When I was looking for some dark mystic stories, I came across C.S. Fuqua's incredible writings on rewarded novel with collected horror stories. He is not just a famous writer but also a great musician, a lovely husband, beloved father and the humanitarian teacher.
Fuqua is also a tweet machine, with over 25.1K tweets and over 3K followers.
Below, I ask him more about his work, advice for pitching and getting writing assignments, about his inner world and his philosophy on social media.
1. How would you describe what you do?
- ''Thank you very much for your kind words and interest in my work. Writing entertaining fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and music is my passion. I'm lucky it's also my career. It's challenging work, but the journey from the first word or note to the last is incredibly rewarding and downright fun.''
2. What does your work entail?
- ''Writing a story or novel, depending on the subject, involves a great deal of research, planning, writing, and revision. It's the revision I enjoy most. That's the stage when a good idea becomes the best story it can be.''
3. When did realize your talents in this field?
- ''I've never thought I possess some innate talent, but I have always possessed an irrepressible desire to write. As Joseph Campbell famously said, "Follow your bliss," the activity or career you crave most, no matter the challenges or obstacles. My bliss lies in creative writing and music. It's not an easy career path, and few gain the fame or fortune so many associate with the arts—I certainly haven't—but it's what I love doing.
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C.S. Fuqua' s Books
4. What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
- ''An educational industry has sprung up around creative writing. Some believe a person can never learn to craft a good story unless mentored by this or that famous literary figure while attending and eventually graduating from the most prestigious creative writing program in the country. That simply isn't true. Everyone is different. Some need rigid, structured instruction. Others don't. A writer must certainly develop the technical skills to write properly, but technical skills aren't creative skills. The development of creativity takes many paths. While most potential writers can certainly benefit from formal educational programs, every successful writer needs something more that can't be learned in a classroom. A person must experience life before her or his writing can live.''
5. Could you give us some reference of your previous work?
- ''I began writing professionally in 1978 while still in college, providing articles to trade journals. After graduation, I worked as a reporter for several newspapers and then as a staff and freelance writer for numerous magazines, both trade and consumer. In the late-1980s to the early 1990s, I transitioned to full-time freelance writing, primarily for nonfiction consumer magazines before moving fully into fiction, poetry, and nonfiction books, with my first book, a history of the Muscle Shoals music industry, published in 1991.''
6. How long should you be willing to write for free?
- ''Only the individual writer can determine whether and for how long to provide work for free. Although the answer to this question should be never, writing is one of those careers too many people believe anyone can do without training, without practice, without thinking. You sit down, write a story, send it out, and wait for the money to roll in, but writing is not like that. You don't expect a doctor to set up practice without proper training and experience, and you certainly don't expect that doctor to provide medical treatment for free. Writing is a craft that takes years to develop, a craft in which the writer is always learning, always growing. It takes practice, it takes growth, it takes professionalism, persistence, and talent. If a writer produces a publishable piece, then that writer should be paid for the piece to be published. Conscientious writers work damn hard to craft a worthwhile product, and that work should be rewarded. With that said, sadly, it isn't the way reality works.''
7. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
- ''I've never gone on a pilgrimage to a physical place associated with authors whom I admire. My pilgrimages have been limited to the writers' works and biographies. That's what's important to me—their words, their lives.''
8. What is the first book that made you cry?
- ''I don't remember the first, but the one that has the same effect on me each time I read it remains Shel Silverstein's children's book The Giving Tree, a tale of ultimate greed and ultimate grace and sacrifice. Each time I read it, its emotional effect is just as powerful as the first time.''
9. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
- ''In my opinion, it's the abuse of writers by publishers. Publishers increasingly require writers to take on more duties in regard to production and promotion while refusing to provide better royalty scales.''
10. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
- ''Both. There's nothing more exciting than getting and exploring an idea, fleshing it out, and working it into an entertaining story—but it is work, and, like any job a person enjoys, it both energizes and exhausts.''
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
- ''I think the biggest and most detrimental trap is self-doubt. Every writer I've known has experienced self-doubt at least some point in their career, and many of us experience such doubt in varying degrees throughout our careers, no matter how successful we may become. The way I combat the feeling is to continue writing, continue submitting, continue believing in what I love doing. Sometimes it's difficult as rejections pile up, but, at some point, an acceptance letter arrives, resurrecting personal and professional confidence. Another common trap is pursuing work that differs from what the writer desires—for example, a fiction writer working as a journalist, or a poet writing ad copy. Although we do what we must to survive, we should never abandon our passion and goals.''
12. Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
- ''A writer must nourish healthy self-confidence to withstand rejection encountered on the path to becoming a published writer. Self-confidence, however, is not the same as an overblown ego. A big ego—the kind that makes narcissistic individuals believe they are always right and that any attention is good attention—does not help a writer any more than it helps a president. It reveals them as bankrupt fools rather than human beings with a talent to share to make the world a better place to live.''
13. What is your writing Kryptonite?
- ''Hyperbolic nonsense. To generate income, I've freelanced for advertising companies from time to time, companies whose very business is hyperbole. It was the most difficult, most repulsive writing I've ever done, making it my most challenging and least effective work, which is why I've taken as few ad-copy jobs as possible. And I suck at promoting my own work in an advertising manner. I just can't summon the hyperbole required to rise above the din.''
14. Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
- ''I don't believe in writer's block. I believe in writer's procrastination, writer's laziness, writer's exhaustion, writer's discouragement, but not writer's block. Writing is a job, and as you do for any job, you get up, go to work, and do your best. Some days are better than others. Sometimes the work flows without effort. Sometimes getting a hundred words down feels like the hardest thing you've ever done. But writer's block, in my opinion, is only an excuse to avoid doing the job.''
15. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
- ''I've written two nonfiction books under the pseudonym C. Stephen Fouquet. I chose a pseudonym for the first book, Notes to My Becca, my journal to our daughter from pre-birth through her first year, to protect the identities of relatives and others included in the book. For the next book, Divorced Dads, the publisher insisted I retain the pseudonym to help in promotional efforts. For everything else, however, I've written under my own name.''
16. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
- ''I believe readers (because I am one) desire and expect originality and entertainment. Editors and publishers, it seems to me, tend to avoid originality. They eagerly jump on a bandwagon of imitation, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of previous works. Is it satisfying to read a book that's like the one you've just read? If publishers would only provide diversity to a public hungry for something different, I believe they'd realize bigger earnings, revitalize a languishing industry, and perhaps pay writers what they deserve.''
17. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
- ''To be effective, to touch the reader, the writer must possess an ability to empathize, to become the characters about whom she or he is writing, to feel, interpret, and present the characters' emotions with clarity and conviction. If you can't empathize and sympathize with other human beings, then how can you create believable characters and write an effective story? It simply isn't possible.''
18. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
- ''I've been friends with Rick Kennett, one of Australia's leading dark fantasy and science fiction writers, for more than 35 years. During that time, we've provided each other with moral and career support, reviewing each other's work, making suggestions, even collaborating on a couple of nonfiction historical articles. Rick's insights have helped me to sharpen my prose, to write fiction more effectively and believably.''
19. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
- ''I write each book to stand on its own, including a series of novels I wrote and published in the 1990s that featured the same protagonist and setting in each.''
20. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
- ''I'd warn myself that success is much more difficult to achieve than most believe, that success is not necessarily gauged by money or fame. I'd suggest that, in the struggle toward publication, rather than dabble in numerous genres, which I've done throughout my career and continue to do, concentrate instead in the genre most enjoyed.''
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21. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
- ''It had little effect on the process, but it inspired me to work with even more dedication on the next. It gave me a shot of confidence when most needed.''
22. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
- ''The best money ever spent is every story collection and novel bought, especially those by Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Carver, Flannery O'Connor, and Walter M. Miller, Jr. Reading and studying the work of such masters has been my best writing investment and best instructor.''
23. What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
- ''Flannery O'Connor and Truman Capote. I grew up in south Alabama and northwest Florida, interacting every day with people O'Connor and Capote wrote about. I was too young when I first read their work to understand what they were doing in their prose. All I saw were the people with whom I interacted on a daily basis, and I certainly didn't what those same people occupying my reading time. But when I grew older and realized the humanity, motivations, tenderness, hatefulness, and depth of their characters, I became a Capote and O'Connor fanatic and learned much about character exploration and development.''
24. What did you do with your first advance?
- ''I bought food.''
25. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
- ''As a child, I was mesmerized by eloquent orators like Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy and how their speeches affected such huge numbers of people in different ways. I could feel the power and emotion of the words even if I didn't fully understand their meaning and potential effect on society at the time.''
26. What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
- ''For technical instruction and markets and business information, the standard trade magazines such as The Writer and Writer's Digest are excellent, especially for writers early in their careers. While magazines can certainly help a writer develop technical aspects, I don't believe they can teach writers the art of writing. For that, we must read and study the works of talented authors. And practice. Practice, practice, practice. That's far more important and instructive than the content of any magazine aimed at writers.''
27. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
- ''Jerzy Kosinski's Being There and Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Both novels are brilliant, satirical masterpieces. Such a treat.''
28. How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
- ''Some editors in rejecting my work have cited the lack of explicit explanation within the story. Although such comments are meant as criticism, I take them as praise. I don't believe readers want to be told everything. I provide all the facts a reader needs to make a conclusion, but the reader is required to make that conclusion for him- or herself, a conclusion that may or may not be the same as another reader's. It's not my place to spell everything out from my point of view. A story is a vehicle for interaction between the writer and reader, a place where the writer makes a case and the reader draws conclusions. Writers who provide the necessary details within a story and trust readers to engage in and interpret stories based on their own personal experiences achieve the perfect balance in making demands on the reader and taking care of the reader.''
29. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
- ''A cat—for all reasons feline.''
30. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
- ''An apology for portraying them as they are in life.''
31. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
- ''I'm not sure. Sketched out ideas number in the hundreds.''
32. What does literary success look like to you?
- ''Success is having the opportunity to do what I love to do, producing work that entertains the audience at which it's aimed. I once thought money was the gauge of success. Not in writing, though a bit more cash would help considerably!''
33. What’s the best way to market your books?
- ''I wish I knew. It certainly helps to have a publisher's wealth and reach behind you, doing what a publisher should do—marketing your work—while you, the writer, concentrate on the next project. But as publishers place more responsibilities on the writer, I'm at a loss at what works best for individual writers attempting to market their books. I'm certainly open to ideas and suggestions.''
34. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
- ''How long research takes depends on the subject and the characters. I research the topics and characters fully, including their careers, their cities and countries, and anything else that requires understanding from the writer's point of view. Everything must be researched to create believability through accuracy. The amount of time spent on research before beginning a book varies depending on the subject. Starting the book doesn't necessarily rely on the completion of research. A book can begin even as research continues with further details and corrections provided during the first and subsequent drafts.''
35. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
- ''Writing's more of a psychological than spiritual experience for me. In creative writing, I explore other points of view and sometimes come to understand better positions other than my own. I do a lot of self exploration when writing fiction and poetry because each character ends up with a piece of me somewhere in its makeup. However, when a work flows through me as though I'm a conduit, it's a wonderful feeling that's extremely close to spiritual. It doesn't happen often, but when it does—what a feeling!''
36. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
- ''So far, I haven't found it as challenging as some colleagues have. I enjoy exploring the feminine but don't believe it's that much different from the masculine when societal norms and demands are consciously taken into account. The most disturbing experience in writing from a woman's point of view came in my story "Graduation," in which the young woman narrator's been date raped. The psychological torture she experiences that leads to the story's climatic scene still haunts me even thirty years after writing the story.''
37. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
- ''I've been a full-time writer since graduating college in 1979 with a degree in journalism. I've worked as a newspaper and magazine reporter as well as an advertising and public relations writer. When I became a full-time freelance writer, concentrating in fiction and poetry, it was necessary for me to take on other part-time jobs and activities to supplement income, something I do to this day, but, even with the other activities, I continue to engage in the writing process full-time.''
38. How many hours a day do you write?
- ''It depends on the project and stage of the project. In the early and planning stages, writing is relegated to planning—outlining, creating characters, plotting, etc. When the actual writing begins, I'll write anywhere from four to twelve hours a day, but the writing process can't be measured by hours at the desk actually writing. A writer is always thinking about the current work, the next work, or past work—always plotting. Writing involves a lot more than just putting pen to paper.''
39. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
- ''In fiction, I don't write about any particular period more than others. When I was in my thirties, I wrote a few stories about teens like "Graduation," about children such as "Circle," and about the elderly such as "Walking after Midnight." I don't consciously set out to write about a character who's a certain age. It's story content that defines the characters, point of view, and period.''
40. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
- ''I view fiction as entertainment, a reflection of society and people, but novels like Slaughterhouse Five made me realize that fiction is a way of imparting truths through lies that can be an effective catalyst for personal and societal change.''
41. What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
- ''I follow Kurt Vonnegut's lead in handling historical figures. While the situation in which he placed a historical figure may have been invented, he stayed true to the individual's nature and character, whether he agreed or disagreed with the actual person. Placing contemporary figures into fiction gets a little trickier because of libel laws, but I haven't had a problem as yet because my stories don't usually incorporate contemporary or historical figures in any significant way.''
42. How do you select the names of your characters?
- ''Sometimes, it's random—whatever pops into my head or I see thumbing through a phone book. Other times, I choose a name specifically to represent some aspect of the character.''
43. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
- ''I'd probably play music full-time. Over the last ten years, music has taken up increasingly more of my time because I've made it part of my professional endeavors. Music and writing are a pretty good marriage, at least for me.''
44. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
- ''I usually avoid reading reviews, but sometimes I cave. When the review is bad, I try to learn from it—why the reviewer didn't like the book, whether the criticisms are warranted, and how similar mistakes can be avoided the next time. Occasionally, I run across a bad review that's been written for nothing more than to write a bad review, and that's just wrong. If a person has a legitimate complaint regarding the work, express it, but do it appropriately, professionally, and without malice. With today's reality-show mentality, many reviewers strive to be cruel rather than critically helpful. That provides a service to no one.''
45. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
- ''Answering would be telling...''
46. What was your hardest scene to write?
- ''Many have proved extremely difficult, but, if I have choose one, I'd say it's the scene in a short story in which the narrator's child dies. As a father, I felt fully the narrator's desperation, sense of loss, and grief as my own.''
47. Do you Google yourself?
- ''Yes, usually to discover websites pirating my work so I can issue DMCA take-down notices. Piracy of digital material is the same as someone walking into your home and stealing your money. So, yes, I do self-searches.''
48. What are your favorite literary journals?
Too many to list all, but here are three: Abbey, Bull Spec (no longer published), and Chiron Review.
49. What is your favorite childhood book?
- ''The Giving Tree is considered a children's book, but I didn't read it until I was an adult. I read a lot of books when I was a child. One that kept me in stitches was a silly book called 101 Elephant Jokes. It still cracks me up. But the book that had a most profound effect on me was Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, which I read when I was eleven years old. It was terrifying.''
50. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
- ''The first draft is the most difficult for me. It takes forever because it's the birthing of the basic story. The story doesn't come alive, though, until the revision process, which I enjoy most.''
51. Does your family support your career as a writer?
- ''My spouse has always supported my career from before we married until present day. Our relatives, however, do not understand writing as "real work." Writing is something someone does for the heck of it. A person sits down, writes a story, sends it to a publisher, and waits for the check. Those who have this perception of writing don't understand the involved labor, struggle, rejection, and costs, so I've given up trying to explain it to those who refuse to listen.''
52. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
- ''I would have begun writing earlier than I did.''
53. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
- ''For fiction, it usually takes about a year, give or take a couple of months.''
54. Which instruments do you play?
- ''Guitar, flute, Native American flute, banjo, mandolin, bass, ukulele, pennywhistle, and other flutes.''
55. What was the first tune(s) you learned?
- ''Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man."
56. Is your family musical?
- ''My paternal and maternal relatives, no, but my wife and daughter play piano, and my daughter also plays guitar, drums, and bass.''
57. When did you start writing about music—and what or who were your early passions and influences?
- ''In 1990, I queried a regional publisher to pitch a novel I'd written. The editor didn't think the company was right for the novel, but he liked my writing enough to ask whether I'd be interested in writing a history on the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, music industry. The Shoals had been a primary recording destination for rock, folk, and pop artists since the mid-1960s, but no comprehensive history at that point had been written. I jumped at the chance. Since then, I've written several nonfiction books on music and musicians. I've always been passionate about music—from rock to classical to jazz to world and ethnic—so music themes are regularly featured in my fiction. Two of my most popular short stories, "The Sharps and Flats Guarantee" and "Rise Up," incorporate musicians as the main characters and music as the theme.''
58. What are your main impulses to write about music?
- ''Music's a subject I already know much about, so it's natural to write about characters who are musically based. Saves a lot of time researching!''
59. Which famous musicians and also writers do you admire? Why?
- ''The Beatles, of course. They rose during a period when the world needed someone different and exciting, but they weren't just one-hit wonders. They were extraordinarily talented and innovative songwriters who had and continue to have a profound impact on music and culture. Other favorite musicians, bands, and composers include Miles Davis, Aaron Copeland, Ian Anderson, Alison Krauss, Linda Ronstadt, Pink Floyd, Mohini Dey, The Band, Crash Test Dummies, Wes Montgomery, Yes, David Bromberg, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, David Crosby, and so many others. My favorite writers, as mentioned before, are Kurt Vonnegut and Raymond Carver. Kurt's ability to lay bare the human soul with tender humor is unmatched. Raymond Carver's talent to capture the essence of humanity ranks him as the best American short story author of his generation if not the best ever.''
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60. What’s a typical work week like?
- ''No week is typical. It all depends on the projects on which I'm working and personal and family responsibilities. The only thing typical about a week is that it is never typical.''
61. What is your favorite part about being able to write stories? How is working for yourself better/worse than working at one company?
- ''My favorite part is revision, taking a rough draft and working it into a story that I believe is a pretty good read, a story that says something beyond the words on the page. I relish the freedom to choose the topics about which I write, something you don't usually have if you work for a company. Working for a company has its advantage, though. It guarantees an income, and that's never a guarantee when you're freelancing.''
62. How did you get started?
- ''I began my writing career as a newspaper journalist. I then worked as a magazine staff writer while also freelancing for other nonfiction magazines. I later moved into full-time freelancing, gradually transitioning from nonfiction to full-time fiction and poetry writing.''
63. What do you like about what you do?
- ''The most satisfying aspect of creative writing is the creation of stories and poems that touch someone emotionally and/or intellectually–work that entertains.''
64. What do you dislike?
- ''Publishers who refuse to pay writers fair compensation for the work. If a story, poem, article, or book is good enough to be published, it's good enough to receive a fair price for its publication.''
65. How about your strong and weak points?
- ''Both my strong and weak point as a writer is the constant quest for perfection. I may improve as a writer, which is rewarding, but I will never be perfect, which is doggedly frustrating.''
66. What book is dogeared and sitting by your bed?
- ''Cat's Cradle, one of Kurt Vonnegut's masterpieces. Studying this novel is all a fiction writer needs as instruction.''
67. How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
- ''Primarily through royalties.''
68. How much do people in your career/field make?
- ''There's no standard and an extremely wide range.''
69. How much money did/do you make starting out?
- ''Not nearly enough.''
70. What is most challenging about what you do?
- ''Earning a living. Most writers never become a best-seller, which usually means a writer must be a practitioner of many trades to survive.''
71. Where do you get your ideas?
- ''I have this huge bag I keep in the closet next to the bodies... Naw—I disposed of the bodies long ago. Kidding aside, ideas come from everywhere, from every aspect of life.''
72. What's your secret? Is there a secret?
- ''There's no secret. Success depends on a small bit of talent, a huge amount of persistence, and luck—the right idea, the right editor, the right time.''
73. What is most rewarding?
- ''Knowing that my work has entertained readers.''
74. You are prolific... really, really prolific. Because ''Walking after Midnight'' is a data bank of mystic stories. 30 years expericence and hard working make it real as a great book. So I wonder, begining of this journey what did you do? Can you tell me a little the 30 years progress for this incredible book?
- ''Thank you so much for your kind words regarding the book and the stories. I've done and continue to do many things to earn money while pursuing a literary career . I've worked as a janitor, gas station attendant, respiratory therapist, journalist, ESL tutor, guitarist/singer in a Mexican restaurant, teacher's aide for kindergarten through twelfth grade, car washer, native flute craftsman, and much more. But these jobs were not just jobs. They provided research that enables me to write stories based in reality rather than solely in imagination. Many of my stories incorporate a real event as the starting point. "Graduation," "Rise Up," "Walking after Midnight," "When I See You Again," "Mama's Boy," and many others are all based on actual events, but enhanced with supernatural qualities. The stories are meant to entertain, but they're also meant to challenge the reader to consider different points of view, an aspect that some reviewers have criticized. Even so, I feel a story should offer more than just entertainment. It should make a statement—not blatantly, but subtly available if the reader desires to discern it. My goal with stories remains the same today as it was when I began writing—to entertain, to challenge.''
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75. Could you tell me about your magical moment and success of your work?
- ''Some highlights include my first story publication ("Screamer" in The Horror Show), story acceptances by Karl Edward Wagner for DAW's Year's Best Horror Stories anthology, and my first book publication, but every acceptance, publication, award, compliment—they're all magical moments. It never gets old.''
76. What makes good content? How do you know if a piece of content is doing well?
- ''I'm not sure I can define good content. I know it when I read it. If it makes me think, makes me feel, then I know a piece is going well and deserves completion.''
77. What do you need to know about a project before you start writing?
- ''Before I begin to write, the general direction of the piece must be defined—how the main characters will be affected and how the story will resolve. Of course, plans change during the writing process, but I need an idea of where it's all going. Some writers outline meticulously while others don't outline at all. I'm somewhere between the two extremes. I work from a bare-bones outline while allowing the story and characters to take me where they want to go.''
78. How do you decide what tone to use with a particular piece of writing?
- ''I allow the story topic and characters to determine the tone. They know best.''
79. How do you talk about a dry or technical subject without relying on buzzwords?
- ''I research a subject as thoroughly as possible and then imagine I'm writing to a specific person who has no basis in the subject, consciously avoiding buzzwords in the same manner as avoiding clichés.''
80. How do you tell a credible source from a not-so-credible source?
- ''The easiest way is to fact-check the source. Take certain politicians today. Some lie with every breath. You can either accept their lies or take five minutes to do a fact-check through any online search service.''
81. Do you know something about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? And what do you do to make your writing more SEO-friendly?
- ''I'm not so digitally competent. Even so, a writer is now expected to be writer, promoter, publicist, web designer, book designer, an SEO wizard, and more. I'm not. As writers take on such added responsibilities, they have less time to do what they're supposed to be doing—writing. Somewhere along the way, a writer must say, "Enough's enough," turn away from the internet and all the nonsense they're expected to do to make their work more accessible within the digital wasteland, and write.''
82. What style guides are you familiar with?
- ''Associated Press and Modern Language Association. When writing fiction, I don't pay much attention to formal styles but rather allow the story to define its own style.''
83. How do you incorporate feedback and edits into your work?
- ''If I agree that an edit improves the story, I readily incorporate it. If I disagree, then I defer to my original.''
84. How do you proofread a piece of work?
- ''I read a piece aloud. It forces me to look at every word, enabling me to catch more mistakes that I would miss if proofing silently.''
85. How do you make sure work gets done on schedule?
- ''I treat freelancing like I would an office job. I maintain standard work hours. I work overtime. And I have deadlines to make, which I seldom miss. Writing is a job. A serious writer treats it as such.''
86. What are you reading right now?
- ''What Happened by Hillary Clinton, Complete Stories by Kurt Vonnegut, and Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor.''
87. What content management systems have you used?
- ''WordPress—unwillingly. Website design and management takes far too much time away from actual work. WordPress only exacerbates the situation. Yet, it's the system with which I'm familiar, and so I continue.''
88. Similarly, I remember reading something on your profile about how you looked back at your stories and it was cool to see your own progression of thought. I think we've all posted or written something stupid...do you ever go back and delete stuff? Is that part of the creative process... just getting it out?
- ''Yes, the most important first step is getting down a rough draft. That's when the real writing can begin. My work, whether it's fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, is never finished even after it's published. That's why I don't read my work in the publications in which it appears. I always see something that needs changing, something that could be better worded or presented. I read my published work only if it's going to be republished. That's when it goes through yet another revision—sometimes minor changes, other times major.''
89. You tweeted about getting laid off from your novels as it was happening. Is there anything you wouldn't feel comfortable posting?
- ''I don't post about my personal life, my relationships. There's a reason it's called "personal," and, in my opinion, it doesn't belong on social websites.''
90. What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
- ''Too many people believe writing is easy, that it takes little effort, that it's not really work. That's simply untrue. Not everyone can be a writer. Not everyone can be a doctor. Not everyone can be a musician. Not everyone can be—you fill in the blank. Writing is a craft, a talent, a job that must be cultivated, practiced, and perfected like any other. A physician once remarked to me, "I've got this great idea for a novel, and I'm going to write and get it published when I retire." He'd never written or published anything creative in his life, never sat down to a blank screen or sheet of paper with the intention to write. In short, he didn't know what he was talking about. He was taken aback when I replied, "You know, I was thinking that, when I retire from writing, I'll probably set up a medical practice. Good idea?"
91. Willing to share what you're currently working on? What would your future book be about?
- ''I'm working on several projects. One is nonfiction regarding music and folk instruments. I'm also working on short fiction and poetry, but my primary creative project is a young adult novel. Although it is literary/mainstream, it will have some mystical elements and be written in Southern Gothic style.''
92. What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
- ''Go for what you love, but have a backup plan to generate income as you pursue writing. Never give up. Believe in yourself as you do everything you can to cultivate and perfect your ability. And when you attain your goals, don't be afraid to pass it on, to help others if you can.''
93. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Something I should have asked?
- ''Thank you very much for this opportunity. You've explored areas that most interviews don't, and it's been a pleasure exploring motivations and inspiration I've never before considered. So my thanks for that.''
P.S.: I'm so lucky to have an interview with the artist of all seasons; C.S. Fuqua. I appreciate that you gave us the opportunity to get to know you. Also thank you in behalf of your huge fans and The Daily Strange Newsletter. We're looking forward to your new works of art.
Artist of all seasons; C.S. Fuqua