Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?
All of them? None come to mind. Oh, how about Dr. Seuss! I’m grateful that I read as a child and that my parents read to me and encouraged me to read.
Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?
I don’t write about characters, per se … not in the way a fiction book has characters. Though I write about characters aplenty, as I write about each and every single passenger that I pick up in my time out as an Uber driver.
Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.
Sometimes the stories flow out of me. Sometimes they don’t. When it feels as though I’m trying too hard, I probably am.
What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?
Someone I admire–a man a decade or so my senior–and one who has been in a writing group for years said to me recently that writing allows a much deeper exploration of the writer’s mind and thinking than happens in most conversations. I like being able to share how I see things, what’s going through my mind as life happens. And it makes me happy when other people’s lives are touched for the better by my words and perspective.
What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?
It’s a journey. Oh, and you better be learning how to do book marketing along the way, too. In 2014, word on the street, i.e. the internet, was that a new book for sale was posted on Amazon every five minutes.
In the last 30 days, 90,825 books have been published on Kindle alone. Ninety thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five. Think on that.
Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.
Because I write about my experiences as an Uber driver, I aim to write within a day of driving. There are so many details I include in the conversations and interactions, and I don’t take notes, so I want to get the stories out of me while they are fresh.
Was being an author something you always wanted to do?
Meh. Maybe. Sort of. I’ve always felt rather overwhelmed by the volume of books available that I want to read and will probably not get to. So I never felt compelled to add one more to the pile. But now that I’m doing it, I like it!
If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d have a conversation with one of the Egyptian pyramid makers, and I’d say, “No really. Tell me the scoop. How in the world did you make these things because it’s pretty clear that the archaeological story we’re told about them doesn’t add up.”
Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?
Do I tip?
Next up, two guys at a restaurant-bar in Canton. One in the front seat, one in the back. You smell like french fries, I say before my manners can kick in. They review their meal out loud and conclude, yes, they have had fries.
They’re both white, one in his late 30s, the other in his mid-40s. One is visiting but used to live in the area. We’re heading out of the city to some place I’ve never heard of before, some small, older suburb. Wherever it is, I know it’s closer to my home, and I was already feeling that this would be my last ride for the night.
They’ve had a bit to drink, but they’re pleasant enough. A bit slurred in speech but friendly. The guy in the front tells me the company he works for. I know the brand. It’s a quality brand product in a niche market. I tell him I know this. He is impressed with me and proud with himself.
He asks me a most thought-provoking question: Do I find driving for Uber relaxing? Hmm. Interesting question. Typically, I, don’t care to drive, I tell him. And I certainly haven’t find driving to be relaxing.
But I realize, as I answer his question, that it is actually quite relaxing to drive for Uber. And I realize why. I have no attachment. I do have a responsibility and a desire to get my rider from Point A to Point B as comfortably, quickly and safely as possible, but I have no attachment to their experience beyond the ride.
If they are late to a concert, that’s not my issue. If they are coming from their girlfriend’s house and just had an argument, it’s not my issue. I’m only doing the driving.
Also, much of what I sometimes find stressful about going places—parking, arriving in a timely manner, transitioning my energy from being by myself in the car to being at an event—are not things I have to worry about, at all. I simply drive.
I arrive at their destination. The front-seat guy asks, How does this work? Oh, your friend’s Uber account will handle the transaction and payment, I tell him. Do I tip you? I tell him what my friend whose Ubering experience got me curious about driving says to her passengers: It’s not necessary.
He opens his wallet and we both see the same thing at the same time: he has a $20 and a $100 bill. He grunts, looks at me and says it was really nice riding with me. I fill in the gap of awkwardness and say, But not worth a $20 tip. He laughs, grateful for the understanding, and gives me a hug. They exit my vehicle. I head home.
Key experience: As I close my first night out Ubering, I’m particularly fond of my first and my last trips; and I find Ubering a nice shining star along a path I’m choosing to walk (or drive) now. I can’t wait to get out again!
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