Today we are joined by author Randy Dutton one of the great “Mountain Guides” from the Writers 750 Group.
1. What does your writing process look like?
Usually I’m doing a non-writing activity when a story idea hits. Before it vaporizes, I write down the basics in a general outline then let it ferment. If the idea keeps pestering me, I find a block of time and flush it out, often focusing on a captivating opening and ending. Once satisfied, I write a rough draft and keep editing it until I’m satisfied. Then I pass it to my wife to ‘red ink’ it so I can fix all my mistakes.
2. Do you have any strange writing habits?
I’m not very quirky, though I frequently bounce between writing and reading science news reports as they cross my desk. To any other person it would appear unfocused, to me it’s normal.
3. What book does Randy Dutton wish he could have written?
Jurassic Park, mostly because as a kid, I loved dinosaurs.
4. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsyth, Steven Pressfield, and, most importantly, Gail Dutton (my journalist wife).
5. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood/England/Australian adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Maggie Lawson could play Anna Picard – femme fatale in The Carbon Series.
David Boreanaz could play Pete Heyward – Anna’s partner and husband.
6. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are very important and should reflect their historic ties. They don’t have to be complex or weird, just resonate with the readers’ expectations. Sometimes I’ll identify a meaning first, then find a name that matches it. For example, I named a Rottweiler, given by Pete to Anna, Talos, which is the giant Zeus gave to his lover Europa as a protector. I liked the name so much that months later I got my wife a Rottweiler and named it Talos.
7. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
In the writing area, completing both novels.
8. I recently read LinkedIn Love, I found it a fascinating take on the old days of people meeting on AOL chat rooms. What was you inspiration for that story?
I really enjoy writing stories on the Writers750 contest site, and found that many contributors were incredibly friendly and supportive. On occasion, some bickering would erupt but others would weigh in and calm the misunderstandings. In some ways, the social media site creates faster resolutions than the physical world. But late last spring, I suddenly found myself blocked from posting on every LinkedIn group I belonged. I spent weeks trying to find out who had gotten me blocked, and LinkedIn would only tell me that someone had complained but they wouldn’t tell me who, why, or even on what site. I presume it complaint was from a promoter of biofuel on a technical website. Frustrated, I incorporated some of LinkedIn’s arcane rules into a storyline that showed how vengeance could be wrought against the innocent. And…I’ve got a sequel planned.
9. I would like to thank you for your military service, and ask how much of who you now are as a writer and global citizen was forged during your service years?
The military had more of an effect than many of those who know me realize. I’ve always questioned policies that don’t make sense, and the military gave me a ‘target rich’ environment. The military empowered me early on with considerable authority and responsibility. I found I thrived on it, but also my skepticism and audacity, got me in trouble because I put commonsense above protocol. I frequently challenged the status quo and it didn’t matter whether the defender was an admiral or the head of a union. Fortunately, I was very successful in changing major programs to become profitable, less wasteful, and more honest. That said, the unit of which I was going to become its commanding officer vanished two weeks after I ‘corrected’ a 2-star admiral in a briefing. There’s hardly anything I wouldn’t do again in those 25 years.
10. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Don’t just write what you know about, write what excites you.
11. If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?
Hmm. What’s left? Beyond the military career, I’ve own a management consulting company; been a supervisor at the Port of Long Beach; been hired to head the City of Long Beach PD Crime Analysis Division then asked to leave 2 weeks later because I ‘asked too many questions’; been an inventor and patent holder; been VP of a high tech company; and currently have 124 acres of timbered rainforest and 4 cows.
12. Are you a plotter or a pantster? (Write by the seat of your pants)
Both. I sketch out some ideas and then see where it takes me. Sometimes my characters take over.
13. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes. But I’ve got a thick skin. There’s only been one review that really frustrated me and that’s when a reviewer wrote about an event, ‘that can’t happen’ when I know very well it does.
14. What is your best marketing tip?
My best marketing advice is for the writer to ask someone other than me. I’m terrible at marketing.
15. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Do you include marketing in that? Yep. Thought so.
16. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I’ll probably never write erotica. Some things are better left to the imagination.
17. How has living in this new Global world where we can communicate across oceans instantly, changed how you perceive those in other countries? Do you feel this has helped or hindered your growth as a writer and as a citizen of your own country?
I’ve been in over 30 countries, and lived 2 years each in Italy and Canada, so my perceptions are pretty broad. I also watch and read a lot of foreign news / science. I think the Internet has kept my international perspective up-to-date.
18.Are there any scenes or scenarios, that Randy Dutton would rather avoid in his writing?
I avoid the racial and religious conflicts more because I’ve got too many other issues that interest me more.
19. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior?
The Carbon Cross is my second book, and the sequel to The Carbon Trap. I’ve got a plethora of book and short story ideas.
20. What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I actually started writing The Carbon Crash (book 3) before the other two. It’s a post-apocalyptic book that describes a scenario that no one has put in print yet, but which is technologically quite feasible.
The following are some Crazy Questions That No One Ever Asks Authors, yet it seems my readers find these the most interesting!
1. What has been Randy Dutton’s biggest disappointment in life?
Getting injured in an accident, which caused me to resign active duty and eventually forced me into the Reserves, and not realizing for decades that the VA had misdiagnosed the injuries.
2.How has all the time you invest in others (IE: Writers 750, and the various linkedIn groups to which you are a constant contributor) Helped or hindered you in your own writing journey.
It’s definitely helped. That my wife is a frequent contributor makes it even more enjoyable.
3. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Ability to cure any injury or illness.
4. If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?
‘John Smith’ and wearing jeans and tee. Why? Because I would want to remain incognito.
5. What secret talents do you have?
I’m pretty good at identify root problems and coming up with unique solutions.
6. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
I want to travel the fiords of Chile.
Fjords of Chile
7.If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?
Zookeeper. That way I could escape.
8. What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
To see The Carbon Series made into a movie.
Thank you Randy Dutton for your time today. I am sure my readers have enjoyed this as much as I have.
Click here for the hard hitting interview with Anna from the Carbon Series!