Sachse-based author Neil A. White published his second novel last month.
“Turn a Blind Eye” was released Aug. 31. White published his first book, “Closure,” in May 2016 and has also authored several short stories.
“I early-retired in 2014 and had been telling my wife for 10 years or so that I was going to write a book,” he said. “When I wasn’t working and was sitting at home all day, she said, ‘Stop thinking about writing and actually do it, or I don’t want to hear about it anymore.’ So I started writing.”
White currently has six short stories available on his website, neil-white.com. Two of these are linked to Words for Charity, where donations can be made to the author’s charity of choice.
In August, “The Winemaker’s Secret” received the 2018 Words for Charity Compassionate Chronicle Grant, a monetary prize given to one of the writers featured on Words for Charity.
“It encourages the authors to keep contributing to the site,” White said. “There’s something in it for the author – I wasn’t expecting to win anything, I was just happy to get some exposure. It gets my name out there and people reading. I was just happy they accepted my stories in the first place. The award was just icing on top of the cake.”
The two Words for Charity stories benefit the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. During White’s childhood, his father died of Motor Neurone Disease (MND), an offshoot of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund was the closest link to MND.
Most of his works are just as closely associated with his own life. Sometimes he draws inspiration from music – a line or verse will blossom into an entire short story centered around it. But the majority of the time, he inserts memories of his childhood and his travels.
White grew up in Melbourne, Australia. He won a tennis scholarship to Arkansas Tech University and graduated in 1985 with degrees in economics and finance. After a short stint as a tennis coach, he worked 10 years for an airline and traveled around the world, then worked in the banking industry for 14 years before retiring. His wife, Anna, is a native of Poland, and they have made several trips to her hometown near Krakow.
The couple moved to Sachse in 2005. According to White, they were both working in Dallas and found Sachse to be the perfect location.
Although White did not study English in college, he has loved writing for most of his life. He began his first novel at age 7 when he started writing the history of a five-day cricket match. The books he loved most were spy novels by John le Carré, Robert Ludlum, Len Deighton and Graham Green.
As an adult, his tastes are much the same. The authors that have most influenced his writing include Roddy Doyle, Olen Steinhauer, Mick Herron, Emma Viskic, Mark Brandi, Philip Kerr, Adrian McKinty and Gerald Seymour.
“I’ve learned most of my writing style just from reading,” White said. “I think a lot of writers, even folks like Stephen King, tell you that the best thing a writer can do is to read nonstop. If you’re not writing, read – not so much for ideas, but you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. By effect, it helps your own writing.”
An average short story takes him about a week to write, and the average novel around eight months. He spends even longer editing.
His actual writing process varies day to day. Sometimes he writes for hours without a break, but other days he cannot write at all. When writer’s block hits, he takes a walk to refresh himself.
“I get an idea and before I sit down and start writing, I sit down and dream the whole thing through, from start to finish, of how it needs to all play out,” he said. “I always hear authors say they never know where their characters are going to take them. To some degree it is true. You come up with ideas and go back and revise the plan of what you thought was going to be a great idea. Or you come up with a plot twist and suddenly what you have doesn’t make sense anymore.”
As for what’s next, he has already finished a third novel and is in the process of writing a fourth. These are part of a new series centered on an Australian foreign correspondent named Matt Latham.
White considers his books thrillers, all involving politics, mystery and history. Matt Latham will even do some spy work.
“Hopefully readers find each book a fascinating story,” White said. “I try to mix in a lot of actual fact woven into the fictional story. I want to make people think. I want them to say they enjoyed it and that it kept them guessing till the final pages, but also that it makes you think about how people really did these things.”
The potential to impact people is part of what he loves so much about writing. It gives him a chance to explore the world through another person’s eyes, and has even made him less judgmental.
His first novel was self-published. After receiving several good reviews, he used his experience to get “Turn a Blind Eye” picked up by an independent publishing house in the U.K.
“I wish more people in America would get back to reading,” he said. “You always hear, if there’s a movie based on a book, people saying the book was better. Your mind is going to create things a lot more vividly than what a movie can ever do. If they’re psychological-type thrillers or something like that, they can get you a whole lot deeper into someone’s mind and what they’re thinking. A lot people write great books but it doesn’t always transfer over to the movies. There are so many great writers out there to explore.”
By Morgan Howard • [email protected]