On this cool morning (but expecting hot temps later), I enter the transporter and zoom off to pick up this week’s author. Unfortunately, I forgot to stock the special pills for seasickness. The last time I was out on the ocean, was in ’88 off the coast of Puerto Vallarta. I did all right (at least I didn’t hang over the side throwing up) but I felt a little woozy.
So, I hope I’ll do okay as Mr. Weiner has chosen to do this interview on a sailing ship. Carved wood, hanging lamps, lead glass. We’re across a table illuminated by candles, maps and navigation tools strewn across the surface. (Which latter two items will help us determine our location). Behind him is his own private bathroom…
Uh, excuse me for just a minute, I may have to step outside for just a moment before we begin the interview…
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I’m just this guy who writes, who used to be an advertising art director and before that, a screenwriter who drove all over LA trying to sell scripts. I’ve lived on a moderately-sized island for 18 years which means you get to know pretty much everybody. I’m also that guy on Facebook who posts weird things and tries not to offend too many people. I’m recognized from FB as “that guy on Facebook.” Someday it’ll be that guy wrote that book.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
My deep belief in Satan. Kidding (mostly). I’d have to say that I’m thin skinned. I get hurt easily even though I come across as this boisterous loudmouth. An introvert when there’s no microphone around.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?
I WANTED TO BE A ROCK STAR! I play bass and drums and was in a number of bands that played around the LA area back in the 80’s. Turns out I couldn’t keep up with all the drug abuse. I started writing in junior high and was (and still am) a bookworm and internet worm (so many sites to read!). I got into advertising because of the way you could create these little worlds for a product or service. Even when I was in charge of the art, I always had headlines to pass off to my copywriting partners.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
Living or dead? Hunter S Thompson because crazy. Walt Whitman because of his joyous spirit. Kurt Vonnegut for his satirical bent on life. Carl Hiaasen because he called me by name during a skype chat session and I love his books – they come out like clockwork every year and I tear through them in one sitting.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?
Let’s go with the airport layover because then you could go to the bar, order a whiskey and sit in a corner and read, which is how my books should be read. My books have velocity. The plots move quickly and the characters are reactive. My prose is fairly simple and there’s tons of dialogue, which is a quick read. A rum drink works too.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
Can I skip this question and talk about how much I want a Rickenbacker 4003 bass? No? Fine. Given that I write satire (or sometimes funny ironically) I tend to look at things that would be interesting to skewer. I’m a big fan of skewering. With the island trilogy, the plot was fairly simple – getting double-crossed by zombies, then vampires and finally aliens. As with all double-cross situations the protagonist has to get revenge or at least right the boat that got rocked. So plot was a big part of these three books.
As for all the rest: Characters are either a projection of who I wish I was or someone with a certain quality I admire – mix and pour. I do a lot of research, which I love, which many times leads to story lines and plot development. God bless Wikipedia. I have a 1k word per day min. It can happen any time of the day – but no less than 1k. I agree with Stephen King that the first draft should take a season – 3 months. I rewrite the previous day’s work and then it gets edited and then rewritten and then I drink whiskey.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
I was hoping you’d tell me. Often if I think I have the spark of an idea or a character in mind, I’ll write it out – a paragraph, a page, some dialogue and see if it has the tone I’m looking for. It’s like finding the right music for the mood.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
I subscribe to Walt Whitman: If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.”
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
I’m working on a novel that has no undead of any kind in it – yet. It’s about a small town and a 4th of July parade that goes horribly wrong and a journalist returning home to cover it and make peace with the many people he burned. There’s also an angry dentist, a guy with tranquilizer darts and a blow gun, and a dog named Russell Crowe. I’m still in the gestation period.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
Glad you asked: