Interview with Paul Vanderloos

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a bush suburb of Brisbane and was the youngest of three girls and three boys. Most of the time I was left to my own devices, so this gave me plenty of time to be creative. I wrote lots of poetry at first, and had the occasional go at a story. I mostly loved science fiction and stories about an outback Aboriginal detective called Boney. As a young teenager I would sometimes have a friend over or would stay over at a friend's home, and we would invent scenarios using dinky cars or go bush and imagine we were being pursued by enemies. There was plenty of story material, and I later filled notebooks with people's sayings as well as ideas for stories.
When did you first start writing?
It was probably when I was in primary school that I started to write. I can recall writing about all the planets of the solar system, imagining what they were like, then taking my exercise book with me into play scenarios of space travel. I also created a code using symbols of squares, triangles and diamonds with numbers then wrote letters in code to my best friend.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I initially followed the traditional route after writing The Wizard's Sword under the name Nine Worlds of Mirrortac. I shared a house with an author who was with Pan books (now Pan Macmillan). She told them about my book, and they showed interest in it. Their editors discussed my manuscript and weren't fully behind my fantasy because of New Age elements in it. They just wanted a straight fantasy. I approached a number of other publishers and even had a literary agent at one time but nobody took it up, and it was proving time consuming and expensive for me to send off hardcopy manuscripts each time and wait for months for an answer. One UK publisher even lost my manuscript when they moved house. As the internet developed and the opportunities for self publishing came within the reach of all, I went down the ebook route; initially on a disk then later with Smashwords and Amazon. I had The Wizard's Sword printed with a POD publisher in Western Australia, Equilibrium Books, where I should have stayed, but then I pursued an American POD publisher, Trafford, who are now under the infamous banner of Author Solutions. While their actual print packages are not too bad, their marketing programs are costly and haven't achieved any sales. That is why the second book of the series, Three Stones of Destiny, was again published with Equilibrium in WA, and through Amazon Kindle as an ebook. The contract agreement precluded me using Smashwords for the second book, otherwise I would have included it in there too. It still is not an easy road for an author as an indie author, but does give you more control and more for your money.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords really introduced me to the possibilities of being an indie author, although it is only in the ebook field. Perhaps I shouldn't say "only" as I feel this is the way of the 21st century. I love the fact that Smashwords avails authors to all ebook formats, including Kindle. There is also a lot of tips and resources available through Smashwords to assist authors, and it all costs nothing. The author has complete control over their books.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Since starting to write fantasy, it is wonderful to imagine all kinds of worlds and the denizens that inhabit them. I love allowing the ideas bubble in my mind until it all seems to link together, almost magically, into a story. Sometimes I need to take a break from writing, as I work with words in my profession as a journalist. But once I've had a breather, I can't wait to get back into the creation.
What are you working on next?
I have the third and final book of my fantasy series to write now. I have written one chapter of about 10,000 words, and I'm letting the ideas float around and work out the story. I'm quite excited about this book as it promises to be a dramatic finale to the series. I am calling it The Gold Sarcophagus, and it follows on with my main character Mirrortac's mission to rescue three planets from enslavement by a powerful being.
Who are your favorite authors?
I still favour some of the older classic authors, including JRR Tolkien who wrote The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings; Raymond Feist with his Magician and Empress of Empire series; Aldous Huxley's Brave New World; George Orwell's Animal Farm; and then onto historical fiction authors Wilbur Smith and Australian Peter Watt. A recent author I can add but within speculative fiction is Anita Bell. Australian author David Malouf is also an excellent wordsmith.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to enjoy some time out with nature; visit a national park, go for a bushwalk, observe wildlife, ride a bike, do a spot of fishing, or simply have a picnic with my family.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have a few friends who write some great material and publish as ebooks, but much of the ebook material comes from Twitter authors I follow in fantasy, suggestions on websites and indie groups.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I believe I do. I wrote a science fiction story when I was a teenager about an asteroid hurtling towards the earth. I remember a character dreaming up the solution as sending up a rocket containing a chemical that will eat into the asteroid. It was quite short and amateurish. Now, that theme has been made into films with all the drama of impending doom for the earth. But no thanks to me.
What is your writing process?
I like to reread the last section of what I have already written. These days I can do that all on my computer. I put myself into the right writing muse by playing certain music. My writing playlist includes Kitaro, Enya and Vollenweider. I use Scrivener software now, which allows me to put research, ideas, character descriptions, places and any images alongside the text of the manuscript. I can easily flip from research to what a character looks like and behaves like to what I am writing at the time. A session can last from an hour to several hours depending on the time availability. I prefer not to have other distractions around me, but have learnt to do some of the writing work with my family doing things in the house.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to have a lot of control over the cover design. I believe a plain cover will not attract readers, while a good cover design can say a lot about the story. I have commissioned good cover artists to design covers from my ideas, and am quite pleased with the results. My latest artist lives in Ireland and produces excellent work. His name is Michael Lenehan and you can find his work displayed on http://mick2006.deviantart.com . He is an excellent artist and affordable for me. There are many very accomplished graphic artists out there who can do covers, and all can be found online. In approaching a cover design, I think of the main character and the main elements of the story. The Wizard's Sword has had a number of covers, and is available as an ebook with two cover options. An artist who lives in my city of Mackay, Queensland, Australia, Heidi Counsel did a few different covers for me. The one I used included my main character fighting a giant serpent. Michael used an profile image of my main character with a sword -- two main elements in the first book. For the second book, we decided on using the main opponent standing over a pedestal with a glowing crystal stone, and the three combined stones of destiny above his head.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I include these as one because LOTR really is a follow-on from The Hobbit. Tolkien is without doubt the master of fantasy writing, and his characters are well drawn. Also he uses setting to affect the mood of the story to great effect.
2. An Imaginary Life by David Malouf. As the title suggests, this is a great work of the imagination, based on the Roman poet Ovid and an encounter with a feral boy.
3. Diamond Eyes by Anita Bell. This is a recent read by an Australian author. The idea of a girl who can see the past through the nature of her eyes is incredible, and her relationship with the people around her at the institute where she stays, unfolds and develops into an intriguing read that gains suspense and drama as the reader realises that she becomes a target because of what she witnesses.
4. Hugh Lunn's Head Over Heels. This journalist's anecdotal true accounts of his experiences of being a cadet reporter with the Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail, is so relatable and humorous. A fun read.
5. Magician by Raymond Feist. Feist is more than a fantasy writer. He understands the politics of a civilisation, and his knowledge of this enhances his story of a man discovering his magical powers.
What do you read for pleasure?
There is so much to read and so little time to read; and that's my excuse. However, I do read a lot, just not all in book form. I love reading the life stories in Reader's Digest, science discoveries in magazines and online, fantasy, historical fiction, speculative fiction, and some biographies.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I own a generic device that reads all formats except Kindle, but I can read Kindle with the app on my iPod and PC.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The only one that has made any significant sales is a book launch. I have sold a few at markets but online methods have so far been in dribbles. It's a learning curve.
Published 2013-08-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Green Ants and Yam
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,730. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2012. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
A collection of whimsical poetry, which have been performed at the Mackay Writers Poets in the Pub functions each year.
The Wizard's Sword
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 124,550. Language: English. Published: June 14, 2011. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The simple life of the erfin people is turned upside down when one curious erfin, Mirrortac, finds an old warrior's sword in the woods. The sword leads to a meeting with an otherworldly stranger and a mission to save all the worlds from an encroaching evil.