Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the island of Cape Breton in the Province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The small rural community of Point Edward had some 200 years of history before I came along. Whenever two or more of my relatives gathered, stories came to life. The best storytellers were highly entertaining and spoke with the dialects, speech patterns, [impediments included] and other characteristics of the people they were describing. The ability of storytellers to entertain people with words impressed me greatly. Here was a craft and a set of skills I was determined to learn.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I decided to wind down my business consulting practice, I examined my life goals and writing was at the top of my list. When I did some research on traditional book publication, marketing and sales, the long lead times and the arduous processes involved were discouraging. Putting myself in the hands of people I didn't know, and had little or no control over, was another factor in favor of independent authoring. Mostly, I just wanted to write but I also realized that writing is for readers and so it is important to publish. Being an indie writer poses many challenges because you are performing without a net. It is a "do-it-yourself "process with a lot of technology to master on top of the usual requirements of written work. The good news is that sites such as Smashwords do their best to guide and explain things to the beginning author.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book also happens to be my first book. Over the past number of years I had set aside a number of ideas for a novel I might write 'someday'. As time became available, the motivation to write grew within me. I wrote a short story about the last days of my grandfather. I added several chapters which were fictional accounts about what I suppose life was like for him in his younger days, courtship etc. by the time I had 10 or 15 chapters written, I realized that what I had written contained many words but lacked most if not all of the basic elements of a good story. It was as though I had taken a pile of lumber and some nails and built several rooms but I had no overall architecture or plan for this house. I was writing, researching, editing, and learning about writing, all done in parallel. I showed my work to a few close friends and relatives and received some very valuable feedback. I spent several months developing some story architecture, defining and developing characters, and working through various plot lines, while continuing to write, read and research. In time I had two or three very solid characters and a storyline I thought might work. I kept writing, about 2000 words a day. I sought more feedback and made more changes. I wrote and rewrote. I corrected typos and sometimes made more typos than I corrected. I "killed my darlings" and performed both major and minor surgeries. Throughout this two-year process I surprised myself with my determination to get it done and do it as well as I could. I was rarely discouraged because I was learning about the writing process and I was fascinated by the way in which characters seemed to take on a life of their own and make demands on my skills. I also learned that I could not have accomplished this on my own. I had a lot of help from a few very skilled advisors and editors as well as a professional book cover designer. Now that I've read my e-book on my iPad and have held the trade paperback version in my hands I feel fully justified by the results of my endeavors.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Soon after I began writing and determined that I would publish independently, I began my research to find a company I could work with. I read many reviews, made comparisons and decided to publish with Smashwords. An important factor in my decision was the fact that Smashwords was itself a successful company. My experience as a business consultant told me that success speaks for itself. Smashwords provides the independent author, particularly the beginning author, with very helpful guidelines and advice. Their website is easy to navigate when searching for information. Although the publication process, its peculiarities and particularities, can be daunting, Smashwords provides help, including excellent examples, at each step along the way. No matter how hard you try and how diligently you edit, it is inevitable that some typos will appear in your final product. Smashwords makes it easy to correct these mistakes. Since my original goal was to publish a novel that readers might enjoy, I feel I have done this successfully with the help of Smashwords. I plan to continue writing and I hope to learn more about the marketing and sales process for independent authors so that I might improve upon the modest level of sales of my first novel. From what I have seen thus far, Smashwords can help me to be a success in this regard as well. And, oh yes, may my Scots ancestors forgive me, the cost is very reasonable and I own the work.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy is bringing a good story to life by dint of your own endeavors. It is the daily process of thinking, dreaming, and writing, research, editing, rewriting and watching a unique creation come to life. The problems of yesterday become the stuff of my early morning thinking. You sit at your desk and you start writing and most times, but not always, the solution emerges from the words. It is a creative process and in its very essence, it is beyond words. The fact that readers enjoy your book, and tell you so, is also a joy, the icing on the cake.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.