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Adventures in Writing » Interviews » IWU Interview with Fred Limberg

IWU Interview with Fred Limberg

Another in my continuing series of interviews with writers from the Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook. This interview is with Fred Limberg, author of “Ferris’ Bluff“. Below is a little information about our guest author.

Fred is a writer living in Minnesota near Stillwater. His first self-published book, Ferris’ Bluff, has received numerous 5 star reviews from US, UK, and Australian readers. His next offering, The Storm Glass, is quite different from the small town thiller he introduced in August of this year.

When not writing you can find Fred working in his woodworking shop or fishing the beautiful St. Croix River north of Stillwater.

What is the best writing advice you ever received?
The best writing advice I ever received was from a guy named Chuck Logan. Chuck has been a solid mid-list writer for over a decade with 10 very good thrillers to his name.

He told me, several years ago, as I was showing off my first book–a dreadful 140K word mess of a book, that the most important thing in writing was the story. He said that no amount of technique, tricky stuff, or fancy language would make a bad book better. The story itself, the main plotline running thru the narrative is the one most important thing about being a good writer as opposed to a mediocre or bad one.

Keep the story fixed foremost in your mind as you create the narrative, and you’ll do fine…as long as you have a great story to tell.

What advice would you give a new writer?
To someone who tells me excitedly that they’re writing their first book I tend to shrug and say, “that’s nice.” Except in very rare cases that first book is a practice book. I’m talking about fiction here as I know absolutely nothing about the non-fiction side of the bookstore.

‘New’ writers have absolutely no idea what lies in front of them.

I advise new writers to seek out a critique group or a small batch of friends who would honestly tell them what they think of the book early on. I tell them that they need to grow a thick skin regarding criticism, and listen to what people say. I tell them their first book is probably going to suck. I tell them to ask questions in writing forums. I tell them it’s okay to shelve that first book before it’s complete and move on to a second one, because if they’re learning about the craft at a rapid rate, it might be better to start over.

Once you’ve got the bug it’s hard to shake.

What steps do you take in starting a new book?
I don’t buy any of this ‘muse’ crap. When someone tells me their ‘muse’ is speaking to them I want to slap ’em!

For me, the idea for a new book can come from anywhere. Often I’ll read something in the newspaper and it will stick with me and become the germ of a story.

Last year, no…two years ago, I read a story about the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death in a plane crash in Iowa. At the time I was chewing on the idea of writing a novel in the Young Adult genre because they seemed to be attracting agents and selling better than the thrillers I was writing.

I imagined what that night must have been like when Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper thought they were so lucky to find a plane to fly them out of the blizzard. One thing led to another and I found myself with a story to tell. At the core, Holly’s beloved Stratocaster didn’t perish with him. It ended up a small town in Iowa, lost to the world. Not interesting enough…but what if that town lived in a digital dead zone? What if it was an analog island in the midst of a digital world? Getting more interesting…

Now it was time to start putting the book together. A lot of people tell you they write by the seat of their pants and let the story tell itself. I don’t do that.

What I did next was sit down and write the story. By that I mean I literally told the story to myself on paper–no dialogue–no fancy punctuation or convention–I just wrote out the story complete with sidebars detailing character traits, research notes, what ifs, whole sections deleted occassionally. It ran close to 100 pages, but when I sat down to write THE BOOK, I had a guideline and confidence that I wouldn’t be wasting a lot of time and energy.

The book, which I’ve titled DODGE, is in Beta now and I think I’m going to actually query it early next year.

When do you find it best to write?
I like to write early in the day. I’m usually up around 5:00. I read the paper, have some coffee, and settle in to write by 6:00 when I’m working on a draft. I used to write for 8 hours or so at a time but I’,ve learned that 4 ir so is enough. The writing is usually better with out pushing so hard, and I save time on the editing end by maintaining some discipline.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing pretty much full time for 6 years, now. I retired early and decided this was a better thing to do than start a new business or work for someone else.

How many books, and in which genre, have you written?
In 6 years I’ve written 6 full length novels. It doesn’t take a year to write a book, but when you add in editing time, querying time, research time, and having a life away from the computer, that’s what I’ve been able to produce. I guess you could call it my back-list, but here’s a short list of my body of work:

Sneak Thief (2005), a thriller with a sci-fi twist. Originally weighing in at 160K words, it was a fun practice book to write.

Falling to Pieces (2006) Another thriller. Another practice book. New writers–NEVER base your book on a current event that won’t hold up to historical interest/significance.

Big Muddy Mess (2006/07) A sequel to Sneak Thief which took on a life of its own. Now the anchor for a series which will come out in November (I hope!)

First Murder (2007/08) Murder Mystery. I wanted to see If I could do a real whodunit. I didit. Look for it yet this year or early in 2012. It has real series potential too.

Ferris’ Bluff (2009/10/11) Available through Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and all sorts of other e-outlets and in trade paperback through Amazon and Twin City independent bookstores. International 5 star reviews. A thriller.

Dodge (2010/11) YA, but…well…it ended up being a thriller too. Currently in Beta.

What are you currently working on writing?
Right now I’m swamped with promo work for Ferris’ Bluff and final edits for The Storm Glass, but I’ve got a story churning… a sequel to Storm Glass…I’m hoping to get to it this winter.


© 2011, Steven R. Drennon. All rights reserved.

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