Interview with Neil Capstone

What motivated you to become an indie author?
Two things: the advent of e-books and my discovery of poetry.

Before e-books I never seriously considered the prospect of writing a book; the traditional routes into publishing seemed arcane and otherwordly - it was simply something that other people did. I had a vague hankering after creative writing, but my early attempts appeared stilted in comparison with the works of my favourite authors, which seemed to flow so effortlessly. (I now know that's an illusion: even the most talented authors have to work hard to polish their product enough to deserve a readership!)

When I tried my hand at poetry I knew I'd found my metier: I found myself able to express my ideas with a power and elegance I couldn't hope to match in prose. And, with that, my need to share those ideas grew...
Has the indie route delivered on its promises?
Well, the mechanism works as advertised! It takes effort to get right, but there's lots of help available via active community forums. Tools and processes are under continuous improvement, all the time looking to remove obstacles and make the experience as painless as possible. I'd say that there's no reason now why anyone (with talent and a work ethic) can't turn out quality work via the indie route - which is pretty much what it promised.

However, by removing all the previous "checks and balances", the indie route has also lowered the quality "bar to entry" into book publishing and stimulated massive over-supply. It has moved the serendipity from the publishing process to the selection process - the challenge is now how to find the oases in a vast desert. If fame and fortune was part of the promise, well - perhaps that bit was over-sold.
How do you know when a poem is good enough?
I tend toward perfectionism and poetry is the art-form that I believe most benefits from (but, sadly, least generally receives) a perfectionist approach. The over-supply problem is particularly acute in the genre of poetry, where in my view the scene is awash with low-quality work.

For my poems, I know I'm on the right lines when the words still have an emotional impact on me, despite them having become gratingly familiar through multiple re-workings. But best of all would be positive reviews from knowledgeable readers with a strong poetic sense...
In your view, what can be done about the over-supply problem?
I don't know. Markets tend to "find their level" over time; I imagine the solution will emerge...

As an author, you have to ask yourself the question, "Do I really want to invest all that time and effort and baring of the soul on another book that few people are likely to read?" If you're in it for the money, the answer is probably a resounding "no". But I take the view that it only takes one person to read one poem and get it - I mean really connect with it - to make the whole thing worthwhile.
Can you give us an example of one of your poems?
Here's one from Ella's Flight; its context will be obvious from the book's description:

A Foreign Grave: The Mourners

How do they weep beside her grave,
Those faceless mourners on parade?
What are their tears but pale conceit,
Who see not half the proper grief:

The towering grief that has no right
To fiery show or tomb of ice,
That mouths a name, forever mute,
That knew life's only absolute?

For them, the gentle lap of time
And kindly platitude shall light
A path through shadow; even now,
The clouds have golden haloes round.
What next for you; would you explore genres other than poetry?
Short answer - yes - as long as I felt I had the talent. I have some ideas about an outline for a novel, which I think has some promise, but I'm unsure what direction to take it in.

I also have more poems at various stages of development. Where "Ella" was confined to a specific theme, these future works are more varied and might (I hope) have a wider appeal.

Above all, having and honing a creative skill is hugely enjoyable and rewarding; I look forwards to many days, weeks and months of happy craftsmanship!
Published 2014-02-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Ella's Flight
Price: Free! Words: 2,180. Language: English. Published: January 23, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Relationships and Family » Emotions
Out of the blue one morning, 19 years after we split, came a vision of my first love, Ella: dead, lying in a coffin on some foreign shore, surrounded by strangers in mourning, and no place for me. It tore a void in my soul and I turned to poetry to cope: Ella's Flight is a collection of 18 poems on the theme of 'first love lost'. It would mean a lot to me if you were able to connect with them...