An Interview with Author Frank Wayne Mottl

Frank enjoys writing prose and poetry. He believes that a good base in poetry significantly improves the writing of prose. His debut novel, “The Cumberland Tales” is a collection of connected stories. He’s recently published his second, “Mother’s Keep”, and has sent off his third, “Cumberland Gold” to his editor. Frank publishes all his work through Mythmoulder Publishing.

There are two quotes which are important to Frank. The first, by John Keats, to paraphrase: “That which is creative, must itself create”; the second by William Blake, again, to paraphrase: “My job is not to reason and compare, my job is to create.”

Frank is interested in developing unreliable narrators. He also leans toward “stream-of-consciousness” narratives and is currently reading William Faulkner’s “Abolsom, Absolom.” “The writers we read,” he says,” influence what we write, read the good ones.”

Frank has been published by the Poetry Institute of Canada twice for his poetry, and twice for his prose. He has also been published by numerous publishers in the U.S. and Australia, and has been interviewed on radio shows in the U.K.

Describe myself in 5 words: hard-working, worldly, steadfast, confident, and smart.

What fact about yourself would really surprise people?

I like all kinds of fine art and baroque music.

How do I work through self-doubts and fear?

I talk to my wife about any self-doubts, also, I understand that lack of confidence is a killer to being successful.

What scares me most?

The environmental disaster that the world is heading towards, and the lack of kindness in the world today.

What makes me happiest?

Being comfortable in my own skin, and encouraging my students to be confident and moral individuals.

Why do I write?

The 3 books I have written were about things I wanted to write. I wouldn’t spend the enormous amount of time to write a book about something that I don’t feel worthwhile about the time and effort. For example, my first book, ‘The Cumberland Tales’ is about the small coal mining/logging town I grew up in as a kid, and ‘Mother’s Keep’ is based on my Granny who lived during the depression years in the small town of Gibsons on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Have I always enjoyed writing?

Yes, I wrote long fantastical outer space stories when I was a youngster.

What motivates me to write?

As stated above in question 6, usually it’s something that is close to my life experience, something that I want to share with others, and, the idea that after I’m dead and gone my books will live on so give me a semblance of immortality.

What writing am I most proud of?

My poetry and prose have been published by numerous online and print magazines, so that’s a feather in my cap, so keeps me motivated, but the work I’m most proud of, probably because I feel it’s my best work so far, would be “Cumberland Gold” soon to come out within the next 2 months or so.

What am I most proud of in my personal life?

Overcoming demons that all people must overcome regardless of their lifestyles. Also, I’m proud of the ability to keep my ‘ego’ in check.

What books did I love growing up?

I’m an avid reader of classics; Woolf, Joyce, Faulkner, Hemingway, Laurence, et al.. Also, I’ve studied and read books on all facets of philosophy: Kant, Russel, et. al..  In my very early years I always read sci-fi because it sparked my imagination.

What do I hope my obituary will say about me?

Well, in a way, I just want to fade into the sunset, unannounced because that’s what happens to all of us anyway. But if I had to have an obit, I’d want it to say: One has gone, and we’ll all be the poorer for it.

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you live now.

OK, so, my first book, ‘The Cumberland Tales’ gives the whole town where I grew up in a voice, that’s why I wrote it, to share what it was like to grow up in this unique town during the 1960s. Now, Cumberland is an artsy type town full of young artists and mountain bikers from all over the world, but in the 60’s it was a rough, red-neck town full of bar fights, and a separate Chinatown who helped work the mines, a small Japanese community, and a small black community. The town has come 180 degrees from what it was like when I was a kid.

How did I develop my writing?

When I retired from the mill, about 15 years ago, I returned to university and obtained an English Major. It wasn’t long before I discovered that I wanted more than to study the masters of literature, I wanted to create my own stuff. My last years in university were courses on creative writing, encouraged by my instructors who said I had talent in writing poetry and prose. Since that time, I’ve been encouraged by other successful and well-known writers who all tell me I have talent.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

OK, so getting published is not a big deal because I don’t deal with agents, I self-publish. The actual writing isn’t that bad because I don’t have to make money at writing, I already have money. The marketing wouldn’t be so bad if I was interested in it, and even though I took marketing in university (to round out my education), it’s hard for me to get my head around it because I find it boring (but I did OK in university on it).

What marketing works for me?

I sell locally at Impressions Art Gallery (my wife is a painter), Coho Books, Save- On- Foods and other local bookstores. I also sell on Amazon. I also do readings if asked to, but should focus more on promoting myself.

Do I find it hard to share my work?

Absolutely not, I’m open to sharing my work, to discuss how other writers about their work, no, in fact, when I was on Facebook (years ago), I always shared my work publically no problem. Why write it, if you don’t want to share it? I understand others may be wary of others stealing their work, but you’ve got to share otherwise what’s the point?

Is my family supportive?

Yes, everyone supports me in my writing because everyone says, ‘I have a way with words.’

What else do I do?

Well, I’m retired, but since retirement, have taught English in Jiaxing, China for a period of one year in a public school, an unforgettable experience and have many good teacher friends in China. Currently, I teach English and Math at a private school in Canada . . . all grades in English and up to grade 10 in Math.

What other jobs have I had?

OMG . . . lots: Biological technician at Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo (worked with top Rockfish scientist in the world, a kind man named, Jergen Westerheim), worked on paving crews, worked in archaic chemical plants, worked in pulp and paper mills, in film developing with 35mm and 110mm film, gardener, and chartered my sailboat in Desolation Sound. And, as mentioned above, spent a glorious year teaching in a Chinese public school with over 5,000 students and 200 teachers.

If I could study any subject at university what would it be?

I lean towards ‘fine arts’ so perhaps painting or more writing courses, but I also like philosophy.

If I could live anywhere, where?

I like seasons, so someplace that has 4 of them but that’s seems rare these days. I’d like to teach English and Math in a less developed country, but if I had only one place, it’d probably be a place with kind people with a democratic government, or at least where people can live free.

Tell you about my family. 

OK, my mom and dad passed away years ago. I have a strong work ethic from both parents, I have an estranged brother who fell by the wayside when my dad passed away. I have a strong, independent son and daughter, grandson, and step son and step daughter. My extensive family is long, I myself was adopted, but know my birth mother passed away some time ago.

How do I write?

When writing poetry, always pencil and paper, then go to laptop after that. When doing prose outlines, pencil and paper in combination with laptop. My go-to writing device is Word 2007 on my laptop.

How much sleep do I need?

Well, I worked shiftwork for 30 years so can get away with 4 hours, but to be my best 7-8 hours.

Anyone I’d like to thanks for support?

First my wife Linda, who paints the covers for my books and supports me always, secondly my friend Jim who always reads my lousy first drafts meticulously, giving advice and telling me how to may the book better, thirdly, my new found editor Racheal, who does her absolute best when editing my work.

Success for me is completing a work that I’m satisfied with. I strive for perfection, but know I will never achieve perfection because no man or woman is perfect in art or life. Perfection is relative, like so many things in the world.

You are a big part of my marketing campaign! I’m going to attempt more marketing because I want to make more money by selling more books, but it has nothing to do with creativity.

My lastest book, ‘Cumberland Gold’ is again situated in my home town of Cumberland, but it’s a work of fiction. The reason I wrote it is because of Chinese characters I knew as a kid growing up there. Characters like ‘Sam Yik’, ‘Brokenback’ and other flashes of memory that stick with you as a child. ‘Cumberland Gold’ is a murder mystery, but is much more, yet is only about 40,000 words. It’s a confluence of characters from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and their offspring who migrated to Canada to work the Cumberland coal mines during the 19th. Century.


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