Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
Let’s start with the basics. I’m a clinical psychologist and many years ago I ran across Carl Jung’s personality typology. It is rich and powerful and I learned I was what is called an intuitive personality type. That means what governs my life is an abiding interest in possibilities—what might be. That means life is not an idle venture merely to be experienced. It must be explored and meaning sought. That in turn meant I needed to put what I experienced into coherent form—books.
Tell us about your books.
The books I’ve written reflect key periods and experiences in my life.
Long ago my wife and I wrote the first book which was a workbook for stepchildren who were still adjusting to their new family. It was published by Doubleday. We then turned our efforts to
Stepfamilies:The Step By Step Model of Brief Therapy which was published by a company focused on mental health books. These books reflected the fact that we had found each other as our first marriages collapsed. And we each came to a new marriage with two children in crisis. In searching for help we became involved in the national movement in behalf of stepfamilies and became national experts. I later revised the mental health book into a book to be used by therapists and stepcouples working together called Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership.
Earlier and through this period I dug deep into personality typology as explained and organized by Carl Jung. As my writing expanded I could see that our personality dictates our choices of subject and the form of our books. It also affects our characters. And so I wrote Creating Characters and Plots which gives budding authors tools to help them shape their stories and define their characters.
And through this complex and difficult period I was working as a psychologist in the impoverished area of inner city Baltimore. At the time there was a revolutionary movement called Community Mental Health which was designed to bring mental health services to the American public at large. In Baltimore we learned that poverty itself was a stress factor not unlike the experience of war. And we had our own war. Most of us who were on the front lines were in our twenties and we did not just deliver the needed services we were defining and shaping but also battled with the senior men who wanted only the grant money and traditional services. We knew other things were needed and fought hard. But in the end the movement failed for lack of commitment and vision by senior professionals and the end of the reform movement of that time. I could not let the lessons learned lapse into history and wrote Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health?
But something else was experienced in Baltimore. On our staff were a new breed of service providers. Women’s Liberation was blossoming and the talented assertive women on our staff taught us valuable lessons. From that day forward I watched the women’s movement. And, of course, the psychologist could not resist looking at underlying mythological themes. Then that entire process was overlaid by the social and environmental crises which are growing daily in our world. It all came together in fictional fantasy to address the drama and meaning of the crises into which our world is descending. I’m convinced that the women’s movement to end their subjugation will be a core component of our success in what we must do now. And so the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy came to be with the first book, Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called:Women in Power published this spring.
Inspiration is everywhere around us and with my intuitive personality the meaning and the “what if” must be examined.
How did you go about getting published?
The first book noted was published by Doubleday because we had a good friend who took it in for us. It was a learning experience. I will never forget when we were sitting in their offices in Manhattan discussing the book. One of them admitted that in this powerful company they really could never be sure what would take hold and sell well. That was a revelation.
They sent us on a national tour and we went on television with Oprah when she was on television in Baltimore and did things like appearing on the Phil Donohue Show. The book sold modestly.
Gradually options for publishing changed and expanded until today we can publish ourselves. No company does the promotion for us, however. We have to do it ourselves which is a whole new learning experience.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
Oh dear! My writing process. It’s kind of scattered and diverse. My wife writes screen plays among other things and she turned me on to Dana Mark’s arc which helps structure the story along the flow lines like are used in films. It’s very useful.
First of course comes an idea and the general shaping of the story in my mind. Then I use the arc to give it stability and substance. At times I wake up at night with a scene focusing. In the morning I find it is still in my mind so I can set it down. Generally I get up in the morning and go into my office and work. Given that now authors don’t just write and have to promote I do other parts of the effort over the day.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
Years ago my wife and I were being interviewed and the interviewer asked what we did for fun. My wife answered for both of us when she said, “split wood”. At the time we were living in a lovely private valley in northern Maryland. When the cold months were coming we would cut and split wood so we would be ready for the joy of the evening fire.
I like productive endeavors and usually find them fun. I’m retired now so I set my own pace and what I want to do. When we lived in the country we had free roaming dogs in our valley and barn cats. Now its just us at home.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
I’m not a cover designer but I have an observation. Make it engaging and unique. The bare chested men on covers are repetitious and boring. I’m sure there are many useful forms covers can take but I haven’t seen any studies.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
The noise out there is deafening. Most of us want to focus on our creative efforts. We can decide to simply make it a hobby and just enjoy the writing but most of us would like to take it public. I think what we all have to do is to be tenacious and know it will be a long slow slog to publicize. It’s easy to get discouraged. Getting a mind set and a perspective to sustain us is crucial.
What’s your favorite book?
I know I’m strange. I don’t have a favorite book. They come and go depending upon where my life is at the time.
What are you reading now?
I just started Red Notice by Bill Browder which is the story of his life. So its nonfiction and he nailed me in chapter one. This story of his life reads like a highly engaging work of fiction. And it speaks to us about our current fraught world.
What’s your next book project?
Book 1 of the trilogy is out and I’m revising book 2 with a rough draft of book 3 on the side. And now something is stirring. I think there just might be a fourth book!