Welcome, Buck. Tell us
how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Some, probably—it’s natural. But my characters cover a
pretty broad spectrum, and I try hard to get out of the way and let them speak
for themselves. I figure they have a lot more to say than I do.
What is the quirkiest
thing you have ever done?
Oh man, you’re talking to a longtime songwriter/traveler
who’s used the world as his backyard. I’ve literally lived a life of quirk. We
might need another blog for that! I don’t know if I’d call it the quirkiest,
but one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done is taking a job as a singing
telegram in Los Angeles
years ago. Not a good job for a semi-introvert (in my defense, I was starving).
I got fired after about five minutes and was lucky to last that long.
When did you first
discover that you were a writer?
Boy, when that happens, I’ll let you know…
Actually, I can’t remember a time in life when I didn’t
consider myself a writer, even though it took most of my life to get there
professionally. Maybe I was just biding my time collecting characters and
stories. I remember lying on the Los
Angeles apartment application when my wife and I
married back in 1989. I listed my profession as “writer.” I figured it wasn’t
much of a stretch—after all, I wrote songs, and I’d get to books eventually. It
took me twenty-five years and a lot of miles to become a novelist but I’m happy
to report, several books in now, I made good on that application.
Tell us the range of
the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love good writing and it comes in a lot of different
genres, so I don’t lock myself in to anything specific. For instance, I’ve got
a professor friend who often sends me books I’ve never heard of let alone read.
I always look forward to reading new authors, seeing their approach, and
hearing what they have to say. I’ve been on a big John MacDonald kick lately,
but I usually have several books going at once. Right now, for instance (I’m
looking at the stack on my desk): Patrick O’Brian, Ayn Rand, Mark Twain, Louis
L’Amour, Dashiel Hammett, Hemingway, Bukowski, Roddy Doyle… That’s a very
partial list, and only in this stack (we won’t talk about the fact Tom Wolfe is
hanging out in my bathroom right now). I think I might have a book problem!
My husband told me
that if I die first, he could open a library with all my books, so I
understand. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Ha. My family and friends might tell you I hold sanity with
a fairly loose grip. To tell you the truth, I find life pretty peaceful for the
most part. I do what I love. I get to spend my days hanging out with my God, my
family (my kids and their spouses all live with us on our property here in
and I write pretty much every day. I’m a blessed man and don’t for a second
take it for granted.
On the same property?
I feel blessed that all our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren
all live in the suburbs of Fort Worth,
Texas. How do you choose your
Hmm. I guess I just think of them. Sometimes I’ll ask my
family to throw out ideas if I’m stuck on it. Or I’ll assign something random
and keep pressing at the story until something clicks. I don’t spend a lot of
time dwelling on it. What works for me is to keep things fluid and not be
married to particulars. Even names. I’ve written whole books and changed a name
or two at the last minute before submitting a manuscript.
What is the
accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Without hesitation, my family (although this is God’s
accomplishment, not mine). My wife and I have had a truly special love story
from the start. And I’m in absolute awe at the adults my kids have grown into.
They, along with their spouses, are our best friends. I don’t deserve any of
it, but I thank God for it every day.
If you were an
animal, which one would you be, and why?
Well, my wife says she’d be a dolphin, so I guess I’d be
that since it would be decidedly inconvenient to be a separate species form my
spouse. Although…considering…I might add wings to the dolphin. That would be a
twist. And I’d also be a dolphin who could enjoy a good taco once in a
What is your favorite
That’s funny, my family and I had this exact conversation
for over two hours last night. It’s a hard question! But I grew up on the
Mexican border and, for me, nothing tops good Mexican food. Although, I have to
say Greek is a close second.
What is the problem
with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I think the hardest (and surprising) thing I found about
writing, at least in the early days, was that it’s a very solitary discipline.
I’m kind of an introvert and have no problem being alone for long stretches but
as a writer you have to be able to live day in and day out with no one but your
characters. After all, it’s all in your head. You’re the only person on the
planet who knows anything about this story. So, in my case at least, I’ll go
eight months, a year, maybe longer without any real feedback from other humans.
At some point, doubt starts to knock. What if everything I’ve poured into this
for months and months is horrible? Useless? It’s a good chunk of my life!
The bottom line is, every writer has to, at some point, dig
deep and find some level of confidence in themselves and in their stories or
they’ll continually struggle. There has to be a sense of fearless self-reliance
and that takes time. Because, with writing, you have to figure out what works
for you. You can’t be someone else. You can study the craft endlessly, get all
the rules down, get your head shot (coffee cup in hand), go to all the right
conferences, read all the right marketing blogs, but, at some point, you have
to put pen to page and be you. You have to tell your stories.
I imagine I’m not alone in saying that, even after my first
couple publishing deals, I was waiting for the shoe to drop. I just knew
someone was going to figure out I had no idea what I was doing. I finally had
to decide that my success as a writer wasn’t going to be measured by whether or
not a publisher liked my work, sales numbers, what the experts say the market
is looking for, etc. I’m just need to honor God in my life and tell my stories.
And I’m having a heck of a good time doing it.
Yes, we each have a
unique right way to put our stories on paper. Early on, whenever I’d hear a
successful writer tell how to write, I’d try it. I always quickly went back to
what works for me. Tell us about the featured book.
Well, it’s your basic homeless widower drinking himself to
death in the bushes slash Catholic Priest love story… Sounds weird when I think
It’s essentially a quirky David and Goliath match up,
pitting eccentric, homeless widower against a wealthy and influential
businessman. Gomez Gomez has lost his wife, Angel, in a head-on collision and,
grieving, he’s moved into the bushes next to the crash site to basically drink
himself to death. It’s sacred ground to him. He’s always been a little (or a
lot) out there, and alcohol certainly doesn’t help the situation—thus the
talking to snakes and the stars and the sequined, jump-suited Elvis who occasionally
turns up. Sonny Harmon, who owns the car dealership next door to Gomez Gomez’s
vacant lot wants the land to expand. He basically doesn’t even consider Gomez
Gomez human. The town squares up and takes sides. Hopefully, so does the
Please give us the
first page of the book.
Gomez Gomez talked to snakes. Something many might’ve found
odd had the subject in question not been Gomez Gomez. Even as a kid he was
considered a half bubble off plumb.
Their loss, he figured. A simple problem—people didn’t know
how to listen. He couldn’t blame them, of course. The world at large, the ones
outside the glass looking in, had no way of knowing. No, it wasn’t their fault.
They had no real perspective. No foundation in the exceptional.
Not like him. He understood the exceptional. He’d breeched
the glass. After all, he’d been married to Angel. At least before she’d learned
how to die.
The other thing they didn’t understand—couldn’t understand—was
that Gomez Gomez never initiated the conversation.
And the thing about snakes, they always had a lot to say.
The shrill phrases of the garter snakes, the machine-gun
staccato of the red racers—you couldn’t get a word in edgewise with those
guys—the coughing hasp of the gopher snake. The big rattler, five feet at
least, scared him with his dusty slur, but his stories were by far the most
This afternoon a huge king snake stretched himself out on
the log under the mesquite tree and regaled Gomez Gomez with tales of the hunt
in his comfortable, booming baritone.
Gomez Gomez sipped from a paper bag-wrapped Thunderbird wine
bottle then arched an eyebrow at the big king. “You told me that one before.”
“Did I?” the snake said.
“You told me most of these before. You have a bad habit of
“You know you’re cranky when you drink?”
“Then I’m always cranky.”
“And don’t judge me.”
“Why would I? Still, you must know you’re killing yourself.”
“Not fast enough, you ask me.” Gomez Gomez took another
pull. “Besides, Thunderbird is first rate snake-hearing juice. Nothin’ like it.
Seems like that’s something you’d be all for.”
“Maybe, but I worry. What would Angel say?”
“She don’t say nothing anymore. She never does. Can’t even
dream about her. And leave her out of it, anyway.”
“I’m just saying that some ghosts have heavier footsteps
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The snake lifted his head, flicked his tongue against the
autumn air. “So what’s on the paper?”
“The one in your hand that has you so upset.”
Wow! I want to know
what’s on the paper, too. How can readers find you on the Internet?
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