Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Interview of David Wisehart

To make up for not blogging last week (horrible cold that keeps hanging on and hanging on!), I'm offering a special treat this week. David Wisehart interviewed me in his Kindle Author newsletter and, the more I read about him, the more impressed I am. I had to know more, and think you might want to also, so I'm bringing you an interview he graciously granted me.

Kaye: First and foremost, I'm dying to know how you manage to get at least thirty hours in your day. It's obvious that you do, since you get so much accomplished! You're a novel writer, travel writer, a writer-producer-director of plays, film writer, video game producer, host of the Kindle Author newsletter and at least five blogs! How do you get all this done? Do you have a time-management secret?

David: Coffee.

Actually, some of the things you mentioned—video game producer, travel writer—are things I've done in the past and am no longer actively involved in. Of the various blogs I've started, the only one I'm focused on now is the Kindle Author blog.

However, it has been a very busy year for me. I published a novel and a short story, edited an anthology of plays, wrote an opera libretto, and completed the first draft of my second novel, among various other writing projects. I've acted in four stage plays this year, directed three (counting my opera), and produced one. I started a very successful new blog, Kindle Author, with nearly 400 posts in five months. I also tutor part-time.

My biggest time-management secret is this: turn off the TV.

I don't own a television. I watched TV when I was trying to break in as a TV writer, but even then it was for work. Likewise, I don't play video games as much as I did when I was in the industry.

I also had a relationship fall apart this year, and that freed up some time.

Kaye: I'm sorry for that last reason, David. What's your main area of concentration? Or are do your projects carry equal weight?

David: I have short-term projects, medium-term projects, and long-term projects.

Blog posts are short-term. Screenplays and plays are medium-term. Novels and operas are medium- or long-term. But this can change. "Valentino: a play in verse" was a long-term project that took three years to write, but became a short-term project when I decided to produce and direct it for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

On the other hand, I started a screenplay last year—a script my literary agent has been waiting patiently for—but it moved from the short-term to the long-term pile because I've completely lost my enthusiasm for it. The script is almost done, and it's probably pretty good, but I can't bear to even look at it anymore.

I think this short-term, medium-term, long-term approach is actually a very good tool for productivity. It helps me avoid writer's block. Because if I'm blocked on something, I'll move it from the short-term pile to the long-term pile, and find something else to write in the short-term.

Kaye: Why did you decide for forego an agent and put your books on Kindle and your play on Lulu?

David: I tried to get a book agent for "Devil's Lair." The response generally was that they liked the writing but didn't think it was commercial enough. And they may be right. Agents are looking for the next big thing, something that will sell, say, 50,000 copies or more. I'll be happy to sell 5,000 copies on Kindle—and I'll get there soon enough. My novel is in a commercial genre—fantasy—but uses a literary style closer to Umberto Eco or Gene Wolfe than, say, Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind. It also has some real Latin in it. If I had invented my own language, like high faerie or low goblin, it would have been fine. But people do seem to be put off by the Latin.

"Valentino" is even more esoteric. It's a full-length play in rhyming verse. I just assumed no agent would touch that. So, like most poets, I self-published. When I later produced and directed the play, it was nice to have printed copies to give to the actors.

I've had several agents in Hollywood. I've had scripts represented by ICM and CAA, two of the biggest names in the business. And I currently have a literary manager for my screenplays. But that's a different world.

Kaye: I've had agents say they like, even love, my projects, but don't think they could sell them, too. It's heartbreaking. How did you get the idea for the Kindle Author newsletter?

David: The newsletter is a natural outgrowth of the Kindle Author blog. It's another way to keep in touch with readers of the blog.

I got the idea for the Kindle Author blog after I self-published "Devil's Lair" and needed to find way to reach readers. I'd done other blogs, so it seemed the thing to do. At first I just thought it would be Kindle news and articles, and a bit about my own books. But then I read, in the comments of Joe Konrath's blog, that indie author Stacey Cochran was looking for blogs to add to his blog tour, so I emailed Stacey and he did an interview on my Kindle Author blog. Other authors asked to be interviewed, and I started inviting more self-published authors to discuss their books on my blog.

It proved to be a good service for the authors, and gave me lots of content and traffic for my blog.

Kaye: How have you publicized it and gotten followers?

David: I haven't publicized it much at all. I did start a thread at Kindle Boards and on the Amazon discussion forum. I'm on twitter. But I get most of my followers because I interview authors, post the interviews on my blog, and authors send their friends and family to read it.

Kaye: Do you think traditional publishing is in your future? Why or why not?

David: Yes, because I will be wildly successful as an indie author.

In a year or two or three, some traditional publisher will knock on my door and give me an offer I can't refuse.

Kaye: I hope that's true! How long have you been writing plays and novels? Have you had another career?

David: I wrote and directed and starred in my first play when I was eight years old. By high school I was writing spec TV scripts and screenplays. I went to film school at UCLA and wrote a bunch of scripts there. I returned to writing plays after I left the video game industry.

I've had lots of careers. I started in aerospace engineering. I worked for NASA when I was in high school, programming computers to analyze data for the HiMAT program. Then I put myself through UCLA film school by working as a programmer for The Aerospace Corporation. I got hired as a technical writer for a game company, then wrote narration scripts for art history documentaries, then wrote and produced children's educational CD-ROMs, then produced video games. Now I write, direct, produce, and act, mostly in theater. I also tutor the SAT and other subjects part-time.

Kaye: What keeps you going?

David: The need to tell stories that will outlive me.

Kaye: Where can we find your books and plays to purchase and how can we sign up for the Kindle Author newsletter?

David: You can sign up for the newsletter at my blog, www.kindle-author.com.

"Valentino: a play in verse" is available from Lulu.com, and will be available on Kindle soon. I've been reformatting the verse play, because Kindle and other e-readers don't handle the verse formatting very well.

My novel "Devil's Lair" and a short story, "Crimson Lake," are currently online. I will be publishing more novels and stories soon.

Kaye: What projects are coming up for you?

David: I'm revising and editing my second novel, "The Highwayman," which is adapted from a screenplay I wrote that until recently had an an Oscar-winning director attached. After the contract expired, the director chose not to renew. The script has been shopped all around Hollywood, so I decided to turn it into a novel.

Two other books are in the works. A horror novel, "Red Wedding," and a mystery novel, "Cold Reading." I'm also writing a new opera libretto, a new verse play, and have various other projects on my to-do list.

Kaye: Thanks so much for being my guest today!

David: Thank you!

(Visit the Kindle Author blog at http://kindle-author.blogspot.com/ and read more about David at http://davidwisehart.com/.)



8 comments:

author Christa Polkinhorn said...

David, I knew you are the 21st century Renaissance man, but I didn't know you also worked for NASA...
I studied Latin way back and I loved the fact that you included Latin in "Devil's Lair" (although I have to admit I didn't understand that much of it anymore). It gave the novel that Medieval flair.
Great interview.
Christa

Kaye George said...

Thanks, Christa! It's easy to find interview questions for David.

E. B. Davis said...

I don't watch TV either and I still don't find the time to do as much as David. Perhaps he isn't a wife, mother and writer. You seem like a supercharged individual. My hat is off to you, best of luck!

jennymilch said...

This is indeed a great interview--thank you, Kaye, for sharing. (And feel better soon!) David, I am fascinated by the brave new world you are inhabiting (along with other authors I admire, such as Karen McQuestion). I wish you luck getting that traditional offer--unless you're doing so well by then, you don't even accept it.

Kaye George said...

Thanks for stopping by, E.B. and Jenny. I don't know if anyone noticed, but I said at the top that I didn't blog last week, but I did! These last few days have seemed extra long, I think. Thanks, Jenny. I am feeling a little better today.

Marian Allen said...

Well, thanks a bundle, Kaye--you gave me your cold! ;)

Thanks for an excellent interview of a powerhouse of a guy.

Marian Allen

Kaye George said...

Oh, poo. So sorry to have gone *viral*. Feel better soon, Marian. I'm glad you stopped by!

Mary Ann said...

Great interview, Kaye! I can't wait to check out this man's Kindle author site.