Saturday, October 22, 2011

Author Interview - Sarah Williams

From time to time I'll be featuring other authors, both local and international. There are so many great up and coming young indie-writers that it is important to get the word out about them, how they write and about their books. So here is the first interview from an author who lives down-under.

Sarah Williams was born in Salisbury and grew up in the village of Heytesbury.  She went to Kingdown school in Warminster before studying Theatre and Creative Writing at Dartington College of Arts.  In 2008 she moved to Australia with her partner and now lives in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.

As well as writing, she enjoys reading, yoga, good food and wine, gardening, music and films.  She'd like to learn to play the piano, speak fluent French and (because she now lives next to the beach) learn to surf.

Tell us a bit about your book and where it’s available.

“Captive” is set in modern day England and tells the tale of Lux Swithin, a young woman who has been abducted by an old family enemy.  The relationship between Lux and her captor is complicated but she knows that escape is imperative.  Whilst Lux tries to take control of her fate she is oblivious to the fact that there are other groups actively tracking both her and her abductor.  The Luminita are sworn protectors of the Swithin family and seek to rescue her but at the same time there are more sinister parties that seek Lux for purely greedy purposes.  And there is one, a woman with hideous scars and a broken mind, who stalks Lux with murderous passion.  It soon becomes a race against time to see who will reach Lux first.

My book is available as an e-book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

What was the inspiration for your book?

The concept for this book came to me with the simple idea of a young woman trapped in a room from which she couldn’t escape.  Things just snowballed from there and all of a sudden I had characters, back story and a plot.  The story is actually set in the part of England in which I grew up so I imagine this influenced certain elements of the book.

What was your aim for this book?  What did you want readers to think and feel when reading it?

I really wanted to write something that I myself would enjoy reading.  I wanted the book to be fast paced, entertaining and full of characters that the audience would relate to.  I wanted to incorporate a mixture of passion, adventure, drama and even some humour.  I hope that I’ve achieved this.

If your book was going to be made into a film, who would you cast?

You’d be surprised how often this comes up in conversation.  I think I’ve decided that Brad Pitt would work nicely as Feardorcha and Emily Blunt would make a good Lux.

Who would provide the soundtrack to your book?

I think it would be a combination of Massive Attack and Muse.

What is/would be the tagline for your book?

Sometimes it’s ok to be scared of that dark

Do you have any other books currently available?

Not at this stage.  “Captive” is my debut novel.

What will you be working on next?

I’m currently writing the sequel to “Captive”, which I hope to have released in 2012.  I also have the rough ideas down for a comedy.  I’ve not written in this genre before so it will be a new challenge for me.

What’s your normal process for writing a novel?

When an idea takes me then I normally just want to start writing but I’ve learnt from experience that I tend to benefit from a bit of planning.  I like to develop my characters, get to know their back stories and define their personalities.  I’ll also have a rough idea of the main events in the book and where they should take place.  More often than not I’ll have a very clear beginning, a very clear ending and my task then will be to fill in the middle.  When I’ve finished a first draft it does the rounds amongst my friends and family and I take down their feedback before starting a second draft.  When I’m happy with the story itself the book is then passed to my editor, where it will bounce back and forth for a while until we’re both happy that everything is just so.  It’s a fairly lengthy process but I try to do everything I can to ensure that my work is of a high quality. 

How did you originally get into writing?

I’ve been writing stories since I was about eight or nine years old.  I caught the writing bug very early on and was compelled to write down my ideas.  I used to grab a pen and paper and write stories about my friends and I having adventures.  I’d then read these stories to my younger sister.  I never stopped.  I’ve since upgraded to a computer and I’m no longer starring in my own adventures but my sister is still the first person to read my stories.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

I love creating stories and losing myself in a world entirely of my own making.  When I write I can see the story playing out in my mind and I’ll lose myself for hours in front of the computer screen.  It’s a very satisfying feeling when you finish a novel and it’s even better when people enjoy reading it.

What do you find hardest about being a writer?

As a self-published author I find the marketing side of things the most difficult.  It takes up a lot of my time and I have to balance the marketing with the writing of my new book.  It’s a lot of hard work but enjoyable.

Who or what would you count as your main influence?

I think my work is probably influenced by my own personal experiences and by the people around me.  Nearly all of my characters have traits of someone close to me.  Generally, I’m influenced by all the books, both good and bad, that I’ve read over the years.  You come to appreciate certain styles of writing and storytelling and this translates into your own work. 

What do you enjoy reading?  Who is your favorite author?

I love thrillers, mysteries, horror and historical romance.  I’ll pretty much read anything but these are definitely my favourite genres.  I’m a big fan of Dean Koontz and have been reading his books for well over a decade now.  I’ve also recently discovered Carol Goodman and Sarah Rayne, both of whom are extraordinary authors.

What would be your ideal writer’s haven for creating your novel?  Would you have a desk in a quiet cabin somewhere or a laptop on the beach.

I need to be somewhere with as few distractions as possible.  I like a lot of space, a comfortable chair and my soundtrack.  I find it harder to write without music. 

Did you self-publish or publish through a more traditional route? What was your experience with the route you took?

I chose to self-publish as I’d become impatient with the more traditional route of publishing.  It always felt like unless you had the right connections or were very lucky, the chance of getting your book published were next to zero.  Self-publishing gave me the opportunity to take control of the situation and that was very empowering.  Self-publishing is hard work but I’m working for me and it’s nice to know that I have control of my book.

Do you read with an eReader? If so what kind? How many books do you have in your home?

I have a Kindle, which my wonderful sister very kindly bought for me.  I alternate between using the Kindle and reading paperback books as I refuse to take my Kindle in the bath with me or down to the beach.  I have a few books at home but I generally go to the library to get my fix.

Did you publish your book in eReader format, paperback/hardcover or both? What challenges did you face?

My book is only available as an e-book.  I would love to see it in paperback or hardback but there’s a certain amount of money involved to get the book to that stage and at the moment I simply don’t have the budget.  Generally I found the process to be very easy.  The biggest challenge now is getting the book some attention.

If you self-published and you were offered a traditional publishing contract, would you consider it? Why or why not?

I have actually been offered a contract but I turned it down as I wasn’t prepared to sign over the rights for a small percentage of the royalties.  Now that I’ve self-published I’d be reluctant to hand over the reins to anyone else.

What challenges did you experience getting your book marketed? How have you marketed you book in your local area?

It’s very hard to market your book when you’re new to the industry, have a small budget and it’s only you doing the marketing.  The internet offers a wide range of marketing opportunities that I’ve tried to take advantage of.  Social media can be great for getting the word out and participating in forums and blog interviews are great for raising your profile. 

What is your opinion about reader reviews? Have you had a reader review that surprised you?

I’m terrified of reader reviews.  I’m scared people won’t like the book.  I’ve had some really wonderful reviews so far but I know that it won’t be for everyone and at some point I will receive a bad review.  When that happens I’ll just have to deal with it.  For now I’m happy that my readers have enjoyed their experience.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Author Interview

Fellow author, Sarah Williams, interviewed me about my book, Night Flight, and my experiences writing it. To read the interview you can go to Sarah's blog: Words by Williams.

Sarah is a talented young writer living Australia with her partner in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Sarah describes her book, Captive, below:

Lux Swithin wakes up in a hotel room that she has no memory of falling asleep in. Alone, disorientated and far from home Lux fears the darkness. She fears the man who will inevitably return for her. 

Unaware of the dark history that led to her capture, Lux is equally oblivious to the various groups that are desperately trying to track her down. The Luminita have only her best interests at heart and are sworn to protect her but others have a more sinister agenda. As Lux attempts to escape her fate, the Luminita use their own unique skills to try and protect her. But whilst some unsavoury characters are easily dealt with, there is a grotesque evil that seems unstoppable. It stalks Lux with a twisted mind, determined to make her pay for ancient crimes. 

Captive is available as an e-book on Amazon and at Goodreads.

Come back to this site to read my interview of Sarah - being posted soon!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book Signings And Other Thoughts

I had an interesting week - Wednesday, Oct. 5, I was a featured author at an event at my local library, The Mechanic's Institute in San Francisco. This is a wonderful library with a rich history. It is a membership library that is over 100 years old and has survived earthquakes, fires, depressions and recessions. The event was Book'toberfest, and featured member authors with published books. It was a wonderfully rewarding event with more than 100 people attending. There was a panel on self-publishing which featured local authors and representatives from Green Apple Books and Books Inc. of San Francisco. I had an opportunity to present my book, Night Flight, and to talk about my experience publishing it. It was quite a night. They even erected a website featuring authors from the Mechanic's Institute. The site is called The Mirror - Reflecting Bay Area Creativity. It's a great companion site to the official library site; you should check it out. Thank you, MI staff for putting on such a great event.

My real-life job is in disaster planning for the nonprofits in the City and County of San Francisco. And this week is Fleet Week. The Navy is here in full regalia with ships and planes. The Blue Angels are streaking through the skies scarcely higher than the rooftops, and they are impressive. Just as impressive are the ships and the sailors and marines who defend us. Disaster leaders in the city were invited for a two-day seminar this week on board the USS Bonhomme Richard. It was an incredible two days and I couldn't be more proud of the men and women who volunteer to serve our country--even if I don't agree with the political decisions to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At any rate, the San Francisco Dept. of Emergency Management, Marines Memorial, and sponsors provided us with an unprecedented look into how the U.S. military responds to humanitarian crises worldwide. And we learned how we can all work to collaborate better with each other when disaster strikes here.

Like I said, it was quite an interesting week.