Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Author Spotlight - Interview with Richard McEwan

Please share your bio with us and anything else you would like readers to know.

After a long career in sales, marketing, advertising and real estate, I retired to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I am a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. I served in the U.S. Navy, actively for two years and four years in the Reserves. 

I live with my wife, Christie, and our two dogs, Buddy and River, one cat named Oyster and many photos of foster dogs. My wife and I fostered about 50 dogs during a span of 5 years volunteering with the Animal Welfare League in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Together, we have three children and four grandchildren. 

What are some of the things that have influenced/inspired your writing?

Our grandchildren have been a great influence because of their love of books…whether being read to or looking at the books on their own. Our dogs inspired me to start writing due to their antics and their own stories that needed to be told. The fostering of dogs has been a love of ours not only for saving a dog’s life but for the joy it brings to the one who adopts the pet. Finally, since I wanted to convey a message about caring for lost pets to children of a young age, what better way than a picture book. 

Tell us briefly about your recently published book and what you feel is the most important topic/sub-message you share.

It is an engaging story about a lost puppy, Mr. Pupples, and how Mom and her dog, Sir Buddy, look for and find him. It demonstrates Mom’s love of animals not only because of rescuing the puppy but her involvement with fostering dogs. The key message I hope the children will take from the story is the importance of caring for animals. The sub-message is the introduction to fostering of dogs, and that it plants a seed of at least awareness, if not involvement.
It has been my experience, some things come quite easily (like creating the setting) and other things aren’t so easy (like deciding on a title). What comes easily to you and what do you find more difficult? 

The title turned out to be easy because the story revolves around our two dogs. The writing of the story was over a number of weeks as thoughts came to me and, other than writer’s block, it flowed pretty well. Since this is my first book I had not given much thought to the tense it should be written in…present. I had originally written it in the past tense thus relating a story that had already occurred rather than letting the story unfold thus holding a child’s attention by he/she not knowing the outcome.

Please describe to us your relationship between you and your editor. What makes an author/editor relationship a success?
I have nothing but praise for my editor for she saw the potential in my manuscript but knew it needed work. At first, I thought she had wounded my “child” or maybe, more honestly, wounded me. I then realized her input made the story a better read. I believe the level of trust an author has in an editor is the most important element in the author/editor relationship followed closely by the author’s willingness to be open to the editor’s input. If an author is willing to take a leap of faith at the beginning of the relationship, it will only get stronger over time.
When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your books and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?
That I was an Author who wrote engaging children’s stories that not only entertain but also have a message…something of value that a child can learn. That by making a small, yet positive, contribution to their life I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

As for me as an individual, I guess I would like it to say that I loved the Lord and did my best to live by His word, that I loved my family and friends, especially spending time with them, that I had integrity, and was honest, trustworthy, loyal, funny and happy.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?

Yes, when I am trying to finish a thought or complete something I had written previously and nothing is coming forth to rescue me. It is so frustrating. Sometimes I can push through it and the words flow but I have found the best tact is to leave it alone for a while…just let it rest. It works like magic!

Who or what inspires your characters and/or plots?

Our two dogs inspired the characters. Their personalities, antics and for this book, that they are both foster dogs. The plot was inspired by what my wife and I have witnessed in reference to stray/lost dogs and cruelty to dogs, and the rescue efforts, including fostering, that involves so many people.
What happens before sitting down to write? (Explain your creative process.)

I may spend time with our dogs or make French press coffee or eat chocolate (nothing less than 75% cacao) or do all three! These are some of the things I love to do to remove myself from everyday life, to clear my head. At other times, I will have a thought or several thoughts that need to be written down before they dissipate like a puff of smoke. In all honestly, it is whatever works to get the story on paper.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Don’t give up! Don’t put your partially written book back in the drawer or in that file folder you have had for years. Make a commitment to yourself that this is important and set aside the time. Think about the feeling of accomplishment you will have when you have your book in your hands for the first time or see your book on the shelf of your local book store or on Amazon. It’s powerful and rewarding!
Use this space to tell us more about your book’s characters. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your book(s), any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and/or your book(s).

How I wrote about the characters pretty much mirrors the personalities of our dogs. For example, Buddy, Sir Buddy, is very formal when he sits, almost at attention. On the other hand, River, Mr. Pupples, could not be any sloppier. In fact, I don’t know how he achieves the positions he does. Buddy’s behavior is almost exemplary while River is a wee bit of a loose cannon. They certainly made it easy to create two distinct characters. As for Mom, well, she is my wife Christie and is a perfect reflection of Christie’s compassion and love for animals, especially dogs.

For those who would like additional information please go to my website: www.twodogstales.com or my Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/twodogstales.

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