Interview with Bill Dodds
Most Recent Book: The World’s Funniest Atheist
Education: Seminary for high school and first two years of college and then University of Washington. (BA in English with emphasis on creative writing.)
Current Employment: Freelance writer. President of the Friends of St. John the Caregiver (www.FSJC.org), an international Catholic organization that promotes care for family caregivers. Editor of My Daily Visitor magazine (published by Our Sunday Visitor). Family columnist for Catholic News Service.
Profile: Very happy Catholic and family man. Entertaining writer. Dad and grandfather. Recent widower.
List of Books Published:
The World’s Funniest Atheist
How to Write Your Novel in Nine Weeks (non-fiction)
My Great-grandfather Turns 12 Today (for children)
O Father: A Murder Mystery
The Hidden Fortune (for children)
Encyclopedia of Mary (non-fiction)
Author Website: http://www.BillDodds.com
Author Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bill-Dodds/266416096723291?sk=wall
Author Blog: http://billdodds.blogspot.com/
Catholic Fiction: Why do you write?
Bill Dodds: I have a talent for it and you know how God feels about using talents. Plus, I really like it. That doesn’t mean it’s always a hi-ho time doing it but there’s a tremendous sense of joy doing what you believe is a part of your vocation.
CF: What first inspired you to become a writer?
BD: I had teachers in grade school and high school who helped me learn the rules of grammar, punctuation and such. After that – I tell students when I’m speaking at grade school – it was like learning the rules of a sport well enough that you could just go out and enjoy playing the game.
BD: Very, very heavy on dialogue and humor.
CF: Is there a favorite place you have to write? Describe your usual workspace and writing routine.
BD: I have a tiny office in our house. (About eight feet by eight feet. The office, not the house.) The routine depends on what the writing is. For a novel I do best if I write first thing in the morning. I write 500 words and then quit. (I explained that routine in my book on novel writing.) I’ve been doing this a long time so now that takes about an hour.
CF: What is your cure for procrastination?
BD: Let me get back to you on that. Or . . . I do best when I have a daily word count. Five hundred words a day, every day but Sunday.
CF: What do you see as the “Catholic imagination”?
BD: I suppose most simply it means being a good Catholic and a good writer. You don’t compromise either role.
CF: What three writers – alive or dead – would you like to invite to dinner?
BD: St. John the Evangelist (who is also St. John the Caregiver), Flannery O’Connor and Louis L’Amour
CF: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
BD: Creating. We were made in God’s image, including being creators. (Well, that and people think you’re a lot smarter than you are. Friends and family know better.)
CF: What is your latest book about? Provide a one sentence synopsis.
BD: In an instant—and much to his horror—the self-proclaimed “World’s Funniest Atheist” knows God exists.
CF: What inspired you to write this story in the first place?
BD: I thought it would interesting to do a twist on the old “Christian evangliest is really a skunk” theme and write about a well-known atheist who desperately wants to hide the fact he’s been given the gift of faith.
CF: Did you hold onto the idea for a long time before giving it shape, or did it come together in a flash? Describe the process.
BD: I had the first scene in mind and then just let the story tell itself. These days, I don’t do much plotting ahead of time. The characters do what they do, say what they say, and I write it down. But this wasn’t the method I always used. It developed after writing a lot of novels. (I wrote ten books before I had one published.) I like to follow the general form of “three acts”: something shifts one-quarter of the way through and something shifts at three-quarters of the way through. I assumed this book would be about 80 (very short!) chapters, so the shifts would come at about chapter 20 and chapter 60.
CF: All fiction comes from a mix of past influences and impressions—things we’ve lived, seen, imagined, or read. Can you talk about some of the elements that came together to shape this particular fiction?
BD: The Catholic faith and my family.
CF: What did you have to do to prepare for this book in terms of research, etc.?
BD: My wife, Monica, and I drove to the little town where a lot of the novel takes place. A pleasant day trip.
CF: Name one good habit you have as a writer and would like to continue to cultivate.
BD: I maintain a daily word count when I write.
CF: What is the most discouraging aspect of being a writer?