Today, I present an interview with Doug White, author of The Habitué and Birds of a Feather.
1. First, tell me a bit about yourself. What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m married with two daughters, one that is nineteen and the other sixteen. I’ve been a software developer for the last nineteen years, working at a frozen food company, a bank, a consulting office for a transportation company and finally a company that makes medical software for urgent care clinics.
I’m an all around nerd on a wide variety of subjects. My first nerd love is Star Trek but Doctor Who is worming it’s way in there pretty deep. I also love Star Wars and have been a fan of comic books since I was a child, my favorite being Superman and after that, the Hulk.
My Birds of a Feather book talks about our dog, Kirk, named after Captain Kirk in Star Trek. Unfortunately he passed away last Thanksgiving, at the age of 10. He was a beloved member of the family and it’s been tough to have lost him. However, recently my mother bought our family a dog whom we have named Luthor (after Superman’s greatest foe!) and he is quickly becoming an integral part of the family as well.
2. Can you tell me about your current project?
My current book is a sequel to Birds of a Feather. I have two tentative titles for it, either Skua’s Revenge or The Nalpure. I’m hoping to know which makes more sense by the end of my first edit! It picks up a short time after the original. The kids back home are confronted with individuals with similar abilities as they have but with malevolent intentions.
I have another book I wrote several years ago entitled Familiar Strangers which is an alternate universe story. It’s been on the back burner, but I hope to get back to it after I get the Birds of a Feather sequel done.
3. What inspired your ideas for The Habitué and Birds of a Feather?
With The Habitué, the only thing I knew when I started was that there was a young boy named Ben and he lived in a house that had a well in the backyard. At the time I thought the well would play an important part in the entire story. However, while it turned out to be important to the story, it was so only in the beginning! Within a short time I had a mysterious group working with Ben named The Keepers and I wanted a group that would work against them and was struggling to find a good name for them. With my oldest daughter’s help, we came up with The Habitué and it had a great, slightly ominous sound to it and I knew it would work. The rest is history!
With the Birds of a Feather, my kids and nieces and nephews inspired me. My two sisters have three kids and I have a cousin who grew up with us that has two kids of her own. Those kids and my daughters have grown up together and I wanted to write a story about them. Each of the kids have a special characteristic that I think of when I think of them so I wanted to write a story where that characteristic becomes the defining force behind who they were in the story. So, for example, my oldest is a social butterfly, so in my story she’s The Butterfly. My youngest is very smart and so in the book she’s The Brain. I wanted to write the kids into the story as if they weren’t related though and I knew that they would all be living in this apartment complex and that there would be no adults – but I didn’t know why when I first started. In the early part of the story, my youngest is contacted by an individual named Dove and at the time I didn’t know this, but having Dove in the story would be the driving force for the rest of the story.
4. Which authors have most inspired your work?
I am a huge fan of Stephen King. While I don’t write thrillers like he does, the way he weaves a story and how he handles characterization of the individuals in his stories is something that I find very appealing. With my stories, I aspire to build characters that are as interesting and full of life as the ones he builds.
I also became a Lee Child fan about four or five years ago and now own all of his books. The stories always center around his main character Jack Reacher and some mystery that he needs to solve. In all of my books, there’s some type of mystery that the main characters are working through.
5. What generally seems to come to you first? Plot, characters, or setting?
It seems to vary for me. With The Habitué it was definitely setting, with Familiar Strangers it was the plot and with Birds of a Feather and its sequel it has most definitely been characters. Each story has taken me in a different direction which is part of the fun of writing!
6. How did you discover your love of writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing going as far back as I can remember. In the 2nd grade, I had a teacher who had us write stories based off writing prompts she would give us and I still have those stories saved away. I also used to write a short story every Halloween – roughly about 1 page long – and tape it to the window of our front door. I was sure that every kid coming to Trick-or-Treat would read my story!
In high school, I took an interest in Journalism and came close to pursuing it in college. I chose to go down the path of software development which is its own form of writing in of itself!
7. What is your favorite part of being a writer?
Getting to hear people’s reactions to what I write. I love sharing what I’ve written with people. If it’s not good, that’s tough to hear, but important for me to do so, in order to get better. But when I’ve written something and it turns out to affect someone deeply, that is the absolute best experience to have.
8. What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Editing. It’s not that different than the concept of refactoring in software development. Refactoring is where you take existing code and work on making it better, more efficient, easier to understand. Editing is a lot like that and the toughest part of it is knowing when to stop and give your creation over to your readers!
Oh, that, and commas. 🙂
9. How do you find inspiration and motivation to write when you feel stuck?
A lot of my ideas simply come to me and I’m not sure where they come from, but I love that I’m able to pull some of them down and get them on paper. But in my stories there’s always a little bit of something in my life that ties into the stories. It might be something that happened to me that I add to my story but slightly varied, or as in the case of Birds of a Feather it was my kids and their cousins.
I’ve not really ever dealt with writer’s block but I do have periods of time where I don’t write as much as I like. I need to make more time for myself to write. When I take time and get away from anything and just write, I am always pleased with the result.
10. What’s your favorite way to take a break from writing?
I don’t have a specific way to take a break from writing, it’s the reverse that is actually true, I need to take more time TO write!
11. What’s one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring or new authors?
Write. Do it as much as you can with the time you have free in your life. Also, realize that your story is important and there are things in your life that will help make your stories even better. Put it on paper, all of it, and work the junk out of it later. The time to edit will come, get it all on paper first.
Stay tuned for more author interviews soon.