I’m truly grateful to have Rob Guthrie as a Guest Author for this week’s blog to interview. Rob Guthrie author of Blood Land, Ink: Eight Rules To A Better Book, Money Land (A James Pruett Mystery) (Volume 2), Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel, Lost: A Clan of MacAulay Novel (Volume 2), Detective Bobby Mac Thriller Trilogy, Reckoning: A Detective Bobby Mac Thriller (Volume Three), Rod and Staff (A Short Story), A Letter to Brody, and Dark Prairies.
Rob had been writing since college – mostly fictional romps – short stories, partially finished novels, and even one micro-story. He has also written a few song lyrics. One of his short stories placed 11th out of – 2000 in a national contest. Another (a Halloween short-short) took 1st place in a Southern California newspaper contest.
Hi Rob, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
- Tell me a little about yourself and your background? What were you like at school? Were you good at English? What are your ambitions for your writing career? Which writers inspire you? Or something that you feel you need to share?
I always got good grades in all subjects, so English never stood out to me as a class I was better or worse at, however, in elementary school my 4th or 5th grade teacher sent a story I wrote off to a contest in NYC, where it received an Honorable Mention. I was a fairly voracious reader, so I think that’s from where the drive to write fiction ultimately emerged; that and by then I had noticed that my writing was receiving more attention than my physics lab results. 🙂 I was inspired first by the late John D. MacDonald, who wrote the Travis McGee series (21 books). McGee was a classic hero/protagonist, but most of the books written in that series were in the 60s and 70s, so a little cheesy. MacDonald is still considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, having written over 70 books.
- What was your life like before becoming an author?
Not a whole lot different than now. I mean, unless you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, it isn’t like fame and fortune are crashing through the door. I think it’s more of an internal change. I don’t simply write what an artist might call “doodles” any longer. If I am writing, it’s work. Trying to finish the next novel, or putting out a blog, or doing an interview. I now really have to maximize the time, because the biggest surprise is, by far, how much marketing and branding and promoting it takes to sell books.
- Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
I am 100% character-driven, so I almost always see my characters (at least the main one or two) first. I feel what they are going through. And when I write, other than an overall idea of where the story may end up, I tend to write my character’s scenes and timeline the way life unfolds: unknown to us.
I figure if I am the writer and I don’t know exactly what’s coming next, it should provide the reader with some nice twists and turns and a bit of the unexpected (and sometimes a LOT).
- When did you decide to become a writer?
When I was in college I had a typewriter, but PCs were just hitting the scene. Of course, no one could afford one (least of all most college students) so i would spend my time in the computer lab writing fiction. So I knew then I would be a writer. I suppose you could argue I was a writer at that point, but I mean a published writer who actually gets his or her work out there for the public to read. I didn’t do that until a few years ago. Until then it was a contest here, a contest there, but mostly just a lot of “doodling”.
Half-finished short stories, the first paragraph or page to a novel that never materialized, etc.
- Why do you write?
I feel like I have been granted a gift, and I know there are a lot of people who don’t know what they want (or what they would do if they could choose), so part of me feels obligated to use the gift. Of course I love doing it, so what is it Ben Franklin said? If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life? I do it because I love to do it; it honestly makes me whole.
- So, what have you written?
Wow, it would be easier to list the things I haven’t written. I’m not a poet by any stretch, but I’ve taken creative writing courses where one section is on poetry, and it can be such an abstract area without rule, so to speak, so I’ve done a little of that. I have written lyrics to a dozen songs, but I’m not a musician, so the composition part leaves them far from being completed as “songs”.
A lot of short stories. Now I focus primarily on novel (or at least novella) length projects. I am working currently on a short story (10,000 words) for an anthology and for the first time I am co-ghostwriting with another writer.
So really I think I have tried just about everything…
I have written a short, “just the facts” type book for writers to write better books and plan to follow that up with a longer non-fiction work on writing.
- Where people can buy or see them?
My books are available in most e-formats, in most major online retailers!
- Give me an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
I’ve written two different Mystery/Thriller series. The first, for now, is done (a trilogy); the second has at least one more book coming before I consider it finished for a bit. Both main characters are similar at their cores. I believe in writing real characters with real problems. I think readers want to relate. The only exception is perhaps Fantasy or Sci-Fi, but even a robot ends up mattering to us more when he or she begins to have human qualities, frailties, challenges, etc. I’ve written only male protagonists, although there have always been strong female characters in my books. One of these days I want to try my hand at writing a female lead. That will be as much of a challenge as it will be fun. 🙂
- What sparked the idea for your book?
The first series actually grew from a few chapters I had begun ten years earlier on a writing retreat, but the second—and closest to my heart—is a series I always knew I needed to write. It takes place in small-town Wyoming, where i grew up, and I was always amazed at the “big world” things that happened there, thinking “people would love to find out that even small towns have all the elements of great stories”. And the people up there, well, there aren’t any like them in the world. It’s no surprise to me that the first book in that series, Blood Land, has already begun to win awards. It comes straight from the heart, as any decent writing should.
- How do you market your book?
I took a year where I wrote 3-4 more books and spent the rest of the time promoting, tweeting, etc.
Social media has obviously been huge, as has blogging and doing interviews on blog radio, written blogs, and just about anywhere people are interested in listening to an author babble about his work, his thoughts, and his history. 😉
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Free promotions can be great (I like them because I want to say: I know you’ll like my work; try the first free—the problem there, of course, is you need more than one book, so Rule Two is write more books).
Seriously, though, it’s tough with only one book out there. Not as many options.
- What do you do to get book reviews?
Nothing. I rarely solicit reviews, although I think every writer has to, to an extent, in the beginning. I do have a dozen or so writers that I believe have the integrity to give honest reviews of my books when they first come out (the most important time to garner reviews because a lot of advertising sites won’t allow you the privilege of advertising your book if it doesn’t have enough reviews). So I will most times let them know a new book is out and, lucky for me, they are also fans of my writing.
- What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Realize that there are a few simple things you can do, like never having enough proofreaders! Readers are very unforgiving of mistakes in unknown writers (self-published, or “indie) books. Make sure your product is READY. And if you can’t perform the tasks to format the manuscript (download Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, free e-book on formatting) — but if you can’t, it pays to have someone who does a good job, because readers are also unforgiving of ill-formatted e-books.
Beyond that, if you really want to write a better book, you could do worse than to check out my only non-fiction book, INK. It’s received rave reviews from writers who say it has changed their work (for the better).
- Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Honestly. That’s another piece of advice: we’re all in this together — help other writers, they’ll help you, and the combination of the two is not something you can purchase.
And ON that note: thank you so much again for this wonderful opportunity!
- How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website is http://www.rsguthrie.com and should always at least have my current books out there. One of these days, there is a non-fiction book inside me, and it will be quite autobiographical, if not an outright autobiography.
- Website: http://www.rsguthrie.com
- Blog: http://robonwriting.com
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rsguthriebooks
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rsguthrie
- Lnkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rsguthrie
- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rsguthrie
- Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/RSGuthrie
- Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/rsguthrie
- Book Links: B&N Nook Page: http://bit.ly/NOOKRSG
- Goodreads: http://bit.ly/RSGUTHRIE-GR
It was a great privilege for me to get to interview Rob Guthrie, who has inspired me in many different ways. Thank you Rob!!! Good Luck with everything!