Interview with Raf Echanova

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small village in the Philippines where I helped my family run a small business, a variety store. As a small kid, I grew up helping my mom and sister with our small store, selling freshly cooked foods, cooking oil, cigarettes, canned goods and renting out comics and magazines to our patrons. I volunteered to be in charge of the inventory we were renting out. I enjoyed reading the stories of my favorite characters along the process, but I fell in love mostly with short stories and novels.

I personally witnessed every single day a huge number of people standing by in our store, waiting for the arrival of new copies of their favorite comics and magazines. I could see the excitement in their eyes. I could feel their heartbeat. That experience opened my eyes to how I should value readers, especially on their expectations. I had to listen to their predictions: what would happen to their favorite characters in the next chapters? I am a living witness to how great stories could become movies during those years.

I woke up one day dreaming to become a writer. I had to learn how to do it and I made it happen. I dreamed to be one of the novelists who entertained huge numbers of readers. Initially, I thought it would be easy. In fact, I found that it was frustrating to get your work published when you had limited opportunities, until the digital era of e-books came to my horizon.
When did you first start writing?
When I was in high school at the age of 15. My father owned an old typewriter and every night before going to bed, I quietly observed how he used it. When he wasn't around, I tried using it. In just a few hours, I learned how it worked and began writing my first story.

When I was a youth leader in my community, my youth group was able to publish a youth community newspaper and I acted as the publisher. It didn't last that long as we only produced one issue. The production cost was too high and we didn't have enough resources to keep it going. But the whole group was so proud; at least we proved something.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My frustrations in the past from being rejected by traditional publishers encouraged me to resurrect my dream. I submitted my first short story to a popular publishing house in the Philippines when I was in high school. The editor sent it back to me with the many reasons of why he rejected my piece. I never gave up and I kept on writing, sending numerous manuscripts. Luckily, they accepted one, but they put my name as a sender of a 'true to life love story' written by an insider.

Then, I woke up one day when the opportunity knocked loudly on my door. I'm in the digital era and Indie writers around the world were celebrating, writing and giving their readers superb entertainment. I became an Indie author when I published my novellas Prince of Nepal and Asian Boy. I believe that someday my readers will find my work and be discovered as well. I will be an Indie author for as long as my mind is as wild as my imagination.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I accidentally found a great article from Mark Coker, the founder of this wonderful site. His well presented ideas and strategies on how to be a successful Indie author encouraged me to aspire and become one. I would not say I'm a successful one, but following his teachings would lead me to attain it. Mark is a genius who shares his talent to Indie Authors and that makes Smashwords a great institution.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is when I do it for several hours without knowing how fast time flies. Then, I would compare it to a 30-minute break at work. I would say that I enjoy every single second of my time that I put into writing my stories. The more chaotic it is, the more happy I am.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans mean a lot to me. If I could tell them one by one how much I truly appreciate every single minute they spend reading my work, I would do it. They are the reasons for why we exist as Indie writers and why we keep on writing. My simple mission as an Indie Author is to keep my readers happy. When they read my book and they cry, I'm happy. When they laugh, I'm happy.
What are you working on next?
I am in the middle of this thriller, "In the Back of the House", where an abundant city ruled by a ruthless mayor has a great secret to keep. I believe this story would elevate my work to capture another genre or, as I would like to say, intended for the Hunger Games readers. "Secrets of the Bayou" is one of my short stories lined up for this year.

Barry Eisler's John Rain is the only fan fiction project I will release soon. I will do Wayward Pines as well.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are Hugh Howey and Patrice Fitzgerald. I love Hugh on his views about Indie publishing. He encourages his fellow Indie authors, especially the unknowns like myself to keep on writing and be discovered someday. Patrice is always there for her fellow authors, sharing her blessings. She's very supportive to her fellow Indie authors. I love Patrice Fitzgerald.

Barry Eisler, the creator of John Rain is one of my favorites as well. I wrote a fan fiction of John Rain and I truly enjoyed the journey.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Knowing that my novels and short stories are in the market makes me so excited every single day. It encourages me to write more and read more in order to give my readers superb entertainment. I truly thank the Man above every time a single download happens. It is not about the royalty thing, but it's all about the fact that someone found my work.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes: it was in Filipino. I was in high school then. That was the one the editor rejected and sent back to me; it was humiliating. We were eating dinner when my mom was sharing her sentiments about my dad's works getting rejected by the editors. She had no idea that her own son suffered the same fate. I was, in fact, waiting for the mailman that day to get a copy of a magazine, hoping they would publish my work. What I got was a huge envelope with my manuscript and a rejection letter inside.

My first story was about politics. My protagonist was a politician who ran for public office and lost and he dealt with a lot of chaos. The editor said "the love story was insufficient to get the readers' attention as it was lacking some intimacy." "So he wanted a fifteen year old boy to write erotica, ha ha," I joked to myself.
How do you approach cover design?
I am very particular with cover design. I want to supervise and be part of the process. I want to see the models that will be on the cover. I write guidelines to follow when doing the photo shoot. Cover design is the face and the heart of every book; it should not be taken for granted.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I collaborated with Philippine veteran-journalist Carlos Marquez, Jr. writing this historical fiction The Sins of the Father. We communicated from both sides of the globe most of the time brainstorming, conceptualizing each chapter and conducting rigorous research works. That's the beauty and some of the challenges of writing historical fictions: you've got a lot of homework to do. I enjoyed the excitement of writing some breath-taking parts of this book. I still recall I was in downtown Los Angeles staying in Sheraton Hotel and I had to get up at three in the morning to write the first draft. On my way back to Dallas, aboard Delta Airlines, I still managed to write and organized my thoughts about the martial law era in the Philippines. I had to share the sentiment of my college professor about his unforgettable sad experience during the early days of martial rule, penned by then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
Published 2014-10-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Sins of the Fathers
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 41,010. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General, Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
RAF ECHANOVA collaborated with Philippine veteran-journalist CARLOS D.MARQUEZ,JR. in this historical fiction-drama about the martial law era in the Philippines. The two authors shared their passion revealing the darkest days of the imposition of martial rule. Get ready to suppress your emotion as you will gasp for your breath reading “The Sins of the Fathers” from authors Echanova and Marquez.