Bob Mann lives in the Houston area, has a Masters in Chemistry, and detoxifies hazardous waste for a living. When he’s not defanging poison, he spends his time writing, reading, going to the Museum of Fine Arts, and brewing beer and wine, not necessarily in that order.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
Since I can remember. Started off telling campfire stories, and some time or other started writing them down.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Write every day, even if it’s 100 words on a paper bag, even if you have to switch to a different project when the one you’re working on bogs down. A two-week hiatus can turn into two years.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
Character Naming Sourcebook.
4. If you could go back and find yourself five years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
When you get stuck in a cycle of rewriting the same scene/page/sentence/chapter over and over, leave it as it is and move to the next.
5. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
Sci fi, mystery, horror, not necessarily in that order. Harlan Ellison, Ed McBain, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, earlier works of Stephen King and Peter Straub
6. How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?
Getting a project finished.
7. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Schedule it the same way you schedule time for your day job, car maintenance, laundry, and every other essential activity. You’re a writer; for you writing is just as essential.
8. Do you favor the traditional route or self-publishing?
Traditional. The time demands of self-publishing essentially amount to a full-time job. I’ve already got two full-time jobs: the one that pays the bills, and writing itself. I don’t need another.
9. What do you think the publishing industry will look like twenty-five years from now?
Ebooks will be the norm, with printed books as special-order items. Or it’ll be charcoal on flat rocks, depending on whether or not we avoid WWIII.
10. Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
I’ve always heard that as “pantsers” (writing by the seat of your pants) and “plotters.” Once took a test that allegedly determined where you landed on the spectrum, and I scored exactly 50-50.
11. Have you attended any conferences or writing retreats?
What was the experience like and do you have any to recommend? This will sound strange coming from a scifi-horror writer, but I recommend the Romance Writers of America’s National Conference. Fully half the classes deal with writing and publishing issues common to all genres, and many of the attending agents work in multiple genres.
12. How do you deal with rejections?
Shrug and say, “it’s their loss.”
13. Do you ever get criticism from family or friends who don’t understand your passion?
Fortunately I’m married to another writer and never have to deal with the “why do you need to do this when you’re married to ME?” speech.
14. Were you taught anything about creative writing in high school or college that just didn’t work for you?
“Write what you know.” Literature would consist entirely of autobiographies.
15. In your opinion, how important is a writing degree or MFA when it comes to achieving success in writing fiction?
My degree was in Chemistry, and I’ve no idea how an MFA helps or hurts.
16. Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
Two in-person critique groups.
17. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
Finish the novel I’m working on, get representation for another novel that I’ve finished.
18. What are your writing goals for the next five years?
Start and finish at least three more, and do more with short stories.
19. What book(s) are you reading right now?
Mr X by Peter Straub, After Hitler by Michael Jones and We Have the Technology by Kara Platoni.