Interview: Sam Whittaker


 It’s been said that writers must first be readers. Do you enjoy reading?

It’s one of my favorite things to do, perhaps as much a breathing or wearing clothes. I’d go mad if I didn’t have a book with me at all times, just in case an opportunity to read came about.

What genres do you read most?

I read a lot of paranormal stuff, fantasy, and some science fiction. I read a lot of other stuff too, like Theology, but those are my mainstays.

Who are your favorite authors, and what makes them special to you?

In fiction I love Stephen King and Terry Goodkind, which is interesting since they’re probably at opposite ends philosophically. Dean Koontz is good, too. I’m also a Star Wars nut, so those books are totally open season for me.

For  religious material I love Rob Bell, N.T. Wright, Donald Miller, and Walter Brueggemann.

When did you decide you wanted to write?

This would have been well over ten years ago, though I didn’t start my first book until 2004.

How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?

 I’ve written four – two books on Religion and two Paranormal Thrillers. They’re all self-published or in the process of being self-published. Plus I’m working on another and have plans for two more at this point.

What genre do you usually write? 

Paranormal literature. I stick mostly with ghosts and stay away from the over-saturated markets of vampires, werewolves, and zombies. I also like there to be elements of mystery and to explore the unknown. I rely less on blood and gore and more on tension, suspense, and mystery.

What made you choose that genre?

I like “scary” things. But also, paranormal situations provide an excellent vehicle for conflict, which I believe is the engine of storytelling. 

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

“A Ghost of Water” is the second book in my “Ghostly Elements” series of Paranormal Thrillers. It picks up a year after the first one, “A Ghost of Fire.” The main character, Steve Nicholas, who tells us the story, is with his wife on their honeymoon on a cruise ship.

Strange things start to happen, like he begins to have these breathing attacks during which he feels like he’s drowning. It turns out their ship has sailed into the world’s most notorious ocean locale: The Bermuda Triangle.

So a mystery begins to unfold and paranormal activity begins to ramp up because – as was explained in the first book – Steve is sort of a magnet for paranormal trouble. So they’ve got to figure out the mystery and contend with a powerful malevolent supernatural entity that’s part of the Triangle.

How do you get an idea for a book?

ANYTHING or ANYWHERE. Often I’ll be doing something and a “what if…” sort of question will pop into my head. Like this: “What if I walked down the street to bring my garbage cans to the corner, and when I came back to my house some other family was living there…and claims to have been so for ten years.” That’s a short story idea I have that occurred when I took my garbage out a few months ago.

It could be an object, a situation, a phrase I hear, just an idea that pops into my head. Anything is fair game for a story.

What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?

Think it out before you start. Don’t jump in without at least a little planning and plotting.

What is your writing schedule like? Do you write only when inspired?

I try to write five days a week and hit 1,000 words a day. Sometimes it is way more, sometimes way less. Once or twice, I’ve written 6,000 words or 8,000 words in a day, but that’s usually when I’m near the end and am just eager to finish.

Do you like the promotional aspect of being a writer? What are your best promotional tools?

You know, I do like it, but sadly I don’t think I’m very good at it. Sometimes the best thing is to start up a random conversation where people are stuck, like a waiting room. I’ve sold books that way. Keywords are big for online marketing, I find.

Do you read books on the craft of writing? If so, what are your favorites and why?

Yes, my favorite is On Writing by Stephen King. But I also adore Robert McKee’s book Story, which is mainly for screenwriters, but very applicable to the novelist.

 Are you a plotter or a panster? Explain your writing process.

Definitely a plotter. I outline pretty much everything and have the story pretty well set before I go to work on the actual writing. Although I keep my outlines somewhat fluid. I can change them if I foresee something’s not going to work, or if a better idea pops into my head. That’s happened with me several times.

What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have any hobbies?

I actually run a Self-Publishing business, called “Fresh Page Consulting,” at www.freshpage.org. but I also play guitar, watch a lot of movies, and play with my four children.

Why do you write?

I write because I love it…and if I don’t, I think I’ll go mad. Seriously, story ideas crop up for me out of nowhere and I lose so many because I can’t keep track of them all. I write because I feel called to do it to some degree. Plus, it’s so much fun, I can’t think of much else I’d rather do.

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Sam is giving away a Kindle copy of A Ghost of Fire.

 

The winner is Melissa Lee Turner! Congrats, Melissa!

 

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