Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview with Andrew Schultz, author of Saints and Heroes

Saints and Heroes Title: Saints and Heroes
Author: Andrew Schultz
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 244
Genre: Action Adventure
Format: Ebook/Paperback
 Purchase at AMAZON

 This book is about hope, despair and faith. It follows Anselm from his boyhood on the rugged Isle of Iona through a course of study at Glastonbury and ultimately through his long association with King Malcolm Caenmore, a ruthless despot who begins a 300 year dynasty of a united Scotland.

Do you listen to music while writing?  If so, what do you listen to?

Yes, when I’m writing about 13th century events that would contain music, I often listen to music I suspect would have been playing.  For example during battle scenes I would play crusader music, in cloisters, monasteries, cathedrals and churches, I would obviously include religious music including women who are able to bring their voices into holy places, and at the King’s court, troubadours would be performing chivalric, popular and newsworthy tunes.  On the other hand, I find I get lost in the music, so these are relatively rare times when I write and listen at the same time.

Do you have any suggestions for upcoming writers?

Learn to write well.  Start with sentences.  Learn how to make them artfully.  Learn how to make them dance, and bounce with rhythm and syncopation.  Learn to write them with emotion, with poetry and with action.  Kill your passive sentences and the verbs to be and to have.  At the same time, make sure your sentences are easy for the reader.  Watch your word choice.  Don’t show off with big words.

After you’ve mastered sentences, learn how to make paragraphs work.  Craft paragraphs logically.  Use your beautiful sentences carefully.  Perhaps limit yourself to one artfully composed metaphor, or one long sentence full of descriptive wonder per paragraph and use the rest of the conventional but well crafted sentences to support that initial statement.

Most importantly, you must start with a story.  I’ve wanted to be a writer for all of my life, but I didn’t have a story until after I’d had some experiences.  In school I read and read. Conrad and Melville went to the sea.  Hemingway went to war, but Schultz stayed home in Nebraska.  Cervantes spent time in a Moorish prison but Andy did little jail time.  I didn’t really live until after high school—I had few adventures, hadn’t been anywhere or done anything.  So I made stuff up.  Really bad stuff and as I wrote, I couldn’t finish these masterworks because I was so impatient about the physical act of writing with pencil and pad.

Buddha supposedly said, “When the student is ready, the teacher arrives.”  So it was for me when I found a beautiful, extraordinarily wise English professor who for some reason found merit in the unrefined sludge I turned in for work in her class.  I learned how to accept criticism—I misspelled maneuver in a paper I turned in and she wrote, “manure makes no sense contextually here, but critically it works!”  I made her laugh!  A conquest! (avoid using exclamation points—they’re signs of inbreeding!)

I learned to sculpt with my prose manure and was soon writing, still sophomorically, but with perhaps a bit more sophistication too—and my writing improved technically as well.   After living in the world for a bit, I had some story fodder.  Navy tales, university stories, but perhaps the best advice I ever received occurred one day in the US Congress.  I was a graduate student with a group lobbying for an educational bill in the early 80s. A Thai graduate student and I were roaming the corridors and an elevator opened and Senator Ted Kennedy and Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil stepped out.  We greeted and chatted them up a bit and shyly told our stories and ambitions.  Having oiled their oratory chops at some capitol hill shindig, Speaker O’Neil began regaling us with some tales from his past.
When I asked him if he’d acquired his Irish gift of the gab by kissing the Blarney stone, he said no, that his first campaign was a disaster because he couldn’t relax and tell a decent story.  His campaign manager, told him to take a month off, write up a story from his childhood, learn to tell it, backwards, forwards and inside out.  That’s just what Tip did.  He learned his story so well he could say it in his sleep.  As he repeated it, over and over, he found his authentic voice and with that authentic voice he won that first election.  Tip said he still used that same story, and he could use it to crush ugly legislation, or to gain support from his opponents or to make mother’s weep.  Then he winked and said he’d acquired a few more stories too.
And that’s what you’ve got to do to be a writer—find your authentic voice, know your story inside and out, and make your readers laugh or weep.

What is it you like to do when you are not reading/writing?

I like woodworking and metalworking.  I build wacky stuff that seldom works just right.  I love my grandchildren.  I swim.  I love to travel.  Not much socially, pretty much a flop at parties.  Love to cook.  Movies and Netflix.  My current border collie, Allie, and I go pretty much everywhere together.

Is there an author/.authors that have inspired you?

Oh yeah.  John Steinbeck, Leon Uris, Ursula Le Guin, John Le Carre, Walter Mosley, Arthur Hailey, Eudora Welty, Bernard Cornwell, Michael Chabon, Harper Lee, Aldous Huxley, and many, many other fine writers have set the standards high for me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A forest ranger or a writer.

How would you/would you react to a bad review of your book.

I’d curl up and die for a few hours and then, if warranted, thank them for reading my book and offering authentic criticism.  Finally I’d put that criticism in a box in my head for reexamination much later.



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 Andrew Schultz Teacher, professor and writer, Andrew Schultz lives in Lincoln, Nebraska where he works with wood, walks his dog Seanie and ponders small questions.

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