What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
“Gerald Simpkins. I was born in the Midwestern USA and now I live in the Southeastern USA.”
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
“No. I wanted to be an architect but a cranky mechanical drawing teacher in the 8th grade influenced me negatively so that I eventually ended up pursuing a career in telecommunications.”
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
“I am not certain that I have yet earned that distinction, but I am hopeful based on reviews so far. I am a work in progress. I did start my first novel in Feb. 2012, but I had previously written a book about the Bible Codes in 1998, also self-published. (‘Secrets of the Bible’)
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
“No. I self-published and it took maybe 2 months to do it because I knew absolutely nothing about it or even how to use Microsoft Word. I was helped along by a good friend, author Joe Perrone Jr.”
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
“No. If I was still working however, I would not quit to pursue writing novels.”
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
“’Forever Young Irina’. A 17- year old girl who is mercilessly bullied overcomes the greatest odds even as her world is turned upside down.’
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
“I am self-published.”
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
“I wrote all three of my novels in under 3 months each. The most current one, ‘Forever Young Irina’ took maybe 4 weeks, however when I write, I do so full time, sometimes for 10-12 hours at a time.”
“My 2nd one, ‘Forever Young Birth Of A Nation’ required the most research being as it was set in the time of the American war for independence. I worked diligently to weave the story into the events of that period and I strove for accuracy regarding dates and most events. I enjoyed the experience being as that is a favorite topic and I do wish that more fine quality movies would be made about that period. By contrast, my most current one ‘Forever Young Irina’ only required me to research the Seattle, Washington area, geography, and demographics, so it was easiest and it was under half the length of my first two novels.”
What can we expect from you in the future? i.e. More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
“I am at a place now where I am considering a genre switch. I have not decided on one yet though. I planned to wait until this Autumn to resume writing simply because I have allowed some things to go undone at our home while writing my first three novels.”
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
“If I continue in the vampire genre, I would like to write a sequel to ‘Forever Young Irina’ and pick up where that one ended. And if I stay in that genre, I would also like to write the sequel to ‘Forever Young Birth of a Nation’. It would take place in France during the French revolution and the rise of the dictator Napoleon Bonaparte.”
What genre would you place your books into?
“Vampire action-adventure paranormal romance.”
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
“Believe it or not, I had seen a disappointing vampire movie on TV about two years ago, and I had been mulling over two genres and had two stories bouncing around in my thoughts at times. I don’t know why. I surely had no notion of writing a book. I visualized both characters and parts of their stories as if they were screenplays, and not works of literature. When I saw that bad vampire movie, it pushed me to dwell on my vampire character more than my adventurer in the old American West. I thought that the genre could be better expressed than what I was seeing in movies and better than the one book in that genre that I had read. At that point it occurred to me to write my version of a compelling vampire novel since it was a sure thing that I was not going to produce a movie.”
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
“No. If I have a favorite, it is always the current book that I am writing.”
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
“Yes. His life is one of such great contrasts and such high adventure.”
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
“I suppose I would be the vampire Ian McCloud simply because of the rich texture of his life and the absolutely incredible adventure his life is.”
How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?
“I have been writing novels for one year and one month and it was a poorly done movie, as well as a depressing book of that genre that motivated me.”
Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
“I truly have no idea where the ideas come from. But I will say that if I get a case of writers’ block, it will not last longer than a day or so. I do strive to include surprises, humor, laughter, romance, rage, sorrow, and interconnected but seemingly insignificant events in my stories.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
“No real routine. I may work in a silent room or I may play classical piano music, and all work is done at my keyboard except when I do a rewrite. At those times I will take a paperback version of my book and sit in my recliner with pencil and pad and make notes of needed modifications as I read my book through.”
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? i.e. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
“No. But I would take advantage of that if it was possible to do so. However with electronic publishing, it is easy to do rewrites as needed, so it is not nearly as important to get reviewed as it was in the days when books were only in paper form and the big publishers were the gatekeepers to the literary world.”
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
“Yes. I am very approachable and I earnestly strive to make my work better at all times.”
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
“I have not yet had but a dozen reviews on all three of my novels. All were excellent 5-star reviews so I am not qualified to answer this very well. None of these were professional reviews either, but were reader’s reviews. I value both types, but I value the reader’s reviews most. I am certain that I will get bad ones at some time and I will try to understand how I failed that reviewer when that happens. It is not if that happens, but when it happens, because I believe that if you stay at this long enough, you will get a bad review now and then no matter how well you write or who you are.”
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
“No. I believe that in the literary world you have to take the bad with the good. But I would ask any reviewer to be honest and not biased against me or the genre itself.”
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
“I chose the series title ‘Forever Young’ because in my novels, vampires never physically age but are frozen in time so to speak regarding their appearance.”
“I designed my first cover and believe it or not, the original model was done using a pair of scissors, paste, construction paper, and fingernail polish for the blood pool! After getting that first one scanned into my flash drive at a copy shop, I took that e-file home and reworked it in Windows Paint to get my cover. Being a novice, I didn’t want to buy Adobe Photoshop due to the cost and also due to the learning curve associated with it. At that time, I was learning how to use Microsoft Word and then I knew that I was going to have to learn how to self-publish. So I elected for a simple but striking cover to keep my projects simpler.’
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
“I have always had the title before I ever started writing the story, and even before doing an outline.”
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
“I pay attention to nationality because my first book was set in France in the latter part of the 1700’s. So I used links to sites which featured German, French, Swiss, Spanish, Dutch, and English names. I had to bone up on the various rulers at these times and the types of government in these various countries so that I did not make an embarrassing narrative mistake.”
“Regarding names of places If they are real places I strive to get that as accurate as possible and if not I just make it up as I go, such as institutions, etc. In my current book, I looked up universities, neighborhoods, and other places in the greater Seattle area to remain accurate about that aspect of my novel. But at the same time names of actual businesses were all fictitious for not wanting to harm a business in some unforeseen way. I paid attention to local geography and the names of various bodies of water, etc. as well as where airports and highways are and their names as well.”
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
I pick the character first and all of their characteristics and then I assign a name.”
Do you decide on character traits (i.e. shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Except for the main characters, I assign characteristics as I go along.”
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
“I only have the barest outline/idea before starting. If I do an outline it is less than a page long. It seems to come to me easily as I write.”
How do you market/promote your books?
I know nothing about that other than to appear on blog sites and to use tools such as Google ad-words. However, being an unknown I have elected to make my first novel, ‘Forever Young The Beginning’ a free book in the hope that it will help me to reach readers who might like my work.”
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?
“Universal appeal to a large block of readers>”
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
“I have experienced that once in each of my three novels. Each time it lasted only a day or so. I literally will walk away from the keyboard and I will keep a pencil and pad nearby at all times and will begin by writing down where I am. Then I will pick several different directions to go and I literally make a stick diagram and pencil in ideas along each ‘branch’ as they occurs to me. No idea no matter how unlikely fails to be written down. Even if it is totally unfitting for the story, it might lead me to a thought that could be a real gem.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
“I write to unwind and relax because I love it. However I do raise chickens for our eggs, and I have a sizable vegetable garden. I do weld and I also take care of all of our automobile maintenance in my shop.”
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
“No. Sometimes my personal feelings may dictate what a character feels.”
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
“Yes. It is that good things can come from horrible beginnings.”
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
“Not that I am aware of.”
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook, hardback, or paperback?
“I would rather read a hardback book any day.”
“The Godfather because it is so compelling. I could see myself being drawn to that life if I was a poor immigrant youth at the turn of the century in New York City. I never read books more than once, excepting my own to improve them.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
My favorite is ‘The Godfather’ and next to that is ‘Last of the Mohicans’.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
“I am not currently reading anything, and truth be told, I have little time for that if I am writing, publishing, and promoting along with my daily chores at home. I still love to curl up with a good book though, especially during a rainy spell when I won’t feel guilty about the chores I am neglecting.”
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
“In America they are not taught to read well at all today. Our literacy rate/capita has plummeted non-stop during my lifetime. No nation on earth spends more on education per capita and gets less than America. I don’t know if they are taught or encouraged to do creative writing in schools here.”
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
“I read a lot as a kid but I never once tried to write a story.”
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
“Oh my, yes! James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, Daniel Defoe, Herman Melville, and Jack London just to name a few.”
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
“My favorite book is the Bible, but my favorite genre would be action-adventure-thriller and paranormal can be in that mix as well.”
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
“Joe Perrone Jr. and J. Helen Elza come to mind. Both have a fresh approach to their work.”
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
“No. I wanted to introduce a vampire clan to my readers in my first book. In this one, Forever Young Irina, I wanted to introduce the clan to YA readers and show what a few of this clan are doing in the 21st century as well as how a young girl’s life was dramatically affected by them.”
What do you think about book trailers?
“A great tool and I wish I knew how to put one together and upload it.”
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
“Be persistent and read as much as possible. Be flexible and willing to adapt to the changing landscape of publishing as well as to constructive criticism. Do be diligent regarding research of your chosen genre. Go to blog sites and determine the target readership for your work. Do not allow yourself to become discouraged.”
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
“Mark Twain, Jack London, and Tom Clancy.”
Where can readers follow you?
Your Facebook Page?
Your Goodreads Author Page?
Your Twitter Details?
And any other information you wish to supply?
“Thank you for the opportunity to appear on your blog site. I am very approachable and I consider myself to be a work in progress. To any reader I would say thank you for spending your time and money to read my work. Do not hesitate to tell me ways that I can make your reading pleasure better. I welcome any constructive criticism.”
Thank you for the care and attention you have given whilst doing my Author Interview. I wish you well for this book and those in the future too. I look forward to reading Forever Young.