Interview with Robert Serafino

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on a council estate in the run-down industrial North of England. Not a happy time at all but what does not kill us makes us stronger. See my web site for more bio.
When did you first start writing?
The junior school I went to was run by a wonderful Jewish lady who was very kind to me. She encouraged me both in music and academically. The first piece I recall writing was an essay on the theory of evolution which I wrote for an exam when I was 8 years old. This created quite a stir and was featured in the local newspaper. Within four years I was influenced by a very different type of school and had become a young thug to survive.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
As a youngster I read book after book as an escape from my experience of childhood. These were from the local library and mostly about nature and science. By my teenage years I had gone off the rails and all I could think about was being a "tough guy" soldier. I was serving in a combat zone, at the age of 18, when an officer a few years older must have seen something in me as he gave me Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. This had quite a strong effect on me as it was the first time I had come across the idea of considering the purpose of life.
What do you read for pleasure?
I am afraid I am quite sad. I read a great deal of non-fiction. I guess that started as both an escape from reality and to bolster a low self esteem by knowing all the answers. Smiles. I have enjoyed the novels of Paddy O'Brian, which cover the Napoleonic wars. A film was made of the first two, combined, under the name "Master And Commander". And I thoroughly enjoy the work of Terry Pratchett. The entire Discworld series. He has a gift for bringing out how humans work and portraying the nuances of personality types; policemen to royalty to tradesmen.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
For me it is the song not the singer so I find them all fine to use. I would rather read a full length book in a hand reader than sat at a desktop screen but I imagine that is the same for everyone.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
For nearly 550 years conventional publishers have set themselves up as the gatekeepers to the world of print and controlled what ideas found their way into general circulation. Over the last 100 years they have become less interested in ideas and more interested in sales volume driven by the increasing difficulty of making a sufficient profit for shareholders. In the last ten-plus years the volume of potential authors has become such that agents have been obliged to take on the task of rough filter to screen what manuscripts the publishers have to read. Through this evolution the situation has arisen that to reach any sort of paper publication an author must get past an overworked agent wanting to earn commission and a publisher eager to find the next mass-market success. Now we know that all mass-market successes are "one of a kind" - the new idea only works once - but the generals of the publishing world have always been fighting the last war. So finally to answer your question, The advent of independent electronic publishing means I can write what I wish as I wish to write it and allow the thinking public to decide what they make of it for themselves. I think this is a wonderful time for writers and readers alike.
What do your fans mean to you?
The only thing that matters to me is making a positive difference in the world. For this to happen a lot of people have to read what I have written. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to those who read my words and tell their friends. Thank you all.
Describe your desk
I work at a largish green-topped desk in a small room with the curtains permanently closed, Bright lights are hard on my eyes, being an Aspy. I know I am OCD but I love a paper-free office as It means everything is tidily filed away on the computer rather than on the dog-eared bits of paper where all my ideas used to end up.
What is your writing process?
I once read a book in which 12 authors, who had each sold over 100 million books, explained their writing process. And each was totally different. Some lock themselves away in a shed until they finish a whole book. Some write for half an hour a day, Some write for 12 hours. Some go by the word count and make sure they do X thousand words a day or week.. I find myself "gestating"a lot of the time. Perhaps because I am closer to what people call channeling than being creative. When there is a concept I "know" inside I have to write about I rough out a layout then leave it a while and do other things. Over time ideas come up with regard to the contents and details and I jot these down. When it feels like I have done this long enough I write a section. It generally all drops out ready formed and almost ready to publish at a rate of over 1,000 words an hour. Then I stop. When I "feel" ready again I sit down and write the next section. A part of my mind, my higher self, works out what I have to say, puts it in order, and I just type it out when it is ready. Anyone can do this sort of thing if they put the work in. The clearer we get of issues the better communications we get with our higher self. No mystery about it.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I find writing hard work. Not difficult to do but draining energetically. I love HAVING written. ;-)
How do you approach cover design?
I find words much easier than pictures as a medium of expression. I would never make a graphic artist of any kind. Something of how my mind works causes me to struggle with a blank visual slate. So when it comes to designing a cover, something I consider of major importance in causing a book to be read by the right people, I go inside and wait a while. The picture just comes from somewhere. Then I find the main image on an agency site.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth is the only thing that matters. Everything else is priming the pump to get people talking and browsing. I am so grateful for the people who spread the word about my work.
What are you working on next?
I am gestating as fast as I can to finish the series. ;-) People are tapping their feet.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love walking in the countryside and I love sailing - anything that floats fairly reliably.
Published 2014-03-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.