I invited Bob Moulesong to join us and talk about his adventures in writing. We attend some of the same writing critique groups and I enjoy the stories Bob shares.
SUZY: Tell us a little about yourself.
BOB: I was born and raised in Hammond, Indiana. I have been a Hoosier all of my life. I wrote my first novel when I was in seventh grade. It was a Man from UNCLE novel. Fifty-one pages, hand written. I used to be embarrassed to tell people that. Then I realized I had the fire and determination, even back then. I wrote for the NWI Times Newspaper from 1998-2013. As a journalist, I published 2,500 stories. I have published fiction in the Fiction Break Favorites quarterlies (Fall and Winter, 2014) and the Night Light anthology (2014). I also post at an online literary magazine www.shortfictionbreak.com.
SUZY: Was there a particular moment that started you down the writing path?
BOB: I don’t know about a particular moment, but I wrote a lot when I was in grade school. My house was not a happy home, and we kids had a rough go of it. I used writing to escape the situation. Fantasy reading and writing allowed me to leave the unpleasantness and go somewhere else, mentally and emotionally. Over time, I realized how much I enjoyed it.
SUZY: Was there a particular person who motivated you to become a writer?
BOB: There was a nun, Sister Josita, who always encouraged me. She allowed me to create a school newspaper. The paper was only four pages and published monthly. I took a lot of pride in it. I think she realized early on I was a little different, and allowed me to be me.
SUZY: What’s your favorite genre?
BOB: Speculative fiction. The term covers horror, fantasy, science fiction, and anything else dubbed “weird”. Basically, think “Twilight Zone” on paper. I think the escapism of my early childhood came out in what I chose to read and to write.
SUZY: Why that particular genre?
BOB: It’s what I think about, and what I find enjoyable to write about. When I observe a situation, frequently a storyline comes into my head. Like when the bathroom door was locked, and my mind went to “what if someone went in and never came out”? It’s the way I’m wired. My wife says the issue is that I am NOT wired. She might be right.
SUZY: Who are your favorite three authors? Why?
BOB: Stephen King. First, because he scares the hell out of his readers without the aid of visuals. Second, because he really develops his characters. I have always admired that. JRR Tolkien. I was thirteen years old when I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I was in awe of his ability to create and entire world and make it so believable. Dean Koontz. He had a warped childhood similar to mine, so I always felt we were soul brothers. His story ideas are pretty warped, and I like that a lot.
SUZY: Do you plan a plot or do you wing it?
BOB: I write short stories, not novels. My longest story has been about 7,500 words. Therefore, I can get away with winging it most of the time. However, I do find myself reading a short outline I wrote for a story, tweaking it, and then writing the actual story. Therefore, I would say I outline, but I do not plot.
SUZY: How do you come up with the ideas for your stories?
BOB: As a journalist, I learned to observe my surroundings. So, I sit back and watch, and then let the weirdness take over. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
SUZY: Do you have a process for character development?
BOB: I’m not a big believer in processes. I try to let a story or a character do and say what comes naturally, instead of attempting control. I let them surprise me along the way.
SUZY: How do you conduct research?
BOB: That usually comes out during a story outline. I never let the fact that I don’t know my subject matter stop me from writing about a particular subject. I make some notes, jump on the Internet, and Google to my heart’s content. I’m amazed at what I discover. Frequently, I find facts that change my story. To me, it’s important to change the story, not the facts. I dislike stories where the writer says “yeah, but reality didn’t jive with my story so I tweaked reality.” Seriously?
SUZY: At what point do you share your work?
BOB: After the second revision, I ask my wife to read it. She is upfront and honest, because she has my best interest at heart. She also enjoys the opportunity to tell me I’m full of it.
SUZY: Do you belong to a critique group?
BOB: I belong to two local critique groups, and one online group. I stick with these three because I get honest and in-depth critiques. I dropped the ones where I handed out ten copies of my stories and got back ten copies with no comments. I mean, why bother? The ones I still attend mark up my work like a teacher with an attitude.
SUZY: What’s the biggest rush you get from your writing?
BOB: I read my story White Picket Fence at a public reading last week. Afterwards, a woman bought the anthology that contained the story and asked me to autograph it. That blew me away. I must admit, I could get used to that.
SUZY: Biggest moment to date?
BOB: My biggest moment came when I was accepted as the first regular contributor to the online magazine Short Fiction Break. The process to be accepted is similar to the literary submission process. Since then, the owner has dubbed me his co-founder. The experience has helped me to believe I can actually do this.
SUZY: What’s next?
BOB: I have 20+ stories that I am putting through a revision process this summer. As I complete each story, I send them out to literary magazines and literary agents. I hope to learn a lot about the process and myself. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll actually get a couple published.
SUZY: Thanks Bob for joining us and talking about writing.