Rob is the author of Fishing Buddy. He has also had stories published online and in anthologies, Scarlet Whispers and The Ghost IS the Machine. You can read some of Rob's stories at his website, The Storyteller.
LDSP: Hi, Rob. Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?
Rob: I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts—sometimes known as “the Witch City.” It's a place that takes Halloween quite seriously, so it's no wonder, really, that I started writing ghost stories.
LDSP: True. I've been there. Once. A long, long time ago. Loved it. What are your favorite hobbies?
LDSP: Of course, it is! I could have guessed that one!
Rob: I have both a kayak and a canoe, and though they are a lot of fun they're just a means to an end: Getting to where the fish are!
LDSP: Do you have any fun fish stories?
Rob: Probably too many to count, certainly too many to relate here. Can I thumbnail some of them?
Rob: Hmm, I once caught one small trout using three separate traps, all the the same time, while ice fishing.
LDSP: Three traps for one little fish? That's not a big fish tale, is it?
Rob: Let me try again...I once went to find out if the ice was thick enough to walk on, only to find that it definitely was not, with splashy results.
LDSP: Now, that's one that could be expanded to a story. Got any non-fish stories?
Rob: While camping one year my young son would not put down the shovel once he found out what a latrine was. No one was digging his hole but him!
LDSP: I can picture that one! When and why did you begin writing?
Rob: I started writing in the summer of 2010, at the age of 41. It seems I am a natural storyteller—my friends like to ask me about my day so they can sit back and listen to me, stuff like that. I had written a little in high school, but that was 25 years ago. My uncle suggested it to me quite strongly one night, and put the bug in my ear. A good friend of mine seconded his idea, and I wrote a few small things for her. She convinced me I should try … and now I'm hooked!
LDSP: I'm glad you are. I loved your story, Fishing Buddy. When did you first consider yourself a "real" writer?
Rob: I guess it was as soon as I figured out I liked it this much. As soon as I let someone else read what I had written and they got some enjoyment out of it, I knew I was a writer. Now I just have to convince myself I'm a good writer...
LDSP: Well, if Fishing Buddy is any indication, I think you can add "good" to your description. I knew on the first read that I wanted to include it in the anthology. Why did you decide to enter the LDS Publisher story contest?
Rob: Well, I had this Christmas story, and my whole family liked it. I was already sending things out to try to get published, but everyone I was dealing with were horror publishers—not exactly the ideal audience for the particular story. I googled “Christmas story submissions,” and there was LDS Publisher, at the top of the list. The rest, as they say, is history.
LDSP: Yay, Google! Have you ever entered a contest before? Won anything?
Rob: The first thing I ever wrote in a serious manner is a romantic comedy short story that is currently occupying a desk drawer until I think I have the chops to fix everything that is wrong with it and try to get it published. The second thing I wrote was a true fishing story called The Accidental Bass, and I wrote that to enter in a small contest on a hunting/fishing website, which I did win. That was a nice confidence-booster, I can tell you that!
LDSP: What inspired you to write Fishing Buddy?
Rob: I fish. I fish in the winter. It was getting near Christmas, and I suddenly found myself wondering what Santa might do to relax. He might fish … right?
LDSP: Definitely! Aside from the story Checkin' It Twice, do you have other published stories or books?
Scarlet Whispers, a charitable anthology benefiting Hilltop Haven, an equine rescue and rehabilitation facility in Canada.
LDSP: That's cool! What are you working on now?
Rob: At the moment I'm working on a small collection of my own stories, submitting short stories to a few anthologies out there, and preparing to edit the first draft of my first novel. It is, of course, a ghost story.
LDSP: Creepy! Do you see writing as a career?
Rob: The short answer? Yes. Next question?
LDSP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Rob: Don't wait until you're in your 40's to start writing. Try it when you're young, and if you love it then stick with it. If you're already old, like me, and you're just starting out, my advice remains the same: stick with it. You'll get rejection letters—everyone does—but pay attention to what they say. You can learn almost as much about writing and the writing market from paying attention to your rejection slips as you can from a writing group. Take everything, both good and bad, as a learning experience.
LDSP: That is excellent advice. Let's talk about Christmas for a bit. What was your favorite Christmas gift?
Rob: Favorite? I'm not sure. One of the most memorable, though, was the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. My father got it for me one year, then the next year he got me the omnibus edition with the second story in it. The next year it was the trilogy. Every year the book grew until I had one book with all five of the Hitchhiker's Guide stories in one volume. Then, the next year, he got it for me again.
LDSP: Funny! What are your Christmas favorites: Song? Tradition? Food? Game?
Rob: My favorite Christmas food is, hands down, peanut butter balls. My mother has made them from scratch every year since I was quite small, giving them out to everyone who came to the house for Christmas. Now that I'm in my 40's and she's in her 60's, she doesn't make them anymore... except for one small batch. Just for me. Every year. Thanks, Mom.
LDSP: What’s your favorite part of Christmas?
Rob: Watching my son open his gifts. That and the David Bowie/Bing Crosby version of The Little Drummer Boy. But mostly my son.
LDSP: What kinds of Christmas stories do you like best—funny Santa stories or touching Christ stories?
Rob: I prefer funny. Who doesn't like to laugh?
LDSP: Good point. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
LDSP: I agree. Most of his books are too creepy for me. I'm not a horror fan, sorry. But the few I've read have been very well written. What book are you reading now?
Rob: Dangers Untold. It's another anthology I have a story in, and I'm reading all the other stories in the book.
LDSP: Are there any new authors that have captured your interest?
Rob: If you like the horror genre, look for a man named Jay Wilburn. He started writing, coincidentally, at about the same time I did, and not only does the fellow have quite an imagination, he has the writing skill to back it up. To date I have only read his short stories, but his first novel hit the stands recently, a book titled Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel. Keep your eye on this man. He's going places.
LDSP: Thanks for the tip. And thanks for stopping by. Have a great Christmas—and enjoy those peanut butter balls!