TweetCW Hawes is a sixty-something guy who is living his dream of being a full-time writer (and, yes, the retirement income helps him to do that). Prior to writing fiction, he was a successful poet.
Hawes enjoys simple pleasures, because, in the end, life is pretty simple. People are the ones who make it complex. After all, what more is there than a well-made cup of tea and listening to music, or the rain falling?
Time to chat with CW!
What is your latest book?
My last book is When Friends Must Die: A Justinia Wright Private Investigators Mystery. Which was published in December 2018.
I am also currently serializing on my blog The Medusa Ritual: A Pierce Mostyn Paranormal Investigation.
Yes. When Friends Must Die is Book 6 of the Justinia Wright Private Investigator Mystery series. There is also a Book 0.
The Medusa Ritual is Book 5 in the Pierce Mostyn Paranormal Investigation series.
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
For me, the challenge to writing a series is that the main characters remain fresh and interesting.
What else have you written?
The Rocheport Saga, which is a post-apocalyptic cozy catastrophe. There are currently seven books in the series.
The Lady Dru Drummond alternative history series. There are currently two books in this series.
I’ve also written and published the alternative history novella Rand Hart and the Pajama Putsch.
Horror is another interest of mine. In particular, cosmic and supernatural horror. I’ve published the following novellas and stories: Do One Thing For Me, Ancient History, Metamorphosis, and What the Next Day Brings.
I think the greatest misconception is that indie authors are basically writers who couldn’t make it in the traditional publishing world and went the self-publishing route. Although as time goes on, I think that image is fading. Primarily because the Kindle and iPad are everywhere.
When people ask me, I simply tell them that I get more money self-publishing than I would have gotten going the traditional route. And that I don’t have a boss. I’m self-employed.
Actually I prefer the term independent author-publisher. Because that is actually what we indie writers are. We are our own publishing house.
I enjoy the writing the most. Putting those words down on paper. I actually enjoy holding the pen or pencil and watching the words form, the story take shape on the page. It is like reading, watching the story unfold and progress to the ending.
Writing, though, isn’t just about writing. Unless one writes solely for one’s self, with no thought towards publication. And I do want other people to enjoy my books and stories as much as I do. Which means, one must edit and proofread one’s work. And that I don’t care for. I wish I had the money to pay someone else to do it. 🙂
So to minimize what I don’t like about the writing business, I strive to write finished text. Text that comes off the pen or pencil pretty much ready for publication. That is the secret weapon of the prolific writer. It is what allowed Anthony Trollope to become the Victorian Writing Machine. It is what allowed the pulp fiction writers of the 20s, 30s, and 40s to usually write over 100,000 words each month, every month, every year.
I also don’t like marketing my books. But marketing in some form is a must in order for readers to know I exist. Although from all I’ve read, I think marketing can be minimized by building a strong mailing list of fans. An army of fans to drive Amazon’s algorithms and to spread the word.
Not at all. I get an idea and just start writing the book, figuring out the story as I go along. Although mysteries tend to be easy in that regard as the ending is pretty much foreordained. Horror too.
I tried following the advice of outlining my novel and just couldn’t do it. I hate outlining for one; and for two, if I’m going to spend time outlining the story, why don’t I just write it?
For me, writing is like reading. I discover the book as I go along.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
Ever since my days in college, all those decades ago, I’ve basically followed the same procedure. I hand write the text. Then I edit as I type. And I’m done. Next project.
I have, though, added two more steps. Following Anthony Trollope, I re-read what I wrote the day before and make any needed edits. Then after I’ve typed the text, I will read several times to catch typos and clunky sentences. I also have the computer read the text to me as I follow along. I catch a lot of typos that way, because the computer reads exactly what is there.
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
Way back in the 1960s, when I was in 11th grade, my drama class teacher had the class stage a play I wrote. That was my first “publishing” credit, as it were. Next I had a few poems published in fantasy and horror fanzines in the 70s. But I never did much with writing because no one around me was encouraging.
Then I read an article by Lawrence Block. The subject was procrastination and why we actually procrastinate. Reading that article was a life changing moment. I was procrastinating mostly because I was afraid I’d fail and then my parents would say, “Told you so.”
That article percolated for quite awhile, and then in 1989 I wrote the first version of Festival of Death. The first book in the Justinia Wright series. I wrote the book over the course of a year. And learned three things: that I could indeed write novel length fiction, that I had a lot to learn about writing, and that with my job at the time, which was very emotionally draining, long works of fiction were out of the question. Writing the book was exhausting.
So I turned to poetry. Never would I have imagined myself as a poet, but poetry was my first big success in the publishing world. And the form I excelled at was the English language version of tanka, a Japanese form.
For the 15 or so years I wrote poetry, I wrote over 2000 poems and had a few hundred published. I even won or placed in a few contests, received a few awards and special recognition, and even made a couple bucks. One doesn’t write poetry for money, because there is none to be made.
Then, as I neared retirement, I decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing fiction, which is my first love. So I dove in headfirst. I finished writing my marathon The Rocheport Saga in February 2014, and prepared the first two books for publication. I re-wrote Festival of Death, wrote Trio in Death-Sharp Minor, and The Moscow Affair.
In November 2014 I published four novels in four genres. Something I’d never do again! Then in December published two more books.
In January 2015 I retired and became a full-time author. Now I’m just waiting for the income to catch up.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?
No. I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Sometimes I don’t know where I want to go with a book. When that happens, I either set it aside and work on something else, or I just keep on writing and eventually the Muse saves the day.
Daniel Boone was asked once if he’d ever gotten lost in his wilderness explorations. He told the interviewer no. The interviewer didn’t believe Boone and pressed him on it. Boone finally said, “I’ve been bewildered at times, but I’ve never been lost.”
That’s my attitude with writer’s block.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?
My favorite comfort food is probably pizza. And my least favorite food is liver.
What music soothes your soul?
I’m a classical music person. So in general classical music soothes the soul. Although there are a few non-classical pieces I listen to when my soul needs soothing. Here are some of my favorites:
- Ralph Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending and The Solent
- Handel’s “Sarabande” from the keyboard Suite in D minor in Ragna Schirmer’s performance on the piano and Christopher Parkening’s performance on guitar.
- “Air” from Arthur Foote’s Serenade for Strings, Op 25; performed by Gerard Schwartz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra
- “Pavane” from Warlock’s Capriol Suite, performed by Liz Story
- Skempton’s Lento
- Michael Manring’s Sung to Sleep
- Theme from Foyle’s War
- Theme from Inspector Morse
What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?
There were three, actually. Debate, journalism, and typing.
Debate taught me how to research and present a position with evidence.
Journalism taught me how to write so that the most important information was presented first, followed by information in lesser and lesser importance.
Typing, well, who can get along without typing? Until touch screens and voice activated devices make our fingers obsolete, that is.
What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?
This question is like those desert island questions. And to be quite honest, I’m not sure I have a favorite film. There are a few good ones; a whole lot that are mediocre; and many more that are bad, or if not bad, at least quite forgettable.
Film is also not my favorite entertainment media. Reading is. Nevertheless, if I were to pick just one movie it would be either Little Big Man, or the Japanese movie Late Spring, directed by Yasujirō Ozu.
Both movies focus on what is important in life, what is it that has value and meaning for us. I think both movies tell us to throw out the window other people’s opinions and societal conventions, and to live life for ourselves.
My favorite book is actually a short story. One I read some 55 years ago, and one that has stayed with me all this time. It is Saki’s (HH Munro’s) story “Sredni Vashtar”. It too is a story about a revolt from convention, a revolt from those who think they know what is best for us, and in the end don’t actually care about us. They simply want us to conform to their life goals and purpose. It is a story about becoming free.
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