Monday, September 8, 2014

Introducing Sneed B. Collard III

I met Sneed B. Collard III at the 2008 Allen County Young Authors program in Iola, Kansas. Sneed has written a variety of books ranging from non-fiction picture books to fictional young adult novels. Here are more insights into Sneed's life from his biography:

"Before beginning his writing career, Sneed graduated with honors in marine biology from the University of California at Berkeley. Afterward, he worked as a field biologist before earning a master’s degree in scientific instrumentation from U.C. Santa Barbara. While honing his writing skills, he spent several years working as a computer consultant for biologists at U.C.S.B. This experience gave him a wealth of writing ideas...

"In the past decade, Sneed has focused more attention on fiction. His popular novels include Dog Sense, Flash Point (winner of the Green Earth Book Award), Double Eagle, Cartwheel—A Sequel to Double Eagle, and the Slate Stephens Mysteries titles, The Governor’s Dog is Missing and Hangman’s Gold. His newest book, the tween time-travel mystery Dog 4491, was a finalist for the Green Earth Book Award and is currently on the Keystone to Reading Middle School Book Award List for 2014-15."

In August, 2010, Sneed started his own publishing house, Bucking Horse Books, in Missoula, Montana. Several of the books I have reviewed have been published from this press.


I recently interviewed Sneed about his life as a writer:

1. What inspired you to write?
Several things conspired to make me want to write. I grew up an avid reader, so books ran through my bloodstream from an early age. During my first overseas trip--to Asia as a fifteen-year-old--I also began keeping a journal, something that would become a lifelong habit. From early childhood, I also always cared deeply about the environment, and thought that perhaps through my writing I could inspire people to take better care of the planet. Last, I just have a compulsion to tell stories! All of these factors really didn't give me any choice but to become a writer!

2. Why did you start your own publishing business?
When the recession hit, publishing pretty much ground to a halt. Even after the recovery began, however, major publishers largely switched to wanting to publish only "sure-fire bestsellers". That left a lot of great books with no place to go. Starting my own company allowed my work to keep coming out, but also in the modern publishing environment, provide a place for regional or "quieter" books that readers enjoy.

3. What books have inspired you and your writing?
Oh, so many it's hard to even begin. In fact, it's easier to name inspiring authors than individual titles. Among my most inspirational adult authors are Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, Raymond Chandler, Jon Krakauer, and Richard Bradford. For children's writers, gotta include Lois Lowry, Richard Peck, Laurence Pringle, Louis Sachar, Gary Schmidt, Roland Smith, Larry Dane Brimner, and Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

4. Any advice about writing or finding good books to read?
As far as finding good books to read, I rely heavily on my friends and on employees of local independent bookstores to make recommendations. As far as writing advice, the main thing is to just write and write and write some more. I've heard--and I believe this--it takes about ten years of sustained effort to start to understand what you're doing as a writer. I was fortunate in that I got much of this accomplished as a young person writing in journals and writing hundreds of letters back and forth to my father and to friends. You can't "get there" without putting in the work, however. One more hint is to write the kinds of books you love to read. If you love nonfiction, that's what you should be writing. Ditto for fantasy or mysteries, etc...

Sneed will soon be publishing a non-fiction book called Fire Birds.

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