Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Tenacity Interviews - Rick Acker

Rick Acker writes his novels while commuting to and from his "real job" as a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice. His most recent novel, Blood Brothers, is an intense sequel to the legal thriller Dead Man's Rule. Christy award-winning author Randy Ingermanson calls Blood Brothers "an excellent legal suspense novel, with a strong biotech backdrop. It reminded me of Michael Crichton's latest novel, Next, except that Blood Brothers is better." Rick is also the author of the well reviewed Davis Detective Mysteries, a series of adventure/mystery novels for "tweens."

Rick is a transplanted Chicagoan who spent thirty-five years in the Midwest before finally trading the certainty of winter and mosquitoes for the risk of earthquakes. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Anette, their four children, and two cats.

1) How long have you been writing?
Seventeen years, and I’ve been published for six.

2) Why didn’t you just throw your hands in the air and say “forget it!”
Oh, I did. More than once. But then I’d start writing again a few months later. I discovered that I loved storytelling more than I hated rejection.

3) Which personal strengths did you use to remain tenacious in your quest to be published?
Keeping things in perspective. Getting published was a major goal for me, of course, but it wasn’t the only reason I wrote. If my friends and family genuinely enjoyed one of my stories, I viewed it as a success even if it was turned down by every publisher in the English-speaking world.

4) Is tenacity something you learned along the way? Or does it come naturally to you?
My mom tells me I’ve been tenacious since birth, though she has a different word for it. ;-)

5) There is a difference between tenacity and being “bull-headed”. How have you been able to move your dream forward without turning agents/editors off?
By listening to them and taking their advice. It’s tenacious to keep coming back to an editor or agent who says no. It’s bull-headed to keep coming back to them with the same types of stories they’ve told you they don’t want.

6) Has your dream changed at all? Grown bigger? Smaller?
Well, my original dream was to publish a novel and I’ve published four now, so I suppose my dreams have gotten bigger. I still get a thrill out of holding a finished book in my hands for first time or getting an enthusiastic review, though. That never, ever gets old.

7) What encouragement do you have for a writer who just received a “no” from a publisher?
1. Don’t take it personally. The publisher said “no” to this specific proposal, not you as a writer.
2. Do learn from it. If you’re at a writers’ conference, you can often schedule a time to meet with the acquisitions editor who turned down your book. Do it, and have some nonargumentative questions ready (e.g., “What were the strong and weak points in my proposal?” or “What should I try to do differently in my next book?” not “Why didn’t you understand the insightful allegory in my story?”)
3. Don’t give up. Few novelists sell their first manuscripts, and those that do generally have had to go through several rounds of painful edits first.
4. Do get better. Read good “how to write” books, join a critique group, go to writing conferences. And above all keep writing. Writing is like playing the violin: It may not be pretty when you start, but with practice and good teaching you’ll make beautiful music someday.
I have a feeling many of us will be printing out those four points of encouragement. Thanks so much, Rick!
I bid you all - good writing


lynnrush said...

Great intereview! Oh yes, those four points are very helpful!

Fran Hill said...

This was helpful. Thanks. Especially where he says he feels pleased when other people (not just editors) like what he writes. That's a good one to remember.