Living in teendom was a BLAST, that’s for sure. I wrote four teen novels, but the rewards of having been a teen novelist came directly from the teens themselves. I got to know some great ones. While I did school events and kept up with some of the students via e-mails, they kept me young, and I did my best to encourage them to remain just as they are, fearless, for as long as possible.
Why adult fiction now? While finishing up the manuscript to MY WATCH DOESN’T TELL TIME, I knew that I wouldn’t be continuing in this (teen) series beyond this novel. I don’t want to give anything away, but I made it impossible for the story to progress into a subsequently-related book. In addition to that, the story that had lived inside me (for the past 15+ years), THE SEVENTH RITUAL, really needed to come out. There’s no way this could ever be marketed to teens, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they perhaps understood it better than some adults. Teens are incredibly wise. But TSR is too adult, graphic, disturbing and shocking for their innocence. And, not to make light, but teenagers probably get enough of that from the Internet already.
I will DEFINITELY return to teen fiction the moment I begin to feel myself growing up.
I would be interested in knowing what made you decide to start a blog about facing fears.
It’s my gig, Wendy. Fear. All my books have to do with the subject of fear; conquering it, recognizing it, discovering the origins of it, etc. Now’s a good time for me to give recognition to a superb publicist, Annie Jennings. I used to listen to her tele-seminars for authors in need of PR, nearly every one of which was a n/f author; I was one of the very few novelists. Her credo: “be an expert, have a platform.” My fourth novel was about to come out, I needed to write a press release, took her advice and boom…I’ve stuck with this theme ever since. Somehow deep down, I believe this is the message I’m meant to deliver (conquering fear), whether I do it with my books, radio interviews or via some other medium. My blog is an extension of this; now focusing on other people and their relation to fear(s) as they make their way through life.
Every writer has one thing they put off doing because they don't enjoy it... writing queries, starting a website, book signings. What's that one thing for you Clint?
I REALLY don’t like dieting, but that’s another story. Oh, as a writer. Focus, Clint, focus! Yes, I’ve got one, a biggie: Selling. I actually like marketing, especially online, but when it comes to selling, I’d rather crawl into a hole. Some people are naturals at it and I applaud them. Maybe it’s some psychological-thing going on inside me that I don’t know about. I somehow equate selling with manipulation. I HATE being used, and as a result, I go out of my way when the thought comes up that I may be using someone else. K-A-R-M-A.
What advice would you give a new author about seeking out a literary agent? Do you believe a writer needs a literary agent?
Another really good question, Wendy. Well, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed over time: a lit. agent’s primary responsibility…to get the right manuscript into the hands of the right editor. An author hires an agent because of their connections within the publishing industry. Any author would be doing themselves a great service by researching agents; find out the areas/genres to which they specialize. Also, never ever submit to an agent who charges $$ to read your manuscript; they should also be a member of the AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives). Needing an agent? That’s another thing that hasn’t changed; most of the big publishers don’t accept/read unsolicited, unagented material, they only go through agents. The right agent can be like a pot of gold…especially if they believe in you, your work and share your vision.
Could you tell us about your first book you had published? Did you have a literary agent at that time? What publishing company backed you and why? What type of learning experience did you gain from that?
I had an agent for my first manuscript, SOULheresy. Her name was Carolyn Gilbert and she was fantastic; she recognized my passion and became as excited as I was. Unfortunately, shortly after having met her, Carolyn became ill and stopped agenting. My first published book was JUST SAY MIKEY and was unagented. I’ve never had any publishing company “back me,” because I don’t really feel that’s what they do. Back in the day when the idea of self-publishing was new, I discovered one that was quite selective at the time, rejecting about 95% of what came in; I liked that they wanted to keep their standards high. It was called Booklocker and I think they’re still around today. The best part about the deal: I retained all rights. I learned a lot…that I could do it all myself. I launched my own imprint, Credo Italia, and eliminated the need for any type of third-party involvement. Advice to authors: if you do this, make sure you are WELL-connected globally via top distributors/wholesalers prior to publication.
If you could interview anyone at all for your blog 'Stories About Facing Fear' who would it be and why?
Well, I interviewed you last month, Wendy. I’ve already interviewed the best. Do I still need to answer? :-) (Advice to you: always steer clear of any author that kisses-up). :-) OK, I’ve got one. Monica Seles, the former top-ranked tennis player; she’ll probably always be my top-hero/heroine for life. What inspires me most? People who’ve overcome. I can’t think of anyone who has overcome more; being stabbed by a crazed fan (of her rival) in front of the whole world…and then COMES BACK having learned from the experience of it all. A total winner. I believe this is her mission in life; to help educate folks who struggle to ‘come back’ after having experienced something horrendous.
I'm curious if you believe the writing industry has become too competitive amongst authors where they might not be willing to share which literary agent they have or even who is publishing them. Or if you find authors are banding together in this day and age.
Me? Not share? Oh, no…I’m an open book. :-) Pardon the pun. To some extent, I think it’s always been like this. I, personally, enjoy hearing what others authors are up to. When I was getting started I used to love being part of a critique group; I learned a ton and made a few friends. Today, there are literally a million-and-one social media sites for authors; I could fill a phonebook with all the different URLs, User IDs and passwords I have for each. Yes, I think so, banding. These sites seem to offer valuable tips, and more than all else, make us realize that we’re not alone in what we do.
I have to ask this, related to what’d you just mentioned, the social media out there, what sites would you list as the TOP FIVE for authors? And why?
1. Facebook. No question about it. Literally thousands of writers there; camaraderie along with great tips ad suggestions.
2. YouTube. At a recent business event I was told that w/in a few years ALL Internet searches will be accompanied by a video component/file. Great for book trailers, author interviews and interactivity (comments).
3. Twitter. Unlimited number of followers AND searchable; super for book marketing and making connections to readers, also, relatively effortless.
4. Author/Reader-centric sites like Authors Den, TeensReadToo, JacketFlap, weRead, listal, Amazon author pages, filedby, goodreads, ReadingTrails and lots of the NING groups (like yours, Wendy). The bottom line about book marketing: making an emotional connection with readers.
5. Publishers Weekly. It’s not interactive, social media, but it’s a MUST-read site for keeping abreast of the (as you’d already mentioned) ever-changing publishing industry.
With a lot of writers, writing seems to be a first love for them that goes back to childhood. It's very rare that I come across someone in their adult life who says one day they just starting writing and couldn't stop. Was writing a first love for you?
OK, I’ll be the oddball here. No, I never cared for writing or reading. English was always my worst subject in school. In 1991, I chose to become a writer for one reason only, to divulge the truth, to tell a story that needed to be released. No one else was going to write it for me and there was no other means (at that time) for the truth to come out. It took 18 years of getting over my own fears for this to happen; that story is THE SEVENTH RITUAL. I admire anyone who has a passion for writing, and of course, I have so much respect for readers. When looking back, I’m thrilled it’s all turned out the way it did. Like I’d said earlier in this interview; it’s the process of writing itself that is the reward. It’s infinitely powerful; the ability to rewrite your lifestory while, at the same time, creating a new destiny.
What are your favorite genres to read and what's that one book you can't put down?
I guess, as you might imagine, Wendy, anything with a psychological slant to it. I like characters that are deep, complex and multi-dimensional. Anything less that that leaves me feeling cheated. My four teen novels live on Amazon in the ‘Visionary Teen Fiction’ genre, a mix of fiction and spirituality for young adults. I hope to see this genre expand in the years to come. My favorite genre. Inspirational fiction. The book I’m not putting down. THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker.
What would you say are your strong points as a writer? This maybe something that comes very natural for you or maybe something you've worked very hard to fine tune?
Wow, I didn’t know this question was coming next, but a superb follow-up to the previous. VOICE. Thus the reason for never putting down THE COLOR PURPLE; I could listen to Celie’s words day-after-day. A long time ago, in Creative Writing 101, 2, 3 or one of those, I heard from a professor, “At this point in time EVERY story’s already been told; the only thing different these days, is the WAY in which it’s told.” I agree completely. I’ve worked very hard at making my protagonists speak in a way that’s unique, distinctive while still being believable. Miguelito, in my first four books, is a (fictitious) boy I’m crazy about. If I could hand-pick a son in my life, it’d be him.
If you could have a five-minute chat with any writer who would it be and why?
May I please pick three instead of one? Please! 1) Alice Walker, to find out what made her so spiritual and ask what she drew upon in her own life that led her to create a character so endearing as Miss Celie. 2) J.K. Rowling, to discover where her creativity comes from. Follow-up to J.K.: “Did you ever believe that your series would NOT be as successful as it’s become?” 3) Stephen King, “How do you make yourself write EVERY DAY no matter what?”
Might you be able to tell us if there's a new book in the works and a little about it?
Absolutely, Wendy. Thanks for asking. Yes, because it continues to be my gig, my brand, my platform, I’m now putting together, STORIES ABOUT FACING FEAR: THE INTERVIEWS. It’s a series of thirty interviews, combined with my own experiences and insights on the subject of fear and the courage it takes to overcome (challenges). A friend of mine, Josephine Carlton had done a similarly-structured book in 2002 (Life Messages: Inspiration for the Woman’s Spirit); a fantastic vehicle, I thought. My book, SAFF:TI, consists of multi-cultural interviews with teens, adults and senior adults and will be targeted to age 50+ readers; genre: senior self-help. The purpose of this book: a “friendly” reminder for adults to continue to live fearlessly at any age, something they’d done so effortlessly and routinely in years prior.
For me I love to learn about an author’s life what they enjoy doing other than writing. Can you tell us one of your favorite past times?
Uh, oh. Wendy, are you sure you want to know this? Well, it’s almost an addiction, but it’s not. Tennis. I already mentioned Monica Seles earlier, but I LOVE everything about tennis. In high school I was an overweight teen, but hitting a tennis ball up against the wall (something I could do all by myself) was heaven for me. I went to my first pro. tennis tournament as a spectator in 1972 and saw Björn Borg’s first pro. match in the U.S. Eek, I’m in big trouble if you’re now asking yourself, “Who’s he?” For some reason, my favorite players of all time have been those who seemed to be constantly in the secondary position directly behind a legendary #1; Michael Chang of the U.S. (behind Pete Sampras), Arantxa Sánchez Vicario of Spain (behind Steffi Graf) and now Rafael Nadal (behind Roger Federer), also of Spain. Number #1’s never interested me. I respect the ones that work harder to overcome. Other than tennis, I love, love, love alone time, probably a little too much.
I couldn't let this go, Clint, before writing you were a professional actor could you tell us some of the things you worked on?
Sure, Wendy. First, if you don’t mind, I’ll tell you about the byproduct of having been a working actor: I looked at it from Day One as a business, something, I feel, every author should do with relation to publishing/book marketing. Well, I was fortunate to have worked regularly because I hustled a lot. Yes, I had many agents (in San Francisco, L.A. & NY), but lots of the jobs I got were as a result of my own persistence and professional approach (again, something I advise all authors to have). I did lots and lots of commercials, industrial videos, voice-overs; I’ve worked as a principal, recurring, bit- and day-player, stand-in, an extra on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, MURDER, SHE WROTE, THE GOLDEN GIRLS, SISTER ACT, CASUALTIES OF WAR, DYING YOUNG, FINAL ANALYSIS, CLASS ACTION, BEACHES, DYNASTY: THE REUNION and several others. I’m grateful to have had these experiences; this (past career) helped me develop confidence. For now, I’m much happier to be in front of my computer keyboard, rather than on-camera.
For my closing question I'd like to know your thoughts on people in general. I'm sure with acting and writing people must have come up to you a lot. How have you dealt with meeting new people?
Again, great follow-up to what I’d just mentioned, Wendy. I LOVE people! (Eek) Dare I say it? Especially teenagers. They live in a magical time, believing that anything is possible. Somehow, through these wonderful teens, I happened to discover my purpose in life: to help adults recapture, relive this indomitable belief. Meeting people. Well, people very seldom come up to me, and vice versa. Only until very recently have I made attempts to socialize; it’s a real challenge for me. At the same time, I feel blessed to know the people I do. I’m grateful.
Thanks so much for this fantastic opportunity, Wendy. I’ve enjoyed this interview immensely.
Best wishes to you, and your readers, always. Clint
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