I've always loved reading and as a kid started a little hand printed magazine with my stories and distributed it to the neighborhood. Then in high school and college, I wrote for the school newspapers.
On the music side, well rather than write something about myself, here is an excerpt from a recent interview that I did with Book Lovers Haven.
BLH: You began as a musician. Were you writing while you organized and played in your own band?
RW: Yes. I actually started in a high-school basic rock band, but I had the good fortune to live just 15 miles from Harvard Sq. in Cambridge. And in the 60's all of the greats of folk music - Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Ian & Sylvia; came to play in Harvard Sq. clubs such as the original Club 47 (later known as Passim's). One night I had the opportunity to play at the 47 on the same stage and was really blown away by Dylan's ability to combine poetry, prose and music into something incredibly powerful. From then on I was hooked on both music and writing.
One interesting side note is that both of my sons also play in rock bands and they have both put out what I, as their obliviously 'proud papa', think are some really dynamite words and music!
BLH: Which do you prefer most, song or book writing? Why?
RW: When I was about sixteen, I read Jack Keroac. And while his 'stream of consciousness' prose leaves you kind of panting for breath, I was drawn to his self discovery, on-the-road, stories. As a result, I started keeping a kind of a journal of my own 'adventures on the road' traveling around on my motorcycle, playing as a single folk act, and later in a VW Mini-bus touring with my rock band.
Equally fortunate, I kept these journals which many years later became much of the source material for the adventures of Mick and Bridget, my two main characters in my McCarthy Family Mystery series. The series is set in the Boston area in 1968. And, in addition to helping out his dad with his detective agency, Mick and his girlfriend, Bridget... (guess what?). Often go 'under-cover' when working on a case, and travel around as folk-singing duo!
BLH: Tell us about your latest title. What is it about? Where is it set and who are the leading characters?
RW: Shadow of Innocence takes place in 1968. It follows the lives and adventures of the very eclectic but always interesting, McCarthy family. But most of the action centers around the middle child of the five person family, Michael Prescott McCarthy, Mick, and his cute, gutsy girlfriend, Bridget Connolly.
Shadow of Innocence starts out when Mick, a former Vietnam vet now back at college and helping his dad (a former Boston cop) with his detective agency, gets a call from an old army buddy. He tells Mick that his cousin is playing in a band at the 1968 Newport Folk Festival and has just been arrested on suspicion of murdering the beautiful daughter of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Newport. So Mick and Bridget fire up their motorcycle and set off to Newport to find out what really happened. But when they get to Newport, the home of the largest blues and folk festival in the country (and some of the countries most elite social set of millionaires) and attempt to unravel the mystery, they find that they are becoming increasingly entangled in a nasty mess of dark secrets of drugs, rock & roll and ... murder!
I am also a member of MMA (Murder must Advertise) and believe that good marketing is the key to success in selling a book in today's multi-media market. One of many reasons, but certainly a major one, of why I signed with my current publisher Kunati, is that they are absolute masters when it comes to publicity, marketing and promotion. With my first book, I thought that since I've worked in advertising and marketing for over 30 years, I could effectively do most of my own marketing. I've learned a lot since then.
Don't get me wrong. Every author, by nature, must be their own enthusiastic spokesperson. It goes back to the old truism - if you don't believe passionately in your own product, who will? So there are a few things that you can and must do just to get your title out there. Your website, personal contact with bookstores, book-clubs, joining authors associations, etc. But probably the most valuable lesson I learned, was to look for and sign with a publisher who had the drive, skill and commitment to make sure that your title would be promoted in such a way that it will stand out in the crowd (and then work like crazy to make the most of that!)
Finally, as far major influnces and authors I admire, my all time favorite is George McDonald Fraser the author of the Flashman series of historical adventures, particularly for his meticulous research and wildly funny anti-hero, Harry Flashman - recipient of the VC, KBE and all around lovable scoundrel. I'm also a fan of Donald Westlake's 'Dortmunder' comic mystery series as well as Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharpe series and most recent trilogy of a Viking/Saxon warrior in the time of Alfred the Great. I also like Clive Cussler, Wilbur Smith and the F. Paul Wilson, Repairman Jack series.
I think what all of these novels have in common, is that their hero's act realistically, warts and all. They jump feet first into adventure and more often that not, those feet turn out to be made of clay, but they muddle through somehow. put the bad guys away, and come out in one piece in the end. I think that my hero's, Mick and Bridget, could identify with them.