Interview with Andre Clemons

What is your writing process?
My writing process can be somewhat described in one word: notebooks. Lots and lots of notebooks. I tend to work on different stories and having different notebooks for these stories helps me organize the narratives and avoid getting them confused. Small, pocket-sized notebooks are where I scribble down ideas for new stories, and where I might even do a brief outline. Bigger notebooks are where I write out the rough drafts of stories and chapters. Every story I write is handwritten first before typed. I find that writing it out by hand first helps me to shape the story more from this huge lump of clay into something more solid. When typing, I tend to revise and refine that clay, morphing it more and more into the story I want it to be.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I've read so many stories (especially since I was little) that it would be hard to try to remember the very first story I ever read. Different stories impacted me for different reasons. I'm a huge comic book reader with quite the collection, and comic books are where I developed such a love for sci-fi and fantasy. As a child, I tended to be attracted to stories of strange characters and strange worlds, such as Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, and Bill Peet, just to name a few. I also used to read The Hardy Boys (which kick-started my love for mystery) as well as the Captain Underpants series and Nate the Great and the works of Beverly Cleary and Maurice Sendak.
Going to the library was like an adventure to me and I would always leave with as many books as I could carry and all those stories inspired me to write my own stories and hopefully be able to go to a bookstore and see a book with my name on it.
How do you approach cover design?
To be honest, it wasn't until only a few years ago that I really started to pay much attention to cover design. I know more than anything how important cover design is and so I'm always careful with the images I select, making sure that they help lure the reader into the story.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Hard to do, but I'll try to narrow it down:
1. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Marie Remarque. Though I usually don't care for war novels, this was the only one that had me reading it through to the very end. Its brutal and gritty depiction of war and the effect it has on young men entering the armed forces is so incredibly gripping that it sticks with you long after you finish the book.
2. Anything by Walter Dean Myers. Walter Dean Myers was one of those authors that, when I was younger, I read everything he ever wrote, regardless of what it was. The minute I heard he had a new book, I knew I had to get it. As a young black man, sometimes you struggle to find stories starring characters that look like you. The way that Walter Dean Myers got into the head of young characters of color and made their environment come alive solidified my desire to become a writer and made me want to aspire to tell stories that would affect people that same way.
3. Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler. Octavia Butler is also one of those authors in which I devoured everything she wrote. Though I discovered her as an undergrad English major in college, once I read "Bloodchild", it drove me crazy. Her worlds were exotic and her characters were haunting. Of all the science fiction that I read (and Lord knows I read a lot), Butler creates an imaginative tapestry like no other.
4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Ever since coming across an old copy of this book back in 6th grade, I've been hooked. More so than mystery itself, the way Holmes often manages to unravel the nature of crime itself has always been fascinating and developed a strong desire of the genre.
5. Anything by Edgar Allan Poe. I must've been quite the weird kid in middle school, being so devoted to the works of Poe. The dark nature of things has always been fascinating, and no other author has created mood and mystique more like him.
What do you read for pleasure?
At the risk of sounding cliche, anything and everything: Action. Adventure. Sci-fi. Fantasy. Mystery. Graphic Novels. If it's good, I'll read it. I'm always on the search to expand my reading tastes, checking out new authors and different genres. At the moment, I've been reading a lot of classic mysteries: the works of Erle Stanley Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, Cornell Woolrich, Frederic Brown, and Raymond Chandler.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I do read stories on a Kindle although I prefer to read books in print.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Just having a website (and updating it regularly) as well as being active on social media when it comes to promoting my works. However, I'm always working to solidify my brand as a writer and develop better marketing techniques.
Describe your desk
I don't have a desk. As previously mentioned, I have a lot of notebooks and I do the bulk of my writing in those. I do all my typing on an old laptop in my room. I'm sure if I had a desk, it'd be scattered with looseleaf papers from different stories.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Detroit, but spent the majority of my life in Columbia, South Carolina. I don't think it significantly affected my writing per se, but I know that I tend to use Columbia as the template for when I write about city life.
When did you first start writing?
Technically, I first started writing when I was about four. I remember writing and drawing comics on printer paper with pens and colored pencils. I loved English class in school and took any creative writing course I could, gaining the reputation among my fellow students as "that kid who's always writing". I did poetry, and created a whole lot of stories, literally putting down to paper any idea I had (whether it was good or not). I remember actually deciding during summer break one time to write a novel (since I foolishly figured it couldn't be that hard) and so, at age 12, I ended up writing (entirely written on notebook paper nestled away in a black binder) a 150-page Chrsitian fiction novel called THE POWER OF SPIRIT. Having looked back at it recently, let's just say that it was a good thing to have improved so much since then...
What's the story behind your latest book?
THE LAKE GIANTS was originally serialized on Jukepop.com back in 2016 for their annual Summer Writing Project. A few months ago, I had taken a trip with some other people to Lake Lure, North Carolina and explored the wilderness of an area known as Chimney Rock. I was enamored by how beautiful the forest was and how small the town was. Literally, if you looked up "small town Americana", there'd be an image of this town. And I remember thinking that a small town like this probably has loads of secrets lurking about, particularly in the wilderness. My mind was racing with questions. Had anyone ever gotten lost in those trees? What if there were creatures residing in the shadows? What if a town liked that capitalized off of the strange things that happened? On the car ride home, I remember piecing together in my head the bare bones of a story about a young girl who lived in such a town all her life only to find out that she may not have known it as much as she thought she did. And thus was born...THE LAKE GIANTS.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I never really thought of myself specifically as an "indie author". Those were just the circumstances. If a big publishing house had accepted my work early on, I would've happily gone that route. But I do enjoy having the creative control of my own stories, and being at the center of my own literary empire, if you will. It's fun to be able to tell the stories that I want to tell, when and how I want to tell them.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Having just published my first book through Smashwords, it's hard to tell just yet. I've known of so many of my fellow indie authors who have had great success on Smashwords that I'm hoping to have a great creative relationship with them as well.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is like being a traveler, exploring different worlds and living as many lives as you want. It's incredible to be able to go and do wherever and whatever you want, with no limits whatsoever.
What do your fans mean to you?
Just to have fans of any kind is incredible. It's cool to think that, in the same way I devoured and enjoyed everything that my favorite authors ever written, there are those who are just as devoted. It's amazing to think that those who may have just found out about my works would be inspired to tell others and become excited about the stories I tell.
Published 2018-01-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Lake Giants
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 28,790. Language: English. Published: January 9, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
Skylar Green is a girl who's lived in Lake Luna all her life,a place that's filled with natural beauty and unnatural horrors. But the horrors have always been just spooky stories meant to scare children late at night...or are they? When a series of bizarre murders plague the quiet community, Skylar finds herself unraveling the mystery and discovers that she never really knew her town after all...