Do Not Disturb: I’m Writing, G*ddamnit

Artists are sensitive and complicated souls. Aggressive and prudent, proud and deprecatory, they walk sharp thresholds to contradiction, forever teetering in equal favor. We abhor and adore one another, see other artists as both rival and kin, and fiercely protect artistic manifestation, from the shittiest YA vamp to the most epic high fantasy franchise.

Eugene Hayman is a great author, hilariously unsure of the point of it all–a quality we find to be the most endearing of all the psychoses we authors call familiar.

DLB: How long have you been writing?

EH: The first time I ever tried to write a science fiction story I was about 15. I didn’t begin trying to write seriously until I was in my mid-twenties. I didn’t make a systematic effort until I was in my mid-thirties. Even then I would often let long periods of time elapse where I didn’t write anything at all. About ten years ago I decided that I would either get serious about writing a novel or never speak of it again. Now, if I don’t write at least a little every day, I feel like a lazy, pathetic, bad person.

DLB: What is your day job?

EH: In one capacity or another, I have worked in the chemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel for my entire adult life. For nearly the last thirty years I have worked as an operator in the same plant. I would not wish a similar fate on my worst enemy.

DLB: How many books have you completed?  

EH: I have written three novels, the first two being pretty damned crummy. Where Madmen Rule is the first thing I have produced that I feel is of professional quality. I make no apologies for the first two; they were honest efforts, and they let me make all the mistakes that go with learning a new craft.

DLB: What is your writing process? Do you begin with an outline? How well do you know your characters?

EH: I used to try and write by just getting a general idea for a plot, visualizing a few characters, and diving in. This is one reason, among many, why my first two novels were so cringe worthy. I have come to believe, and many books about writing confirm, that the only way to write well is to do so from a detailed, scene-by-scene outline. If you don’t do it this way, you’re liable to end up with a very good first chapter, then cast around for months trying to write chapter #2—usually with no result. It may take you weeks, or even months, to work out all the details of your novel. But if you manage to get an outline constructed, then you will be able to concentrate on bringing your story to life. In my mind, there is nothing worse than finishing a chapter, and then trying to figure what should happen next. Regarding how well you should know your characters, I would say you should know them better than your mother knew your father. The characters make or break your story. If they are two-dimensional, then your literary efforts will not grab and hold the reader’s attention. If you have trouble writing a scene, it may be that you don’t understand your characters well enough. Each character—even the minor ones—should remind your readers of someone they have known, studied about, or been forced to deal with in real life.

DLB: What was your inspiration for the book?

EH: Initially, Where Madmen Rule was going to be a short story, wherein some people used reflectors to turn a box canyon into a solar oven and roast some bad guys. Eventually, I realized that such golly-gee-whiz devices, like special effects in a movie, are no good in and of themselves. I then set out to instill a plot, a story line, believable characters, etc., etc., etc. Another inspiration for me was that I wanted to make a lot of money without working very hard. Well guess what; writing is hard work, the field is almost impossible to break into, and most writers don’t get rich. By the time I realized all this it was too late, I had already started writing. And that is akin to developing a dope habit or getting caught up in some compelling sexual fetish. Once you get started, it can be very difficult to stop before you go blind.

DLB: What sort of research did you do?

EH: Most of the research I did for this novel involved learning how to write a novel, though some subject matter research—transuranic metals, how to calculate acceleration, how solar ovens work—was involved. The novel I am currently writing (tentative title: The Return of the Annunaki) has involved a freak-ton of research. So I would have to say that the amount of research necessary for a novel varies from one to the next, depending on the setting and the plot devices employed. If you count staring off into space for long periods of time as research, or incessantly scribbling odd notes on whatever scraps of paper happen to be available, then I would say every novel ever written, by anybody, has involved an inordinate amount of research.

DLB: Are there really such a things as transuranic metals?

EH: Theoretically, yes. As elements (on the periodic table) amass more subatomic particles, they grow less stable, with the result that the heaviest elements, only seen in high energy physics labs, last for only small fractions of a second before disintegrating. However, physicists postulate that an “island of stability” may exist, if they manage to build elements heavy enough. Specifically, it may some day be possible to make flerovium-298, unbinilium-304, and unbihexium-310. As to whether or not these elements really might be used to create interstellar spacecraft, who the heck knows?

DLB: Do you have any advice for other indie pubs?

EH: As far as writing the novel goes, buy a book called “90 Days to Your Novel”. It is filled with good advice. As far as getting the novel published and then marketing it—I’ll have to get back to you on that. Try me again in a year…

DLB: What is your dream writing space?

EH: I would like to have an office, one with a locking door whose doorknob could support a “Do Not Disturb” sign. My desk would be very large and have half a dozen well-organized drawers. Nearby would be filing cabinets. The room would have a coffeepot, a small icebox, a microwave and an adjoining bathroom. If anyone knocked on my door while I was writing, I would scream “Get the fuck away from my goddamned door while I’m trying to fucking write, goddammit! Stupid motherfucker! How many fucking times do I gotta fucking tell you for Christ’s sake? Jesus!” In this dream, nobody would kick my door off its hinges and slap me in the face and scream in my ear and yank hunks of my hair out for talking to her like that. She would just say “Okay, sorry honey!” Also, I would never have to stop writing to clean up dog vomit and stuff like that, just because she said so.

DLB: Do you have any news or promo spots?

EH: Nope. But I’m fixing to make a bunch of stuff up.

Please buy this book. It’s 99 freaking cents on Kindle. Click on the image to purchase.

Where Madmen Rule