Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Interview W/the Author: Gary Bickford

Interview with the Author

We are gifted to have the author Gary Bickford visiting us today to tell us about his book and a bit about himself as well. Gary, thanks so much for allowing us this interview. Please, tell us a bit about yourself.

How old were you when you first knew you wanted to be a writer?
I have always been a reader and even received discipline in the lower grades for hiding my library book within my text book that I had open and standing on my desk as if I were reading the text book instead of the library book.  When I discovered Dr. Seuss’s wonderful books I saw that reading could also be fun. I continued to be a prolific reader and then years ago I decided that I should also write because I had information that others might enjoy as I had enjoyed reading others work.

Dr. Seuss’ books have been an inspiration for many! In fact, he is a hero in my book for sharing the passion of reading with the world. Do you have a hero?
My hero is anyone that does something for others that cannot reciprocate.  My local hero is a man named Stan Brock that was the “muscle man” on Wild Kingdom many years ago, but not because of his notoriety as a TV star, but because he started Remote Area Medical Corps (RAM) here in Knoxville.   He does not draw a salary nor does he even own a car.  In addition he lives in an old school house that serves as the headquarters for RAM.   Another local hero is Dr. Tom Kim that operates several free medical clinics.  My boyhood hero was Roy Rogers because he was a cowboy and a good horse back rider.  There was never any scandal about him.
Stan definitely sounds like ‘hero’ material! And for anyone to operate on a level of ‘free’ to help people out today…that’s just far and few in between.  So before we dive into your book, a little impersonal: what is your favorite color and your favorite sport?
Blue is my favorite color and I feel that it has always been so because the sky and most water is blue.  I have always found looking at large bodies of water therapeutic.  Blue is considered a “cool” (in temperature) color.  I understand that dark blue (navy) suits denote the most credibility and trust.

My favorite sport is horseback riding preferably riding in the mountains and plains where you are not restricted by many fences.  I have my own horse and that adds so much to the fun of riding.  I have been on several rides in the Southwest US plus riding in Canada.   I went on one cattle drive in Arizona.  I even had a chance to ride for a week in the Snowy River area of Australia.  I am at such peace when I am riding because I am blessed with a good horse.  When I am riding him I can focus on the view and let him watch where he puts his feet rather than me.

Blue is one of those colors that are so varied I think anyone can find a version that suits them. Ha! I haven’t been on a horse since I was a tot…it was a bad experience and scarred me for life. Okay…maybe not for life but you know what I mean. Alright. Let’s get to business! Your book is all about stress and how people can manage it and still live a healthy and happy life. What was the most difficult task for you while writing this book?
The most difficult task of this book was the editing and re-reading of the text.  I really loved writing the book and it was like a catharsis to do so.  I had lectured on stress management techniques for many years and it was so beneficial to have allowed that experience to “percolate” into the substance of the book.

Editing is a not so pleasurable part of the book writing process that is for sure! So, where you & what were you doing when you conceived the idea for your book?
I was in Salt Lake City, UT giving a seminar when I realized that others could benefit from the material discussed.  A very dear friend and business acquaintance that often spoke at the same conferences I did mentioned that he planned to start writing more than giving live seminars because you could reach so many more by writing.  My desire is that I can serve others and help them with their health issues so writing is the best way that I know to do so.

Of course you want to help and serve. It’s in your nature being a nurse practitioner! Anyway…writing schedules? What is yours life?
I know of other writers that say that they write so many hours a day like clockwork and I hope to achieve that someday but right now I write more in long sessions than I do on a routine basis.  It is such a wonderful thought to put thoughts on paper that I look forward to a time when I can write on a very consistent basis and spontaneously.

It is definitely different for everybody. I tend to go back and forth with long and short spurts. Its about balance and finding what works best for you though, you know? Do you have any suggestions for others who write or want to write?
Don’t wait any longer! If you think that you would like to write then you are ready.  I am amazed how much others like to read about others especially if the person is a real person and sometimes readers find it difficult to stay interested if the characters don’t seem real.

One technique that helps me most that I learned to do when I would be taking “essay” type tests in school is to outline what you want to say.  You always have an introduction and summary (or ending) and the “body” of your writing.  I found that my grades improved when the essay grader saw my outline first before reading.  I am not certain whether it was because they liked my technique or I performed better on the test because I had the outline to guide me.  After you develop some sort of outline then just begin filling in the spaces of your outline and very soon you will have a work that is organized and structured for success.  As you are writing you will think of other thoughts to expand your outline.  If you are working on another section and it brings up a thought, just put the thought into the proper place in your outline and go back to the other area of your work because now you have captured that thought.   

You sound quite passionate about it. I like outlining myself though I’ve not always. What is the most important element in a novel, in your opinion?
It seems so simplistic to say the “story” is the most important element but in truth, it is. Once you have the story in your head you are ready to start outlining how the story should unfold.  The characters, while interesting, are more easily developed, in my opinion especially in a novel because you can have them be as you perceive them. The story must “hook” the reader right away.  If the idea is of interest to you then it is of interest to others.  So seek out the story, outline the concept and start writing!  This seems simplistic but your success in writing will diminish if you don’t have a plan (outline) before you begin.  Many people have written a great deal but not done anything with it due to a lack of organization.  If you have you do have something that you have already written then you have a “story” so just force it into an outline, complete and share it with others!  You are probably a much better writer than you realize!

Well said! Well, thank you so so much for sharing some quality time with us. Before we leave…I like to do what is called the Rapid Answer Zone. It’s just another way to get to know the man behind the book.
Rapid Answer Zone
What was the last set of tickets you purchased for?
The last set of tickets was for the annual Pow Wow in Cherokee, NC where Native Americans from all parts of the US and Canada came together to dance.  My granddaughter is a candidate for being a part of the Cherokee Nation on her father’s side of the family so I wanted to expose her to that part of her heritage as a 12 year-old even if she does become a part of that Nation.  I have given her “Windsong” as her Native American name.  It is such a cultural experience to see how regal the women are as they enter for the grand opening as well as how much the men enjoy the dancing.

What was the last gift you purchased?
I just purchased an excellent tear gas gun make by Kimber for one of my best friend’s 20 year-old daughter that is making a three week “road-trip” by herself all across the US.  I wanted her to have some type of protection but knew she would not use any type firearm or knife. I did this because I wanted her to be able to escape danger if needed but without the fear of being involved in any legal problems plus I wanted to be a small part of her “adventure.”

What is the best age to be?
Any age is wonderful especially if you are enjoying life and relish each moment.  There was a quote by a baseball player that has always stuck with me, “How old would you be if you did not know how old you are?”  I am 68 but feel like I am much younger because I am in good health due to many of the principles I practice to reduce my stress.  I love children and interact with them every chance I get to help me stay in a “younger mind set.”

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