Three Questions for... Robert Hays

My Three Questions series with fellow Vanilla Heart Publishing authors continues with Robert Hays, a former journalist and professor who lives in Illinois. He is the author of the novels Circles in the Water, The Life and Death of Lizzie Morris and, most recently, Blood on the Roses. Find out more about Robert at this link.

Do you have a writing routine or ritual?
Actually, I have no writing routine. I began my professional life as a newspaper reporter, and had to be able to write under virtually any circumstances. Newsrooms typically are noisy and hectic places where people come and go, telephones ring, and presses rumble in the background. Reporters rarely finish a story without interruption—an editor checking on something, a source with information, someone calling to offer positive or negative comments on a story from yesterday’s paper. The reporter has stories that must be written and deadlines that must be met and can’t wait for favorable circumstances. My earlier books were all non-fiction, written while I was still teaching. Working on a non-fiction manuscript usually involves alternate periods of research and writing, so that a pattern may not develop. Now that I’m retired and writing fiction, I merely sit down and write as the mood strikes. I can write any time, anywhere, and under almost any circumstances.  

Do you use an outline or just begin with an idea and write toward a conclusion?
I use a mental outline. Knowing the story before I begin writing, I write a beginning and an end, then fill the space between with added setting, character and plot detail to lead me where I need to go. There are times when I have to revise my thinking a bit—a character or setting doesn’t work the way I expect it to—but in none of my four novels have I found it necessary to stray far from my original mental outline. With beginning and end virtually set in stone, there still is room for creative detail to help tell the story.

Whats are you working on right now?
I’m writing non-fiction again. Many years ago I was privileged to collaborate with Oscar Koch, a retired Army general, on a book about military intelligence. Koch was head of intelligence for General George S. Patton Jr. throughout World War II and is widely acknowledged for his brilliant work. Still, no one has attempted to write his biography. He was a marvelous man, polite, studious, gentle in manner, always considerate. My wife and I both loved him dearly. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly after we began work on the book, G-2: Intelligence for Patton, and did not live to see it published. It was published in 1971 and is still in print. I’m writing an “Oscar Koch, as I knew him” type personal memoir. He was my hero and I will sing his song.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great interview! Robert, I'm envious of your ability to write anytime, anywhere. If only I had that ability!
Melinda
Melinda, you have young children. It's all you can do to remember who is where and when.
Another wonderful interview, Collin.
Robert comes across as this gentle, mellow guy with a creative mind. I look forward to his next book and will join him in song. Thanks.
Sun Singer said…
Those noisy news rooms are good training grouns.

Malcolm
Smoky said…
I'm glad you're working on Oscar's story. I remember you talking about doing that long ago, when we first met. I wish you well with it, Robert.

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