Monday, April 25, 2011

Perennial Author Dayton Ward!

Star Trek: Typhon Pact #4: Paths of DisharmonyDayton Ward started writing professionally after entering a Star Trek writing contest for unpublished authors. He had stories selected for each of the first three annual contests, which along with the other winning entries were published in that year’s edition of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthology. After he became the first contestant to disqualify him/herself from entering future contests, the editor called him up and asked him if he was interested in writing a Star Trek novel. The rest, as he likes to say, is a frappin’ mystery.

What have you learned that seemed completely unrelated to writing at the time but has influenced your writing career?
It’s going to sound simple and perhaps even a bit trite, but one skill which I already had developed thanks to my prior military and corporate careers and which has been of enormous help to me as a professional writer is time and task management. The ability to juggle multiple projects, each with its own deadline and master and set of issues or hurdles to overcome, is of prime importance if you’re looking to be a freelance writer. Often, you’ll be working on a handful of different assignments and a couple of them will have deadlines that are either relatively close together or even on top of one another. The ability to divide your time and energy so that each project gets the attention it deserves and you hit all your marks is what will distinguish the working professional from the rest of the pack. And in case you’re wondering, editors absolutely value this skill in the writers they hire.

A toy manufacturer has decided to make you their new superhero action figure. What is your superpower and what are you wearing?
Everybody always wants to fly, right? I’ll go with that. No more long lines at the airport! As for the outfit, if it has to be tights, I just want them to give me something that’ll showcase the six-pack abs I’m hoping they’ll mold onto my stomach.

Do you ever regret deciding to become a professional writer?
If I have any regrets about writing professionally, it’s that I haven’t yet found a way to earn a full-time living at it. My next major writing goal is to do exactly that, but I’m a realist. Most writers have some other source of income or support system, so I know it’s not an easy goal to reach. I could spend more time writing, but I prefer not to take that much more time away from my wife and kids, who already put up with me working the equivalent of two jobs, one of which—when you boil it down—is an ongoing passion project that happens to generate a bit of side income.

What is the best part of being a professional writer?
Are you kidding? I get to just make stuff up out of thin air, and people pay me for it! Wait. I suppose I could go into politics and get the same sort of rush, but that’s another subject. Anyway, I love telling stories, be it writing them or even just sitting around a table in a bar or a campfire, and getting reactions out of people. Writing just formalizes the process. In the case of my media tie-in writing, I get to play with characters I already love, and in some cases have loved since my childhood, and share the resulting stories with people who share that affection. And somebody gives me money to do that? Gravy; thick, brown, tasty gravy.

Give us a quick overview of what you write and where we can find it.
I write and co-write a lot of media tie-ins, mostly of the Star Trek variety. I also manage to get some original science fiction published here and there, along with being a regular contributor to Star Trek Magazine and as a guest blogger.

Some of my more recent publications include:

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