17 Questions
Harry Munns
Would you recommend Someday Comes for my twelve year old daughter?

Absolutely not. The book includes adult themes and language. But more importantly, I think the internal, personal conflicts and external conflicts the characters experience lie beyond the realm of young people's experience. I think a lot of that would be lost on people under twenty-one.

What formats it the book availiable in?

It can be read on a computer by downloading the Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format or it can be purchased in book form.

How long did it take you to write Someday Comes?

I started writing about five years before I typed the words "The End". In between, I got married, bought a house, renovated the house and worked at least forty hours a week at a variety of occupations.

The first part of the book, up until Mick lands in jail, has appeared in print twice as a short story. It was first printed in American Sailing, The Journal of the American Sailing Association. In 1997 the same story appeared in Latitudes and Attitudes.

Why did you write a novel instead of another non-fiction book?

Writing a book like Cruising Fundamentals has its own rewards but, it's a lot of work. You end up surrounded with reference books and other technical material. A lot of time is spent checking and re-checking facts and details.

For me, starting to tell a story is like beginning an exciting holiday. I don't know exactly how it will progress or end but I'm anxious to find it all out. There is certainly fact checking to do with a novel but it's different. Once you establish something fundamental such as a weather pattern in a particular part of the world during a chosen month, you can fill everything else in from your imagination. You can't do that with government rules and regulations or techniques for navigation.

Are any of the characters people you know?

I think most novelists would say the characters they create have attributes they've seen in people they know. That's certainly true for me. None of the people in Someday Comes are direct duplicates of people in my life. I have used names of people I know. That's usually where the similarity ends. I feel it's necessary to announce that if I created a particularly nasty character and thought my sister's name fit that person, it doesn't mean my sister shares the character's evil traits, although in some cases.......

The book contains some exciting locations. How accurate are the descriptions of these places?

I've visited many of them and some I've visited often, St. Bart's for example. The others I've researched using maps, guide books and photographs. So far, in every instance where I've written about a place and visited it for the first time afterward, I've been accurate enough not to have to go back and edit my text.

Quite often, I make up something within the scene. For instance, I have no idea whether there's a beach palapa in Samana, Dominican Republic. But having spent considerable time in the Caribbean, I know it's a safe bet there could be one. I'd be thrilled if I went there someday and it looked just like I described it in the book, but I have no real expectation of that happening.

Some of the sex scenes are pretty graphic. Why did you choose that approach rather than simply suggesting it like some authors do so brilliantly?

That's a hard question to answer. On some level, I would say it's an honesty issue. Throughout the book I try to get into the heads of the main characters, especially Mick. If the narrative provides readers with intimate details of something as personal as why he hates himself and has disconnected himself from most of the rest of the world, why would it stop short of sharing details of something as joyous as love making? Sex is as much a part of Mick's life as karate or sailing. I think it would be hypocritical to sensor that part of his story. Doing so would cheat the reader.

I missed a clear good against evil plot line. Was there one?

I tried to make it clear what drives each character. Matthew Fischer is ambitious. Walter Lynch needs to control people and events. That works as a kind of anchor. Readers can identify the individual by one or two primary motivators.

Real people are much more complex than that. They simply aren't pure good or pure evil. Take the Martin Abrams character as an example. He's the closest to being genuinely evil, but in the end he proves not to be........ I better not ruin the end for anyone. Let's just say he's a lot different in his final scene than he is throughout the rest of the book.

I guess one other way to answer that question is to say I like contrast. There's a natural human tendency to want a convenient, pat definition of people and things. "Oh that's Jane, she's an attractive woman but she has issues with men." Many people are happy to put Jane neatly into her one sentence box and leave it at that.

I know there's more to Jane than that one sentence. The things that interest me most are the ones that contradict the obvious. That's what getting to know someone is all about. You find out the accountant also paints landscapes. The boxer writes poetry.

How much of what you write comes from your own experience?

I suppose almost all of what I write grows out of my life's experiences. I have sailed extensively and I have studied karate. So when I write about these topics, I have a clear sensory recollection of my experiences.

I can describe what it's like to be on a sailboat based on my own experience. But when I write about a group of people on a sailboat, it's never a re-creation of a scene from my life. I may use an experience such as a storm at sea and write a description based on a storm I sailed through. But the storm in my book is its own unique event. The real storm simply provided me with reference material.

When and under what conditions do you write?

I write mostly in the morning. That's the time of day when I have the energy necessary to do that kind of work. I find that after a day full of decisions and non-stop stimulus, the quality and speed of my writing are reduced considerably.

I write on a computer using word processing software. It's hard for me to imagine not having the flexibility that technology provides. I admire people who write at a typewriter and get it right the first time. I need to be able to edit at any time and I do a lot of it.

If I'm home I write in the spare bedroom I use as an office. If I listen to music, it has to be something unobtrusive, definitely no vocals because those words would distract me from the ones I need to get on paper. I carry a laptop on the road and write in airports, on planes, in hotels and literally anywhere I can find the time.

What's your favorite kind of writing and why?

Fiction is such a wonderful blend of fact and imagination. Where else can you invent your own world? Without a doubt, I like it better than writing non-fiction.

Who are your favorite writers?

Hemmingway, O'Henry, Faulkner, Mailer, Pat Conroy and Tom Wolfe come immediately to mind, but there are many more.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think writing has been a somewhat conscious goal for as long as I can remember. I recently spoke to a writer's group and just before the event began I remembered something that had happened in college. A journalism professor asked the class how many people had published a newspaper as kids. It had been years since I had thought about it, but we had a neighborhood paper when I was about 5 years old. To my astonishment, nearly half the people in the class raised their hands. I posed the same question to the writer's group and got the same result.

That's the earliest documented instance of my writing for publication. Through the years I'd gotten reasonably consistent encouragement for writing I've done at various stages of my education. I figured some day I'd do it for a living.

A few years ago I realized if I didn't begin making some serious strides toward that goal, it wouldn't just fall in my lap. Someday Comes is one of those strides.

What do you think are the qualities a good writer must have?

You'll probably hear this from most writers who answer this type of question. A good writer must first be a good reader.

Then I think you need a fairly strong grasp of the English language. The written word is a lot different from spoken language. People won't tolerate the same substandard written language they will accept in a conversation. I can't really say why, maybe the presence of another human being changes the balance.

A lot of the rest of it is skill development. I really don't think there's any magic to writing. Natural ability may have an influence, but I think practice goes a long way to make an average writer into a great one.

Do you outline the entire plot before starting to write or do you just let it flow?

A little of both. I don't write an outline, but I have an idea where I want to be a few steps down the road. Then I have a little more vague idea of where I want to be at the end. But much of what happens changes along the way. It just sort of grows.

Will there be a sequel to Someday Comes?

Yes. It's being written now. I think some readers will feel Someday Comes wasn't resolved in the most favorable way. There's definitely more to the story and I intend to tell it. Hopefully, people will want to read it.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

A. Read. I believe you get a lot of subconscious instruction on story telling and structure whenever you read the work of a good writer. Just read it. Don't ruin good writing by studying it. The important stuff will stick.

B. Write. Writing is the only way to get better at it.

C. Live. Your experiences drive your writing like fertilizer nourishes plants. Everything in your life has the potential to enrich your writing. Remember it, write it down but most importantly, go out and do it.

The other advice I hear over and over again from writers is to preserver. If you really want it. Don't give up!