What book should everybody read at least once?
In their lifetime everyone should read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I have a hard time with books written in a language other than English since I don’t really understand what’s going on.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
I hope that my obituary will convey that I was known for caring about people, living generously, and that I left behind a legacy of children and grandchildren who are known for the same. And that I drank a lot of coffee, but it didn’t kill me.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I was born in Los Angeles, California, but moved to Eugene, Oregon when my parents remarried. I remember moving to this huge old house that could have been the best haunted house at Halloween, complete with a creepy attic. It had a hundred year old oak tree in the front yard that was almost as big as the house. I currently live near Seattle and am proud to have lived on the west coast my whole life and in the Northwest for the last 20+ years. I’m sure the rain, as well as the laid back culture, has influenced my writing significantly.
How did you develop your writing?
I’ve heard so many stories about writers who wrote 5 or even 10 books before they started releasing them to the public, let alone publishing them. I fell in love with the world and characters in Evan Burl and the Falling and couldn’t bear the thought of using them as a stepping stone in my writing development so I took a different path. I still wrote 5-10 books before releasing it to the public, I just wrote the same book 5-10 times. I’ve literally rewritten Evan Burl from scratch at least 10 times and have done over 50 passes with editing over 3+ years and thousands of hours. The number of books I’ve consumed on writing and the time I’ve spent with mentors and beta readers has to far surpass what I would have spent earning a degree in writing.
Do you plan to publish more books?
Absolutely! I’m already working hard on the sequel to Evan Burl as well as generating ideas for a middle grade book that I’m very excited about. In addition, I’m planning to release my first illustrated book for children that I’m working on with a friend, Benji Todd called Isfits.
What else do you do to make money, other than write?
I own a film production company in Seattle. We try to help our clients raise money for great causes or sell great products by telling stories through film. You can check out some of our work at inkliss.com. I’m also a blogger and founder at i4j.org, which is a leadership platform for pastors and Christian leaders and a blogger at justinblaney.com. And finally, I’m the creator of a world called isfits, which is a purveyor of dreams for children.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
I’ve had so many jobs, it’s hard to remember them all, mostly as an entrepreneur. I’ve worked as an electrician, plumber, videographer, photographer, fabricator, welder, contractor, developer, graphic designer, web designer, framer, illustrator, backhoe operator, copywriter, buyer, gardener, blogger, engineer, architect, delivery man, marketer, purchasing consultant, project manager, ebay reseller, programmer, web startup founder, musician, manager, paper boy. Plus I’ve sold a lot of things like vacuum cleaners, radios, appliances, advertising, paper towels, buffing pads, pork, beef, sausage, bacon, fine art, frames, home audio installations, manufactured products, websites, my own photography, clean room equipment and supplies, car parts, and used cars.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
I’m actually in school right now. I’m studying at the University of Maryland. I’m working on a Doctoral degree in Management and my dissertation topic is on building social capital and networking.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I love where I live. It’s a little town called Issaquah that is about 20 minutes from Seattle. Yes, the weather isn’t amazing in the winter, but at least it’s mild and the summers are unbeatable. But the best part about the Seattle area is the beauty of the mountains, the trees and the water. Plus, when the weather is bad, we can always fly south to get our vitamin D.
If you could do any job in the world what would you do?
Exactly what I’m doing. I get to travel, be with my family all the time, work from anywhere in the world. Plus, I get paid to make up stories. Hard to beat that.
When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have.
I don’t think I will end my career. I think my career will end me. Really, retirement isn’t in my future. I’ll probably be writing, teaching, sharing, learning, doing some new project until my last breath.