S P O T L I G H T A U T H O R : ROBERT HAYS
Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your occupation outside of writing?
I was born in the southern
Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m probably the classic introvert: not comfortable in social situations, particularly where there are many people I don’t know, but at ease in front of a classroom or lecture hall or among a small gathering of friends.
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names.
I’m glad you asked! Technically, we have no pets. But we actually “share” a beautiful and loving male orange tabby cat named Eddie with the family next door. He arrived as a stray a few years ago and chose to adopt us all, although he apparently decided on me as his favorite human. They were able to take him—we couldn’t and shouldn’t have because Mary is seriously allergic to cats—but we play a role similar to nearby grandparents. He spends most of his days with us but usually goes home at night. Yes, Mary suffers. But she says she’d rather die than give up time with Eddie.
What are your favorite books to read?
I like both fiction and non-fiction and usually read some of each concurrently. For non-fiction, I prefer history and politics and for fiction I like stories with ordinary people in everyday settings as heroes. My favorite contemporary author is Kent Haruf. His novel, Eventide, is among the best published in the last several years.
Where is the most unique place you have traveled?
Not conventional travel, but I think it would be a tour of the maximum-security
Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Teaching. I’ve been privileged to teach hundreds of the best and brightest young men and women, and there’s nothing more satisfying. I love the interaction with students and take great pleasure in seeing them mature and progress and go on to greater things after they leave the university. I try to stay in contact with them and still keep up with former students from many years ago.
How many books have you written and how many of those are published? (Please list the names of your books here)
I’ve written or edited eight books, all published. Four are non-fiction and two of these have been reissued in paperback editions.
My non-fiction books are G-2: Intelligence for Patton (a collaboration with Gen. Oscar Koch), Country Editor, State Science in
My fiction includes Early Stories from the Land, an anthology of short stories by other writers which I edited, and three novels: Circles in the Water, The Life and Death of Lizzie Morris, and The
Do you have one particular genre that all your books fall under (i.e. suspense, romance, etc.) or do you write in many different genres?
My work would be hard to place in a given genre. Two of the three novels are love stories, but not conventional romance. The Baby River Angel is tagged as a paranormal romance but includes elements of mystery, humor, romance, perhaps a bit of the paranormal, and even includes a low speed police chase.
How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?
I start with a mental outline of the story, at least the beginning and the end, and the main characters. How the story develops from there may take several twists and turns I haven’t thought of in advance and almost always includes the addition of new and surprising characters. For me, this is the real fun of writing. I never try to plan in detail because I want the freedom to go where the story takes me.
Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive? How did you handle the rejections?
My first book was a collaborative work of military history with Gen. Oscar Koch as the authoritative author. I was young and inexperienced and way out of my league. Gen. Koch was diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly after we began and passed away before the book had a publisher. I had no idea of all the pitfalls that lay ahead, but he was such a hero to me that I was determined to see his book in print. There were rejections, of course, but out of ignorance and determination I managed to overlook them and keep trying. That book is still in print after forty years.
How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?
Because I did my early writing as a reporter, I learned to write virtually any time, anywhere, and under almost any circumstances. Always facing a deadline, of course. I’ve been able to sit down and write whenever I want for a few minutes or for hours at a time. As long as I was teaching I usually did my writing late at night—after class preparation and grading was finished. Now I write when the mood strikes or I have a new idea I want to get down while it’s fresh.
Of the many books you have written, tell us which is your favorite and why.
For reasons stated above, G-2: Intelligence for Patton has to be my favorite. I would do a better job with it today than I did at the time, but I still take immense satisfaction in knowing that my contribution was essential to its publication and its publication helped change important misperceptions about events during World War II. This book has become a standard reference for military historians and gained for Gen. Koch at least some of the credit he richly deserves.
Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?
This is a hard one. Like most writers, probably, I tend to like all my characters. If I must pick a favorite, though, I think it would be Mack Brown, the used-car salesman in Circles in the Water who gives Jimmie Broder his first job and becomes an important influence. Mack was unplanned. He came about when I needed another character to help carry the story. Because he was unplanned and lacked a preconceived role, I was able to give him whatever characteristics I wanted and he turned out to be a great guy.
If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?
I consider To Kill a Mockingbird an almost perfect novel and Atticus Finch an almost perfect character. I would love to sit with him on his front porch in small-town
If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?
Be persistent. Keep writing and keep trying. In today’s publishing world, you have many more alternatives than writers had in the past.
What's up next for you and your writing?
I always work on more than one story at a time. I’ve started three novels, with beginnings and endings, and as I flesh them out I will decide eventually which one I like best and thus which one gets finished first. At this point I’m inclined to like them all and believe they all merit completion.
Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?
Write for the love of writing. Enjoy words. Write and rewrite and rewrite some more. Never be satisfied with what you write until you are absolutely certain it is as good as you can make it. Even if it’s never published, take pleasure in the fact that you created something of value. And remember, just as a wall is built one brick at a time, your story is built one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. This is why it’s called the creative process and considered by most of us to be a craft more than an art.
Where can we read more about you and your work?
And visit my Amazon Author's page:
S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.
For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.