Author: Richard Satterlie, Ph.D

ISBN: 1593745702 https://autoankaufuri.ch

The following interview with  Richard Satterlie was conducted by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest,Richard Satterlie, Ph.D,author of Phoenix. Richard was Professor of Biology at Arizona State University and he is now the Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Good day Richard and thanks for agreeing to participate in our interview.

Norm:

Where did you grow up and have reading and writing always been a part of your life?

Richard:

Thank you, Norm.
I was born and raised in Vallejo, California–about 35 miles north of San Francisco, on San Pablo Bay. Way back then, I wanted to play basketball in the NBA, so reading wasn’t high on my list. Same with writing. As my career plans changed (out of necessity), writing became more and more important. Due to the need for so much science-specific reading and writing, I didn’t have much time to read fiction, and no time to write it. Eventually I found time, then I made time, but still I don’t read as much fiction as I’d like. I do most of my writing at night, after the kids go to bed.

Norm:

Why do you write and what inspired you to write Phoenix?

Richard:

I guess the short answer to the first part of the question is I like intellectual challenges, and after so much technical writing, fiction was a significant challenge. Also, I like the idea of being able to create situations, and build these situations into stories, all from my imagination. The wellspring for Phoenix came from a book on the history of the Black Canyon area of Arizona, and the gold and silver mines that operated there for a time. What allowed the wellspring to grow into a creek was a simple observation from that book. Stage and wagon hold-up artists were being pinched by the development of railroads. But in the heyday of gold and silver mining in Black Canyon, stagecoaches and wagons were still used to carry payrolls and ore. Any reasonable robber would migrate toward the easy marks, so this part of Arizona collected more than its fair share of bad guys. What’s interesting is this creek plays a very minor role in the story, which speaks to how fiction finds it own streambed.

Norm:

How long did it take you to write Phoenix and what did you learn from writing this book, as I believe this is your first work of fiction?

Richard:

It took about six months to write it. I did write one story before Phoenix, around 90,000 words, but about 89,999 of those words were horrible. I didn’t know how to write fiction, so I just told a story. Fortunately, I received an extremely harsh evaluation of this work, which upped the challenge for me. With good advice and several books on how to write fiction, Phoenix was my response. Most of what I know about writing fiction came from working through Phoenix. I learned the basics of the craft. I learned that the plot evolves as the characters develop, and that this evolution shouldn’t be resisted. I learned that I am still playing hide-and-seek with the subtleties of the craft. And, I learned that this last part probably will never change for any serious writer.

Norm:

How did you approach recreating the character of John William (Jack) Swilling who in fact was a real person. Did you plan him out or did he evolve as you wrote the book? Did you leave things out that you had discovered about him?

Richard:

I was fortunate to have three references that gave a basic account of Jack Swilling’s life, but they also presented slightly different versions of some of the more notorious aspects of his personality. This allowed me to use the former as guideposts for the story at the same time I could let my own extrapolations set the paths between the guideposts. Since Swilling wasn’t my protagonist, but rather this new mentor, I felt I had more leeway in how I portrayed him. In real life, he was a rich personality. It was fun to play with that.

Norm:

Do you agree, as Philip Gerard states in Writing a Book that makes a Difference, that if you want to write a good story or novel you need to create struggles of powerful descriptive individuals and not just issues. Through their accomplishments and travail, we very much comprehend the issues? If you do agree, how is this applicable in Phoenix?

Richard:

Absolutely. The best plot in the world isn’t worth much unless there are interesting, imperfect characters to act it out, in my opinion. A book of fiction makes a horrible soapbox. But every good book of fiction should whip up a few suds. It’s the characters who do the whipping. Putting the issues above the characters exposes too much of the author, who should be invisible. In Phoenix, I feel like the issues (to me the themes) are secondary to the story, and if I did it right, they should sneak up on the reader. I’m hoping the readers will climb in the protagonist’s skin and experience the themes rather than being assaulted by them.

Norm:

What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?

Richard:

The primary obstacle was time. I have a wonderful, rewarding occupation, and I give it the full attention it deserves. The way I’ve overcome this challenge–I don’t sleep much. The second obstacle is one all new authors face. Writing is great fun for me, but I also want it to be just as much fun for the readers. There is constant uncertainty about that one. The third challenge is convincing friends and family that writing is not just “another of those fly-by-night hobbies.” Finally, in historical fiction, it’s very easy to slip contemporary phrases into the dialogue, and to use period-inappropriate terms. Fortunately, my wife is good at catching these things.

Norm:

By yanam49

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