What is the title of your class?
People should take this class if…
they are interested in improving their writing of popular fiction, sometimes known as “the books people like to read.”
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
I’m “on” Facebook and LinkedIn, but I only check in erratically. Better just to email me at my blog/website.
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
All thirteen novels are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other websites.
What excites you about the material you’re teaching?
I love popular fiction, crime thrillers, mysteries, fantasy. I like reading them and writing them because they speak to the primal human condition: courage, betrayal, good and evil, building a better world. While there are elements of writing that cannot be taught – the best writers are simply wired differently – there are structural aspects to writing popular fiction that actually can be learned and utilized to make the work more interesting and successful.
Tell us a bit about your previous teaching experience.
I’ve taught both literacy and popular fiction at the University of Washington extension and taught techniques of writing at Hugo House and various writing conferences. Teaching is great.
What do you like best about teaching at Hugo House?
The students, who have been uniformly interested, curious, dedicated and fun. The venue itself is very friendly and collegial, which I like and which I think fosters growth.
What’s the best piece of writing you’ve read in the past year?
Reread J.P. Donleavy’s The Ginger Man.
What books made you want to write?
Kafka’s short stories, William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Writing is a means of understanding and transforming yourself. Figure you’re going to need a lot of rewriting.
If you were to meet your favorite writer in person later today, what would you say to them?
It would be J. P. Donleavy. I’d thank him for opening my eyes and ears to the possibilities of language – the guy writes the most brilliant, poetic prose – and then tell him that he should have written more than two novels. I mean, come on, what are you doing with yourself?
What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?
I’m reading Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, by Eddie Muller. It’s an amazing examination of crime movies of the ’40s and ’50s, told in a playful but deeply knowledgeable manner. Profusely illustrated. It should be read while pounding down shots of cheap booze. Rye, maybe … whatever that is.