GM: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
GM: What is the premise for your new book Big Sky Boys?
TL: I’ve always been in love with the west and as a kid, westerns were always my favorite shows on television. During my teenage years I had opportunity to work at a horse breeding ranch/ boarding stable sort of place and was able to ride a number of horses including my own. I loved anything cowboy/horse/cattle related and so when it came time to tell my grandkids bedtime stories, they naturally were cowboy stories. The other motivation is that I’m privileged to now live in the great state of Montana which still has a pretty strong cowboy/western culture in most places. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily follow that everybody here wears boots and hats. I will admit however to wearing jeans, boots, and the occasional cowboy hat when possible.
TL: I would have to say that one of my favorite children’s authors was Lois Lenski. She depicted rural, agricultural life in the 1940’s and 50’s. I suppose they appealed to me partly because they depicted the old one room schoolhouse which I found fascinating. When I was a boy, I had opportunity to visit them once in a while since my dad taught in two different one room schools in Michigan. My parents both came from farm back rounds and because of that her stories about farm kids in the Dakotas were very relatable to me. I also loved her simple but compelling drawings of farm scenes.
TL: I read a wide variety of books and magazines. I’m currently wading my way through Steven Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage. It covers the Lewis and Clark expedition of the Northwest. It’s a rather controversial topic these days as it relates to “first peoples” but I love history and reading anything about American History.
TL: Well I’ve had a recent hiatus from writing but will be jumping back into it this week. I have two stories going at the moment unrelated to The Big Sky Boys stories. One is what I guess would be a middle grade novel about a young boy who is orphaned in 1930’s Montana and ends up living with an old rancher. I’ve set it near the town of Choteau Montana on the front range of the Rockies. Currently it’s titled Dan T. I also have another story I’m working on which diverges completely from anything western. It follows the life of a young Japanese boy born into a Shinobi (commonly called ninja) family. I intend to finish it as is and then do a rather extensive revision of it. So far, it’s titled The Reluctant Ninja. I’m not putting any timeline for finishing these. They’re done when they’re done, I guess. While all this is going on, I’ve also begun to create a sort of mini memoir of the time I spent with the military in the country of Iraq in 2003, 2004 to leave for my family. It’s just some impressions of experiences people and places in that ancient country.
TL: When I begin to consider a new story, I try to come up with a theme or character and then begin to make a sort of outline of what kinds of events should happen. Then I try to flesh out each event and begin to string them together. As I work this process, I’ll often ask for my wife’s ears to listen to segments and get her input. It helps to have another perspective as to what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to idea generation, I am absolutely convinced that the influence of all the children’s books and maybe the hundreds if not thousands of books I’ve read or listened to in audio format have aided in writing. I’m also a firm believer that writers have to continue to read as well as write. Although I’m getting to that “advanced” age I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading good well written children’s literature.
GM: What advice do you have for novice writers?
TL: I would say that even though the industry seems to say you must write for the market, (current trends) I would advise new writers to write what’s on your heart or in your imagination. There is a part of me that would love to become successful at writing from the financial perspective but even if what I write never sees the light of day and is only a legacy I leave my grandchildren that’s ok.