A Facebook page called “Friends of Atoka, Indie Titles” is dedicated to Indie authors who actually are friends of Ted Atoka. One such author, with more than a few dozen published books to his credit, agreed to shed some light on his business of Indie. His name is George Snyder. I’ve read several of his books, and left a review of each one. I asked George six questions about his Indie work, and here are his responses, FOA = Frinds of Atoka GS = George Snyder,
FOA: George, how did you happen to settle on the crime noir genre? You must have a great reason, because you’ve published more than 60 books of knock down, kick-em-in-the-gut, and shoot out their eyeball stories.
GS: Not all the books were crime, there’s a non-fiction and a couple memoirs. I chose to write them because I’d read the masters, handler, Hammett, etc., and the early popular PIs, Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, Travis McGee, Shell Scott, Spencer, etc.. And now, Dennis Lehane and Lee Child. Of the many different types of books I read, most end up being crime novels. I enjoy guys on the line or leaning more toward the criminal side.
FOA: If you HAD to switch genres, which one other than crime noir would you pick?
GS: Others are already in work. An outline is done for my first Western, The Gunfighter’s Lady. Notes have been started for the second: Hard Creek Showdown. I wrote a Science-Fiction novel many years ago about the war between men and women that took thirty years to get traditionally published. Then I negotiated my rights back
(took two years) and brought it out myself independently: Beyond Gender Wars. I am doing research into thelife of Francis Drake, with an eye toward writing a historical swashbuckling novel based on his life. I amthinking of more swashbucklers. What I don’t want to take on are any more series novels. I’ll stick with my three: Bay Rumble, Mac Tuff and Logan Sand, but I see more stand-alone crime noir novels. One is in work, Nuggets.
FOA: Have you built up a long term working relationship with your editor, cover artist, formatter? Or have you hired an assortment of each over prior years?
GS: Editors come and go. I have been badly burned by editors and I realize their thinking is subjective. I think most are frustrated writers. When they look at a piece, a gremlin in the back of their heads tell them they must find something wrong with it—sort of like my writers critique group. Structurally, there is even a lot wrong with the Bible.
Somebody can always find something to criticize. Anyway, the editor I have now is one of only three men editors I’ve worked with. The first is the one who burned me by ruining my novel. The second was a good one at one of my traditional publishers. The third is the one I have now. All others have been women. Overall, the women have done a good job. The last one I got rid of because she became lazy and skipped through the novel without really reading it, letting glitches remain.
The only bitch I have with my current editor, he is structurally anal. In my writing, when it comes to dialog, I throw away the rule book. I know Mark Twain wrote his excellent dialog while remaining structurally correct, but I draw the line when an editor has a local mobster say, whom. It is a small nit I pick and I can just reject the change when I go through the piece. Other than that, he doesn’t use a heavy hand, which I like.
My covers come from selfpubcovers.com, that has excellent $69 covers I can word any way I want. Every one of my books has one of their covers. I like the way they work.
My formatter has been my go-to New Zealand gal who has been with me since the first independent book. She not only does the format for Amazon, she does the spine and back cover, and though she gets hundreds for her work now, my price has never gone up.
FOA: Readers seem to develop a preconceived idea of particular authors, especially if they follow an author’s series. If such is the case, do you mirror your fictional characters in any way? For example: What’s your beer preference? What’s your whiskey preference? Did you ever smoke?
GS: Like all series writers, my characters contain pieces of me. With them, it is more they are what I’d like to be, with snippets of my own wishful thinking, and even less of me personally. It’s true that through my novels I’ve destroyed every woman that ever hurt me. And I’ve knocked off some guys who pissed me off. But I understand, as Mickey Spillane stated, these books, though hard noir crime, approach fantasy.
Clint Eastwood said the same thing about his Spaghetti Western movies. To the innocent they look like hard truth, realistic as hell, too messy and too violent. My tough gal PI, Mac Tuff, is based partly on a real person, and partly on famous fictional women—like Mildred Pierce and Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde. The real gal isn’t a PI, she’s a motorcycle rider who races up and down the byways of California with her much older boyfriend on a pair of BMW sports machines. For a living she installs hotel and restaurant lighting. I’d been on a few rides with her back in the day.
My sailor, Bay Rumble was the first series character. He’s probably more like me than the others. He’s not a PI, just a guy who wants to sail to places in the world, and he keeps finding trouble. He’s living my fantasy, or used-to-be fantasy. I’m too old for that nonsense now. Bay has black and white opinions where mine are kind of gray. I don’t hit people anymore.
My last fistfight was thirty years ago. What is unique about Bay, through all the books, he never kills anyone. People die, with bodies everywhere, but not by him. He wounds, he doesn’t kill. No, that is left up to my truly mean motha badass, Logan Sand. That guy is as vicious as I can make anyone, and tormented to the point of self-destruction. He wallows in an out of drunkenness. Heis a lot like Lawrence Block’s, Scudder before he found AA and became sanitized. Logan’s buddy, Gabe Gatlin who owns a hotel, has poker games going all over the northwest, and the total love of a Paris model—who has everything Logan doesn’t—looks after Logan as his conscience. They make a good team.
As hard and bad asLogan is, a certain type of woman can and does get to him. Logan Sand is the least like me. However, I too am a member of the tiny house movement—hell, I live on a 30’ sloop. He drinks Fosters; on occasion I might have a Coors Light or Bud Light. He drinks Jameson scotch; I seldom drink hard liquor anymore. I used to like Captain Morgan Spiced.
I once smoked but quit more than forty years ago. In my youth I was into any alcoholic liquid, uppers, downers, and smoked a ton of pot. All that has been put aside, but I draw from the experience now and then for the novels.
FOA: This is probably a brain twister, what keeps you going, George? Is it the thought of writing something that zooms to the top of the best seller list? What gives you the impetus to hop out of your bunk each morning and get yourself writing?
GS: I am slowing down. I’ll be 79 in November, one year away form 80. And I still haven’t had my first heart attack. I can even still run a couple blocks if I have to. And a good looking woman still makes me smile. But I am a prostate cancer survivor. And health glitches crop up now and then but they are quickly taken care of by the VA. If not for the VA, I’d already be dead. I still ride my motorcycle, sail my boat, hike and camp, make love, and generally I feel fit as a fiddle and ready for love (cliché). I doubt I’ll ever marry again. There’s nothing significant enough about me to interest a woman. Getting those pages written gets me up in the morning.
I love to read. I love good movies, a barren landscape these days. I see my kids and grandkids and great-grandkids on holidays, and my aunts and cousins. Which is enough. I long ago gave up any Best Seller nonsense. Or, making a pile of money with my writing.A recurring thought keeps haunting me. The last royalty check received by F. Scott Fitzgerald was for $36. 49. At the time, he was shacking up with the gossip columnist Sheila Graham and livng a liquid diet that ate out his liver. Since, I’ve never made a lot of money with my writing I’m used to poverty.
Generally, crime novels are not big sellers. Agents keep telling me that. Plus, I’m an okay blue-collar hack, not a brilliant author. I did win that writing award that I’m proud of. But I have no dreams of anything being a Best Seller, or movies, though I’ve written many screenplays that went nowhere.
A Universal Studios tour guide once told us tourists, we had a better chance getting hit by lightning twice than ever having a script produced. My writers critique group once had a woman who worked two years in a producer’s office. She told us the only scripts they ever considered were from close friends or relatives. Nothing that came in cold was everproduced.
What gets me up in the morning to hit the computer is the same thing that keeps me reading what I have in my hand—the story. Most writing today is adequate. That’s the best I can say about it. What I want is for my story to be at least a little unique. I chose violence, even knowing I’ve lost most women readers. Violence is the underbelly of how and where we live. It is out there, though we can’t see it. And it can touch our lives.
It is those who refuse to believe that get hurt the worst. I am weary of novels that show ordinary people going through ordinary events through ordinary writing. Maybe that’s why many choose paranormal or fantasy. It’s all a whimsical out there world. It doesn’t have to be real. I like real. I like the underbelly of life. I wouldn’t want to live it, but I like reading about it, and writing about it.
FOA: What would you say to anyone who is browsing Amazon’s bookshelves and looking for a good read?
GS: Buy my books. Make me famous. Here. Now.
For a list of Snyder’s books, click the photograph below.