I’m thrilled to have an interview with my high school friend, David. Over the past few years, I’ve watched as David eagerly learned more about the craft of writing and finished his first novel. Here is more about David and his new book in his own words:
1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
The bulk of my writing happens on weekends. I start early, writing on and off throughout the day. On weekdays, I write for an hour before leaving for my day job. Occasionally, I’ll squeeze in a little thumb-writing on my phone while on the train.
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
If I’m blocked about how to continue a scene I’m writing, I’ll set it aside and write something else. It might be a later scene, or a draft blog entry, or just ideas about what’s going to happen in the story I’m writing. Sometimes this brainstorming turns into actual writing, and then I can just copy and paste it into my manuscript.
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?
James Scott Bell has several great books on the craft of writing, my favorite being “Plot and Structure.” David Corbett’s “The Art of Character” is one I refer back to often. “The Kick-Ass Writer” by Chuck Wendig is in a somewhat unusual format: it’s a series of lists, so rather than reading the pages consecutively, I keep it nearby and randomly flip it open to read one of the entries, which are often inspiring and always funny.
4. Who do you read for fun?
So many! I’m reading a different author every week or two, usually in the thriller/mystery/suspense genres, or science fiction. A few favorites that come to mind—authors who I return to over and over—are Robert J. Sawyer, Dean Koontz, and Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child.
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
Unlike many authors, I didn’t always dream of becoming a published writer. I’ve always written stories, for as far back as I can remember, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that I began seriously working toward this goal. At that point, I decided I must finish the novel I’d been writing since the early 1990s. Until then, I honestly thought I only had one book in me—so, my thinking went, I might as well take my time. Things are much different now. The first draft of that book, which will see eventual release, was completed mid-2012, at which point I began the story that would become Peer Through Time.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
I learned this during my fourth decade of life, and would like for others to learn it sooner: don’t wait for the muse to arrive. Hunt that sucker down, lasso it, tackle it, make it your—well, you get the idea. “The muse” isn’t something external, doling out inspiration as it sees fit. It’s inside you, and you must make it work for you. Force it if you have to. I’m still learning this myself, but a common notion of writer wisdom goes something like this: a page of bad writing can be revised, but a blank page is just a blank page. So allow yourself to write badly during your first draft. Later, you’ll mine for the gems hidden among all that rubbish, pluck them out, and polish them. But you’ll never find them on a blank page, and you won’t likely find them if you expect every sentence you write to be a gem.
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
Perseverance, because succeeding as a writer usually entails writing several books. And built into that perseverance, there must be patience.
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food—but not from a box. I’m talking flour, butter, milk, and cheese melted together, then poured over seasoned sautéed veggies, bacon and pasta; baked, topped with more cheese, and baked some more. As for drink, first thing in the morning it’s coffee. Throughout most of the day, it’s water.
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
I like the way this question is worded. Asking “what’s your favorite (book/movie)” assumes one has a favorite, and after much pondering, I don’t think I have one. But that’s a boring answer, so I’m just going to pick one anyway. The novel “Lightning” by Dean Koontz (1988) heavily influenced my fascination with time travel stories, which ultimately contributed to my writing.
10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?
I won’t always write time travel tales, but my books will always involve some sort of mystery, and will most likely touch on advancing technologies. My blog (http://davidtpennington.com/blog/) has recently been repurposed to feature technology breakthroughs as its theme. That’s not to say I won’t post the occasional writing-life entry, because, as Chuck Wendig says, “Do you think the Blog Police are going to come down to your house and crack you over the head with their Batons of Content Adjustment?”
I grew up in a small northern California town called Paradise, but my home is in San Francisco. While my degree in computer programming has helped pay the bills, my studies in psychology have informed my writing. My love of fiction is balanced by my fascination with books on futurism and theoretical physics. Peer Through Time, my debut novel, was released in January 2015. You can buy it here: