Book tour interview

I’m thoroughly enjoying my blog book tour (watch out for my mythical creatures Top 10 list next week!) and today’s stop is at Urban Fantasy Investigations, where I have an interview and book giveaway contest.

Check out my interview here.

In the interview, you’ll discover things like what I do in my down time, which character in the Embodied trilogy was my favourite to write, and where I keep my piece of the Berlin Wall.

 

Neil Gaiman demystifies writer’s block

Who hasn’t been there? The blank page. The blinking cursor. The author’s horrifically empty torture chamber: writer’s block.

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman  in a snuggly sweater

Well, according to Neil Gaiman, best-selling author of the Sandman comic book series, Coraline and many more super-imaginative works of fiction, writer’s block is just as much a fiction as anything else that pours out of an author’s mind. In this fascinating interview on the Goodreads website, he talks about how his ambition as a writer has evolved over the years and offers these pearls of wisdom about the dreaded you-know-what (shhhh… don’t say it out loud or it might come true!):

Writer’s block is this thing that is sent from the gods—you’ve offended them. You’ve trod on a crack on the pavement, and you’re through. The gods have decided. It’s not true. What is really true is you can have a bad day. You can have a bad week. You can get stuck. But what I learned when I was under deadline is that if you write on the bad days, even if you’re sure everything you’ve written is terrible, when you come to it tomorrow and you reread it, most of it’s fixable. It may not be the greatest thing you’ve ever written, but you fix it, and actually it’s a lot better than you remember it being. And the weird thing is a year later when you’re copyediting and reading the galleys through for the first time in months, you can remember that some of it was written on bad days. And you can remember that some of it was written on terrific days. But it all reads like you. Fantastic stuff doesn’t necessarily read better than the stuff written on the bad days. Writers have to be like sharks. We keep moving forward, or we die.

So on that note, here’s a toast to all the other authors out there: have lots of fun over the holiday season and then sit at your desk and work. Cheers!

Photo credit: Lvovsky via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Data Guy shows his face on the radio…

Insights into the illusory decline in ebook sales, from NPR’s All Things Considered:

According to Author Earnings, the e-book market is thriving, but traditional publishers’ share of it has slipped to about one-third. And Data Guy believes the e-book market will continue to grow well into the future.

I wonder if the mysterious Data Guy is related to Mr. Robot?

A great story is a great story…

Read about the amazing success story of Romanian author Eugen Chirovici (EO Chirovici) who published 10 novels in his native country with some success, then moved to Britain with his family three years ago and is now likely to earn seven figures from his first English-language novel.

The article I’ve linked to makes it sound like Chirovici’s success is out of the blue, but a little research shows this to be far from the truth. His non-fiction works have already been published in the US, he’s a member of the Romanian Academy of Sciences and holds three (!) honorary PhDs in Economics, Communication and History.

I’m a big fan of Vladimir Nabokov (be sure to read the Alfred Appel annotated version of Lolita first), and Chirovici is another Eastern European author who also goes to prove that English doesn’t even need to be your first language if you have imagination, storytelling ability and, oh yeah, maybe a touch of genius.

Fantastically adventurous new book by Zachary Thomas Dodson

Goodreads interviewed author/designer Zachary Thomas Dodson about his debut book, Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel. It looks and sounds like a stunningly crafted multi-layered adventure set in the past and the future.

As the Goodreads article says,

With hand-drawn illustrations, meticulously detailed maps, a novel-within-a-novel, and even a sealed envelope the reader must not open until the final moment, Zachary Thomas Dodson’s debut novel is a feast for the imagination.

Read the article for some fascinating insight into Dodson’s process.

Author interview – Linda Gillard (part three)

Here is the third and final part of my interview with British author Linda Gillard, in which she talks about genre-related hurdles in trying to crack the North American market, fascinating heroines, and her upcoming writing plans.

Me: How are your sales in other territories, in particular North America and Oceania? Do you have any plans to promote your books specifically for those markets or are you happy enough with your success in the UK?

Linda: So far I’ve made no real impact anywhere other than the UK. I’ve tried paid adverts for the US market. They boost sales for 2 days, then they go back to single figures, so I’ve now let it go. I have no experience of paid adverts working, so I’ve stopped buying them. My UK sales earn me a living. I’m gradually getting more reviews on US Amazon and they’re good, so I think my readership there will grow slowly – possibly slower than stalactites, but that’s how it was in the beginning in the UK.

Linda Gillard’s Emotional Geology

I don’t write genre fiction and that’s made it hard to crack the North American market. I’m not sure how well my stories will travel anyway. I’ve been told by American fans that my books don’t have enough sex in them to appeal to readers of romance and paranormals. Most of my heroines are well into their forties. They aren’t the girl next door and never were. Sadly many Amazon reviewers assess books according to whether they’d like the heroine to be their best friend. I’m not writing for those readers.

I think the first duty of a protagonist is to be fascinating, not likeable. Let’s face it, Jane Eyre is not exactly Miss Congeniality. And I’m surely not the only one who’d like to slap Emma Woodhouse. Cathy Earnshaw is a minx at best. Becky Sharp, Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, Scarlett O’Hara, Tess D’Urberville – none of them would have made Head Girl. But these problematic heroines haven’t exactly blighted the books in which they appear. On the contrary, they’re the reason we read and re-read. We relish their complexity, their guts and their moral ambiguity.

I cherish a review of my first two books in a Scottish literary journal that said, “The emotional power in these novels makes this reviewer reflect on how Charlotte and Emily Bronte might have written if they were living and writing now.” That reviewer picked up that my protagonists and stories pay homage to the Classics. A LIFETIME BURNING, with its incestuous twins, is my 21st century take on WUTHERING HEIGHTS. My novel STAR GAZING owes a lot to Charlotte Brontë’s VILLETTE.

That’s a plus for many UK readers. I don’t know if it would be for North American readers. I’m not all that bothered. I write what I want to write in the way I want to write it. I’m indie.

Me: What has your experience been with niche subjects and do you think they fare better in a self/indie publishing environment than the traditional publishing world?

Linda: I think they probably do fare better because there are no editors setting themselves up as arbiters of taste. In the indie world, niche subjects can at last find their readers.

I’ve discovered readers are quite happy to tackle novels featuring challenging topics (bipolar, PTSD, depression, suicide, disability, bereavement, addiction, survivor guilt). My fiction is issue-led because I’m interested in discussing these issues and how they affect people. I think issues like these also increase the drama potential of a story.

Linda Gillard’s Untying the Knot

Issues also give you an angle for your book promotion. I can say to you as a reader, “Try UNTYING THE KNOT. It’s a great love story, it’s funny and it will make you cry.’ Do you care? Probably not. But supposing I say to you, ‘I saw a white van in Glasgow with the words “Bomb Disposal” on the side. I wondered what sort of guy goes into bomb disposal. Then I asked myself, what sort of boy grows up to become a man who goes into bomb disposal? Then I wondered what it would be like, being married to a man in bomb disposal. So I decided to write a book about all that.” Do I have your attention now?…

Don’t tell people your book is good, tell them why you just had to write it.

Me: What’s next for you? Do you take a break between books or plunge right into the next one?

Linda: I usually take a short break after a book, but I don’t stop for long because I’m addicted to writing. But there was a sad hiatus last year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery & treatment stopped me in my tracks and I wrote no fiction for a year. Instead I wrote a lot of guest blogs and caught up on my reading.

I started writing a new novel on New Year’s Eve and I hope that will be launched before Christmas. It will be another genre-buster: a contemporary family drama set in a decaying Scottish castle. It’s a bit of a whodunnit, with a love story and a ghost. In other words, it’s a marketing nightmare. But so was HOUSE OF SILENCE, my most popular book. I’m not worried. When readers buy my books now, they expect the unexpected. That’s all part of the fun.

A big thank you to Linda for taking the time to share her absolutely fascinating insights and experiences. You can find out more about her (and of course buy her books!) on her Amazon author page here.