Today we’re chatting with Douglas Wickard, the author of the acclaimed thriller A Perfect Husband;
An abandoned cabin… a diabolical killer…a hidden cemetery… a deadly secret is about to be uncovered.
Far from the neon blur of Manhattan – the dizzy buzz of restaurants, theater openings and one too many cocktails – located seventy-two miles outside the City in the sleepy, rural township of Montague, New Jersey, Sami Saxton is looking to rebuild her life. A rebirth, one might call it. And, she intends to do this spiritual resurrection in a small, abandoned fishing cabin, built over forty years ago by her deceased father.
Not quite abandoned…
A lethal serial killer has taken up residence in the basement of Sami’s remote cottage, using her father’s carpenter table for a hobby much more sinister than woodcutting.
Sequestered deep within forty-two acres of tall pine trees, bristling brooks and fresh water lakes, Sami Saxton is about to fight for her life.
The hard truth… nobody will ever hear her scream!
Jim: Sounds like an irresistible story, doesn’t it? Douglas, will you tell us a little about yourself?
Douglas: Born in Ohio, I have lived most of my life in NYC or Los Angeles, except for a brief, cold spell in Chicago. I have worked in the hospitality industry all my Life except for three years I worked at UCLA as a medical technologist, which I loathed. Nothing worse than shaking test tubes in basements with no windows.
Jim: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Douglas: Read. Work. Write.
Jim: Do you have a day job?
Douglas: As mentioned earlier, yes, I work full-time in the hospitality industry.
Jim: When did you start writing, and when did you finish your first book?
Douglas: I started writing at age 12 and I finished my first novel in 1998.
Jim: From where do the ideas for your stories come?
Douglas: My crazy imagination. And, newspapers. I picked up an amazing idea from a story in the Times a few months back. I immediately started churning plots back-in-forth in my mind. A title came immediately also, which doesn’t always make it to print. My agent is very good with marketing and knows which titles will work and not work.
Jim: Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Douglas: Never. I don’t believe in it. I experience procrastination, something worse.
Jim: Do you outline or write “by the seat of your pants”?
Douglas: I fly by the seat of my pants. By page 100, I have a relationship with my characters and they tell me where to go. I listen and take dictation. What comes out is magic!! I know it’s hard to believe, but some of my greatest plot points have been them… NOT ME!
Jim: What author or book influenced you most in your writing?
Douglas: There was a period in NYC when I was trying to find my voice. Like most writers, I assume, I tried to write like those authors that I felt connected to: James Baldwin was a writer that I fell in love with. His novel ANOTHER COUNTRY is one of my favorite books ever. The ability for this author to write such raw depictions of the human spirit was so visceral, so ‘in the cut’ of life, I tried imitating him. But, my early work just read like an imitation of James Baldwin, not Douglas Wickard. Voice is everything. Confidence in one’s voice is the key. It unlocks all the choices.
Jim: What challenges did you face in getting your book published?
Douglas: The usual. Rejection. A PERFECT HUSBAND actually happened rather quickly. My agent submitted to major houses and I didn’t hear anything… then about 4 months later, he emailed me saying he found a home. I was ecstatic!
Jim: If you had to go back and do it again, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published you’d do differently?
Douglas: No. I have enjoyed every aspect of this journey. I am looking forward to the next book, and the next, and the next…I plan to take this new career all the way!
Jim: How do you market your work? What works best for you?
Douglas: Market? I came into this whole marketing thing AFTER my book was published. I realized my small publishing house didn’t have the platform large publishers have, so in order to get my book out there, I would need to get myself out there. I hired an amazing web designer (XUNI.com) to do my webpage, I became a Twitter powerhouse and I use Facebook. I also write a blog that has won many awards for its honesty and poignancy!
Jim: What was your favorite part of this story to write?
Douglas: Sounds weird, but all of it. I particularly liked the ending. It was an early morning, I was downstairs writing and all of a sudden, I realized the event that would change everything in the book, in Sami’s life. I was in shock. I couldn’t type the pages fast enough. I couldn’t keep up with my character, Sami, she was so focused, so real to me. I get chills thinking about it.
Jim: Do your characters lead you on merry chases, creating new plots or do you have to pull it out of them?
Douglas: Nope, I completely trust my characters. I trust my ability to describe what they give me.
Jim: What’s the most amusing thing that happened during the writing of this book?
Douglas: It was after I finished. I was working in NYC as a consultant for a restaurant firm and I rekindled my relationship with somebody I was best friends with for 10 years before I moved back to Los Angeles. We spent many nights together again, which was wonderful. As a Christmas gift, she surprised me by editing the book, which was HUGE. She was a major editor back in the day in NYC. I came back from a weekend in Ohio and we went to have dinner at Brio, the restaurant I wrote about. We were at her brownstone, (yes, the one on 62nd Street) and she surprised me by telling me she had edited the novel. And, she LOVED it! She said, ‘this one’s gonna do it for you, Douglas.’ I was over the moon!
Jim: Why this story? What was your inspiration?
Douglas: I had lived many years in NYC. I had lived in the cabin in Montague. I often thought about using it as the location for a novel. And, I wanted to create a strong, female character. The idea was originally for Patricia to write.
Jim: Tell us about your writing environment. Is it messy or neat? Is there a cat on the desk or a dog at your feet? Do you use pen and paper, laptop?
Douglas: I have a very clean, organized desk. It only gets messy when I’m researching and taking tons of notes. I write very early and I have a light which I call my ‘writer’s light.’ When it’s on, like it is now, I am writing. When it’s off, I don’t. I use a laptop. I type very fast.
Jim: What about your process? Do you produce consistent daily or weekly word counts or do the words rush out all at once and leave you with a dry spell?
Douglas: When on a commitment, I write daily, a chapter a day. If it’s a small chapter I stop. I never go to the next chapter. I never edit while writing. I go to the end.
Jim: What project are you working on now?
Douglas: The sequel to A PERFECT HUSBAND. A PERFECT SETUP!
Jim: What was the toughest criticism you received as an author? What was the best compliment?
Douglas: I am humbled by my reviews. I’ve had people not like my book and choose not to review. That’s fine. I’ve had other’s compare me to bestselling authors. By putting my work out there, I am allowing people to review it. That is why creativity takes courage… and thick skin.
Jim: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Douglas: I’ve said this before… GO TO THE END. Don’t edit yourself while writing. Don’t worry about all the punctuation, misspellings, sentences that don’t make sense. What you want is that creative pull that comes from allowing the mind to open and expand, not shut down and judge.
Jim: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Douglas: Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Jim: Where can we find you on the web?
Douglas: My author’s page is http://douglaswickardbooks.com
Douglas: You can find my book anywhere E-books are sold.
Douglas: Thank you for having me.
Thank you for visiting with us today, Douglas. We wish you great success with your book!
- Review: A Perfect Husband by Douglas Wickard (brwesterberg.wordpress.com)
- Author’s Roundtable: Douglas Wickard (jbournesblog.wordpress.com)
Great interview, Douglas! Good luck with the book and your future works!
Very nice interview! I’ve got “The Perfect Husband” on my TBR list. I’m glad I’m not the only one who writes by the seat of their pants! ;o)
Very nice interview, I can relate to his writing technique of letting his characters decide which direction to go in 🙂 Mine do that too, even though I fight them at times – their ideas usually work out best 🙂
I’m with the both of you, Susan. I’ve learned that they know best how the story should go. Thanks for stopping by!
So enjoyed the interview and getting to know more about you, Mr. Picard. And, am looking forward to The Perfect SetUp–knowing it will be just as good as The Perfect Husband! Thank you both.
Douglas, getting to know you in this interview is a real treat. I remember seeing you on Twitter at about 1:00 a.m. one morning when I was about to keel into my computer monitor from fatigue. Somehow it was comforting to know I wasn’t the only one out there. You would have no way of knowing this of course, but I’ve cited you as an example of how to promote on Twitter. THE PERFECT HUSBAND. I haven’t got around to grabbing it yet, but it’s on my TBR list. So nice to meet you here. Thanks for being such an inspiration.
Thanks for the great interview! It’s always inspiring to read other authors’ journeys, and to learn from them. Some parts–the rejection–we have to go through, but it makes the successes even sweeter. And it’s always great to have a friend you can trust your story with in the early stage.
Sami sounds like my kind of alpha female!