Just recently I was asked to interview fellow author Mike Shackleford Holt. Mike & I share common interests which happen to be writing & of course our wonderful dogs!
How did you start writing?
When I was in my early 20’s I caught several TV shows about the under sea explorer Jacques Cousteau. I became fascinated with coral reefs and tropical marine fish; so much so that I got certified to dive, and made my first exotic adventure to the coral reefs in the Florida Keyes. I was absolutely ecstatic over having explored this “other world” and wanted to tell the whole world about it!
What authors do you enjoy reading?
Ellen March, Hilary Mantel, Ernest Hemmingway, Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove), Herman Wouk (The Winds of War), Choo Thomas (Heaven is so Real),
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Any of many personal experiences that transport me to another world – like a special wildlife refuge I used to visit close to my home; more recently in my travels. I’m fascinated with the mysteries of the natural world and the spirit world. Anything that fascinates me – I want to share with others. When Tasha (my Siberian husky) died, after having been “soul mates” for ten years, as sad as it was, I was fascinated with the concept that I just knew from the depths of my soul that she did not die – that she was still with me. That’s when I committed to write a book about Tasha.
Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
I do my best, or at least most writing within an hour or two after I wake up; either in the morning or after my evening siesta. If there’s bad news in the world, I don’t need to hear about it. I need no distractions or problems while trying to write.
Where’s your favourite place to write?
Always at my computer desk with pictures of and real animals all around me. My animals watch me write – I can see the wheels turning in their heads; creating a friendly/loving/peaceful atmosphere – which is what I need.
What was your ideal career when you were a child?
As a child my heros were the jet plane pilots. My eyes were not as sharp I found, as the military would have liked so then I dreamt of being a writer, actor, and photographer/film maker.
How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
By being well rested and obliterate any kind of negativity – no worries! However, I’m sure most writers write sleep deprived (including me) while we all-too-often swim in a sea of life’s problems. I too can write with lots of fatigue hanging over me, but only when I am building on a concept that I’ve already created. If I’m trying to compose a new direction for my writing, I need ideal conditions with no distractions – at least for a while.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
Once you have the broad topic and volume fairly well developed in your mind – write down an outline of where you want to go with all your subtopics
If you get writer’s block, how do you get around it?
I just take a nap – wake up to a new morning or evening, force myself to sit down and start writing! Usually that simple act is enough to start the thoughts unraveling and getting them in my computer. However, I also take many 5-10 minute breaks a day and many times in the middle of the night where I just walk around in my yard; thinking about what I want to say next.
Which author, would you love to meet and why?
Ernest Hemmingway: He was a true adventurer and brilliant writer – but ran from demons and fought them with heavy drinking. He lived in New Orleans, like so many gifted/creative artists. I want to know why, when he was so admired and successful, did he still have so many worries?
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes – I’d like to go back to the U.K. and follow the trail of Anne Boleyn. When I was there last year I stood before the throne of Queen Elizabeth Ist and felt that, for a moment in time I was back in 1500’s England. Later I recorded strange EVP’s of a woman talking at the Tower of London, who I believe to be Anne Boleyn. I feel the spirits of Elizabeth and (her mother) Anne Boleyn were trying to tell me something and constantly feel the need to return to the U.K. , which I will do. Since my story is contingent on my returning to the U.K. I haven’t quite conceived the middle and the end of my book yet. But I have plenty to do just reading and researching Tudor England. Another story I just recently conceived is that, in examining closely all the photographs that I took with my digital cameras, I’m seeing many orbs showing up– almost exclusively where there is great love and interacting with my animals. I think this is phenomenal and a great comfort to those of us whose animals have passed on because many these luminescent spheres of glowing light often appear in places known for rich history, paranormal activity, and with people who have lost loved ones.
How difficult was it to get your first novel published and how long did it take?
I think we all need miracles at times like this; getting our manuscripts so the right person at the right place and time. I just submitted my manuscript to about 20 publishers, after reading about them and going over what type of books the publisher specialized in. I submitted to the ones I had a “good feeling” about. I didn’t hear a word from any of them for about 2-3 months and was just about to start submitting again when out of the blue one afternoon I received an email from an acquisitions editor. She wrote that she enjoyed reading my manuscript and thought it was marketable; told me to call her. I then called, we really got along well and she offered me a contract. It didn’t take long for me to sign it, believe me. It’s a great feeling – like no other.
Thank you Mike I wish you every success with your book.
Mike can be found: