Posts Tagged ‘author interview’
Bringing you yet another lost post, an author interview – this time with a sci-fi thriller author, Graham Storrs. His novel Timesplash was re-released by Momentum, a digital imprint of Pan Macmillion Australia.
Q. Tell us a bit about your science fiction thriller novel Timesplash?
For nearly a decade, jumping back in time wasn’t taken seriously by mainstream science. In fact, it started out as something underground, edgy and cool. The ultimate extreme sport. Then Sniper took it all too far and people started dying. Scarred by their experiences in the time travelling party scene, Jay and Sandra are thrown together in what becomes the biggest manhunt in history: the search for Sniper, Sandra’s ex-boyfriend and a would-be mass murderer.
The novel is set in the near future and it is a fast-paced techno-thriller. I’ve tried to fill it with great characters, a sprinkling of romance, and a high-adrenaline story – all the things I like in a book. I’ve also created what jaded readers of time travel stories might be a bit sceptical about – a new and intriguing take on time travel. In the end, though, Timesplash is a very human tale about finding bravery through fear, and never giving up.
Q. What inspires you to write science fiction?
I love ideas, I love science and technology, and I love thinking about how they will affect us. I suspect most science fiction starts with the writer saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Then they start thinking about what that would mean for ordinary people caught up in whatever big change they see coming. I read a lot of popular science books and magazines and try to keep up with current developments across dozens of fields. The wonder and excitement I feel as we peel away the layers to reveal the underlying truths about the world, definitely fires my imagination and keeps me constantly inspired.
Q. Do you plan to release more sci-fic thrillers with the same characters? Or is each of your stories a stand-alone novel?
You know, I wrote Timesplash as a stand-alone novel. As soon as it was first published, readers started asking when they could buy the sequel and my story was always that there was no sequel planned. Then this deal with Pan Macmillan came up and they too asked me for a sequel. So I sat down with a pencil and paper for nearly a week, brainstorming and sketching ideas, drawing mind maps and exploring possibilities and, to my amazement, I found a great idea for a second book. I truly hope I wouldn’t have said yes to the publisher if I hadn’t found a really good premise for book 2 but, fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that.
I wrote the second Timesplash book across the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 – I’ve only just finished the editing process with the publisher, even though it is due for release on July 1. It is called True Path and, like all good sequels, takes everything to the next level.
Q. You first self-published Timesplash, and later chose to publish it with Macmillion’s digital imprint Momentum. What was the reason for this switch?
I’ve never really wanted to self-publish. I don’t like the mechanics of book production and the hard slog of marketing a book. I’d much rather someone else did that. I published Timesplash with a New York small press in 2010 and it was a dismal failure. I was pretty upset about it and swore off all small publishers, got myself an agent, and targetted only the big-name publishers. Meanwhile, I got my rights to Timesplash back and self-published it because, well, I thought it had had its chance at the big time yet I didn’t want to leave it on my hard disk never to be read again. So I put it out there and was astonished that it started selling. In fact, it sold very well indeed. So well, that my agent started using the sales numbers to impress publishers. When Momentum read the book, they just loved it and we had a deal signed within weeks.
Q. How was your self-publishing experience?
I don’t think I’m temperamentally suited to selling – and that’s what self-publishing comes down to. Writing the book is the enjoyable part (even editing it can be fun, I’ve discovered, with the right editor), production (getting the layout right for the various self-publishing platforms and getting a cover design, etc.) is a pain in the neck but it doesn’t take too long. Then you get the book up on Amazon and the other retail sites and the real misery starts – selling, and more selling, and then more selling.
It’s true that, even if you’re commercially published these days, you have to do some of your own selling, but at least it’s not all on your own shoulders, at least someone else is sharing the burden.
So the experience was very mixed. I like all the control I have as a self-publisher (I’m still self-publishing short stories and collections) and, for a control freak, it’s hard to hand that off to a publisher – especially when your whole career as a writer depends on it! And the success was fantastic. Watching the stats from Amazon (obsessively watching, I should say) and seeing 400 books a day being bought is a wonderful feeling. Yet, in the end, I would much rather live without all that stress. I want to write, I don’t want to be a publisher or a marketer.
Q. What is your writing process? Do you do an outline first?
First comes the idea, the premise for the book. I work hard on making sure the idea is right, that it is strong enough to carry a whole, book-length story, that it is saying something I feel is important or worth people’s time and energy to engage with, and that it is going to support the involvement and development of strong, active characters as they work through their individual stories. I have ideas all the time, but ideas good enough to spend six months or a year exploring in detail as I write a novel are much more rare.
Then I do outlines, I do character biographies, I do some detailed world-building, work out histories (often future histories!) and I think a lot! It’s not the detailed kind of outlining that you see in some writing texts, or that a tool like Scrivener is there to support. It might only amount to a few pages of text in the end. Its main purpose is to get me started in the right direction and to convince me that there is enough material for a good book.
Then I start writing and all kinds of magic happens, new ideas start weaving their way through the Big Idea, characters take on depth and interest I hadn’t expected, and the plot elements start to become more elaborate and densely interconnected. I have no idea how this happens or how I could get all this richness on paper without actually writing the book, but I’ve written enough books now to feel confident that the magic will happen and that I can trust it.
Even so, I have a great many books I’ve begun like this and still, usually at the twenty-thousand-word mark, have set aside because they weren’t going well, or weren’t maintaining my interest.
Q. Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have one. There are loads of writers I admire and plenty I know I will enjoy whatever they’ve written, but there isn’t anyone I could point to and say, “She or he is my favourite.” In science fiction there are writers like Ursula K. le Guinn, Ray Bradbury, Greg Egan, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, J. G. Ballard, James Blish, Brian Aldiss, Sherri Tepper, Alastair Reynolds, Kurt Vonnegut, C.J. Cherryh, and many others. Outside of sci-fi are Daphne du Maurier, Aldous Huxley, Michael Frayn, Graham Greene, Margaret Atwood, Anton Chekov, William Shakespeare, J.D. Salinger, Robert Goddard, Edna O’Brien, and stacks more.
Q. Any advice for new writers?
No, I haven’t. All new writers are different, start from different places, are going different places, and are working in different fields in different ways in different media. I can’t imagine any advice that would be useful to such a heterogeneous group. People tell writers to persist and to perfect their craft and so on, but that’s like telling a pole vaulter to keep vaulting and to use a long pole – so obvious, it’s useless.
The only thing I might say to a budding writer who wants to be published – or to anybody, wanting to succeed at anything involving selling products to large numbers of people – is that it’s harder to succeed if you do it alone. Writers don’t always get this. They think writing is a solitary pastime. Well, it is, but publishing is not. Publishing is a vastly collaborative effort that not only depends on teams of people working together but on wide networks of affiliated people talking to one another, meeting at conventions, mentioning things that help each other along, and generally supporting and encouraging one another. I’m introverted to the point of being troglodytic, but I have to admit that any success I’ve had is directly traceable to the efforts I’ve made to socialise with fellow writing professionals.
And, with that in mind, I’m always happy to hear from new people.
Readers, chat to me on Twitter, or visit my blog. If you’d like to hear more about Timesplash and its sequel, visit my author page on the publisher’s website, or my Amazon author’s page.
Sabine’s Note: Since this interview was originally posted in July 2013, Graham’s second novel True Path has also been released. Also, here is a link to an interview Graham did with me on The Demon Mages.
Through Goodreads, I got the opportunity to interview Swedish author Erik Martin Willen, who wrote and published NASTRAGULL (Pirates). It’s the first book in a planned series.
Q. Tell us a bit about your book NASTRAGULL (Pirates)?
It took me many years to finally complete my first book, and the reason for this was because I held back whenever I wrote something. The result was the typical “writers-block.” Eventually I finally let go and I just started to write, and I held back nothing. NASTRAGULL: Pirates combines the non-stop high-tech adventure of Star Wars with the awe-inspiring, complex cultural backdrop of Dune–with quite a bit of Quentin Tarantino thrown in for good measure. This action-packed novel includes elements of military SF, traditional space opera, dystopian SF, and the sociological explorations of writers such as Ray Bradbury and Ursula K. LeGuin. At heart, though, it’s a love story–the tale of two literally star-crossed lovers, and their Herculean efforts to move Heaven and Earth (sometimes literally) to find each other again and again as circumstances rip them apart.
Q. Why have you chosen Star Wars as the setting of this book?
The main reason I choose space opera as my setting is because I have always liked science fiction. It has been part of my entire life. I love to write, read and watch all the different creative elements involving science fiction. There are no limits holding back a great science fiction adventure. Life in general is filled with challenges and surprises; good as well as bad ones. It’s nice being able to “leave” reality or rather take a pause from it while reading a great science fiction book or watch a film.
Q. Do you plan to release more stories set in the same world?
Yes, this is a series and part two Nastragull: Hunted will probably be released in august this year. I have planned to write ten parts and several of them have been written.
Q. Why did you decide to self-publish the books?
The answer to this question is as old as publishing… After having spent countless hours writing and sending out hundreds of letters/e-mails and only received rejection letters (if that) I finally got bored and wanted to take action. I love my story as much as I do writing it down and I believe in it because it’s original and unique.
Q. Who is the most unusual character in your book?
Tota! You have to read about him to understand and I rather not give away any spoilers. He is a bit off…
Q. Is it difficult to live in Sweden and pursue self-publishing, or do you believe publishing is far more global than it was ever before?
No, I wouldn’t call it difficult to self publish in Sweden. Thanks’ to creativespace and amazon, almost anyone can publish. Sweden has freedom of speech, expression, and writing etc, unlike many other nations around the world where it’s almost impossible to self publish or download a book legally from the internet. Instead they are forced to use pirate-sites. So I guess sometimes these pirate sites are filling a hole in the market.
Publishing is more global now than it has been before and I think it’s good. For far too long did the major publishers and author houses etc. more or less held a monopoly in the market but now a “nobody” like myself can become a best seller and that’s exactly what happened to my book in May of this year it hit No 1 on the Amazon Bestsellers list for the category of Space Opera, No 10 on the overall Amazon Bestsellers Science Fiction and Fantasy List, and made Amazon’s Top 100 Free list for all book in the Kindle Store, peaking at No 85.
Q. What has been your best experience of being a writer?
Whenever someone read my book and liked it. I think it’s the best reward I as an author can ever get. It makes me feel appreciated for my work. Another thing is all the different people I have come across online from marketing my book; readers and authors alike. It’s a great community that has a serious impact on earth’s globalization.
Books in general unite people in one way or the other. “We” the Homo sapiens are entering a new era and eventually there will be no more discrimination, segregation and censorship controlled by a very few power-hungry little bastards.
If you want to know more about Erik or his series of book, you can follow him on twitter and goodreads. Here is a review of his book on Ask David. The books are available for sale on all Amazon sites, including Amazon USA and UK.
And it’s your lucky day as NASTRUGALL is available for a free download on July 29th and 30th, 2013 on Amazon. So grab your copy now.
So as I announced a few days ago, all of my posts after February 2013 got lost after the hacking attempt on my website (curse you, hackers), I am now slowly putting up some of the more popular posts back. This is an interview I did with fantasy author Martin F. Hengst in April 2013. Currently his first fantasy book The Last Sword Mage is No. 10 in the Amazon Sword and Sorcery category, and his second book The Darkest Hour is No. 20 in the same category.
So here is the interview (republished):
Today I bring you another author interview. And I am really happy to introduce to you Martin F. Hengst. Sure, many of you may not have heard of him now, but mark my words, all those fantasy readers would have heard of him in a few months’ time. His books are amazing. His fantasy book, The Last Swordmage, first in his Swordmage trilogy was released in December 2012, and is already at #32 rank in Amazon’s fantasy category. The second book, The Darkest Hour, was released in March 2013 and is ranked at number 30.
What an amazing accomplishment by a new, self-published writer!
So here is an unedited version of his interview.
Q. Tell us a bit about your fantasy The Swordmage trilogy?
The Swordmage Trilogy follows Tiadaria, a young woman sold into slavery by her father, on her travels as she becomes, all unwitting, the last swordmage. In The Last Swordmage we meet Tiadaria and follow her adventures as she’s rescued from execution by a retired soldier and taught to be a fighter. Tiadaria’s adventures continue in The Darkest Hour where she must use all she has learned to continue the battle against the Xarundi and their hunger for domination. In The Pegasus’s Lament, the final installment of the trilogy, due out later this year, Tiadaria must face some of the most challenging personal decisions she’s ever had to make in her quest to ensure the safety of Solendrea and its people.
Q. How did you come up with the world of Solendrea where your stories are set?
The people, places, and things in the world of Solendrea have been with me for more than twenty years. I began the imagining when I was in high school and over the years I’ve gotten to know the people well enough to finally start putting down their stories on paper. Solendrea is a wild and magical place and I’m glad that others get to come along with me on my journey of discovery.
Q. Do you plan to release more stories set in the same world?
Absolutely. I currently have plans for at least six more novels and an anthology of short stories, all set in Solendrea and sharing threads to form a common tapestry.
Q. Why did you decide to self-publish the books?
I primarily write for my own self-enjoyment. That others seem to enjoy the places and characters I’ve created has been a wonderful and pleasant surprise. I chose to self-publish because it gives me complete creative control over what I release and when. I’m not limited by having to pitch new ideas, wait for them to be accepted (or rejected!), then go through publishing, marketing, etc. Self-publishing has also been a wonderful experience in learning to do things like copy editing (of which I still have much to learn) and formatting, and so on.
Q. Currently your books are only available on kindle. When do you plan to release the books on other formats?
Part of my marketing strategy was to utilize the Kindle Select program early on to generate interest and reviews for the books. My participation in the Kindle Select program comes to an end in the middle of June, so it is likely that you could see different formats available as early as late June/early July. Additionally, that is around the time that The Pegasus’s Lament should be ready for publication. Additionally, for those who would like to get their feet wet with the world of Solendrea, but are unable to utilize the Kindle store for whatever reason, my short story, Volinette’s Song, which is based on a young girl’s quest to enter the Acadamy of Arcane Arts and Sciences in Solendrea, is available on Smashwords.
Q. Do you see any advantages of releasing books on KDP select?
I think there are definite advantages to utilizing KDP Select. Especially when you are starting out. Being able to offer a book for free for a day or two as a promotional item to generate buzz and increase interest can be invaluable. That’s predominately how I got my foothold in the market, by generating social media interest and coupling it with a free promotion early in the marketing life cycle. Additionally, what many people don’t know about KDP Select is that Amazon Prime members are able to borrow your books enrolled in KDP Select for free, and you are compensated for those “borrows” out of a Kindle Select fund, so though your royalties may not be as much as they would for a straight sale, you’re still receiving good value for your hard work.
Q. I haven’t seen any evidence of a marketing and promotional strategy and yet your books are in the top forty in the kindle bestsellers. Do you believe a writer can do well without any marketing strategy if his stories are good?
I wouldn’t say that I have no strategy, I would say that it is very much an organic strategy. My marketing comes from asking others to provide their honest reviews, answering every review I receive (positive or negative), and encouraging others to tell their friends and loved ones about the story if they enjoyed it. I like engaging people, and Solendrea is something I’m very passionate about, so I have that working in my favor. As far as a writer doing well without a marketing strategy, I think it helps if the stories are good, but I think its as valuable to have a network of people willing to put themselves out there on your behalf on social media sites to get the word out.
Q. Any advice for new writers?
I have lots of advice, but the most important advice I can offer anyone is this: don’t ever give up. No matter what you write, or how well you write it, there will be people who HATE what you’ve written, and that’s okay. None of us will be loved by all the people, all the time. Don’t let that criticism, no matter how harsh, stop you from creating. Always be creating. Live in your world, love it, and put that life and love into everything you write. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some things will work, some won’t, but never give up.
And that’s the end of this interview…but certainly not the end of Solendrea, or Martin. I am sure we will be reading many great stories set in this fantastic world. Yes, you have guessed right; I am a fan of his writing already. So here’s a tip from one fantasy reader to another, go and grab your copy of The Last Swordmage at Amazon, or download his free short story.
You can also follow Martin at Twitter or join his facebook fan page. He can also be found on goodreads.
Sabine’s Note: I will putting up some of the older posts soon. Watch this space for more!