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FIVE ON FRIDAY with Michael P. Spradlin

Our FIVE ON FRIDAY guest this week… is me. Yes, yours truly, author of the International Best-Selling The Youngest Templar. So visit my website… again. And make sure you’ve pre-ordered a copy of The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate which goes on sale 10-29-09.

When did you know that you first wanted to be a writer?

On some level I think I always knew. I don’t know that I ever had that bolt of lightning moment. When I was a kid I dreamed of being all the things all kids dream about. Major league third basemen, fireman, cowboy. You name it. But what I did learn at very young age was a love of reading. To learn that books were not just a source of information or knowledge but of entertainment was a very important lesson. Gradually, I think I migrated from loving to read to believing that writing books would just have to be about the coolest job in the world. Turns out I was right.

What book or writer do you feel influenced you the most?

In terms of writers the list is probably far too long to mention. But in my mind the biggest influences on me as a writer were my Mother and Grandmother. My mother loves to read and always made sure I was surrounded by books. She encouraged and fostered my love for reading and writers. Even when money was tight, she somehow always found a way to buy me books or comics.

My grandmother Maxine Patrick was, without a doubt, the world’s greatest storyteller. As a small boy I spent many hours at her side on the farm and she would spin the most elaborate tales of her childhood. For many years I actually believed my grandmother traveled the American West by train with Sitting Bull and Custer and Wyatt Earp. I finally figured out there wasn’t an ounce of truth in any of her stories. She spinned her elaborate yarns to distract us from all the work we doing. This only made me love them more.

What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?

Right now I’m reading Iron River by T. Jefferson Parker. Parker is, in my mind, the best thriller writer working in America today. This book is about the flow of firearms across the US Mexico border. Like all of his best books it’s peopled with incredibly rich, diverse, flawed yet heroic characters. I just don’t know how he does it. It’s a phenomenal work and he’s an incredible talent. I fell in love with Parker’s work when I first read Laguna Heat and I count the hours until he has a new book available.

I’ve also just finished reading Bite Me by Christopher Moore. Again, one of America’s finest novelists in my mind. I first discovered Moore when I read Coyote Blue many years ago. He has a rare ability to make me laugh, cry, and think all within the space of a single sentence. And I don’t take lightly the skills of a novelist who can make me laugh out loud on every single page.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers (or illustrators), what would it be?

I would say treat writing the way you would treat any craft. Practice and nurture it and your writing will improve. The key to success in almost any endeavor is practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

My second piece of advice would be to embrace revision. Rewrite and rewrite until every word on the page had justified its existence.

Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?

I sure can, it’s a novel called The Raven’s Shadow. It takes place in Washington, DC in 1825. It features a teenage Edgar Allan Poe, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin who must defend the world from a horrible and ancient evil the world will come to know as Count Dracula. It will be published in spring 2011 by G.P. Putnam’s Son.

I’m also putting the finishing touches the third Youngest Templar novel. It’s called The Youngest Templar: Orphan of Destiny and it will be published in fall 2010.

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