... D. E. Stockman
1. Tell me about your book, The Ship's Carpenter, and where you got your inspiration for it?
The Ship's Carpenter came about from the research I did on a French frigate warship from the mid-1700s named la Renommée. For over a decade I searched through historical documents and books and uncovered a wealth of information on the ship. When I began to dig deeper into the lives of the commanders of the ship, I soon discovered remarkable connections between the officers. The more I read, the more I felt their little known histories should be told.
The story I wrote centers on Abraham Robinson, my fictional main character, who is simply trying to get along in life as a shipwright. When he is forced to leave England to find a job, he sails to Brest, France and gets a position at their naval shipyard. There he meets Yvette and a romance blossoms but soon fades as her old lover, René, intercedes. Abraham then loses his position when the war (War of Austrian Succession) begins and he leaves France to return to England. After a night of heavy drinking, he awakes to realize he has been pressed into the Royal Navy as a ship's carptenter. From that point on, his life is challenged by the whims of captains, his lover, fate, and war as he survives sea battles, captures, escapes, and prison.
2. Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so what was it?
Most nautical tales concentrate on the swashbuckling fortitude of their main character against an evil, heartless villain. In reading the biographies of the sailors who sailed the frigate, however, I quickly realized that I couldn't describe the English or French captains as entirely either benevolent or dastardly. They were a combination of many moral and ethical credos. In my book all the characters have flaws and strengths and become the protagonist or an antagonist at some point in the story. It's more of a slice of real life than the typical tall ship novel.
3. Have you ever danced in the rain?
I did. Once as a teenager, I felt the glory of spring and danced across the street oblivious to all. A friend of mine had just turned the corner and caught me. "Were you dancing just now?!" he laughed. "Oh, no, no, I slipped," I answered. He knew I lied but he never menioned it to anyone or me again. Ah, if we could only do the things to express our real emotions without worrying about social criticism.
4. Which do you use more often, dictionary or thesaurus?
Most definately I use the thesaurus more. WordHippo is a godsend. Creating clever ways of saying the same things over again is a challenge and the thesaurus either gives me the exact word I wish to use or kick-starts my mind into a new channel of thought that will get me to the word.
5. Mountains or the beach?
Mountains give me the "here's nature" feeling because I can see interesting things all around and few humans. The beach is too desolate for me with everything hidden under the water and just other people to look at. The mountains remind me of hiking and exploring, the beach reminds me of pina colatas and naps. Both are great fun, but I prefer the former.
6. What do you think Victoria’s secret is?
A place my wife used to get free panties at or the queen's hidden Scottish lover.
7. You’ve just been kidnapped and the people from the last TV Show/Movie you watched have to save you. Who is it?
I don't think Seth Myers would lift a finger to save me. So, I hope I'm watching Magnum, P.I. or FBI just before it happens.
8. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I've been lucky enough to have seen places in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. But I have yet to travel to Asia. Being a Tai Chi enthusiast for decades, I'd love to visit China and compare the forms and see the historical sites.
9. If you could live in a book, TV show or Movie, what would it be?
Doctor Who, not because of the aliens he runs into, but because I'd have unlimited access to any place at any time. I couldn't get bored with that.
10. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?
The greatest feeling that I ever got being a writer was when the first non-family person who read my work said it was good and he enjoyed it. More than anything, what motivates me is entertaining the readers.
11. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
The cover is the first and most important part of capturing a potential reader's attention. The title font, design, graphics, and even overall color hues must indicate the feeling of the book at a glance. As they say, "A picture is worth..." and in marketing a book, it is so important.
12. What part of your writing time do you dedicate to marketing your book?
I use about 25% of my time in marketing a book. By far, it is more challenging than writing the story. With the advent of self-publishing, a flood of books has become available to purchase on Amazon. Millions of poorly written books keep the well-written and vetted titles from receiving the attention they deserve. In addition, traditional publishers, the former gatekeepers of book sales, have been in a decline. Readers have a hard time finding the gems amidst the rubble of 8 million book titles on Amazon. How many potential Hemingways are buried in the slush piles on literary agents' and publishers' desks I hate to imagine.
13. Have you written any other books that are not published? Do you intend to publish them?
I just finished my second book in the Tween Sea & Shore Series and will be shipping it off to the publisher for review within the month. That is, of course, unless my beta readers or editor pulls it back for more rewriting. It continues the struggles of Abraham and Yvette and recounts the naval actions of both new historical characters aboard the frigate la Renommée/Renown and those from the first book.
14. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
This book has a large number of characters that need corralled into their overlapping time periods. Once I created a basic outline for the story, I allowed each character to push the story to the conclusion by entwining with the other characters.
15. What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
A number of reviewers have mentioned that the story does not really fit any particular genre. Two even mentioned it could fit in the category of YA. I have to agree. As I mentioned, the book spans multiple aspects of the characters' lives, from their seafaring experiences and romance to action and adventure. It was difficult to pigeonhole the story, although I finally settled on historical nautical as the most general, overall genre. Covering both their naval lives and civilian lives prompted me to name the series Tween Sea & Shore.
About D.E. Stockman
David Stockman grew up roaming the woods and fields in Ohio. His fossil hunting, scouting, pet reptiles, and reading provided direction for a lifelong interest in history and science. As an adult, travel enabled him to explore the relics of ancient empires and modern cities adding more historical perspectives to his life. He and his wife Valerie currently live near Chicago, with family scattered around the Midwest.
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