-- World of Writing --
That's right! It's time for another fascinating interview with other writers, offering their insights on the industry. Loyal listeners of our radio sho may remember we had Tracy Slatton on as a featured guest back in May 2008 - check out the full interview via: Midlife & the Italian Renaissance
Q: Where are you from?
People ask where I am from, and I say, “Around.” My dad was in the Navy, so we moved frequently. I was born outside Chicago and grew up in Groton, CT; Norfolk, VA; Millington, TN; and Olathe, KS. I’ve been in New York city since 1985 and I consider myself a New Yorker.
Because I grew up in a peripatetic military life, my books reflect my love for travel, for different ways of being in the world. There is curiosity and adventure to life. Fallen is set in France, right after the world has ended. But this is France after a devastating apocalypse. The Botticelli Affair takes place partly in New York city, but the main character, luscious art forger Laila Cambridge, travels to Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome—three of my favorite cities.
Q: When did you consider yourself a writer?
I knew when I was 6 years old, after reading my first “big book,” that I wanted to write novels. It has been the longing that has led me through my life. In some way, everything I have done has been about that goal, that longing. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and I was accepted into Yale after my junior year of high school. That was, for me, about becoming a writer. I was determined to do whatever it took to get there.
Q: Do you use more than one voice in your writing? (first/second…)
My three novels are largely written in the first person. Part of my process is about feeling myself, and imagining myself, deeply into the main character. The character comes alive when I use ‘I.’
Laila, my bubbly art forger in The Botticelli Affair, was fun to write because she’s zany and frisky, while also wrestling with her dark temptations. Emma, the main character in Fallen, struggles with her own heart. Emma is on a mystical odyssey, and her choices are fateful. She is trying to find joy and meaning while keeping a group of children alive.
Q: What is your profession and educational background?
I received a bachelor’s from Yale in English and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia. I also attended the four year Barbara Brennan School of Healing. I spent many years as a hands-on healer. Now I am a professional writer. I’ve also been raising three and a half children—‘half’ being my beautiful step-daughter.
Q: What is your mission?
My mission is to write novels that entertain, uplift, and awaken the reader. I intend to write stories that will buoy people through troubled times, as well as delight them while they are reading.
For these reasons, I write novels where the stakes are high. In Fallen, there has been an apocalypse. So the question is, what is left, when everything is gone? In this story, I propose that it is love.
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I think I create three-dimensional characters, that’s a strength. But I am borderline wordy. It’s imperative for me to have a good editor!
Q: About e-Publishing and Self publishing
It’s a brave new world of publishing. Because of e-publishing, we are in the midst of the greatest revolution in publishing since the invention of the Guttenberg Press, which, by the way, put a whole class of people out of work within a generation: scribes. And initially, there was quite a lot of resistance to printed books; members of the elite classes believed that no educated man would buy coarse printed books. We’ve all seen how that turned out!
The traditional publishers are dinosaurs, fossilizing in front of our eyes. They take too long to read manuscripts, they take too long to get manuscripts into printed form, they respond too slowly to the market, they are afraid to take risks, they are terrified of innovation and run from it, they run themselves on old-school business ‘rules’ that are outmoded and largely false for books, they run via group-think and committee-mind so they lack creativity and vision, their PR departments are incompetent, they want to be gatekeepers instead of gate-openers serving the reading public, and they have no sense of nurturing mid-list authors and developing a career over time. Basically, traditional publishing houses are searching vainly for an algorithm that will guarantee that every book they publish will be a bestseller. To that end, they beat the deceased equine until it is a gelatinous mass.
This is a time when independent-minded, innovative, pathologically persistent authors can do very, very well—because they can get their books out to the reading, buying public quickly. However: beware of literary agencies that offer to publish your novel for you, for a price. In my mind this is a serious conflict of interest for a literary agency and a shocking dereliction of ethical responsibility. If an agent likes your book but can’t sell it, take your book and e-publish it yourself.
HOWEVER, and this is crucial: it is imperative that every e-publishing author do a few things: 1. Hire a professional manuscript editor and do at least 2 revisions, and 2. Hire a professional copy-editor and have the manuscript copy-edited before sending it to the e-publisher. These are not optional. They are mandatory. Sloppy books are not taken seriously and will not sell. My third recommendation is to hire a PR firm. Readers can’t buy your books if they don’t know about them!
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