Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release..
Welcome to the clubhouse tearoom, Gary.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in the tearoom chat.
My first question is what beverage would you like?
Diet Pepsi. I don’t like the taste of coffee, but I must have my daily dose of caffeine if I’m going to function properly.
Right, now we have our drinks I will start by asking you when you first began your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I write what I enjoy reading. I would never write a story that I personally wouldn’t want to read. I wouldn’t know where to start and I would probably become bored with the project before I finished. Having said that, I have always loved magic, dark fantasy and horror, and toss in a sprinkling of science fiction. As a child, I read pretty much everything written by Stephen King, Dean Koonts, and Robert McCammon. Of course, I was also a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels and the Xanth books by Piers Anthony.
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I am currently working on a few short stories for some upcoming anthologies, but my main writing project at the moment is my next novel. It is a dark fantasy tale about a police department responsible for providing security in a large cemetery. My working title for it is “Dead Town.” I have been thinking about the story and writing notes to myself for the past year or so, but I just started writing a few weeks back. If it turns out half decent, it may be the first of a longer series of books.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have about fifteen incomplete short stories and three novels that are partially written or in rough draft. The short stories I started but quickly realized they weren’t very good. I only kept them because I still like the original ideas and I may come back later and make another attempt at them. The novels are mostly notes, character sketches, and a few key chapters, and I plan to get to each of them at some point in the future. I have one novel that is a completed first draft, but it is currently sitting in a drawer. The title is “Testing Grounds.” I’ve set it aside temporarily since I like to let a little time pass between completing a novel and beginning revisions and edits. It lets me look at the story with fresh eyes.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter?
I don’t generally do synopses or outlines before writing a novel. I start with an overall idea in my head and make some written notes on key plot points and conflicts. (I know, that sounds an awful lot like a synopsis.) Next, I may write a couple chapters that I feel are critical character or story drivers. Finally, I sit down and complete character studies for each of my main characters (and a few of the lesser ones) until I feel like I have a handle on who these people are. The final step is sitting down and writing the story from beginning to end.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
My characters are frequently inspired by real people. I base characters on people I know that have specific behaviors or quirks that I have always thought made them unique and likeable. I hoped my personal feelings for the real people would carry over into the characters and readers would feel it. In my most recent novel, the heroine is based on a real person I knew years ago. The entire premise is from a comment she made to me that I never forgot. She told me she wished her life could be as exciting as the adventures in her favorite books.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I am a fourth degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate Do. I began practicing martial arts thirty years ago when I was in college, and more recently I even owned and ran my own dojo. I closed the studio a few years ago when my business partner and fellow sensei moved out of the state. I was sad to see it close, but it was a lot of work in addition to my fulltime job and it wasn’t something I wanted to do by myself.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
When I was working full time, writing only really happened sporadically. Weekends and late nights were the only free times I had, and a lot of that time was taken up with family and chores at home. It wasn’t really until 2016, when I retired, that writing became my primary focus. Now I get up around seven o’clock in the morning, walk for about an hour through the neighborhood to wake up and get some exercise, then do house and yard work until noon. In the afternoon, I sit at the computer and write until my wife gets home from work around 6.
Winter is my favorite time of year because it’s too cold to go outside, so I get more writing time.
How many hours in a day do you write?
While I admit there are days I play hooky and watch horror movies or go have lunch with friends instead of writing (I call this recharging my batteries), most weekdays I write four to six hours each day. During the winter (as I mentioned above) when I’m stuck inside all day, I may write six to eight hours, but typically that only happens when I’m deep into the first draft of a new novel or I have deadlines on several short stories I am trying to meet. Weekends, I try not to write much since I do still enjoy spending time with my family.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I publish under my middle name, “Allen,” but it is still my real name. I chose not to use my first name while I was still working as a police officer and I began publishing stories years ago. I didn’t want to cause any confusion between my professional life and my writing credits. Although I have taken elements of real events I have investigated and included them in my fiction writing, I didn’t want anyone reading one of my horror stories and thinking I was claiming that it really happened. I have never wanted to use a true pseudonym, however. I like seeing my real name in print.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I can write the first draft of a novel (100,000 words) in two months. Of course, this is typically after six months to a year of mulling the story over in my head and creating a complete plotline in addition to getting to know the various characterswell enough to where I feel I can comfortably write about them. After completing the first draft, I will typically do two to three rewrites, followed by final editing. This often takes an additional few months. Edits are followed by formatting and working with artists on cover design, which adds another couple months.
So, to answer this question, I guess the response is two months or two years, depending on the reader’s definition of “write a book.” My most recent novel, A Life of Adventure, available from Amazon at mybook.to/lifeofadventure
Readers can find out more about me and my publication history on my website: www.gallenwilbanks.com. You can also check out my blog at www.deepdarkthoughts.com, where I try to give a humorous spin to the weekly events in my life.
Thank you again for inviting me, Paula.
You’re very welcome, Gary. I hope you’ll come back again.
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops.