Shells Chats with author David L. Craddock

When did you decide writing was something you wanted to do?

I've enjoyed writing all my life. I was the guy in school who had to stifle shouts of excitement when the teacher opted to give essay exams instead of multiple choice or some other format. But I didn't seriously consider becoming a writer until college.

Throughout high school and my first two years in college, I was a Computer Science (CS) major. I loved programming and had dabbled in it since I was 10 or 11 years old, coding up my own goofy programs and games (that were so, so awful). Coding was something that, like writing, I would do every day regardless of whether or not I had assignments or tests to write or prepare for. But several bad experiences involving lazy professors who relied on me and other programming-savvy students to run their classes quickly burned me out. I would wake up every day dreading having to program.

During this time, I was taking 18+ credit hours per semester, all of which were CS courses. Along with all those classes, I'd tack on a writing or literature class. Despite my busy schedule, writing papers and reading books were actually relaxing even though they meant extra work on top of my CS workload. One semester I took Young Adult Literature and was assigned to read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I loved the book and decided to write a paper on the series and the outcry it caused in some religious and parent circles. My stance was that the books did not encourage kids to sacrifice goats or any other nonsense, but encouraged them to look forward to reading. (When was the last time you saw hundreds of people queued outside of bookstores?) It was a lot of fun to write and I felt confident when I handed it in.

Several weeks later, the teacher passed back our papers. As she handed each student his or her paper, she said there was one in particular that she absolutely loved, and that she would hand that paper back last and ask the writer to read it aloud. Eventually she'd returned every paper except mine. Realizing what this meant, I accepted my paper with shaky hands and nervously stood to read it. A good writer does not always make for a good speaker, but I fell into a groove and got through it. When I finished, my class applauded and buzzed with positive comments concerning the paper and how it had gotten them thinking as I'd read. I felt so proud--not by the attention I'd received, but because my paper, something I'd had a blast piecing together, had sparked thought and discussion.

After class, I was heading down the hall to my next class when I heard someone call my name behind me. It was my YA Lit professor. She asked me what my major was. I told her it was Computer Science, and she promptly bonked me on the head with the stack of papers she was carrying. "Quit messing around with computers," she said, not unkindly. "You're a writer. You should write."

It was as if someone had turned on a light. Of course I should write, I thought. I loved writing. I should write. Why not? I've written ever since, and hardly a day goes by where I don't look forward to waking up and wrestling with my word processor.

What do you find more interesting about writing short stories?

I decided to write short stories because I'm a "professional" writer (meaning I do it for a paycheck) and often don't have time to take on lengthier projects such as novels because I'm so busy taking on freelance assignments to make sure the bills are paid. It's a great way to make a living, but those assignments require the brunt of my attention out of necessity, leaving me with little time or energy to work on larger projects.

I became aware of a flash fiction challenge the object of which was to write a story adhering to a given theme (in this case, thieves and scoundrels) in 1000 words or less, and decided to enter. Writing my story, "The Master's Lesson," for the challenge was... well, challenging, because I had to develop a plot and characters within three pages, four at most. I couldn't allow myself to get bogged down with only 1000 words to work with. Every word counted and must accomplish something. It took some work, but I chiseled away at the story every day for two weeks until it was just right. I submitted it and was pleased when I learned it would be published.

Besides the publication credit, writing "The Master's Lesson" really helped me hone my writing; the tight word limit forced me to get down to brass tacks. No getting bogged down in florid descriptions, no drawing anything out. I encourage other writers to consider flash fiction (or any form of short story) because working within such a constraining word limit was a great exercise in character building and making sure the story was always moving along.

Where can we find some of these stories?

I provide links to several of my published works--be they short stories, editorials, or books--on my website, Some stories are only available in printed form. "The Master's Lesson" can be found in the Thieves & Scoundrels anthology (ISBN: 1770530045), and "I Lived," another 1000-word story, was published in the Inhuman anthology (ISBN: 177053010X).

In today's world, how important do you feel people need to learn about 'green technology?'

Green technology becomes more important by the day. In many cases the technology is cost prohibitive, but prices are dropping and information is becoming more readily available. Because of this, learning about green technology is easier than ever. There are so many websites and books filled with information. Speaking of which...

Can you tell us about your book Renewable Energy Made Easy?

Renewable Energy Made Easy (REME) is divided into two parts. The first part covers renewable energy such as water, wind, and solar; the second part provides interviews with leaders in renewable energy as well as several hands-on renewable energy projects that readers can complete on their own for little cost.

I decided to include projects because, while books are wonderful, it's usually more difficult to learn something by reading about it than by doing it. Readers can read the first half of REME to understand how photovoltaic arrays and wind turbines and other technologies work. In the second half, they can actually build solar panels and other devices that demonstrate the theories and mechanics learned in the first half of the book, which I feel is more efficient.

You write articles on dealing with the gaming industry and games in particular. With technology the way it is, what do you predict will be the future of gaming consoles?

This is somewhat difficult for me to answer because I haven't covered the gaming scene as closely over the past year or so, so I don't feel entirely qualified to make bold predictions. However, one technology I do see blossoming rapidly (and which I advocate) is digital distribution, the process of downloading software and other content from online sources instead of physical media. Computer games have already largely gone this route with digital services such as Steam and Good Old Games. Being able to download my games from anywhere is much more convenient than carrying around discs.

I also foresee many computer games taking digital distribution one step further by moving to web-based games. id Software's Quake Live, for example, requires no installation, download, or disc to play. Simply visit the website, log in, and play the game directly from your web browser.

Time will tell!

Are there any current projects you are working on you wish to share with us?

Many projects, yes! I'm currently researching and conducting interviews for a nonfiction book that chronicles the rise and fall of Blizzard North, the studio responsible for developing the ultra-successful Diablo and Diablo II games (more information is available on my website); I'm working on roughly four short stories; I've submitted the first entry in a fantasy series to a publisher and am waiting with bated breath to hear their thoughts; and I've always got some freelance project or other on my plate.

It's an exciting time. Busy, but exciting.

Where can people find out more about you?

I invite you and your readers to visit my website, There, you'll find a link to my blog where I detail information on upcoming projects and discuss books, games, and writing.

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