FQ: As an entrepreneur who developed several successful businesses...when, exactly did you have time to write?
LITWACK: The short answer is, I didn’t. Between building businesses and raising a family, I gave up writing for many years, until my two sons were grown and I had more time.
FQ: According to your bio, you wrote exactly five pages a day. I have to ask: How many do you get to write now? And, as in the past, are you a writer who makes sure to set a certain number of pages to complete each day?
LITWACK: In the early days, I needed the discipline of completing five pages. This was especially true when producing the Seekers trilogy, which was a daunting task. Now, I write when the ideas swirling in my brain compel me to—less frequently than before, but with better results.
FQ: Orah and Nathaniel are a fantastic duo. Where did the idea for this tale come from? Are the characters based on people in real life, perhaps?
LITWACK: I suspect all fiction has an element of real life experience, but for me the characters evolve with the story. I get to know them as one gets to know close friends over a period of years, constantly discovering something new about them. Many times, I attempted a plot turn, but Orah and Nathaniel resisted.
Both of these characters sprouted from a seed, planted during a long walk along Falmouth Heights beach near my home on Cape Cod. This path along the ocean passes two inlets: Little Pond and Great Pond. I imagined growing up in Little Pond with a sense that there was something greater out there waiting. My main characters are two sides of this feeling: Nathaniel is idealistic but impulsive, willing to take any risk to fulfill his adolescent vision of greatness; Orah wants just as much from life, but is more cautious. She approaches each challenge with careful planning, although she’s no less passionate than Nathaniel.
FQ: As a writer, how difficult was it to say so long to characters that have been with you for so long? Is there a time of depression that comes after the final edit has taken place and it’s off for publishing?
LITWACK: The parting was harder than I thought. I’d lived with these characters for more than four years, my mood rising and falling with their successes and failures. Like them, I struggled to find solutions to their seemingly insurmountable problems. The good news is that I can visit them anytime I wish and share memories.
FQ: So what is being planned for 2018? Do you already have a new series in mind, and, if so, can you give readers a sneak preview of what’s going on in that creative mind of yours?
LITWACK: I’m hoping to release a couple of books by the end of 2018. The first will be a new edition of one of my favorites, Along the Watchtower. Like many of my works, this one crosses genres, but more so than the others. It takes place half in the world of a wounded Iraq War vet rehabilitating in a VA hospital, and half in a fantasy realm concocted by his damaged mind, where he strives to overcome demons he’s unable to confront in the real world.
The second is a work-in-progress, and has been tough going, due to a variety of factors: needing a break after the four-year push to complete the Seekers trilogy; some family health issues; and a shift in the kind of novel I wanted to write.
I’ve completed fifty thousand words, but will require some effort to publish by the end of 2018. Like Along the Watchtower, this next novel is a mix of fantasy and reality, but in this story, the protagonist actually crosses into a fantasy realm, thanks to the power of magic.
Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, gave the classic definition of Science Fiction vs. Fantasy:
“It is said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things. Science fiction is the improbable made possible, and fantasy is the impossible made probable.”
My latest work moves further into fantasy than any of my others. In an increasingly chaotic world, sometimes even the possible seems too remote. Time to step through that door and use magic to make the impossible probable.
FQ: Is there a certain genre you have not yet written in which you would like to try one day? Is Sci-Fi/Dystopian your favorite realm?
LITWACK: I like to claim that I write literary speculative fiction, which lets me explore my major themes without the constraints of reality. In some cases, this requires an alternate or dystopian world. In others, it may be a alternate view of reality as seen through the eyes of my main character. With my next effort, I’m adding the dimension of magic.
The “literary” label tries to distinguish my works from pure genre fiction (scifi or fantasy). I always aspire to create strong characters, explore thoughtful themes, and tell a good story.
FQ: Considering all that you have done in life, was there ever a time when that “dream” of becoming a writer disappeared? If so, what encouragement/event allowed you to resuscitate that dream?
LITWACK: I wrote throughout my twenties and then stopped as career and family intervened. But truth be told, I also stopped because, as an insecure twenty-something, I needed some positive reinforcement. They say to become a good writer takes ten thousand hours and a million words. After several years, I was less than halfway there. My writing also suffered from some of the pretenses of youth, having not yet learned the most important skill of a writer—to tell a good story.
Of course, I wish I had all those years back to allow me to write more books, but I believe that the passage of time—with so many new experiences (good and bad)—was needed to get me to where I am today.
FQ: Authors are always asked to give a piece of advice to those who are just beginning down the writing path; something they should do that will help them on their journey. But if you could give one piece of advice on what not to do, or what to avoid, what would that be?
LITWACK: On the craft side, read, read, read, and write, write, write. There’s no shortcut and no substitute. On the emotional side, if you love it so deeply that you have no choice but to write, keep at it and never quit. If not, give it up. It’s not an easy path.
To learn more about The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3) please read the review.