Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interviewing W. Michael Gear

One Of My Favorite Authors!

  
W. Michael Gear is a humble man who loves his wife.
I think that is my favorite thing about him, but he is so much more!
Mike is an incredible intellect who has a thirst for knowledge that ignites my own educational pursuits.
He is a respected scholar in fields that entrance me, but then
he takes that to an even higher level.
How, you might ask?  Mike is a brilliant writer!
Working with his amazing partner Kathleen, their talents of storytelling bring history alive with a vivid richness that changes how you look at the world around you!
Not only has w. Michael Gear and his lovely bride inspired me as a writer, they have expanded my knowledge and encouraged me to learn more.
Since becoming a published author myself, I have reached out to the Gears and their kindness and guidance has been priceless!
More so, their offered friendship has been a gift!
I can tell you that I truly loved their work, but now, getting to know them, I have such a deeper admiration for them!
They see the beauty in the world around us and they always remember to appreciate it.  I respect that greatly!
To be able to interview Michael and to share it with my readers & followers is such a personal honor!
I am thrilled to present it to you! 

My Interview with W. Michael Gear
I want to start by saying thank you
for taking the time to allow me this interview.
You and your wife Kathleen O'Neal Gear are my favorite authors of all time, so I am thrilled to be able to speak with you!  This is one of my most treasured accomplishments!
·         As I do in all of my interviews, I would like to begin by asking you to describe yourself.
o   That’s complicated. I guess I’d call myself unconventional. I enjoy living on the edge of the modern world, and as I write this, I’m looking out my window at essential Wyoming wilderness with not a fence or house to be seen. My preferred mode of travel is by motorcycle, and I enjoy studying and shooting large-caliber firearms. Anthropology, history, and comparative religion fascinate me. I love raising and working with bison because they’re still wild and majestic animals. And everything pivots around Kathleen and our shelties.
·         I know your family has had a tremendous impact on your life and career.  Your parent’s education must have helped to impassion your own thirst for knowledge.  Who and what would you say most influenced you?
o   They provided the foundations by instilling a love for knowledge, forever sticking a book under my nose, traveling endlessly, and hammering a sense of responsibility and reverence for dreamers into my hard head. From the beginning, it was understood that education, however you get it, was the measure of a man. But beyond that, that life was to be lived with passion and sense.
·         Your step-dad, Joe taught tool-making and die making.  Did he teach you these skills and if so, how old were you when you learned them?  How do you think this knowledge has benefited you both as an archaeologist and as a writer?
o   Oddly, for an educator, my step-dad Joe didn’t teach me to be a machinist. He always said, “When you want to learn, go take a class.”  Looking back, he was wise to do so. Sometimes people in close relationships expect too much of each other.  That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t constantly being taught. I learned early to keep various motors and pieces of equipment running.  It probably comes down to learning self-reliance, which was a huge asset in my archaeological career, and of course, in running Red Canyon Ranch.
·         What does physical anthropology entail exactly?  What made you choose this discipline for your major and how does it affect your career?  How does physical anthropology interplay with archaeology and more specifically, an archaeological dig?
o   Physical anthropology is the study of human origins and evolution, genetics, and variation. I was seduced into it by a National Geographic TV show in the 1960s that documented Louis Leakey and Olduvai Gorge.  When I entered college, I wanted to be the next Leakey discovering hominid fossils in Africa. Learning osteology led me to paleopathology, which is the study of ancient metabolic, degenerative, infectious, and traumatic injury to bones. And that, of course, leads to forensic anthropology, all of which were part of my training, along with genetics.  At the same time I was taking cultural anthropology and archaeology courses, all of which interrelate. As I finished my Master’s degree, I was offered a job as a field archaeologist at Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Somehow, one project led to another, and I never got back to tackling a PhD in physical anthro.
·         I read that you had your own archaeology consulting company and that federal policy changes ultimately motivated you to sell your share in it.  What brought you from owning your own company to the literary world?  How did you transition from field scholar to author?  Was it a difficult choice to make or did it just seem like the natural progression of your life and work?
o    Yes, I was a founding partner in Pronghorn Anthropological Associates, a contract archaeological firm operating out of Casper, Wyoming.  We did archaeological work for energy companies and the federal government. Like everything government gets involved in, contract archaeology was transformed from actual field work to a paper shuffle so that bureaucrats could justify their positions.  I’d already written a couple of novels, and the dream to write full time wasn’t a hard choice to make.
·         Do you have a preferred writing genre?  Do you prefer to write fiction or non-fiction?  Why or why not?  Is your favorite reading genre different from your preferred writing genre?  Why or why not?
o   Do I have a preferred genre?  Unlike so many authors, I hate having to write only in one genre. This, of course, upsets the stomachs of marketing people and book buyers. Kathy and I are indeed type-cast as authors of prehistory, but we constantly write modern thriller/suspense, and I’m currently dickering with Tor/Forge for another Western-Historical novel.  And I’d dearly love to write a science-fiction series that’s been on the back burner for a couple of years.
·         What motivated you to have a buffalo ranch?  Do you raise them to sell the meat or is your ranch more like a reserve?  What sort of archaeological dig site is located on your ranch and how did you discover it?
o   Our motivation for the buffalo ranch came from our academic and family backgrounds.  We bought Red Canyon Ranch because it’s beautiful and remote and had a great archaeological site. Agricultural property must be used for agriculture, and the first year we ran cattle, we remembered why our families were always scrambling to make ends meet. The markets are controlled by the packers. Bison, however, was worth (and still is) twice as much as beef as a commodity.  We just didn’t anticipate how much we’d enjoy the animals.  Besides which, we had the constant archaeological exposure to bison, and felt that we’d be able to learn from them.  Talk about an understatement!  Most of Red Canyon Ranch’s bison production goes to the breeding and feeding market.
·         Do you prefer to write alone or co-authoring with your wife, Kathleen O’Neal Gear?  What do you like about writing solo?  Do you prefer to write as a team?  Why or why not?
o   It doesn’t matter whose name is on the cover, Kathleen has been integral to the creation of the novel. I’ve never written anything that she hasn’t been through, and I hope I never have to.
·         What advice would you give to a new writer or a budding archaeologist?  What advice was given to you that has had a lasting effect? 
o   The advice I give budding archaeologists is to “live the dream” and don’t let the bureaucrats in either government or the academy kill it with administrative paperwork.
o   For writers, my advice is that tenacity is always worth more than talent. The most influential advice I ever received was “Don’t throw away a perfectly good career to write books. You’ll starve to death in a year.”  Had to prove them wrong.
·         Your books have made a lasting impression on me; RAISING ABEL, DARK INHERITANCE, and PEOPLE Books specifically.  What motivated these stories to be written?  What are the similarities and contrasts for writing about pre-history peoples like Neanderthals or Native American cultures?  Does your answer change if you are writing about them in a modern context opposed to a pre-history setting?  Why or why not?
o   All of our books have been motivated by some aspect of anthropology.  Sometimes, like with PEOPLE OF THE MOON they’ve popped up full-blown while visiting an archaeological site. Sometimes, like DARK INHERITANCE they’ve been born of a particular session at a professional meeting such as the American Association of Physical Anthropology.  Our novel THE BETRAYAL resulted from a question by a Cherokee elder and friend of ours: “You do lots of books about the origins of Native religion.  Have you ever thought about doing the same thing with early Christianity?”  Each novel is different, but the characters are still just people. Our job is to make them intelligible and relevant to a modern reader.
·         Where do you see yourself in five years?
o   Where will I be in five years?  How about semi-retired and only writing one novel a year with time to tour on the motorcycle, play with the dogs, do a little target shooting, and enjoy every single moment with my Kathleen?

Thank you so much for your time!
It has been a pleasure to speak with you and I know my readers will love you just as much as I do!
I wish you success and joy in all you do!
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