About Gerald R Stanek:
As a student of the esoteric teachings of various wisdom traditions, Gerald R Stanek’s focuses on the interplay between the mundane and ethereal worlds, and the effect of transcendental experiences on subjective reality. The characters of his novels, such as Rosa Mundi and The Road to Shambhala, seek to be active participants in the expansion of consciousness and the evolution toward a unified humanity.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by the little synchronicities and serendipities that we all experience, and most of us ignore. Each time we are nudged out of our routine by a ‘coincidence’ or a few seconds of déja-vu, no matter how insignificant it might seem, we are being invited to step into another world, to expand our awareness beyond the limits of our cultures and traditional beliefs. The moment we realize we are being touched by something outside ourselves, something out of the blue, we make ourselves available to the revelatory, the mystical, the new.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
My favorite authors include Faulkner, Tolstoy, Iris Murdoch, Vladimir Nabokov, Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner, Conrad Richter, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, James Joyce, etc.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a seat of the pants writer who has learned the importance of outlining. I hate doing it, but it’s necessary. A short story can be successfully written without an outline, maybe even a novella, but a full-length novel needs more planning to ensure a solid structure. I do minimal character sketches before beginning a novel, knowing I will change my mind as I go, but leaving anything too open-ended in a long work tends to beget self-contradiction, which leads to confusion for the reader. I don’t use any special software when outlining, but I’m sure it could be helpful.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Hearing a character ‘talk’ is crucial to getting dialogue right. When I’m ‘cooking’ a book—working out the plot, outlining it—I often find one or two characters hanging around, slipping their narrative voices into my mind during quiet moments in the day. It’s a delicate balance. If you’re writing in the first person (and it’s not autobiographical), being able to call on that voice is crucial to get the tone right. But paying too much attention to them when you actually start writing can lead to a lot of rambling passages that have to be edited out later. I have yet to talk to my characters. I suppose they will tell you what they want to do if you ask, but I’m old school—I think it’s the writer’s job to make the decisions. They do whatever I say without me talking to them.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read good writing and lots of it. Even if you only intend to write in one specific genre, read great literature, as much as you can. Observe people, listen to them; learn how real people react, how they talk, and what really motivates them. Compelling characters don’t all have to be murderers and mad geniuses. At the same time, don’t be afraid to invent characters that are nothing like the people in your life. Don’t give in to the pressure to always ramp up the antagonism and conflict in a story. This common advice has been driven into the creative writing curriculum by those who seek only to profit from the lowest common denominator sensationalism. Real-life has enough of that. Be careful what you create. Every story does not have to be filled with angst to be interesting. Remember, you’re filling your own life and mind with what you create first, before it ever gets out there in the world. Is it beneficial?
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My latest novel, Rosa Mundi was published by VIZIA. The rest of my books were self-published. I have found marketing my work far more difficult than creating it in the first place. Finding a publisher takes just as much marketing skill as selling your own self-published books. You must distill your long tale into two sentences and make it irresistible. The savvy, financially successful author creates their 30-second elevator pitch first, perfects their can’t-miss book description, sells it to a publisher, then writes it. If you can master the spin, you’re ahead of the game. If money is what you seek, you’ve got to be able to sell yourself first, your idea second, and your actual writing third. If writing is an art to you, learn to be happy with being an artist.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
In the future, everyone will write at least one book. And they might even read one.
What genres do you write?: Visionary Fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print