Prolific author, creator of the webcomic The Adventures of the S-Team and the workshop Action! Write Better Action by Using Cinematic Techniques…Ian Healy is a true Renaissance Man. We recently talked to Ian about how he balances writing with family life, his participation in National Novel Writing Month, and (of course) what he thinks of Inside The Writers’ Studio.
PAPER RATS: Where do you live, and what do you think of where you live?
HEALY: I’ve lived in the same house for twelve years. It’s too small for my family but we can’t afford to move anywhere else, so we manage. The neighborhood has aged well (we were the fifth family to move into this suburb when it was brand new), with trees now taller than the surrounding houses.and lots of mature landscaping. Unfortunately, there are lots of foreclosed-upon houses here too. It’s a bedroom community twenty minutes away from downtown Denver.
RATS: Does where you live inspire your writing (if so, how)?
HEALY: No, my neighborhood is pretty uninspiring.
RATS: How many hours a day would you say you write?
HEALY: On a good day, I can get two hours worth of work in over the course of the 18 or so hours that I’m awake. The key is to not try to do it all at once. On an average day, maybe half that.
I tend to have a lot more average days than good days.
RATS: You work (full time?) and you have a wife and (how many?) kids, and you’re doing online action scene critiques – when do you find the time to write?
HEALY: Whenever I can. I bought a BlackBerry smartphone in 2009 with a full keyboard with the intent to use it for writing on the go, since calling my handwriting execrable would be charitable at best. I’ve found it an invaluable tool, and I can pull it out to thumb down a sentence or two as the mood strikes me. Something I’ve discovered about myself when writing this way is that I tend to function like a DVD player with a Pause function enabled: I can come back to something I’ve started writing minutes, hours, or even days later and my train of thought picks up where I left off. This technique more than anything has allowed me to produce the volume of work that I do. When I finished my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel, I literally picked up my prior project the very next day and was back to work full steam on it.
My three kids are generally in bed by 9 PM, and I’m usually up another 2-3 hours after that, during which time I often manage to get some work done.
The main reason I have so much time to write is because of the things I don’t do. I don’t watch much TV. Most days I don’t even turn it on and just use the DVR to catch up on the few shows I like to keep track of. I will admit to watching hockey regularly, but everybody needs a vice. I also don’t play games on Facebook and spend very little time on our game consoles.
RATS: What did you read when you were a kid?
HEALY: Books, mostly. Cereal boxes. Newspapers. Anything with words on it. I loved science-y fiction and have fond recollections of series like Alvin Fernald: Boy Genius, Danny Dunn, Tom Swift, Jr., and The Mad Scientists Club. I still have the very first comic book I ever bought with my own money: Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew #12, from 1983.
RATS: What sort of writer would you call yourself? Why did you gravitate to that?
HEALY: In the past I might have said Sci-Fi, but that seems too limiting especially of late, when I’ve been experimenting with so many other genres, so I’ll say Speculative Fiction. That covers hard sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, superhero, and urban fantasy, all of which I’ve written over the past several years.
RATS: You’re submitting to ABNA. What are you submitting?
HEALY: I’m submitting a manuscript I wrote over the summer of 2009, called Blackout: A Just Cause Novel. It takes place during a 21-hour stretch of time during the New York City Blackout of ’77, following the lives of four different super-powered characters whose storylines all weave together: A murder mystery, a love story, a descent into psychosis, and a crisis of faith all come together against the backdrop of a rioting city trying to destroy itself.
RATS: Did you win NaNo 2010, and what are you doing with the project you worked on during November?
HEALY: I did win, stretching my winning streak to seven consecutive wins. The project, called Rooftops, is currently steeping in a folder on my hard drive while I work on other projects. I anticipate returning to it with fresh perspective for revision and rewrites starting in February.
RATS: What is your favorite thing about Inside the Writers’ Studio?
HEALY: The wackiness. As a longtime author of a webcomic that people tell me is funny, I approve of anyone willing to poke fun at stereotypes. I have yet to see a Paper Rats Production that doesn’t make me laugh out loud.
Ian Thomas Healy is a prolific writer who dabbles in many different speculative genres. His superhero novel Deep Six: A Just Cause Novel was a Top 100 Semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award. His goal is to become as integral to the genre of superhero fiction as William Gibson was to cyberpunk and Anne Rice was to urban fantasy. He lives in Colorado with his wife, three children, and a plethora of housepets. When not writing, which is rare, he likes to take road trip, enjoys watching football and hockey, and listening to or playing music.