Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Trent McDonald, @trentpmcd
Hello everyone! This week I’m happy to introduce Author and Poet, Trent McDonald. Trent is a regular participant in my weekly poetry challenge. I love how many authors write poetry too! Check out his poems HERE.
I asked him to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.
First, please meet my guest, Trent McDonald:
I never decided what I wanted to do when I grew up. I compose and play music, draw and paint, take a lot of pictures, and yes, I write. I’ve written a couple of books that are sitting on my shelf waiting to go out and I write a new short story almost every week, which I often post on my blog, trentsworldblog.wordpress.com. I’ve collected some of the best short stories I’ve written and put them out as “Seasons of Imagination”.Trent McDonald ~ Amazon Author Page
I also like to eat, so I work as a computer nerd during the day while I figure out what it is I really want to do.
If you really need details, I was born and raised in Ohio by the shore of beautiful Lake Erie and now split my time between mountainous New Hampshire and the coast of Massachusetts.
One thing to know about me is that I hate to write bio-blurbs in the third person.
Hi, Colleen. Thanks for inviting me to your blog.
I always say the easiest way to get to know an author is for readers to connect with them on their blogs and read their fiction. So, have you ever written a character based on the real you in some part?
Yes, all of the time, particularly in my longer fiction. I believe I do have the skills necessary to write from a point of view totally foreign to my own, which I do all of the time in my short and middle length fiction, but I still like to base at least part of the main character on myself when writing a novel length work.
For one thing, I like the idea of the hero being a nerdy, introverted guy instead of the usual alpha male. Don’t worry, these nerdy “heroes” are often athletic and active without being athletes, but that is me as well.
For instance, in The Halley Branch I have the main character, Trevor, running at about my pace and participating in similar outdoor pursuits, like hiking in the mountains and kayaking. There is another reason I use at least some of my characteristics when creating my main characters on myself, one that some people might consider cheating a bit: I find that basing the character at least partially on me makes it easier to create a three dimensional person on the fly.
On the fly? From this I’m thinking that you write at a rapid pace. Do you begin with a plot written out in detail or do you prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I have done a bit of plotting in my day, but I am closer to what is known as a “panster,” that is, I like to write by the seat of my pants and have the story tell itself.
Most of my longer works were written “on the spur of the moment,” that is, I didn’t plan to write a book or longish novella (20,000 – 40,000 words), they just happened.
For instance, the two fantasy novellas I recently published together were written from beginning to end following weekly prompts. After I wrote the first chapter to a prompt, I received so much feedback to continue that I just kept going, having no idea where they were going until the next prompt.
Other times the stories are there in my head and I just write them out like dictation. The Halley Branch is an example of a story being created in my subconscious. I wrote a chapter as a standalone story and then wrote one chapter a day for a month to complete the rough draft. The interesting thing with The Halley Branch is that I had a lot of detail in that first chapter that ended up foreshadowing what occurred later. I don’t know if I could have panned it better if I had tried. Of course, the first chapter was created while in a different state of consciousness…
I know you would never promote drug use, so I have to ask, have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
Yes, you got the hint after reading my blog posts. I had an odd dream about crypts and ghosts. There were “whites” and people of color in the crypt, yet a feeling that they were all one family. The entire dream was so strange that I had to write it down. Of course, I did more than write it down, I embellished it a little and created a story. The story was just so incomplete that I had to continue. As I said, I ended up writing the entire book in 30 days.
O.K. Going back to the idea of letting the story run or plotting, when I was a little over half way through the book, I sat down for forty five minutes and came up with a rough plot to finish the book. That bit of plotting did help so I could neatly tie up all of the loose threads. This was also one of the few times that I wrote it out on paper, in this case mostly writing down a list of chapter headings that I would use.
“More typical for me is that I will take a long walk and plot it out in my head. Later, when I write it all out, I will use the outline that I created in my mind.”Trent McDonald
Back to the dream, I still find it odd how many details it had that showed up, almost by accident, later on in the book. I wrote about this dream a few times. My blog page on The Halley Branch has links to two of them as well as much more about the story (https://trentsworldblog.wordpress.com/books/the-halley-branch/).
One thing you may see while reading some of the posts is that I originally posted the book, one chapter at a time, on my blog, putting each chapter up within a half of an hour from when I complete them. I used the same drawing for all of the posts to make sure people could tell when a new Halley Branch post was up. It provided a constancy.
How interesting. Were you able to use that same drawing for promotion? You know, since people were familiar with it? In fact, I was wondering if you’ve ever designed your own book covers?
It was a pencil drawing and a bit rough, but I spent a lot of time in Photoshop and came up with a good cover, so, yes, I did design my own cover using that drawing.
In fact, three of my five books use covers that I created. I do really like the two covers Belinda Borrradaile created for me, but there is something satisfying about having your own artwork grace the cover of your book.
Embers was simple, just a photograph that fit the title and idea of the short stories contained in the book. My cover of the two fantasy novellas was the most satisfying. I received a lot of comments on it.
It is also interesting how well it matches the cover of Seasons of Imagination, the first cover that Belinda did for me.
But, back to your question… I think that creating my own covers is another way that I put myself into the story. A bit of my personality rubs off on the book itself, not just the main character.
Going full circle, that is part of what it is about for my writing. Half of it is that I am a storyteller with all of these tales inside waiting to escape. The other half is that when the stories finally do escape, they contain a lot of me in them, pouring forth from my subconscious straight onto the page. OK, I’ll be boring and call this “self-expression”.
That’s it in a nutshell: the main storytelling part, the part before all of the hard work of editing begins, is just that, plain, straightforward self-expression. And that little cherry on top, the cover, is the final detail of that self-expression.
Thanks so much for stopping by Trent. I know everyone is thrilled to learn more about you and your writing.
Thanks, Colleen. I had fun. Thanks for the opportunity.
Where Can You Find Trent McDonald?
Trent’s BLOG: https://trentsworldblog.wordpress.com/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Trent-P.-McDonald/e/B01NCYQA3G
Thanks for stopping by to meet