Long-time CR-RWA member Glen Ebisch has an impressive battery of degrees, including a PhD in philosophy from Columbia University. After teaching philosophy for 20 years, he’s currently professor emeritus at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
As if that isn’t accomplishment enough for one man, Glen has also managed to write more than 20 novels for adults and young adults, incorporating suspense, romance, humor, and mystery. His most recent book, THE BAD ACTOR, came out in July from Five Star Publishing. He kindly agreed to share some of his wisdom and experience with us.
Glen: I began over twenty-five years ago writing YA mysteries. I had five of them published rather quickly, which gave me a deceptively easy picture of publication. When the YA market shifted to horror and the supernatural, I found that my type of story no longer sold. After several failed attempts, I spent the next decade concentrating on my academic writing.
About fifteen years ago I decided to try my hand at adult novels and began writing romances for Avalon Books. After writing three romances, I switched back to writing mysteries, and had five published by Avalon. When Avalon was bought by Amazon, I began writing mysteries for Five Star, which I do to this day. I will have my twenty-first book coming out next year.
Cara: You were one of the first people to welcome me to CR-RWA, always a friendly face. When did you join the chapter, and how has it affected your career as a writer?
Glen: I am a charter member of the chapter. Even though it is quite a trip for me from the Springfield area of Massachusetts, I have found it very worthwhile. I enjoy meeting the people, especially those who are long-time members, and I find that many of the workshops and speakers present material relevant to mysteries, especially ones such as mine that have an element of romance. Since writing is by its very nature a rather lonely process, meeting with other writers is an important way to stay in touch and retain one’s enthusiasm.
Cara: I’m always interested in other writers’ process. What can you tell us about yours? Do you plot your stories or wing it?
Glen: The longer I write, the more time I spend plotting my stories in advance. I like having a detailed outline to return to each time I sit down to work. Since I also tend to be a bit too succinct in my writing, I find an outline helps me fill in the details. Discovering the rhythm of the book during the plotting stage saves me a lot of time in rewrites, which I now rarely have to do.
Cara: No rewrites? That sounds wonderful. I long to be a plotter, but I’m afraid I’m a pantser at heart, so for me, rewrites are where the story comes together. Do you have a writing schedule?
Glen: I am not always in the midst of writing a book, but when I am, I usually write in the morning. Now that I no longer teach full time, I exercise in the afternoon and read. Sometimes if I am really into my current writing project, I read over what I wrote in the morning and make changes. I try to keep enough balance that I can enjoy life as well as write.
Cara: You seem to have a measured and level-headed approach to this often-crazy writing/publishing life. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Glen: I would say that talent is only a small of part what’s needed to get published, and perhaps not the most important part. I’ve known many writers with more talent than I who have failed to get published. You also have to learn the craft, write what the market is looking for and be persistent. You have to be impossible to discourage.
Having said that, however, you also must have a balance between persistence and flexibility. If you have tried writing the same thing several times with no success, you should try switching, either within the genre or to a different genre. There comes a time when pounding your head against the same wall becomes counterproductive. You may not believe you can write anything other than what you have done, but most of us are capable of a greater range than we think.
Cara: How about rejection? We all have to deal with it. How do you handle it?
Glen: As I said, after an appropriate period of anger and mourning, I get back to writing. Most of us are good enough writers that rejection is simply an expression of an agent or editor’s opinion. You have to keep at it until you find the one with the right mindset.
Cara: Tell us what’s next for you.
Glen: My most recent book, A BODY IN MY OFFICE, is a change of pace. In the past my stories were about intelligent young women solving murders while trying to cope with their personal lives. My latest is about a professor of English who is forced to retire when his Dean brings in an academic star from England to teach his courses. When the newcomer ends up dead in our protagonist’s office, suspicion naturally falls on him. This is a story about an unemployed widower who must deal with his complex past, his conflicted daughter, his aging father, and his need to solve a crime. Although it may sound downbeat, it has considerable humor and some romance. It will be interesting to see if anyone wants to publish it.
Cara: It sounds terrific, Glen. I can’t wait to read it! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog.
For more info on Glen and all of his books, check out his website: www.glenebisch.com