Interview with Michael Pollick

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in NE Ohio, between the cities of Stow and Kent. Stow was more of a bedroom community for Akron, and Kent was a college town unto itself. My people were actually from a small town outside of Pittsburgh called Kittanning. I believe growing up in the Rust Belt/Midwest influenced my writing style by keeping me focused on the smaller details of everyday life. We experienced the best of times when the factories were still going and the union benefits were flowing, then the worst of times when those same factories shut down. When I first started writing poems and short essays, I started with circumstances and realities familiar to people from that specific area.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing the same time everybody else I know started writing-- the first week of elementary school. Our teachers would routinely hand out basic writing exercises, but I was such a voracious reader at the time I wouldn't (couldn't) stop at just one. I remember writing a very intricate short story in third grade about a crippling snowstorm, and I threw in just about every disaster cliche I could remember from shows like Emergency. I didn't get my story back from the teacher like the other kids did, though. I got a slip of paper with an "A" on it, but not the actual story. I found out later that my teacher submitted it to a student writing contest on my behalf. That started happening a lot, truth be told. I wrote poems in high school and found out later they placed in regional writing contests or were published somewhere like Scholastic magazine. I started taking creative writng much more seriously around the age of 16.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The latest free ebooks published at Smashwords are all smaller collections from my previous books. The latest book I've written, A Very Stowbilly Sampler, is a collection of humor essays based on my childhood in Stow, Ohio. I had been writing mostly nonfiction content articles and thought it would be fun to write something humorous for a change. I started writing about my elementary school and it snowballed from there. I wrote more essays about my middle school and both of my high schools. Then it occurred to me to include stories about other childhood memories of growing up in the Akron/Stow/Kent area. Once I had enough essays to form a small book, I published it as Volume 1 of the Growing Up Bulldog: The Stowbilly Chronicles series. Volume 2 will be memories of favorite radio and TV shows from that time, then Volume 3 will cover some more local sites than the original essays. such as restaurants and tourist destinations.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I first started out in the poetry genre, I played the same publication games as any other freelance writer. It was all about submitting batches of pieces through snailmail and waiting for an unknown editor somewhere to send them all back with a formulaic rejection slip. Every so often, a publisher would find one or two interesting bits and promise a free copy or a nominal payment, but that was about it. Writing contests promised better compensation, but the competition was unreal in both volume and quality. Even if you could get enough publication credits and contest wins to justify publishing a full-length collection, most of the traditional publishing houses are either committed to other projects for years or are this close to bankruptcy themselves. When I discovered indie publishing, I realized there was another way to get my words into other people's brains without waiting years for a book to roll out or even more years waiting for a traditional publisher to say "yes" to the project. I also wanted to take profit out of the equation, since my preferred genres of poetry and humor are such niche markets. A traditional publisher would probably price my collections at $10.95 in order to pay everyone down the line. By going the indie publishing route, I can control my price and retain artistic control over the cover art and promotional efforts.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords provided an ecumenical platform for ALL of my potential readers. I had friends tell me they bought Kindles for Christmas or NOOKs for their birthdays or iPads for whatever reason. With Smashwords, they can all download some version of my ebooks and be satisfied. Amazon and BarnesandNoble are still great outlets, but they have minimal pricing requirements and are limited by their preferred publishing platforms. Smashwords allows me to market free ebooks or generous samples alongside the larger collections, which is a great marketing tool for niche writers like myself.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy is hearing from someone who really NEEDED to read a certain piece I've written. The satisfaction comes from knowing something I've written gave someone else the perspective he or she needed on an important personal issue. Many times I write pieces in order to make sense out of something in my own life-- I'm not necessarily thinking about how it will affect or not affect all of those invisible readers "out there". But when I learn that not only has someone read and enjoyed a poem or essay, but they actually GOT what I was trying to communicate, then I feel like the writing life is worth all of the sacrifices.
Published 2013-08-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Loose Beans From The "Coffee Can Chronicles"
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Series: Lost Story House Coffee and Stowbilly Essays, Book 7. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,430. Language: English. Published: March 19, 2014. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
These ultra-short essays were originally commissioned by a gourmet coffee company in Portland, Oregon. They were scheduled to appear on coffee can labels, but instead remained unpublished for ten years. The original Smashwords collection, "Coffee Can Chronicles", is also available for purchase. Brew up a pot of your favorite java and enjoy these short pieces while you drink it.
The Revolution WILL Be Televised, After Don Kirschner's Rock Concert
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Series: Lost Story House Coffee and Stowbilly Essays, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 1,380. Language: English. Published: March 17, 2014. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
In the days before cable television, most Stowbilly teens would stay up way too late to watch local shows like Hoolihan and Big Chuck. A few of us dared to stay up even longer, and the rewards were even greater. Late night television was rock concerts by the Cousin It Band and monster chiller horror theater. Come with me on a trip back to 70s late night television. Just keep the noise down.
Your Well-Lit Public Area or Mine?
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Series: Lost Story House Coffee and Stowbilly Essays, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 1,540. Language: English. Published: March 14, 2014. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Before all of those online dating sites showed up, there were live radio shows that spent four hours a night trying to hook up Caller A with closet serial killer B or drag queen caller C. Nobody did it better than Jim from Winner 100, WNIR.
I Was A Teenage Stowbilly
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,400. Language: English. Published: July 25, 2013. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Although these essays are set in the author's hometown of Stow, Ohio, they could just as easily be from anyone's childhood hometown of legend and lore. If you remember tetherball, dodge ball, endless hallways, thought-provoking lunch food and other things from schooldays, you'll enjoy this sample collection from Michael Pollick. The entire collection, "A Very Stowbilly Sampler" is also available.
Burnt Ends And Caterpillar Poems
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Series: Selected Pieces from the Makebelieve Ballroom. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,070. Language: English. Published: September 27, 2012. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
There are times when good pieces must be left on the cutting room floor because of their darker tone or controversial subject matter. "Burnt Ends And Caterpillar Poems" is a compilation of such works by author and poet Michael Pollick. Many of these works were intended for mature audiences, either because of their darker themes or adult language. They appear together here for the first time.