Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Inappropriate Interview: Everett Powers

Picture by Simon Howden

What can I say?  I love asking people about their politics and religion, both subjects banned in polite company.  However, having a chance to interview an author of a book that I am currently reading I couldn't pass up asking questions I am truly curious about.  I bring up politics, not religion, because in the long run religion doesn't matter all that much (for me at least).  People can live together in society depending on their politics despite having vastly different religious opinion.  

Everett Powers is the author of two books: The Mighty T and Canals.  What follows is my "inappropriate interview."  Everett answered all of my questions with candor.  Only two are about politics so if you aren't interested in those just skip over them.  

What authors have influenced you?
If you mean influenced my writing, it would be John Sandford. I’ve read all his Prey books, except the new one because I no longer want to pay $15 on up for a novel. I appreciate his writing style. He uses the comma splice to dictate pace, which I think works, and there are few adjectives in his books.
Stephen King’s On Writing influenced how I write, to a degree. I wrote my first book Canals without a plot. King calls this “a found thing.” The metaphor is, you’ve found a half-buried relic. Your opinion of it is based on what you can see, but as you uncover more and more, your opinion changes. Others call this “writing by the seat of your pants.” I plot now, but loosely. The “found thing” style was fun. I really enjoyed writing Canals.
What politics inform your writing if any?
I suppose my writing has been influenced by my conservative views, but it’s difficult for me to tell how much. I haven’t written any political fiction.
If the Republican Primary were held today who would you vote for?
Regretfully, I have to admit I’ll vote for the person I think has the best chance of beating Obama abut it’s impossible to say who that is now. I wish I could say I’ll be voting for whomever I think will do the best job at leading the country, but if I feel Obama will beat that person my vote will go to someone else. It might be impossible to undo the damage Obama has done, given the inclination the federal government has for perpetuating its own growth. I believe his administration is politics at its worst.
What made you want to become an author?
I’ve always thought of writing as an exotic career. You get to squirrel yourself away for hours, ignoring the cursed cell phone, alone with your imagination. Some people, like my wife, dislike being alone and so could never write. Not me. I can handle it.
At first, I wrote because my business wasn’t going well and I was under the delusion I would be an instant literary star, like John Grisham. I was sure my kids’ kids would be set for life. When I finished Canals and began querying agents and publishers, reality clocked me upside the head.
Writing gave me a “high” I’d never experienced, and the memory of it remained. I write now in part because I want to feel that high every day. I love the research, the plotting, the actual writing, and, yes, even the editing. I love sitting in public places with just my iPad, iA Writer, my Bluetooth keyboard, and my headphones, tuning out the rabble around me. It’s great. I’m out in the public but I’m still alone.
What do you think about the e-book revolution?
I’m guflupted, which means I have mixed feelings. On one hand it’s great because I’m in complete control and I kind of like that. I can publish my books when I want, yank them off the market if I want, make changes if I want, and best of all, I get most of the royalties. I enjoy formatting for ebooks and for POD, and think I do a decent job of it. I don’t mind the hard work. Covers are another matter; I lack the skill and software. The cover of The Mighty T is decent but could use a professional update. I just can’t afford the $500 price tag right now.
However, I also enjoy print books. I love filling my bookcases with them. My local Borders was a five-minute walk for me and I spent a lot of time there writing, editing, and reading. They gave me a twenty percent discount so I bought most of my print books from them. I’m still upset that it closed. Can’t stop progress, though. Print will likely become a rarity rather than the rule, which is undoubtedly better for trees.
What do you do to improve your writing?
Through Twitter, I’ve found many excellent blogs and resources; my writing has improved considerably, in my obviously biased opinion. I found lists of overused or commonly misspelled words, phrases that shouldn’t be used at all, sites you can upload your writing to that will find passive writing… I could go on. All of it’s been free.
I’ve figured out a writing formula that works well for me. Every writer needs to figure out how best to facilitate their muse and the mechanics of writing. I can be picky, so I fuss over formatting; should this be italicized or shown in all caps; does this typeface look right or should I use an different one; should the paragraphs be indented a quarter of an inch or less? Stuff like that. I could waste an hour looking for a new typeface.
So I write my first draft in Courier and forget about formatting. No italics, no nothing. Any formatting is done in the second draft. I write a lot in OmmWriter for PC, which has no spellchecker and no formatting. Just words on the page. When an iPad version is released, I’ll probably get it and dump iA Writer, even though they’re almost identical. OmmWriter comes with a sound track that is so easy to write with. Plug in some headphones and I can write for hours sitting in the middle of the mall. The soundtrack makes the difference for me. It’s free, unless you want to upgrade to the version that offers additional backgrounds and music tracks.
After banging out the text on the iPad or in OmmWriter on the desktop, I import it into Scrivener, a writing program I began using recently. I first about it on Twitter. Scrivener is currently in beta for the PC. I’ll buy it when they release the finished product. You can dump everything into the program. My research used to be spread all over the place: in printouts stashed in file folders; bookmarked Web pages; photos on the computer; real bookmarks in real books... Now it’s all organized in Scrivener, a mere click away.
Another thing I’ve learned is editing must be done on real paper, not on the computer screen. It’s too easy to miss things on the screen. I like editing, as I’ve said. I have a small collection of fountain pens I hardly use because everything gets typed these day; I get to use them when I edit.
Tools like these are helpful but not necessary. What writers really need is discipline. We need to schedule our writing time. Stephen King wrote most ofCarrie while sitting in his utility closet next to the water heater with his typewriter balanced on his knees. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what we do.
Anything you want to add?
The tagline on my blog says “Everyone has something to say”. I got that from a guy named Dave Donaldson, who taught an English night class I took in 1982. The class was filled with adults who had worked all day—the back three rows slept through most of the class but Dave never protested or woke one of them up. I thought that was pretty cool.
He gave us a writing assignment one night. We were to write a bit of fiction. When half the class groaned, he said something like “Everyone can write because everyone has something to say.” I got all goosebumpy. Prior to that I didn’t think I was capable of writing fiction, but for some crazy reason I believed him. I’m no Steinbeck, but I think I can write well enough to capture people’s attention for a few hours and leave them thinking it was time and money well spent.
I’d like to thank George for asking me to do this interview. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him on Twitter and through his blog. 

You can find out more about Everett and his books at his blog, here.


  1. Thanks again, George, for asking. I'm used to being told to "shut up and sit down". lol

    "Gasp! I see a typo! There's always one that slips by.

  2. Great interview George and Everett!

  3. Thanks Ryan! Always looking good content from indie authors.

  4. Nice post. I love that you ask some of the harder questions, even if I would dodge them myself. We all hope to be instant successes at first, but reality does set in for most. Unfortunately, not everyone can be that person. But we can work toward it. I'm glad to see you aren't giving up and you are writing more. Great interview.