Roy Willis Davenport [royboy7347]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
The earliest book I can remember reading was Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I was fascinated by Mark Twain's characters and how he brought them to life. I began to write when my children were small. I would make up bedtime stories for them and when they got older they asked me if I could remember some of the stories. Fortunately I remembered a few and started writing them down. I soon found that I had a knack for writing conversational dialogue. My parents and my sister were the first to read my attempts at writing. My father was a published poet and I wanted my work to gain his stamp of approval.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My favorite genre is writing fictional short stories. Many of my Tuckertown Tales are posted on the Writers and Friends website. http://writersandfriends.org/index.php. My pen name on the site is Royboy.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I actually come up with my ideas for story lines while driving. I drive a lot in my job and I have lots of time to come up with ideas. Many of my ideas are from actual experiences I had growing up. The whole idea of a quaint little southern town called Tuckertown came from the various small towns we lived in growing up as kids of a Methodist preacher in South Carolina. The Tuckertown characters are loosely based on actual persons who we knew. One of the main characters, Booger Stump, is quite autobiographical.
Before I sit down to write I try to have the gist of the story line worked out in my head. But the dialogue comes naturally as I write. I envision what the characters would say based on their personalities and the situations.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I gain the most inspiration reading the kind of novels and short stories that I try to write. I have my favorites such as Jan Karon, Fannie Flagg and Brian Jacques.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
I think any good story has to have interesting characters who are challenged in some way to prove themselves. The best stories will have multiple sub-plots being unveiled simultaneously and so intriguing that the reader is swept along towards the climax.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I rarely write in the first person. I prefer to allow my characters to speak for themselves and I tend to enjoy writing dialogue for them more than to try and write from the first person point of view.
What well known writers do you admire most?
I enjoy reading authors who are adept at developing interesting characters that come alive when reading. Among the best that I have read are Jan Karon (her Mitford Series characters), Fannie Flagg, Brian Jacques (even though his characters are animals they take on a life and personality of their own). I also enjoy Hemingway and Steinbeck.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I think for a character to be believable you have to be able to picture yourself in their place. The characters also have to have all the flaws and weaknesses that any person would have. They may be heroic, even superheros but they have to have those flaws to make them interesting. The characters also have to be challenged or tested in some way. Only then can we identify with them as they struggle to succeed or survive.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
No, I tend to be very one-dimensional with my characters when I am telling stories orally. It's only when I can get them down on paper and begin trying to breathe life into them do they become interesting and believable.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Writing is an escape for me. I write so that I can hide in my fantasies and escape the harsh realities of life. I have written many stories that I have never let anyone read because they were just an outlet for me at the time and I never polished the stories for others to read.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
As I stated in the previous answer, I write to escape reality. It's my little world I create where I can make anything happen and where I allow my characters to work out issues that I very well may have experienced in real life.
Some internal conflicts are a creative force. However, if the internal conflict is too painful or interruptive it can kill the creative juices before they start flowing.
Does reader feed-back help you?
I must be honest! I have never been comfortable with constructive criticism. I am too thin-skinned to accept it. I want to hear everyone say that what I wrote was great but if they didn't like it or didn't see it the way I want to reader to see it my ego gets bruised. That's one of the reasons I have never let anyone read many of my stories. I took a writing course in the 70's and the course professor was brutally honest in his appraisal of my work. I found that to be discouraging.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I will occasionally enter a writing contest but usually will pass them by. Most of the ones I am familiar with are nothing more than a way for the company offering the contest to sell books. I submitted one short story to Reminisce Magazine that was selected as one of their Top Ten of the Year.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
My sister is a very good writer and she and I swap our drafts back and forth. I value her opinion and I think she values mine. I used to have my father give me his opinion but a stroke back in 2003 robbed him of his short-term memory and the ability to read or write.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I'm not sure I have found my "voice" yet. I believe that is what most writers strive for.
In fact, I'm not sure I believe that a writer can only have one voice. Like life, I believe we go through stages where we confront challenges that give us opportunities to develop different responses (voices) to them.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I have only one discipline that I try to adhere to. I try to write something everyday; even if it is only a journal entry as to the events in my life for that day. The more I write, the more I find that it is easier to make writing my natural way to express my feelings and thoughts.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Nothing in particular. I just try to find a quiet place with minimal distractions.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on my laptop and do all editing and revisions on the laptop. Rarely do I print things out. I then will go back periodically and revisit what I have written to see if there are changes that I want to make.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
There are several writing sites that I frequent. Writers and Friends, Authors By Design,
SouthLit.com, and Jacketflap.com.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I have had limited experience with publishers. When I have submitted pieces for consideration I have been disappointed at (1) how long it takes them to respond, (2) How many publishers will not consider outside work and (3) how many will not consider work from a previously unpublished author.
What are you working on now?
I am still adding to my Tuckertown stories and trying to decide if I want to try and develop a central story line or theme to connect them into a book. I am also still working on a series of childrens poems.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Dig them out and see if you can breathe some new life into them. Good ideas are always good ideas but they just may need to be dusted off and updated. If you have someone whose opinion you trust, show them what you have written. You just may be surprised at the response.
Roy Willis Davenport
Durham, North Carolina, USA