Today’s author interview takes place with Larry Crane, a multi-talented author equally at home writing novels and plays. My review of A Bridge to Treachery deemed his book “Intense and Intricate.” I think you will also find that an apt description of the man behind the words.
Giveaway! As a bonus to today’s interview, the first five commenters will receive a free copy (paperback or ebook) of Larry’s novel.
1. Please provide a one sentence synopsis of your book.
In A Bridge to Treachery, an action/thriller, Lou Christopher confronts his weaknesses that open the door to enemies who would use him for their own evil purposes and discard him like a bag of garbage.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
I’m mostly just trying to tell a good story, something that I would like to read. I write to test my ability to be funny, or to tell the truth, and to hold the interest of my audience whether they are seated in a theater or under a reading lamp in their living room. I keep trying to build on my study of craft. Whatever themes the stories may contain only emerge from the justification I need to muster for the actions of my characters.
I knew I wanted to become a writer when I began to believe that I could fire up the imagination of people I admired, if only for a few minutes or hours. As a college freshman in an English Lit course, I was blown away as I heard my prof extol a small piece of writing by one of my classmates, all the while believing: Hey, I can do that!
So much of everyday life is just understanding what happens. This writer may not know any more than the next guy, but by putting it down on paper, I can work through it and come to some understanding.
3. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
One of my favorite novels is Deliverance by James Dickey. I have read it over and over, and I have watched the movie many times. It is a physical story. It has a geographical grounding that is important to the story. It is chock-full of male specific moral implications. It is right in my personal wheel house.
A good story is well crafted structurally. The characters are true to life and sound like real people. Something interesting and important to them alters their status quo. We, as readers care what happens to them.
Personally, I look for a book that transports me from my own life into the life of the characters. I especially want to be emotionally moved by the story. As a writer, I just tell my story, but it is a story with some emotional impact. I’m writing for myself, and hoping the reader is coming along with me.
4. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
My blog is named Maine Larry Crane. I’m new to the process, and am still refining my focus.The purpose of my blog is to exchange ideas on the subject of story-telling with anyone who ventures my way on the internet. I’ve written for the theater a lot and that experience represents the foundation of my thinking about how to go about telling a story. I have found that I am usually working on several projects across the spectrum of story-telling forms semi-simultaneously, including video production, plays long and short, and most recently my novel, A Bridge to Treachery. I also pepper the blog with opinions about marketing and promotion, and some other far-out notions about subjects that crop up.
5. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
My publisher is Brighton Publishing LLC under a subsidized contract. The first version of the book was finished years ago, and I spent several years pursuing agents and traditional publishers without success. I put the book in the drawer and concentrated on other projects. Two years ago, I decided to give the book another go. I extensively rewrote by going after the text with a meat cleaver. While the story improved immensely, my knowledge of how to navigate the publishing world was still very muddled. I knew I’d need to put some serious money into editing, cover design, and many other mysterious subjects. I decided to work with Brighton, and they have led the way for me. Going totally indie is not an easy path. I have actively participated in the editing, revision, and cover design processes with the people at Brighton, and had a lot of fun doing it.
6. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
I only started intensively working in the marketing and publicity areas after A Bridge to Treachery had been in the market place for several months. I was clueless about what I needed to do to give “Treachery” a chance to poke its head above the surface of the ocean of books that are published every year, to be noticed. After a lot of study and work, I have created an online presence. I have actively pursued reviews in the belief that they are a key publicity piece. It’s preferable to do all of these things before the book is released. The best advice I have received is to take a long term approach to marketing and promotion. After a year or more of energetic, methodical work, you may see some results and they may only benefit your second book.
7. Describe your writing background.
I’m self-taught with a ton of help from textbooks and correspondence course materials. It’s all in keeping with my scatter shot approach to everything. Jan, my wife and I spent a couple of days together in a screenwriting seminar in Manhattan put on by some hotshot from California. It was fun and it was good, truth-be-told. I’ve participated in web-based novel critique group sessions. Jan and I spent a couple of years in two very productive playwriting groups.
8. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
These past several years my writing has been diverse and predicated on meeting deadlines. I do a lot of trolling for opportunities for submitting plays to contests, festivals and other venues. They may require completely new material or a revision of something old. During the run up to publication of “Treachery” I was completely absorbed in going over every sentence for the twenty-third time and revising where necessary. I work now alone mostly, not as a part of a group. The editing for “Treachery” was part of the Brighton contract.
I do most of my hardcore physical writing work at night until the wee hours and after all the normal niggling duties of life are attended to. I read what I’ve recently written up to a certain point to prime the pump, then I forge on in torrent of words which may or may not make the grade in the next rewrite. I ruthlessly steal scenes, conversations and characters from plays and stick them into other things. It’s a mess, but I need to get the thing done and to get into the real fun: revision.
9. What future projects can we look forward?
I’m going to be submitting at least one new short play to a contest with a deadline of December. I’m on the cusp of going heavily into a sequel to A Bridge to Treachery.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
I was recently challenged to write a ten-minute play in 24 hours. Several of us were given the same conditions to inform the writing: a cast of actors, a prop (a box in this case), and a line of dialogue. With that, we began. I had my cast, a woman and man of the same age and a much younger other man. In 24 hours, the play would be performed before a live, paying audience.
I had a drive of an hour and half ahead of me before I could write my first word, but I used the time to dream up the story.
I had been working hard on revisions to “Treachery.” Could I use some of the novel in the 24 hour play? Yes! Follow me. A certain point in the novel, the protagonist and the ingénue, Lou and Sydney, are hiding in the underbrush of Turkey Mountain, eluding the authorities who are combing the countryside with dogs and choppers. There are several pages of dialog in the scene.
Steal that scene and the dialog for the play! Go for it!
In my play, two members of my cast would become a man/wife acting team rehearsing the scene for a movie: Escape From Turkey Mountain. The other, younger man would become the director with a foible: he adores the movies starring Tracy and Hepburn. The result: a hilarious ten-minute play called “A Little Connecticut.”
Moral of the Story: Use what you’ve got.
You can connect with Larry Crane via his blog.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about Larry?
Image Credit: Late Night by Jani Ravas. Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2012.
Wow… I wish I had the energy to write at night. I could get a lot more work done. I write in the morning when my brain is fresh, before I start my regular work day. Thanks for introducing us to another author!
I’ve definitely enjoyed watching the evolution of Larry’s blog as well as his journey as a writer.
Hi Geek Girl – I don’t know why I’ve migrated my life time -wise to where I am today, staying up to all hours of the night. It definitely wouldn’t work for anybody who has anything really important to do during the day, such as raising a family. But, all that is behind me and I am free to attend to the niggling details I allude to in the interview which would include things like paying bills and going to the grocery store, and feeding the dog. Only after all of that stuff is attended to can I turn the brain over to the writing.
You’re a good interviewer Jeri. It’s interesting to know that Larry Crane has trained and learned by himself alone. I’m curious about “A Bridge to Treachery.”
It must be a good read from an author that takes his writing seriously and personally.
I also envy Larry’s ability to write plays. His playwriting talent definitely comes across in the book as he renders dialogue quite naturually.
The thoughts on publicity and marketing seems something many of us need to think about on a daily basis. It is interesting to note that even with some success it can still be a learning process.
Most days that learning process never seems to end, but I’ve found that we can all learn a lot from each other as fellow writers and bloggers.
Hi Jeri – For me it has taken an enormous amount of time and energy to finally get to a place where I actually think I understand better what’s going on in the marketing and promotion arenas. Seems to me, the most important thing is to settle on an approach to marketing and promotion that is going to allow you to accomplish it in a reasonable amount of time, and that you will then be able to get back to the writing. I actually like finding content for my blog, but I can’t let it morph into neglect for the writing.
Like Larry, I remember setting in an english class and hearing what others had written. I dreamed of being able to write well enough so that I would look or not feel foolish. At that time I was unaware of my dyslexia and found the craft of writing way beyond my means. The fact that I am now writing short stories on my blog, AND people like them, is something close to a miracle for me.
Your books look amazing. Being an avid reader, I am always fasciated with what other writers do and how they go about this craft called writing. Thank you for a great interview.
Susan, the stories on your blog really speak to readers since they are something we can all relate to. Plus you always manage to include a bit of humor as well. They’re quite clever 😉
Great interview by both of you. I wish I had a specific time to write. I’m scattered all the time.
I wish Larry much success with his current novel and future writings.
I’ve found that the morning works best for me when it comes to writing. I used to be a night owl, but years of teaching has totally shifted my schedule around.
“I was recently challenged to write a ten-minute play in 24 hours. Several of us were given the same conditions to inform the writing: a cast of actors, a prop (a box in this case), and a line of dialogue. With that, we began. I had my cast, a woman and man of the same age and a much younger other man. In 24 hours, the play would be performed before a live, paying audience.”
That was so impreessive. I am part of a cooking group and one time we decided to randomly purchase ingredients without the others knowing and we all took those ingredients and created a meal. Fun stuff.
I love the cooking shows on TV where there is a time limit to create a sumptuous dish of some kind. If I remember correctly, the chefs choose their ingredients. But, they have to whip up something wonderful in a short amount of time, and then experts taste the dishes and pass judgement on them. A similar theme is involved on a TV show in which designers create a line of clothes, sometimes as a team, but always with a time limit built in.
With the 24 hour ten minute plays, I had a preconceived notion that what resulted from the time limit was a bunch of what I derisively call skits. I don’t write skits! Oh no, not me. So, I had to try to come up with a decent ten minute play that had some substance to it. When we put the plays on, what I saw was pretty damned good, all around. Funny how personal involvement changes your perspective. And it was fun.
Great interview and very encouraging! I enjoyed writing when I was young, but then it seems my mind drifted towards science and math. However, now I’ve flipped and enjoy writing and creativity more than the hard sciences.
It always sounds kind of hollow to me to encourage people to give the writing of stories a go. But, I think if it occurs to you that you would like to try your hand at fiction, you should go ahead with it. One way that I found acceptable to me was to take correspondence courses. That way, you are completely invisible in a sense. You study stories and what makes for good stories, and then bit by bit, you create some of your own. Maybe it won’t happen over night, but it will be absorbing. I took correspondence courses from the University of Iowa.
Congrats to Cheryl, Jena, Jon, Susan, and Denise. As the first five commenters, Larry is sending them a copy of his book. Enjoy!
Hi Jeri – Some readers will notice that the cover of A Bridge to Treachery is new. That’s because I ended the publishing contract I had with Brighton Publishing, and went Indie. I’ve revised the book also by excising about 5% of the words in the original, and making the chapters a lot shorter.
Thanks for the update, Larry. Best of luck with the revised copy of A Bridge to Treachery as well as your new release Missing Girls.