As I continue to press on with the 5th book in the DEAD series, I want to introduce you to a new face that hopes to make a big mark...I am thrilled to turn things over to Alex Laybourne. Also...I am just over a handful of posts away from the magic number 100...any suggestions for how I should celebrate? Any topics you would like to hear. Also...I have a few prizes to give away in commemoration and that includes a download of yours truly on guitar and vocals in a studio recording of "Stranger Things Have Happened" and some lucky person will win the GRAND PRIZE...now all I need to do is figure out what that might be. Anyways...let me get out of the way and make room for Alex.
What led you to writing?
For as long as I can remember, I have told stories. I would write them long hand from the moment I knew but a few words. I still remember one story I wrote (I must have been about six or seven) it was 5 pages long and was about a man who survived crashing his fighter jet.
How does the European market differ from the American market as far as reader expectation?
The main problem with the European Market is not so much the reader expectations but the language problems. Trying to market an English Language book while living in Non-English speaking country takes a lot of work. Especially for self-published writers (as I was until recently). With the evolution of e-books, reader expectations and habits no longer has to conform to a specific geographical location. That in its own right is a positive thing for all writers.
What is the difference between a good story and a great story?
In terms of the same story, a solid editing process certainly plays a part. Without that, a book can never reach its full potential and therefore, never become great. Looking at the question from a genre specific angle, a great story is something that does something new. Something that makes it stand out above the other books it is competing against. It can be something small, but if you can come up with some truly original aspect, and work it into a well edited book, then you have something great. Personally, I don’t believe that reviews make a book great because you can’t even please everybody.
What is the difference between being an author and a writer?
Everybody can be a writer, but being an author takes grunt work. It means making sacrifices, and at some point in proceedings pissing someone off because you chose writing over them. It is about the first thought in your mind when you wake up, and the last one before you go to sleep being about the craft.
Lately there has been a debate about submitting to anthologies that only offer contributor’s copies. What is your view on the subject?
I don’t write for money, but because I have a story to tell. If I can earn a living from doing so along the way, then all the better, but I will never base my submissions on financial returns.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?
I think that in some cases, the indie ‘rebellion’ has led to an overinflated sense of self importance in some writers. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big supporter and believer in the ‘movement’ and those people I reference in the statement above as the same people that I will refer to in my second issue. The people who do not believe in putting in the work, those that believe success will be instant and that they do not need to follow the traditional steps to writing. Those who believe that pressing the upload button and stringing 100,000 words together makes them a successful writer by default.
To tie in with the above, the ease with which one can now publish their work is a double edged sword and as you say, is its own worst enemy. Anybody can now publish themselves. It used to just be hard to get accepted and published. Not it is hard to get noticed. In itself, that may be the worse of the two options. Not getting published / accepted tells you what you need to know. That you need to continue striving to improve, to stand out, while not getting noticed does not necessarily have to be a reflection on your, on your writing or on your approach to publishing. Not being able to see the wood through the trees can make it very hard for people who do not immerse themselves in the indie scene – by that I mean predominantly writers – you will not know who is who .
It is tougher than ever being a writer today because it is easier than ever to become one, but, at the end of the day, we have our ears to the ground, and know what to look for, who is hot and who is just muddying the waters. Imagine how hard it has become for a reader, those looking in from the outside.
The social media is…(your chance to expound in as abstract a manner as you wish.)
Pandora’s box. I am an active user on social media sites, but will never truly understand it. Not because it is complicated, but rather, because it is so easy. There are no ways to define social media effectively because you can use it for everything. From Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and You Tube, you can use them to run a business, to communicate with relatives in far off lands, or to post picture of animals doing funny things.
Social media has changed the way we are, not just on a virtual level but in real life. Physical relationships are changing because of it, and for that reason along, social media is the best and the worst thing that could have ever happened… I love it.
Share some information about your work with us:
I am currently writing a novel that is more Psychological Thriller than out and out Horror. It is a look at human relationships and how one single action can set us on a path of self-destruction. I am also editing two short story collections (The Musings of a Hideous Mind: Volume(s) I and II).
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
It depends on the individual asking the question. There are certain types , and after a while you can spot them, and when they ask me this, I just roar on the inside.
“What do you write about?” When you ask an Author a question like this, you need to understand that you are opening up a Pandora ’s Box. The answer will not be some quick one sentence answer. If you aren’t willing to actually stand there and listen, don’t ask. I get that a lot from people in my office.
A more general one is about how many books I sell. People outside of the ‘business’ seem to think that unless you are in the NY Times top ten, then your book is a flop, and against that mentality, you can never win.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
With Rage… ok not really. I will be honest with you. I have not yet received a negative review for my novel. One man gave it 2 stars, but left no comment. I looked at his review history and he only read travel books before then, so I kind of let it slide. Often, when I receive criticism, I get very angry… with myself. I rage at myself on the inside for a while, but I always thank the person offering the advice, and later, I consider what they have said, and use it to improve.
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I do not read as much as I would like to, but do so as much as I can. With 3 (soon to be 4) kids running around, the eldest being 5, free time is often a luxury I do not have. I read every day, that much I can say, but page numbers etc. I cannot gauge. All I know is that even if I sat in a room alone all day, I would want to have read more by the time the day was over.
To answer your second question, no, I don’t think a writer can excel if they don’t read. You must read if you want to write. I also believe that the wider range of genres and authors you read, the better you will develop.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your career that you wish you could go back in time and tell a younger you?
Take the time to get it right the first time around. When I first joined (for lack of a better word) the indie movement I finished my short story collection, checked it basically and published it. I withdrew it from sale soon thereafter, as it was not ready. Not in any way, shape or form. I would strap my younger-self to a chair and force this lesson on him… what if I did that already, but was too aggressive with myself and have now repressed that memory… sorry, I digress.
What projects are you currently working on?
Too many things I think. I am writing a new novel, a separate one from the Highway Trilogy, I am editing two complete short story collections (70k and 60k respectively) and am planning out the third instalment of Highway to Hell which at this point in time promises to be something quite epic in terms of scale.
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I guess it would just be who I am, compared to what my stories are like. Highway to Hell (and my short stories) are somewhat harsh in their subject, but I am a normal guy. I have a boring day job, I play around with my kids, and don’t care where it is. I have played hide and seek in the supermarket and gotten stuck inside kids playgrounds before. I listen to country music and enjoy being out in the fresh air as much as I can.
How important is the relationship between author and editor?
I think it is one of the more important relationships in the industry. There needs to be a level of trust and friendship developed. To be able to speak frankly with one another, knowing that what is said is not said to hurt, to offend or to demoralize, but rather to encourage, to help improve the finish product.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
Firstly I would like to (once again) thank you and Denise for accepting Highway to Hell. It was the best day of my (writing) life, and I will be forever grateful to you both.
Obviously, aside from my wife and 3 (soon to be 4) children, there are a few members of the Indie Writing without whose help and guidance I would never have gotten to where I am.
I’d better stop now, there are more, but to keep going will mean I forget someone and would not want to cause offence.
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
Too much that can be summarized. I have some classics and indie books, a whole pile of traditionally published ‘big name authors’ – Stephen King, Clive Barker, Kathy Reichs to name a few.I guess I have about 100 or so books in the pile, at the moment.
Thanks to Alex and watch for his releases to be announced here among other places.