It’s been so long since my last post I should be ashamed. And I am. It has not been for a lack of interest or desire but rather the pull of “life interrupting” that has kept me at bay.
But I have been inspired once again by the dedication and persistence of a fellow writer who has published his very first novel.
Here is my conversation with John Williams about his newly released novel, Exit To Eden.
Congratulations John- You Did It!!!
You wrote and published your first novel.
So many aspiring authors have a novel in them and spend years working on it but never seem to cross the finish line. You did… what an accomplishment.
How does it feel???
Yes I did finish and self publish my first novel, and it feels great. I have a copy on my writing desk and sometimes I just stare at it and say (did I do that?)
It was hard work (a labor of love I might add) putting the story together and at times it seemed that the right words or sentences would never come together so I would take a deep breath, scratch my head and keep plugging away then somehow out of the blue the ideas would flow. I guess there is truth in the old adage that hard work and perseverance pays off. When the last words of the last sentence where down, it felt good to have stuck with it to the end. I was filled with a great sense of joy and relief that it was finally done. Yet after I finished the final chapter, there was a feeling that I had lost a friend, one who I had chatted with and passed ideas around with for years. However I consoled myself by envisioning that I might someday come back and chat with my old friend.
Tell us… how did it all start? Where did your idea come from?
I started writing the manuscript, off and on, I’m ashamed to say, almost ten years ago when I was still fully employed. After retirement, I devoted most of my time to finishing the novel and writing short stories in between. The inspiration for the book came from swallowing and regurgitating events, good and bad, of the world around me. It seems that throughout history many cultures of the world have suffered times when corruption and murderous acts rule their societies, so in order to save anything or anybody worthy of saving, only a total destruction of the wicked in those cultures make a new beginning possible. Sadly today, many societies all around the world seem to be trending toward their day of destruction, only time will tell if they survive. But for now their stories are there to be told, to be weaved hopefully into an entertaining and unforgettable tale of redemption and rebirth.
We are nothing without our characters. They are the ones who tell our story and connect with the readers for us. At some point in the writing process, they become real to us and we as authors become invested in what happens to them as the plot evolves.
Tell us about the relationship you developed with your characters.
Many of the characters in the book are people that take charge both good and bad. Some definitely mirror real people that shape the world we live in today. I try to take the characters that are good and put them into situations that test their spirit, their will to survive and unlike many of today’s young author who are willing to let evil win, I strive to show that, although some may die while others live, in the struggle for life, good will triumph over evil. And while the evil characters have their turn at bat with the bases load, they can score runs but I will never let them win the game.
Themes and Plots are always a hot button topic at writer’s conferences and workshops. While it’s the theme’s job to tell the “what” of the story and remains a constant throughout, it’s the job of the plot to tell the “how” and it, is ever evolving.
How did your plot progress throughout your writing process? Did it ever surprise you?
The theme of the story was clear in my mind many months before I began to write. Like many sculptures say, the median that they are working with tells them which direction to go in. I think that the same can be said for many artists. A certain brush stroke, one way or another by a painter may direct him or her to advance in a way that they were unaware until that moment. The same I think happens to fiction writers at least is was that way for me. For me, the plot line was like a day dream, my imagination could run wild and no harm was done. Bits and pieces of past and current events along with a made up future helped move the plot along. As for surprises, the biggest surprise came when I revisited the final product and realized that for better or for worst I had put together word after word, sentence after sentence a story that someday someone might find pleasure in reading.
A great many of us begin our novel and work on it, and work on it, and work on it…
At what point in your writing journey did you feel truly committed to finishing?
In a world with so many well known and prolific writers, being a novice author trying to enter their world is very intimidating. I began my novel as a sort of a way to blow off stream about a world I saw as sometimes cruel and unjust. As the pages grew, the story became something more than just a way to express my distaste for certain world events. At some point, at what I know now as half way through my novel, I realized that I had to go where the paper was taking me. I had to lead the characters to their final destination.
Listen in on writer’s group meetings around the world and you will hear more about the things that sabotage the writing process than things that move it forward.
How did you escape those traps?
I think that the biggest thing that can sabotage the writing process is fear – fear that the work is not good enough- fear of rejection. Also not being willing to commit the time is a major trap. Writing a novel is not for everyone it takes and enormous amount of time and effort to turn out a good work. I put my fear of rejection behind knowing that I would take the time to give it my best shot and if that was not good enough then so be it; I have plenty more things to do in my life.
Many people in the industry say that writing the story is the easy part…publishing and marketing- that’s the hard part.
Now that you have done it all would you agree?
In today’s world, publishing and marketing a book is enormously difficult as compared to writing the novel. Writing a novel fact or fiction, although it’s hard work, is mostly done at the writer’s convenience in the author’s comfort zone whereas finding a publisher for a first time author, unless you are somehow connected or you are that rare, exceptionally new talent, it is almost impossible to find a publisher that will risk taking you on. Enter the world of self-publishing. If one is luckily enough to fine a publisher or elects to self-publishing, then comes the task that I think most authors would rather not do and that’s selling the book. Fiction writers, who I think are mostly quite types and not salesman, would rather just write and leave the publishing and marketing details to others.
Self-publishing can be an overwhelming prospect for many authors.
What did you learn from the process?
Because of the intense competition and enormous cost associated with publishing and marketing a book, most novice author fined it almost impossible to connect with main stream publishing houses. Self publishing has provided the novice a way of bring their work out of the shadows and into the light to compete with the rest of the world’s authors. But the word self in Self publishing means that the focus is on self, yourself. All the things that a publisher would do if they took you on is now your responsibly, of which editing is the most important. A good editor well verse in your genre is crucial. A well thought out title, a relevant and handsome book cover as is a well written synopsis for the back cover are all important items to be dealt with if one is considering self publishing. Most of all do not try and rush the process. There is the temptation that once the manuscript in done to rush it to publication but as in carpentry, the saying ‘measure twice and cut once’ goes well with self-publishing also. Those considering self-publishing should check twice that all bases have been cover and then check the bases one more time to make sure the manuscript is ready to go.
Sooo… tell us is there a sequel in the making?
What’s next for your characters?
There is a chance of a sequel, the characters remaining at the end of the story I feel deserve to live on someday. But right now I’m fascinated by a series I’ve been working on where two retired college professors of Ancient History and Mythology, a husband and wife team, who opened a bed and breakfast on Long Island New York, meet one night with an evil Mythological creature. Drawing on their knowledge of Ancient History and Mythology, they narrowly escape being devoured and somehow manage to defeat the evil being that preyed upon them that night. Embolden by their victory they decide that a B&B life, after what they had just gone thought was dullsville. So they sold the B&B and set out to use their new found talent to locate and stamp out evil wherever they find it.
Wow that sounds great!
We are very excited for you and all your friends at Somerset Ink are very proud of you.
Keep writing…we want more.
If you have read John’s book, which can be previewed and purchased through Amazon, and would like to leave a review, comment or question for John, please to do. John would love to hear from you…Lets start a discussion.