Author Bling

Friday, February 14, 2014

S.M. Coan - An Author Interview

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am an artist living in Black Hawk Colorado. I put down the brushes and started writing about 15 years ago when I could no longer tell the story in 1000 words. I grew up in Maryland, but moved around the country with my family, rarely remaining in any one place more than a couple years. By the time I graduated high school in 1978, I had lived in five states and had attended 9 different schools. For me, this was great experience, and one I use in developing characters and establishing settings.

What were you like at school?

I was a good student, but easily distracted. I would doodle all the time and was contently letting my imagination run wild.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Realistically, I would like to be able to simply write and paint on a daily basis. I have no shortage of outlines and ideas to work with. Shorter term, I am working on the follow-up to 'Innerearth' entitled 'The Thought Thieves' as well as a character-driven farce entitled 'Trailer Trash', which takes place during the week of the 4th of July, 1976, in the fictional town of Crossroads, Nevada. (Don't be fooled by the title on this one). I am also considering writing a novella to accompany many of my short stories.

Which writers inspire you?

I have to say that Stephen King inspired my writing style which tend to be driven by the unique characters. But I read a lot of Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, J.R.R. Tolkien and Isaac Asimov. Recently I read a lot of Carl Hiaasen, John Sandford, C.J. Box, Janet Evanovich, and lots of public domain from

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I still prefer traditional books, but this is due more to the fact that my job has me at the computer all day. I have a long commute, so I am a fan of audiobooks as well.

What book/s are you reading at present?

Currently I am loving old public domain mysteries. Recently I have read J.S. Fletcher, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, George MacDonald, H.P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grahame, M.R. James and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

So, what have you written?

I started writing an annual Halloween short story for family and friends in 1998, and expanded that to writing a variety of short stories over the following years. In 2011, I wrote and illustrated a children's picture book entitled 'Crawlspace Charlie'. I had already written 'Innerearth', finishing the manuscript in 2001. I tried the traditional publishing query process for a year, picking up several encouraging replies and one letter of interest. I self-published 'Innerearth' last year as an e-book.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Christian W. Falconer is the protagonist, and the catalyst for the plot, but he not the stand-out personality for the book. As such, Chris tends to be the grounding character, determined to answer the questions surrounding his past.

Where can we buy or see this book?

Innerearth' is available through Amazon, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords.

'Crawlspace Charlie' is available through Amazon, Publish America, and many independent booksellers.

What genre are your books?

Innerearth is a speculative science-fiction fantasy. 'Crawlspace Charlie', in the tradition of picture books for young readers, places the characters (cats) in a dilemma, thus teaching problem solving and containing an overall moral to the story.

What draws you to this genre?

Speculative fiction is a great way to analyze what is real, and provide a critique and alternatives to this reality. It is also a great way to anticipate the future, not to mention it is fun to create a new reality, albeit one that lives within a story.

How much research do you do?

For 'Innerearth', it was important to me to have all of the real-time facts be accurate. I did a lot of research therefore into the military, government, existing technologies, places and dates. I also drew much of the settings from my past.

When did you decide to become a writer?

When I started 'Innerearth' in 1998, I had the basic outline in my head. The genesis for said outline actually developed when I was a senior in high school. I had just move to Colorado and actually had enough credits to graduate. But I needed a Colorado government class so I had to take one semester of classes. Naturally, I padded the time with electives, one being Astronomy. My instructor for this course was as much of a science-fiction fan as I. And as this was 1976, 'Chariots of the Gods' and 'The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved' were popular books. One day, this instructor presented me with this challenge: why not try to explain all of these mysteries using one common thread. And so it began...

Why do you write?

As an artist, I always enjoyed the process of creation; the ability to show what is in one's head. Writing is the same, only more so.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

The job I had in 1998 was as a Graphic Designer in Denver. The position was a four 10 hour day schedule. As the 'Innerearth' outline had been festering for so many years, I decided 'why not' and began using my Fridays to research and outline the book. I was hooked and would write after work and on my Fridays and weekends.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I still have a day job, so I write when I can.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

No, when I write I often have thought about the next section, but I never know how the session will flow. When it goes well, I will keep with it. But if I find myself forcing it or am too tired, I will stop.

Where do the your ideas come from?

My paintings are very surrealistic (think Salvador Dali), and my imagination has always been both visual and well, out there. I have one of those minds you can't really shut off, so I learned to focus it to various projects. It is a very deep well.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Both. I do have a rough outline (or in the case of Innerearth a visual timeline), but I let the characters take me along for the ride.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing is knowing when to end it. Also for me, typing is not my forte.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

For me, the easiest thing about writing is character development. I have a wealth of travel experiences and I can literally visualize the characters, hearing them talk, seeing the faces and knowing their quirks.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Innerearth' took three years from the early research to the final draft, but this was working a full-time job. I believe I could write my future outlines in a year if I could devote full-time to the effort.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I am 53 years old, and have enough ideas now to last until I couldn't write anymore. I do occasionally have 'tough chapters' or transitions that take some extra effort to work through.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I have several friends whom read all the time, as well as my wife Mary. I would not hesitate having my work professionally edited however.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

Self-publishing is great in that it allows creative freedom and to more people. The down side is that you don't have the editing, formatting and marketing resources available to you.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

I do frequently offer my book free using coupon promotions. Honestly, I want people to enjoy the story and hopefully share and talk about it. I always offer the book free to whomever will review it.

Thank you for taking the time for an interview, and please tell us where you can be found if readers are interested in connecting with you.


'Crawlspace Charlie':