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Will Graham – Author Interview

I have a great interview for you today! Please give a warm welcome to my good friend and writing bud, Will Graham!  He’s an awesome writer and one heck of a brain storming partner!  So let’s get started seeing what makes Mr. Graham tick, shall we?  🙂

 Melissa:  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

William : I guess it began back when I was around seven years old, and taught myself to type on my mother’s manual typewriter.  When I realized I could make words appear, and the words would do what I wanted them to do, well, that was the key turning in the lock.

Melissa:  Ah! And the magic began. Very cool!
 So w
hy use a pseudonym?  Just curious. 

William:  Initially, the name ‘Will Graham’ was intended for television work, with my real name reserved for novels.  Tradition has it, if you’re a successful screenwriter, you’re not taken seriously as a novelist, and vice versa.  The only writers known to have pulled it off are William Goldman (BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, MARATHON MAN, etc.) and the late Steven J. Cannell (THE ROCKFORD FILES, THE A-TEAM, etc.)  I was going to keep the two worlds separate as much as possible.  These days, ‘Will Graham’ is for eBook releases, while if/when I get a traditional deal with a publisher, that would be under my real name.  I have learned, however, that ‘Will Graham’ is a different writer than ‘William Simon’, with a style and personality all his own.  On some level, I guess it’s liberating; Graham does things I’d never dare attempt….:)

Melissa:  I see.  I like that idea. (wink, wink)  What’s your typical writing day look like?  Do you set goals?

William:  Sure, I set goals.  If you’re asking if I KEEP them, well…ummm…. ahem… my goals are, uh, ‘fluid’.  Yes, that’s a good word.  ‘Typical writing day’?  Not really.  Some are better than others, but mostly I write early in the morning when I’m just waking up.  I’ve tried to self-impose structure and scheduling, but when I do that I usually end up with nothing more than a blank page for the day.

Melissa:  This sounds like a problem we share.  Too much structure stops me cold.  About how long did it take you to complete one of your novels? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

William:  When the mood strikes and the plot comes together properly, six weeks is about average.  One piece I struggled with for ten years, another came together in two weeks.  There’s no real predicting.

Melissa:  I’m afraid to ask this next one because I’ve read “Street Heat!”  How much research was involved?  Was there something that inspired you to write this story? (I shudder to think!)

William:  STREET HEAT is very much a product of the mid to late 1990’s, when ‘cop movies’ like LETHAL WEAPON were all the rage, and the term ‘serial killer’ was becoming popular thanks to the brilliant SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.  It’s a little dated now (using WordStar, as an example), but I left it that way on purpose.  I wanted a detective who actually did some detection, as opposed to the reader wondering “Where’s the DNA?” and “Where’s his cell phone?” and “What about the forensics lab?” that we’ve become so used to in the past few years.

Melissa:  I happened to like that fact about Street Heat.  It’s great to see how far technology, among other things, has come.  Do you base your characters on actual people?  (And if so, should I be worried? LOL)

William:  Oh, every writer does, which is why novels have the disclaimer “Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”  I firmly believe a writer’s mind is just one huge bubbling pot, with things from thirty years ago suddenly popping up.  We think it’s out of nowhere, but it’s really been there all along.  I caught myself just the other day working on something new, and realized a particular character’s speech pattern was the same as my first grade teacher.  So, it all goes in there, but comes out differently, slightly distorted, changed.  (And no, no worries!)

Melissa:  Whew! LOL   Who would you cast to play your characters in the movie version of “Street Heat?” (You must pick someone other than Jane Seymour for your heroine.)  I’m not sure she could pull it off at this point.

William:  (laughing)  Actually, Jane was never even thought of for this, not even by me.  She’s not the proper type for the character.  If anything had come of it back in the day, I’d have chosen Gary Cole and Joanna Kerns (who I use at the end for the fictional mini-series based on Chace’s novel).  Todays movie and television stars, I’d have to give it some serious thought.  That’s a heck of a question, though… 🙂

Melissa :  Now I’m laughing! 🙂   Tell us what are you working on now?

William:  At the moment, I’m working on a sequel to SPIDER’S DANCE, this time centering on Michaela O’Brien’s brother.  This one is being point by point plotted out, as I am aiming for a real ‘nothing is what you think it is’ storyline.

Melissa:  Oh, my favorite!  I can’t wait for this one!   Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Favorite craft books?

William:  Rule Number One:  It’s YOUR story, tell it YOUR way.  In my mind, the most dangerous thing a writer can do is get caught up in, “Okay, X said this part didn’t work, but Y liked that part, and Z said it would work better if….”  Feedback and criticism is crucial to the process, but don’t get caught up in writing to order.  It’s your story, tell it your way.

As far as craft books go, I keep Stephen King’s ON WRITING and Donald Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL close by at my desk.

Melissa:  Love that advice!  I think it’s one of the hardest rules to follow though.   Do you have an interesting writing quirk? ( Like a favorite shirt or slippers you wear to boost that creative spark?)

William:  I hate to say this, but I usually have the television on with old favorite series from the 1960’s going; for me, it’s good background noise.  Other times I’ll turn on the stereo and crank up The Rat Pack, or some good jazz, or something along those lines.  I’m one of those people who just cannot work in absolute silence.

Melissa:  Very interesting….What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  You know, to relax and relieve the everyday stress life throws at us.

William:  I read.  A lot.  Constantly.  Obsessively.  Someone recently coined the phrase, “Books…. The Original Holodeck!”  A good book can take you away from the world, and keep you there for hours on end.  And am always looking to expand my DVD collection… 🙂

Melissa:   Reading = Escape!  Love it! LOL  What do you find the most rewarding aspect about writing?

William:  When it call comes together, when the plot and the characters work the way I want them to, and I think, “Yeah, this is pretty good!”  Of course, we’re all our own worst critics.

Melissa: Totally agree on that one!   Please tell us more about your books!

William:  There’s the aforementioned STREET HEAT, which I’ve received some wonderful reviews on.  I recently released another title, SOMETIMES THERE REALLY ARE MONSTERS UNDER THE BED, a work I am particularly proud of for a lot of reasons.  I’m considering some options regarding SPIDER’S DANCE, and am working on the (as yet) untitled sequel to that.

Thank you for having me here today!

It was a pleasure to have you join us, Will!  Wishing you all the best with your books!



Get your copies here:

 Street Heat – Amazon     Barnes & Noble 
Monsters Under the Bed – Amazon    Barnes & Noble


14 Responses

  1. I love to learn how other writers write – what they do during the process. Will, you’ve had some great success and stellar reviews, You seem to appeal to both male and female audiences. What’s your secret?

    I had to laugh – I, too, have the television on as background noise!

  2. If you haven’t read Street Heat, be sure to do so. It’s a terrific read. If you are, ahem, of a certain age, you may get terrible flashbacks when WordStar is referenced, but don’t let that frighten you away 🙂

    • Hi, Kerry! I’m with you! Street Heat is a Must Read! 🙂 I can’t wait to start Monsters Under the Bed. Wonder if I’ll need a nightlight afterward. LOL

  3. @Jake–Will doesn’t make the women in his books window-dressing. They’re real people (or real werewolves in the case of Emma). I think he joined RWA to study them in their natural environment.

  4. Hi, William! Hi, Missy!

    Okay, William, it’s not that your goals are fluid. It’s that you are nimble. 😉

    Love your old school sensibility, as always.

  5. cough cough ..I wrote and submitted a spec script for a network series that I personally really liked quite a bit. Got some terrific rejections along the lines of I really loved this but my partner associate felt it lacked a certain something that prevents us from extending an offer at this time. Some editors responded with similar thoughts others a form rejection. After thinking and cogitating and mulling I decided what the heck dug out the diskette with WordStar documents if you remember that one and decided to pull the trigger so to speak!..For better or for worse damn the torpedoes full steam ahead and a rousing cry of Excelsior! ..

  6. Hey y’all! Great interview. Will is one cool customer. He gave me the same advice he said here about writing in an email not too long ago (I had him advise me on a pitch for a novel of mine) and he gave me great feedback on the pitch itself.

    I’m looking forward to reading STREET HEAT (haven’t yet, but it’s in my plans).

    Keep writing and smiling everyone 🙂

  7. Y’all are actually making me blush!

    Many thanks to Melissa for having me as as guest today! And many many thanks for all the kind comments…:)

  8. Great Interview!!! Loved it!!!!!

  9. Great Interview! Enjoyed getting to know you more Wiliam!

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