Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a talented writer and friend of mine, Craig Hart. He’s authored books, runs a magazine, and even a publishing company. He’s a man of many talents and will force you to open a dictionary once or twice. Enjoy getting to know Craig as he has a wealth of information/knowledge/and entertainment to offer.
You’re the editor of a magazine, run a publishing company, and have a new book coming out. My first question is: When do you sleep?
Writing and the literary world can be a tough taskmaster and will take as much time as you’ll give it. There was certainly a time when sleeping and other basic human needs (like eating) would be forgotten in the rush to accomplish. But I’ve been learning (and trying to practice) that carving out “me” time, which includes sleeping, eating, and spending some time with family and friends, is vital to my productivity and overall health. It probably has something to do with getting older, too. The break-neck pace is tougher to maintain these days!
Tell us a little about your writing endeavors including a line/passage from your upcoming book, THE WRITER’S TUNE-UP MANUAL, that the world needs to read.
One of the things that suffered most during the period in which I was starting the magazine and publishing company was my own writing time, so I’ve been excited to get back into it. The Writer’s Tune-Up Manual is the first personal project I’ve put out since then and is not only a product of the experience gained through my own years of writing, but also that which I’ve seen in the countless submissions to both The Rusty Nail and Sweatshoppe Publications. I see the mistakes that writers make and The Manual is a composite of writing exercises that target the areas that seem to be the weakest among the writers I’ve read. By the way, I don’t write this book on the pretense that I’m the best writer in the world, but when you read as many failed manuscripts as I do, you get a sense of what’s going wrong with them…the mechanics, the techniques.
The following is a passage from The Manual, taken from an exercise called “Thou Spelunker.” I think this principle is vital and it took me an embarrassingly long time to learn it: “…plot is character. Your plot will never be any better than the characters who populate it. Learning to connect the two is the key.”
You’ve been presented with the opportunity to be a best-selling author but can never write again or write forever but never have a bestseller. Which scenario sounds more tempting?
Oh, man, no contest. Write forever without a bestseller. I always tell people, “If you’re writing for the money, don’t.” And I still believe that. Writers (and here I’m talking about the writer as an artist) are born, not made. You can and should improve at the craft, but that insatiable desire to write is a natural beast.
If you could live on a college campus and never leave or in a small town but be able to travel, which one would you choose?
Even though I dig education and college campuses, I have to choose small town and travel. I love small towns. They are a wealth of character source material and I like the peace and quiet. I also like to travel, so living in one small place forever would be hard for me.
Okay, how about New Zealand or Scotland?
Who is your favorite 90’s band (I’m thinking Counting Crows, Blink 182, Hootie & the Blowfish)?
I’ll take Collective Soul for $200, Alex, er, Jackson.
And what about your favorite comedy on TV (I love The Office and Seinfeld)?
That’s tough to answer, because I go through stages of adoration followed by indifference. I have liked Family Guy, The Office, Arrested Development, King of Queens, and Rules of Engagement just to name a few. Oh, and American Dad and Parks and Recreation. I am a fickle television viewer. About the only thing I’ve remained steady on is football, which returns on August 9, by the way.
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
Why, yes! I am currently writing a novel entitled Mosquito Bay, which is about a boy named Jimmy who discovers some troubling things about his family, including his mother’s death. It’s a gritty tale, but honest, as we watch Jimmy struggle to grow up in the shadow of his family’s dark past. It’s scheduled to release in December 2013.
Now that’s a novel I want to read 🙂
Who is your favorite author and if you could ask him/her one question, what would it be?
Mark Twain. I’d probably ask him how he handled criticism of his work. Even though his books were popular even in his own day, he was not without his detractors. I think it would be nice to get some insight from such a great mind.
Ocean or mountains? Ocean
Peaches or plums? Peaches
Skittles or M & M’s? Skittles
Happy or sad ending to a novel? Happy
Beer or wine? Beer
Flying or driving? Driving
Edgar Allan Poe or Walt Whitman? Poe
You’re stranded on a desert island and you can take two things with you as well as two people. What and who are you bringing?
Hmmm…well, assuming I can find food and fresh water on the island, I’m going to take a ream of blank paper and a package of long-lasting ink pens so I can continue my Work-in-Progress. As far as people go, I will take my wife (and best friend) Kim and my cat Gracie. (I know cats aren’t people, but Gracie vociferously disagrees.)
You’re able to sit down with any president in United States history. Who would you choose, what would you talk about, and would you rather have him over to your house or meet at the White House?
I’d love to have Teddy Roosevelt stop over at my place for a beer and a cigar. Not because I think he was the greatest president ever, but because I think he’d be incredibly entertaining!
You can wish for one thing and one thing only, not world peace and no more wishes. What’s it gonna be?
I wish you’d let me choose either world peace or more wishes. Hahaha…no, seriously. I wish more people would make the decision to follow their dreams or their “bliss,” as some put it these days. There is something truly liberating about doing what you’re meant to do. It’s certainly a scary thing, since this often means getting way outside your comfort zone, but I have found that it’s well worth it.
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Craig Hart is a writer, editor, and publisher. His prose and poetry have been published both traditionally and independently. His love of language goes back to the day he learned to read. He read voraciously as a child, edited the high school journal, and wrote short stories during his teen years. At college he edited the campus newspaper. Once out of college, he began a popular online book review service. In 2007, he withdrew from reviewing to focus his attention on writing. Early in 2012 he founded The Rusty Nail literary magazine for which he serves as editor-in-chief. He is also the publisher for Sweatshoppe Publications. Hart is a member of the American Society of Authors and Writers and the Rockford Writer’s Guild. He lives in Rockford, Illinois with his wife Kimberly in a house owned by their cat, Gracie.