The technology has changed so dramatically over the last few years. The introduction of iBook Author by Apple opened up a world of possibilities. I have a long history in the Mac business so wanted to experiment with iBook Author I also studied ancient archaeology and classics for years, so the possibility of combining the two in a children's book was just great. I also like the idea of delivering all aspects of the book- there is a great sense of satisfaction in publishing a book yourself and having 100% control over the process!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords opened up Kindle. Publishing a book to the iBooks Store is easy with iBook Author, but publishing a book on the Amazon's Kindle platform and other vendors is messy. As much as I like a challenge, having Smashwords was wonderful as they made the process so easy and opened up the book to a whole series of distributors.
What are you working on next?
The Early Myths series will continue through 2014 and the next book will be Jason and the Golden Fleece. Jason is close to my own research interests as I wrote my PhD on the early myth of Jason ("The Image of Jason in Early Greek Myth"). We are working hard on bringing this title out in the early part of 2014 and then moving on to book three.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
There are some great stores. The Apple iBooks app is a perfect way to browse and read on your iPad. I don't do much reading on my iPhone as the scene is too small for most books, but it is useful to have the books on all devices. Smashwords is also a great way to browse new titles and discover new interests.
What is your writing process?
As we work on picture books, I set out the story in draft form first. I then work with the artist on the stages of the myth and he begins to work on a look for the new book. We then work in parallel- he creates the images one at a time and I begin to fill in the story as the visual pieces arrive in.
The images are crucial to our books and so we take a lot of time to make sure that they are right. They also must have integrity to them. Our readers may or may not know what is behind each image, but we know that every choice has been dictated by the earliest versions of the mythological story and the extant visual art. This gives each image a depth and weight, but for kids they are fun and colourful.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The iPad is great- we have created interactive books for the iPad which are available in the iBook Store. The audio add a whole new dimension to the book as it adds to the fun and connection between the reader and the tale. It was also a lot of fun to record with my 3yr old assistant!
What's the story behind your latest book?
All of our books involve an ancient tale- which is both timeless and contemporary. Many parents may have heard of the characters and some may know the tale, but the Early Myths series focusses on the very oldest and most original versions.
This may cause few surprises as some of the myths evolved over time. We hope to entertain and inform with these tales and I think both kids and adults will take a lot from our stories.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover is vital as it draws people in on the store. The aim has always been to have a clean, simple image which looks good on the bookshelf for whichever distributor. Too much detail is confusing and lacks clarity.
What was your aim in writing your book?
I would love to think that our books inspire children to read about Greek and Roman myths. Some families may steer away from the tales as they appear too heavy or complex. But for us, the myths are simple, fun and timeless. My aim is to bring a bit of the magic that I felt when I was reading them as a kid, and bring that to a modern audience.
Are you publishing books to turn a profit?
No! In fact commissioning artwork for the books is expensive and time consuming, but the end result is great. I was fortunate enough to find a great artist and the aim of the series is to bring fun to a young audience. Myths are about explaining the world and if I can contribute this to people in different countries then that will be a reward in itself. The investment in the books is a personal ambition, and maybe I will make that investment back one day, but for me that is not the purpose of publishing.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.