Thanks for inviting me to visit your blog. I’m delighted to have the chance to share my writing world with your readers. I write three different series. The Mahu Investigations are police procedurals set in Honolulu; the golden retriever mysteries are cozies set in the Philadelphia suburbs. I’ve also written stand-alone mysteries and romances, as well as a young adult novel, Soul Kiss.
www.goldenretrievermysteries.com : my cozy dog-oriented mysteries
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would my writing space look like?
(Neil) I do most of my writing at my local Starbucks. The coffee is great and the staff is friendly, and no one interrupts me to find lost household objects or walk dogs. I can shut out almost everything except really juicy gossip and focus on my work in progress.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Where would I live?
(Neil) A warm climate, for sure. I moved to South Florida almost thirty years ago, after growing up in Pennsylvania and working in New York, and I haven’t missed the cold weather at all.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I see out my window?
(Neil) I live in a community of zero-lot line townhomes, which means that my neighbors can’t see into my courtyard, and I can’t see into theirs. When I look out the window I can see just a corner of the lake behind the house across the street. A partial water view!
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What things would inspire me?
(Neil) I love observing the world, and I often use my phone to record voice memos – funny bumper stickers, odd-looking characters, details of a particular building.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I do when taking a break from writing?
(Neil) Brody and Griffin, my two golden retrievers, keep me busy! They require a lot of attention, from grooming with a special “furminator” to belly rubs, cookies and behind-the-ear scratches.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I be doing lots of research?
(Neil) It’s amazing to realize all the things I don’t know when I go to write about them. In order to write convincingly, you have to get the details correct. For example, did you know there are no squirrels in Hawaii?
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I have any critters that keep me company while writing?
(Neil) Brody and Griffin are often sprawled on the wood floor beside my desk. Outside, we’ve got lizards, frogs, raccoons, opossums, squirrels and big orange crabs but I don’t let any of them in while I’m writing.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, If I took a drive in the area I live, what might I see?
(Neil) If you were to head due east about a half mile, you’d come to Hollywood Beach, a very funky low-rise section of the coast with small 1950s motels and a paved broadwalk for strolling or riding bikes. “Se habla espanol” and “Ici on parle Francais” signs dot the landscape, and at least half the cars have license plates from Quebec or Ontario.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write for myself or my readers?
(Neil) I think any writer has to write for himself first—I write because there’s a story in my head and I want to know how it comes out. I want to know who those people are and why they do what they do. And I hope that I write the story well enough, in an engaging enough way, that readers will enjoy reading it.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I often visit the library?
(Neil) You bet! I’m lucky that there’s a branch of our county library on the college campus where I teach, so it’s just a quick stroll over there to scan the shelves of new books, bring my students in for library orientations, or chat with the librarians about research and teaching. I can’t seem to walk out of that place without at least a couple of books on my arm!
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write longhand, on a laptop, tablet, etc.
(Neil) My parents sent me to typing class during the summer after sixth grade, so I’m a demon at the keyboard. When I was in college I worked as a temp and could type 90 words a minute. Sometimes when I’m at Starbucks people will ask me how I can type so fast!
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I belong to any writing groups, if so, why?
(Neil) I belong to Mystery Writers of America, and have served the chapter for years, as a board member, vice president, and then president. I relish the chance to meet with other people who love books as much as I do, and I always learn something from our guest speakers and our annual mystery writers’ conference, Sleuthfest. I also participate in a critique group with four other terrific authors and my writing is so much better because of their advice and input.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I love doing book signings, personal appearances, etc.?
(Neil) As a college professor, I’m pretty much able to get up in front of a group and talk on a moment’s notice. My partner might say that’s because I’m a ham. But I truly love talking about reading, writing and publishing and I enjoy talking to others who love literature as much as I do.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also read a lot, if so, how do I fit that into my schedule and why is it important to me?
(Neil) I can’t imagine not reading. I read cereal boxes and bumper stickers and I always have at least one book with me. When I was a kid I used to trail around behind my parents in stores with a book in my hand.