I’d like to introduce you to the eighty-seventh interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. He is William Spradley.
Hi, William! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
My background is rather limited as a writer. I started writing less than two years ago. A friend suggested that since I remembered things in such detail, I should write about it. I have had no formal training, only a wealth of experience traveling around the globe as an Aerospace Engineer. I had many short time travels to foreign countries and lived in various places in Europe for over five years. My friend had also recommended finding a workshop and I located and joined Saturday Writers here in St. Peters. They have been a tremendous help. I also belong to a critique group called Coffee and Critique. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of joining those two groups. I am doubtful that I would have been published without the aid of those two groups.
Your debut book Interludes & Lunch, a collection of short stories, was published in May 2014 by PBL Limited. Can you tell us about the book? What inspired you to write it?
This book is a collection eclectic stories that vary widely in setting, subject and genre. My editor described it as ranging from quirky to tender, funny to touching, captivating to whimsical, sweet to outright sly. I think she was accurate. My inspirations are many. Each story has something experienced by me or a friend. They are set in places I have traveled to and involve people I know. My editor friend claims she can pick out what is fact and what is fiction, but I fool her quite often. Sometimes I wake in the morning with a song or phrase in my head and the story comes from there.
Are you working another book?
I have two novels in progress. One is set in the Maritime Alps of France and the other is the story of a sixteen year boy living on a cattle ranch in Western Nebraska. I continue to write short stories as they come to me. I have about ten short stories in the pipeline right now. I get a lot of prompts.
I’ve heard that your daughter did the artwork for the book’s cover? How did that come about?
My daughter is an extremely talented printmaker and painter. Her work is in galleries from Paris to San Francisco. When I asked her if she would like to do the cover art, she took it as a labor of love. This cover is a woodcut. I told her what was in the book and this is what she came up with. I think it is brilliant and many others do also. (There may be a bias there as I am her father after all). She has illustrated three other books. Her work on Kelli Allen’s poetry book, Otherwise Soft White Ash, received much acclaim. The book was nominated for a Pulitzer. She also illustrated a fishing almanac and also illustrated a native American children’s book in Canada. Her work is kind of edgy normally. It was perfect for my book.
I met you at a local writers’ workshop taught my bestselling romance author Leigh Michaels. I’ve heard that she is now your publisher. How did that come about?
This is kind of funny. As you know we were sitting at lunch and telling jokes and tons of innuendo was flying around as romance writers do. Someone mentioned the old movie Heaven Can Wait. Leigh said how about Purgatory Can Wait. I said I thought that woud make a good story, she challenged me to write it. I did, sent it to her, she asked if I had more like that, I said I did. She liked them and asked if she could publish them. I am a very lucky man.
You’ve done some book talks or signings? Do you have any planned for this year? Do you have any interesting experiences to share from those events?
I had my debut signing at the restaurant where we meet for Coffee and Critique. It was very successful. I Just finished a signing at Romcon in Denver. Yes, I was in with another one hundred romance writers. I know some guys who would give a years pay to be stuck in that position. Did I mention I am a very lucky guy? I am working on a couple of signings at local book stores and probably one library within the next two or three months. Romcon was a fantastic experience. I was able to read in front of a couple of NYT bestselling authors and they a fair amount of praise for the book. It was a big boost for me.
You have a knack for creating good story titles. Do you have a secret method? Any tips you’d like to share?
This is something that my writing friends shake their heads and wonder where I found some of my titles. Many times I will wake up in the morning with a song or a phrase going through my head. I usually start with a title then the story starts to flow from there. A contest winning story I wrote came to me in the morning. A song called Everybody Talks by the Neon Trees, was going through my head and in it is a phrase, ”It started with a whisper.” When I thought about that line, I envisioned a large convention hall where this woman leans over to the guy next her and whispers in his ear, “You want to get away?” The title became It Started with a Whisper. It ends up in the British Virgin Islands. Thee Bij Tante Josephine is a guitar instrumental by a Dutch guitarist, Harry Sacksione. Again I woke up with that song going through my head. Kind of bizarre, but typical of what’s in this book.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
You probably think I’m crazy but I love it all. I like writing, I like revising, I like reading it, I like going out and meeting people and selling them on my work. I wanted to write when I as in high school. In the process of becoming a rocket scientist, (my daughter claimed that’s what I was in a magazine interview once) I got sidetracked. I believe writing was what I was meant to do.
Do you have a writing routine, a special place where you go to do your writing, or a certain time of day? Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind of music?
I write in my office on an old desktop. My office looks like the absent minded professors office. Paper and books piled everywhere. I generally start writing at nine or ten in the evening. If things are flowing right, I will continue till I finish or run out of ideas. This may be four or five in the morning. I always listen to music while I write. I use Spotify on my computer. My musical tastes are as eclectic as my writing. I listen to everything from Outlaw Country to Mozart to Hawaiian Slack Key guitar to Flamenco. I don’t have a preference, but I do love the Gypsy Kings. I refuse to listen to Rap. I’m sorry but it’s not music to me.
Are there any writers or artists who inspire you?
When I was growing up it was Hemingway and Michener. I’ve read all of Ian Flemings work, Robert Ludlum, Forsyth, Follet, and I especially love John Irving, David Sedaris, and Dorthy Parker. I have have several writing friends who provide inspiration plus a few ladies I know. I like snarky women. Monet, VanGogh and Vermeer are my visual candy.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
My website is phantompherret.webs.com
I have four writing Facebook pages. Interludes and Lunch, William A. Spradley Author, Beyond Repair, and Prairie Dog Town.