Indieview with Art Shulman, author of Tyrus Carson’s Ride

Of course, I had to do some research, to find out more about the early 19th century, to remain factually accurate regarding that time, but I wouldn’t call that a struggle. I enjoyed it.

Art Shulman – 16 March 1017

The Back Flap

In this coming-of-age novel we follow the action-packed exploits of 19 year old Tyrus Carson and his horse Whisper, in the early 19th century, as he tries to find his purpose in life.

Starting from his soldier days we follow Tyrus’ adventures as he makes his way home after a near-death experience. This important fast-moving novel also deals with issues such as friendship, romance, the treatment of Native-Americans and of women, revenge, and family.

About the book

What is the book about?

Tyrus Carson’s Ride is a coming-of-age novel which follows the action-packed exploits of 19-year-old Tyrus Carson and his horse, Whisper, in the early 19th century, as he tries to find his purpose in life.

Starting from his soldier days we follow Tyrus’ adventures as he makes his way home after a near-death experience. I think it’s a fast moving and important book, which, in addition to telling an interesting story about Tyrus, also deals with issues such as friendship, romance, revenge, family, and the treatment of Native Americans and of women.

When did you start writing the book?

I first started writing the book a few years ago. I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea for a short story. I went to the computer and knocked out what I thought was a fine short story, but which turned out to be basically the first chapter of the novel.  The story was pretty interesting, I felt, and then I said to myself, “I wonder what happens next.” And so I wrote the second chapter. Then I wondered about what happens after that. At this point I knew I had a novel to finish, just wondering what happens after each chapter I finished. As I was writing I didn’t know how the book would end. I figured that somehow my characters would lead me to that.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took about four months to write the initial draft.  Of course, in between writing new material I’d go back and edit earlier material. Sometimes I had to go back to establish consistency with new material I’d written. Once I had my initial draft, it took another month of my own editing, and then another two weeks with an outside editor. Then I felt it was complete.

Where did you get the idea from?

I really have no good idea of where or why I got the idea for the book. As I said, the story came to me in the middle of the night, and may have had something to do with what I dreamed, and dreams probably relate somehow to our lives. But in this instance I don’t know exactly how. My real life has very little in common with events of the early 19th century. Perhaps I thought somehow my life or well-being was being endangered, and I replaced myself figuratively with Tyrus Carson. But perhaps I’m getting too deep here.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

I don’t recall struggling at any point. It was pretty smooth. I wrote a chapter, just asking myself after each one, “What happens next?” Of course, I had to do some research, to find out more about the early 19th century, to remain factually accurate regarding that time, but I wouldn’t call that a struggle. I enjoyed it. Or maybe it was a struggle, but a struggle I enjoyed.

What came easily?

I was surprised that it came so easily. I write a lot of stage plays, and my greatest difficulty is not in writing dialogue, but in deciding on plot – what happens next. But that was not true with this book. My characters made it easy for me. And I thank them for that.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

My characters are fictitious, I guess. I did not knowingly base my characters on anyone I know, but, of course, a writer can’t help but base at least some of what his characters are like from people his real life.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I really like to read John Grisham. Not only are his novels and stories involving, but they are easy to read. I’ve tried to make my novel very readable.

Do you have a target reader?

I suppose if I had to choose one target reader it would be young adults and young men. But I would hope that it would extend beyond that. The book has many issues that are relevant to a much broader audience. My main character just happens to be a 19-year-old male, until he becomes 20.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I don’t have a writing process that I follow. Sometimes, as with Tyrus Carson’s Ride, I start with an event or premise and write what my characters tell me happens. At other times I have the ending and then write what leads to that ending. I don’t have a personal rule that I need to sit at the computer (or with a pad) for a certain amount of time every day. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without doing any creative writing, and sometimes I’ll spend many hours on a given day, and write day after day. One of the things I really like to do is go over what I’ve written and edit it. Sometimes I play a game with myself. If I’m writing a play, for example, and a character has a long speech I challenge myself to reduce the speech length substantially.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I rarely outline, at least on paper, although I may have an idea of an outline in my head. However, recently I wrote a non-fiction book, sort of a spoof, called, I’M WRONG. I’M SORRY. I LOVE YOU!. It’s about relationships. What I did there was list the names of chapters I was going to write. That served as a sort of outline.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I usually edit as I go along. Sometimes the editing involves mundane things like spelling and grammar, and other times it involves consistency with other portions of the overall piece. I really like to edit.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I utilized a process that did not quite involve hiring a professional editor. I paid a friend of mine, a published novelist, to edit. Years ago she served as the assistant to the playwright Arthur Miller, so I figured she knew what she was doing. And I was right.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Nah, I don’t listen to music when writing. If I did then it would be background classical, or oldies or classical rock.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I found an agent, but unfortunately she was not able to find a publisher. (Isn’t amazing that publishers are so dense that they weren’t interested in my book?)

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

After finding out about the ignorance of publishers I decided to self-publish. I had gone this route earlier with a children’s book I’d written with my wife (Barnaby Brain) and had a positive experience.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I used a template and material the publisher provided.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Just winging it. But I do have ideas and intentions – attending book fairs, emails to purchasers of other books (and play attendees), approaching book clubs and libraries, setting up a Facebook page, and so on..

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Just do it! Jump in!

About You

Where did you grow up?

Some people who know me say I have never grown up. I take that as a compliment, though they might not have intended it to be. At any rate I was raised in Brooklyn, New York and lived there until my mid-twenties. I’m very happy I was born there. We played all sorts of games and became what might be called ‘street smart’.

Where do you live now?

I live in Lake Balboa, an area of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. One of the reasons I moved to Los Angeles was that the Brooklyn Dodgers had moved here years earlier.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I have a gorgeous and smart wife. I still play full-court basketball. I’m a college professor. Sometimes I act in my plays (and not just because I insist the director casts me).  As I get older I get better looking.

What are you working on now?

As I mentioned earlier I write plays. I believe that in the past decade I have had more original full-length plays produced in the Los Angeles area than any other playwright. There are a couple of new plays that I’m working on, and perhaps getting produced. One is A Day at the Café, an ensemble piece involving a bunch of characters at a coffeehouse. It’s a dramedy, which means it contains both drama and comedy. The other is tentatively called The Rabbi’s Mission. This play centers around a man who had resigned as a rabbi because of a scandalous involvement with a non-Jewish woman, and now is the chief administrator at a mission with a soup kitchen. He now gets involved with two women, in different ways.

End of Interview:

For more from Art, visit his website.

Get your copy of Tyrus Carson’s Ride from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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