mac – ”
Mac: <interrupting> AND . . . I don’t think a writer can write without reading. Reading creates the artistic fodder of stories and characters. I’ve expanded the breadth of my interests in the last few years.
Linda: <rolling eyes> What is the most surprising thing you discovered during the publishing process?
Mac: After a couple of Kerr’s jars of shine, the print on the back of the cereal box gets fuzzy.
<Two minute glaring match, after which Linda reluctantly backs down>
Linda: Okay, let’s get this moving. Mr. Wheeler, what is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Mac: <smirking> Getting the right edge on my quill. Aggravating as all get out how quickly those things get rubbed to a stub and you have to start all over again. I mean, really. Can’t they develop a better method for getting ideas on parchment?
Linda: <sarcasm> So, using quill and parchment, you managed to write and publish 24 books?
Mac: Plus I had surgery on both knees and shoulders and moved across the continent.
Linda: What made you self-publish instead of going the trad route?
Mac: If I’d found an agent, been published, and felt appropriately treated, I probably never would have. But I read how crappy writers get treated by the big houses, get screwed around by agents and small pubs, and stopped querying.
Linda: What is the most surprising thing you discovered about the publishing process?
Mac: I can’t say I’ve been surprised. I’ve stepped conservatively. I’ve focused inwardly, not worrying about the publishing and selling, but working on my craft, creating a bookshelf of assets that will support me one day maybe, when I get that lift that propels my writing into the spotlight.
Linda: What is the most difficult part of writing?
Mac: Finding enough hours in the day to get the character’s story typed. My characters don’t like me to interrupt the flow for things like eating and sleeping.
Linda: <beaming> Thank you! I’m glad you’ve finally decided to take this interview seriously.
Mac: No! That word again! I can’t hear you. Na na na na na na.
Linda: Mac, I know you . . . Mac? Where are you going? I haven’t finished.
Well, that didn’t turn out as I anticipated.
Mac actually is serious about his writing and his books offer a variety to choose from. Action-packed adventures. Stories written from the perspective of strong female characters who kick butt and carry guns. What he calls Dude Lit (the Seeker series.) Family sagas (the Shadow series.) Mac spins tales around rich, gritty characters with a lot of baggage, who he puts through more grief than they can handle. His tone leans toward the sarcastic, passive aggressive. He writes speculative fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, suspense and paranormal with a twist. You can find his books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Check out Mac’s website and his Blog where he also publishes his photography. If you drop Mac a note (links on his Website and Blog) he’ll send you a free copy of New Order Apocalypse!