Chances are novelist Will Ottinger won't die on a golf course in the next five years. At least not according to his own estimate of life expectancy after retirement (which is based on a completely unscientific sampling, we're sure).
Ottinger, who had a long career in finance, tells us that once it he left the business world it wasn't time for him to do less with his time, but something different. "I quickly realized there was more to an active after-business life than playing golf, coming home, watching television and going to bed. [People who do that] typically die within five years of retiring."
Instead of practicing his putting, Ottinger started writing. His first book, A Season for Ravens, was released earlier this year. Ravens reflects Ottinger's life long interest in history and is set in 1918. It's the story of three fighter pilots, each with their own personal demons, as they take part in the first ever aerial war.
Along with the three pilots (two American and one German), Ottinger created a host of other characters - wives, commanding officers, soldiers, friends - and they all ended up living in his head for a while.
"If you want to create realistic [fleshed out] characters for the readers, you have to make them realistic for yourself first. They became very real for me. My wife asked me 'Do these people live in your head? If they do, can we get you back on your medicine?' There was some sadness that all of these people, these characters that I've lived with for so much time are going away when I finished the book but really after a while, I [was] just so damn glad to get rid of them!"
Ottinger is already working on his next novel, and "bringing some new [characters] to life."
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What he does: "I'm a reformed wealth management consultant who now writes fiction. I've just published my first novel, A Season for Ravens, which was a labor of love, agony, and frustration, all honorable conditions of a beginning writer. Although I previously published a non-fiction work and wrote dozens of work-related articles for a magazine column, creating fiction is a totally new challenge."
Why he likes it: Ottinger majored in history while at Emory University. It was there, he says, that he became fascinated with aviation, WWI and the people who lived through that era. "That education formed the catalyst for A Season for Ravens."
In writing historic fiction, Ottinger' s also writing about history, something he feels that's too often manipulated. "Today's written history too many times is travesty that's overly obsessed with racial, gender and social overtones; revisionist history in most instances is poor history at the expense of truth."
What inspires him: "To be honest, ideas for stories and themes arise from God knows where! Writers of fiction are plagiarists of life.
"My wife and I both are voracious readers ... The other inspiration is movies, honed by the ability as a kid to sit through endless double-features. Even today, I'd rather watch a great movie ten times than a poor one once."
If not this, then what: "If I had a time machine, I'd travel backward and seriously consider being one, a film editor; two, an art critic; three, a traditional - not revisionist - history professor; or four, a fly fishing guide. [I'd be] anything but a drone in the corporate world!"
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If not here, then where: Ottinger tells us he'd like to live in New Mexico or southeastern low country - somewhere between Charleston and St. Augustine. "Or, if I could totally indulge myself, a private suite at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu."
What's next: "I'm currently at work on my next novel; [it's] set in Savannah, Georgia, in the early 1800s. Outside of writing, my wife Sandra and I are considering a Bucket List trip next year to Europe to visit art museums containing our four favorite artists - Vermeer, Van Dyke, Velasquez and Caravaggio. We also plan to spend more time fly fishing and wading rivers to which she's a recent and avid convert."
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Greg Starbird, theater lighting designer Dominique Royem, symphony orchestra conductor Marc Boone, Sneaker Gang founder and designer Andy McWilliams, sound designer and composer Maria-Elisa Heg, zine queen Allan Rodewald, artist Anne-Joelle Galley, artist Michelle Ellen Jones, ballroom dancer and actress Morris Malakoff, photographer and filmmaker Terrill Mitchell, dancer Deji Osinulu, photographer Mason Sweeney, artist K.J. Russell, sci-fi author and writing teacher Emily Robison, choreographer and filmmaker John Cramer, violinist and concertmaster Shipra Mehrotra, Odissi dancer and choreographer Winston Williams, comics artist Octavio Moreno, opera singer Dylan Godwin, actor, storyteller and teacher McKenna Jordan, independent bookstore owner Steven Trimble, mixed media artist Sandria Hu, visual artist and professor of art Robert Gouner AKA Goon73, photographer Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (aka SHER), culture gurus Mark Bradley, photographer James Ferry, comics artist Keith Parsons, author and philosophy professor Alonzo Williams Jr., photographer Rudy Zanzibar Campos, painter Paige Kiliany, director Betirri Bengtson, visual artist Melissa Maygrove, romance novelist Natalie Harris, bridal gown designer Larry McKee, cinematographer Tiffany Heath, filmmaker Jonathan Pidcock, Jewelry Maker Mallory Bechtel, actor, singer, dancer Janine Hughes, visual artist Nyssa Juneau, artist John Merritt, artist Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer