Interview with Robert Cettl

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Online databases or keyword searching at individual retailers. I don't read fiction, only non-fiction. Most of that is Academic and peer-review. University library databases have eBook metadata and descriptions and as they stock the subject ranges I tend to be most interested in. So - libraries.
What is your writing process?
My writing process begins with a topic or subject idea. Akin to the research process, I isolate a specific question or sub-topic that I wish to write about and/or research (information retrieval or qualitative, ethnographic participant-observation methodologies being my personal preference). When I have collected the necessary data, made notes and tabulated any report findings (if warranted - rare actually), I set about writing. I go through at least two drafts, usually three before finalizing it.
How do you approach cover design?
Hmm. Conceptual brainstorm. Free association of title and keywords from the writing with what images they conjure in my imagination. Correlating the images to the keywords, I then search commercial image banks to find a suitable image to license. Using Adobe InDesign, I import the image, add the title text, author name and any tag information and experiment with font, size and asymmetrical placements until I am aesthetically satisfied with the appearance. Then its a matter of spell-checking any text and exporting the file as a .jpeg and then re-sizing it for various distributor needs.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Most of what I read are non-fiction textbooks. As an English teacher, I tend to read a lot related to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). However: I also write populist film non-fiction and have a large library of film related books (in print and eBook) by authors I consider my peers. Any non-film related material tends to be odd or erotic. Many of these are cult oriented - if I have any favorite books (I don't ever really think in terms of favorites - ultimately they all just discursive text) they would be: Danny Peary's Cult Films series (three volumes), the Marvel Anthology of Steve Gerber's collected Howard the Duck and any of a number of books that profile or interview personally admired film directors (Frankenheimer, Winner, Peckinpah especially). Most (if not all) of anything that I could call a favorite was either written in, or is about, the period 1967-1984 in film, music and pop culture.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My childhood was spent in a small opal mining town in the South Australian outback - Coober Pedy. At that time (the 70s of course) there was no radio or TV there. However, there was a drive-in movie theater that showed four different double features every week. My father would take me to most of them. Thus, having seen over 1000 movies before I was twelve and left Coober Pedy, it's hardly surprising that I should both write about and make films.

Also: most of the town's population were non-English speaking immigrants (or Australian aboriginals) who had to learn English as a second language. While I am a native English speaker, this perhaps explains why in later life I developed a skill in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and writing language learning books and related non-fiction research and article content.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Curiosity. My professionally published work in film non-fiction was for reputable publishers and my background was such that do-it-yourself publishing as such was considered non-professional. Also, in Academic writing he publishing house, journal etc dominate and there is no room for so-called indie authorship in Academia. However, I am intrigued by the emerging nexus of self- and peer review publishing made possible through indie authorship and when Kindle first debuted, seized on the opportunity to experiment with the eBook media. So, you could say my motivation was a kind of intellectual curiosity about what could be possible within digital publishing - content, income, networking, formatting possibilities. The promise of multimedia ("enhanced eBooks" with PDF and now ePUB3) continue to motivate me as I find the technological advances inspire my creativity.
What are you working on next?
Enhanced eBooks for EFL / ESL. Not straight down the line textbooks (though those too) but experiments in hybrid content for pedagogic purposes. This, however, is time-consuming as it involves not just writing but editing audio-video content and working with fixed vs. liquid layout options. So, there is a dual challenge - content-generation and instructional design.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well, I work as an English teacher, so teaching, lesson planning, assessment, resource creation, action research into blended learning, interviewing and data collection. As I work with "enhanced eBooks" and multimedia audio-video content intended for what is now termed "trans-media storytelling", when not writing I am either designing, filming / editing or on social media, surfing the Internet. As my workstation has multiple monitors there's usually a movie or music also in the background.
What do you read for pleasure?
I surf the Internet frequently. Via Google keyword searches I find a great deal of information, unusual websites and obscure written content and enjoy reading through that: often quickly though unless the source is truly informative or engaging. Again, it's non-fiction: I don't read fiction anymore.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Laptop PC, iPad or smartphone. Adobe Reader and Digital Editions.
Published 2014-10-15.
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