Q1. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Answer: The hardest thing for me is the initial procrastination at the beginning of each writing session. It's a daily hurdle I have to constantly overcome. When I sit down to write there is always this feeling that I will be more in the zone after a few minutes. The instinct is to delay until that point and check e-mail, social media, or the news. Somehow despite knowing better, my brain tells me that I need to wait to be ready to write. But this is a completely false instinct. I only get ready to write by writing but knowing this is not enough. I still have to fight against it and some days it can be very seductive.
Q2. What are your views on social media for marketing?
Answer: There is no question that social media has taken over as the most powerful marketing device an individual or a business can use. But it baffles me how one can be successful at it. I've read many articles and blogs on the subject and they are so contradictory that I'm not sure if the field is evolving too quickly to capture it or if no one really knows what works.
One thing I've learned is that each one favors different personalities and skills. So success will come easier to an individual on some social mediums than others. Twitter and Facebook are still new to me (even after two years) and I'm struggling to build platforms there. I feel like I've done a good job of developing a platform on Wattpad, but even there my success at marketing has been mixed at best. I have been effective at promoting my stories here, but when my book, Mr. 8, was published I was less successful with translating its popularity with book sales.
In the end, I just try to build relationships and to be an active member of the communities and I keep self-promotion to a minimum. I hope this will eventually lead to the success I seek.
Q3. What book do you wish you could have written?
Answer: That's a wonderful but extremely hard question. Books are so personal. It's almost like asking whose face you would like to have instead of your own. There are certainly many I admire more than my own, but to have another's would be extremely strange. To be fair and to not dodge the question, I'll say Immorality Play by Barry Unsworth. It's a brilliant genre mash up of historical fiction and mystery, with an amazing twist moment. At the height of my skills, I hope that I could achieve something like that novel.
Q4. Why do you write?
Answer: The simple and most important answer is that I enjoy it. Enjoying the work is critical, because it is work. Nearly every book lover thinks about writing at some point, but to carry it through beyond experimentation there needs to be an affinity with the craft. The breakthroughs, the revelations, the moments of victory over a phrase or a plot, for me these things make writing even more pleasurable than reading and they make up for all the moments of frustration, disappointment, and discouragement.
Q5. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Answer: My answer for this question changes every time I'm asked. What I'd say right now is: give yourself the licence to write badly.
Unless you are extremely gifted (which I myself am not) it's going to take a lot of practice to get good at writing. So at first, you should approach it like that old Sesame Street song we learn as kids "Don't worry of it's not good enough for anyone else to hear." Open yourself up to making mistakes. Don't let the quest for perfection hinder you. Just have fun and try to learn.
My life has been full of attempts to become a writer. All but one ended in failure and me walking away from it. This last attempt was different and the main difference was that I started by not hoping for anything better than to write stories badly to entertain myself.
Q6. Is there any genre that you prefer to write in?
Answer: There are certainly some genres which my mind goes to more willingly than others. Science-fiction and horror are probably at the top of the list, but I rarely stay within the traditional boundaries of any genre.
In Mr. 8, it starts as a mystery, then about halfway through it shifts genres into paranormal or horror territory. In The Things We Bury series, I'm all over the map. I call it science-fiction but I borrow heavily from the traditions of horror, mystery, and the espionage thriller. There is even a touch of fantasy. And in the second book (which I will start posting in a few weeks) there will be strong elements of the paranormal young-adult novel in it.
I don't know if this genre mashing is a winning formula. It certainly adds challenges when it comes time to marketing, but enjoy the freedom of taking the story in any direction that captures my imagination.
Bonus question added. This option was offered to everyone.
#5Qi - August 19th, 2015