An Interview with Author Hanson Oak

Sam:

I’m so excited to chat with you because you’ve got so many things going on. You’ve published short stories with the Kyanite Press, appeared in both the “special” issues (Halloween 2018 and the Fables and Fairy Tales Digest), and you’re also in the social science fiction theme issue coming out May/June 2019.

You’ve got a new podcast, short stories and novels you’re shopping around, and you’re a very active member of the Twitter writing community. And that’s all right now, not factoring in your storied past which includes copywriting and work on commercials and all sorts of things.

Let’s get started. You just started a new podcast, the “Deadwood Interviews.” Your first interview was with B.K. Bass, one of my partners at Kyanite Publishing. You have several more authors and some other types of creators scheduled for interviews. How are you picking them? Is there an open submissions process people can follow?

Hanson:

I choose people I find interesting and want to talk with. In most cases, an author or musician will interview multiple places before releasing a project and almost every interview will sound the same to the point where all parties involved come across as bored and uninterested. I’m trying to change that, to spotlight their personalities outside predictable questions, to feel like you’re hanging out in the room with us, not listening to an interview. Some of the guests that are booked are people I have a relationship with in some way that I want to know more deeply, others I’ve never spoken to before (Right up until the start of the show) but am intrigued to get to know.

If a writer/artist/musician is interested in being a part of the show they can email me at Deadwoodinterviews@gmail.com and introduce themselves and their work to me. No one is more surprised than me at the amount of people already showing interest in being a guest, so please be patient if you reach out that it might take some time to get a response, but I promise you will get one.

Sam:

Why did you decide to spend time building a podcast? Is it feeding another part of you creatively?

Hanson:

The podcast came to me one day after listening to a band being interviewed on the radio. The band was bored. The interviewer was bored. I was bored. I knew every question that would be asked, “Tell us about your tour/album/single/concert coming up.”

You could hear the answers were stale, just another stop on the PR tour, nothing exciting. I didn’t get any deeper understanding of the music or the people who made it. Author interviews are even more painful. I decided I would try to do better. My success remains to be seen, but from the feedback I’ve received so far, I think I’m headed in the right direction.

Sam:

You post short stories that fit into a single tweet daily (or close to?) on Twitter. Do you have plans for those, or are they just for fun?

Hanson:

They’re mostly just for fun, a bit of mental stretching in the mornings before I start the day, but a few have given me ideas for shorts, some for longer works, or even a new subplot to be added into a current piece. It has also proven to be the best way to interact with the writing community and build friendships with some, which is an unexpected, but welcomed side effect.

Sam:

Another thing you’ve been doing is “Duel with Oak” which is like a little contest between you and another writer. How often does this happen? How do you pick your prey? What would you say to people who say writing isn’t about competition?

Hanson:

Duel with Oak was created just for fun, a way to engage writers I was meeting and writing twitter in a new way. To create an interactive event people could connect with. It happens once or twice a month, whenever I have the time for it or people ask about it enough. To find a challenger I’ll create a twitter poll and let them be voted in. The only condition is that they have to follow me (This is more because a lot of writers are closed to Dm’s). I choose a newer writer with fewer followers and an established name on Twitter and popular writer. At this point, I always pull for the newer writer to help get them more exposure. So many great talents go unnoticed and I want to share the ones I find with as many people as possible.

As for if writing is a competition or not, this is a friendly event, as much about building up the writer involved as it is about the shit talking that takes place during the course of the event (that might actually be the best part in some cases) I don’t view this as some cutthroat contest that attacks anyone and to this point not a single person has asked not to be a part of it. Quite the opposite actually, many writers have taken to taunting me so I pick them.

Sam:

You were blogging non-fiction for a while on your website and you stopped after December. Not enough time? I really enjoyed your last post.

Hanson:

Yes, free time is at an all-time low for me these days, so it’s harder to justify doing something that doesn’t move my current fiction work forward and, to be honest, something I don’t like doing. I began blogging because I was “supposed to” and it was something you “needed to have”, so after years of being hounded by certain people, some of whom have very successful blogs themselves, I gave it a shot. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading them but I did not enjoy writing them. The common advice to writers is that, to be successful, you need certain elements. A website, all social media, blogs, newsletter, etc. It’s exhausting. I hate blogging, I hate creating newsletters, I hate most social media, and most of all, who has the time to do it all? The blog has been retired.

I decided that I would find what works for me and what doesn’t, find my own way. So far, so good.

Sam:

That is fantastic advice for any new writer or small business: you can find your own way, your own voice, and really cultivate your connection with people in ways that you enjoy and you’ll still find you’re building a platform.

I also noticed on your website that you talk about pulp-fiction and releasing some of those in the future. Any of that influence coming through in the projections you’re currently working on?

Hanson:

Some of the ideas I have for stories border on ridiculous, with monsters and aliens, in line with the old monster movies and pulp fiction writings of the past. I felt that when I explore these stories, they should have a hard separation from my more “serious” tales. I’m not currently working on any, only a few notes and ideas, but I’m looking forward to getting a little campy.

Sam:  

I see a lot of horror in your short story tweets, but I know you like to cross genres. Tell me about what part(s) of the writing process, regardless of genre, hold your interest and feed your creativity the most. For example, I’m most inspired by the characters, no matter the setting or plot.

Hanson:

For me, Character is absolutely the cornerstone of any story. If you or the reader has no connection with the character then who cares? Then, when I care about the MC of the story, I want to see what it will take to break that character. How much can I torment them with, how much suffering (emotional or otherwise) can they endure. Creatively this is a driver for me, to think of darker and darker corners to lead the characters into and see if and how they make it out. As a 1st draft “pantser” I am as surprised as anyone at what my characters do.

As for being placed in a genre, I’ve sewn my horror badge to all my clothes and wear it with honor. I write other types of stories (sci-fi, general fiction) but horror will always be my home base. I feel the two greatest motivators for a person (real and fictional) are love and fear, these are also things that build the strongest connections (between characters and between the reader and the book) so these are the stories that mean the most to me.

Sam:

Speaking of horror, are there any horror tropes you don’t like?

Hanson:

I think splitting up for any reason when danger is afoot. No one would do that.

Sam:

Good call.

Hanson:

It never makes sense.

Sam:

It really doesn’t.

You have several titles in various stages that you list on the Writing Room section of your website. What’s your strategy? Are you going to self-publish any? How do you pick which agents or presses you query?

Hanson:

Strategy? Like a plan? Nothin’ doin’, sister. I’m a pantser through and through. It comes down to whatever project is yelling the loudest for my attention that decides what I work on. I usually take on one longer form project and two shorter at once, that way if the ideas are coming slow (or not at all) on one I will simply move to the next. That’s how I dodge writer’s block.

I do have plans to self-publish some projects, but only the ones I see with limited commercial viability that I still want to offer to anyone who might find interest. Everything listed on the site will (hopefully) be traditionally published in one place or another, where ever I feel it would find the best home or the strongest voice to represent it.

Sam:

You have a day job and a family and somehow balance your writing and creative pursuits. This is common for writers/creators, but I’m interested in the struggle. Do you think it feeds your creativity and gives you a sense of perspective to have so much in your life? When it gets hard, what do you do?

Hanson:

I do have a day job, one that luckily fulfills my other passions and interest (science/building) but still takes up 9+ hours a day. In this way I’m fortunate, many people work jobs they hate waiting for the day they can quit. On top of this I also have two feral young boys (as all boys should be, though it is exhausting), so my writing time is either very early in the morning or late at night after they’re in bed.

Many days I’m exhausted, fighting for every word. Other days, not a word makes it on the page. I rely on weekend nights for the longer streaks of writing, some days I can hide at work and get a few thousand words in (don’t tell anyone). It is not easy to find the balance, the creative monster that exists in all writers is selfish, he wants to be released when he wants it, not caring what you have going on in your life. If he doesn’t have his way, he begins to make you miserable, more and more, until you’re unbearable to those around you. You need that release.

Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive wife who can’t bring herself to read a word I write (she can’t stomach horror) that makes time for me to write, be it forcing me at night or taking the kids out for a day or weekend so I can really make a dent in what I’m working on. If you want it, you’ll find the time. There are a million excuses on why you can’t get it done, but every word is progress and a step closer to the end. Having that first draft completed makes every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears worth it.

Sam:

I agree. What about before the first draft? If you died tomorrow, would you want your wife to release what you’ve written so far?

Hanson:

No. It wouldn’t be finished. I’d haunt her. I can see it now, my wife telling some paranormal investigator that the ghost keeps bitching something about it only being the second draft, and not being ready for prime time yet.

Sam:

I love it. I’d haunt my husband, too if he did that. Are any of your characters based on real people? You don’t have to say which ones.

Hanson:

I’m sure all the characters are based on real people to some extent, but only as far as subconscious experiences are concerned. I never set out to base a character directly on anyone. I have been informed that I am being featured (by name) in no fewer than two novels being released soon, and find myself featured in tweets from time to time by other writers. I find this endlessly amusing, even if I’m being killed in some terrible way. Maybe even more amused by it in those cases.

Sam:

Is there anything you’ve written you’re embarrassed of? If so, is it still out there or hidden away?

Hanson:

When I wrote professionally, there were a lot of, commercials, infomercials, and scripts that I hang my head in shame about to this day. When you write for a check, commission pieces especially, you find yourself whoring out for what the customer wants and feel a bit dirty in the morning. I’m not so much embarrassed at the quality of the writing, but the content on the pages. This is the world of most professional writers. It’s very rare that you can make a living writing just one thing (novels) and most writers have to find work wherever it is (web copy, editing, advertising copy, etc) to make ends meet.

Sam:

Here’s one I just love asking because I love weather. It’s a hobby of mine, and I think people’s favorite weather says a lot about them. What’s your favorite weather? What do you like to do in it?

Hanson:

40 degrees, snow on the ground, a glowing fireplace. This is perfection. After a long walk in the woods with my family, I sit down to write into the night, watching the shadows on the landscape change outside the window. A heavy pour of whiskey is the punctuation to that perfect evening.

-END-

Links:

Hanson’s Website:
https://hansonoak.com/

Hanson’s Podcast:

Hanson Twitter:

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