Wednesday, April 28, 2010
**Interview with the author of the Mobius Striptease**
Firstly can you tell us a little bit about your novel?
The Mobius Striptease is a cross-genre story centering on psychic power. It weaves science fiction and romantic suspense around a metaphysical mystery involving star-crossed lovers, whose relationships cause an outbreak of supernatural forces that will unbalance the world if unchecked.
The heroine, who finds herself the centerpiece of the affair, is skeptical about paranormal phenomena. So first she must overcome her disbelief, then figure out how to harness extrasensory powers and restore cosmic balance before the situation explodes. Although the forces manifest through people, creating a good-versus-evil drama, the underlying story is about positive and negative energies and their long-term, rippling effects.
What is your writing background up until now?
I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. In early life, I wrote diaries and journals and did a lot of art. These morphed into novella-length teenage fantasies. I was on course for a career in illustration and graphic novels, but the combination of college, working lousy office jobs, and shared living arrangements took away the time, privacy, and will needed to sustain my art. So I channeled my energies into writing, aided by the arrival of computers. Since that turning, I’ve become a professional writer and editor -- and hope to stay on that path.
What inspired your idea for your current novel?
Two unanswerable questions bothered me: Do supernatural phenomena truly exist? and, What would I do if something supernatural actually happened to me?
Do you have any specific daily writing routines you stick to?
No routines, because I work as a freelancer, so every day is different. But I do write daily, mainly correspondence and mini-essays via forums and e-mail. Every second or third week, I compose an entry for my blog. All my commercial writing is driven by client schedules, and all personal projects are worked on when opportunity allows.
However, plots and concepts are always evolving in my head, and I consider that writing. I try to do creative work in the mornings when fresh, or the evenings when too tired to analyze. Regardless of timing, I first do a bad rough draft, then step away for a while, then return as often as necessary to revise and polish.
Why did you choose the E-book route rather than traditional publishing?
I took a hard took at reality and concluded that my novel doesn’t meet today’s publishing criteria. If you self-publish or vanity-publish, you can put out anything; but if you wish to be published by a commercial entity, then your book must have the potential to earn money. In general this means either something with mass appeal (ideally, a blockbuster) or genre appeal, so that an established audience will snap it up, talk about it, then stand in line for the next one.
The Mobius Striptease, as a hybrid, appeals to a small number of readers across several genres, so it can’t be vertically marketed. It’s also too esoteric to be a best-seller. I don’t have enough stories in me to pump out fast enough to build a genre audience. My choice, then, was to consign the book to the dustbin or find another means of reaching an eclectic audience.
My ego couldn’t accept vanity-publishing, and my pocketbook couldn’t handle self-publishing. That left e-publishing -- which, by the time I faced facts, was building up steam and opening new doors.
I had to be careful, though, because e-publishing is still so young that it lacks many of the quality controls that define traditional publishing. As yet, no brand-name, big-respect e-leader has emerged. Contracts, unusually unagented, are full of pitfalls. So I spent hours on the Internet, learning the players and the rules.
I compiled a list of e-publishers, then cross-referenced it to “writer beware” websites and any reviews or interviews I could find. That produced a (very) short list of candidates, at the top of which was Club Lighthouse Publishing in Toronto. This company publishes all the genres my book covers; lists its titles through major e-book outlets; offers a competitive royalty rate; and takes electronic rights only, for a limited number of years, leaving me free to pursue a print option. I also liked the editor's art portfolio, which offered the prospect of a good cover.All that homework paid off. Club Lighthouse accepted my manuscript and released it in December 2009 -- with a nice, zorchy cover!
How different do you think is the process in getting an E-book published vs. a hard back novel?The process is the same: study the market, compose a good query package, and keep submitting until somebody accepts. The difference lies in how easily the process goes, and how long it might take.
E-publishing has fewer gatekeepers, sometimes lower standards, and quicker response time. You can usually submit directly to the publisher, and often send the whole book on first contact. This combination is rare with print publishers, for which you usually need an agent. The query/response cycle can take weeks, months, even years and often requires installment submissions of query, synopsis, sample chapters, partial manuscript, full manuscript, in varying combinations.
The publishing industry is understaffed yet overwhelmed with submissions; meanwhile, the print marketplace is tightening. So the chances of publishing a first novel in hardback are akin to winning the lottery, unless you’ve got one of those blockbusters or genre-fitters mentioned above.
For your non fiction novel how many rejections did it take for you to finally land that agent?
Neither of my books required an agent, so I don’t have one. My attempts to land an agent for the novel, prior to switching to e-publishing, accrued dozens of rejections over 20-plus years.
Would you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It’s a two-sided equation. Nothing can happen without a finished manuscript, so you must (1) park butt in chair and write; and (2) understand your publishing options and their requirements. This is also twofold: You can (a) decide where you have the best chance of success, and write the sort of book that will take you there; or (b) write your book from the heart, then do the legwork needed to find its proper home. In either case, the name of the game is CRAFT. Learn to write well and appropriately for your market.
Would you have done anything differently?
Oh, yes! I wrote my novel backwards, glomming together a bunch of ideas then figuring out how to construct a story. Honing it to commercial standards took decades! Part of that came from not studying craft and market early. I learned everything the hard way and wasted a lot of time. Happily, I now have a better idea how to go about things, so the next book should come together a lot more quickly and easily.
Thanks so much Carolyn for doing this interview and I can't wait to get my hands on your novel! Though I personally have not had any experience with reading e-books...
For now, interested readers can learn about The Mobius Striptease through her page at Author’s Den or you can go ahead and read an additional story excerpt is available through the publisher’s website.