Mr. Powers was a man of mystery until this interview. We’d known each other for some time, crossed paths on Twitter, and supported one another’s writing. I can say after reading his responses, he’s every bit as honest and forthright as I imagined he would be.
Learn more about a wonderful writer and a stand-up guy, Everett Powers.
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In Everett’s own words …
After managing a fast-food restaurant for a couple of years, I knew that wasn’t the life for me and decided to become a doctor of chiropractic. After graduation, I purchased a practice in Modesto, CA, and practiced there until 2012.
I finished my first novel, Canals, in 2004. My second novel, The Mighty T, was finished in 2010. I decided to self-publish both novels and did so in 2011. My third novel, Death of a Matador, was completed and published in 2012. I’ve done all the work on my novels: I took the photographs for the covers of the two Grant Starr thrillers, did the formatting for both Ebook and paperback editions of all three novels, and published them.
I moved with my wife, Penny, to Utah in 2012. I’m working on my third Grant Starr novel, working title Sunset Hill, while marketing my published work. I have three sons and two step-daughters. Two of my sons are married but there are no grandkids: one couple is trying while the other couple is newly married.
BUY links for Everett’s books on his website
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Inside Everett’s Mind
[eden] So great to finally have you here, Everett. Since I really like your answer about happiness, let’s start there.
Your idea of perfect happiness is? Wow. “Perfect” happiness? I’ve rewritten this answer a dozen times, yet it should’ve been easy.
I’m happy when things are humming along nicely and I’m surrounded by people I love, yet have enough time to myself to write and work on promoting my novels. One unique thing about my wife and I is, we really enjoy each other’s company. We worked together for fifteen years and people were always commenting on how they could never work with their husband/wife. I think it helped that we had fairly defined roles; I tried not to step on her toes and she tried not to step on mine.
I’m happy when what I’m writing feels good, right. I don’t mind having to go back and fix things, rewrite a scene or two I later realized should have gone a little differently, if the work feels good and I’m excited about it.
I’m happy when I’m exercising and feel good about what I’m eating. Exercise is such a wonderful thing. Not only do you feel and look better, your mind is sharper, and it’s easier to get up in the morning and hit the computer or editing pencil. Everything seems to work better when I’m exercising.
I’m happy when the bills are paid on time, there’s some money in the bank, we have a vacation planned for the year, and I can help my kids if they run short at the end of the month.
What turns you on creatively? Knowing a scene is really working, that it flows. You feel good, almost tingly. I also love it when a character turns out well. I read a quote on Facebook recently by a woman I assume is an author. Regardless of whether the quote was real (and who really knows?), it struck a chord with me. The quote said she didn’t know how her characters were going to turn out until she started writing them and by the end of her book, she loved them and hated to see them go. When that happens, it’s a creative turn on.
When I wrote my first book, Canals, I wrote in the style Stephen King calls “a found thing.” Others call it writing by the seat of your pants. That was a thrill ride for me! I’d sit at the computer and have no idea what would happen next, start typing and type until the inspiration hit, then finish out the session at full speed. Canals was my most imaginative novel.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Early in my writing career I had to learn to watch for overuse of a lot of words. The worst offenders were “then,” “suddenly,” “all,” directional words such as “down” and “up,” and I’m sure many others I’ve forgotten because I kicked the habit of using them. I’m picky about using the same adjective too close together, such as a paragraph or two apart. It sounds awkward to the ear. I can usually spot a rookie writer due to their overuse of certain words or phrases.
There are on-line tools a writer can use to check for the overuse of words or phrases as well as passive language and the like. They’re useful to the new writer but after you’ve written a couple of books you shouldn’t need them anymore.
[eden] You’re like me in this way. I also hate repetition, and reading my work aloud helps me pick out those words too close together.
What quality do you most admire in a man? Honesty. I don’t like liars. I like to see a little toughness in a man. He should be willing to stand up for his family, even when he’s outmanned and sure to get his ass kicked. A man should also take care of his kids. He should take his turn at getting up for night feedings and to change diapers. A man should respect his wife’s feelings and desires, which may not always make sense to him. This should, in my opinion, be fleshed out in detail before marriage but feelings can change over time and a man should be flexible enough to adapt.
What quality do you most admire in a woman? Honesty. I really don’t like liars. A woman often has to be a master diplomat, depending on the dynamics of the relationship. When a man is being pigheaded, and his woman knows he’s wrong, she has to keep her cool and gently lead him in the right direction. I’ve seen my mother do this with my dad countless times. She’s almost always gets her way, which is always the right way.
[eden] I can tell from your answers that you REALLY, REALLY don’t like liars. 😉
What is your greatest regret? Putting my kids through a divorce. I understand there are worse things than that, like chronic abuse and abandonment. But what many of us forget is, what is nothing more than a speed bump to one child is a towering mountain to another. When my kids had friends whose parents were splitting up, their mother and I assured them we would never do the same, yet we did. When kids think their family is secure only to learn, in a moment, that it isn’t, it can be devastating. I still carry a lot of guilt over this, all these fifteen years later.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I lack discipline. I think it stems from being self-employed for twenty-three years. Yeah, I had to be at the office by a certain time, but there was no one to tell me what to do when there were no patients to see. So I would like to change this fault and be more disciplined. To me this means structure my day and then follow the plan.
What is your greatest fear? I fear losing the respect of people I care about. Getting caught in some lie, being proven a crook, having some great sin of mine plastered across the papers. That kind of thing. I have family who love me unconditionally, but I still fear embarrassing them or causing them shame.
Which living person do you most admire? No doubt my dad. It’s not that he’s some great statesman who brought lasting peace to the Middle East, balanced the U.S. budget, or ended senseless gun violence. He’s been steadfast in his course in life and is far down the path he set himself upon many years ago. And he’s honest. Want to know what his greatest insult would be for another? Calling them a crook.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Well, I’m not a full-time writer yet so I choose that profession. I’m sort of between gigs, moving in the direction of writing full time. The problem is, too few people are buying my books. My royalty check from Amazon UK for 2012 paid for one-third of my new iPad 3. I have the long-term view in mind, though, and while I’m a little discouraged I know I write good novels and that they will eventually provide a continuous income stream for myself and my family after I’m gone.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A cat that goes to a good home. We have a cat and other than all the butt-licking she seems to never tire of, she has a good life. She’s fed regularly and while we tend to buy fairly cheap food, she seems to enjoy it. She gets to lay in the sun as long as she pleases, usually gets the attention she desires, and runs away at the first hint of danger so she never has to act tough. As I write this she is laying on her blanket, which sits on a chair next to me. I’m in our basement office, which is cold, so I have a portable heater on and it’s nice and toasty in here. What a life she leads.
[eden] Another person who likes cats, easily the most popular answer of authors!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising sons who turned out great. I can’t claim this achievement for just myself, their mother had a lot to do with it, but it’s the greatest thing I’ve had some hand in. My oldest has turned out to one of the best men I know. The middle boy is a work in progress but has so much potential (I recall many saying that about me at that age, and look how I turned out). The youngest has already exceeded the expectations of many who knew him as a child, and he’s only twenty-one.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? I dislike subversive people. You know the type. They start gossip and pit coworker against coworker, just to amuse or aggrandize themselves. They tattle on others when it isn’t their job. They poison customers or clients so they never return to your business because they feel you aren’t paying them what they’re worth or are working them too much. Or they’re just lazy and don’t want to give a fair day’s work for their pay. They plant seeds of doubt in the minds of family members. You know the type.
What is your greatest extravagance? I’m pleased to report that right now I don’t have any. We’ve recently moved to a new state and my wife has started a new career, and I’m trying to start a new career, which means we’re on a tight budget. In the past we might have kept up our old lifestyle by charging trips and dinners and the like, but we no longer do that. We get a movie or two from Red Box and snuggle in for the night.
I have a collection of watches I’m happy with, purchased during more financially robust times. I have a few Rolexes and a couple of Breitlings. I should probably sell most of them, but… I also have a collection of nice fountain pens I bought back in the 90s. I paid $650 for one. Most of them need servicing and I do plan on selling several that no longer see the light of day. If you write with expensive fountain pens you need to take proper care of them. They should be cleaned and serviced once a year. It’s not expensive, about $15 plus shipping, but it’s a hassle. I have several Omas pens, a number of Montblanc pens in the writer series, purchased before I started writing, a couple of Parker pens and one or two others.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? Write a wildly popular book, one that will entertain generations to come.
What is your favorite music (genre/artist/album/song)? My favorite music genre is opera, though I don’t listen to it as often as I used to because my wife doesn’t care for it. The only other person in my family who likes opera is my oldest son, and he doesn’t listen to it much anymore because his wife doesn’t like it either. The sacrifices we make. I listen to it when I’m alone, or, if people are around, with my Bose QuietComfort headphones. Most consider it rude to use headphones when others are around, so I rarely do that. I listen to it occasionally when exercising, but have to be careful because I often end up listening to the music instead of working out.
I don’t have a broad taste in opera. I like Italian opera and some French. I rarely listen to an entire opera, instead preferring to hear arias, mostly tenors or baritones. I’m not big on sopranos. My favorite opera is probably La Bohème by Puccini. Lastly, I don’t listen to much contemporary opera, preferring the masters of the bygone eras.
My favorite performers are, not listed in any particular order, Franco Corelli, Mario Lanza, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carerras, Richard Tucker (mostly his live performances when he’d really let go), Bryn Terfel, Jussi Bjorling, and Placido Domingo. I also enjoy a little Thomas Hampson and Sam Raimy. My son and I saw Terfel in Marriage of Figaro at the San Franciso Opera, and it was an event for us.
[eden] You are the first person I’ve interviewed to say opera is your favorite. I love La Bohème too.
What are some of your favorite curse words? Right now it’s “asshole.” I use it a lot in my writing and admit it creeps into my own language now and then. (Hopefully my mother doesn’t read this.) A wordy-type has written an entire book on the word, tracing its history and current usage. It’s a good swear word because it’s descriptive—who doesn’t know what an asshole is?—yet it’s acceptable enough in polite company, if not overused. We don’t like to curse at home, whether the kids are around or not, so we use abbreviations: “He’s an AH; I can’t stand how smug he is.” If the kids are around we’ll abbreviate calling someone a butthole. “He’s a BH.” Aren’t we clever?
I use the F-word in writing, but not in my own speech. If I personally don’t use it, why use it in my writing? Because other people use it, and use it a lot. Especially bad guys. Just because I don’t use it doesn’t mean my characters shouldn’t. And “bitch” creeps in now and then.
I admire writers who write well without using curse words. I think Grisham does this well, though I haven’t anything of his for at least seven or eight years. However, I don’t think it’s realistic for most people. I suppose it depends on the company you keep, but a lot of people swear. Again, especially bad guys. That’s one reason why they’re bad.
I think characters should be written as the author conceives them. If the reader doesn’t like the language, they should find a different author. I’ve read many one-star reviews for books because the reader was offended by foul language. Nothing was said of the writing or story other than the author used foul language. I disregard those reviews but unfortunately they unfairly reduce the overall rating for a book.
What is your motto? If I consciously had one it would be “stick with it.” I think the path to making a living writing is to write enough good books that the world can no longer ignore you. I plan on stickin’ with that.
Great motto, Everett! Thanks for being so sincere and open with your answers. It’s a delight to learn more about you.
Readers, please say “hi” to this lovely man and connect to him. He is a supportive author to know.
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Connect to Everett