I’d like to welcome Todd Crawford, author of Young Adulterer, to my blog today!
Not the typical author photo, but hey… I suppose it says a lot about our guest author today.
Let’s start by finding out a little bit about you…
• What is your name and do you write under a pen name?
I’m Todd Daniel Crawford. I write under the name Todd Crawford but if I ever publish anything else I’ll probably change that to avoid further confusion, since I was named after my father.
• Where do you call home?
I have a house in Pittsburgh with my friends and cats. In terms of where I go in the morning after getting home from work, that’s it. If not there, my family is spread across Mercer County, PA.
• Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
The good news is that writing is my day job; the bad news is that’s because I work overnights. I work full-time and am also struggling to pioneer my company, Long Shot Books. I suppose I’m perfectly mediocre at what I do, without getting into the details. I enjoy it well enough. I’m fortunate to have it.
• What is your family like?
I had two families. The family still in my life is pretty diverse characteristically. The unifying factor is that we’re all obsessed with sauerkraut.
• If it doesn’t bother you, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
I had a few. The earliest one had a basement where I could hang out with friends and watch TV. The upstairs had a living room where we’d have the Christmas tree and all that; it was connected to a kitchen. To the right of it was a hallway with everyone’s bedrooms.
• Do you have any hobbies, other than writing? What do you enjoy doing?
I like talking with people more than anything. Exercising, watching movies, listening to music are also things I try to do as much as possible.
• What is your greatest dream?
I don’t think I have any concrete goals anymore. I just try to be the best person I can be and do the most I can do with my life. There are a few people I’d like to meet but I duno what I’d say to them. I look forward to marrying Rihanna someday.
• What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
I just want to be a moral, responsible person. The issue is that theory is always easier than execution. You catch yourself acting less than your best before after you’re already midway through it. I try to cut down on those moments and learn from them so I don’t repeat my mistakes too often anymore. I just want to be an honest, reliable, kind person who is also a renowned good lay.
• Not to pry too much, but do you remember your first love?
Yeah. I have nightmares about it on a weekly basis. Other than that, I try not to.
• What is the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
I suffered a lot of extensive trauma as a kid, things that didn’t register until I was much older and put myself in the context of being an “adult” and realizing how evil some of the things imposed on me were.
• What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I inspired myself, I think. I wrote because I lacked the resources to make movies and I got bored of drawing. Significantly, Clive Barker was a big influence. Of course, James Joyce, David Bowie, Max Bemis, Woody Allen, and Bergman are all pretty huge influences on everything I do. They’re the ones I always catch myself accidentally ripping-off when I take a step back.
• What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
My dream was to act and direct in movies. I accomplished that to some degree with my old movie company, Renaissance Men. It was as rewarding as I thought it would be in some ways and it was also more taxing than I thought it would be. It was incredibly indie, guerilla filmmaking, which I loved. I don’t think I’d do it any other way. There was an honest, a desperation to that which was really charming. I think our limited resources challenged us and helped us bond in mostly healthy ways. I’m not proud of everything we did but I’m really thankful for those experiences and that I shared them with the people I did.
• Who is your role model?
My mom, my grandfather, my uncle, my high school teacher/academic decathlon coach, a few college professors. Lately, I’ve been listening to a ton of Chris Conley interviews to get me out of bad moods.
• What is your greatest fear?
At this point in my life I’ve lived through about three worst case scenario, worst fear things. I mean, on a less existential, simpler note, snakes.
• Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books?
I have one paperback currently out, which is a book I wrote in 2016 titled Young Adulterer. I plan on releasing my whole bibliography for free on the internet at some point. I had a plan to rerelease everything in paperback and Kindle but I don’t like the Kindle formatting stuff anymore and don’t really give a darn about making money or the old books being widely accessible. I’ll probably throw them or the digital files on some site public and leave it at that.
• Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
I’ve read The Hellbound Heart about a dozen times and Weaveworld maybe four times. There are some books I definitely plan on rereading but I want to wait until I’m a bit older and can see them from a different perspective.
• What is your opinion of novellas?
They’re great. Artistically, it’s very liberating not to meet some arbitrary quota for the sake of sales. I understand the economics of it and why publishers shy away from them but thanks to Amazon and e-readers, we have the luxury of putting art first. Plus, as someone who struggles to read more than one book a year due to mental illness, it’s pretty nice to have fun-size reads that’ll only take up a night or two. I’m afraid of commitment when it comes to reading.
• Have you ever read a book just based on its cover?
Yeah, it was a Ramsey Campbell book titled The Hungry Moon. It was great.
• What is your favorite film based on a book?
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which is also tied for my favorite movie.
• What is your favorite book genre at the moment?
I try not to discriminate based on genre but…”literary” fiction, whatever that means. I like seeing things I’ve never seen before and can’t fully comprehend. I’m one of those people to watch or read analyses after I get confused by something. I think it’s better to need help and be willing to seek it out rather than pretend like I already understand everything.
• What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why?
I’m getting ready to open up a contest for publication, just released a book, and am writing another, so I’ve been more about clearing my list than expanding it. I am hoping to get into nonfiction soon, though. Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss is definitely going to wind up on my bookshelf at some point.
• What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, reading a paperback. Well, intending to. I’m stuck because working ten hour long overnight shifts really kills my ambition to read. When it boils down to it, I’m either reading or writing, never both. If I’m neck-deep in a manuscript, I’m not gonna pull myself away from it to read. I do hope to finish that by 2020, though.
• If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why?
Ohh, boy. David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, and Kanye West. I wouldn’t even need to be at the party; I’d just like footage of them holding a conversation.
Let’s shift somewhat and talk about your latest story.
• What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say?
Young Adulterer. Briefly, it’s about the possibility of forgiveness in a post-Christian society. Without forgiveness, how do we live with past mistakes?
• Is the above book part of a series?
Yeah, it’s kind-of the third in a series. It’s also a reboot. It’s the first time you see these character’s names and the framed narrative is constantly shifting in perspective, so this is a new interpretation of characters I’ve been writing since 2011. I’m writing the sequel, so, either the second or fourth, depending on how you look at it, titled Conditional Love, now.
• How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)?
I just thought of the image of a baby drinking a little bottle of alcohol and wanted a neon look to emulate those bar signs. I love the opening credits to the movie Re-Animator by Stuart Gordon. I sent all this with images from the aforementioned film to Amit Paul on Fiver and he was super generous and brought my crazy concept to live. He really gave it all the character and charm it has. I always say not to judge my book by its cover, because the cover’s really great.
• Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)?
It all depends on the creative experience I’m striving for. If I want to be uncomfortable, I’ll blare music that I loathe to keep myself on my toes and edgy. Sometimes, I’ll play something like Sigor Ros if I just want to hone in on the writing (usually if I’m writing in public). Lately, I’ve been writing in silence. Always with earbuds in, though.
• How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
I make lists of potential titles, sometimes dozens for each book. I boil it down to what makes the most sense thematically. When I know I’ve got a keeper, I usually know.
• Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it?
I do not and if I did, I’m sure it would be absolutely abysmal. I like book trailers in theory and enjoy the ones I’ve seen but I have no concept for one or means to execute one anyhow.
• In your latest novel, who is the lead character and can you tell us a little about him/her?
The main character is Wesley Thompson, named after Wes Craven and Nancy Thompson (the protagonist of A Nightmare on Elm Street). He’s an alcoholic who is mortified by the thought of objectivity. He cannot confront himself and he’s always weaseling out of responsibility through moral relativity or tricks of perspective. He’s heavily-based on Patrick Bateman and Humbert Humbert. I don’t really relate to the character or his actions but some of his fears are exaggerated versions of my own. He’s not the most reliable narrator but he does ultimately do the right thing, after about eighty pages of whining about it.
• What is your character’s greatest strengths?
He means well. Despite his self-destructive habits, he only wishes to hurt himself. He goes through a lot of change between the first book and second. He just wants to be redeemed in the eyes of others because he can’t forgive himself for the person he’s become.
• And what are his/her greatest weaknesses?
Well, he can’t forgive himself for his past, as I stated above, so he puts that responsibility onto others. He drinks to avoid his problems rather than meditating upon solutions. He isn’t the best lover or brother or cashier in the world.
• What are some of his/her favorite foods?
He drinks like Falstaff and eats like a goat in the first book. In the second, he undergoes a pretty serious transformation in terms of dietary habits.
• What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
He forgets his own potential because he’s too distracted by the fact that he’s wasting it.
• Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
I try not to judge people but instead judge their actions. I hope readers are mature enough to do the same with my book. He’s very often very wrong. He makes a thousand mistakes that I hope I would never do and that my readers never would. I think the readers’ interpretation of a character like this says a lot about how they view people. Do they accept that someone is trying to rehabilitate or crucify them to their past?
• What first gave you the idea for your latest book?
I really liked the idea of taking an epistolary blog book (the first two books in the series) and taking a few steps back while also keeping the narrative in first-person. You realize more and more about this person that they are uncomfortable sharing and you’re forced to read between the lines to see what’s really going on. I had the idea of having it take place at a five-year high school reunion that I’d write five years after the first book in the series (which takes place right after his graduation) since the first book; it just made thematic sense.
Let’s talk now about your writing process.
• What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
I’m a plotter, I suppose. I spend years establishing a thematic framework and outline for my books, usually. Each book is approached differently. Usually, I’ll outline a lot of plot details so that when I’m actually writing them, I can improvise and freestyle within that sandbox. Occasionally, I’ll expand or cut things. In Young Adulterer, I cut a lot of things in the third act but expanded the mid-section. With the current book, for each section I’m writing, I’m coming up with two more I didn’t plan on.
• Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? What would you do differently the next time?
There are always gonna be challenges and I think the approach should always be a little different. Specifically, today, I think that there’s so many talented writers and publishers, so much competition that it’s very difficult to get noticed. I accept that I never will. I’m not gonna wind up on an Amazon best-seller list and I’m fine with that. I don’t write for recognition or praise. I write because I believe in a concept and I hope to see that through. The book is my reward. I sat on this one for a few years before deciding to release it; so long as the book is in existence and those who want to read it can, I’m happy.
• Are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company?
Yeah, I’m self-published.
• If you’re a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route?
I shopped a ton of agents and publishing houses but aside from a few I never heard back from, it didn’t feel right. It felt like I was dating around just to avoid feeling lonely. I just wanted someone to rep me. Then, it hit me that nobody knows my book like I do. If I’m not wholly comfortable with these people I’m submitting to, why not just do it myself? I don’t say that in a mean-spirited way. It just felt more appropriate. That idea really felt like what I had to do when I decided not to take any profits for this book.
• What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
I don’t know if I was ever given this or if I’ve just been giving it for so long I can’t remember. I just say to be honest and keep it real. Don’t sell yourself or the audience short and don’t commit to anything you can’t answer for.
• Where can your readers follow you? Please list links to any applicable websites and/or social media accounts.
I’m not really anywhere on social media anymore. I used to run a YouTube, which I’ll provide below. I’m more of a person who writes books than I am an “author” these days. I don’t necessarily want a platform of elevated speech at this point in my life. I have a Twitter I hardly use and I run the Twitter for my company that I post on semi-regularly and try to share things to help other writers as much as possible. I also write blog posts on the company site every now and again.