Today we welcome Randall Platt.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Randall Platt: Is there a life outside of writing? Ha! Sometimes I have to remind myself there is! I have been a full time, working writer for decades. My first novel was published in 1991. I live in the Puget Sound region with my husband – two grown sons live in the region. I get much of my writing done at our beach cabin on the North Oregon coast. I am an animal lover, a competitive handball player, and constant researcher. I am always on the lookout for little known happenings during hugely known events – like war.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Randall Platt: All of my 12 published novels are fiction, with the exception of my first ever ‘paid cash-money-for’ work, which was the 100 year history of the Tacoma Pierce County YMCA. That gig bought me my first computer. It was exhausting work, not very exciting, but it taught me the value of deadlines and doing what I said I’d do – all important things for a writer to learn.
I started out with a series of humorous stories of the historical west – the first in the series, THE FOUR ARROWS FE-AS-KO, (four mentally and physically challenged adults run the largest cattle ranch in Eastern Oregon) was the basis for the film PROMISE THE MOON from Sullivan Entertainment. Next came THE ROYALSCOPE FE-AS-KO (egos, angst, and vanity as my cowpoke hero comes face to face with screen idols) and finally, THE 1898 BASE-BALL FE-AS-KO (cowpokes being ball players and ball players being cowpokes all the way to the world championships). These were fun books to write (also out in audio) but I soon turned myself to deeper topics, primarily for the teen market.
HONOR BRIGHT – YA, winner of the Keystone State Reading Award – WW2 homefront study in the F words – Forgive and Forget (hardcover, paper, ebook, audio)
THE CORNERSTONE – YA, optioned for feature film by actor/director Tom Skerritt – WW2 coming of age on the homefront (Hardcover, ebook, audio)
THE LIKES OF ME – YA, half-Asian, half-Caucasian, ALL albino girl becomes a sideshow sensation – Silver medal, WILLA Literary Award (Hardcover, paper, ebook)
HELLIE JONDOE – YA – a young girl boards an orphan train to journey from NYC to a cattle ranch in Eastern Oregon – Winner, Willa Literary Award, Will Rogers Medallion
LIBERTY’S CHRISTMAS – YA, a brilliant girl, a runaway Mexican-American teen, an aging draft horse, and a broken down tractor work to save the family Christmas tree farm during the Depression – Winner, Willa Literary Award, Will Rogers Medallion, Finalist Washington State Book Award, Finalist PEN USA Literary Award
INCOMMUNICADO – MG – the towns most bullied girl risks everything to save her best friend, a Japanese-American, from the FBI and internment authorities during WW2 – hardcover, soft, ebook and Tab Book Club and Teen Book Club choices for Scholastic books.
THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE – YA – a gifted street kid forms a gang of pickpockets and thieves to survive the Nazi-occupied streets of Warsaw. Hardcover, ebook.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Randall Platt: Coming out October, 2018 from HarperCollins will be the MG novel, PROFESSOR RENOIR’S COLLECTION OF ODDITIES, CURIOSITIES, AND DELIGHTS. The world’s largest and the world’s smallest girls run away from a cheap carnival, taking with them three aging animals, destined for the taxidermist.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Randall Platt: I have come to learn that I am probably a better re-writer than I am a writer! I have been handed edits that require a complete rewrite of a book. After grumbling for a day or two, slamming doors, yelling at the dog, swearing off writing, I finally dig in and, time after time, realize editors are right – they can make a good book a lot gooder!
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Randall Platt: I love research and sometimes that can be a problem – way leads onto way – I have learned to know when to say when. I admit that the internet makes it a lot easier, but we have to be careful who we trust with that information. For the last 20 years I have created and cultivated my own interactive database of slang and expressions to help in my lexicon research. I have 40,000 entries in Slangmaster. When I begin a book about an historical era I haven’t worked in before, I will establish a database of all sorts of details. But I also find I have specialized in WW2 in the past and probably will return to that era in the future – the research is already done!
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Randall Platt: One of the roughest part about being a full time writer is lack of time to ‘enjoy’ reading! If not reading research, rewriting my own words, blurbing books for fellow authors, I find very little time leftover. Therefore, the world of audio books keeps me ‘reading.’ I am always attracted to books set in eras and with themes new to me! I love the discovery of other voices, times and themes! There are a few books I return to every few years to remind myself what great writing truly is!
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Randall Platt: I get asked this a lot. I am from the generation that assumed girls got married, had kids, maybe taught or nursed, but really didn’t step outside of all those old, moldy molds! Very few people took me seriously when I said I wanted to be a writer. I finally found the right man to share my life with and he did everything he could to help me open the doors. My kids learned early on if I was writing, they must not interrupt me unless it had to do with something on fire or a severed limb.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Randall Platt: I come up with fascinating ‘what ifs.’ It’s a challenge to turn those into novels, though. I also have a sense of commitment – I do what I say I’ll do, I stick to a strict schedule – I keep lists, do my research, and play well with editors.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Randall Platt: Every day. I begin at 4 am. Work until mid morning, then play handball or workout or hike. Edit or research in the afternoon, in bed and out to the world by 9. Each Monday I write up my ‘daily assignment book’ which lists the days, all I hope to accomplish each day, appointments, etc. I am a Capricorn!
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Randall Platt: Novel 13 comes out next year. I want to hit 20 within five years. If I make it, great! If not, I can always take up ice-skating!
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Randall Platt: Just one piece??? I also get asked this a lot!! Okay: Failure will never overtake you as long as your desire to succeed is strong enough. My first novel sold on its 45th submission. What if I had given up at 44? (that’s the one that was made into a film!)
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Randall Platt: Since I write primarily for teens, the best compliments I get are when a kid shows up at a book event, a well-read book of mine in her/his hands, asking me to autograph it.
I believe in strong openings. To wit:
I can’t say I was overly wrung-out when ol’ Man Perrault died. Can’t say I was even upset in a passing, polite sorta way. I can say, though, I had to laugh when word out got that his own horse had shot him. THE FOUR ARROWS FE-AS-KO
“Hellie, I think you killed him. Look at all that blood!” her brother said, kneeling over the body. “Great! Alls I need! Well, I ain’t taking the fall for you, Hellie!” HELLIE JONDOE
Even as I watch my plan about to unfold, I’m asking myself – what am I doing? I’m not a bad person, not an evil person, just a handful sometimes. A brain like mine needs strict control. I know that. But this idea for revenge is just all too luscious to pass up! LIBERTY’S CHRISTMAS
“Oh look! There’s my dress!” Aggie squealed loud enough to be heard all the way to Astoria, let alone acrost our small school cafeteria. She snickered with some other girls and everyone looked at me as I made my miserable way to the farthest table. INCOMMUNICADO
I hand it to him and watch his face carefully. He’s not my first Nazi. THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE
“Babe, put that damn runt pup down and get over to the store! Someone come to see you! Come all the way up the mountain from Boise so don’t keep him waiting!”
“Ain’t giving up,” Babe called out to her father, gently nudging the puppy’s tummy. She hoped her big, clumsy thumbs didn’t break anything inside. “He’s got life somewheres inside and I’m finding it!” PROFESSOR RENOIR’S COLLECTION OF ODDITIES, CURIOSITIES, AND DELIGHTS (forthcoming Oct 2018)
My website is currently under re-construction – remember what I said about rewriting?!?! But do check out http://www.plattbooks.com at some point!
All of my in-print books are available at local bookstores, both chain and indies. (please patronize the indies first) Naturally, online as well. Ebook, audio, hardcover – your choice! Even my out of print books are out there and available.