Interview with P. Edward Auman

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in both San Jose, CA and a suburb of Detroit, MI. I now live in the US Desert West, and I've also lived in IA both in Des Moines and along "the" River. All these areas are frequently featured by name and description in just about all of my stories. I believe in writing what you know. It's easy for me to develop settings and to describe them because I've experienced a wide variety and I love to do that. One of my HS teachers in MI first "discovered" my writing by giving an assignment to use as many adjectives as possible to describe a setting. I basically wrote a two page horror story with no real plot, just setting, and it was pretty dang creepy if I may say so myself. He literally rushed me to the creative writing club after reading it and I've tried to maintain that level of atmosphere in my books ever since. In MI and CA I learned a healthy fear of water and so that is a very common piece and even occasionally a Deus Ex Machina in my stories. But I also frequently use the desert, mountains and mountain forests as settings too.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing "officially" when I was about twelve. I had written little short stories and things for fun. But at twelve my parents, who worked for IBM, got their first IBM AT 286 computer and I suddenly had access to a word processor and my mind started flowing. I've hardly ever used pen and pad to write stories since (3 decades), although I do keep them beside my bed to jot down middle-of-the-night ideas a la Stephen King.

The first story I ever wrote out, full length, when I was twelve, was an untitled book about 120 pages long or so about a kid that had "Absorbed" the power to control electricity. He was challenged with the morality of his power and tended to use it for his own gain. I think in my 12-year-old mind he was my alter-ego and at the time I would likely have used my super powers for evil to be quite honest. So it was an expression of my desires. But ultimately a young girl helped correct him and put him on the right path. In many ways, that character interaction, motivation and plot factors in to a lot of my more contemporary stories that I'm working on publishing. However, I have no plans to resurrect that story because it sounds a bit too much like the moral struggles since produced in a variety of movies and books, like "Chronicle". Prideful I came up with it on my own before them? Sure, but now-a-days it would be unoriginal.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My current Work-In-Progress is a second in the Troll Brother Series. Originally in 2005 I'd only really conceived of three books, the second two came to mind after I roughed out the first. The first was told from two viewpoints, the two human brothers in the first "Troll Brother". As I finally decided this last year that it was time to put my works out in the public view and I started revising and recompiling Troll Brother I realized the combination of perspectives didn't work very well. At least not in my mind. So I separated the two stories and told just Robert's (the older brother's) and the Troll's story. Book Two will focus on Ricky (the little brother) and his experience living with the Troll clan and learning magic. I really like this story. Because Ricky's experience is much more in the fantastical (though still in contemporary Rocky Mountain environments) I can flex my creativity more.

The first book, Troll Brother, in that series is the one I most recently released. It and the current WIP series came to me once we moved to a very small town in the Rocky Mountain foothills in 2005. Climbing up into the forests in a location locally call "The Grotto" that features a waterfall, pool and stream and thick forests I had a vision of sorts of entering a cave that was eerily lit by glowing blue pictograms. It was a contrast to the very natural formations around me. By the time we'd hiked back down from that trip the whole story basically existed in my head. I just needed to write to get it out of me before it exploded.

While I revised and turned Robert's story exclusively into the first book there was a power outage that lasted a couple hours one evening. To entertain the children I opened up my laptop and took notes on ideas they had about various adventures the Troll, Kile, and Robert might experience while the little faerie lived with Robert's family. They had some awesome ideas and about three or four of them made it into the story. The Zoo trip and meeting the wolves were both their ideas that I molded some of the already-developed plot around to use. It turned out great.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'd been collecting my stories over the past thirty years pretty much just for myself. In the last ten years I started my Opus, a contemporary fantasy that begins in Iowa and moves to underground faerie dwellings in the mountainous region of Afghanistan and other remote locations to feature different environments and cultures. I began reading it to the children at their request and realized that many of my stories really resonate with kids 6-12 but also are entertaining for my wife and other adults who were trying them out at that time. By 2008 I bought some publishing books and started researching and came to the conclusion that "some day" I'd have energy to peddle my stories to various publishers and agents. Then in late 2011 I really started looking at self publishing. I didn't like the print plans where you pay a few, but as eBooks sales started climbing I saw potential. I started researching and in 2012 saw an article about Smashwords.com and other Indie publishing compilers and decided now was the time for me to start releasing my stories.

I don't know what the future will hold for my something like 50+ books and stories. I've always been a huge fan of George Lucas' business plan from the get-go to retain rights and license the merchandising and I'd like to do the same. The Troll Brother series, and several other series that are all tied together by the IPMA storyline, have, in my opinion, pretty strong potential for movies, toys and other merchandise. I've teamed up with an incredible local artist, Jordan C. Brun, to develop both covers and promotional art and have begun using a piece or two of his already. It makes for awesome collectibles. So, will I ever publish through an agency or publisher? Maybe. But I have much more grand plans for my stories as well.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is so far the absolute key to my success. Two things make the few hundred downloads I've had in the first 6 months of being published possible: Smashwords' means of distribution, events (like Winter in July and the March Smashwords sale); and my own marketing. Without either one I'm sure my books, even the free "The Old Silk Hat" would just sit totally ignored. I found as an Indie author you really need to do an immense amount of footwork on marketing through free/low cost channels or you need to put a little money out. In fact, I've had more success doing the footwork than paying an advertising company. I'm not entirely sold on the idea of late to perform swarms of Social Media marketing (5-15 posts a day) or to be out for "likes" on Facebook for likes' sake. I'm not really writing the same kind of first-person, new-adult, erotic romance book that many of my friends and contacts are and so that approach does not work well for me. But putting out mentions of my book in any venue I can has helped--seems like everyone likes a good Fantasy Children's book. (They make the most fun movies too!)

As far as Smashwords' distribution it continues to surprise me. I check the reports fairly regularly and I'm always surprised to see downloads, particularly of my free Winter-season/Holiday-season "The Old Silk Hat" through some of the vendors I wasn't expecting to see any through, or from countries i really hadn't planned to hit or have ever marketed too. It's a pleasant surprise, but it's also key in getting a more wide-spread audience as well. I'm extremely grateful for Smashwords, Mark and for the continued development of ideas for assisting Indie Authors in marketing solutions.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy is simply getting to have other people enjoy my story. Of course, that is pending an actual enjoyment. It is a source of pride to have my readers tell me how much they enjoy my stories. It definitely validates my vested interest in putting them out there. But the bigger portion of it is just knowing that some read Kile the Troll's birthday traditional gift chapter and got a kick out of it like I did. Or that they got to the end of Daniel's story in "Speak Rain" and realized even though he's gone, his story, and Rachel's, aren't really done. It's exciting. I love entertaining people. I supposed it's a very good surrogate for not having stayed in Film School.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean everything to me. Do I want to sell 10's, 100's of thousands or even millions of copies? Of course I do. I think an author should, and perhaps MUST, have that as an extended goal so that their work and their effort is top notch and truly representative. But ultimately, if I never sold a single copy, but I had 100,000 kids and families read one of my books and love it, then I'm satisfied. On a purely logical level, there's not reason at all to write fiction. If life was sterile and could be analyzed by a computer my stories should not exist. But life isn't. We need to love, learn and experience. Sometimes, the most effective way to do that, if you can't afford to travel the world, or aren't interested in placing yourself in adventurous (read dangerous) situations, then the only way to do it is by the adventure, romance and beauty that are in books and movies. I want to create a world in my reader's head that not only entertains, but actually helps them learn and experience.
What are you working on next?
So, after Troll Brother 2, (I haven't officially released the name yet, though I know what it is), I will continue for the next few years doing Troll Brother 3 and 4 and at least one or two of the Sprites series out of the IPMA collections. (IPMA Stands for the Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts and is featured or a cameo in basically every contemporary fantasy I write. It was introduced in "The Old Silk Hat".) I do think it's critical in growing my audience to have a full series. One great book is great, but I think most contemporary fantasy and children's book readers are just like me: once you're in a world you love you want to return to it as often as possible.

However, I do also want to get some of my more grown-up stories out there as well. I think though I will certainly have both Trolls 2 and 3 out by next Summer, I may also have Rachel's story from "Speak Rain" out as well. There is a third book in the spirit Shaman series of thrillers, but I may not work on #3 for a few years.

Then I also have my Vampire and Zombie series. Both are very practical, real-world versions of these classic story lines and both have at least 3 novels to tell the story. They're tied together by a common medical bond--the Zombie story line is dependent upon understanding where real world vampires come from. These are more drama/adventure than horror or romance. There's a lot of humor in the Vampire series, but really a lot of tragedy in the zombie one. I'm very excited by them, but I also don't want to release them when I feel like there is a glut of Vampire/Zombie stories in all media right now. So we'll see.

Ultimately, I have my master-piece series that I will hold on to for a few years and just see how the markets go. I really want to do something special with that one and I'm not sure how to handle it yet.
Who are your favorite authors?
When I was young I really, really loved Stephen King. I liked the normal horror stories like Pet Cemetery and Tommy Knockers, as well as the more epic ones like The Talisman or The Stand. But the ones I really enjoyed as I got older were the ones that were a little more adventurous or tense. I like Misery. I loved It and The Dark Tower series. But over time I sort of lost track or interest in the stories. I have not read all of the Dark Tower series to this point for example, only the first three or four. I'm not sure what happened. I think as I became a parent and got older I just sort of lost interest in that sort of story, not his writing. Now I spend my time reading things comparable, perhaps even considered competitive, to my works. I like the Artemis Fowl and Septimus Heap series. My kids really enjoy the Ranger's Apprentice and the Beyonders. We've tried Christopher Paolini's Eragon series, but by the time #4 came out I couldn't even finish it. So, I think if I'm reading for myself it's got to be something that I can derive some fairly quick but solid entertainment, not necessarily items that receive critical acclaim or historical significance. I want to enjoy myself first and foremost, and hopefully expend a little emotional energy in the stories that engage me. I still read some of Terry Brooks' newer, less heavy-handed fantasies though. I also really, really enjoy Arthor C. Clarke, but I have to be in the mood for it. I love that guy.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Two things: my full time career. (Eddie's alter ego works in Tech Innovation for Medical Industry. Since I have received some implantable devices in my life I have a vested interest); and also my family.

My writing is what soothes me and helps put me to bed each night.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Of course I work my regular day job. But as far as leisure time, I firstly spend it with my wife. Secondarily we do things with our six children. Then I have to selectively engage in one of my other hobbies. Most of the time it's working on or restoring/modifying cars or motorcycles. I love to drag race. (I despise street-racing, but I love legitimate, at-the-track racing.) I also still try to stay engaged in my love of Film and theater and music, as well as a few other hobbies.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually, someone else puts me on to them. My schedule is so full already with my job, my writing, my large family and all the hobbies I'm interested in that I don't do a lot of research or stand in a B&N looking for the next great read. I typically wait for friends or family to recommend their likes. I suppose that may be partly why I've switched more from Stephen Kind and Arthur C. Clarke to the children's contemporary authors. Some of my authoring friends and contacts will send me free eBooks to review or try as of this past year. I'm afraid I find a hard time setting time aside to read many though, so it's a slow process.
What is your writing process?
I try not to define very specifically how a story comes about, nor how I write. I would say I generally only outline or summarize or plot on media outside my brain when I know a story is something I want to explore but will have to save for later. Usually, my ideas for a story or book come to me on their own will. I might be researching something, or I might have a dream. It may be that a mood or environment triggers a story in my head to "get me there" in my real world life too. Then I typically sit down and write the first chapter. That's what I do. I just start writing. Once I'm to the end of the first chapter I have formulated in my mind the answers to all my questions about the characters, the plot, the settings. I have the end climax in my mind, the resolution. Everything is laid out. Then as I begin chapter 2 I begin weaving the full context of how they get there.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
You know, I really don't remember the title or the author or anything in the details but when I was 8 or 9 I read a book that was in our school library. If you showed me the cover I'd recognize it instantly. It was about a boy that was transplanted from modern times to medieval times. He forms a relationship with young girl and they have adventures. I was so absorbed in the idea of how they bonded and became good friends and the sacrifices they made for each other that I suspect that's what first prompted me to start developing my own stories. I suppose all my own stories ever since has been an attempt to create that same involvement and mood. I am at heart a big softy. Did I mention that I cry at movies ALL THE TIME?! "The Iron Giant", "Kung Fu Panda 2"..."Spiderman 3" ending Sandman soliloquy...you name it, I will cry. I think it's because I enjoy making a connection to characters, particularly tragic or heroic/martyr types.
How do you approach cover design?
I have an image in my head. It snaps. It gives me the goosebumps. Then I find whatever I need, or I direct my artist, Jordan C. Brun towards that. Jordan is truly amazing. With in one or two drafts or development sketches and he's got exactly what I'm thinking in my head. I really haven't developed my painting/art skills for nearly two decades because it's just one of those I've had to drop as my time runs out. But I don't have to worry about it. As long as I can express to Jordan what I was thinking even moderately successfully he gives me an amazingly close representation to the vision in my head.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Really, I just read on a Windows PC (laptop) most of the time. I did buy my wife a Color Nook a couple years ago. My children and all of us do use iPods and iPhones. And I will use the nook, sony and Kindle apps on various devices. But generally I will just take a PDF and read it if I have the choice.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Because my books are mostly children's books at this point that are out or coming out shortly I have made efforts to provide some marketing materials to schools and libraries and I have also openly given presentations, talks and readings to elementary schools. I think that's probably the most effective. I've networked and had some sales. I've advertised and had very few sales. But when I can put the story in the hands of the kids, one way or another, that's how I really grow my audience.
Describe your desk
Messy. But it's not my fault. I don't have a ton of notes, summaries and things for my books. It just collects the whole family's nick-nacks. Hmmmm...now that I've answered this question, perhaps it's time to go home and have a little family council meeting again.
Published 2013-08-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Playhouse
Price: Free! Words: 15,140. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Children’s books » Paranormal
(5.00)
As Part of NANOWRIMO2016 this book is not completed yet. Jessica's new friends aren't what you'd expect, unless of course like her parents you think they're her make-believe friends. But when it's time for her to pass on herself, will she leave them behind or stay with them in the playhouse where they reside?
Corrupt, An IPMA Troll Brother Extra #3, Halloween 2015
Series: Trolls. Price: Free! Words: 5,930. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables
The third in a collection of short stories centered around the fictional town of Maple Springs in the Rocky Mountains and the events detailed in the novel series, Troll Brother, featuring the agents of IPMA and other characters. This story gives even more backstory to the fan favorite, the Goblin Queen.
Vernon's Ghost, An IPMA Troll Brother Extra #2
Series: Trolls. Price: Free! Words: 5,530. Language: English. Published: October 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables
The second in a collection of short stories centered around the fictional town of Maple Springs in the Rocky Mountains and the events detailed in the novel series, Troll Brother, featuring the agents of IPMA and other characters.
Remuneration, An IPMA Troll Brother Extra #1
Series: Trolls. Price: Free! Words: 6,050. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables
Remuneration is the first of a collection of short stories which add to the legends surrounding the Rocky Mountain faerie inhabitants.
Leprechaun Gold: An IPMA Adventure for St. Patrick's Day 2015
Series: IPMA Shorts (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts). Price: Free! Words: 5,400. Language: English. Published: March 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Join new characters on another IPMA (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts) story about real Leprechauns!
Revenge of the Sylph, The Yeti Uprising Part 2: An IPMA Adventure for Christmas 2014
Series: IPMA Shorts (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts), Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 6,200. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Holiday » Christmas
(4.00)
In 2013 the IPMA Agents with the help of a pair of adolescents and the Northern Water Sprite tribe's princess, Qanik, ousted Jack Frost and his entranced Yeti Henchmen from the hostile take-over of Santa Claus' workshop and saved Christmas. But what did they do about Jack? Find out in this short "extra" story by P. Edward "Eddie" Auman.
The Goblin Queen's Cache: An IPMA Adventure for Halloween 2014
Series: IPMA Shorts (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts), Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 6,090. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
(4.00)
Another IPMA (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts) Halloween short story featuring the Goblin Queen. It adds a little to the back story of the queen in connection to Troll Brother books 2-4. How far will she go to build her cache of weapons she is building to prepare her plans for the trolls and their human friends?
The Dreams, A collection of Poems
Price: Free! Words: 1,300. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
(5.00)
A collection of poems that will be added to and developed on an ongoing basis.
The Yeti Uprising: An IPMA Adventure for Christmas 2013
Series: IPMA Shorts (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts), Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 41,230. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Holiday » Christmas
(4.60)
Join young Joshua Manders and his friends on another IPMA (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts) adventure. Belschnikel, aka: Santa Claus, has had it with his Yeti contract labor and the North Pole is overrun. Can the IPMA with the aide of a few misfits save the day on time for Christmas?
Seeing Devils: An IPMA Adventure for Halloween 2013
Series: IPMA Shorts (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts), Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 13,960. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Halloween, Fiction » Holiday » Halloween
(5.00)
Love the Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts cameos in "The Old Silk Hat: A Frosty The Snowman Prequel" and "Troll Brother"? Then give this Halloween 2013 creepy story a try. Find out what it is IPMA Special Agent Jackson Davison's been unable to see since he was a child.
Troll Brother
Series: Trolls, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 86,750. Language: English. Published: July 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
(5.00)
When Robert and Richard Johansson, the third, explore their new surroundings in the midst of the Rocky Mountains they inadvertently stumble into a troll. Armed with the troll queen's own machinations to infiltrate and learn whether the human race of the 21st century is ready to interact with faerie folk again after centuries apart, the little troll becomes an adopted brother to the Johanssons.
At 40
Price: Free! Words: 300. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
(5.00)
A single poem, dedicated to my wife on her fortieth birthday. While this is specific to her circumstances you may find it a loving expression to share with your loved one too.
Speak Rain
Series: Shaman Spirit Series, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 57,100. Language: English. Published: January 27, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.50)
An "Atmospheric Suspense/Horror," Speak Rain is the story of a man lost after the death of his wife and loss of his job, stuck in a small town, suffocated by prolonged and unnatural rain. Through supernatural forces he is led to a partner in discovering the truth behind the rains and in finding a new life. See the Trailer @ http://youtu.be/_QLHs_rvZyc
The Old Silk Hat, A Frosty The Snowman Prequel
Series: IPMA Shorts (Institute for the Preservation of Magical Artifacts), Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 9,170. Language: American English. Published: December 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Holiday » Christmas
(5.00)
This is a short story from author P. Edward Auman about the origin of Frosty's old silk hat and has been dedicated to Emilie Parker and the other nineteen children of the Sandy Hook Elementary, Conn. tragedy. This story is a heart felt explanation of how the old silk hat gained its magical properties through the experiences of love. It may be shared with your children and loved ones.