You’ve written in many different genres, from mystery and suspense with Sara’s Game to dystopian with Warchild Pawn, and now with Super…what is that? Superhero genre? What’s your favorite?
Honestly, I think my favorite genre doesn’t exist. I write like I read, and that’s all across the spectrum. I was trying to sum up SUPER the other day to Jason Gurley, which is the fact that it’s a mashup of superheroes and a political thriller. My choice of genres is like a Nike shoe—it’s a cross-trainer. Little bit of Hank Williams, little bit of teaching somebody how to Dougie. But, the short answer is, mysteries and thrillers, no matter what the plot is.
Leo is somebody I’d want to hang out with. Being a snarky assassin is my day job, so we’re one in the same. Actually, it’s funny you ask that, because in every novel I’ve written, my wife will come across something and say, “That’s totally you right there.” Throughout SUPER you’ll come across spots where Leo is pontificating about the absurdities of life, and a lot of those are my own random observations that find their way into my characters. Not giving anything away, but I’m the type of guy who’d randomly notice a perfect bulls-eye on a dart board as I’m running for my life.
Where did the idea for Super come from?
I’m going to sound like a walking cliché here, but I had a dream about it. The assassin support group, the South Korean woman in white, and a dead superhero on a yacht off the coast of the Maldives. Very clear images in my head from that dream and damn it, I woke up so I never got to find out what happened. The plot intrigued me so much that I dropped Warchild #2 halfway through the first draft and began working on Super. I had to know how they got there and really, I think it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever written.
There are times where I wish I could get into the nostalgia of a #2 pencil and a yellow notepad, but I’m a left-hander so I just smudge everything I write. Plus, my hand can’t keep up with the words in my head. On a good day I can hit around 1,500 words in an hour, so I absolutely have to sit down at a keyboard. I’m usually hidden away in my home office with the shades pulled, the cat on my lap, listening to white noise on my headphones so I can zone out and disappear into the world I’m creating. On the weekends, take all that and an eighteen-month-old toddler running into the room, yelling, “Dada! Dada,” followed by my wife chasing him.
You’ve probably been asked this many times before (but hey, I run a mostly Indie website so I have to ask,) what made you choose to go the Indie route over Traditional?
I’ve been at this for about twenty years. Creative writing has always been my passion, and I’m sure that even if I never had to work again, I’d still feel the need to sit down at a keyboard and tell the stories in my head. That said, I’d tried for years (and years) (and years) to get traditional publishing to take a look at my work. I made it quite ways in the process a number of times, but always the bridesmaid. Then, around December of 2011, my father-in-law showed me an article on Yahoo! about Darcie Chan and all the success she’d had self-publishing The Mill River Recluse. I figured it was worth a shot, because the novels and shorts on my hard-drive were gathering digital dust. The rest, as they say, has been a ton of hard work and treating this like the job it is. I work more now as a self-published, stay-at-home author-dad than I ever did while sitting in a cube. But, every day is worth it, and I’m so glad I chose this route because I’ve been lucky enough to have some success, and I get to do this every day.
Man, I think I started out with some really, really bad poetry in high school. At some point, someone told me I might actually have talent (more than likely it was a girl I was crushing on at that age) and I kept coming back to it. Lots of failed attempts at wooing girls with my poetry filled with heart explosions and puppy dogs covered in strawberry ice cream. Gag me. I wrote my first full-length short story when I was a freshman in college and it was sparked by a single event. Three friends and I were sitting in a coffee shop at like four in the morning and we had one of those inevitable lulls in conversation. My friend says, “So there we were. The four of us, sitting in a coffee shop…the heist…shot to hell.” Almost like the superhero dream, it was a story idea I couldn’t let go of. I’m sure it sucked, but thankfully I’ve had two decades of practice since then.
There are so, so many, but I’d say top three would be Dean Koontz, Elmore Leonard, and Tim O’Brien. Dean Koontz because I read The Voice in the Night when I was fifteen, and I remember it being the first thing I’d read in a long time that made me think, “This is awesome, and that stuff they make us read in school sucks.” (Ignore that, kids. Read your assigned books. Yes, even The Red Badge of Courage.) Elmore Leonard because the dude was the epitome of cool and it showed in his fiction. And then, Tim O’Brien, because Tomcat in Love is my desert island book. If you haven’t read it, run, right now, and go grab a copy. The unreliable narrator is a complete ass, but the things that O’Brien does with language in that book still amaze so many years later.
Write, and write again. Practice. Read. A lot. Write some more. Get the opinions of people who’ll tell you something straight. When you’re first starting out, you don’t need cotton candy caressing your ego, you need steel wool. It may leave some scratches, but you’ll heal and you’ll be stronger for it. And this pastime/hobby/career, whatever it is, comes with a certain level of inherent talent for some folks, but it’s not like you have to be born genetically gifted and can run a 4.3 forty. It can be learned with enough practice, so write and write again. I don’t know if it’s necessary to write every single day because sometimes your brain needs to recharge, but write often enough that you don’t lose your rhythm. Break the rules. Sometimes it’s okay to tell instead of showing. Adverbs modifying things? Why not? Who’s it gonna hurt? If you go the self-publishing route, don’t be afraid to hire quality people to help you in the process. Cover designers, editors, proofreaders, they’ll save you lots of struggling and give you a professional appearance. But, above all, just tell a damn good story that readers can immerse themselves in. Their escape, and their willingness to tell others about it, is your reward.
Oy, I have so many projects lined up that I literally have myself booked until about this time next year. I’m working on Warchild: Knight now and that’s about halfway finished. Then, in no particular order, another Sara book, a sequel to The White Mountain, likely a third Warchild book, more novels in the Super universe, probably some Kindle Worlds novellas, and maybe even some short stories here and there during snack time. I get tired just reading that paragraph.
Thanks for hanging out and best of luck on your new novel!
Thanks for having me, Josh! Big good fun, that was.
You didn't do it. I can see you. Do it right now.
Now that you're back, be sure to check out Ernie's website: www.ernielindsey.com and like his Facebook Page. If you're on Twitter--and if you're not you need to be--give him a follow: @Ernie_Lindsey
Ernie's novel Warchild: Pawn is my “Indie Showcase” book this week; I’ll have a review of that coming in a few weeks.