Sunday, August 21, 2011

On Writing Author Interview: Novelist Leonard (Stoney) Compton

To avoid pre-conceived notions which can sometimes be connected with certain genres, the number of books published and/or an author's appearance, none of that information will be revealed until the bottom of the interview.   So pour a cup of coffee, have a seat, and check out this interview - see how much, or how little, you have in common with this published author.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? -Creating characters, places, and situations that come across as important and real to the reader.

What is your least favorite part? -Until recently I would have said the process of getting my work in print. But now that I have decided to self-publish I have to say it is the myriad details of getting a project (no longer just a manuscript!) together in a professional manner.

Name one obstacle you’ve had to overcome. –Total lack of understanding grammar!

Is there a specific part of your writing you’re working on to improve? -Grammar, and my tendency to hurry situations.

What part of your writing makes you particularly proud? -People telling me that they like my work.

What does your favorite main character have in common with you? -A yen for adventure mixed with curiosity.

Do you do a lot of research for your projects or do you only write about what you already know? -I love doing research; it assuages part of that curiosity thing. Often I will change the plot of a story when I discover a new fact about whatever it is I’m learning about for the story.

How do you use the internet for your writing? -To a large degree I connect with a lot of my readers on the net. In addition it has become my most valuable research platform. There are still things I have to go to specific libraries to peruse, but for the most part it’s all just a Google away.

If you’ve won any awards for your writing, what impact do you think that has had?  - I took 2nd place in a quarterly contest back in ’93 that not only gave me additional confidence as a writer, I also met people who significantly helped my career over a decade later.

What one marketing tool have you had good success with? -Bookmarks that I hand out to everyone (I even gave one to the cop who stopped me for speeding!). I designed it myself and have sent little packets of them to friends from Alaska to Virginia and many places in between. To be fair – that’s all the marketing I have done so far other than start a Facebook page for my novel.

What good writing habits have you developed that you think would be helpful to someone starting out? -Realizing that writing is like painting with thin layers of oils – one layer on top of another until you have achieved the illusion of depth and space on a two dimensional surface.

Do you have any bad writing habits that you’d advise writers to avoid? -Getting distracted by frivolity. But sometimes you just have to stop writing and throw the ball for your Blue Heeler.

Do you have any strange writing habits? God’s codpiece! What a great straight line!

When you’re not writing, do you read, and if so, what? -I am an inveterate reader. I would describe myself as a bookaholic. I have moved my library from Alaska to Colorado to Washington state to Nevada – and that includes my collection of National Geographic. I read history, archaeology, travel narratives, historical fiction of all sorts, science fiction, speculative fiction, alternative history, adventure, literary fiction, the occasional mystery and western, military fiction (and history), and pretty much anything to do with Alaska fact or fiction (except Sarah Palin).

What are you trying to accomplish with/through your writing? -Enjoy myself, make a living, and hopefully entertain a lot of people along the way.

What words of wisdom do you have for young writers? -Write about what fascinates you; if you don’t know much about it – research the subject. Write. Understand that your work is far from perfect and a good critique is like gold – it shows you where the reader lost their way and why. (You know what the story is, but does the reader?) Write. Never confuse criticism about your writing with criticism about you. Write. Believe in yourself; if you don’t neither will anyone else. Keep writing.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get published? -Do it yourself. E-books have increased in sales over 1200% in the past three years. POD formats are getting easier and easier to use. The agent and traditional publisher are pushing what they like and the public just might like what you write despite the 130 rejections you got on that ms.

Any thoughts on what this author writes?  How many books published?  Here's a little more information about the author...
How many published books are to your credit? -Two

Do you have an agent? -No

Are you self-published? -Not yet

How many different companies have you published with? -One

How long have you been writing? -26 years

Do you write full-time? If not, what is your other job? And how do you balance work/writing? -No, I don’t write full time, wish I could. I am a visual information specialist (gov-speak for graphic artist) for the USAF at Nellis AFB, NV. I write whenever I can find the time.

So, any thoughts?  Here's the full scoop:
      - Leonard (Stoney) Compton is a native of Nebraska, a U.S. Navy vet, and former 31-year resident of Alaska. During those 31 years he wore many hats, did many things, and is now trying to fit them all into his fiction. (Well, almost all!)
      He is married to Colette and they live near Las Vegas, Nevada with their many cats and Blue Heeler, Pullo.
      His alternative history novels, Russian Amerika (April 2007), and its sequel, Alaska Republik (February 2011), were both published by Baen Books and he will be most happy to personalize your copies.
      At the time this was written he was preparing Treadwell, a Novel of Alaska Territory, a historical novel about WWI era Alaska, for publication.
      Stoney is a visual information specialist for the 6th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis AFB. Colette teaches ballet. The cats just mess around and stay weird, and Pullo tries to herd everyone.

What are you working on now?  -I am formatting Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory for POD and e-book publication under the Pullo Pup Publications imprint, which I created two months ago. I am also rewriting the first section of Whalesong, a sf novel that grew from my first published novelette in UNIVERSE 1 edited by Robert Silverberg & Karen Haber (1990). I am working with a professional editor on the project who has made some excellent suggestions and pointed out weak plot lines that needed strengthened. And, I am proofing Level Six, a sf novel, before sending it to the editor, am in the process of writing the sequel Return to Kiana, and in my spare time am outlining the third novel in the series, Attack on Kiana. Treadwell will be out just as soon as I receive the rights to use period photographs owned by the University of Washington Libraries.

Anything else about being a writer that you’d like to share? -It’s not nearly as romantic as being a gandy dancer or jet pilot, but it is incredibly rewarding on a personal level and I can’t think of anything I would rather do on a continuous basis. It is truly an adventure!
More information about Stoney is available at and  His titles Russian Amerika and Alaska Republic can be purchased through, Baen Books, and his web site.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about Stoney, or any questions you'd like added to future interviews?  Let us know...drop us a comment below.


  1. Oh, I liked the way Stoney came across as a straight-down-the-line guy... and his covers are a million bucks! His admission about hating grammar was great,because many authors do not understand even why it exists. Even though I love it (being an editor among other things) I admire those who overcome their fear of getting things wrong and do the writing anyway.

  2. I agree with Roseanne and liked that Stoney admitted the obstacle of grammar. I enjoyed reading this post and I think the idea of guessing a genre is great!

  3. Reese & Rosanne, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I hope you'll come back and visit each Monday for different takes on the subject! Thanks for stopping by.