Robert Chapman can’t seem to find fulfillment in any area of his life. At forty years old, he’s living out of his truck on a beach in Key Largo, Florida as he tries to write his first novel. Unfortunately, the only inspiration he seems to have is for drinking, fishing, and flirting. Life get’s interesting one day when he wakes up next to a dead girl and is surrounded by police officers. The failed priest, husband, thief, and teacher now finds himself trying to stay out of prison as the body count grows and he begins to realize he is involved in something much bigger than he can imagine.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: I’ve been in education for a number of years in just about every role you can imagine but have worked all types of jobs from dishwasher to landscaper to carpenter in my youth. As a child, my parents hauled us all over the country looking for greener pastures and I think it was those early adventures that helped fuel my interest in stories and characters. School had a role too, but not in a positive way. I hated it. I spent most of my classes in the back of the room reading voraciously. I think it annoyed teachers that I didn’t pay attention and yet was still able to do well on the tests and quizzes. I say that my high school curriculum was 1500 books. Ultimately, I think that’s why I got into education in the first place-I saw the need to spark the imagination of the kid in the back of the room…
Adventure is still an important part of my life and I try to have a few each year which usually involves a bush plane and a remote campsite or a cheap hotel in the middle of nowhere. The anonymity of travel is wonderful. It’s during these trips that I collect characters and stories. It’s becoming increasingly difficult in our world to spend time thinking. These trips are an important part of the creative process.
Q: When did you begin writing?
A: I began writing as a teenager, but it’s only recently that I felt like I had something to share with the public that was worthwhile. I believe there is a covenant between the author and the reader-I have to keep up my end of the bargain by writing something good enough to read.
It’s fun to go back in my files and look at stuff I wrote 25 years ago. The ideas were good, just not enough life experience to flesh out the characters. I may at some point revisit those stories and update them.
Q: How did you get the idea for the book?
A: Life has a funny way of putting people and ideas in front of you. I used to fly-fish in the Florida Keys every spring for bonefish. One night after a particularly unsuccessful day, I was at a bar having dinner on the beach watching a report on the news about the murder of a tourist. It got me thinking how easy it is for us all to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I started to think about my own vacation, looked around the bar, and realized there was a novel to be written. I borrowed a pen from the bartender and wrote the opening paragraph on the back of bar napkins. The rest is history.
Q: If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?
A: Give me a year and I’ll be able to answer this one. My goal is to have 3-4 done by next November.
Q: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
A: That is a tough question. I think that writers spend their time collecting characters. Each person I write about is real to me and I have a soft spot in my heart, even for the bad guys. If I had to choose one, it would be Porter Draw. He’s a retired CIA agent and a full-time character who lives next to Robert Chapman in a rooming house in Florida called The Raffles. Porter is the kind of guy we’d all like to have as a neighbor just for entertainment sake. Not to mention, it would be a very safe neighborhood with Porter living in it.
Q: What is your primary goal as an author?
A: Writing is in and of itself, an addictive practice. Obviously, I’d like as many people as possible to read my books but I do it because it brings me happiness. A turn of phrase, a well written sentence, a new character-these are things that bring a smile to my face.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: Jack Taylor Series-Still working on a title but the first book is done and is being edited as I write this. Look for a Christmas to New Year’s release.
The Meanderings of a Writer on the Brink-I’m working on the second book in the Robert Chapman series. Look for a spring release.
I also have the outline for a post-apocalyptic series that I am very excited to write. I’m also working on a more serious novel that takes place in Colorado. All of the stories are heavily character driven. I just wish I could work on them full-time.
Q: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
A: I’ve heard lots of advice and I’m not sure that there is one model that works for everyone. I do think that there are some basics: Read as much as you write. Write as often as you can. Lastly, make sure you have something to write about that is interesting. Storyline does matter.
The Meanderings of a Failed Human is now available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Meanderings-Failed-Robert-Chapman-ebook/dp/B00FNXLBDY/