Published in History & Culture, Author Interview

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Published in History & Culture, Author Interview

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What Are Your greatest Strengths? Two things drive me, read those

Very simply put—life experience. You can be the most reclusive of hermits and still write wonderful fiction. But the inspiration will run dry unless you keep giving your mind something to think about. What are your greatest strengths? This could be going out into the world and trying new things; going to new places, or meeting new people. However, it ...

Very simply put—life experience. You can be the most reclusive of hermits and still write wonderful fiction. But the inspiration will run dry unless you keep giving your mind something to think about. What are your greatest strengths? This could be going out into the world and trying new things; going to new places, or meeting new people.

However, it can also mean taking the time to learn a new skill or read up on a favorite niche topic. Really, anything that keeps the brain thinking about things will work its way into your creative life. Usually, it’s in the most unexpected ways. Also, keeping muses around, that is, people who inspire you or whom you can bounce ideas off, is really helpful eventually.

No matter how rampant that stereotype is, writing doesn’t have to be a miserable hobby for a solitary individual. Besides that, the most important thing is to let go of perfection and just let whatever is coming through do so without judgement. Not everything you write will be a bestseller, and some of the things you come up with might be. So bad they end up in the trash pile, but if you allow yourself to be paralyzed by perfection, you’ll never write at all and whatever gems you are capable of will die before they’re even born.

I was a very creative since my childhood

I was always a very creative child. I loved to tell stories and jokes to the other kids, but I never really wrote anything because my spelling was terrible at the time. I had this belief that being able to grasp proper grammar and spelling was what writing was about, so I didn’t feel like I was good enough to try my hand at it, even when I had several teachers disagree with me. The thing that changed all this was my sixteenth birthday. It was a really depressing event. I’d been out of school for two years (due to illness) and I invited all my school friends over, who I hadn’t seen in all that time. I was so excited. It was going to be the biggest, happiest party of my life.

But then the only people who showed up were my best friend and two boys who had a crush on me. I was devastated. Apparently, my school chums meant a lot more to me than I did to them. I didn’t know where to take my heartbreak, so I sat down and started to write. In doing so I didn’t wallow in my pain but instead rewrote the narrative to make the whole scenario funny — the sort of thing a stand-up comedian might do. And when I did that, I not only felt better about the whole thing, but I also spread a little joy in the form of laughter from the people who did read it. It wasn’t long before I was writing about other events in the same fashion and getting all sorts of positive attention.

People from all over were telling me my life was interesting, and although I had a hard time believing them, I kept on writing. Over the years, I perfected my art until I was able to cross the final threshold into fiction. Now I was free from the restrictions of reality and lived experiences. I could write about anything and anyone. In my adulthood, I have found this just as cathartic. And there’s something so life affirming about spreading joy, or hope, or little glimpses of wisdom. It’s really that fulfilment that keeps bringing me back despite all the other difficulties in my life.

This hardship does not let me sleep

I hate to admit this, but the best time to write is usually in the dead of night, when no one else is awake to disturb the creative flow. Plus, there’s something a bit magical about being up when no one else is. You get a whole new perspective on things when everything is quiet, people are asleep, and there isn’t anything but you and the relative silence around you. It makes it a lot easier to reflect, be one with yourself, and hopefully touch the creative source that inspires you. With that being said, it’s also a terrible schedule to be on if you want to get anything else at all done in your life.

So even a night owl like me had to eventually learn how to just operate on a more normal schedule. Currently, I try to do most of my writing whenever my brain is at full capacity — which is after I’ve eaten breakfast and dealt with anything that might distract my thoughts. It might be as late as dinner before I sit down and focus. It’s less about the timing and more about forcing me to write and hit my daily goals. As long as I have that daily goal lingering in the background, I will not be able to go to sleep that night without accomplishing it. For me, this is what has worked better than anything else. I even write on days when I feel like I have nothing worth writing — just to stay in the habit. And when I do take little breaks, I always find it hard to get back into the routine.

In my opinion, young writers is a need of today

Young writers are very much needed these days, our world is changing so fast that it’s really hard to keep up, and someone needs to be taking note of these changes. When I was  rowing up, I had to read all the classics — the vast majority of which were written by affluent older white men — the same stories that had been taught to my parents and grandparents. Therefore, this was somewhat OK for the time because so little had changed in society that they were still relatable, but there was also a lot missing in these narratives. There was such a large chunk of earth’s population that just did not see themselves in these stories, and that’s important.

Not just for the people who are longing for representation, but also for everyone else who is losing out on the opportunity to learn about people unlike themselves. And if there is anyone out there that is writing about these big issues of culture, gender, race, and identity, it’s going to be the younger generations. I hate to say it, but older authors have all been at least somewhat beaten down by life. Each one of us can point to a time when we’ve been silenced or dismissed, and this ongoing struggle can really make us a lot meeker than we used to be.

A lot less likely to blast our personal truths for the world to see. But young people… they have yet to be broken and if the world is ever going to change for the better it’s going to be because they are screaming as an entire generation for progress. And I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart to see this happening — this upcoming generation knowing that their story is just as important as some old white dude and telling it like it is! Will they make mistakes? Of course, we all do! Will they at times be a little too much? Always. But all that means is we, the older generations of authors, should be guiding them and helping them become even better. They really are our future.

My inspiration is not limited. It is for all the niches

Oh goodness, I don’t have a single niche. I write everything I feel compelled to — personal stories, travel blog entries, satirical takes on history, more scientific articles for laymen, and fiction that runs the gamut of genres. I will never be able to stick to one thing, and that’s

OK, because I can find a use for all of them. I think many writers encourage other writers to focus on one genre because it is far easier to market yourself if you have a singular voice. I won’t argue that point, but I just don’t think it works for me and my ADHD addled mind.

Furthermore, I go wherever the creative spirit takes me, and I don’t complain simultaneously! In fact, the whole process has been a wonderful avenue to learn and to practice catharsis. Whenever I come across, something that really bothers me. I find it helpful to write my characters into a different scenario, a better scenario. For instance, I got fed up with super dysfunctional (or downright abusive) relationships being shown as romantic, so now whenever I have love interests I try to write them as healthy, respectful, and loving. You might think this would make for a passive and boring read, but no! There are still lots of action and drama, it’s just not coming from the characters, it’s coming from the outside world they live in. It’s been a beautiful process and one that, I think, has over time made me a more kind and forgiving person.

My favorite book, “Achilles in Heels”

Wouldn’t that be nice to have a book that was genuinely popular! I’m afraid I haven’t gotten there yet, though I am certainly trying! Even so, I do harbor an intense affection for the last book I published: Achilles in Heels. It’s a modern retelling of the unusual teenage years of Achilles. Long before he was a Trojan war hero, his mother Thetis thought she’d protect him from his fated death in battle by dressing him up as a girl and hiding him in a harem of princesses. From here the book is about a very action-oriented Achilles dealing with all the usual trivialities of his teenage years but with the added complication of his secret identity. The simplest of things get twisted wildly out of control as he tries desperately to keep face. At his side is his closest friend Deidamia, a sharp-tongued and adventure prone princess who spends all her free time trying to thwart any possible marriage proposals thrown her way.

She provides a cynical yet endearingly funny perspective to every situation and sitting across from her, often in competition for Achilles’ attention, is his childhood best friend Patroclus.  Patroclus can’t compete with the cutting with of his companions, but what he lacks in mental prowess, he makes up for in heart. He pulls this unlikely ragtag bunch together in a soft and loving way, smoothing out issues that need a gentle touch. Together, they face the world with courage and audacity, learning all of life’s greatest lessons in one adventure after another. All three of these vibrant characters lived in my mind for about twenty years before I committed them to a book. And now they’re ready to be loved by the world just as much as they were loved by myself.

Reading the first chapter from the book, “Achilles in Heels”

My strength and the source of inspiration is Jack Kerouac

… I shambled after [them] as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me. Because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time. The ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles…

Jack Kerouac

I read this quote when I was still a teenager, and it was only theoretical to me. I dreamed about a life where I would find fellow misfits and freaks. It would be a few years before I started meeting individuals who burned with the same intensity that is noted in this quote, and it took on a much greater significance to me. From there, I realized that there are a handful of individuals out there who are so completely their own person that literally everything else doesn’t matter. These have been my greatest muses, my deepest friends, my most beloved of romantic companions. They have inspired me just by existing and being themselves.

There’s a sort of chaotic, beautiful energy that comes from the excitement of reading them, whatever I am working on. It’s these people, the ones who get me, that are my most loyal of cheerleaders. They believe in my talent and vision even when I am at my lowest and just want to hide in the dark and pretend I don’t exist. And I hope I have, in return, encouraged them to be their best as well in whatever endeavors they chose. They have taught me that if I don’t fit in somewhere, or am unhappy with something, all I have to do is find others like me that can help me change the narrative. It’s been a remarkable journey this life of mine, and I am so grateful I have been able to express this in my writing.

Furthermore, read Ethan on his writing and daily habits

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