Interview with Daniel Eness

What's the story behind your latest book?
Egads. The story behind the book is dull. The story IN the book is awesome.
What is your writing process?
Try to write 10,000 words a day. Fall a little short. Hope the words are in English. Proof. Publish. Write the next book.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I don't market. Right now, I haven't got the time. My readers want to read more stories, not more marketing, so I have to prioritize that. Maybe when I have a decent number of items available, I'll start to market them. Right now, I've only got 20-some different things, all in different genres. I have very bare shelves to market right now.

Let me fill the shelves first!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
When I was small, my grandmother lived just across the apple orchard from my house. Down our lawn and up her lawn, and there was her house. She had an old cistern outside her green mansion, overgrown and covered with a piece of plywood.

The first time I moved that wet wood and peered in, I learned the meaning of the word "dank." I dangled my little Zips down into the darkness, and breathed the choking stench of buried history. Now, it was mostly rotting sticks and broken glass - garbage. But that secret history, that black promise of recovery, was something that stayed with me.

Weird farmboy. That's what you are going to get when you read one of my books. Just rip off the rotten cover and take a look inside. You never know what you might recover. Maybe, if you are lucky, it will be your own soul.
Speaking of (hopefully not rotten!) covers, how do you approach cover design?
I'm getting better at design. My entire approach to everything I write and design is: cut overhead with man-hours. I price my labor hour at something like $50 right now. Hopefully that goes up as I build inventory, but I'm not going to worry about it until I have at least a hundred novel-length books in print.

In any case: if I can design it myself, proof it myself, have it edited by someone in trade - I will do that. So I keep materials to a minimum. I try to spend less than $15/book on foundational art, and then make a professional design based off that. I have many covers that need updating to my improved methods, but I'll get to that when I get to it. The Prime Directive is: write and publish something new, now.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love getting to read stories that no one else has discovered yet. The best way to do that is to steal the forbidden books from the heavily guarded catacombs of my own mind.

I'm raiding Pharaoh's tomb with every word.
When did you first start writing?
When I was about 5, I was told Star Wars. No, I didn't see it in the theater first - that wouldn't be for another month or so. No, my sister saw it. She told it to me - the whole movie, characters, roles, action - from start to finish. I was totally captivated. Then I saw the movie and my little brain just exploded like a watermelon stuffed with C-4.

I think I ended up seeing the movie about 8 or 9 times during its first year in the theaters. I have no idea how. We didn't live in town. Maybe we got dropped off for matinees. Whatever, the point is that Star Wars was, first and foremost, a story that was told to me. The opening scroll of the movie only lent weight to this experience. I remember reading as many of the words in that scroll as I starts in the middle of things ("A New Hope - a new one? what was the old one? were there movies before Star Wars?" It is a rare movie that provides a pre-schooler with metapoetics as a lead-in.)

It wasn't long after that experience that I began to write little stories and poems, thwarted only by the limits of vocabulary and a really gnarly pencil sharpener that, on occasion, would obliterate my writing device, rendering it unusable. I was somewhat uncoordinated, so I might have been cranking it with my left hand.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was in the sixth grade - it was a short story about a man condemned to die who survives execution and walks free. It was the best short story ever written. It is now kept in a subterranean vault in Quantico, Virginia, for national security purposes.

Bonus - the first poem I ever wrote was in the 1st grade:

I love my kitty very much
I love to cuddle him
But when I squeeze him very tight
He grows very slim

Just like the plaid cowboy shirt and red corduroys I likely wore as I drafted that epic, what I lacked in style, I made up for in brute force. It is likely my core ethic as an author today.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
How hasn't it contributed? Smashwords allows my publisher, Eortholic Press, to make my stories available to all readers in as many electronic formats as possible.

A core to my business as a storyseller is to make sure that I never have a single potential reader who would have bought my book but is unable to because it isn't available in their region or compatible with their preferred method of reading it.

That's also why I make sure that my digital books are available, in some format, in print as well. My madness and sense of adventure may not be contagious...but it is, above all things, inclusive. I don't want to be the guy who makes you fill out a waiver to have fun. If you want my book, I want you to have it, however you want it.

Smashwords operates that way - a chicken in every pot that wants a chicken. Now, i can't possibly speak for pots, and Smashwords doesn't even try. Together, we just provide the world's widest chicken distribution method possible - circling the globe, pouring chickens out of the back of a supersonic jet, so that any pot, anywhere, can turn from its life of toiling and boiling and clanging, and accept into its loving confines, a nice plump chicken.

Or ham, for those pots that are chicken intolerant.
What are you working on next?
This is a massive question. Because I try to write about six novel-lengthed works a year - in different genres and sometimes under different names, the straight answer is...

I don't remember.

If you look at what I've published so far, you will find hard science fiction, murder mystery, thriller, ghost stories, historical fiction, alternate history, and fantasy. Expect more of the same.

Probably my most accessible work for the widest audience is Dead Vault, an Arclight Adams Thriller. It is about a broke guy who goes looking for an old missing school teacher. My most popular book right now is Tales of the Haunted Titanic - which is a collection of historical ghost stories, set on the ill-fated ship. Every time a special about the ship airs, that one sells.
Published 2013-09-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Dead Vault
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 50,120. Language: English. Published: June 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Arclight's in trouble. Out of work and out of time, he's losing his own mind in search of someone else's. That's the good news. It seems that dementia isn't the only thing in North Tree that is in the business of swallowing hearts. When Arc goes down, he goes down hard.
Asteroid Mine
Series: Science Fiction Shorts. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 2,980. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
A rover captain with job security receives an unusual message from his drone on a remote asteroid: "So good to see you." Suddenly, his job seems somewhat less secure. So does his life.
Tales of the Haunted Titanic
Series: Tales of the Haunted Titanic, Book 6. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 18,640. Language: English. Published: April 12, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
A memorial. A relic. The greatest ocean liner to sail the Atlantic. In 100 years, the RMS Titanic has only gotten bigger, but there is a forgotten treasure of the Titanic, a spirit, a precious memory that was ignored, and then lost. But out of the icy darkness, it returns. And with it, so do her ghosts. Commemorating the 100th Observance of the loss of the RMS Titanic.
The Unsinkable Supernatant
Series: Tales of the Haunted Titanic, Book 5. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 4,540. Language: English. Published: April 9, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
In this Tale of the Haunted Titanic, a bankrupt aristocrat follows a dark trail of revenge to the Boiler Room Number 6 on the grand ship. What he doesn't know is that something even darker is trailing after him. Commemorating the 100th observance of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
Pronouncing the Mackay-Bennett
Series: Tales of the Haunted Titanic, Book 4. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 3,460. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
In this Tale of the Haunted Titanic, a humble cable-repair ship is called into emergency duty: a mission to recover the RMS Titanic's dead. As a talented embalmer begins to draw bodies from the deep, a body begins to draw him into the depths. Written in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic disaster.
On Jack Thayer's Watch
Series: Tales of the Haunted Titanic, Book 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 4,370. Language: English. Published: March 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
In this Tale of the Haunted Titanic, a mystery surrounds the funeral of one of the survivors, and the only clue is provided by one of the victims. A ghostly tale of time, memory and the razor's edge. Commemorating the 100th observance of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
Titanic Rising
Series: Tales of the Haunted Titanic, Book 1. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 3,070. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Historical » Paranormal
Some call it a memorial tomb. Some call it a relic. Some call it a treasure. What if the HMS Titanic was an answer? In this Tale of the Haunted Titanic, a giant of the deep rouses from a ghostly slumber, taking a chance to make history at history's end. Commemorating the 100th observance of the sinking of the Titanic.
The Autumn Ice of Springtime
Series: Tales of the Haunted Titanic, Book 3. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 2,660. Language: English. Published: February 17, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
In this Tale of the Haunted Titanic, one survivor is unaccounted for: a song which outlives its performers. The band famously played until the bitter end of the maiden and final voyage of the RMS Titanic. The ship sank to a depth of four thousand metres, but what the music unleashed was impossible to fathom. Commemorating the 100th observance of the sinking of the Titanic.
Woulden Soldiers
Series: Science Fiction Shorts. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 3,850. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Three short tales of monstrous magic explore the recesses of scientific godhood. The Devil You Don't - A hoodlum pushes the limits of reality. Verdure Inferno - Agricultural development carries the seeds of its own backlash. Deuce X - A pleasure cruise to Jupiter stretches the definition of pleasure.
The Midway Monster
Series: Retsnom monsteR. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 3,700. Language: English. Published: February 9, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
When a small-town sports reporter decides to do a feature on a local pro football bad boy, he finds himself running in all the wrong circles. Of Hell. The Midway Monster is a short story of monstrous magic.
Juice in a Cluster of Grapes
Series: Retsnom monsteR. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 3,220. Language: English. Published: February 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Horror » Crime
When a monster stands in Death's kitchen, exactly what - or who - is on the menu? A criminal no longer able to fight death with his worn out fists turns to the only thing he has left: fading memories of good food. Juice in a Cluster of Grapes is an extremely strange short tale of Monstrous Magic.
Quentin the Troll and the Wedding of Doom
Series: Retsnom monsteR. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 7,050. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When Quentin discovers four relatives dead on the eve of his son's wedding, the bride missing, and a horde of goblins closing in, those are the least of his problems: His wife has put him in charge of tracking down the cake. Quentin the Troll and the Wedding of Doom is a short fantasy of monstrous proportions.
The God of This World
Series: Science Fiction Shorts. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 4,370. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
When Gard Brodford sneaks through a siege to offer a sacrifice to a long-silent diety, the last thing he expects is a lesson in vanity. Too bad he is unlikely to survive the traps set before him, or the army at his heels. The God of This World is a Story of the Future Past.
Only the Arquebus, by H. Beam Piper
Series: Science Fiction Shorts, Book 8. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 2,130. Language: English. Published: January 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Famed science fiction and mystery writer H. Beam Piper apparently died in 1964 under mysterious circumstances. One of his manuscripts, Only the Arquebus, vanished in the aftermath. In this weird short story of the future past, or, more accurately, the alternate near-future, the secret behind Only the Arquebus is finally revealed.
Series: Science Fiction Shorts ยท Retsnom monsteR. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 2,350. Language: English. Published: January 20, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Rex Randall, an ambitious priest of cryogenics, enters a high tech temple to liberate the frozen soul of a legendary leader. A hopeful, fervent cult awaits his victory. Revival is a short story of the future past. This story originally appeared in Stupefying Stories 1.1
After Oil
Series: Science Fiction Shorts. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 3,730. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Young Theo sets out on a long dead highway in search of deer, plastic artifacts and the secret of his past. While he'll settle for a friend, what he finds instead are three enemies, one of whom may very well be himself. After Oil is a short story set in a past future.