Q: What are your writing goals?
Prentis: I learned early in the process of becoming a writer that the idea of being one of the literary giants of the century was an illusion that I was not likely to realize. I write for the pure joy of creating a story that will entertain, inspire, or teach. My main goal is to produce stories that someone will love in the same way I love a good story. One of the most enjoyable experiences in my life was going into a library and being drafted by the librarian to read to the children. They were especially attentive when I read the story and did all of the voices. A few years later, I attended a book signing at the same library. One of the little girls was then in middle school. She announced to the crowd that she was my number one fan. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Q: Tell us about your latest book. Is it available in print and e-book formats?
Prentis: Several years ago, I started writing a book about the Middle East. I soon realized that one book would not tell the story I was trying to tell. It soon grew into a series. I finished the first book, Abraham’s Bones, and I’m now working on the second book in the series. It has a working title of The Relic, and should be available by the end of the year. I like adventure stories with suspense and human conflict. I think Abraham’s Bones meets both of these requirements. The book is available at Amazon, both in print and e-book format.
Q: How do you develop characters? Setting?
Prentis: I am a character driven writer. Characters sometimes spring into my head fully grown and then demand that I do something to improve their situation. When I was at a library meeting that hosted five different fiction writers, I was the only one who wrote character driven fiction. Someone asked me how I could possibly write without a detailed plot. I asked her to imagine what would happen if her best friend was carjacked, threatened, falsely accused, or imprisoned. Once you know your characters as well as you know the people around you, most of the plotting will take care of itself. Writing from a character driven prospective does not involve sloppy writing. If anything, it channels the process of plotting into a logical sequence that covers all the requirements for a well crafted story. I love books that contain detailed description of their setting. It is fun and a challenge to try to find new ways to make the reader see and feel the surroundings without weighing the story down with extraneous details.
Q: What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?
Prentis: There are too many books where the characters are little more than cardboard cutouts. If you think about the books that really move you emotionally, it is the ones where the protagonist is strong, yet flawed. People are a lot more complex than some writers realize. We are all tugged in different directions, and if a writer wants a book to resonate with the reader, he will make the characters complicated and conflicted.
Q: Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track.
Prentis: When I start a story, I usually have little more than one scene in mind and only a vague idea where the story is headed. My suspense novel, Innocent, grew out of a brief incident I witnessed when going into a shopping mall. A police officer held the door for a young woman, then bent and picked up her young daughter’s toy when she dropped it. There was something particularly moving in the way he presented the toy to the little girl. He was a tough looking veteran, but with the tender touch of someone who loved kids. After I have captured someone like that on the page, I ask myself where I am going with the story. It is at this point where I find it possible to present this person in conflict with life and the events surrounding him. By the time I finish the story, I have a tall stack of notes, most of them involving questions I ask myself about the plot. One carefully explained detail can lead the reader to anticipate what is going to happen in the next chapter, and most important of all, the reader can feel it as it happens. I make lots of notes, and usually create a storyboard outlining the sequence of events in the story. This allows me to tighten up the plot without leaving out any essential details.
Q: Where do you write? When? What do you have around you?
Prentis: I have an office at home where I have two computers. One is the conventional set down arrangement at a desk. The other computer is setting on a cabinet where I can stand up and write if I get tired of sitting. I have the blinds closed, the television and radio off. I also don’t want to be disturbed. I have a table where I have my notes arranged in order where I can look up any detail, and my storyboard where I can glance at it without too much of an interruption. I can write at any time of the day or night.
Q: Where can folks learn more about your books?
Prentis: My blog address is: http://www.prentisatpickwick.blogspot.com/
Thanks for coming by, Joe. Continued success.