Name: Sean Gates
Connection to Fredericksburg region: I’m from King George County. I was born in the old Mary Washington Hospital at 2300 Fall Hill Ave. That was during the Carter Administration. Which I guess is showing my age.
I was inspired to write a book because: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Obviously none of that stuff was any good, but it’s just part of who I am. Growing up I had it pretty good, my mom would always read to me when I was little, and my dad would always buy me books. Dad and I still share books. I guess if you read as much as I do, eventually you start writing.
The one book I’ve published, “The Dark and Lonely Road,” is set here in King George and has scenes in Fredericksburg, Colonial Beach, and Waldorf. This particular book came about because I’m one of the co-founders of Project94, a small news service in King George County. I was assigned to write a piece about some local history and the research led down a rabbit hole that ended up with me being moved to write a sort of character-driven historical crime novel.
Favorite time/place to write: Honestly if I didn’t have to do other work to pay the bills I’d make writing a daily, full-time gig. Put on a pot of coffee. I don’t have an office, but I have a laptop so I can set up wherever it’s quiet. Most of “Dark and Lonely” I wrote at a little desk in my bedroom in my house. Lately I’ve taken to setting up at the dining room table. I just need somewhere to sit, a window, a pot of coffee and a minimum of distractions.
Future plans as an author: I’m working on a sequel to “Dark and Lonely.” I also have been working on a few film scripts and I have loads of older projects, I’m not sure any of them are viable but there’s at least one I’ve never quite been able to let go of. It’s a fantasy epic, sort of “Star Wars” meets “Game of Thrones.” Who knows, maybe I’ll figure out how to make it work eventually.
What I learned from the writing/publishing process: Well, I’m self-published, so what I learned is that there are more people around me who care and want to help me succeed than I ever imagined. My biggest fear where self-publishing is concerned was that I’d be in it alone. I’m not. I tried to get published the traditional way for a lot of years, but I simply don’t have the connections to get past the gatekeepers there. Maybe if I catch a few eyes with this book. Or the right eyes, anyway. As for writing, every project teaches you something new about the process and about yourself. That’s what makes it rewarding.
My advice for those trying to write a book: Don’t try: Do it. And don’t stop. The first few might be garbage. In fact, that’s basically a guarantee unless you’re a superhero, freak-of-nature type. But like I said before, every project brings lessons to you and so you get better every time. Also, learn to edit, even if you wind up editing stuff for your friends. Because you have to really be able to edit yourself, and to be as ruthless as necessary with your own work to get the best result.
ABOUT MY WORK
Book title: “The Dark and Lonely Road.”
Plot summary: Nearly 20 years after World War II, Harry Cogbill is drifting through life, unable to hold down a steady job or form lasting relationships. All of that is about to change when Ethel Burkitt comes to his door looking for an ally against the hoodlums buying her uncle’s property. Cogbill’s not a private detective, but even the most reluctant soldier knows some things are worth fighting for.
Publisher: Self-published through Lulu.com
Publication date: Feb. 20, 2019
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
Who should read my book? Anyone who enjoys a good mystery, and anyone interested in reading an upmarket piece set in our local area. Being from King George, it’s rare when somebody uses my hometown or any of the surrounding areas in a book, and I’m always delighted when they do. I thought it’d be fun to treat King George and the surrounding areas the way Robert B. Parker treated Boston, or James Lee Burke does New Iberia, La.