Every now and again, people sneak up on you. They might startle you a bit or intrigue you when you notice them. Or, in the case of Neal Abbott's new book Bloodhound, Oscar Morgan was a real person...a distant relative who...well, I'll let him tell you the story.
How long have you been writing, Neal?
I’ve had stories in my head since middle school, but I started writing seriously about the turn of the millennium. It started with a short story called “Trio” about three philosophers who drove each other nuts. A later wrote a short (a long short story) about World War I called “Valour.” A friend of mine said it had enough to make a novel. That gave me the courage to start a novel, even though I didn’t start for a couple of years.
What challenges you most as a writer?
Myself. I approach each project as a specific challenge. I pick something specific I want to develop and try to focus on that with each novel. It could deal with plot or character development. For example, my next novel, Entanglement, my main character is not at all heroic. He is pretty close to a villain. And while I think I can do a pretty good bad guy, having a protagonist who is not a good guy is difficult. That’s one of my projects for my upcoming.
Do you write in a specific genre or cross genres?
I write literary fiction, which I really do not consider a genre but more like a super-genre. Another example might be pop-lit. I think these are two different ways of approaching literature and composition. But literary fiction can still be mainstream or historical, speculative or magical realism, even sci-fi or fantasy.
Who (or what) inspires you to write?
This may sound bizarre, but my best story ideas come from my dreams. I also like to layer my stories to one degree or another intertextually over other works.
Tell us about your newest book.
Bloodhound is about a Depression-era lawman in Oklahoma. Oscar Morgan is the city marshal of Blanchard, a small town a bit south of Oklahoma City. He not only has to hunt down criminals, but he has to deal with a judge and a mayor just a criminal as the thieves and bootleggers he has to arrest.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
I love New Orleans. If there was any place I would move to just because I wanted to live there, it would be New Orleans. I’ve been there many times. I even lived in Morgan City, Louisiana for years, which is about an hour from the Big Easy. The music, the food, the culture is unique and wonderful.
Give us a list of some of your favorite authors and books.
I really like the Lost Generation writers, such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. I really like the Neo-Classical writers of Europe, like Goethe, Schiller, and Beaumarchais. Of course, the British greats like Milton, Chaucer, and Shakespeare are among my favorites. But I think I love Russian writers most of all, men like Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Pasternak, Gogol, and Pushkin. I can read them every day. To pick one book from each of those groups, I’d say I like most of all Fitzgerald’sThe Great Gatsby, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Schiller’s Don Carlos, and Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.
What advice would you give to a young writer just starting out?
I can think of two things. First of all, learn the craft of writing. You cannot take too many creative writing classes. I’ve had between half a dozen and ten. Second of all, read the classics. You may prefer a certain genre, but read the classics because they are considered the classics for a reason. You will never write better than you read, and if you read the best writing you give yourself the most room to grow.
Is writing your full time gig? Or do you do something else to pay the bills? If so, what's your day job?
I write full-time. It keeps me off the streets.
Have you always wanted to be a writer or was that a dream that developed over time?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since forever, but that dream got derailed. When I was a sophomore in high school we had to write a short story for an assignment. I was excited to do this project. I got a D, and I was sad. I stayed after class and asked my teacher why she graded it so low. She didn’t want to go over it, and eventually said I need to move on because this assignment is over and there are other coming up. She said I don’t have to worry about writing short stories ever again, and I told her that I wanted to be a writer when I grow up. She said, “You have no business wanting to be a writer of any kind.” This made me even more sad and I gave up on writing. After school I went into a career that I had for twenty-five years. During the last several years of this I started writing, and eventually got out of that old line of work and decided to write full-time.
Was there a particular book that gave you a love for the written word?
I remember reading Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms and Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov in middle school. Those two definitely turned me into a book worm.
Are you the only writer in your family or do you come from a long line of writers?
I’m the only one, even though my mom has written a few short stories.
What are the links to your Facebook, Twitter, etc. so that readers can follow your writing journey and learn more about your upcoming books?
Here are a few links to my social media pages:
Facebook Author Page
Amazon Author Page
Creative Writing Blog “A Word Fitly Spoken”
Do you have a favorite quote? Please share.
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Ernest Hemingway
And there you have it folks....how a distant relative's life became the seed of a story to be told....