Interview with Samuel Connelly

When did you first start writing?
I wrote juvenile 'roses are red...' poetry when I was young; always for my mom, but I was telling wild stories from the time I could talk. I have a tape that my father had recorded when I was about 3-years-old, where I was telling some insane stories. I guess I was just was just waiting to learn to write.

I guess I'd have to say that I didn't start writing seriously until I was in high school, freshman year. A girl that I had a crush on, a junior, gave me Ray Bradury's book, 'The Illustrated Man,' it changed my life. Before then I wasn't really allowed to read anything besides the Bible and school book. My mother and step-father were pretty strict preachers; especially when it came to literature, films, or TV. I quietly read those amazing stories under the covers at night, and in a tree I would hide in.

It wasn't long until i wrote my first few shorts and found that people really enjoyed them.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm in the middle of two novels as we speak, but the novel I'm introducing first is fitting as my official introduction to the greater literary world. The book is fitting because it brings me back to the book that introduced me to the magic of fiction; an dedication to my hero, Ray Bradbury. 'The Illustrated Man,' was truly genius; using the body of a man, and a story of a witch who tattoo'd his entire body with fantastic and dark stories, which came alive at night when he slept.

This follows that concept; using one novel 'for us' and one house, 'for the characters' to tell several dark, strange, and scary tales, that are all woven together. but is about an old carpenter, and the spirit of the Muse, trapped in a house. The two have a unique relationship where the old man carves people, places, neighborhoods, engraved portraits upon the walls of this house, and as unsuspecting guests stay the night, they're amazing by the images, as, in turn, each began to move and tell their story. I don't want to give too much away, but there's several twists in plot, as each story draws its guests further in.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
That's a good question. The best, most simple, and honest answer: because I am indie. The true spirit of indie, or independent is the same spirit of freedom, self expression, art, and life. Ray Bradury said "Not to write, for many of us, is to die." (Zen in the Art of Writing). Real artists must create. It's what keeps their heart beating, blood flowing, lungs breathing in oxygen. Writers must write. Filmmakers must make films, musicians, painters, etc., must do what they were created to do -- with or without pay. That's tough, but it's the truth. I do make money writing for many places, but to hold back my real heart and soul --writing fiction and poetry -- just because I need to 'save' them for some big publisher, kills my spirit.

The one who gave me what I needed to go ahead and step out and stop 'waiting' was the Indie Filmmaker, Kelley Baker aka 'The Angry Filmmaker'. I was interviewing he about his nooks on film-making and his current film project. I had sent him a short fiction piece that had been published a few days before and he gave me a wonderful compliment. After talking about his work, and then Bradbury, Kay Boyle, and other great writers he encouraged me to put some work out 'indie'.

I'd been wrestling with the idea of publishing with Smashword for awhile, but after reading two amazing books by Christian Matheson -- of whom I'm a huge fan of his father, Richard Matheson's work -- and seeing they were both published at Smashwords; along with the suggestion from Kelley Baker, I no longer had a reason to put it off any longer.
What do your fans mean to you?
I've never really thought of my readers as fans. They're amazing. I can't tell you what it means to me when I get a message, email, tweet, etc. from a fan. It's a major validation of my ability to do something right. I love comments and feedback from fans. To know that others are joining me on my literary adventures ; and that they're enjoying it and wanting more, is one of the greatest feelings in my life.

I have one collection of poetry, in particular, that I've received an unbelievable amount of fan comments. "Wow this is so sexy", "Please keep writing", "Just sign me up off anything you ever write, right now," makes me laugh, some times blush. At times it overwhelms me, but at other times I have to remind myself that I act the same way when I read something that's really good.

Yea, I really can't tell you what fans mean to me, I consider them friends, if not family. I also answer every singe message, email, tweet, letter, etc., back. It's important to me.
What are you working on next?
I'm in the middle of two novels. One's a science fiction thriller - trilogy. It's the baby. the one I've been working on for 10 years. It takes my love and fascination for religion, science, mythology, and physics and marries them together in a crazy way. The other one is a psychological thriller. Super stoked about both.

I'm also in the process of finishing three more collections of Poetry. A lot of old favorites I've written over the last few years as well as ones I'll be writing till it's finished. They're all deep extensions of my self. The titles (which may change) are: 'Of Coffee & Ink', 'Man on Fire', and 'Chronicles of a Lover'. Watch for them.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson (and Christian, I'm sure will be on the list soon), Rod Serling, Gregory Orr, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, C.S. Lewis, Alfred Hitchcock, Charles Beaumont, John Collier, J.R.R. Tolkien, Kay Boyle, Ted Dekker, Natalie Goldberg, Joan Wester Anderson, Stephen King (his short fiction), Chuck Palahniuk, Issac Asimov, and umm, J.D. Salinger.

I'm sure I missed a few.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading. Hanging with my family. Watching a ton of indie film & Scifi, and thinking about writing. All of this, of course, done while drinking coffee. Sleeping.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Sometimes on the recommendations of others, but mostly by browsing for books on my iPad and iPhone. I love the Apple iBook, but I use several apps and find books on all them them, including; Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Ebook Reader, Google Play Books, Good reads, and Wattpad.

I don't spend money on classics at all. I spend money on current authors, who should be getting paid for their work. It's so funny to see people spending as much money on a classic book just because it has a new cover, when they could download it for free, and spend the money on discovering new and emerging talent.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh gosh, yes.

I was in 6th grade. It was called, "Mars in My Closet". A short about a boy, based off myself, who hated life and wanted to escape and one night he discovers a worm-hole door way in his closet leading to another little boys closet - who lived on Mars. I thought it was the coolest story I had ever read. I wrote it because I had read an interview with my hero, Ray Bradbury, in which he said, "Is there a story that you would really love to ready, but it doesn't exist? Then it's your job to write it." So I did.
What is your writing process?
Honestly that's a shot-gun question because different writing demands different processes for me.

Mostly, when it comes to fiction, I found that a tradition is necessary. I usually wake up around 3 or 4 pm. Spend time with the family until they go to bed around 9 pm. I always make a pot of coffee first. I usually have some snack like crackers and cheese, cold-cuts and ranch, or frozen grapes that I set up on my desk. I turn music on with my iPad, and settle in to start writing.

I take a shower break around 3 am, reheat or make another pot of coffee, watch a scifi film on my iPad as I look over my WIP and check out my outline, and then around 4:30 am I start writing again until 7 am. I get my kids up and ready for school, drop them off, and then come back home. I check email, submit work that I've scheduled to go out that day, brush my teeth, get in bed with a book, and read it till I fall asleep. Then at 3 pm Siri wakes me up.

It's a schedule that is working really well for me. I get the most creative productivity out of myself, without sacrificing any family time. This doesn't work all the time, because I write much more than fiction, and on the weekend it's time to be active with the family and engage the world. The good thing about being a writer, is that the schedule can change when life, vacations, emergencies, or other events demand it. I like that.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Honestly: social media.

I think public readings and signings are amazing for bringing you face to face with your fans, and for cultivating a deeper investment into you as a person and writer. However, authors do not use the crazy amazing power of social media, nearly as much as or how they should.

I never meant to, but during the last few years, I've become a social media resource, helping writers and businesses discover the best way to engage, cultivate relationships with, and increase social traffic. I host feature length interviews with filmmakers and actors, as we screen their indie films at film festivals live, over twitter. During the last few years it just started making sense to me that people want to hear your story. People are looking for, search for, your story, and many artists don't realize this. I found a way to help find those people looking for or talking about your story and then bringing the two together. It blows me away the success I've had.

I still do this for business, teach it at writer's groups, and have written a few guest posts about it. I wish every writer, especially indie writers, understood just how much they need social media in creating a much larger fan base, opportunities for selling their work, and cultivating a deep relationship - which translates into truer fan investment.

Maybe I'll put my method into a book, and publish it through Smashwords as a resource for writers.
Published 2014-05-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.