The Penmen Profile: Diverse Storyteller Aaron Denius Garcia

by Pamme Boutselis

As an actor, screenwriter and author, Aaron Denius Garcia tells stories across broad mediums, drawing upon his skills and experience in new ways. From a bicultural, bilingual childhood to his work on the television show, “Leverage” and other film projects and beyond, Garcia bring diverse perspective and experience to his storytelling. His most recent book, “Gene.Sys.,” is a dystopian tale for young adult readers.

Have you always written?
I can’t say that I have always written, but I have always told stories. Spending my youth in South America, it was tradition for the neighborhood to gather together on the weekends and tell stories as we ate and celebrated. This certainly instilled storytelling at an early age. It wasn’t until middle school that I started putting them to paper. Those were mostly for my own entertainment. Then, about a decade ago I moved out to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor, but once out here I fell in love with writing. I knew it was my calling and have been pursuing it professionally since.

What’s your process in developing your storyline and characters?
My process has changed over the years, but I feel it has become more efficient. I take a very “TV writing” approach to developing the storyline and characters in my books.  I start with my basic plot idea and then I sit with a giant stack of notecards and start writing everything I would like to see happen, the characters we meet, conflicts that might happen, or even bits of dialogue. By the end I have nearly 100 cards. Then I start arranging them in order. This to me is the fun part because I see the story coming to life right before me. Once that is set, I have my markers. I know what I am writing to and my job becomes filling the missing moments between the cards. I try hard not to develop the characters too much before I start writing because I like how they develop as I throw obstacles at them. I feel it makes them more real.

What challenges do you face in your writing, and how do you overcome them? 
Honestly, the biggest challenge for me is writing consistently. I am a binge writer. I can go weeks without writing and then all of a sudden I’m writing nonstop and churning out pages at ridiculous speeds. I wish I had the discipline to write for a set amount of hours each day. It’s just not my style and I feel I am finally coming to accept that. There is no wrong way to write, but there is a right way to write, and that is just to write.

What has the road to publication been like for you?
I chose to go the route of self-publishing. I had opportunities to go through a traditional publisher because of connections through my TV writing, but I had a few other writers tell me that they preferred self-publishing.

Coming from the TV world where everything you write is micromanaged, I definitely liked the freedom of having the final say on my books. Traditional publishers will often change things in your manuscript, which to me is like an art dealer telling Picasso that he’s going to change his blues to reds.  Writing is art and I like knowing I have complete ownership of my art.

Another big reason that I went the self-publishing route was that the product is released almost immediately. I released “Gene. Sys.” one month after it was ready. With publishers, it can take up to two years. I have a book that is at a publisher right now that was turned in earlier this year and won’t be available until the end of 2018, 18 months later.

How do you market your work?
As someone who has published independently, marketing has fallen strictly in my hands, and it is a beast. Social media has certainly helped as it has reached my brand to the four corners of the earth. However, getting people to acknowledge your works and getting them to read it are two completely different things. I have taken out ads, gone to book fairs and conventions, and posted incessantly on social media. It has cost me a lot of money that usually would be covered by the publisher. What it has done, however, is that it has allowed me to build more personal relationships with my readers. I get feedback directly from them and that is priceless.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back then?
The biggest thing I wish I had known was how hard it was going to be as a self-published author to get the books into the hands of people. I wish I had built up my social media presence sooner. People need to know who you are. I have seen self-published authors have successful book launches because they had thousands of followers on Instagram, mostly accrued through non-book related posts.

Who are the authors that have inspired you most, and how have they inspired you?
The authors that have inspired me the most would have to be Douglas Adams and Stephen King.

With Adams, there is something majestic in the way he weaves humor and philosophy through his science fiction. His is a voice that I have yet to find its equal and each time I read anything of his, it lights a fire in me and gets me writing creatively and aggressively.

Stephen King inspires me mostly by his proficiency. He was the first author that had me reading multiple books and because of his books, I began putting stories to paper in middle school.

If you keep just three books in your library, which would you choose and why?
This one is an easy one as there are really only three books that I enjoy reading over and over again:

  • Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (This is a must read for anyone looking to become a writer.)
  • “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury (An underrated book by another great 20th century author)
  • “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley (This could very easily be considered the pinnacle of the dystopian novel.)