Gil Stewart interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Feb 12, 2016 5:33:33 PM
Gil Stewart interview with David Alan Binder
Gil Stewart -- retired, author of 14 self-published Print-on-Demand books, including 11 Tanner Chronicles stories, and a long-running writer’s blog.
Blog site www.octoberyears.com
1. Where are you currently living?
In the central Willamette Valley of Oregon
2. Where would you like to live?
We have lived in a few other places. We loved our time in England, and on the Eastern Oregon ranch. I doubt that I’ll ever outgrow the wanderlust, but at 79, with family and roots here in the place where I was raised, the place I call Tanner, there is no other place I want to live.
3. Why did you start writing?
I have always been a writer---grade school paper, high school paper, college paper, short stories, etc. I read most everything in the library and had an active imagination. But a childhood speech impediment made me more comfortable making my point on paper.
4. What is the most important thing you have learned in your writing experience so far?
Patience. It has taken ten years of fits and starts, but I have finally learned to tell the story I want to tell in a way I am willing to accept as the best I can do.
5. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I am not sure it qualifies as a quirk, but early on my storytelling took an unexpected turn. My Tanner Chronicle stories are relational tales---60 and 70 year-olds seeking to overcome the emptiness of late-life lived alone. Soon, in the name of authenticity, I began to place real-life obstacles in the path of their coming together. In the course of 11 books my Tanner friends have dealt with heart attacks and strokes, falls and financial failure, disparate visions of a future together, even the distressing intrusion of Alzheimer’s Disease in the midst of a relationship.
6. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher. What is the name of your publisher and in what city are they? Insights re: ebooks vs print books and alternative vs conventional publishing.
Ten years ago I had a single manuscript---my first story. It was raw, in need of help, lots of help. I queried a few publishers and a few agents, (I had read somewhere that’s what I should do) and received a stack of form letters. I was 68 years old and caught up in a new-found passion. Given the sort of stories I tell and how well (or not well) I tell them I was not interested in expending my energy on the hassle of agents and publishers.
Once I settled on Print-on-Demand publishing w/Create Space my books are available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback versions. I am able to concentrate on writing, not selling. Since I get my kicks from telling my stories, whether or not anyone buys them, that suits me just fine.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
No secrets at all. Getting “published” by Create Space was easy. I tell my story and they put it into print. Getting published by a mainline publishing house---one that will help polish the writing and market the finished product---is very hard, even unlikely for an amateur pursuing what can best be described as a retirement project.
8. How did you acquire and agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
I’ve never acquired an agent---and don’t expect to.
9. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I started my first story a few weeks before my 50th high school reunion. Since I was setting out to write about late-life relationships I went straight to the reunion theme and where that led the couples who came together there. After that each book dealt with one or more late-life obstacles, and how they impact the relationships I was depicting.
10. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers?
In ten years I haven’t accomplished enough to be giving advice. Except---take your time. Edit, reedit, and edit it again. I once stopped writing for eight months to reread and rewrite six stories. It was the most valuable learning experience I’ve had as a writer.
11. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
In the process of telling my stories and writing a blog about my writing experiences I have become an advocate of late-life “becoming”, of making the most of our October years. That was never part of the plan, but it has been a satisfying adventure.
12. How many books have you written?
I am preparing to complete my fifteenth book---all of them available in paperback and ebooks on Amazon.
13. We’ve heard that it is good to provide twists in a good story. How do you do this?
The twists in my storylines generally occur in one of two ways. A late-life obstacle---health problems, financial setbacks, relational dysfunction---will intrude on what started out as a straight-forward relational story, taking it to places I had never intended. At times like that I may be just as surprised as the reader.
Also, as is true at any age, not all October relationships are happily ever-after affairs. In the name of authenticity my stories sometimes ends without the happy endings we all enjoy.
14. What makes your book stand out from the crowd? What are some ways you promote your work?
Now you are moving to the marketing side of writing. Bottom line---I don’t think about having my books stand out from the crowd. In a real sense my stories are different than the “crowd”. I am writing about 60 and 70 year olds, their relationships and their late-life trials. That is enough to set them apart from the mainstream.
As for promoting my work, beyond my Amazon Author’s page and my October Years blog I haven’t worried much about promoting or standing out. Perhaps I have an advantage over most writers. When I am finally ready to consider a book finished, I have a copy printed, put it on my shelf, and start working on the next story.
15. What is one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing) and why?
I would have started earlier---say 62 or 63. And I would have learned to take it slow when it came to proofreading, editing, and revising. I was a scanner. I knew what a given line or paragraph was meant to say, so I tended to skim over what I actually wrote.
16. What would you like carved on your tombstone? What saying or mantra do you live by?
He’s moved on -- but still Becoming
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