Hooray! For first interview of 2014! Readers meet author Joanna Wiebe. If you haven’t heard of her its okay but then again it isn’t. Her debut novel The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is to be released on January 14th and it is creating so much buzz most (mainly me) readers cannot contain themselves.
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is your debut novel. . . . How are you feeling about its release? How long have you been waiting for this moment?
I’m feeling a healthy dose of excitement and anxiety, which are hard to tell apart sometimes. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any writer who’s like, “Yup, perfect, I wouldn’t change a word” when handing their manuscript over to the publisher; there’s a reason the American version of Moby Dick differed quite a bit from the English version, which was published first. But I’m really happy with where this novel ended up, and it’s been very cool (read: a roller coaster) to read early reactions to it.
As for how long I’ve waited, well, I guess I’ve waited my whole life. Or at least since I was eight years old, writing a little story on my nana’s typewriter, and eagerly consuming her encouragement. That my book will be on bookstore shelves as of Jan 14 is, to indulge myself in a cliché, a dream come true.
What inspired you to write this novel? Was it an event, a story or the lack of story?
I wish it was one thing, but it was everything. You read those interviews with writers who say their characters visited them in a dream, and you think, man, that would be convenient! My characters are like standoff-ish cats, turning their backs to me until they’re good and ready to let me near them. That said, it wasn’t all waiting for my characters to show themselves and tell me their story. I went into this knowing a) I wanted to tell a boarding school story because I love them so much and b) I wanted to experiment with telling the story in such a way that readers would be kept guessing. So far, it seems like the book is successful at both A and B.
Why did you choose to create this story as a series?
Anne’s discovery of the truth of Cania Christy, which is essentially the core of the first book, is just the beginning. We still need to find out what she, of all people, is doing at such a school – because, in fact, it’s not entirely what Anne and Ben think it is. And once Anne discovers why she’s there and what that means, she’s going to have to make a very difficult choice. This was a story that just couldn’t be told in one book – as much as I tried!
Do you feel that your degree in English helped you to become a better writer? If so, why?
I think a degree in English exposes you to an impressive range of books and styles that you just wouldn’t come across on your own. I would never have read Donald Barthelme’s Snow White or William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying had I not been an English major. Although this book is not written in a postmodern or modern voice or style, I as a writer am influenced by those styles – and it’s helped enrich my voice, I think. I hope. One day, if I can get past the worry that I’m a pretentious fop, I’ll write a postmodern YA novel that would make Barthelme proud.
While an English major, I took creative writing classes, and those definitely helped transform me into a better writer. They also taught me discipline, thickened my skin, and boosted my ego just enough, I think. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to write a book.
Finally, if you had to describe your writing style in one word, what would it be and why?
Spongy. I tend to write big, long sentences that are all dense with everything going on – feelings, happenings, even tangents – and then, when I edit, I have to squeeze those big, soaking sentences and shake out shorter, piecier phrases that won’t weigh on the reader quite so much.
Follow this very funny and interactive author on these various social media sites eh? (hahahaha)
Amazing surprises can happen on twitter. The connections you can build or find it just so overwhelming you can’t but smile. When I posted the review of The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion’s first novel (click here), I didn’t expect for the author himself to find my review and share it with his fans. It made my night. However, when asked for an interview, Simsion agreed and that placed me on cloud nine. So it is my esteem pleasure to provide this interview with Graeme Simsion to my readers in which he discusses his best selling book The Rosie Project. Enjoy
Before this debut book “The Rosie Project” you had released three technical books. What made you decide to enter the world of fiction?
Actually, just two technical books, though I did contribute to some others. In 1998 I read Joe Queenan’s book ‘The Unkindest Cut’ about making a low budget film. I was inspired to make my own. I adapted a story my wife had written and that led to me trying to write an original screenplay and so it went…
The Rosie Project is a very unique story. How did you come up with the idea? Most importantly how were you
able to create Don Tillman?
I worked in information technology and academia for many years – and originally studied physics. So I met a lot of Dons. The original story was inspired by a friend of mine who struggled to find a partner, but over five years it changed totally. I made up stuff!
How would you describe the success you’re receiving for your first novel?
It’s what I dreamed about and worked towards – but that doesn’t mean I expected it to happen. It’s been a huge surprise and I’m enjoying it – even getting up at 4am to catch flights to meet readers and booksellers. I’m delighted so many readers are enjoying the story and in so many cultures and languages – current translation count is 36.
The Rosie Project is being described as chick literature. How do you feel about that?
My only problem is that I don’t want men to be put off reading it. It’s a book with a male protagonist written by a male and men who actually pick it up and start reading generally keep reading and enjoy it. It’s also been described as “romance” and while I’d debate whether it’s genre romance (I don’t think so) if that gets it a wider audience then I’m not complaining. Overall the literary reception has been very good, so I don’t feel it’s been put down by any labels. Finally, is it too soon to look for a new book?
Not at all! I’m working on a sequel that I’m expecting to be published late next year.
Constantly interacting with his fans, follow Graeme on these sites:
Meeting someone that knows from the beginning that writing is all they wanted to do is always an honor to interview. You see the passion for words the moment they speak about their experiences. Dear readers meet Kaitlyn Davis, a New Yorker whose love for writing matches her love for Young Adult.
Why did you choose Young Adult as your breakout genre? Are you trying to reach the adults that read YA or the teenagers that read YA?
YA is my absolute favorite genre–to read and to write! Teenage emotions are so intense because everything is being experienced for the first time. It’s not just love–it’s all consuming first passion. It’s not just loss–its pain that rips you apart. I love exploring these overwhelming feelings in my books, and I love pushing my characters further than they ever thought imaginable. Those early experiences define people for most of their lives–I want to write the coming-of-age teen, not the often-jaded adult.
As far as my readers, everything I write is PG-13. If a book is YA, I believe any teen should feel comfortable picking it up! But, I also mix in complexities that appeal to an older audience. The more the merrier in my opinion!
What type of impact do you think your books are leaving in the literary world? What is it that makes you feel successful as a writer?
Probably not much! Self-publishing is still considered very faux pas in the literary world, but that’s okay with me. Nothing is more satisfying than hearing from my fans, and my readers make me feel more successful than anything else ever could! All I can hope is that people take a chance on my books, and if they enjoy them, are open to trying more great self-published titles. Like with anything else, there are some hidden gems if you just look for them!
What matters most when you are writing your stories? Why does it matter?
A hard journey with a happy ending! I want to push my characters, bring them to the edge of their sanity, make them feel like everything is lost, and then finish in a way that keeps some sort of hope alive. The real world has too many sad stories; we don’t need any more of those. I believe reading should be an escape for my readers–a place where, unlike in real life, every tale gets some version of a happy ending!
Your latest book “The Shadow Soul (A Dance of Dragons #1)” which is expected to be released some time in 2014, is being compared to “Game of Thrones” series as well as the “Graceling Realm” series. Do you feel these comparisons are a huge expectation or it is a perfect comparison for your new series?
Not to sound full of myself, but I think the comparisons are perfect–even if those are very hard shoes to fill! The Shadow Soul has the epic scale of Game of Thrones–it’s told in a completely different world with warring kingdoms, surprising politics, and grandiose adventure. But at the same time, my book is as personable as Graceling with a very focused two character story line allowing me to dive deeply into their individual emotions. There are ruthless elements balanced by sweet moments–and did I mention dragons?
Finally, how have you grown as a writer since your debut novel in 2011? Do you still feel there is more room to grow?
Wow–truly leaps and bounds! My creativity has exploded now that I am constantly channeling it to write. My ideas have gotten bigger, my characters have become so much more complex, and my plots have been surprising even me.
Anyone who has read my Midnight Fire series would probably say the same. Ignite was great–but Simmer is better, and Blaze better still, and Scorch blows them all out of the water! And I hope this pattern continues!
Life is over the minute you stop being open to learn new things! I truly believe education is everything and I know I will grow stronger and stronger with each new book I write
Kaitlyn loves new followers. Follow her to know more about her and her ever evolving books.
You instantly know when you found the author of your dreams; fun, passionate, knowledgeable and so completely serious all at the same time. Readers meet Travis Luedke a wonderful author who provides a breath of fresh air in genre (paranormal romance) so often used. Interview by Tania Lasenburg, Travis explains not only his thought process when writing but how serious self-publishing really is.
Were you always a writer? If not what did you do before you decided to publish your first book and why did you decide to leave it?
I started writing in 2010. It wasn’t until 2012 I decided to self-publish. Once I saw everybody doing it, I knew it was time. I love the control I have over every step of the publishing process.
Control freak? Yes.
Why did you choose romance paranormal? What it is about that genre that you feel draws readers
and writers in?
I have always been a fan of escapist fiction like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert R. McCammon, and Peter Straub. I found horror novels based on the supernatural were my Brian Lumley taught me the dark, wicked beauty of vampires. Then I discovered Anne Rice. I loved The Vampire Chronicles, but these creatures never had any sex! I wanted vampires who get it on, seducers. With Laurell K. Hamilton I finally found the full, combo meal deal. Vicious predators, sexy seducers, and gobs of smoking-hot sex; I’m a total addict now. PNR is my guilty pleasure, and that’s what I write. I have my cake and eat it too. My vampires live in the real nightlife of today: back alleys, ghettos, strip clubs, casinos, drugs, prostitution, escorts, mafia, cartel. All that good stuff.
I like it dark, gritty, violent and sensual, with thriller intensity. I blend these elements into my own wicked cocktail.
How has your experiences been in the publishing world? Is there a lot of networking? Sucking up?
Or did you have an easier time because your writing spoke for
I pretty much splatter myself on every major social media platform. You could call me a social media junky. I spend more time there than I do actually writing. For those who like a dark, gritty, sexual read, my work does speak for itself, and the Nightlife Series cover art oozes sensuality. Honestly, publishers trying to combat obscurity need to get creative, get guerilla. It’s all about metadata and Amazon’s internal SEO, keywords and categories. We have to grab eyeballs with freebies, giveaways, discounted sales. Our main advantage over traditional publishers is our ability and willingness to sell for less, and give books away. I know, it sucks. We write our masterpieces only to give them away?
But Amazon is the self-publishers best friend. A massive freebie campaign, giving away twenty thousand books, is
really a smart move. Everybody debates the pros and cons, but this is the best way to get our books in front of thousands of eyeballs. For prolific authors with a series, numerous titles available, a fat ass freebie run brings loads of attention to our other books.
What in your daily life allows you to stay creative?
I have a constant stream of ideas. Never dries up. My critique partners look at my ideas and give me a score on the suckometer (usually needs a lot of work). They know my writing intimately, and they bring me back down to reality. It’s easy to become consumed with a new idea. I need my team to point out the gazillion flaws in my genius (lots and lots of flaws). Either it sticks, or the idea is discarded for something better. A novel is constantly evolving, right up until the moment I click publish. The real problem is putting away the social media to focus on writing. Social media will consume your life, an addiction worse than drugs.
Finally, how has your writing changed from your first book to your last?
Its sexier, meaner, leaner, tastes great, and less filling. I write the light beer version these days, a minimalist approach. Lots of chopped clauses. A sprinkle of touchy-feely. Some wall-smashing, toe curling sex scenes. Sift in a few pounds of crushing violence and cover it in blood frosting (several quarts of arterial flow sprayed across the room). I have a lot of fun with my writing. Got no problem getting into the mind of villains. It’s the heroes I always struggle to write.
To know more about the always active Travis Luedke or simply enjoy some good
Every once in a while you meet an author so filled of knowledge and excitement it just makes your day. Lizzy Ford has written over 17 books and is still writing. Not many authors these days have longevity like that and it was Motif Ink’s pleasure to have Tania Lasenburg interview Lizzy to find out what makes her tick.
With 17 books under your belt how does that feel? Do you feel that you’re at the top of your game or do you feel you still need (not want) to grow?
I feel like I’m just getting started. Hahaha! I’m always growing, always learning more about my craft, marketing and re-evaluating what I’m doing to continue to improve. I constantly challenge myself to write differently and to find new ways of reaching new audiences. I feel like, if I stop growing, I stop selling.
What is it about Young Adult that you love? Do you feel any restrictions in the YA genre or are
you comfortable with the guidelines of YA?
Honestly? I’ve only written two Young Adult series. The rest of my books are a mix of sweet paranormal romance and non-sweet paranormal romance for adults. I’ve never read YA books since leaving high school, except for those of my indie colleague Julia Crane. She’s the one who got me into writing YA.
I don’t feel any restrictions in YA at all. It’s kind of funny. I didn’t know there were restrictions until after the first three Witchling books were published. Then people told me that you’re not supposed to do X, Y, and Z. I just laugh. I’m a non-conformist at heart. I write what FEELS natural, and if that violates the unwritten rules of YA, then so be it. I’d rather be true to the story and characters than follow rules that don’t really make sense to me to start off with haha!
What keeps you passionate about writing?
I’ve always had a crazy-active imagination and always been super shy. So it was natural, I think, that I gravitated towards a way of expressing myself that didn’t require people skills, since I’m a bit socially awkward. Ha! I have so many ideas, so many stories going on in my head at once, that I can’t imagine not being a writer.
How has your life in Southern Arizona shaped your writing, not only skills but the actual stories?
I’m not entirely certain. I’ve lived here about two and a half years. I’ve moved around a lot in my lifetime, so I never really grew roots anywhere. Traveling has introduced me to a lot of new people, new customs, and new subcultures and also, new places, all of which end up in my books at some point!
Finally, you’ve been writing for some time what advise would you give to those who are trying to get into the writing industry for more than just a single book or series?
Here’s a few!
Persevere. True success is built over time.
Never stop writing.
Being an author isn’t about the sales – it’s about the connections you build with others through your stories.
Never let someone else make you doubt your books or yourself. Just write.
Follow your gut when it comes to writing.
Always remember that it’s what the reader thinks that matters – not what the industry or industry professionals tell you to write or how to write it. If readers love it, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Think outside the box in every way from your genre to your marketing. If people tell you it can’t be done – do it anyway.
LIzzy Ford is constantly interacting with her fans to be apart of her world follow these links:
Sometimes the most amazing things can happen when you’re impulsive about it. Those words ring true for author Jamie Baywood, who sat with Tania Lasenburg and explained why she gave up her life of comfort in the United States for New Zealand.
You state that in 2010 you made an impulsive decision to move to New Zealand from California; was that truly an impulsive decision? Were you bored with you lifestyle at the time or were there events leading to your move?
I’m from California. In my mid-twenties, I had bad dating experiences in California and a dream to live abroad. I read in a tour book that New Zealand’s population had 100,000 fewer men than women. In an attempt to have some ‘me time’ I moved to New Zealand.
It was shockingly easy to relocate to New Zealand literally a few weeks after I made the decision. It only took a couple of weeks for my work visa to go through. I was 26, single, I quit my job, I moved out of a little cottage I was renting and put the few things I had at my mom’s house and brought a suitcase with me to New Zealand.
If things aren’tworking out for you at home with relationships, instead of staying at home crying that you’re single, consider yourself free. You are free to do whatever you want.
What made you decide to write a book about your experiences? Did you think it would help some people transition easily from leaving the States to go to a new country?
I think readers need to remember this is the dairy of a young, hormonal and confused twenty-something, this is not a travel guide to New Zealand or an expat guide to internationally relocate. While living in New Zealand, I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. Publishing my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand was my way of transforming poison into medicine. I hope that it can help people that have had bad dating experiences or bad work experiences – make them laugh and not give up hope.
I am sincerely appreciative of everyone that has read Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I’m absolutely grateful that readers are enjoying the book and reviewing it positively. I love making people laugh. I hope you enjoy Getting Rooted in New Zealand!
Was love the reason you stayed in New Zealand?
I met the man that became my husband in New Zealand. By this time at the age of twenty-seven, I had fulfilled my dream of living abroad, been single for over a year and felt healed from previous heartbreaks. Our relationship issue is how to live in the same country together and where to live in the world.
As crazy as my job experiences were in New Zealand, I would actually like to return to New Zealand and give it another try working as a writer. It would be great to return to New Zealand to make Getting Rooted in New Zealand into a TV show.
“Getting Rooted in New Zealand” is your first book; how was the publishing process for you? Difficult? Semi-Easy? Did you get any rejections?
Writing the book was the easiest part of the process. Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. To write my book Getting Rooted In New Zealand, I relied upon my personal journals, e-mails, and memories. In February 2013, I organized my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April. It’s astonishingly easy to self-publish; it’s a matter of uploading PDFs. If you have a story to tell, go for it. The difficulty lies in marketing and distributing.
I wrote, self-published, designed and have been marketing my own book. The hardest part has been trying to promote the book while simultaneously attempting to stay anonymous. My life is literally an open book, but Jamie Baywood is a pen name. I haven’t told my family that I’ve written or published a book. They think I’m just living in the UK working on a MA in Design studying book covers.
Finally, what are you currently reading that is inspiring you for your second book?
I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in. I’ve lived in five countries; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland.