Let's get to know you – give us a brief summary of who you are.
My name is David K. Hulegaard and I am an American author living in historic Oregon City, Oregon. I primarily write science fiction and paranormal books, but I tend to dabble in just about every genre. My brain goes off into too many different directions to stay put in one genre for too long.
When did you begin writing?
As a child, really, but I didn’t try to do it professionally until a couple of years ago. I’m a “talker,” and my friends would always tell me that I should write books. Maybe that was just a polite way of telling me to shut up. I don’t know. After putting it off for a long time, I finally sat down in front of a keyboard in March of 2010 and started work on my first novel. I’ve been writing ever since.
Is it difficult to find time to write with all the other responsibilities of life?
You can always find time. It’s a lack of motivation that hampers most writers. Some days are more challenging than others to sit down and commit to the writing, and it’s on those days that you need to ask yourself if you really want to do this, or if it’s just a hobby. For me, writing is more like the reward I get at the end of a long day. If the day was particularly frustrating, I use that in my writing.
I see you've written a few books – tell us all about them!
I’m currently in the middle of a trilogy called Noble. It’s about a 1940s private detective that is searching for a missing girl. The catch? He discovers that her disappearance is tied to a government conspiracy and an agent gone rogue. Saying any more than that would be spoiling the big surprise twist. The first book is out now, and the sequel, Noble: Bloodlines, is due out by the end of March. I’d like to get the finale out by the end of this year, but I’m not going to force it. My brain tells me which book I need to be working on at any given time.
I’ve also got a novella out called The Jumper. It’s an old fashioned ghost story built around the twenty-five year old death of a teenage boy at a youth community center. The angry spirit of the boy haunts the building and reveals himself to the night custodian. Over time, the custodian stops being afraid and starts trying to help the boy, uncovering a mystery in the process.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that I’ve got an anthology called Strangers coming out in April. It’s a short story collection centered around the theme of train travel. Each tale explores the dark and twisted back stories of seemingly average people that meet one another on a train. A beta reader told me that he thought it was very Hitchcock-like. I can’t think of a better compliment than that!
What would you say is the key to writing effective thrillers?
Every writer would probably answer that differently, but for me, I think the key is a good twist. You need to tell a gripping story that hooks the reader, but also leave them enough room to formulate their own theories and opinions about where the story is going. Some writers are really good at throwing red herrings, and others are really good at simply protecting their secrets until the last minute. I think either device is great as long as the reader enjoys the ride.
What's your experience of self-publishing? Is it something you'd recommend to others?
Self-publishing is hard. Everything is a challenge. That said, it’s also been the best experience for me. I have complete control over both my success and failure, but above all else, I have an opportunity to share my stories. If I had submitted my books through the big publishers, I have no doubt they all would have been rejected. Why? Because they don’t contain any zombies or vampires. I’m not talking down about those types of books, I’m merely saying that they make money, and publishers are only looking for books that make money. I don’t blame them for that. I mean, making money is why they’re in business.
And what if one of books was to be accepted by a publisher? It would sit in stasis for 2-3 years before dusted off and finally greenlit for publication. No thanks. When I finish a book, I can publish it in less than 48 hours, and I get 70% of the revenue from sales. There are no money-grubbing agents and no bosses telling me to make creative changes to “spice up” my book.
Self-publishing is not a free pass, however. It’s expensive, and very hard to get noticed. You must have your writing professionally edited and you must have an attractive cover. Marketing can be done for little money, but you absolutely CAN NOT skimp out on editing and cover art. Readers need to trust that independently published books are just as good as the famous authors they read. If we abuse that trust and fail them, then we all lose.
Does social media (facebook, Twitter, blogging) play an important role in promoting your books?
Twitter has become the most effective social media tool for authors. Facebook works well for some, but I haven’t had much interest from readers there. I do maintain a blog that generates a modest amount of unique visits. There are also sites like Goodreads and Wattpad that are great for independent authors. Anywhere that a potential reader can interact with you and find samples of your work is a huge plus. For me, I like to offer different content at each site, like a literary carousel.
Which authors and books have inspired your work?
My biggest influences would be classics like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Charles Dickens. I also love folklore and legends. In regards to modern writers, Bernard Schaffer is my biggest influence. His novels are my textbooks.
And what other sources do you take inspiration from? Films/video-games/music etc.?
I’m sure other writers will cringe by me saying this, but I do love TV, film, and video games. Try as they might, they never seem to rot my brain. Seriously though, I love a good story wherever I can find it. Sometimes it’s in a book, sometimes TV/film, and sometimes in a video game. My Noble trilogy was inspired by a combination of the TV show Lost, the video game BioShock, and the urban legend about the Mothman Prophecies. Intrigued?
Being a writer sounds like a lot of hard work – is it worth it?
I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It is hard, but I could never find the joy that it puts into my heart anywhere else. I think anyone who creates, be it writers, artists, poets, or musicians, probably knows what I’m talking about. The power to create and shape something with your mind is nothing short of fascinating. People ask me all the time, “Where do you come up with this stuff?” I wish I knew. If I did, I could tap into it at any time and become wealthy.
In all seriousness, I don’t do this for the money. Sure, it would be great to “retire” and call writing my full-time job, but even more than the money I just enjoy the opportunity to entertain people. Getting good reviews gives me “butterflies,” but when someone takes the time out to write me and tell me about their experience with my books, it’s something else entirely. If I could pinpoint any one thing that propels me to continue writing, that would be most certainly be it.