Modus Operandi – definition: a plan, or mode of operating or working.
Today’s interview is rather special as it is a joint interview with William L. Bozarth and Laura D. Jame, who worked together on a children’s story book – a perfect modus operandi..!
W = William L. Bozarth
L = Laura D. James
a) What do you enjoy most about writing?
L: I enjoy losing myself in writing and the “high” that it gives me. It’s amazing for me when I work on something and pretty much submerge myself in it then come back out later to the world around me feeling like I’ve been somewhere else.
W. Things that previously existed only in my imagination come to life. These squirrels have been living in my head for the better part of the last two years, so it’s nice to see them scurrying through these pages.
b) What age did you start writing stories/poems?
L. 5 years old, pretty much as soon as I learned how to read.
W. I started writing poetry for girlfriends when I was 11 or 12, but didn’t really take writing seriously until I was a junior in High School, so perhaps 16 or 17 years old. That’s when I started my first band, and I was the vocalist/lyricist. ‘Spooky Skwerl Stories’ is my second or third attempt at writing an actual story that isn’t in verse or screenplay form.
c) Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
L. I played around with fantasy/sci-fi when I was very young and have tried suspense/crime and literary (or just non-genre… mainstream?) here and there but I’ve always been enamored with the horror genre. The squirrel books were pretty much Will’s idea and I think this will be a lot of fun though I’m sure I have a lot to learn about writing spooky things for children.
W. I’ve always been a horror guy, so everything I’ve done could be categorized from personal horror to fictional horror.
d) What genre are you currently reading?
L. I haven’t been able to concentrate long enough to finish reading a book in a long time, I guess from being so obsessed with working on my own novel, and it bothers me since reading was always how I would relax. It’s pretty much always horror, though. I’ve got a few novels and anthologies that I pick up when I try to make myself read.
W. I wish I could say that I’m reading something, but I’m not.
e) Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
L. Mainly pleasure, sometimes research
W. I don’t read much, really. I used to read a lot when I was in elementary school, but the fun was kinda sucked out of it when they forced us to read gigantic novels in middle school. A twelve-year-older shouldn’t read ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. It takes a bit for me to actually sit down and read something nowadays. The last book I read was Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’, and the ending disappointed me. Before that, it was Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’… and the ending disappointed me. Why take a month or more to read a large book, learn about all of these characters, cry for the loss of the characters, then have it all be explained by *spoiler removed* forces. So, I guess my answer is “research”. Since I don’t really get any pleasure out of it.
f) Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
L. My father: he’s encouraged my love of reading and writing since I was very young. He paid a lot of money for me to go to a college in another state to major in creative writing. That didn’t really work out but he’s never made me feel guilty about it and he’s believed in my ability/potential as a writer even when I haven’t. He never demanded I try to do something practical or get “a real job” and has always been 100% supportive of me writing because it’s what makes me happy. Will is a close second because he’s the brains behind all the adventures, endeavors and chaos we’ve been through. He’s got a plan for pretty much everything and more dedication and energy than I could sum up on my own. I also have to mention Julie Castillo, a writing instructor whose class I took a year ago and will be taking again at the community college in my town. She was the only writing teacher I’ve ever had who was totally supportive of what students wanted to write instead of what they “should” write (aka literary stuff) and she was just so wonderful and dedicated to everyone’s individual works. I kept up with her through e-mail after class and she helped me with a lot of questions and gave me lots of advice.
W. My parents have always been very supportive. I’ve never had any instances of Laura being unsupportive, thankfully.
g) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
L. Probably a girl named Brigid who was a supporting character in the novel I just finished. She’s a timid young aspiring writer who goes through some crazy stuff with her friends. She’s a main character in the follow-up novel I’m planning and things just get crazier and scarier.
W. The combination of the squirrels in ‘Spooky Skwerl Stories’ since they’re characterizations of some of my personality traits.
h) Where is your favorite writing space?
L. My room, listening to some goth/doom metal
W. On a bus or train with my headphones on.
i) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants writer?
L. I usually planned my short stories. When one of the stories turned into a novel I planned that thing out but it wound up going in a completely different direction and I’m glad. I’m planning other novels I want to write but they’re probably going to deviate from the plan, too, and it should be fun.
W. I have a beginning, middle, and end planned. It’s the getting from A to B to C that isn’t planned.
j) What inspires your ideas/stories?
L. Anything, really: anecdotes, places, snippets of things I hear on TV. Sometimes I’ll read/hear random details in stories that aren’t supposed to mean much of anything and they’ll just blossom into back-stories and plots in my mind.
W. Random thoughts.
k) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
L. I’m on a message board called Absolute Write (http://absolutewrite.com/ ) where I’ve gotten lots of good advice.
W. Facebook groups “Horror Writers” and “Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators”.
l) Do you have a book published? If so, what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
L. Not traditionally published yet but I’ll have to keep you posted. I’m waiting to hear back from the publisher I submitted my novel to and if they don’t take it I’ve got a few others I’m interested in. If I don’t get published, we will go the same route as ‘Spooky Skwerl Stories’.
W. Both of my books are available on Amazon. Just search for “William L. Bozarth”, and they’ll pop up.
m) If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
L. I would say Richard Matheson but he is no longer with us, so I’ll go with Peter Straub because I don’t think any other author has mystified, enthralled and terrified me quite like he has with the way he writes.
W. I’ve already met them, so I’m ahead of the game. :). Stephen King, R.L. Stine, and Lois Lowry.
n) Where can readers find you and your blog?
L. I don’t have a blog but you can find me through the Spooky Skwerl Stories facebook
W. http://www.facebook.com/SpookySkwerlStories for all updates.
o) Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?
L. I’ve got one or two novels planned as a follow-up for the one I think I might be planning an unrelated haunted house novel. Will and I have more ideas for Spooky Skwerl Stories than we know what to do with but we’ll figure something out.
W. Many many many