David Kubicek is here today as a stop along his virtual book tour to talk a bit about his new book A Friend of the Family.
At the end of the tour, David will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to a lucky commentor from the entire tour. Comment below and at his other tour stops for a chance to win.
David Kubicek has published several short stories and hundreds of articles. His books include A Friend of the Family, In Human Form, The Moaning Rocks and Other Stories, and the Cliffs Notes for Willa Cather’s My Antonia. He edited two anthologies, The Pelican in the Desert and Other Stories of the Family Farm and October Dreams, A Harvest of Horror (with Jeff Mason). He has owned and operated a publishing company, and his short story “Ball of Fire” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. For nine years he wrote for the Midlands Business Journal, and for two years he was a regular contributor to Grassroots Nebraska. He lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife Cheryl, son Sean, two dogs, and a cat.
Welcome, David. Please tell us about your current release.
A Friend of the Family is set in a post-apocalyptic world where doctors are illegal. The accepted caregivers are Healers, who practice such primitive and superstitious methods as bleeding and chanting. One night, a 16-year-old telepathic girl named Gina knocks on the door of a doctor named Hank. She has lost faith in the ability of Healers and demands that Hank cure her father of a debilitating illness. Because of her ability, she knows about the hiding place under the floor where Hank keeps his equipment and medicine. If he doesn’t accompany her, she will turn him in. But if he goes with her, he will certainly go to prison because the girl’s Aunt Rose, who is a Healer charged with treating Gina’s father, will turn him in.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had a disillusioning experience with medical care. My dad’s doctor didn’t test him for colon cancer for nine months, despite the fact that he was exhibiting textbook symptoms. Fortunately, when they found it, it hadn’t spread, and they were able to get it all. I also read a few articles and books that weren’t flattering to the medical profession–they told stories of instruments being left inside surgical patients and unsanitary conditions in hospitals. So I wondered what kind of healthcare system a society might have if it didn’t have doctors, and A Friend of the Family was the result. Space and Time magazine published the original story in its Summer 1987 issue. For the current release, I revised the story. I added some things and tweaked some things, including a revised ending.
What exciting story are you working on next?
A young adult dystopian novel tentatively entitled Empath, which is set in a world about 100 years after a plague has wiped out 90% of the world’s population. The survivors live in walled cities and are terrified of “mutants,” which the normals fear are the manifestations of the plague returning to ravish their world again.
I’m also working on the sequel to my novel In Human Form, which will be the second book in a trilogy. Plus I’ve got a few more short novels in development, the first of which to see print probably will be what I refer to as my “Mars Story,” about an intruder at a Mars observation station whose mission is to destroy the outpost and murder the two-person crew.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I wrote my first story. I was about ten years old. It was an awful piece of writing, but fortunately I didn’t know it at the time, so I continued writing. When I was 18, I decided to start submitting my stories to editors. I considered myself a writer then, too, and immediately fired off a story to The New Yorker. The editor of The New Yorker promptly fired it back. But I continued to write and to learn about writing, and I got better. It’s probably best if you consider yourself a writer from the moment you put the first words of your story on paper. It’s the only way you will have the energy to continue writing until you become good.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, I write full time. The time that I spend actually putting words on paper averages about two hours a night—which is all right because if the story is going well I can put lots of words on paper in two hours. I spend the rest of my working time doing things to move my business forward; that includes everything from managing my e-mail to social networking online, to reading and commenting on blogs, to writing blog posts, to studying how to improve my craft and my business. Because my wife recently had foot surgery, I’m spending more time managing the household, running kids to and from school, and cooking meals, so my work time is fit around these duties in blocks throughout the day. Weekends are usually less hectic, so I put in some writing time then.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Perhaps it is superstition, but—beyond a short, often generic description—I don’t like to talk about the specific details of my stories-in-progress. I believe that talking about an idea will dissipate the energy I need to write it, and I might lose interest in it. My wife is always eager to know about my stories before I write them and as I’m writing them, so this attitude drives her crazy.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to go into space, but I couldn’t wait until I grew up to do it. My dad cut a hole in a 50-gallon barrel so I could climb inside and pretend that it was my rocket. But my parents’ encouragement had its limits. They were rather uncooperative when I asked them to procure enough gunpowder to propel me and my “rocket” to the moon.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I want to emphasize how important it is for writers to do three things:
- Read a wide range of fiction
- Have beta readers who will give them honest feedback
I’ve learned more about writing from those three things than from all of the “How To” articles and books on the craft. When you read, watch to see how the author does it, be aware of his or her technique.
Make sure your beta readers understand that you want to know what’s not working with your manuscript so you can fix it, so you can make it better. They don’t have to be writers themselves; as readers they can tell you what they like or don’t like about your story.
Finally, WRITE. You can learn a lot about technique from reading books, but your craft will develop only with practice. I don’t know how. I think its osmosis; all of the reading you do, all of the critiques that you get, and all of the writing you do filters into your subconscious, and your writing improves.
Great interview, David. Glad to have you stop by.
Readers, remember, at the end of the tour, David will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to a lucky commentor. Comment below and at his other tour stops for a chance to win.