19 Oct 2012

Author Interview: Howard Shapiro

Author Website - www.howardshapiro.net

Author Goodreads Page - Click here

If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Wow, there are so many... its difficult to come up with just one. But if I had to choose just one it would be Neil Gaiman. His work is a huge influence and I wouldn't have done a graphic novel had it not been for his work.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
Well, I work as the ller for a visual effects studio in Pittsburgh, PA named Animal Inc. so I am there from 9 AM to 7 PM each day and after getting home, helping work and other things around the house I usually get to write starting around midnight and I'll go until around 3:00 AM. I might have a nap in there and then get up and write as well. So, its trying to squeeze it in as best as I can. On weekends I'll try to get in a few hours also.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Basically, just making the time to do it. I wish I could start at 9 or 10 and then write till the middle of the afternoon and then come back to it maybe at night but it doesn't
work that way for me. Still, I think my writing has a certain urgency because I am trying to slot it in mostly in the middle of the night or at the end of the night!

When and why did you first start writing?
When I was a young child I usedto love the Encyclopedia Brown books and comic books also. Mostly Spiderman and Batman, and I would buy them when they came out each month along with packs of baseball or hockey cards from thi variety store near my house, named Ted's Dairy. We had a typewriter back then and I used to try and write my own Encyclopedia Brown books... not too successfully but it was fun and I got the dream then to one day have one of my books published. I wanted to be a sportswriter as I grew up and then I gave that up but writing was always something I enjoyed. I tried my hand at songwriting in high school and then stopped writing completely after college. I picked it up again after watching the movie "Reality Bites" because I hated that movie and thought that I could write a better story then that. After reading about the ease of self publishing I decided to try my hand at that with a kids book, 2005's "Hanukkah Counts Too!" and I haven't stopped since!

How did you come up with the idea for the your book?
The ideas come from many places... usually they come from something that is happening in my life, something that happened in the past or what I observe others going through. I have an idea about the ending and what I want to say, and then fill in the beginning and middle from there. I have lots of influences from music, TV and movies... music and songs are usually a great catalyst because in songwriting you have these big ideas that you have to condense into lines and when you write a book you have the chance to expand on those big ideas and so music and songwriting are a huge influence on my writing and I generate a ton of ideas from sngs that I hear or that I loved when I was younger.
Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I am a big reader although I don't have as much time as I would like to read! I take my kids to the public library once or twice a month and I will grab four or five graphic novels or comics collections and read one or two of them before they are due back. I pretty much read just those two genres, graphic novels and comic collections.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
There are so many things to pass along but the main one is to believe in yourself and your work. This isn't to say that it is perfect, you have to accept constructive criticism and listen to what other say about your work, but you must have an undying belief in the concept and execution of your writing. You also have to aim to be the best, you may not be or write like JD Salinger, but you should try and make your work as good as his. I know that I fail in that regard, but I still aim to make my work as great as I can get it to be. You also have to have a rubber stomach and a very thick skin... you won't last long or you will lose interest or your heart won't be in it if you can't take criticism and rejection. But the one thing I always come back to when I giev presenttations at schools is to truly believe in yourself and your writing... that is the most important trait, to me, to have as a writer.