Today’s interview is with Rich Weyand, a smart guy I’ve enjoyed meeting at LibertyCons past. He just finished his Empire double-trilogy and he’s justifiably proud of them.
Interview: Rich Weyand
What is your quest?
I want to write books people can’t put down, that read easily, with characters that engage them, that they can open up on a rainy Saturday morning, read in one sitting, and then feel uplifted and happy and go out to dinner. Books that make you think but don’t give you a headache, that surprise you with their twists but aren’t contrived, that make you wish you lived in that world and were friends with that character. Books that reaffirm old-fashioned notions of love, honor, duty, and loyalty, and how they play out in one’s life.
What is your favorite color?
Emotion is the big one. Not gut-wrenching stuff, but where you can laugh and cry and love along with the characters in the book. Where you can see things through their eyes and experience what they’re experiencing. This can be hard to do as a third-person omniscient writer. I’m not inside their heads in the narrative. So I need to include scenes where characters open up to their familiars, and try to express where they’re at in their head. It can be as simple as a tear running down someone’s cheek, or as complex as five pages of dialogue. The big thing with emotion is to make your characters human.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?
It took me a while before I could pace a book properly. I don’t do filler, and my books move through the plot pretty fast. And I’m a pantser — I never know where the book is going or how it’s going to get there. That makes it hard to know where you are in the story and how much of it there is to tell. So my initial novels are all over the place with regard to length. Anywhere from 45,000 to 95,000 words. (I don’t write those 150,000-word things. That’s two books to me.) The six Empire books all came out at 80,000 words, give or take a couple thousand. That’s a skill you learn with practice.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
I think the biggest is to build a plot on the fly. As I say, I’m a pantser, and so I don’t plot things out in advance. I could never come up with a plot as twisty as the Empire books in advance. At one point in Empire: Commander, I just thought, “What if these two secondary characters ran into each other at this point, and one recognized the other?” That led to a whole series of ramifications I could never have set out in advance, and affected the overall story in a major way. How do you plan that in advance? Others may ask, How do you have that happen without planning it out in advance? Don’t know. I just write the part of the story I see right in front of me and follow it wherever it goes.
- Cake or Pie? Pie
- Lime or Lemon? Key Lime Pie
- Favorite Chip Dip? Onion
- Favorite Cereal? Honey Bunches of Oats with raisins on it
- Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? B. B. Blunder
- Favorite 1970s TV show? Early SNL.
- Best Thing From the 80s? Front-wheel-drive sedans. Driving live-axle rear-wheel-drive cars in snow is not fun.
- Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall. It’s pretty, and not too hot or cold.
- Favorite Pet? Spooker. A cat that was THE cat, the quintessential cat.
- Best Game Ever? Risk played on two boards. Like alternate universes, with transfer points.
- Coffee or Tea? Coffee. More specifically, four-shot latte.
- Sci-Fi or Fantasy? MIL SF
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
Why do you write?
Rob’s Answer: Sort of like the French Foreign Legion, it’s write or die. That’s a bit melodramatic, but at the time I started writing I was coming off a failed marriage, couldn’t find a job because I was too educated, and literally spent day after day doing nothing productive. It’s a good thing to not work one day a week. It’s an awful thing to not do anything productive for weeks on end.
Finishing A Lake Most Deep was huge for me. It’s raw and I made a bunch of errors, but I had finished a novel. I had accomplished something.
I’m proud of what I’ve written, and I really like what I’m writing at the moment. If I never publish anything more, I’ll still have six novels and a number of short stories to my credit. I even have fans not related to me. Five years ago, I didn’t always get out of bed.
I’m not the hardest worker out there, certainly not compared to my parents. However, I *have* to work consistently, I have to contribute, or bad things happen. At the most basic level, I keep writing because if I don’t, I’ll go far too gently into the dark night.
Tell me again where we can find your stuff?
- My Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Richard-F.-Weyand/e/B00MC5VJW4
- My publisher page: http://users.rcn.com/weyand/weyand_assoc/Default.htm
- My blog page: https://spoutingoffcom.wordpress.com/
And where can we find you?
I attend LibertyCon every year. Otherwise I’m not much of a crowds person.
Do you have a creator biography?
Rich Weyand is a computer consultant and digital forensic analyst. He was born in Illinois and lived there almost 60 years before he and his wife engineered an escape to the hills of southern Indiana in 2011. His undergraduate and graduate education is in Physics, and he’s never really recovered. He is currently heading up the launch of a computer software start-up.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?
You should have asked me how fast I write. And how I write so fast so consistently.
I write about 15,000 words a week when I am in writing mode. That’s 2500 words a day, usually six days a week. I don’t take a specific day off every week, I just end up getting stuck doing something else about one day a week. Some people think that’s fast, but when I can see the story in front of me, I want to get it down. If I have to stop before I hit a stare-out-the-window point, I’ll write the first paragraph of the next scene before I stop so I have a live thread to pick up on.
You should have also asked me what’s my process.
I don’t do multiple drafts and I don’t do rewrites. I do a first draft, and my alpha readers read it as I go, in installments of about 8000 words at a time. Then I check through it for some known writing issues — ‘all of’ should generally be ‘all’, about a third of ‘that’s can be deleted, most ‘very’s in the narrative (though not in dialog) should be deleted, etc. Then I read the book, and fix any awkward sentences. Then it goes to beta readers. I fix anything the alpha readers and beta readers point out as a problem understanding or typoes, or whatever. Then I publish it. No editor other than me.
Thanks to Rich for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.
Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: https://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.
Have a great day.
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
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