Every once in a while I’ll do a book promotion through promo website, and included in that promotion is an author interview. I think I’ve done about a dozen or so of these by now, and they all tend to follow the same pattern. They’re a little bit impersonal and canned, with pre-listed questions that rarely get into any detail about your book. They’re more designed to ask general (and sometimes vague) questions about you, the author. Mostly fluff. Very little substance.
That being said, this one wasn’t terrible. Over 200 questions to pick from, and even though a number of them were the same question asked in different ways, some were pretty insightful, and new (to me at least). So I didn’t mind answering these questions, and the answers gave me a chance to impart some useful information.
The interview was for a promo with seriousreading.com, which you may have seen on Facebook. Normally, I don’t suggest spending a lot of money on book promo sites because the return is rarely worth the investment.
(One of these days I’d love to do some research on how well these sites actually work out for anyone but that requires a little more work than I want to do right now.)
But this one isn’t too expensive for what they offer ($49 I think???) so I’m going to give it a shot for Olympia. I’ll let you guys know if it works out. Of course, if it REALLY works out, you’ll see Olympia all over the amazon sales charts.
In the meantime, I’m posting my interview with the site here in the hopes that you learn something interesting about either me or my writing. Or, maybe this is just a ploy to not have to do any serious thinking for this week’s blog post, which is already a little bit late.
1. Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?
No, but it helps. I happen to be one, but even with my normally rigid expectations for other people’s writing, I sometimes let a few things go in my own. Writing a novel is a big, complicated, sometimes overwhelming job, and it’s rare that a single author can get his or her work through the gauntlet without letting something slip by.
But all that being said, I’ll spend all day yelling at people on the internet.
2. How important is research to you when writing a book?
It’s very important, and I enjoy it immensely. I actually got into writing through my love of history, which of course spawned thousands of dramatic stories of my own.
3. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
Computer. I do a lot of writing on notebooks, and I like to switch things up, but the vast majority of my writing is done on my laptop. You can’t beat copy/paste and undo/redo.
4. What inspires you to write?
Pretty much everything.
5. How often do you write?
Every day, usually. The amount of time I spend writing changes but I’m a creature of habit, and I believe consistency is key in being a good writer.
6. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
I used to, but that’s gone out the window. It’s dangerous to wait for inspiration to start writing, because you could end up staring at a wall for two months, so I try to stay consistent in my writing schedule. But the quantity of my writing varies a bit from day to day. I still try to keep up with word counts but that’s only when I’m doing first drafts. After that, I rewrite as needed until it’s ready.
7. Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
There is for me, but I don’t think that applies to all writers. I know several who are extremely sociable. I would say that I know more extrovert writers than I do introvert, but that feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Introverts are at home, not meeting people.
8. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I’m definitely a plotter, but I’ve been known to experiment with writing on the fly, usually with short stories. But at least one of those short stories turned into a full-blown novel (Sanctuary, in case you’re wondering), so there’s definitely value to it.
9. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Coming up with language that paints a picture in people’s minds. I’m good at laying out the groundwork for a story, or writing dialogue, but flowery descriptions that build an image that springs forth from the recesses of my readers’ minds is hard to do.
10. Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?
I think a more appropriate term for Writer’s Block is “laziness” or “lack of motivation”. You cure writer’s block by writing. That’s it.
11. Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
Yep. Olympia and Sanctuary are both books that stymied me for a long time. I had issues with the plot and no matter which way I went, or what I tried, I never felt comfortable, to the point that I had to walk away from both books and work on other things for a while.
12. Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Yes, and that can’t be undersold. Visual media plays a huge role in allowing us to connect with characters. When you can see someone on TV or in artwork you immediately start to associate certain emotions or ideas with that image, and that builds up your attachment to them. So a good cover helps you do that. Just make sure it’s not a cheap, stock art cover. That does you no favors. If you’re going to splurge on something, then either do it on the cover, or editing, or both.
13. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?
It would feel like any other Tuesday.
14. Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?
No. I have once or twice, but that’s a bad practice, I think. You don’t want to get argumentative with your own readers, whether they like you or not. Even bad reviews are from people who took the time to read your book.
15. Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
Yes. Start writing about fifteen years earlier.
16. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
Shogun by James Clavell. I remember it sitting on my dad’s shelf when I was young, the stark white cover with red lettering, and I always wondered what it could be about. I imagined a hundred different things, none of them even close to the actual story. When I was 12 I decided I couldn’t wait any longer so I reached up and grabbed it and started plowing through that beast of a book. It was eye-opening to say the least, and Clavell ended up as one of my favorite authors for some time. To this day, I still think King Rat is an awesome story that needs to be made into a movie.
17. Do you read any of your own work?
Not like I do other books. I don’t read my own work for the same reason I don’t typically re-read other books. If I already know where the story is going, then I’m not as interested in it.
18. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
My mom. She was an early champion of my writing, reading everything I put out. She still does, to this day, and tells people all about it.
19. Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing?
Every single day.
20. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?
That is a horrendously false lie.
21. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
Ummmmmm, that would be a horrendously outrageous lie.
22. They say books die every time they are turned into a movie; what do you think?
I don’t believe that at all. If you look at sales numbers, it’s pretty obvious that book sales go up when a movie comes out. People are always interested in the original story, and that goes triple (or more) when the movie is good.