Yes But Why ep 210 Ken LaSalle is a prolific and impressive writer!

In this episode of Yes But Why, we talk to prolific and impressive writer, Ken LaSalle.

Ken LaSalle writes and writes and writes. Ken is the author of over 60 books and plays. He produces a YouTube show called To Be Honest and he hosts the Monday Morning Show Podcast.

Novelist Ken LaSalle was writing long before he ever considered himself a writer. And from paying the bills to dealing with a divorce, the road blocks to writing went up in front of Ken. As we talk, Ken says that putting pen to paper is the way he processes his life. The stories he tells helps him to cope with his real world struggles.

In this conversation, we talk about embracing who you really are. We chat about finding a partner who supports your artistic dreams. Ken shares his daily writing process and his aspirations for the future!

 Support Ken LaSalle by buying one of his books, listening to his podcasts or watching him on YouTube! Ken is working on so many different projects at once! And all of his latest projects are book series!

Check them all out on Amazon:

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This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible – get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at


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(production notes: recorded skype call with Rodecaster at the home studio on 5/6/2020)



HOST  00:01
Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan.
Welcome to episode 210 featuring novelist and podcaster, Ken LaSalle.
But first, a bit about our sponsor.
This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible. You can get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at
When I put in our guest’s name, Ken LaSalle, I get a long list of books written by this guest and you know what, he narrated them too! SO when you use Audible, you can hear the full performance of the books as Ken intended them and that’s pretty darn cool.
Audible is available for your iPhone, Android, or Kindle. Download your free audiobook today at
This week on Yes But Why, we talk to writer, Ken LaSalle.
Ken LaSalle writes and writes and writes. Ken is the author of A LOT of books and plays. He produces a YouTube show called “To Be Honest” and he hosts the Monday Morning Show Podcast. In our conversation, we talk about embracing who you really are; we chat about finding a partner who supports your artistic dreams; and, Ken shares with us how he gets it all done! I now present to you : Yes But Why ep 210 Ken La Salle is a prolific and impressive writer!
I’m Amy Jordan, and this is Yes But Why podcast
GUEST  02:01
The thing about me is, I spent most of my life doing creative things without ever once thinking of myself as a writer or an actor, or you know, whatever, because I put all these qualifications in front of it. Because I had to prove to myself that I actually was before I could actually say I was. So like, I was doing theater and writing plays and even writing novels until, I mean, it was like four or five years ago that I finally said, Yeah, I guess I guess I am. And I couldn’t even say it in public. Like I had to say quietly in the back of my mind. Hey, I think I’m a writer. Don’t tell anybody or jinx it.
Yeah. Yeah, totally.
GUEST  02:47
it was I grew up with a lot of insecurity. So I, my path towards being an author was to kind of sneak up on it. I worked professionally as as a marketing writer for over a decade and worked in technical writing, and I worked, doing marketing for insurance companies, and I did Mark I did all kinds of as a professional marketing or technical writer, you find yourself doing all kinds of weird things. Whatever, the guy who’s paying you wants you to do, basically, you know, you’re kind of a prostitute in that way. But I always wanted to do more like my focus was always on how could I become a writer? And so when I get very long answers, so in the 80s, when I was a teenager, and I started writing, I thought, you know, that’d be great if I could do that one day. And then I had a newspaper column at my high school and I thought it’d be great if I could do this one day, and I call it the column in college and I still thought that and, and then I got into the real world and unfortunately, had to make money. So So I kind of bounced around jobs just trying to find where I fit. And then I found out that companies hire writers and it blew me away just that someone would hire someone to do writing for them. When to me writing was nothing, you know, it was not something you would actually pay someone to do, you can do it yourself. You know, anyone could do it. So I got into technical writing at Pacific Mutual Insurance, writing contracts. And I bs my way into it because I had no idea how to do that. But I figured it out. And you know, kind of tap dance my way out of that and into marketing and through just a slew of jobs.
HOST  04:44
Was it always writing like did every day job that you have have a writing element in it?
GUEST  04:52
Only after about 1990 but up until then I was bouncing around but I was still writing during the day or when I wasn’t working. at my computer, I would work on writing novels, I tried to figure out how to write novels. It took me about a decade before I could actually crack the code and actually figure out how to do it. You know, you can take a million classes on how to write a novel, but until you figure it out for yourself, it doesn’t matter how many classes you take, how many
like class novels Did you write before you got to
GUEST  05:25
Jones? Yeah, there’s so many. And, and even after I, even after I was able to write a novel it took, it would take years before I got to one that I could finish again, you know, and I’d write a chapter and then throw it away or a few pages and throw it away. So I wrote even when I was working as a writer, professionally, I would, I would write during the day when I was at work, if I had a law, and I pop open word, and I’d work on whatever was in my head at that time. So I was writing novels. All the way up until the turn of the century, got a divorce, and that through my life into disarray. So I dropped the writing, and went back to my original love, which was acting. And I started acting in local theater and small films that were done locally. And after a few years of that, realize that I hated having to do what other people wanted me to do, which is a real problem. Living in modern society. Also was a problem
for actors for sure. Yeah.
GUEST  06:33
But especially as an actor, you know, I didn’t want to do, I didn’t want to say other people’s words. I didn’t want to play other people’s plays. I wanted to do my thing. So after I was in particular play, I was at the cast Party and the cast was sitting around this pool. And someone’s someone said to the director, yeah, you should have can write a play, and then directed and have all the Senate and somehow I got talked into writing a play found out that I could do it. And I realized that the reason I’d stopped writing novels was because they were never any fun. It was always worked for me trying to figure out how to do it trying to figure out how to do it better. But then I got to writing plays, and it was fun. And I realized that my strength is dialogue. And that’s all plays are, you know, so if you can write great dialogue, you can write plays. And so I wrote somewhere in the area of 30, something plays, and I had plays produced in San Francisco and New York, and I think it would might have been Denver somewhere in the middle of the country.
HOST  07:41
All right, wait, hold on, you’re flying through these stores. You’re you’re flying through this. Tell me about so like you’re there’s so much there’s so much media. Hold on. Let’s talk about the plays. There’s a lot of technical writing in a divorce but we’re going to jump past that. We’re gonna jump into theater company got 30 plays produced so what happened like the director already
GUEST  08:07
placed produced? No, no, no, I wrote over 30 I only had about five or six print is produced either endings or as you know, never full production outside of Orange County. That’s always
HOST  08:25
was it always the same small theatre company? So was it like you stayed with the same community?
GUEST  08:31
Oh, actually, that’s one of the reasons I stopped writing theater because writing plays I should say, because theater is very insular, very insulated, you have to be in the theater to get your place in the theater. And after about a about six or seven years. It just impressed itself on me so much that I had to stop I I couldn’t lie to myself anymore and tell myself Well, maybe one more Maybe just one more. And finally I just said, Look, this is going nowhere. And I had directors say you should produce your own stuff. You should rent a theater produce your own stuff. There was just theater costs too much money, too. It just costs too much money. It’s it’s really hard to get a play produced. And I got so tired of banging my head against that wall. That I thought, what if I took everything I learned from writing plays, and committed it to writing novels, or writing books. And so I got back into writing books and not only writing books because around 2012, right after the big economic collapse right after the big recession. It got so hard to find a job as a writer, because they’re the first people they’re one of the first jobs to just be dropped by employers because anybody can do it. And once they realize that they that they don’t have to pay an writer and that they can just get any money. To do what a writer would do, but a lot worse. That’s what happens. And so I ended up getting so frustrated at trying to find one job after another that I just decided to go full time with writing. And fortunately, my second wife, Vicki, we’ve been together since 2005. And we’ve we’re really good at supporting each other. So for a long time, I made more and Vicki said, Look, why don’t I make more now? So I, you know, left the working world and decided to plant my flag here. And the way I did it was and this is another kind of dense answer, but I had a friend of mine who had a recording studio, and he was going to lose it. And he had about six months before he lost this lease. And he asked me if you had a recording studio for six months, what would you do? And I said I would make as much content as I possibly We could I would get people in here recording day and night. And he said, No, no, no, no, I don’t want to do that that’s gonna take too much time out of my schedule. Well, once I got to a place where I could take the chance on myself, and, you know, be here in my studio, and once I soundproofed a little bit, and once I got a good mic and a good pair of headphones, and audacity and all the software that he uses, I realized I kind of had a recording studio. So I started doing podcasts, I started doing audiobooks, I started recording monologues, anything I could think of. So now, what, eight years later, I’m working on two books series at the same time. I’m working on an in single title a by itself. I’m working on a series on my podcast called DC home YouTube videos on I mean so much at once. And that’s kind of what I’ve realized I have to do as an author just to get out in the world just to be seen in the world, because the publishing industry doesn’t. It just isn’t big enough for everybody. There’s so many writers, it’s just not big enough for everybody. And all of the writers I know who work with publishers make bank writing romance novels. And I don’t want to write romance novels. So I decided what I’m going to do is I’m gonna do the best version of me I can. So that’s why I’m doing all these things because I have an endless amount of energy and I’m gonna hit with as much gusto as I can.
HOST  12:49
So as you’re at home studio stuff, the podcasting and the audio books, is that like additional projects that you’re that are creatively fulfilling to you or are they Like marketing assistance to help draw attention to your novels, which are your main deal?
GUEST  13:07
Well, yes and no, they do serve as marketing. But I would hate for anyone to do my audiobooks other than me. Because, well, in the case of the nonfiction I’ve written that is directly from my voice, like, nobody would read it like me, so that I would only want to be me. And in the case of the novels that I’ve done as audiobooks, I’ve had so much fun doing them. Why would I want anyone else to do? Sure. So it is marketing, but at the same time, coming from a theatrical background, it gives me the outlet to be able to, you know, exercise that muscle at the same time.
HOST  13:51
But you mentioned earlier that it’s like tough and like not so lucrative to produce theater and you’re not wrong, but like, I find that like podcasting is kind of similar. Like, I love podcasting. I love talking to people. I love sharing this information out in the world I’m happy to do it is not exactly lucrative, you know what I mean? So, I mean, I hope it draws attention, like, like, all I mean is like you have so much work that you’re giving yourself like, I hope it’s drying. I’m hoping
GUEST  14:22
bringing money into your house is all well, you know, the funny thing is, is I’m at this place in my life, when I got to 50 I realized that, well, you know, mortality creeps in charge, and you start counting how many years you think you have left, because that represents how many books you have left. And I realized I want to do everything I can like I don’t want to waste a minute, not doing some creative thing that I could do. And so like for instance, I sent you a link to a series I do called DC home, on my podcast and the reason for that was because I’m writing novels. And I’m, I’m, you know, putting together series and I’m, you know, doing all the other things I do. But one thing I wasn’t doing was, was writing a series of stories, a continuing series of stories. So what I decided to do is I wanted to tell stories about the way politics affects our lives directly. Because I think a lot of people don’t think about that. And I love talking politics, but I tend to be a little preachy. So I thought, How can I do this without being preachy about it, and the best way for me was to tell stories. And so for the last couple of years, I’ve been telling this, this extended story in this series, which I call DC home, which is just about people in Washington DC in the way that the federal government’s decisions affect their lives.
HOST  15:58
Now Is this realistic? Like in the real world? This is how a person’s life has been affected? Or is this like scandal where, you know, it’s a fake story about stuff that’s happening.
GUEST  16:12
It’s not nonfiction. Yeah, it’s fiction. But I try to keep it as realistic as I can. I grew up poor. And I felt the effects of the federal government, even as a child, because we would often have to go, you know, meet with people in federal buildings to get benefits. So when I see things like, well, this started around the time of the shutdown last year, and my empathy went out to all the people who weren’t getting paid and, you know, a lot of people in the same boat now. So, I just felt the need to tell the story. And I hope that in some way that people who hear it get something out of it. Yeah. But a lot of in the case of a lot of the things that I write, I find myself writing them just because I have to. Because if I don’t, you know, in the case of DC home if I didn’t talk about it through story, I would talk about it as a jerk to everyone. So well, it would
HOST  17:21
depend on how you process everything. You know, I mean, if you’ve been writing, and writing and writing through throughout your entire life, like when you’re not at work, you’re writing novels, stories, ideas, whatever it might be. It would seem writing is the way that you’re you process information, right?
GUEST  17:40
Oh, so in a process everything through the keyboard.
HOST  17:43
Yeah. And in a politically hot time, like the one that we live in right now. I mean, I mean, you know, I keep telling people I go guys, this is the 60s we are in the 60s, like you know how you think back like, oh, man, it was wild. No, it’s wild. Now. Yeah, this is the sixth. Yeah, in the way that we think of it like, oh, there’s so much going on. There’s so much going on right now. So it is a fascinating thing out here, you know, processing.
GUEST  18:12
Yeah. And I think about how young people are so much more motivated. Now, politically, they’re there. So the activism is is so much, you know, more. It’s just more. That’s another reason why I wanted to talk about it, because I just felt like this is a way for me to, you know, engage in that dialogue. But also, at the same time I’m doing that. I’m working on a series of novels that I’m calling the breakthrough, which is, which started out as James Bond meets the Lord of the Rings. I wanted to basically I sat down I said, I want to write the craziest fantasy series that I can That that can come out of me. So basically, the breakthrough is about a guy named Max dej, who’s a private detective who gets involved in this conspiracy with an alien race who’s trying to develop faster than faster than light travel and the way they do it is by making magicians out of people. So you’ve got magic, you’ve got sci fi, and then max stage is kind of my James Bond in in the way that he has a lot of great gadgets. Unfortunately, he leads with his face, not with this fist. And that’s more of the way I am. So it’s I’m in Book Two right now. The first book was called maxed edge in the time of the unit Borg. The second book is I’m calling Sue Jorgensen Queen of space.
HOST  19:54
I was just thinking about how you’re, you know, you’ve got all sorts of these ideas. In your head and they’re like floating around, and now that you’re home able to work from home and do your own writing, are you just like indulging every idea that you have to like sink into it is for you to make this novel series? You know, like, what? Can I jump back to ask about like a while a while back, you said something about how it took you a while to figure out how to write a novel and then you figured it out. What did you figure out? I mean, you don’t like give the secret to whatever. But like, what happened? Like what was your journey of figuring out you know, was it like you could never get to the end of one and then finally you did? And then you were like, Oh, now I can do it because I did it one time, or are you like into framework and you like your brain figured out the framework?
GUEST  20:55
No, actually the funny thing is is just in my case I didn’t start even thinking about structure or framework or any of that until much later, when I was in my early 20s. I just wanted to be able to write a book. And that’s all I just wanted to be able to write one. And so I would, you know, start a book and finish it over and over and over. And when I finally did finish a book, it wasn’t really very good. Most of my early stuff was just awful, as so much is in, you know, young artists. But once I was able to finish one, and then once I was able to finish 10 that’s when I started thinking about Okay, well, now I can do it, how can I do it better? And that’s one of the reasons why I stopped because it felt like I wasn’t getting better. And so by writing plays, it kind of helped me find the joy in writing again and take back over to writing novels and writing nonfiction and writing monologues and writings, on and on and on.
HOST  22:09
But you’re, you came together with this idea like it was. It was just about finishing one for you to feel like you got over the hump. And then you were like, well, I guess I can do this. I mean, I guess you said earlier that like, you know, though, you’ve been doing it for years, but it was only recently that you like accepted that you really are a writer, I suppose. Thanks to the support of Vicki saying like, why don’t you just write full time and you’re like, what am I a writer? And she’s like, Are you kidding me? And we met
GUEST  22:42
Well, she I can’t give her enough praise. Vicki has just been amazing in my life. But actually, she didn’t have that much to do with it was more about me. How do I put it up? It was about me accepting that I am who I am, in a way. Like you grow up as a kid and you think Well, okay, when I was a senior in high school, I was told that I would win the Pulitzer Prize by one teacher, and that I would get an Oscar by another teacher. And within about a year, I was no longer acting or writing because the real world hit me in the face so hard. Yeah. So in a way, not being able to admit that I was a writer was kind of a reaction to that. I didn’t want to get I didn’t want to get any nasty surprises, you know? Yeah. But after I, after everybody in my life, it seemed that I was doing this 24 hours a day and that, you know, now I’ve got over 30 books out and I’ve got all these things and whatnot. It’s really hard to not admit that. I’m a writer. At a certain point, you just the weight of the evidence is just so dramatic. You kind of have to surrender to it.
Yeah, you really do.
HOST  24:11
It’s, it is funny though, the way we hold ourselves back the way we like, you know, just this idea of like, Oh, well, I’m not good, like this person. It’s like Rhino, of course, just keep doing it. You think like, every day, john Grisham is like, I’m nailing this like, no, like, continuously writing and then like, he throws some pages at somebody and they’re like, bro, this one’s a series. He’s like, yeah, like, you know that he’s a regular person. We’re all regular people. And we need you know, the support around us to like believe in ourselves to actually move forward and get it done. But I’m glad to the point where like, you had so much going and they were like, Hey, you like have 30 bucks you’ve written like, I’m pretty sure you can write.
GUEST  24:57
Yeah, exactly. Another point I think that should be made is, you know, you never are a writer like that other person or an actor like that other person, you’re never, you’re always just you. And I had to kind of accept that that was a tough one. Like, I’m always going to be that kid in elementary school who made bad jokes, you know. So, at a certain point, my career pivoted to where I didn’t want to be a writer like other people, and I realized I wanted to do what I do. And once I kind of got into my thing, then that’s when everything went, like 100% full power. That’s when I was like, wow, I better do this as much as I can now because I won’t get to later on. And when I can’t, I’m going to be devastated. I mean, I’m sure they’ll be very good video games at the time. So that’ll be a lifesaver, but
HOST  25:55
why would you be able to write Are you kidding me? The dictation apps they have already Ready are amazing. You don’t need to work to write, you think you’re wearing
GUEST  26:06
Yeah, well, you know, I’m gonna get to be in my 70s or 80s. And, you know, eventually you just slow down. I mean, I’ve already started slowing down, I know this, like, I can’t do as much as I used to do. So I find ways to do more in other ways. But it’s just a it’s just a matter of kind of accepting your mortality. You know, I mean, I know that I’ve got probably a good 30 some books send me still but I probably will only write about 30 You know, I’m probably not going to squeeze the toothpaste tube until there’s absolutely nothing left. If you get my meaning,
HOST  26:50
you’re not going to pull a Stephen King and write till the pen falls out of your hand.
GUEST  26:56
I’ll probably right so until the pin falls out of my hand. I probably We’ll stop once I’m, you know, once I’m not lucid, you know anymore.
HOST  27:06
Oh, good, that’s good. These are good things that you’re planning for. I feel like you know, you’re not giving yourself enough credit realistically, though, and, you know, the ebb and the flow of we know, our own ability to write, I mean, you can’t, you can’t beat yourself up just because your, your, the way that you do it is different than the way you used to do it, you know, there, when you’re not timing it, there’s urgency that kind of forces you to do more, because you’re like, I’m gonna get this done between my job at the blockbuster and my night job working at Odell like, you know, I got I got an hour and a half. How am I gonna do this? You know, so life’s different when you’re in that vibe. You know, when it’s slower when you can make choices you can take time to think about it. You can spend time thinking about your characters in a way that maybe Oh yeah, nothing wrong with that.
GUEST  27:59
Yeah, I think I spend 24 seven thinking about myself, I I understand what you’re saying. And I’m not saying in a negative way that the day will come when I won’t be able to anymore. It’s just, I’m just accepting of the fact that there’s only so much time so I want to pack as much in as I can. You know, for me that’s, that’s a way of living life to its fullest and not, not and not, you know, pushing everything off and thinking. Yeah, I just I love what I do so much now, which is really weird because I spent my 30s and 40s absolutely hating it. But I love what I do so much now that Yeah, I do. I that’s why I do this full time. And, you know, I, I don’t have a word count, like a lot of writers do. But like you said, you know, writing isn’t just about typing. Just like acting isn’t just about learning lines. You know you’re doing it even when you’re not doing it.
HOST  29:03
Yeah, totally. Plus you have all these various different kinds of projects, which are still like creative writing, but they’re coming out in different ways, whether it’s like in podcast form, or in the novels that you’re writing, you mentioned audio books, or you’re writing stories almost like audio drama Podcast, where it’s like the story is meant to be read in a audio book format, or you just finding older books that you’ve written and reading them out loud and that brings new life to it.
GUEST  29:37
Oh, no, I do the audiobooks as I released the books. And and I also do like DC home where I’m reading an ongoing story. And as I mentioned to you, I’ve also written a radio cereal that was supposed to be in production right now, but unfortunately COVID has kind of been an inconvenience with that.
HOST  29:55
Oh, right on cool so that that radio cereal that you have with your friend like That’s sort of your like dipping your toe in the audio drama world in a way that it’s built for the audio.
GUEST  30:08
Yeah, we did an audio book together. And I hadn’t worked in this studio with another actor, and I was kind of uncertain about how it worked out. And fortunately, my friend, Brenda, who was in the audio book for having enough, she’s great to work with and we had a great time. So last September, I asked her, you know, would you be interested in working again? And she said, yeah. And so I sent her the script and days, two or three days after I sent her the script, the stay at home order was issued in California. I mean, the timing just couldn’t been worse. So, we’ll do it. It’s just gonna, you know, we’ll just push it down the road of it. Sure,
HOST  30:50
sure. She can work on it. You can work on she’ll send you notes, and you’ll do some edits, and then you’ll guys know, right.
GUEST  30:58
Actually, we just said it. Decide because so much time is passing? Yeah, I don’t want to get like halfway through and then say, Okay, well, we’ll have to wait. So I’ve just said, let’s just, you know, let’s table this until September. And we’ll see if we’re in a better place, which is great because it gives me three months of free time to write a book. And I didn’t think I would have that free time. So I’m actually I’m writing a book right now. And so I will write the next book. I’m writing the second book in the breakthrough series right now. And I’ll write the third book probably right after just, it’s it’s so much fun. I’ve only done this once, where you write two books in a series at the same time, or one right after another. And it really is just like writing the next sentence. You know, it feels just so organic. So I’ll probably get a chance to do that. So it’s, there’s always something new to look forward to
HOST  31:58
mask what’s your process for writing like, I clearly you it’s like ingrained in your soul like there’s no way you’re not doing it but like, how are you putting the time in your day? Like, are you doing it in the morning? How are you like balancing life and writing? I find that that’s probably one of the number one things people always ask about.
GUEST  32:23
You know, that got very difficult lately with coat with the COVID 19 being out there. My wife, who always worked outside the home, and who traveled a lot suddenly had to work from home and not travel at all. Yeah, so I was I was used to writing I was used to being very, you know, I was used to the solitude. And so I did write anytime, for any reason, you know, and then she’s started to be here all the time. And unfortunately, I’m the kind of writer who has to write alone. I Don’t like other people around. So when she first came home and had to stay at home, I said, Tell you what I’ll stop writing. And I’ll switch to other things. So I started doing a series on YouTube. And I started actually doing videos where I read my books, a couple of them so far. So just little things, you know, to keep me busy while I wasn’t writing, but I found out that I really need to write like, eventually it just got under my skin. I was like, I need to get something done. So I had to kind of teach myself to be okay with writing with other people around, which I’m still in the process of doing, but to get to your point. What I like to do in a normal working day, I go out and walk every morning. So when I’m out, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m doing that day and what I’m doing that week, and just Generally in that short term, schedule, and then when I get home, I’m more ready to do whatever I have to do. So like, for instance, today on episode on my podcast called inside DC home, which is basically a behind the scenes look at what’s happening with the characters and so on and so forth. And so I was writing that and I also had to do some work on the book that I’m writing right now. So, in my case, I spend a little bit of time and this is gonna sound awful. playing a video game watching something on YouTube listening to music, I try not to dive right into the work. I try to give myself a chance to let something come out organically before I sit down and say, Okay, come on, get done. So fortunately, in my case, where I’m at right now, a lot of it does come out just organically and the way that I’m able to get my brain to do that is, I’ll just, I know. Like, wherever I left, leave off. I know what’s going on internally, I don’t write about the way things look, or the way things are or the way people’s clothes look or what they’re wearing or how their hair is or any of that. I tend to focus a lot on my writing on what’s going on inside of the person, and what’s going on in their relationships and what’s going on immediately in their lives. And then what I do is I write a first draft of the book, and it’s all just internal. It’s all just dialogue. It’s, I write all the things that I write well, first, and then after I finished the book, then I go back in the second draft, and I write all the stuff that I don’t write well so I’ll go in and add color. And that’s literally what I tell people because that’s literally what it is I add the color of the clothes I add, you know what type of car they were driving, you know, all the details that I hate to add because they bore me to tears. I know other writers, other I know readers love that kind of stuff. My wife seems to think that I write that stuff well, but then I tell her, yeah, that’s not my thing. I don’t enjoy that I enjoy writing the dialogue. So that’s, that’s kind of how I do it. I break it up into what I what I want to do and what I need to do. And then in that first draft, I just write what I want to write. You know, I like to, like only ride the roller coasters the first time I’m at the amusement park. So that way, it’s fun for me the whole time. It’s just a big party. And then I go back, and I have to clean up the amusement park.
HOST  37:00
You’re like, have dessert first life’s uncertain. Yeah. eat dessert first. Yeah.
GUEST  37:06
Well, not just that. But by doing what I do well, I can actually do what I want to do. You know, I would never be able to finish a book. If I had to write about all the stuff that I hate first. You get what I’m saying? Yeah. You know, like, it’s, it’s as if you’re going to write a Star Wars Star Trek script. And you hate ship design. The first thing you would do is write everything but ship design, and then go back right ship design. Yeah.
HOST  37:41
It’s funny, because for me, I like to do the I like to do the rest stuff first.
GUEST  37:46
Yeah, well, you know, you got to find the stuff that works for you, you know, and anything you do, and in my case, I found that And granted, I’m 54 years old. It’s taken me decades. I hate to say that but literally decades. To find what I love and what I do best. And I was fortunate to take a detour into theater because that really helped me understand what it is I do, as opposed to you know what other writers do you know what makes me unique? You know what my strengths are? Yeah. And so now when I write things, I know, you know how to focus on that and make it fun for me rather than plod through.
HOST  38:28
And it would seem that your experience working with live actors, you know, helped keep sort of sort of buoy the real characters in your mind with like, full personalities, because you get to like, see all these people sort of like filling in the spaces like when you wrote the plays and did the play readings. It must be interesting. First off, to hear your you know, characters come to life in front of you.
Yeah, it’s, it’s I
GUEST  39:02
I can’t say enough for that. It’s always it’s always a joy to, to sit down and have someone read your stuff. When I finished this radio cereal, I sat down with Vicki and she and I read it she thinks she’s a terrible actress. She’s actually really good. And we sat down and read it and it was so much fun to see her enjoy it. Because, you know, when you’re writing something, you have no idea if it’s any good or not. You’re just thinking, well, this is the I’m enjoying it. I’m having fun, but you don’t know what the outside world is gonna think. So even though we had to kind of put the brakes on this, I at least got to hear her read it and listen to her laughing so that made me feel so so very good.
HOST  39:50
So are you are you mostly producing your and publishing your own stuff or do you have like these days With all your different kinds of projects, you’re doing your own thing, or do you also have like contracts with publishing houses as well? You’re doing like that kind of stuff with them and doing your own projects? Or is it all? Like, are you your own business kind of thing?
GUEST  40:16
No, I’m doing all my own stuff right now. A few years ago, when I when I decided to do this full time, I kind of made a deal with myself. I wanted to write a really great fantasy series, which is going to be about nine books long. And that’s the breakthrough. I wanted to write something about art, because I’ve been so immersed in art for my life. And so much of it was theater that I decided to the theater has nothing to do with actually I decided to write a series called work of art, which is a five book series about artists. And I’m in the second book of that series which will be coming out I think early next year. So I’ve got those series and I just wanted to just focus on what I do best. Rather than try and see when you work with publishers, unfortunately, you have to play their game, you have to write the books they want. And if I can just dovetail a little bit. One of the best advice, one of the best pieces of advice of advice to a young author I can give is that there’s a very easy way to be a best selling novelist. There’s a very easy way to make money as a novelist. Do you wanna know what it is what? Write one book, write one book over and over and over. Because that’s what publishers want you to do. They want you to write one book that sells real well. And then they want you to write that book again and again and again. And again. I know a lot of authors who do And make a lot of money. Yeah. And that’s them, you know, and they’re having a great time and I’m happy for them. But I decided I wanted to be an artist. I don’t just want to make money, it’d be nice. But I want to, I want to be fulfilled as an artist. So unfortunately, publishers and agents don’t like writers who run around to do a bunch of different things. They want you to be one genre. They want you to be one thing, you know, because then they can define you. Yeah, and unfortunately, in my case, I can’t really be defined too well. In the hiking worlds, I’m the world’s worst backpacker. That’s kind of how I’m known. I have monologue, I have videos. And in fiction, I have one thing you know, I’m I’m very fractured. And I’m very fractured because I like to pack as much into my life as into each of those fractures as I can. Because I’m interested in having a good life and not just having a good career. So, I miss out on working with publishers, but I’m hoping that see, my goal is to get their attention my way. And if I never do, at least I’ll have a whole lot of books that I had a whole lot of fun writing. Yeah, if I do get their attention my way, then I’m more likely to be able to do my thing. And my thing is, you know, is not the normal thing. And I’ve accepted that. Because I have a lot of fun and people who read my stuff have a lot of fun. So, you know, why not?
Yeah, right. Live your life on your own terms. Absolutely. Yeah.
HOST  43:54
Why not? I suppose that that bit of wisdom comes with age as well. The Sort of ability to let go the constraints of something like, this is the way the publishing world wants you to do it. So you have to and you’re like, well, you don’t have to, you can well, you
GUEST  44:11
don’t have to. Yeah. And I spent a lot of years thinking that I had to do that. Yeah. And making so many compromises and shortchanging myself so many times. That when I realized when I, you know, came to that realization that I could just do it myself. You know, nothing has been the same sense.
Hey, you don’t have to play the game.
GUEST  44:38
Yeah, you You really don’t in this case. You really don’t. I’m sure that there are still artistic endeavors where you really do. But the The good thing about the internet is it has democratized writing and it has democratized a lot of art. You know, it’s a lot easier for people to you know, get out there and do their thing. It’s a lot harder to get rich at it. Sure.
HOST  45:04
But you can certainly do it. You can certainly make something. You know, like, if you’re like, I’ve always wanted to do this great, do it. You can go ahead. I mean, I can’t even believe you know, I’m deeply impressed. I’ve been writing down. I wrote current project, and there’s so many things written under it. And it’s like, how do you keep so many different stories going in your brain? Like for me, I generally have to have Well, I guess that’s a lie. I got I guess I got I got a couple going but like you got a lot of worlds that you’re building, like, in your brain Do you do like Mondays with the breakthrough? And like, you know, Tuesdays with, you know, the, your, your political series, like, are you organizing yourself that way? Or is it like whichever one nags at you is the one that you work on.
GUEST  45:55
Now, the funny thing is, is I there’s a lot of stuff that I haven’t even mentioned And when when Vicki and I sit down to listen to this, I guarantee you, she’s gonna say, what about such and such? And I’m gonna say I forgot all about such and such. And I guess I kind of answers your question in a way. The stuff that’s most important to me, is the stuff that’s on my mind. My favorite book has always been the book I’m working on. I’ve never had a book I was working on and thought, If only I was working on that, because when you’re in that place, you might as well just be working on that other thing.
GUEST  46:39
So, so like, whatever book I’m working on at that time is the thing that’s mostly on my mind. And that’s usually Monday through Thursday. And then Fridays, I like to take the day off. Oh, and so I usually work on other things that I never take Friday’s off. I always want to, but I’ll do my podcasts that day. And then I’ll do YouTube videos in the morning when I’m out walking or in the morning when I sit down and read and film myself. But this is mostly because of COVID. If I was alone, I would write for, you know, four to six hours and then I would shut down because my brain would be so tired. Yeah, now I’m I when I work I don’t get really tired because I don’t work on anything. A whole lot, because my wife’s here. Yeah, you’re taking I was want to go and see what’s going on with her.
HOST  47:38
Yeah, have lunch and see what’s up. It’s crazy how time seems to have changed how it it flows as well. Today, it was like we woke up. And then I blinked an eye and I looked and I was like, how is it two in the afternoon? What time do we get up? Like
I hear you
HOST  47:57
what’s going on. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I have a toddler. So you know, I have the time suck of that. Like, somehow I walk into a room my pickup, you know, to Legos and six hours have passed. I’m like, What? What happened? Oh my god, I went to the Time Warp is the baby here? Yeah. But you know, so I totally understand having 1000 things going and you’re trying to figure it out. I love that, like, you know, you didn’t feel like you know you could do as much working without the solitude. So you’re working on writing rather without the solitude. So you’re like, well let me do 47 other projects. This is better.
GUEST  48:36
Yeah. Yeah, my wife thinks that I do that so often. Oh, you know, I’m, clearly I’m too busy. I need to pare down so let me do all these things.
Yeah. Yeah, I understand my husband’s just like that, too. So I appreciate that.
HOST  48:53
I understand. It’s good. Now, the more creatively robust I think you can be the better it’s If you’re abounding with ideas, and you’re constantly coming up with new things, you know, you’ll always have something to keep you satisfied. Whereas, you know, I find a lot of times, some of the tougher things that I’ll talk to people about are when you know, they’re, they’re at a loss for ideas. A lot of people, in fact, during this crisis have had a loss of ideas as opposed to being of metal, talk to a lot of people like you who are like, you know, oh, you know, I have this time now. So I need to use it in a different new way. Right. And some people though, are just like dead in the water, like they are sucked of all of their creative juices, because, you know, the world is uncertain and they just don’t know what to do. So it’s nice to hear that things are going well for you and that you’re and that your creative juices are still still still flowing. That’s, that’s awesome. And, yeah, send those vibes out.
GUEST  50:00
Thanks. Yeah, right now with everything is happening with the economy and so on so forth. everything other than my creative abilities has really been tanking. It’s really surprising. me like my book sales have gone through the floor, my viewership has disappeared. And don’t worry, it doesn’t bother me. This happens. You know, there are there are off months, there are off weeks or days. It just happens, you know? And like Vicki and I were talking about this the other day, and I thought, where I was saying to her, you know, I’m still coming up with stuff. So, like that my last book didn’t sell all that well, but I’m not that worried because the book I’m working on right now kicks ass. So there’s never really that concern. I would hate to be the writer who writes just one novel. I’d hate to be that guy. That would drive me crazy. No, just watching that one thing. But in my case, it’s almost like a dance because there’s so many things going on at once.
HOST  51:12
yeah, yeah, totally. It’s important, I think, to leave yourself open to all the ideas to, you know, especially during harder times, you know, because even though and, you know, I don’t know that I’ve gotten a particularly like, a lot done during this time, but I’ve had a lot of interesting ideas. And I think that, you know, like you’re saying, I you know, you’d hate to be that guy that writes the one book. I know what you meant, like, you know, that’s that one idea is not you don’t want to keep you know, ringing the same Bell you get it, but from No, I was like,
GUEST  51:50
it was okay. I just I just met the guy who can only write one book like, like just one title, like just one book. And like he spends like, I know I’ve known this guy, they’d spend like a decade, worrying about this one book, getting it just right, rewriting it and rewriting it and rewriting it. That would kill me. You know, just to work on one thing. And that’s why I write books in eight to 10 weeks. My first draft is usually eight to 10 weeks. And then I’ll go back and I’ll write a second in about four. So I never have to live with any one thing for a really, really long time. Because just to give you some idea, I my books just ate for a very long time. I think about them for a very long time. And then I’ll spend, I’ll go out and walk and I’ll spend, you know, hours just thinking about why are they doing this? Why did they do this? Why are they this way? I never think about things like dialogue choices, I always want to know about the person’s psychology. So that’s why I wrote write books fast because I spend so much time with them that by the time I sit down to write them most of the writings already done.
HOST  53:06
Hmm. Yeah, the whole story is like played out in your head, you’ve gone over it
right many times.
Yeah, you know, I
HOST  53:14
grasp now what you’re going for, for the person, like a one idea versus like the kabillion ideas that are in your brain. But what I was thinking was, nuts is what I thought you meant, but now I guess it’s what I’m doing. Is this idea that like, the world is different now and that like, what if the style like because you’re talking about the people who like publishers, like when a person writes one book, meaning over and over and over, like, it’s like the same, I don’t want to name any books because I want to insult anybody. But it’s like, there’s definitely people where it’s like, you see a book and then you’re like seven books later. It’s the same sort of setup. Sometimes it’s the same characters, but sometimes it’s not. It’s just still the same setup. You know, I mean, that
GUEST  53:56
works for if that works for the person. That’s That’s great. That’s It’s never worked for me. I’m
HOST  54:00
sure 100% that people who write who write in those Fast and Furious scripts are taking the money to the bank. But yeah, I mean, please, they’re fine. Don’t feel bad for them.
GUEST  54:13
What I find in my writing is actually I find I process. And this is going to be weird when it gets to things like the breakthrough. But I find I process my own life in a way in my own writing. And I’ll give you an example. For the longest time after my divorce, I wrote plays about relationships that were in trouble, and divorces and all the time over and over about trying to get two people together who were divorced, like over and over my head. I kept trying to fix this problem that I had in my own marriage. decades before or not even that. So in in the breakthrough, Max Dodge, who is one of the main characters he’s married to a woman named Lily, who in the first Book, they are working on getting their divorce papers signed. And I’ve only in the last few days realized kind of going towards that direction of getting the two of them back together, which I haven’t even written yet. And I won’t write for at least, if I write the next book in the series, I’ll probably write this towards the end of summer. And if you think about it, it’s 2020. I was divorced around 2000. So it’s taking about 20 years in my head to figure out a way for that to, you know, to put those two people back together. But it’s, it’s my way of dealing with all of my own, you know, traumas and so on and so forth. And so I find myself writing about the things that worry people and writing about the things that keep like that keeping At night, the more mundane things I’m not talking about, like Stephen King type of things. So like, for instance, in this series I’m running called work of art, the main character, Andrew Hollis, he becomes an art teacher. It’s kind of a standard deliver, turned on its head, because the teacher is lacking and comes across these teenage artists who are full of life and give him life. So it’s kind of the opposite. But, you know, he, he has to wrestle with that question of where his life was going. While surrounded by all these kids who absolutely have no no no, no doubt where their lives are going. And in, in the drama, you know, of being in that situation, that’s where the story comes from. And so that’s kind of how I, I don’t think that my writing is a cultural reflection. I think it’s I think it’s more of a almost a psychological thing, if you will.
HOST  57:14
more of a personal reflection on your own journey than the world around you.
GUEST  57:19
Yeah, yeah, I at my age, I try not to attach myself to anything culturally, too much just because I feel like I’m not in a place to make that call. My years my experience of culture, you know, it comes much earlier in life so mine You know, I’m not that age anymore. So I try not to act like I’m gonna somehow influenced someone culturally, you know, I’d rather make the connection more on a more personal level. Yeah, if that makes any sense? Sure.
Sure, sure.
HOST  58:06
I mean, don’t don’t discount discount your cultural connection. Who knows? Maybe, maybe your you get the finger on the pulse of the night, guys, you don’t know.
GUEST  58:18
  1. Bye. Bye.
HOST  58:19
I don’t know, I appreciate that the creation comes from your own personal processing and not a matter of processing the world around you, you know, probably,
GUEST  58:30
unless I don’t understand the world around me. It’s too confusing. Yeah, sure. Or maybe you do. You just haven’t allowed yourself to give it the time that you did for processing, you know, 20 years to process the characters going through the divorce. Maybe, you know, maybe you’re still processing what was going on culturally in 2000 as well. You know, you know, the weird thing is in a way and I don’t know if This is gonna make any sense at all. But in a way, I also feel like being able to find a place where two people can be happy together is also a way of me growing up and being a more adult person in my second marriage.
Yeah. Yeah.
HOST  59:23
It’s like, it’s like you’ve figured out how to do the writing and then and then your life as well nailing it. Okay. All right, one final question, and then I’m gonna let you go. We’ve been talking a lot about you know, your path and doing the work and getting the work done. But we opened up discussing this idea that you know, you didn’t allow yourself to believe that you were an artist for a long time even though you were doing the work you were putting the effort in. You are clearly creative. Is there any advice you would have for anybody may be in the same boat as you who you know, is working and doing stuff, but isn’t giving themself the credit, like, what do they need to let go? What do they need to accept in themselves before they can allow themselves to be an artist?
And then that’s a big one. I
GUEST  60:18
just talked about this a little bit before the show. And I didn’t really have an answer. And then as you were asking, at this time, I was reminded of a young man I met at a party Long, long ago, when there were still parties a few months ago, about the beginning of the year. His mom came up to me and he’s about what 15 or 16 I think right now. And she came up to me, she said, You know, he wants to be a writer, but he doesn’t know what to do. Could you talk to him? And the last person in the world I ever want to talk to is a teenage boy because that I was a teenage boy, I know how they function. It’s too much work. But I realized thinking about him when you were asking this question, you know what answer I would give. I would say that if you want to be an artist, find a way to be as uncomfortable as you can. And by that, I mean, get out of your comfort zone, get out of everything that you know, just just take a leap. Because if you don’t do it, now, you’re gonna have to do it later. Eventually, you have to take a leap. And the only real reward that comes out of those is internal. Because if you expect it to come from outside, it’s not going to and having been an actor, I can tell you. You don’t get applause as an author, and there’s nothing as good as applause. So if you want that go into acting,
GUEST  61:51
But you don’t get it as a writer. What you get is this feeling inside this connection that you make. So If you’re if you’re an artist of any kind, and you’re just doing the things that make you comfortable, that make you happy, if you’re doing comfort food, stop it. Do something completely uncomfortable. And then if if that’s what you if that’s your thing, if you step out of your comfort zone, you go, Wow, this really is my thing, then you know. And if you step out of your comfort zone and you realize that you hate it, you’ve just saved yourself an awful lot of time.
Just make one move, and you’ll know if you like it or you don’t
take that leap of faith. Yeah,
HOST  62:38
totally. Awesome. Thank you so much for chatting and sharing your life with me. I really appreciate it can you’ve been a wonderful guest? Thank you for being with me and for chatting about what it takes to be a writer.
GUEST  62:58
Hey, and thank you for inviting me on In the middle of all of this craziness, it’s nice to sit down and you know connect with someone. So thank you.
Yes. Oh boy for real
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