Interview with Percival Constantine

Published 2015-09-14.
What is your writing process?
It varies a little from project to project and I'm always experimenting with different methods to see if something might work better for me. To begin with, I try to keep a notebook with me as often as possible, where I take notes and jot down ideas as they come to me. I start to bang out some rough plot outlines in there and then I take them into a mind-mapping program on my computer and start typing them out.

From there, I go into Scrivener and create some documents for the outline. Sometimes I'll outline specific scenes, other times I'll just have some basic beats written down. The nice thing about Scrivener is that it makes it really easy to skip around in the story and just write what I feel like writing, then reorganizing documents in the program binder is very simple from there.

Once I have the first draft, I print it all out and go through it with a red pen, correcting mistakes, making notes on things to revise, etc. After I input my revisions, I send them off to an editor.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is very important to me, since I believe a terrible cover can quickly turn off a potential reader. So I spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect image or images to use for the layout and once I find them, I manipulate them in Photoshop as needed, then import them into Illustrator to handle the logo design and text layout.

If I can't find the necessary images, I'll look to hiring an artist, but I'll still do the layout myself. I do have some experience as a cover designer, and I do design work for an independent publisher, but I highly recommend that if you don't know what you're doing, then invest the money in a good cover.
What do you read for pleasure?
I get a lot of comp copies of other New Pulp books, and that works out nicely since it's not only my favorite stuff to write, but also my favorite stuff to read. Beyond that, I love genre fiction. I'll browse the Kindle Store quite often and find stuff that grabs my interest. I grew up reading comic books, and I still consume a lot of those, both old and new stuff.

Some of my favorite genres are superheroes, horror, science fiction, and action/adventure, so those are where my focus generally lies. But I also really like satirical books, like the work of Kurt Vonnegut or Christopher Moore.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, pretty common middle class childhood. My hometown didn't influence my writing as much as what I consumed growing up did. My family lived in a bit of a secluded area, so I didn't have neighbors my own age, which meant I spent a lot of time amusing myself with cartoons, comics, video games, and action figures. I think the latter especially influenced my writing, as I would often come up with stories to play out with my toys and as I got older, this turned to writing those stories.
When did you first start writing?
I think when I was ten years old. There was an assignment for class to write a story and so I did, basically writing a fanfiction story featuring my favorite characters, the X-Men. I continued writing stories and I went through quite a few notebooks writing them out long-hand. Some of these were really terrible stories in which I wrote my friends and I as superheroes.

When I moved into junior high and high school, that's when I dove full-on into fanfiction writing. I became acquainted with a very helpful group of fanfic writers, and that interaction and feedback I received really helped me to improve a lot in my writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This section will be ever-changing as I'm constantly working on something new. My current project is Spear of Destiny, the fourth book in The Myth Hunter series. This edition sees Elisa and Asami teaming up with Jason Shroud of the Freemasons in order to to locate the Spear of Destiny. The Thule Society, a mystic order that influenced the rise of the Nazi Party, are after the spear as well, with the intent to pick up where Hitler left off.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
At first it was out of necessity. My first novel, Fallen, was shopped around to a number of different agents, but the ones who responded basically all said the same thing: it didn't really fit into any of the current successful markets. And as a result, it was rejected. After months of this, I opted to go the self-publishing route.

Since then, I haven't even attempted to find an agent for my following works. I really like working in the field of New Pulp, writing fast-paced, quick, action-adventure stories. That's not the kind of thing the traditional publishing world sees as profitable enough to justify an investment of time, and so I want to keep on writing what I want to write. I also enjoy the control I have over my work. If there's a cover I don't like, I can ditch it. If I want to update the cover on any of my existing works, I can do it without having to consult anyone else.
What are you working on next?
At the moment, I'm working on a superhero series. I've long been a fan of superheroes and superhero prose fiction seems to receive a lot more attention these days, so one day, I just started coming up with characters. I plan to experiment with a different mode of distribution for this series, releasing 10-15K short stories digitally first and then later collecting them in a complete edition, so allowing people to get a taste of the stories and the characters first and then see if they want to pick up the complete collection.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Kindle Touch. I like the long battery life and the global wifi that allows me to connect to the Amazon Store any time I want to pick up a new book. Although I also own an iPad, I prefer reading books on the Kindle as it's smaller, lighter, and lasts longer between charges. But I've been paying a lot of attention to the Kindle Paperwhite and one of those might be in my future, because I like having the backlight.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I guess you could say I like making stuff up. I really enjoy coming up with characters and worlds, and I think it may actually be my favorite part of writing. I also have a lot of fun with dialogue and sometimes, I might just put a bunch of characters in a room and just start writing dialogue between them.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh wow, there are a whole lot. As far as books go, Elmore Leonard, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman are probably my top favorite authors. I also really love some of my fellow New Pulp writers, with Barry Reese, Derrick Ferguson, and Van Allen Plexico being at the top of the list for me.

Beyond prose, comic book writers have had a huge impact on me—in particular Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont, Peter David, Fabian Nicieza, Kurt Busiek, Joe Casey, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and many, many more.

I also draw a lot of influence from filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Joss Whedon, Sergio Leone, Steven Speilberg (particularly the Indiana Jones filmes), Akira Kurosawa, Takashi Miike, and more.
Describe your desk
It's a decent size and in an area where it's as isolated as it can be from the rest of the apartment. A little cluttered—every time I try to get it organize, it somehow ends up cluttered again within a day. Fortunately all my writing notes are kept on the computer so that's easy to find. I have a few things posted on the wall around me—a corkboard for scene outlining, a printout of Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing, and an image of Batman pointing at me and telling me to quit procrastinating and write.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do a lot of reading, mostly other New Pulp books and comics, but I'll also read history books and whatever else strikes my fancy. I'm also a graduate student, pursuing a masters in English and Creative Writing, so that does suck up a good amount of time. When I'm in the mood, I'll also play video games, but if I get really into one, it can become a huge time-suck.
What do your fans mean to you?
I would write even if I didn't have any fans, but getting comments from people saying how much they enjoy my work really means a lot. Although I would love it if they told other people by posting some more reviews (hint hint).
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Ohhh yeah. I was ten years old and I wrote my own—very, very bad—version of Chris Claremont's X-Men: Days of Future Past. It was so bad that I still have vivid memories of it, over twenty years later.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The top two are a mailing list and a website.

By mailing list, I mean a list you continue to promote and update. You should be sending out messages to your list at least once a month. If you don't release a book a month, then you should find other things to talk to them about—books you're enjoying, projects you're in the middle of, that kind of stuff. But if someone joins your list and they don't hear from you for six months, they're going to forget who you are and probably unsubscribe. So set up a mailing list, create an incentive (such as a free book) for people to sign up, keep in touch with them, and put a link to that list in the back of every single one of your books.

By website, I don't mean Blogspot or I mean an actual website that you pay for, with a domain name and everything. Make sure it's well designed and easy for people to find out who you are, where your books are available, and how they can sign up for your list. If you don't know how to design a website, hire someone.

Other than that, even though some people will say free no longer works, I've found making the first book in the series free absolutely does help draw in new readers. Paid advertisements like EReader News Today are very effective, too.

If your marketing techniques consist of spamming Facebook groups with links to your book, then no one's going to buy it. I've actually turned off notifications for a lot of Facebook groups I'm part of because it's just become a wall of white noise links. If you're relying on Facebook to sell books without paying for advertising, you're just wasting your time.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords was great in the beginning but there are a number of improvements the site needs to make. I've removed all my titles from Smashwords' premium catalogue and now I only use the Smashwords store because I've found dealing with the errors that always crop up and the poor site design very frustrating. Now I go direct to as many sites as possible and I use Draft2Digital for the others.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Amazon's recommendations are very good. I also trust what I hear from others. Free definitely works for me. If I see a free book in a genre I like, I'll download it. It may take me a while to get to it, but I will get to it eventually.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

The Adventures of Moose and Skwirl
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 40,610. Language: English. Published: November 9, 2015 by Pro Se Press. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Trouble happens everywhere in the universe. Any time. Any place. And that's when Moose and Skwirl step in. The being called Moose is barrel-chested, two-fisted and sarcastic. Selene Karanova Wirl is seductive, sexy, and wields a sense of humor that could kill… almost literally. Together they travel space and time, fixing trouble in their own unique, destructively bloody style.
The Dame Did It
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 42,120. Language: English. Published: June 18, 2015 by Pro Se Press. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
Pro Se Productions presents a collection of new stories wrapped in the shadows of Noir and definitely Hard Boiled with a feminine touch. Authors Joel Jenkins, Christofer Nigro, Shannon Muir, and Percival Constantine deliver two-fisted, gun shooting hard core action in these blood-soaked pages, and each tale revolves around a woman.