Interview with Zack Metcalfe

What motivated you to become an indie author?
The more I learned, the more indie I became. My publishing history began with a few words of wisdom from my father. As he always said, "invest in yourself." Writing my books was one thing, but how I chose to publish them was quite another.

I learned first the percentage of book that were published in the 21st century. Only 0.5 per cent of books written these days see mass publication. Publishers didn't have the money or time to pursue every promising book handed to them, so good work inevitably falls through the cracks. I didn't like that. I saw the indie book revolution, and knew I wanted in.

My first five books, Abel being the most recent at the time, were published in my attic. I collected some huge old printers from businesses who were either going under or upgrading. I bought a few heavy paper cutters, enough paper to sink the Titanic, found a glue gun, and built the rest of my equipment. I founded Metcalfe Family Publishing, the name recognizing the love and support I received from my brother and parents. Only a few months out of high school and I had a printing press. I'd pass entire weeks in there, the fans running to keep me from overheating, a gas mask on to protect me from the glue fumes, an audiobook playing to fight off boredom. Those were the glory days.

I started with small local bookstores, but when my journalism career picked up, and when I moved to Prince Edward Island, I had to get someone else to do my printing. Their printed books were of much better quality than the ones I wrestled together, but it was a good experience. Again I hit up the local businesses, and it's been going very well. I was interviewing a self published author one day for a story, and he told me about this wonderful indie publishing resource called Smashwords.

Now, over a year later, here I am. It would be nice to sell a few books, but I'm content knowing I've done everything possible to get my work out there. Smashwords is a wonderful resource.
What is your writing process?
I'm an organic writer. I sit down, start punching the keys, and see what happens. It works for some people, and not for others. I like to be surprised by my story just as much as my readers. My writing is necessarily mixed with a healthy dose of the outdoors. I go for long thoughtful walks somewhere quiet, often listening to music. I let my thoughts wander, and that's generally when my best ideas come to me.

I write like a madman, trying to keep up momentum, until I can finally call a book finished. I try to edit in the same way, and cut out as much as I can before handing it to my first battery of editors. Most of my modern editing style came from Stephen King, and his suggestions in On Writing, a book I recommend for any writer.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Teeswater, Ontario, a small retirement community in the heart of rural farm country. My family is a creative hard working bunch, so my parents bought an abandoned feed mill and restored it. The property was large, with a river in the back yard and plenty of space to explore. This became my childhood home.

After high school my friends all left for college and university, while I defiantly stayed behind to pursue avenues of self education. If it weren't for my beautiful home, my interactions and friendships with people universally older and wiser than myself, I wouldn't have found the inspiration or time to develop my writing. I longed for my young friendships back, but again, it gave me the time I needed, and helped me develop a work ethic, putting creativity above partying; though partying is still very important.

Living in your own world can be lonely, even a little dangerous for your social development, but it can also lead to great accomplishment and powerful resolve. I had that, and I had a greater opportunity to learn from my parents than any of my friends. Growing up under their care is one thing. Growing into a young man with their guidance was greatly rewarding. I found my way out of my solo living and back into the real world, beyond the surrounding corn fields, but sometimes I still retreat into my own mind when I need to write, just to find some peace.
What are you working on next?
I've already written another book called In The Days of Paradise, and I think it has potential. Unlike Abel, I touched on the lighthearted side of my character development. I also based the plot in the modern day, not so much in the distant past or future like I usually do in my books.

My journalism career takes up a good amount of my time, so this book hasn't gotten the editing time it sorely needs. Once it's ready it'll get the Smashwords treatment like Abel, but not until.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Journalism is the kind of career that can stretch into every part of your life. It keeps me busy, but in my spare time I love to run. I'm a big audiobook person because they suit my on-the-go lifestyle. I'm also big into film, even video games if they have a good story. To be frank, if I'm not writing, odds are I'm working, exercising, or sleeping. I find the time to be with my friends, my family and my lady, of course.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first many years of my writing career were dedicated to the same story, which developed into my first book, and later became my first series. It was a story called A People's Struggle. After many drafts of varying size with different character and plots all crammed in the same universe, I ended up with a novel 144,000 words long. It was my first work, and I finished it in my last year of high school. Obviously it had a lot of problems, but it had heart. It'll always be a fond memory, and it taught me much.
Who are your favorite authors?
Daniel Quinn, David Suzuki, Jared Diamond, James Lovelock, Al Gore, Ernest Hemingway, Jules Verne, Issac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Ernest Cline, Bram Stoker and Mark Danielewski come to mind.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing seriously in the first few months of high school, in Grade 9. I was always a storyteller, but the idea of writing had never really occurred to me. In fact, I had a great deal of difficulty with the English language, even through high school. I took what I was worst at, and turned it into my life.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The absolute greatest joy for me is to finish the book's final edit and see it in print. All the creativity, all the hard work, all neatly arranged on the page, double spaced, for me to just look at. Having other people enjoy my books is excellent. Enjoying the books myself is way better.
What do your fans mean to you?
I write for myself, but I also write for others who might enjoy my work. Whenever people say they were glad to read my writing, I feel compelled to do still better. My fans are my motivation.
Published 2013-09-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Abel
Price: Free! Words: 67,070. Language: Canadian English. Published: August 19, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Abel Orion has spent his entire life defining the difference between madness and genius, the fine line between inspiration and hallucination. In spite of his shortcomings, Abel leads his small family through the silent expanse of space to their last shred of hope, a place from ancient times, a place shrouded in painful memory...a place called Earth.