Author Interview - Richard L. Becker
Ok people, it's time for another little insight into an Indie Author.
My guest/victim this month is Richard L.Becker, a novelist who is not afraid to strike out across different genres.
His first taste of horror, Hell Beckons will be up for review next week.
1) When did you first decide you wanted to be a published author?
When I was in elementary school. My parents, especially my father, were avid readers, constantly buying books or borrowing them from the library. I inherited a love of reading from them and was reading adult thrillers and horror novels back in third grade, and began writing. I wrote a full length novel in sixth grade – it wasn’t very good. I’ve been writing ever since.
2) Who has been your biggest support during the publishing process?
I think my children.
3) And who has been your biggest critic?
I’m a little weird in this respect, in that I construct and write my novels completely on my own. I do not seek input from anyone, except when a book is done and published. So, I really don’t have any critics, except for myself.
However, this approach seems to work. The editors for Hell Beckons made very few changes, and none dealing with plot, or changing scenes, or anything substantive. The same held true for Divorce and The Holy Puck.
4) Which writers/books have inspired you?
In terms of horror, the old standbys of Stephen King for Salem’s Lot and The Shining, and Peter Straub for Ghost Story and Shawdowland.
In terms of fiction in general, Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow; Richard Powers’ The Gold Bug Variations; William Goldman’s Marathon Man; and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
5) Your writing encompasses several genres, how do you decide what to write? And what appeals most to you?
I basically write what I’m forced to write. I don’t write for fun. An idea comes to me and I cannot feel comfortable or relaxed until it ends up on paper. I’ve tried to write books based on ‘what I want to write’ and never finished any of them. I write what my subconscious demands that I write. So when someone reads one of my books, they can be assured that it meant something important to me in order for me to write it, whether it be a character, a theme, the plot, or something else.
At the moment, I’m haunted by two characters. No matter what I try to write, they end up in the story and the story dies. I need to find a story for them, but haven’t yet.
In terms of Hell Beckons, the demand involved putting Sandy on paper, and dealing with the War On Terror and the question as to what extent the ‘ends justify the means.’
6) What is your opinion of the current popularity on small publishing houses and indie writers?
I think the popularity is due to the failure of literary agents and the major publishing houses to be reliable ‘gatekeepers’ of quality fiction. Think about it – there are so many novels written every year – why does any novel receive consistently bad reviews? It’s because the agents and publishers are not driven to empower quality, especially if the writer is known and popular. Let’s face it – everything is based on the bottom line in capitalist societies. That’s perfectly fine, but it results in a reluctance to risk too much. Small publishing houses and indie writers can accept risk.
The problem in regard to indie publishing is the opposite – there is no gatekeeper. Thus, the quality can be anywhere from excellent to horrendous. However, since Amazon and other outlets allow a person to read the beginning pages for free, a reader can quickly determine this on his/her own.
Finally, I think indie publishing does present a problem when books are given away for free. As a one-time marketing tactic, I’m okay with it. However, if e-books are routinely free, that does two things: it makes it harder for people who charge a price for an e-book to sell it, and if people gravitate to free books, then they likely will accept lesser quality in the book. Good writers therefore will not be rewarded for his/her talent in terms of selling books for a decent price.
7) What piece of advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
Write based on your gut or your heart, and not based on what you think might sell. No one knows what will sell – other than books [good or bad] by already popular writers. In many ways it’s a crap shoot, so if you’re going to go down in flames, go down writing what you want instead of what you think someone else wants.
8) What has been your best and worst review/feedback?
A few of my relatives suffer from Alzheimer’s. My daughter once told me over lunch that I’ll be seventy years old and my memory shot, and she’ll tell me very nicely that when I was younger I wrote a book but that no one read it. Ouch.
In terms of best reviews, I can honestly say that everyone who has read my books likes them.
9) How do you handle feedback?
Badly. Good feedback does little, bad feedback would crush me. That’s probably why I write by myself without input until a novel is done and published. If I had negative input during the process, I’d never get anything done.
10) What will be your next published piece?
Midnight Frost Books is going to publish The Catch around May 2015. I wrote it over three months in early 2014. Simply stated:
“A lethal injection looms in Amber’s future for the alleged murder of her family. To avoid it, she will appear on a reality show in which contestants vie for a bachelor’s love. The winner is granted freedom. The catch – the bachelor is an S&M fanatic who practices his arts on the contestants, and the penalty for losing on the show can be death. Amber knows there are tremendous risks in being a contestant, but she didn’t think one of them would be falling in love.”
Thank you Richard, for taking the time to answer a few of my questions.
If you have enjoyed the insights provided, you can stalk Richard, and find out more about his books at his website.
To see more of his views on books, movies, and everything else life throws at him, go visit his blog: Perceptions Believed.