Enough to wallpaper Seattle Mystery Bookshop. Literally. It took me about ten years to find the right agent (and three or four not so right agents) and it was a long process of submittal, reject, "quit feeling sorry for yourself", submittal, reject, "you can do it", submittal, reject....
--> Have you ever thrown away a book that you just couldn't make work?
So far, only one. I've got about four others inside my laptop right now - all stand-alones - that may suffer the same fate, eventually.
--> Is it still exciting to publish a new book even after all this time?
It is exciting. Frankly, even after seven books, I'm blown away when I see my name on a hardcover - and realize how lucky I am to be doing what I'm doing. And the writing is still fun for me - I enjoy making up the characters in particular and the plot. The publishing side of it is less fun - worrying about sales, the self-promotion stuff (I hate Facebook) but I feel lucky I'm being published at all so I try not to whine too much about it.
--> Do you get ideas for new books all the time and you keep them written down, or does one come to mind when you need one?
It seems like they come to me when I need one. When I'm writing a book, I'm not thinking about a new story idea, then about half way thru the book I'm writing my mind starts "opening up", I guess you'd say, and I start thinking about things I've seen, heard, etc. So far I haven't reached the point where I don't know what to write next. I don't wake up in the middle of the night and jot down things that come to me in dreams.
--> Do you have entire story arcs mapped out when you begin a trilogy or a series of related books?
I don't have anything mapped out - I'm not bright enough to even think in terms of story arcs. I just write the book - then realize, because I write a series, that I've now boxed myself into a corner for the next book. Believe me, the way I go about it ain't all that organized.
--> Do you know how a book/series is going to end when you begin it?
Absolutely not. I don't outline. Again, I just start writing the story, figuring it out as I go along. Once I've got it figured out, then I can start playing with the manuscript in terms of heightening suspense, not giving away things too early, foreshadowing (whatever that is), etc. It always gets me when some reader will post - usually on Amazon - that he had the ending figured out by page 100 - to which I usually think: Good for you, bubba. I sure as hell didn't.
--> Would life be easier if you published under just one name?
I'm not sure what this question means as it applies to me. I do just publish under one name - Mike Lawson. Or do you mean one name like Cher, Madonna, Prince, etc.? If I can think of a really cool one-name name for myself, maybe I'll start using it but all the good ones have been taken.
--> Do you have to enter a different mind-set to write different stories for different names/characters?
I guess I put myself in the mind of the character I'm writing about. Usually, in my books, I change perspective quite often - sometimes I write from DeMarco's perspective, sometimes from Emma's or Mahoney's, and sometimes from the bad guy's - in which case I'm trying to think and act the way I would expect that character to act. The abilities and attitudes of the characters often/usually drive the plot - i.e., the plot can only go a certain way because of the character's limitations - which is why DeMarco doesn't usually go around breaking bricks with his head because he's not a ninja warrior.
--> Is there any kind of book you would like to write but haven't?
Like I said above, I have at least four stand alones in my laptop that I'd like to publish someday. But they're all basically thrillers. But if you mean: Would I like to write some ponderous, meaningful literary thing dripping with nuance, symbolism, and big words - the answer is no because a) that doesn't interest me and b) because I don't have the talent.
--> If you could change anything about your writing career, what would it be?
I'm happy with my writing career in terms of the writing, my publisher, my editor, my agent, etc. The only thing I'd like to change, as crass as it sounds, is the number of people buying my books. Hey! Maybe I should write some meaningful literary thing dripping with nuance, symbolism ...
--> What’s the most interesting question you’ve ever been asked about your writings, and what was your answer?
It's not the most interesting question but it seems it's the question I'm asked most often: How did you go from a left brain pursuit like engineering to a right brain thing like creative writing - and the answer I basically give is engineering's a lot more right brained than people think it is.
--> If you could have written any single work – novel, screenplay, stage play, poem, history, biography – that you most admire and adore, what would it be?
Anything written by William Goldman - the guy's a genius - and ditto, anything written by Aaron Sorkin. Actually, I'd rather be writing screenplays than novels, but Hollywood hasn't come knocking.
--> Anything you’ve always wanted to be asked about your writing but no one ever has?
Yes. The question would be: "As wonderful and talented as you obviously are, how come Hollywood .... Nah, never mind. Forget that question. The answer is: No.