Winterview with Author George R. McNeese

To celebrate 13 weeks of winter, Hàlön Chronicles will be conducting one interview a week for 13 weeks. We’ve also partnered with additional artists and authors for a few surprises throughout the winter. Join us on the hashtag #13Winterviews, or check out our blog hop for a sneak peek at who’s on the roster in the coming weeks.

Hosted by: K. J. Harrowick

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born on January 23rd in Chicago, but I have roots in the South. I moved to Georgia when I was thirteen. It was there that I started writing. I remember writing adventure stories of Detective Falcon and his sidekick, Rush (ode to the Mega Man series). I got a lot of praise for my work. (Someone actually tried to write a story with characters I created.) My passion for writing didn’t really take off until college. I attended Georgia Perimeter College for two years. My original major was Elementary Education. As part of my elective requirement, I took a Creative Writing class. From there, I was hooked. I even had a poem and short story published in the school’s literary magazine, Creative License. I still have a copy of the issue that my works were published in. After two years, I transferred to Georgia State University in Atlanta. I also changed my major to English with a Creative Writing concentration. I graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in the field. (Fun fact: it’s still in the mailing tube. I haven’t found a frame for it.) After school, I dabbled in writing here and there. In that span, I married my best friend and I have two wonderful children. Trying to keep up with them and work doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing. But recently, I decided to take writing more seriously. I started a blog three years ago and joined a slew of writing groups on Facebook. They have been so helpful and encouraging in my writing journey.

2. What types of books do you write, and why?

I write short stories, though I hope to have some published in an anthology like the Pushcart Prize or have a collection of stories. I write in Contemporary Fiction because that is what I read throughout school and into adulthood. It’s what I “know.”

3. What were your early influences, and how does this manifest in your work today?

Some of my early influences were playwrights like Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare. In terms of novels, I would say F. Scott Fitzgerald is the most memorable influence. I remember reading their works and imagine being a director and seeing their plays unfold. The themes of love and loss play a pivotal role in the works I write. A lot of my stories revolve around relationships of varying degrees and how internal and external forces affect the dynamics.

4. Are there aspects of the craft that excite you more than others?

Writing the first draft excites me more than anything else. I love the feeling of getting the story out onto the page for the first time. I admit that it is the most intimidating because I’m starting fresh and I have no idea if the idea can be fleshed out to a full-fledged story. But I relish in the challenge of getting the words out there. To see the potential of a story come to fruition.

5. What books or websites are your go-to places while editing?

The biggest challenge I find with short stories is the restriction the format puts in place. I’ve read from multiple sources that the largest word count for a short story is 7,500-10,000 words. And that knowledge heightens and intensifies certain aspects of stories. For example, longer works can spread the story throughout days and weeks. Even months. Short stories don’t have that luxury. With any format, the writer has to be able to hook the reader right away. In the short story format, the writer has to be able to hook the reader with a couple of paragraphs. Certainly within the first page. Developing well-rounded characters is much more important in short stories. Writers have to be more selective in what details are most important and most impactful to the story.

But I think that’s where short stories have an advantage. Because readers don’t always have the time to fully vest themselves into novels, a shorter work can focus on a specific time frame and, if done right, can experience the same impact.

6. Tell us about your writing space.

I really don’t have a traditional writing space. I don’t have a section in my house that’s exclusively for writing. If I’m at home, I’m usually at my kitchen table with either my laptop, notebook, or both, depending on what I’m working on. I keep my iPhone nearby so that I can stream Spotify. (It’s easier to stream music on my phone than on the laptop.) Most of the time, I don’t keep any food or drinks nearby. It can be a distraction. (It’s another story if I’m at a local coffee shop or Barnes and Noble.)

7. Tell us about your current WIP or your latest book release.

As it stands right now, I don’t have anything in the works. But I am thinking about ideas that have the potential to become full-fledged stories. Even if I was in the middle of a project, ideas are percolating in my head. That can be a double-edged sword if not handled properly.

Host note: George was kind enough to share one of his short stories for Winterviews. Click below to read The First Timer.

The First Timer The First Timer
Sean tells me of a barber shop off Richland Street. “Cairo,” he says, “is an awesome shop. It’s just like Winston’s, but better.” What he fails to tell me is that I have to drive through downtown.

Click here to read George R. McNeese’s short story, The First Timer.

If anyone wants to reach me, I’m on Twitter most of the time. My handle is @George_McNeese. I have a blog (Project Blacklight) where I share my works and everything that is going on in my writing and personal life. Those are the two best ways to connect with me.

Don’t forget to check out this year’s Winterviews and partner interviews. You can also follow this blog and be the first to know when new content is released.

2 comments to Winterview with Author George R. McNeese

  • Maria A Guglielmo  says:

    Great interview! I’m with George, I love the first draft! Then the editing is sooo painful.

  • Lissa Johnston (@Lissa_Johnston)  says:

    Short stories are one genre I haven’t attempted yet. So hard! Props to all who are able to communicate so much in so little time. I like beginnings also, but I think I was an editor in another life. I love the shaping and growth that occurs after you’ve been working on a story for a while.

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