Robert Shaw has worked in film, television, and live-events, and was involved in such films as Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night, War Horse, The Help, Real Steel, Transformers, I Am Number Four, and many others. He co-wrote the indie action-horror film Mexican Devil, starring Danny Trejo, and made the short-film, Bedbug, as a demo for his feature screenplay Freak House. Robert has written four novels, all adapted from screenplays he wrote, and his memoir, Hollywood Assistant: My Adventures in Showbiz, will be available on Amazon in January 2020. Robert is currently writing his fifth novel, a superhero romantic-comedy.
What inspires you to write?
Many different things, in many different ways, have inspired me to write – but that may sound like a cheap way out of answering the question, so I'll say this: two of the most deeply emotional reasons I decided to write books were: when my dad passed away in 2001 – he’d always wanted to write a book about fishing, he never got around to it. After he died, some strange compulsion possessed me and I decided to write my first novel, The Scare, in honor of my dad I guess. The second time was my poor old mom – she loved my screenplay Thunder Rising and me to turn it into a novel. When she began to develop Alzheimer's Disease, I tried to complete the novel so she could read it before her mind was gone. The novel is out now, but too late for my mom to read it.
Tell us about your writing process.
Definitely seat of the pants! I dive right in and start filling a blank screen with words. I do use notes and occasionally a beat sheet, and I do research once I’m writing, but it depends on what I'm working on. But for me, so far, the best thing has been to just start writing and see what comes out. If it flows, I keep going; if it blows, I stop and start mapping things out, plotting and planning and making notes about all the possibilities of which direction the story can go in (and there are sometimes too many possible directions!). But the fact is, for me at least, no matter what planning I do, the story will usually go off in its own direction and I just follow leaving a trail of words. Honestly? I believe the first draft should be done as fast as possible, otherwise there's a risk of becoming bogged down, or worse, getting bored and giving up.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
You bet! I love my characters! Well, the good guys anyway. And I always say my dialog aloud for each character, testing how they might sound to my readers, and if their words will sound realistic. It's hard sometimes to just read it and 'hear' it properly. And I not only interact with my characters, I become friends with them. All my heroes from each of my books feel like a group of dear friends to me when I'm writing their adventures, and I feel like I'm in it with them. In fact, I love them so much it's very difficult to kill them off if the story calls for it. After I finish each book, I miss my characters deeply, especially from The Scare – Ethan, Shay, Eejayce and Quincy Gee are friends I would love to have had when I was in high school. Same with the kids from Girlfriend Trouble. Even though I'm creating them on paper, they feel so real to me that I want to be with them all the time.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many, and my taste in books is wide-ranging. But recently, I got hooked big time on Michael Grant's GONE series, and I'm currently reading some of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels, which also keep me up late. I also love Charles Dickens – I never knew what a Victorian Novel was until I read Dickens. His characters are funny and complex and the villains dastardly to the point where you’d like to reach into the book and strangle them. Some of my other favorite authors are Wilkie Collins, Charlotte Bronte, L.M. Montgomery, John Steinbeck, Robert McCammon, and Richard Laymon – his Traveling Vampire Show was a great read!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The only way for me to go is self-publishing. I feel that writing to publishers or agents, asking them to read a manuscript, is an exercise in futility. I think it's a better business model these days for publishing houses, editors, or agents to let authors self-publish, wait and see if a book becomes a hot property, then pounce on it after that. It saves them time, and it definitely saves them money. A good example of this that I can think of in recent memory is Amanda Hocking. Heck, if history is to be believed, the same thing happened to Charles Dickens when he wrote A Christmas Carol. His latest novel at the time (Martin Chuzzlewit) had failed, and he was apparently on the verge of bankruptcy; his publisher rejected A Christmas Carol, and Dickens had to self-publish it. Of course, it became a smash-hit, and, of course, his publisher then jumped on the band wagon, so I suppose it's been the same old story for more than a century. Either way, I am happy self-publishing my books on Amazon and will continue to do so. If there was anything I could think of that might be advantageous in having a traditional publishing deal, it would be that a publisher would impose a deadline. I take too long to finish a book; an imposed deadline might speed me up.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe I covered this in my answer to the previous question, but I'll say one further thing: I think self-publishing is the future, and I think traditional publishing houses will eventually find a way to take over the self-publishing process. After all, it's in their interests to do so.
What genres do you write?
Teen horror, YA romantic comedy, sci-fi western, post-apocalyptic
What formats are your books in?
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All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.