Everyone knows I don’t write for young adults (well, except for once, under a pseudonym), and I normally don’t read YA novels either. My preference is for mainstream mystery and suspense, and in recent years I’ve found my way to inspirational romantic suspense. But I never, hardly ever, read YA.
Then again, when I think back to the author interviews I’ve done, several have been with YA writers. When I like the people, and I like how they write, I read their books. Today’s guest is one of those people.
I’m not sure how I first came across Dave Ebright’s blog, but I remember finding his humorous post on getting a new computer just at the time I’d gone through the teeth-gnashing frustration of replacing all the electronics in two offices, thanks to a nasty power surge. He had me laughing, and I was hooked. That was back in January 2009. He had just released BAD LATITUDE, and before I could figure out why I was barking, “Ahoy, mate!” I was reading all about pirates, ghosts and teenage treasure hunters… and loving it.
Now he’s published the second book in the Jack Rackham Adventure series and I think it’s about time you met the Haunted City Writer himself. He’s every bit as interesting as the stories he writes.
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Dave (Pop) and grandson Jack on the real "Laffin' Gaff'"
CG: Welcome, Dave. I’m so pleased you agreed to this interview. You keep telling me you’re not a serious author, and yet RECKLESS ENDEAVOR is your second published novel. How do you explain that?
DE: Thanks for inviting me. This is my first-ever book-related interview and will no doubt drive your readers away in droves. It’ll take months for your blog to recover. Sorry.
Do I really have two books out now? Wow. I had no idea. To begin ‘splainin’… being an author never crossed my mind. I DO remember the very day I started this craziness. Something clicked and I discovered that writing was enjoyable and relaxing, so I kept working at it. What started as a short story for my grandson (Jack) turned into BAD LATITUDE. While BL was in the works, I had several spin-off ideas so I did a major rewrite to create a lead into the next book. The Rackham name did not, in fact, become part of the story until well after the first draft and rewrite was finished. One day I was thinkin’ what if Jack (my primary character) was the descendant of a real pirate? Rewrite. And now there are two books with a third underway – all part of the Jack Rackham Adventure series. How strange is that?
CG: What’s the story about? This is a sequel to BAD LATITUDE, isn’t it? Does it work as a stand-alone book, too, or ?
DE: RECKLESS is a sequel and it absolutely stands alone … and once again leads into another adventure. I could say it’s a ghost story, but that would be only partly true, though the ghost (Calico Jack Rackham – a pirate hanged in 1720) is a key character. The story follows the summertime high seas voyage of four sixteen-year-olds (one being a homeless girl) aboard an 82 foot schooner with special features, from St Augustine through the Bermuda Triangle and into the Bahamas in search of another lost treasure. It’s about family, friendship, loyalty and facing fears and challenges.
CG: In the first photo I saw of you on your old website, the one I’ve posted above, you resembled a biker guy in your sleeveless t-shirt, bandana, and tattoos. Somehow I didn’t picture you as a writer of Young Adult novels. What prompted you to choose this genre?
DE: Hah! I hear that biker guy stuff all the time and I don’t even ride. YA sorta chose me. For years I coached teenagers. Deb and I were always surrounded by kids, including our two boys and their friends, and our house was always a very busy place. (This is where Nan and Pop received their training?) I guess, to a degree, it’s an example of ‘write what you know’ and I do know kids.
CG: How long did it take you to write RECKLESS ENDEAVOR compared to your previous novel?
DE: Getting the draft down didn’t take long at all – but the work was interrupted by a lot of business related travel. I’d hoped to have RECKLESS out in late 2009 but it ended up taking two years.
CG: With your home in St Augustine, your company’s office in Jacksonville, and a more-than-year-long work project in Ft Lauderdale, you must spend a lot of time on the road. How do you fit in writing time, and how much marketing have you been able to do?
DE: I’ve been out of town (thankfully, Deb travels with me) since October 2008 with the exception of a few consecutive months at the end of ’09. I usually grab chunks of writing time late at night – starting at 9PM and going non-stop ‘til 4AM a couple of times a week. As for marketing… what is that exactly?
CG: Do you have support in your writing… a mentor, critique group, etc.?
DE: I wish.
Dave with what he calls his "book signing for kids" face
CG: What’s your writing process like? Do you plot and outline first, or do you dive in and let your characters take charge?
DE: On RECKLESS I did some outlining to keep timelines straight. It seemed helpful, so with my current WIP I’ve created a pretty thorough outline – minus the ending. I never write any part of the ending ‘til the end.
CG: Where do you do most of your writing? Have you built that nautical themed writing outbuilding yet?
DE: The outbuilding will have to wait. I do have a very comfortable writing room at home in St Augustine, which now gets minimal use – it does have a tropical theme. In Ft Lauderdale I have a smallish antique desk in a bedroom – which works out okay. Both houses have screened-in porches, perfect writing spots when it’s not too hot.
CG: Every writer has a story about the publication process. What led you to self publish and how has the experience been for you?
DE: Self-publishing was the right path for me, and I have no regrets. Keep in mind, I was 50 years old (it was July 19th, 2007) when I started writing, already had and still have a successful business career, and had no aspirations to be the next Mark Twain, though that would be cool – except for the part where they take away the house to turn it into a museum. With self-publishing I liked the idea of controlling content, cover, title, etc. I really had no motivation to go through the query/rejection process. Had I started writing when I was younger, maybe I would have approached it differently. So nowadays, kids and adults(!) are reading my books and asking when the next Jack Rackham Adventure will be available.
The Dave I know best
CG: Looking back, is there anything about the process that you wish you’d known before you started writing?
DE: They say ignorance is bliss. Then you get into that whole old dog/new tricks debate… besides, I don’t know anything now.
CG: Where can people buy copies of RECKLESS ENDEAVOR and BAD LATITUDE?
DE: Amazon.com or several fantastic shops in St Augustine and (now) Key West. It’s spreading … like a disease. Hint: It’s only $2.99 on Kindle.
CG: What’s next? Do you have other stories in the works?
DE: Yep. There’s another Jack Rackham Adventure underway – the title is still up in the air. And… (picture the biker guy again?)… I’m working on a book for little kids called “Spanky and the Speckled Butterbean.” I’ve teamed up with an awesome artist from Atlanta for the illustrations.
CG: Anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to take the opportunity to mention? Like what is it with those lizards in your pool?
DE: Hey, I had no idea lizards couldn’t swim when I swatted that poor fella off the screen. It was just bad luck that he landed in the pool. I’ll never forget the look of pure terror on his poor reptilian face as he sank below the waves… I mean surface. (*sniff*)
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Dave Ebright lives in St Augustine, Florida where he creates the characters and stories for the action packed Jack Rackham Adventure series.
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