- Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?
Travel’s the thing I love to do most, and it’s what influences a great deal of what I write. I’ve been privileged to visit some of the world’s truly amazing places—the pyramids of Egypt, the ruins at Petra, Stonehenge and Machu Picchu and incredible cities in the jungles of Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. The more I see, the more I want to know about how these apparently primitive people could put a hundred-ton stone on top of a ninety-foot temple without using a wheel or any type of technology. The more of the world I visit, the more questions I have, and the more stories pop into my brain, waiting to be put on paper.
- How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.
My first book was published in 2009. I’m turning out three a year now, mostly in the archaeological mystery (think Indiana Jones) genre. I have one middle grade mystery called The Legend of Gunners Cove that was my second book. At the moment I’m working on book number ten, my first venture into YA/NA apocalyptic fiction. (see question 5 below for more about it)
- What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…
I read a lot of author blogs and have gotten great inspiration from people like authors Joanna Penn and Russell Blake, whose blogs for indie authors/new authors are extremely helpful. Sean Platt and Johnny Truant held a writer’s conference in Austin last year (Smarter Artist’s Summit). I came away with more ideas and information from that one than any other I’ve attended.
I’m always working on the next book! I’m doing something new this time. I’m writing The Outcasts, a YA/NA apocalyptic thriller about life after the Great War of 2042. Everything that went wrong started with … drum roll please … the American presidential election in 2016!
This book will be published as an e-book in three installments, the first of which will be out by mid-October, with the others following before year-end. Once the last episode is out, we’ll release the entire novel as a paperback and e-book.
- How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?
When I began all this I would work without an outline, and I found it took forever to get my thoughts together. I would write myself into corner after corner, wasting thousands of words that had to be deleted because the story line went nowhere. Someone smart noted that you wouldn’t take a trip without knowing where you were going. Same thing with writing.
I outline at least half the book up front but it continually changes as the story evolves while I’m writing. I rarely know the ending but it always comes together. Sometimes my characters go off on their own and do something I didn’t see coming. Those times usually make for a better story.
I work on one project (book) at a time. It would be hard for me to keep two plots going simultaneously. Working on just one is occasionally a challenge.
- What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
I love the English language and enjoy getting to use it every day in my writing. I also do a lot of research on my books to ensure the reader can feel that my story is interwoven with fact. If I write about a street in Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead festival, I want the reader who’s been there herself to know I actually saw it too.
As far as weaknesses go, I think procrastination—the curse of many writers—is a big one of mine. It’s easy to let things get in the way of writing, to let your mind wander until you’ve wasted an hour, or to glance at your iPhone or email account now and then. You have to have determination but if you live with anyone else—animals included—you have to have cooperation from them too. Author quiet time is critical. If you can’t get it at home, you have to go somewhere else to write. I’m lucky that I have a supportive wife who gives me space. My dogs—not so much. They sometimes bark their heads off at nothing. That’s just one of the perils of writing in a home office, but it’s one I’m willing to work around.
- After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?
For me writing’s the easy part and marketing’s the hard part. I’d much rather jump right in to the next novel than market the last one. I use social media, an ever-growing email list buoyed by CTAs in the back of all my books and I carry business cards with me everywhere. Anytime someone asks what I do I give them a card with a shot of one of my covers and a link. When I travel I carry books with me. I pass them out to airplane seatmates, I leave them in hotel lending libraries and I drop them off at used bookstores.
For my latest book Order of Succession, I am working with Smith Publicity, a firm with a track record of helping authors like me. It was my first try at using a professional firm for marketing and publicity and it’s going well.
- What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
Something I’ve heard has always intrigued me, and that’s the theory that everyone has a book inside them. I agree with that statement, although I also believe many people will never act on it, often for very good reasons. Some people can’t write—they just aren’t mentally structured to turn out a book, just like I couldn’t turn out a sculpture or a painting if my life depended on it. Other people won’t write—they think what they have to say won’t be interesting to others or they think they won’t be good at it. (My theory on that is, you don’t know what other people will think until you give them something of yours to read. And then if you get 4- and 5-star reviews, the feeling is incredibly satisfying!) And some people will procrastinate forever—there are not enough hours in the day or whatever other excuse keeps them from writing.
Thousands of writers juggle a busy schedule at home and work and still turn out great books. It’s all in what you set your mind to do. It’s your life, so go for it. If you think you’d like to write a book, who’s stopping you? It’s satisfying and fulfilling to do what you love, even if you have to squeeze it in an hour here or there in your crazy, hectic life.
Bill Thompson became a corporate entrepreneur early when at age 12, he started a company that bought and sold coins. By age 25 he had founded an insurance agency that became one of the largest in Oklahoma. Expanding and adding to that firm, Thompson created a financial services holding company that operated in several states plus Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and England. He later sold his interests and joined his son as an executive in a computer memory manufacturing and distribution company, which by 1995 had grown to be in the top ten nationally by sales.
When that company sold, he decided to pursue a lifelong passion—writing archaeological thrillers. His burning interest in ancient sites, mysteries of the past, unexplained things in the jungle and stories of adventure in remote places drove him to frequent trips around the world. He has visited numerous historically significant sites, including Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Avebury, Egypt, Petra and many ancient Olmec, Aztec and Maya cities in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.