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Creative Pagosa: Doug Roberts

Photo courtesy Doug Roberts Author Doug Roberts is one of the many local artists listed in the Pagosa Arts and Culture Project database. He writes fiction, most predominantly science fiction, with a recent entry into westerns.

Photo courtesy Doug Roberts
Author Doug Roberts is one of the many local artists listed in the Pagosa Arts and Culture Project database. He writes fiction, most predominantly science fiction, with a recent entry into westerns.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is building a web-based directory of all the creative people and businesses in the community. By creating this website, it will make these MAKERS easier to find in online search engines and help share the wealth of innovative and talented individuals that call our small town home.

This sort of database is called “cultural mapping” and is being done by communities around the country in order to realize and recognize the value of their creative assets.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is establishing the groundwork for continued collaboration and cooperation and promotional efforts of the combined community. The goal of the project is to establish a solid foundation of cultural and creative individuals and businesses, to create a viable plan for promoting these assets and to promote the Pagosa area as a worthy place of residence for creative people, a productive place for creative business ventures and a desirable destination for arts tourism.

At present, the PACP is also planning an event for fall 2013. The event, the MAKERS Expo and Tour, is set for Oct. 12-13.

To register and be listed in the database, go to http://pagosaacp.org/Register.html.

In order to highlight the MAKERS in Pagosa, the PACP will profile its members, giving readers of The PREVIEW a sense of the depth and breadth of the creative community.

This week’s MAKER is Doug Roberts.

Q: Tell us a little about who you are, where you were born, educated, your family, growing up and how you came to be doing your creative work?

My given name is Doug Roberts, but my pen names are d. William Roberts and Shaun Kelsey. I was born in 1954 at Fort Lewis, Wash., though my birth certificate says Tacoma. My father was there training for service in the Korean War. A year later, after the end of that war, we moved back to the Detroit, Mich., area, where my immediate family was centered. My parents and my siblings traveled a lot, twice taking trips to the West Coast during which I first experienced the Rocky Mountains. I fell in love with them immediately. The setting for “Endangered” actually exists in the Lake Louise area of the Canadian Rockies of Alberta, Canada.

I graduated in 1972 from Churchill High School, in Livonia, Mich. I started my college education in 1973, attending Lake Superior State University, at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

After my freshman year I enlisted in the U.S. Army for four years. By the end of my first year I had trained as Airborne Infantry, Ranger and as a sniper. For the next year I served with the 82nd Airborne Division. The final two years of my enlistment was spent with the 3rd Infantry, at Fort Myer, Va. I was assigned to the Caisson Platoon and rode the ceremonial horses in Arlington Cemetery.

I was honorably discharged in 1977 and in 1978 I married my wife, Deb. She had been serving in the Army as a veterinarian technician. We are still together after 35 years. I returned to Lake Superior State University and finished my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1981. During this time my son, Will, was born.

I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and then put on active duty as a field artillery (FA) officer. In the next five years I was trained in Basic FA, Artillery Survey, spent two years teaching survey tactics and land navigation and doing the final tests that fielded the Multiple Launch Rocket System. I spent three of those years stationed at Baumholder, West Germany. During this time my daughter, Mandy, was born.

In 1986, I was released from active duty, having attained the rank of captain. From this point to 1997 I served in the Army Reserves in positions as a company commander, training officer for reserve artillery units, FA team leader, operations officer for an 8-inch howitzer battalion, and finally as the operations officer for a logistics support battalion. In 1997 I retired from active duty having attained the rank of major.

At the same time, my civilian occupation was in the U.S. Postal Service primarily in the Detroit Area, though my last year was spent in Durango, Colo. In 2010, I retired from there.

In 2002, Deb and I purchased the two acres we live on in Aspen Springs. We vacationed here for many years. After retiring from the Postal Service, we started building the house we live in now, completing construction in November of that same year. We live here now, totally off the grid, meeting our energy needs with a bank of solar panels.

Q: Describe the objects you make or the creative work you do.

I write fiction, most predominantly science fiction, with a recent entry into westerns. Since the first novel I ever read, I have loved science fiction and my favorite author to this day is Andre Norton.

I don’t have any formal education in, or training for, writing, but I have always been a good storyteller. A good story, that holds the interest of the reader will trump the grammar issues every time. Readers will most often overlook grammatical faux pas because of the story’s quality.

In 1993, I decided to try my hand at putting them on paper. In 1994, I had my first story published. It was in a Star Trek fanzine titled the Orion Press. During the next 15 years I had six short stories, one novella and three novels published by them. A search of the Internet for Orion Press (Excellence in Star Trek) and then going to the Author Bibliographies looking up d. William Roberts will find them. They’re still there, and free to download.

During this time period, I tried my hand with a teleplay for Star Trek; The Next Generation titled “Endangered.” It was not accepted by Paramount. I then wrote it as a novel. This was not accepted for publication either. At the prodding of a published science fiction author — A.C. Crispin — I changed that to my own universe. Thus was born my first (self) published novel, “Endangered,” which can be found at the Sisson Library in Pagosa Springs.

Since then, I have self-published the following stories. They all can be found at Amazon.com

The “Endangered” series (science fiction), written as Shaun Kelsey:

1. “Endangered.” Print and Kindle. Can be found in the library.

2. “KISHTLA!” Print and Kindle.

3. “Manifest Destiny.” Kindle only at this time.

4. “Go Ye Unto all the Worlds.” Still under construction.

The “Long Shadow” series (early 1900s western), edited/written as d. William Roberts:

1. “Coker, A Mountain Man’s Story.” Written by Wesley Arlin Brown and edited by me, d. William Roberts, for Kindle.

2. “Coker, The Last Switchback.” Written by Wesley Arlin Brown and edited by me, d. William Roberts, for Kindle.

3. (Sequel) “The End of Childhood.” Print and Kindle, and should be in the library soon.

4. “Pagosa.” Still under construction. It does take place in the Pagosa Springs locale.

5. “Warpath.” Outline only.

6. “Deep Springs.” Written as d. William Roberts. Kindle and print.

This novel should be of special interest to local readers in that it takes place here in Pagosa Springs. It is science fiction in that it takes place a bit in the future, but it’s also (military) action adventure where I drew heavily on my experience in the army. It should be in the library soon.

Q: What is your favorite tool or material used in making your work?  Why?

A computer word processor. Today’s biggest market for stories, of all lengths, is predominantly on the Internet. The present, youngest generation of readers is more comfortable reading stories on Kindle and other comparable devices. It is also the cheapest way to get your work onto the market. Printed copies incur costs that make entry by new authors into the published market almost impossible. Traditional publishers won’t risk the kind of money necessary to get it out there. Self-publishing in the Kindle format is monetarily free, with the only cost being the time to set it up.

The same goes for Publish on Demand companies like CreateSpace. There is a time investment setting the novel up, but getting it onto the Amazon.com market is free. As the author, getting a good rate on the purchase of your own copies make it easy to put some on the local market, while the price per copy online is competitive. For a minimal fee, they will also put your books on the market that used to be specifically for traditional publishers — bookstores and libraries.

Q: Do you have a regular routine or schedule?

I do all my writing in the morning and on every day but Sunday. I do believe it is a day of rest, no matter what you’re doing. My goal is to do one page a day. At the end of a year you’ve written a 365-page novel. Do I restrict myself to only one page? No, when I get on a roll I can do 10 to 15. It all depends on how the story is doing in my thoughts. The summer months slow me down because I have other things to do outdoors during the day while the weather is good. Winter months are when I get down to business, as the weather quite often keeps me housebound.

Q: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

“Never give up; never surrender.” From the movie “Star Quest.”

To me, this is the most valuable attribute to have if you want to get your stories out there. All the authors I’ve talked to will tell you not to give up trying to get published, no matter what others may say.

An agent is no longer a necessity.

Another thing: Don’t throw anything you create away. File it away. They can become your next best seller once you’ve established a place on the market.

You must be very conscious of your environment. Everything and everybody around you is fair game for inclusion in a story. Though you may not be literally writing, you can be forming the story in your head for future use. Deb bought me a T-shirt that says, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.” I get a lot of comments on that.

Let me add a little advice of my own: Though all writers would prefer to do just that — write — (after all, it’s our passion), a lot more time is spent on marketing once you’re established. However, with the electronic market, you can spend a lot more time writing, since getting it onto the market is so easy. Just keep putting stories out there. Who knows who will see them and take an interest?

Q: When you’re not making art, what is your favorite thing to do in Pagosa country?

I sing in the Community Choir and its Jazz Ensemble. I wrote the stage play for last year’s Christmas concert. Deb and I do the videos for the talks at the church we attend — Pagosa Bible Church. I am also a director on the Aspen Springs Metro District board. I do hunt, but not fish (never had the patience for it). But my favorite thing is to sit on my land and just enjoy everything that’s going on around me. I spent 40-plus years working for the government and I’ve left that fast-pace lifestyle behind. The mountains are great. I like to hike the trails and ride the roads with my bicycle.

Q: What are your goals for the coming year?

To finish the two sequels for the two different series — “Pagosa” and “Go Ye Unto all the Worlds” and get them onto the market. To begin the next in “The Long Shadow” series —“Warpath.” Who knows, I might finally come up with a good story to start the “Deep Springs” series.

Q: What is your dream project?

To see “Deep Springs”, or “Pagosa” catch the eye of Hollywood and have it filmed right here in town. Maybe see “The End of Childhood” be made into a movie and filmed in Tucumcari, where it takes place. I want to be the writer of these screenplays, but will be just as satisfied to see someone else do it. Just to see it done right here will suffice.

This story was posted on September 19, 2013.