Cleve Sylcox stopped by the editing suite to give me an interview about his latest work, Blood Crow, and his thoughts on everything from what inspires him, his favorite authors, and what to do when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am the youngest of thirteen kids. My father was born on 12/13/1912, which really is not significant but is a cool way to start a conversation. I try to do things that enrich my life and not burden it with needless mind numbing activities such as sitcoms or games. TV is the hemorrhage of creativity. Please do not get me wrong, I enjoy watching television but limit my viewing to educational shows and movies. Computer games I limit as well. I see nothing wrong in enjoying a good diversion, but if it is all you do for twenty-four hours a day then you gain nothing from it.
Whatever activity you choose to occupy your spare time becomes your life. Mine is family, friends, writing, and then everything else.
I have written ten books, three series, and uncountable number of short stories. In 2014 I participated in five anthologies, rewrote most of my older books, and remade all the covers.
What originally drew you to writing?
I began writing short stories after my father’s death when I was fourteen with the hopes of one day publishing them. It was actually therapy and a way to release the tension associated with the loss. Many people liked them and that propelled me to continue the practice. But it wasn’t until my fortieth birthday that I decided to write a book and I’ve been writing books ever since.
What most inspires your stories?
I do not think the well of inspiration is limited to any one source. Ideas come from many places and sometimes not at all. Nucor – Season of the Moons started out as filler. I worked in technical support for a local cable company, wrote short stories to past the time, and shared them with associates. I placed the tales together to form my first book called, Scants and later changed to Nucor. For Daewoo it was the Exorcist; for The Package it was Humphrey Bogart; for Nicboth: The Journey Begins it was angels, and for my newest release, Blood Crow, it was a painting. I love to take long walks at night during the summer and on those walks, some of my craziest ideas came to life. Inspiration is not something you can create it comes to us softly and sometimes it yells.
Editor’s Note: Here is the image that inspired Cleve to write Blood Crow. I know the story, and let me tell you, if this photo doesn’t make you want to read the story… shame on you.
Give us an insight into your main character(s) of Blood Crow.
What does he/she do that is so special?
In Blood Crow, the two main characters, Gavin McAdams and his wife Constance are larger than life good guys, bad guys. They are decent law abiding people filled with love and courage, until circumstances force them to defend each other then they attack with extreme prejudice.
Do you set yourself a daily word target?
Yes, definitely. In full writing mode, I set it at 2000 words a day. On weekends and on days I’m totally alone, 4000 or more. Without those targets, I find myself not writing as much and spending more time doing other things, like Social Media. By setting a goal I commit myself to writing at least that much per day.
EBooks or Hard copy? Do you prefer one or the other?
Both. I like the traditional paperback as I can carry it with me wherever I go. I can write on the pages and make notes. Some may argue that with a tablet you can do the same thing.
But during the zombie apocalypse where are you going to plug in a tablet, let alone find Wi-Fi?
What authors or books have influenced you?
- Stephen King – Carrie, The Cell, and The Shining
- Dean Koontz – Odd Thomas (series), The Face, Mr. Murder
- Russell Blake – Jet (series)
- Nick Russell – Big Lake (series), and Dog’s Run
- Robert Thomas – Sands of Nevertime
- Stephen Arsenault – OMEGA 1 Exile
- Saxon Andrew – Nemesis: The Search for Orion
- Mike Meyers – Triangle of Hope
- George Wier – Capitol Offense, and 1889: Journey to the Moon
- Trish Marie Dawson – The Dry Lands: a Hutch and A’ris novel
- T.R. Harris – The Enclaves of Sylox
- Chris Ward – The Tube Riders
- Ben Rehder – Bone Dry (Blanco County Mysteries)
- Dale Roberts – Irrefutable
- J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit, and LOTR
…and this is just not all. There are so many others.
What are you reading right now?
Of all your books you have written, which is your favorite, and why?
Right now, I’m reading Omega 1 Exile by Stephen Arseneault. My favorite of my books is Nucor – Season of the Moons. It was my first.
Do you listen to or talk to your characters?
How do you interact with your characters while you are writing?
Most definitely! My Characters tell me what to write. Sounds crazy…well it should. An Author creates a character and breathes life into its soul. With this act the protagonist, antagonist, secondary characters and some third take on a life all their own. Authors are not playing God but they are creating a make believe world where their creations live and die. While writing I will slip into their world and watch the story unfold. I yell at the murderer and cry for the deceased. I cheer their triumphs and push them when they think they cannot go any further. I love when they love, and I am sad when they are sad and laugh aloud sometimes. Yeah, writers are a crazy lot…but we understand each other.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I write. I pay little attention to trends. If you produce a good enough product people will buy it regardless if it is paperback, digital, on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or Barnes and Noble.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Write and read as much as you write. Put out a great product. Write without ceasing and edit without mercy. Write with passion and zeal. Throw out PV. Write a mouthful at a time and then read over what you wrote at least six times before swallowing. Show, do not tell. Seek advice from all writers and never assume your work is good enough, make it the best. Hire a proofreader or two. Hire an editor that edits books for a living and not one who used to edit office memos. Give your book to betas and allow them ample time to read it before asking their opinion. Then read it again yourself before pressing the publish button. Make sure you have done everything you can to produce a quality product because that is your name going out there for the world to see. Accept criticism, and be prepared to hear harsh critiques. Take praise in stride. Once you finish that book, start another and do not allow self-doubt to consume you.
Book Doctor Dara says…
I had a great time talking to Cleve. Come on back anytime, and keep us posted on what is next up for you. Much success to you in 2015 and beyond.
Go pick up a copy of Blood Crow and get lost in the 1860’s Civil War set in St. Charles, Missouri, available January 15, 2015 on Amazon.
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