This week's Author Spotlight features Huntsville, Alabama-based writer Bert Carson. Bert is the author of SOUTHERN INVESTIGATION (see above), FOURTH AND FOREVER
ANOTHER PLACE ANOTHER TIME
and the forthcoming MADDOG & MISS KITTY.
1. How did you get into writing?
I got in and immediately out of writing when I was in the sixth grade. The teacher assigned a short story writing project, my first such assignment. I labored over that story more than I’d ever labored over any other assignment, maybe more than I’d labored over all other assignments. It was quite a fine story, I thought, and to be totally honest, I still think. Each of us read our story to the class and as I look back on it, that’s where the problem originated. Public speaking was a major issue in my life for forty years – I had a burning desire to do it and I was petrified at the thought of doing it. In any case, I managed to read my story and no one understood it. I suspect, my being practically incoherent as I read it had a lot to do with that. In any case, I didn’t write any more stories while I was in school.
Then, at age forty, after whipping my fear of speaking in public, I became a professional speaker. For eleven years I traveled the country, speaking in 48 states and forcing myself to speak in the Caribbean, Cancun, Tahiti, and Canada. During those years I discovered that I love to tell stories and I honed my oral story telling ability.
2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I love writing when I can do it the way that works for me – that way is, four or five hours per session, seven days a week. Actually, I think that would work for me, I’ve just never had that opportunity to write that way, nor have I had anything that vaguely resembles it.
My least favorite part of writing is marketing and I mean marketing a book in the conventional, paper publishing industry, and marketing an eBook that I self-published. I should explain that I’ve never been successful at either task and that is probably why I don’t enjoy it. I accumulated 412 rejections for Fourth and Forever before I put it in my bottom desk drawer. Last January (2011) I dusted it off, got a cover, and self-published it. I’ve sold less than 150 copies and that number is true of my other two books. So, I think it’s fair to say that I don’t like marketing because I haven’t figured it out . . . yet.
3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I don’t outline, at least, not at this time. I do use a story line of sorts, just to stay on a general tack. As I mentioned in the previous question, I’d love to write 4 or 5 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I would do that were it not for the day job which is essential to pay the power bill and thus keep the laptop charged – catch 22.
4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
My two favorite novelists are Nevil Shute and Robert B. Parker. Shute was a very successful aeronautical engineer who began writing in the evenings to amuse himself. His twenty-two novels include, Round the Bend, Trustee From the Toolroom, and On the Beach. I love them all. However, Round the Bend is my favorite because not only is it a great read; it is a powerful esoteric manual.
I love Robert B. Parker for his dialogue. There has never been anyone better and I wonder if there ever will be. The only problem Robert had was writing as a woman (Sunny Randall), he was just too much man to handle that task very well.
5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
The First Bert Carson rule of punctuation applies here – It’s your question mark, you can put it wherever you want to put it. It’s easy to be flip when your wife is a master of punctuation and fixes everything you write – mine, Christina Carson, is a master and does handle all my punctuation, among other things.
6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
The second Bert Carson rule of punctuation is – Don’t take a stand on things you know nothing about.
7. What is your book Fourth and Forever about and how did it come to fruition?
In 1986, in Missoula, Montana, I went for a Sunday morning run prior to a speaking engagement. The route I chose took me onto the campus of The University of Montana. As I jogged around the edge of the UM Grizzlies practice field a story idea came to me. The idea ultimately turned into the novel, Fourth and Forever. A book about a 44 year-old, retired Army helicopter pilot who enrolls at UM with his son. Ultimately he becomes the Grizzlies starting quarterback.
8. What’s your current writing project?
Maddog & Miss Kitty is the current project – when it’s wrapped up I’ll get back on Southern Investigation – Tucson, the second in the Southern Investigation series.
I’m putting the finishing touches on Maddog & Miss Kitty, a novella that I’m going to publish with four short stories. Erin Potter, my editor, has just finished working her magic on the short stories and I should finish Maddog & Miss Kitty in the next week to ten days, then I’ll turn it over to Erin.
In 1993 Desert Shield became Desert Storm and all of my well-repressed Vietnam issues came up. To make a long story short, I founded a group called, Vietnam Veterans Southern Command. That organization was the key to the closure I needed. There is a PTSD tab on my website where anyone interested in the group and PTSD can find some interesting information.
A couple of months after Vietnam Veterans Southern Command was born I was speaking in Santa Fe. Someone there told me about Angel Fire, a Vietnam Memorial near Taos. On May 1st, I visited Angel Fire for the first time. Maddog and Miss Kitty had been there and left just before I arrived. I decided to tell their stories – the tale of two Vietnam Veterans. It’s a war story, a post-war story, and most of all, it’s a love story.
9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
When I’m writing hard, I tend to read Robert Parker. A few weeks ago I decided to reread the entire Spenser series, beginning with the first one. I’m currently reading the second in the series, God Save the Child.
10. Who or what inspires your writing?
At risk of sounding arrogant, because I know that truth often sounds that way, two things inspire my writing and the first one powers the second one. First, bad indie writing inspires me – and there is plenty of it out there. When I read, or, I should say, begin reading, a poorly written book, I’m inspired to leave it and get back to writing. Writing makes me a better writer. So, bad writing by indie or conventional authors makes me a better writer.
Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
My books are all available on Amazon – my author’s page is:
My web site is:
You can also follow Bert on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BertCarson
Thank you, Bert, for sharing your books and story with us. We look forward to Maddog & Miss Kitty in the coming days, as well as the next Southern Investigation installment. And Thank You for your service to our country.
If you are a writer/novelist/author and would like to be featured in an upcoming Author Spotlight, please contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.