Thursday, December 19, 2013

Today we speak with William Sirls, a writer who truly has a story to tell. But don't take my word on it -- read on!

1) Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decide to write, and how long have you been at it?

I never had any intention of being an author but was inspired to write the original version of The Reason way back in 2004, which was the roughest year of my life, including each of the three years I spent in federal prison. At the time, I had just gone through a divorce and was in the middle of some illegal activities that were hurting a lot of good people. I specifically remember walking down a hallway at a hospital up in Detroit to visit my oldest daughter who had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and I guess you could say I was pretty much drowning in my own pity party when I came across a young couple that was pulling their son in a little red wagon.  The little boy was around three years old, he had lost his hair, was very thin and frail, and he had that gray and ashen look that clearly suggested the end was near.  For me, it was one of those rare moments in life where you realize that your problems aren’t as bad as you think, and while I was trying to fathom the amount of stress that family was going through, the little boy looked up and smiled at his parents and they smiled back.  To me it was one of the most beautiful exchanges I had ever seen, and something inside of me wanted to find a way to make those smiles last, because in so many cases, particularly in cases like that, they don’t. After a bit of soul searching, the only way I could think of to keep those smiles going was to write about it.

2) Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author? For instance, has someone ever overheard you discussing the merits of one murder weapon over another or caught you shooting at a can of gasoline to see if you could make it explode?

I was at an airport earlier in the year and sat down next to a woman that was reading The Reason. I told her what a huge fan of the author I was and she was looking at me as if I was the strangest person on earth until I had her look at my pic in the back of the book.  It was a lot of fun and we ended up having a great conversation.

3) What do you love about being a writer, and what do you like the least?

What I love most about being an author is sharing personal lessons I’ve learned in terms of patience, forgiveness, and grace by sprinkling them amongst characters in my stories. I also love reading emails and letters from people about how my stories have helped strengthen their faith and left them feeling closer to God. What I like least is my inability to write more than one story at once, but I’m always thankful for the one I’m currently working on.

4) Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination?

I would say I’m a combination of the two. Patience is a problem for me when I write, so when I’m putting a story together, I usually write the ending first, that way I have a target to hit. But sometimes I get so anxious to get to certain scenes, I find myself in too much of a hurry to get there. So instead of forcing the story, I’m learning to really slow down … and when I do that, the characters end up telling me what to do instead of the other way around.

5) Do you write full time, or do you work it in alongside a full-time job?

I’m currently fortunate to be in a position to write full time and I couldn’t be more thankful.

6) What do your kids think about your being a writer?

They think it’s pretty cool, particularly when they know someone or run into somebody that’s reading one of my books.

7) How do you get your best ideas?

From things that have happened to me. I enjoy putting together fictional versions of real life events.

8) What do you do to get past writer’s block?

A friend of mine told me that if I ever get writer’s block, I should open a new document and write about my writer’s block.  After about two sentence of that torture, I’m usually motivated to go back to my project and work on a different scene.

9) What’s your favorite method for keeping a story’s middle from sagging?

I write the ending first and the beginning second. If any scene in between those two points doesn’t introduce three new concepts and keep the story moving forward, it gets cut.

10) Do you write every day? What does your typical writing day look like?

Even if it is straight gibberish, and I can’t get in the groove, there has to be 2,000 words a day, because 2,000 poorly written words that keep the story moving are better than no words at all.

11) Do you like to listen to music when you write?

No, because I’m too easily distracted. In order for me to get into a story, I have to turn my phone off and close the door to my office to create the quietest environment possible.

12) Do you have any rituals you like to go through before you start writing, such as make yourself a cup of coffee or tea? Do calisthenics to get the blood flowing? Lock yourself in a room and warn your family not to disturb you upon pain of death? Read something inspiring? Pray?

I have coffee at 6 o’clock every morning with friends before returning home to write. Then I normally like to read something from one of my favorite authors for about forty-five minutes to grease the writing wheels before I begin.

13) Writing is a sedentary occupation. What do you do for exercise?

Walk a few miles with my ear buds in or play basketball.

14) Do you have any pets? Do you own them, or they you?

I’m a lifelong dog owner but my last one passed away while I was in federal prison. I’m currently feeling the need for a new four-legged friend and will probably be puppy hunting in the very near future.

15) What fun fact would you like your readers to know about you?

I’m a former senior vice president at a large investment firm-turned money launderer-turned federal prisoner-turned author of Christian Fiction. You could definitely say that I’m an unfortunate example of what can happen when you use the gifts God has given you for your own good instead of for His glory, but thankfully, I’m also living and breathing proof of His grace and forgiveness.

Thank you, William, for visiting us at The Borrowed Book!

Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows—some born of chance, some born of choice. Once a senior vice president at a major
investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering, where he learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. His first novel, The Reason, was published in 2012. The Sinners’ Garden (available December 2013) is his second novel. He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan.

Learn more about William Sirls and The Sinners’ Garden at, Facebook, or Twitter.  

Don't forget to come back tomorrow when you can enter to win a free copy of William's latest release, The Sinner's Garden!


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