Friday, 16 May 2014

Getting to know ... Alan Hutcheson

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
Defy seems a bit harsh, but I can’t deny its accuracy. Let’s just say I don’t have the marketing savvy to zero in on a genre and then follow that formula. When asked, I generally describe my first novel, Boomerang, as a Comic Novel of International Intrigue and Jazz. The Baer Boys, which has just been released as an ebook, is a Character Driven Novel With a Flawed But Likable Main Character (Male) which some readers have likened to the works of Nick Hornby. But then again, another very well read early reader told me it reminded her of Anne Tyler. I have read most of Mr. Hornby’s novels, but only recently, long after The Baer Boys had taken shape. And Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is the only Anne Tyler work I have read. That was years ago.

What made you choose that genre?
Here’s my marketing savvy again. I don’t choose genres, I choose characters. From those characters I get stories.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Way, way too long. Boomerang literally took fifteen years if you include the time I spent rewriting it after it made it to the “agent stage” but failed to get a publisher under the title “Close Enough for Government Work”. The Baer Boys started out as a comic murder mystery with a theatre teacher as the reluctant amateur sleuth. After reaching the short list for the first annual YouWriteOn book of the year contest, but ultimately falling short, I asked one of the finals judges what I could do better. He told me that I was not a genre writer, my characters were too well developed and my overall style or voice, if you will, was better suited to Novels with an upper case N. It took me close to nine years of bouncing back and forth, resisting and then following his advice, writing reams of stuff that never made it into the final product, before I felt I had a book worth releasing.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Whenever I can. My day job has an extraordinarily erratic schedule. Some days I’m in at four or five o’clock in the morning. Some days I start at 3 PM or even 8 PM. Plus, I’m a husband and father, and those roles are important to me. So I squeeze my writing into lunch breaks, those slivers of time on days off when my domestic duties are complete, and a couple of times I have scheduled a week of vacation simply so I can have Days to Write.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Characters are the first thing that come to me and they are conglomerations of people I know or have known, real and fictional characters I have read about, and myself. There is at least a bit of me in every character in both books, and they both have a pretty large cast.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
My first book was a collection of short stories that I wrote when I was in seventh grade. So that would make me twelve years old. The stories were all excruciatingly derivative of things like The Mad Scientists Club and The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald with a bit of Twenty-One Balloons and The Hobbit thrown into the mix.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to read. Big surprise there. And although I’m not a fan of the word “avid”, I think that describes my relationship with photography. Cooking is fun. Gardening is something I enjoy but am not terribly successful at. And both my wife and I love to travel, visit museums and go to concerts. To completely decompress I play guitar.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could do it. I didn’t start writing with any intention to publish until I was in my late thirties. It began as a challenge, something to stimulate the grey cells that would involve something I was already passionate about.

How many books have you written?
I’m guessing we don’t want to include the seventh grade short story collection. So the answer is two. Boomerang and The Baer Boys.

Which is your favourite and why?
That’s like asking who I love more, my son or my daughter.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Let’s see. Architect. Car designer. Rock and roll musician. Late night talk show host. Actor. That one lasted all the way into college.

What are you working on now?
I am about 18,000 words into a book featuring the main characters from Boomerang and also making notes for a follow up to The Baer Boys that would more prominently feature the character of Art Baer, the father.

We will dispense with the third person nonsense one usually finds in bios of this sort. Born in Michigan and transplanted to Arizona early in life, I have been avoiding skin cancer and gila monsters for decades and still am grateful not to be shovelling snow. By way of a day job I have been littering up the retail industry for longer than either retail industry or myself would care to admit. When not persuading innocents to part with their hard earned funds in order to obtain a shiny object or two, I read, play guitar, play with my dog Max, go on hikes with family and friends, and on occasion I have been known to pretend to be moderately knowledgeable in the subtleties of wine. When I retire from the day job I will be infesting whatever local theatre company that will have me.

I would love for you to drop by and say hello at any or all of these spots.   otherwise known as Sketches by Plumboz   Where you can find a bit of my photography

Critique Service for Writers

Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

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