I Am A Writer (or, An Oral History of a Writer Trying His Best to Pretend He Isn’t)

I recently found a copy of (what I think was) the very first book I ever wrote. It is called “Hobo” and is a series of — well, two and half — short stories about a man named Hobo. He apparently had a home, because when he bought a dog it clearly states he went back to his house, so I guess he wasn’t really homeless. Still, he sure looked like a homeless person, because my younger self had drawn a title page (as well as accompanying pictures within), and we can plainly see that Hobo has ragged clothing, an unshaven face, and very messy hair. He even wore a rope belt too, a sure sign of true hobo-ness. I suppose he must have had some finances too, because he did buy that dog from the pet store (after he bought a mouse, which was after he’d been to the ear doctor and the butcher’s).

What is most unfortunate, is Hobo’s vacuous depth of character, and there really isn’t anything remotely close to a story arc presented in this volume. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it appears as though I was making the thing up as I went, and then it ends abruptly in the middle of the third story (entitled “Tumblefoot Tobby,” which is the name he gives his clumsy dog).

I’m not certain why my younger self was so fascinated by the idea of a book about a Hobo, but I guess we all have to start somewhere.

It’s funny how I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that I am a writer. Because when I think about it now, I’ve been writing my whole life.

After the single volume of Hobo, I can recall attempting to make my own comic books, a hobby I’d always been interested in as a kid. There was the “Beaker & Nosey” period, a series about a purple cat with a bird beak for a head (this was Beaker, if you couldn’t guess) and his goofy best bud who had a bird body with an elephant trunk for a head (Nosey, if you’re having trouble keeping track here). After this, we had the “Bean Tales” period, which was basically a blatant rip-off of the Smurfs, but with a village full of tiny, bouncing, brown kidney beans instead. The Beans probably went on far longer than they should have — I even drew them on my wall and designed my own Bean World RPG system. Upon exhausting the limits of bean-related jokey characters (I’m looking at you, Bumblebean), I did my own comical superhero series called “Mutant Force”. If it’s not apparent by now, I did not have much luck with the girls through high school.

As ridiculous and childish as these ideas all sound, there was a definite progression in my storytelling; not apparent to me at the time, but obvious now in retrospect. I was becoming far more serious about world-creating, and how I would tell my stories. Character development — though still a foreign concept in my mind — was slowly happening.

A few years later, I was juggling the creation of two different comic book series: “Captain Parka” and “The Breakfast Special Comes With Toast”. Very much inspired by Ben Edlund’s “The Tick,” Captain Parka was a goofy superhero adventure starring mild-mannered hot dog vendor Ernie Milkdud, who had been traded a magical parka by some Eskimos in exchange for a few smokies. Much darker in tone, Breakfast Special had cartoony characters and a catchy title, but was really masking a tale about a lonely guy trying to be not so lonely.

Still, I was discovering that drawing — which, at the time, was the one thing I thought I could do — was not enough to say what I wanted to say. I decided I wanted to write, but presumed one could not just sit down and write. Especially if one had no previous interest in writing. I was an artist, right? Not a writer. I would have to delve into something I was familiar with, wouldn’t I?

Because I was now working in the film industry, I decided to try my hand at screenwriting. I wrote a couple of pretty depressing dramas before arbitrarily deciding to write a gag-filled, highly-offensive teen comedy. I called this one “Two Bucks,” which was a ludicrous story about a highschool kid named Scott whose dad is murdered by the mob, but still with an outstanding debt of two dollars. Now Scott’s got a weekend to scrounge up two bucks and pay back the mob! No really, it was actually pretty funny.

I’d hit my first bout of writer’s block not long after this (though I wasn’t really stuck on something; I simply wasn’t writing), and I was looking for some kind of jump start. I came across an ad in the paper for a 3-day novel writing contest, which sounded absolutely preposterous but also maybe exactly what I needed. So I did it. I prepared myself by roughly outlining my story for a couple of weeks and then I stayed up for those three days just writing. I think I had a 4-to-6-hour nap in there somewhere, and maybe went for a walk at some point, but basically I consumed iced coffees and Twinkies at a regrettable rate and wrote for three days. “Barber Chair Prophets” turned into a pretty good little 60-page story. I don’t think I came anywhere close to winning the contest, but I rediscovered how to be proud of myself and my work.

And then came the point where I go and get another big idea in my head. This time it was: “Well, if I can write a novella, then I should try writing a novel!” Most — including myself — assumed I was naive and didn’t think it was within the realm of possibility, but after the right idea came to me in the form of a seagull diving off the rooftop of a Vancouver condo, I dove right in myself.

Molt

In the midst of writing “Molt” — the tale of a young ornithologist who was only ever comfortable resisting change — I was also working on pitching the idea for a cartoon series with a group of friends and co-workers. I would take the lead as head scriptwriter for “8 Guys in the Head,” which told the story of Heath, who was a bumbling college kid, unlucky with the ladies, mostly due to having eight tiny, pink brainy guys working in the spacious office of his cranium, each guy representing different personality traits and emotions. If it sounds familiar, that’s because Pixar released an eerily similar idea years later called “Inside Out”. We were in love with our concept — and had a handful of scripts penned — but pretty much scrapped it after that, and I focused again on my solitary endeavours: writing novels.

8 Guys Image

I completed Molt and immediately self-published it so I could have it on my shelf as another notch in my belt of completed — though ultimately, still unnoticed by the world — projects.

The Falling

But the novel-writing bug had officially bitten me now, and I was eager to start another. I jumped right into what I would call my ode to New York: a book called “The Falling”. This one was about four childhood friends who had grown up together in New York City, and it dealt with relationships, careers, dreams, love, and loss. I completed it in three years — while juggling a career change, going back to school, and having a baby — and it remains probably my favorite work to date. The Falling was sent out to literary agents, but after getting next to no interest, I was determined to not let it get me down. I jumped into writing a third novel: “This Never Happened,” a story about a young man trying to discover his place in the world. A young man who dreams about his life taking a much different path.

TNH COVER FINAL

With a renewed enthusiasm, and a much better grasp on how the publishing industry really works, I shopped the heck out of This Never Happened. And then I shopped it some more. There was a part of me that was beginning to think I was perhaps only pretending to be a writer. But I was old enough now to identify when I should move on (ergo, quit) and when I should keep going.

Pretending to be a writer meant I was always seeking ways to connect with someone who actually was a writer. When I discovered that an established Young Adult author lived in my own quaint little neighborhood, I made a connection. The first time I sat down with Darren Groth, he asked me, “So, you’re a writer?”

I said, “No, I’m not a writer. I’m this and I’m that, and I’m trying to get published, but I’m not a writer.”

“Yes you are,” he said. “You are a writer.”

It took me a while to understand what he was saying. In fact, it wasn’t too long after one of our chats that I discovered Endever Publishing Studios, and before I knew it, I had signed a publishing contract and was collaborating with other authors.

And now my first book is out in a matter of days. Upon reflection of all my previous artistic endeavors — all of those projects I’d created for very little notice or recognition — I’ve finally acknowledged it myself: I am a writer.

If only Hobo could see me now.

Podcast Interview

Last week, I sat down to record a podcast with Jaime from Endever Publishing Studios. We talked about the upcoming release of my novel, This Never Happened (March 30th), as well as story crafting and literary influences.

Go on, have a listen HERE!

And don’t forget to pick up your eBook copy of TNH on March 30th!

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A DEATHLY COMPROMISE, by Coral Rivera [2016]

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R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 8/10

Did you know Death – the queen of the afterlife – has been working in a Portland hospital for the last few decades, spiriting away the souls of the dying? Well, it’s true. But Death – or Dee, as she likes to be called – has been growing restless, stuck in a holding pattern just waiting for the next great disaster to strike and claim the lives of millions. Billions even, if she’s lucky. I mean, how much fun can it be going from hospital bed to hospital bed just sucking out the last bit of wind from the elderly? Answer: not much, as it turns out.

But when a couple of young patients begin to challenge her perception of what it really means to be alive, Dee finds herself questioning the way things are done. Have the Fates and the Book of Fortune really had her best interests in mind all this time? Death asks, What about MY feelings?

This is a wonderful book with emotion across the spectrum. In fact, the entire novel evokes an ethereal-like feeling, which suits it perfectly. Dee is a fantastic new character while still remaining a classic one at the same time. Rivera’s voice is a good one, and is a great new addition to the world of fun, contemporary, fantasy fiction.

A DEATHLY COMPROMISE is Endever Publishing Studio’s debut release. Look for many more great Endever titles and authors coming in 2017!

THESE GREAT AFFECTS, by Andrew Toy [2016]

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R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 7/10

Andrew Toy’s terrific YA read, with a magical-realism twist. Adelle meets Trill, who’s different from all the other boys she’s met. Different enough to fall for. But of course that’s when he’s got to go and break his neck and die. Ouch. That escalated quickly.

If it sounds like I’m giving too much away, I’m really not: this is when the story really starts for Adelle. You see, Trill makes a return in her life in the form of a ghost that only she can see/talk to.

Words are had. Feelings are re-examined. Lives (and afterlives) are questioned.
It’s a great novel for anyone who’s trying to fit in in this world, which is pretty much anyone. Don’t pretend. You know that’s you.

THESE GREAT AFFECTS is Endever Publishing Studio’s 2nd release, and they’ve got many more great authors lined up for 2017.

As a sweet bonus, the novel includes a separate story by yours truly. My own short work of fiction – LACUNA MISPLACED – can be found at the beginning. So now you really have no excuse to not pick up a copy today.

Just One Week!

One week to go before Endever Publishing’s literary debut! THESE GREAT AFFECTS by Andrew Toy is the first title to be released by the publishing studio, and as a bonus it includes a short story by yours truly, in my own literary debut. My story is called LACUNA MISPLACED and it explores the possibilities of a supernatural element being responsible for deciding whether relationships will end on either a sweet or sour note.
Pick up a copy of THESE GREAT AFFECTS on Amazon in one week on October 20th!

A Little About “The Underneath”

A little color for some of the main characters in The Underneath to whet your appetite…

Andrew & Sarabeth

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Endever Studios just released the third installment of the serial novel, “The Underneath.”

Take a moment to meet the characters who suddenly find themselves in an increasingly changing world.

All over the globe there is a disturbing siren that blasts through the air. It lasts for half an hour and ends with an earth-jolting shake, felt by everyone, everywhere. Suddenly the sun does not shine in places where the skies are clear, rain doesn’t fall from impregnated rain clouds. The wind ceases to blow, the temperature drops drastically.

Kyle Logan is newly divorced and trying to adjust to the single life. He loses his suit and tie, moves out of town, and buys a ranch house. A new start. But it’s difficult to start over when his ex-wife Stacey drops by for a visit. Some ghosts are hard to run from.

Dr. Edwin Remy: A young, accomplished professor who recently…

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The Underneath: Part 1

Endever Publishing Studios is a new publishing company with some bold and exciting new ideas for the industry. I’ll be posting more about them in the very near future.

For now though, I’ll share Part 1 of Endever’s new online serial, titled The Underneath.

Enjoy!

Endever Publishing Studios presents The Underneath Written by Coral Rivera and Andrew Toy

Source: The Underneath: Part 1