Thursday, October 27, 2011

Free Author Interview: Shawna Carter

Self Published Authors is excited to introduce you to Shawna Carter, author of Cooking with Creepers.  As a mom I always love to find new cooking books!

Author Name:  Shawna Carter

Where can we find your book?
 The Lil' Creeper books can be found at all online retailers such as
Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble as well as through me at

How much does it cost?
 Cooking with Creepers comes with the Lil' Creeper coloring book when ordered through the author but alone or as a set, it is available for $15.00 CDN

Tell us a little about your book.
 It's a dessert cookbook for beginners AND children.  It walks the reader through making many yummy desserts and treats and the illustrations are left for them to color on their own too!

Do you have any upcoming projects?
Lil' Creeper's Winter Shenanigans will be re-released through NCM Publishing in the next few months, so watch for that!

What has your journey as a writer been like?
 Arduous lol and SO rewarding! I'm not just the writer, I get to be the writer,illustrator,editor and publisher, the whole deal! I love it because it takes me places I might not be otherwise.

Why did you choose to self publish?
 I chose to self publish because this is something I have worked very hard on, and I've said from the beginning that I wasn't going to stop at one so I wanted every piece of the pie I baked instead of selling each piece off.

Would you do it again?
 I plan to continue to self publish throughout my series.

Please share some advice to help future authors.
 Take charge. All it takes is an email or a phone call in the right direction to take you where you want to be. I tour to bookstores everywhere because I have picked up the phone and called them. You have to put everything you have behind your work, so you have to stand biggest behind it.

Free Author Interview: Louis Cecile

Self Published Authors welcomes Louis Cecile with his new book of poetry, Thoughts in Rhyme.  Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration with us.

Author Name: Louis Cecile

Where can we find your book?  My first book ‘Thoughts in Rhyme’ can be found on Amazon, Kindle and other online book retailers.

How much does it cost?  Thoughts in Rhyme – ISBN No: 0955990009 - paperback available for $6.95
Kindle edition is $3.35

Tell us a little about your book.  I was growing up with lots of angst and difficulties in life.  Being an only child at home helped form my imagination and observational skills. Thoughts tended to pop up in my mind and due to my love of music I would transform them into rhyme.

For many years I would simply watch the world around me and take note of themes to create into poetry.  For example I often passed down a road that was dangerous for pedestrians and saw flowers laid there on a regular basis. It was always a haunting experience and it developed into my poem ‘Flower on the Wall’.

I originally wanted to write an autobiography, but found that style very exhausting and instantly gravitated to free form poetry.

The majority of poems are short in length, which is to mimic brevity of thought.  I removed punctuation to make it visually appear on the page like a scatter of words.  

Do you have any upcoming projects?  I am working on my second book, which is about half way complete now.  It is a much stronger book as the poems are longer and I had the courage to really explore taboo subjects with poetry as a vehicle.

My maturity as writer has come through as I sent three poems to competition and all were selected to be put in an anthology set.

I wanted to work with other poets and by a twist of fate they could not fully see my vision so I worked alone on the project.

What has your journey as a writer been like?  Truly awakening the depth of my imagination has been the focal point of my journey. I began as a young child trying to make sense of things and not believing my work would be of much merit.

Then I found inner courage to express my ideas and was shocked at my work to only give a glimmer of imagination.

The recognition from a publisher and praise from fellow poets worldwide instilled belief.

Why did you choose to self publish?  Having been knocked down by a publisher for another project it made me fearful. Once I began working again to complete my first book, I felt it needed an audience.

To prove to myself I could do it, I decided to self publish. Once it was done I shared my work and the acceptance from the poetry community has only made me a better writer.

Please share some advice to help future authors.  Patience and courage is most important when writing. Sharing your work with as many people as possible helps to develop your style and gain an insight into your future audience.

Critiquing other authors work also aids in your development. Never be afraid of your imagination.

What time of day do you write best?  Ideas come to me anytime during the week, but I find Saturday mornings the peak time to write.  Probably due to the sense of rest and opportunity the day presents.

What struggles have you overcome as a writer?  The fear of what people would think of my work and strain of going into the depths of my imagination for inspiration. Gaining the courage to allow people to read my poetic work. I practice Sahaja Yoga to help with writer’s block and to develop my thoughts.

What criticisms have helped you grow as a writer?  Initially people were unaware of the technique I had chosen for my first book.  I had received critique to go further and be more expansive. 

Some poets had suggested themes they would be curious of seeing me tackle and this led me to look at new ideas/subjects.

Due to my rhythmic flow one particular poet suggested I always read my work out aloud to myself to ensure I keep true to my style. This was particularly helpful advice that I try not to forget.

Free Author Interview: Aditi Chopra

Self Published Authors is pleased to present Aditi's free author interview for her new book How to succeed as a Process Professional.  Thanks for joining us Aditi! 

Author Name:  My name is Aditi Chopra. My first book is on Business Process Management. It is called “How to succeed as a Process Professional”.

Where can we find your book? How much does it cost?  My book is available as a paperback for $9.99 on my website( as well as on amazon(
1 E-book version of my book is also available for $8.99 in kindle stores in USA, UK, France and Germany.

Tell us a little about your book.  This book provides practical insights into challenges faced by process professionals and how to overcome them to attain success.

Do you have any upcoming projects?  I am currently writing a book on Leadership skills. This book is inspired by my experience being a software development manager and a process leader.

What has your journey as a writer been like?  I absolutely love writing. I have three blogs where I regularly share my thoughts. Writing is very enriching as it lets me share my unique thoughts with the rest of the world. It is also very fulfilling because I am helping people by teaching them the tricks that worked for me.

Is there anything unique about yourself that you would like your readers to know?  I have an inherent gift of understanding and assessing any situation, audience, system or environment. It helps me in making a good judgment call as well as address the root cause. I believe in not just addressing the symptoms but attacking the root cause to address a problem.
Who is your favorite author and why?  I have read a lot of books, the most effective book I have read was written by Daniel Goleman on the subject of Emotional Intelligence. Leadership has been a mystery for several years; Daniel Goleman has given a different meaning to leadership by writing this book.

Please share some advice to help future authors.
Write with passion and think about how your book can help other people. It’s not about you as a writer but rather about what readers would want to read.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Character Blogs

So I read online the other night about how to promote your upcoming book.  The suggestion was to make a blog that your main character writes.  My thought..."what a cool idea."  Oh yeah, I did this!

If you'd like to take a peek at my new blog you can see what I'm doing with mine.  It is way more fun that I thought it would be...and I'm getting to create the backstory that I simply didn't have enough room for in my book. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Free Author Interviews

To everyone that might be new to my site, Self Published Authors, I want to welcome you.  My goal for Self Published Authors is to offer Free Author Interviews, Writers resources and give my fellow authors a platform. 

If you have a book that the world needs to know about, please look under the Author Interview tab at the top for all of the information you need to email me your book info.

Self Published Authors is excited to meet you!

Best of luck

Needing book reviewers

I don't normally do this, as you can tell by the way I spend most of my time interviewing and helping other authors, but I need help.  My debut novel, Defiance Rising, is struggling to get reviews and like all of you, I need them too. 

If anyone would be willing to exchange a free copy of my teen romance, Defiance Rising, for a review on Amazon and/or your own personal blog please let me know.  I would be eternally grateful!

Product Description

Eighteen-year-old Illyria Anderson has found the one thing she desires most. But choosing him will bring about Earth’s destruction.

A Darkness is growing within Illyria’s soul, threatening to assume control of her mind and her unstable powers. The sinister thoughts that flash before her eyes are filled with images too brutal to put into words. For a normal person this wouldn’t be a problem. Popping a few pills before heading to a weekly counseling session would be enough to control the insanity, but Illyria isn’t normal. She’s not even sure she’s human. The only thing she is sure of is that she’s dangerous.

Bastien Lewis, a sinfully handsome stranger, is the only person who can bring Illyria back from the brink of destruction as she struggles to control her powers. He’s the only one that isn’t afraid of her or the Darkness that threatens to unleash its devastating power on the universe. But being near him is almost more than Illyria can bear when she learns that her destiny does not lie with Bastien, but with another. Illyria must decide if her love for Bastien is worth giving up everything, even if the price to be paid is Earth’s enslavement.

Defiance Rising is the first novel in the Defiance Rising Trilogy.

If interested please email me at

Thanks so much everyone!

Free Author Interview: Kelly Preston

Author Name:  Kelly Preston

Where can we find your book?  Real Dogs Don't Whisper can be found at the following locations: 
Real Dogs Don't Whisper (
BookShop Santa Cruz

How much does it cost? eBook/ePub 9.99; Paperback 9.99; and Hard cover 20.99. 

Do you have any upcoming projects? I have a few projects coming up; the first one that is coming up is taking Real Dogs Don't Whisper to Mobile (Smartphone) platforms.  Very shortly, the book will be available in either iTunes or MarketPlace.  Once I have this completed, I am looking at taking the chapters within my book and creating children's books.

What has your journey as a writer been like?  It has been very fulfilling.  I had no idea how much writing can touch one's life; or, for that matter, how many lives are touched.  I wrote this book from my heart and wanted to share an inspirational story about special need dogs; and, the feedback has been priceless.

Why did you choose to self publish?  I selected self publishing for several reasons.  The first being that the more I read and did research on obtaining an agent for the traditional path was becoming more and more challenging.  With all the options now available for self publish, I thought that I would have a better opportunity this way; especially with digital efforts.

Would you do it again? Yes, I would (and will); of course, if there are any agents/managers that would like to represent me, I am open and receptive (lol).

Please share some advice to help future authors.  Some of the advice that I can give is consistent marketing; think outside the box and do not be afraid to take risks. Also, go in to this with patience and the utmost dedication to your cause. 

How do you plan to promote your book? I am using Ad Words, Google Display Network, FaceBook, Tumblr, Twitter, my own website (, YouTube, press releases, pet events.  Just to name a few marketing efforts that I have started. 

How did you create your characters? My characters are my dogs; since this is a true story, they have supplied endless amounts of material.  Some content funny; some heart warming; and some tear jerking.  They certainly have been an important part of this book.

How do you juggle life around your writing? Boy that is a great question! I am still trying to find the balance, let me get back to you on that one.  However, if anyone knows the secret, please share.

Free Author Interview: Astra Crompton

Author Name: Astra Crompton

here can we find your book, First Born?  It is available on CreateSpace, here:
It can also be found on, here: (Here you can read through a few pages in preview so that you can get a taste of my writing style!)
And if you want it signed, if can be purchased directly from me at various conventions, or through my website, here:

How much does it cost?  $15.00 is my listing price, though some distributors may fluctuate that as their margin requires.
Tell us a little about your book.  "First Born" is a work of inspired fantasy set on an original foreign world complete with races, culture, language, religion and magic. It follows the life of a child intended to be sacrificed, who instead survives and lives under a Curse that cannot be shaken. A tale of self-discovery, love, unwavering hope and faith, it is sure to touch hearts and fascinate minds. As a side-note, I completed all aspects of this book myself, including the world design and writing, the cover design and execution, the illustrations throughout the book, the translations, the recipe offered in its end pages, even the map!
Do you have any upcoming projects?  Indeed! This book was actually an unexpected child. I have some 15 other novels in various states of planning, as well as two currently running graphic novels, a series of short stories, (not counting my non-written endeavors). The next creations to look for are the first print volume of Angel Down, one of my graphic novels and Dreamscapes, my collection of autobiographical dreamings as a collection of short stories.
What has your journey as a writer been like?  It has been a swift and steadily improving adventure! I began to write novels at the age of 15, and soon after I began, I stumbled across the fantasy setting, Ul-Zaorith, that would become the stage for my series of novels. I spent some 10 years developing the world, learning about the alien peoples that lived there, the languages they spoke, the scripts they wrote, their history, heroes, magics and gods. It has been a fascination that has greatly inspired me through song, cooking, sewing and art. I hope to continue offering its tales to the world, and hope to kindle love for it in others.
Why did you choose to self publish?  I initially harbored dreams of being discovered and scooped up by some great publishing house, becoming a best seller, being able to write full-time... And while the dreams of success and support from my craft have not changed, I am now rather sold on self-publishing. The level of detail, depth and design that I require from my works is hard to pursue when a big publisher wants just 'words that will sell and that's it'. Choosing the correct fonts, insetting self-created illustrations, including supplementary material, having a say in my cover design - all these reasons spurred me to forgo the big publishing houses and simply complete the work myself. Having my finished book in my hands, being able to flip through my pages and see my vision made real has been so rewarding.
Would you do it again?  I intend to! In fact, I have another manuscript going through the preparation phases now!
Please share some advice to help future authors.  Don't be afraid to improve your work. There are a lot of little things that can take your manuscript from being a lack-lustre pet project to being a professional book - be patient and allow all of these things to be pursued and polished. Don't book events until you have the perfect book right there in your hands. Get as many people as possible to read the drafts and proofs before you okay the final product - guaranteed they will catch something you've overlooked. Love your project, and don't be afraid to show it, but be humble and understand that not everyone will love your work as much as you do. Don't get discouraged. A wise man once said: success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. 
Who is your favourite author and why?  I have a few favourites, simply because they have each inspired me. In chronological order of discovery:
Michael Moorcock. The veritable king of sci-fi and fantasy, he is arguably the man who invented the multiverse and who pioneered modern aspects of epic fantasy. His vision for fantastic vistas, races and cultures so mirrored what I myself was creating, that reading his works (Hawkmoon and Corum especially) I for the first time thought, 'I can do this!' 
Guy Gavriel Kay. A sensual and poignant writer whose characters were the sorts of people that moved a reader, caused them to feel love or loss, and to weep at the trials that befell them. His elegant blendings of Earth-inspired settings were vivid enough to lift the imagination but grounded enough to believe it history. 
Joe Abercrombie. Reading his work has been perhaps the most influential from taking my tales from Tolkein-esque doldrums to swift and exciting reading. He took every author convention and broke it - and in doing so taught me to have no fear in being true to the story as opposed to convention. His dialogue is whip-sharp, his characters gritty, his action deliciously real. Seeing how artfully a tale could be wrought enabled me to perceive the otherwise overlooked aspects of a story. 
A few others I would recommend: Douglas Adams, for his humour, tongue-in-cheek commentary and glib narration; Neil Gaiman, for his brilliant creations, humour blended with macabre and fantastical scenes; R. Scott Bakker, for his deeply complex settings, intricate plots and Machiavellian characters; Alexandre Dumas, a master of intrigue, romance and adventure; Anne Rice, for sensual, sumptuous characters, easy writing and occult themes.   
What was the process you used to write your manuscript?  My method is the same for every one of my writing projects:
I begin with a focal character - the person I wish to follow. I make notes on the key points in the person's life, then I widen my scope to take in their city, country and world at that time to understand where things stood on a political, or magical, or militaristic level to better understand the causes for and repercussions of their actions and choices. Inevitably these critical points involve others, and I investigate these others, learning about them and through them about the main character(s).

I continue this pattern until I have far more information than I'll actually use in the tale. Then I start at the beginning - usually starting with a title - and I begin to write. I always write chronologically, because my writing always ends up looping back and connecting with things that preceded, tying everything together more neatly than I could ever plan intentionally. I loop through every key plot point like stringing beads with my words until I finish the first draft. Throughout this process I pause during tirades and re-read what I've written, cleaning it up as I go. When the manuscript is fully written, I read the whole thing through from the beginning, rewriting and streamlining, re-ordering sentence structure and correcting inconsistencies as I go.

During this stage, I often have many notebooks and files to keep track of time, seasons, ages, movement of other characters in the background, language translations etc. When this combing is done through the whole, I read it through again to make sure everything is accurate and pertinent. Then I go through it with my husband and pick it apart in the editing process. From beginning to end, each book goes through about 6 drafts to reach a finished state. Then comes the illustrations and formatting - a whole new barrel of laughs!

Writers Resources: Editor 911

Editor 911 can help you with any written document. Do you have a novel that needs editing before sending it to agents? Are you planning to self-publish your memoir and you need proofreading? Editor 911 can help with these projects and more. Please check out for more details. Fees are figured on a project by project basis; but if you mention you saw this ad, you will receive a 10 percent discount.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Danielle Bannister

Pulled by Danielle Bannister

If you love books about soul mates and love overcoming all obstacles then I highly recommend reading Pulled.  The imagery is fantastic, the characters so real you begin rooting for them from page 1.  I downloaded Danielle’s book last night and finished it in less than 24 hours, which is really saying something for a busy mom. 

Pulled is Danielle Bannister’s debut novel, and a darn good one at that.  Thanks so much Danielle.  Let me know when your sequel is ready!  I’ll be waiting.

Book Description:
Pulled is a love story of Twin Flames connecting. When college freshman, Naya walks into her first acting class two years after the freakish death of her parents, she becomes consumed by a mysterious pull coming from a facially scarred classmate named Etash. When he is cast as the Romeo to her Juliet, sparks fly. These star crossed lovers discover that fate has other plans for them. This is not the first time they have been 'pulled' together, nor will it be their last.

Pulled is available through Amazon.  Ebook price is only $1.49

Writers Resources: Theresa

Are you looking for an editor?  Meet Theresa, a creative writing student and editing intern with an online publisher.  She is offering her editing/proofreading services to authors at a huge discount in order to gain more experience in her career field.  For an amazing $0.005 per word, Theresa offers an amazing deal for any author looking for a second pair of eyes to read over their manuscript.  She had worked on 3 books through the online publisher and has done freelance editing on 2 books, with 4 more by the same author waiting in line.

In addition to editing, Theresa is skilled in blogger/wordpress blog design. 

You can contact Theresa through her email at or through her blog

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Free Author Interview: Kim Montgomery

Author Name: Kim Montgomery. Englishman, living in Scotland since 1990. Semi-retired, after a career in IT.

Book Title: Curly and Tubs and the Galloping Rot

Where can we find your book?  AuthorHouse, Amazon, WH Smith, Barnes and Noble for printed copy, Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo for eBook

Tell us a little about your book:  Two young brothers, Curly and Tubs, own a set of encyclopaedias called 'The World of Knowledge'. An accident, involving spilt tea, threatens to damage volume 5, Nature. The Council, guardians of The World of Knowledge, decide that the damage would be too great if they wait until the boys realise what has happened, and transport Curly and Tubs from Reader World into The Land of Nature, to do battle with The Galloping Rot. The boys are standing on a foot bridge waiting for a steam train to pass underneath, and envelop them in smoke.

An unexpected train approaches, which they recognise as a full size version of one of their toy trains. When the smoke clears Curly and Tubs appear to be in The Land of Nature. They are, in fact, in Essence World, which is where The Council live, and which sits over the lands of The World of Knowledge like a two-way mirror. The magic train carries the boys across the land to meet The Council, and then on to The Cover Desert, where The Galloping Rot is making rapid progress. The boys have to find a way of defeating the rot, helped by unexpected new powers.

How did you create your characters?  I first met Curly on the day I was born, and Tubs some three years later. The story is unashamedly semi-autobiographical, and based around the childhood my younger brother and I enjoyed in England in the 1950's and 60's. We really did get into trouble for standing on a footbridge when a steam train passed underneath, and Upside-down Aunty was a real person, albeit slightly exaggerated in the book.

How do you plan to promote your book?  It would be nice to have some help in that direction. Promotion and marketing is not something that comes easily to me.  Writing the book was a doddle in comparison.

Why did you choose to self publish?  We all know how difficult it is to be published conventionally.  Self publishing was a reasonably inexpensive way of putting my work in the public domain, and, if all else fails, at least I have a copy of my book on my coffee table.

Do you have any upcoming projects?  I have a sequel 75% completed. I also have another book finished, called 'More than a hutch', which is the autobiography of a pet rabbit. Not much of a story there you might think, but you have not met Robbie Bobtail yet. As to whether I will self publish either of these books, I would first look for encouragement from success from the current book.

Free Author Interview: Janet Lynn

Self Published Authors is happy to introduce you to Janet Lynn.  Her passion for mysteries is shared by many.  Best of luck Janet!

Where can we find your book? (Kindle Books) and or

How does much does it cost?  $2.99

Tell us about your book.  South of the Pier is the first of a four part murder mystery series.

Palmer Railton, well known lobbyist, is brutally murdered on his doorstep resulting in a media frenzy. In the meantime, Camille Brewster, calls her twin sister, Connie Cane, excited about Palmer’s wedding proposal, and huge ruby engagement ring. Connie, former CSI, must keep her devastated, smartass sister from getting killed during the murder investigation, along with Detective Marcello Prado.

Kidnapped, Camille ends up stranded in a Guatemalan jail; an Interpol agent holds the key to her freedom. The murderer is arrested. The final clue is in Connie’s hands when she realizes they have the wrong person is in jail.

Do you have an upcoming project?  My second in the series of The Pier Murders:  West of the Pier will be available end of October. I also have a mystery (not murder) entitled, Eggnog which I hope to have available for the holidays.

What has your journey as a writer been like?  It has been an amazing journey! It has been a dream of mine for the last 40 years to write novels. Finally, ten years ago I decided I couldn’t wait any longer; I had to try and write. Once I tapped into my creative juices, the stories, and characters just seemed to flow.

Why did you chose to self publish?  E-publishing is the wave of the future. I wanted to get on the ground floor of this amazing technology.

Would you do it again?  Definitely, over, and over again.

Do you have any advice to help future Authors?  The most important thing for new and upcoming writers is to keep writing-even if it’s a short story, essay, anything. Keep writing and finish each piece before beginning another writing project.

Who is your favorite author?  Sue Grafton, Carl Hiassen

What drives you to write? Something inside, I’m not sure what.  When I am not writing for any length of time, I miss it terribly. Almost like swimming and not being able to come up for air.

What is unique about yourself that you would like readers to know? I love writing mysteries especially the murderous kind! When I am relaxing on a Sunday afternoon on my patio, my mind tends to start imagining different ways to kill people. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s my alter ego!
What time of day do you write best? I write one hour every day seven days a week, from 5:00-6:00 or 6:00 to 7:00, depending on what I have scheduled for my work day.  I still have a day job to deal with.

What struggles have you overcome as a writer? I think the discipline to writing regularly for the last eight years has been monumental. It was struggle at first, but I made it happen, and now it’s part of my life.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A blog for your character?

I have to admit that I'm curious about the concept of creating a blog specifcally for the main character of a published/unpublished novel.  When I read this tip earlier tonight I have to admit a hundred ideas flared up and I do think I'll struggle to sleep tonight. 

Has anyone tried this?  The idea is certainly intriguing to me!

My upcoming teen fantasy, Immortal Rose, would be perfect for this idea. 

To every student at Rosewood Prep, Rose Danbry appears to have the perfect life.  Girls hate her and guys are desperate to date her.  With her unearthly beauty, tantalizing appeal and unusual aqua eyes, Rose quickly finds herself the center of attention.  Especially after she catches the eye of the hottest guy in school.  But there’s one thing holding her back…she’s Dracula’s wife.

Oh yeah, I could come up with a ton of good stuff with this one!  What do you think?  Do you have a character that could pique a readers interest outside of the pages of your book?


One of the best tools that you have as an author is a blog.  People use them, people love them.  They have become the universal tool for promotion and the best part is that you can create one for free.  Blogger has been a fantastic tool for me, but there are others that are just as easy to use. 

I realize that most people feel like they simply don’t have the time to add yet another “chore” to their busy days, but you can’t afford not to.  Blogging doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and you don’t have to do it every day.  Write a post every three or four days to keep yourself up on the search engines. 

Pick a theme and go with it.  Work it to your benefit.  Tell everyone and they’re dog to subscribe to your blog and begin your promotions.  Post your blog on as many sites as you can, but don’t be obnoxious! 

If you don’t have a blog, please consider starting one.  With each day that passes that you remain blog free you remain follower free too.  Networking, one on one and social media is our present and future.  This is one bandwagon you definitely want to jump on!

Piggybacking a hit release

I’ve read articles online about how to promote your book by using press releases to piggyback onto a hit release.  Maybe you have a book that is similar to Twilight, Harry Potter or maybe an Amanda Hocking novel.  Have you tried to jump on the bang wagon and use their success for your own gain?

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  Self published authors would love to be able to share your thoughts and experiences.  

Market with Movie Posters

A fun way to help promote your new book is to create a movie poster.  Post it on your blog, share it with your friends, do whatever it takes to get your name out there.  If you’ve never had a chance to play around with then I highly suggest you give it a try.  Who says self marketing has to be all work and no play?

Here’s the website I used to create my own poster for my new novel, Defiance Rising.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Free Author Interview: Mark Matthews

Author Name:  Mark Matthews, Author of Stray and The Jade Rabbit

Where can we find your book?  The Jade Rabbit is available on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Createspace, as well as a handful of other ebook sites.
How much does it cost?  Currently The Jade Rabbit is 4.99 for an ebook download and 10.99 for paperback.  The paperback is on Amazon for 10.99, but if you go through Createspace, , you can use the coupon EGQ2PSM2 for 2 dollars off.

Tell us a little about your book.  Visceral and emotional, is best two words I can come up with.  If the novel had a soundtrack, it would be to Florence and The Machine.

The main character drives the novel.  She was abandoned in China as an infant, but adopted and raised in the United States. She becomes a social worker in order to help other abandoned and neglected youth in a Detroit area runaway shelter. 

Questions linger in her brain from being left by her ‘China-mama’, and a small but serious ‘primal wound’ remains into her adulthood.  Why was she given up? Does her birth-mother remember her?  These fears drive her to become an obsessed marathon runner and much of the novel follows her training. She becomes incredibly strong, yet at the same time fragile and near her breaking point. The challenge of unanswered questions, the chaos of trying to help other abandoned children, her unmet goals of running a sub 3 hour marathon, and her failed attempts at pregnancy (so she can finally know her own flesh) all get played out in a torturous marathon training program.  The end is a physical and emotional catharsis. 

I think of it as Once A Runner meets The Secret Life of Bees, which, I realize, means little if you haven’t’ read both of those books.
Why did you choose to self publish?  My first novel, Stray, was accepted by a traditional publisher.  They assisted with editing, discussed changes (some of which I successfully resisted) and finally, Stray was on the ‘coming soon’ list. Well, it remained ‘coming soon’ for years. Seven years to be exact, while I was busy starting a family. The novel never moved off the coming soon list and the company went out of business.  So, I finally decided to self-pub, but didn’t know a thing about marketing and the novel didn’t get much attention.

It did well sort of by mistake. I wanted to be read so I made the novel Free on smashwords, upon which Amazon then followed suit, and it went viral to a degree and was listed all over the place. The novel was then downloaded ten thousand times plus in just a few weeks and I was on the top ten non-paid kindle list.   I was thrilled, so after I priced it again, very positive reviews started coming in, random fan mail, and the seven years seemed to have some sort of divine purpose to it.  I spoke with two traditional publishers about The Jade Rabbit, but the deal did not seem like a good fit. I wanted autonomy.

What is the message of your book?  The universal ties of family, and how sharing blood is only a small bit of what connects us.  We are all mothers and fathers, doesn’t matter if we ever conceived, and the dandelion seeds that are blown our way and land nearby are ours to nurture (to paraphrase the novel).  In addition, in order to deal with our baggage, I am of the belief that when you squeeze yourself physically, all your insides come out. Makes sense, cause if you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice.  Psychological issues can be dealt with by beating the body down, and when we take ourselves to our physical limits, we can blast through emotional, mental, and psychological barriers as well.

Do you have a favorite character and why?  I love Janice from The Jade Rabbit, Sharleen, the Ghost of Moonlight.  I’m also very fond of some of the supporting cast of Stray, like Jason Boston Sr, ‘the ancient heroin wizard’.  

Hmmm, I just realized something that I never have. All my favorite characters have nicknames. Check that out. Thanks for the question.

What is your greatest joy in writing?  When my characters develop their own personality, and handle situations without me. I love each and every one of my characters, and they are still making decisions in my mind long after the novel is over.  I hear them and talk to them.  And I realize how crazy that sounds.  In the thick of writing, I live in both worlds, and usually wish I could stay in the world of the novel.

How did you create your characters?  I keep sprinkling on new ingredients to heighten the potential conflict.  That’s how I created Janice Zhu Woodward, who is certainly ’32 flavors and then some’. So, when I created Thomas Cleaves, I thought, let’s make him in recovery from substance abuse.  Yeah, that’s it.  And wait, I know, he had a seizure the day of his father’s funeral, and that was the first day he got sober.  And wait, I know, let’s add that he still has seizures sometimes and hears voices, and wait, let’s add….” You get the picture.

Who is your favorite author and why?  Oh boy, so hard to say.  Without having read Jack Kerouac, I don’t know that I would ever have tried to write myself.  But writers have always been my heroes.  I think Richard Ford writes like he made a mystic deal with the devil, and I’ve recently been reading Dan Simmons. I like smart entertainment, such as Justin Cronin’s The Passage, or existential dark stuff, anything branched out from the roots of Kafka.

What drives you to write?  I’m going to sing that one for you…

“If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, Threatening the life it belongs to… “

Writing is a place to direct my energy and obsessions. It’s an outlet where I can be in a different world, set free from this one, and can splatter whatever I want on the canvas.  It is a very vulnerable feeling to write something and set it free in the world.  Try it. Write a small poem and let someone read it. Its like opening up your chest cavity and giving someone a spear to puncture your beating heart, should they choose. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What time of day do you write best?  I think of the best stuff and am most inspired while I run. Usually about 45 minutes into a run my ideas are explosive and grand.  It is much like being drunk where you are filled with passions and high ideals.  However, when the passion turns to practicality, life gets in the way, and it takes effort to turn the ambition and ideas into pages.

How do you plan to promote your book?  I have been doing increased social networking, and also have been in contact with various blogs who will be featuring the novel on their site.  Look for information cross-posted on my own blog soon.

Is there anything unique about yourself that you would like your readers to know?  I tend to ‘write what I know’ so both of the settings in my novels are 100 percent true. I am an avid marathon runner and also worked at a runaway shelter such as the one depicted in The Jade Rabbit (it was just north of an area known as Little Saigon) I also worked at a treatment center that shared a parking lot with an animal shelter, such as in Stray.  I also volunteered for 100 hours in an animal shelter and did tons of research to learn how they operate.  

Do you have any upcoming projects?  I’m working on a novel about a psychiatrist who, after realizing that most research shows that psychotropic medications are no more effective than placebos, becomes a little ‘rogue’ and invents his own placebo drug to give to patients  (Called Bosplace) He finds as long as he can increase the patients expectations, there are positive results.  When a lost love he had always considered his soul-mate gets admitted as a patient to his psychiatric hospital, the effectiveness of his interventions are put to the test.

Any contact information you would like to leave us with?
Sure, all over that one.
Twitter: @matthews_mark
Also on LinkedIn, but currently facebook free.