Jerry Knaak

dark-terror-poster

Jerry Knaak stays busy not only writing, but building a community around his work. Read about the numerous marketing and promotion methods he uses.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My latest book is called The Dark Terror, the third in a probable trilogy. My 12-year-old son came up with the title. It tells the continuing story of Elizabeth Danae Rubis, a newly-minted vampire who has been terrorizing the San Francisco Bay Area as she adjusts to her new existence.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales can always be better. As a new author I am constantly seeking ways to grow my audience.

3. You began your writing career later in life than many authors. Talk a little about this.

I have been writing professionally for 25 years or so, but mostly in sports. I started a blog almost six years ago. Writing isn’t new to me. I was the editor of my high school newspaper; I wrote for the cruise book when I was in the Navy; and I became a journalist and sports writer. I tried my hand at a few short stories but they have been lost to the wind. Vampires have always intrigued me and I fell in love with the genre at an early age. I always figured that if I ever wrote a novel, it would be about vampires.

I started the first book in 2011 but set it aside after some negative feedback. I really didn’t know what I was doing. In January 2016, I picked it back up again, rewrote it from the first person perspective and it took off. After complaining that I always felt like I was late to the dance (on trends, literature, music, etc.), my best friend told me: “Because you’re worried about what time the dance started.”

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Geoff Turner

Archie'sMirror.jpgGeoff Turner sought several literary agents before landing with a publisher.  He discusses his journey and explains why even traditionally published authors need sound marketing strategies.

1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

Archie’s Mirror is about a young boy’s search for his missing father. It’s a journey that takes him through the magical mirror of the title and into the mysterious Land Beyond. It’s a book for older children along the lines of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy or Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I also wanted to write a story that explored the idea of story-telling itself. So, for kids, there’s what I hope is a rollicking fantasy adventure, but there are additional levels there that adults might want to explore, alongside a heady mix of jeopardy and humor.

2. How have your sales been?

Put it this way, I won’t be quitting my day job just yet. The thing I’ve realized about being an indie author – and I guess the same is true with self-published writers – it’s very much a marathon not a sprint. It’s very rare that you’ll find instant success. You have to keep at the marketing, you have to keep at the promotion, and you have to keep searching for your audience. Keep the faith and, with a bit of luck, that audience will be out there, somewhere.

3. You’ve gone the traditional publishing route. Tell me more about that and how you got into it.

By chance I saw that Prospective Press was looking to increase their roster of writers and was asking for speculative submissions. Archie’s Mirror was finished, and I was toying with self-publishing, having received a raft of rejections from literary agents. I figured there was nothing lost by sending Prospective the manuscript. At the very least I thought I might get some feedback on what was wrong with it – the agents had just sent me their standard letters – but, as it happened, the book struck a chord with them and they offered to publish it.

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Debra Borys

Debra Borys stays busy with a number of writing projects: from freelancing to writing novels.  Having experience working with a start-up press, she gives insight about the amount of promotional work all authors must do, and some of the methods she’s already adopted.

1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?

The short stories I had self-published are Red Light, Green Light, Peeling the Onion, and Weeping Widows, a collection of mini-mystery stories.  The mini-mysteries are written for fun – I call them my cynical stories because of the narrative “author” Evelyn A. Archer.  Three of the stories in the collection were previously sold to print magazines.  Also previously published in magazines were Red Light and Onion.  Both are about street kids, one story set in Chicago, one in Seattle, both cities where I volunteered with the homeless.

Painted Black is a suspense novel about a missing street kid named Lexie Green, who at fifteen years old is selling her body to survive. When reporter Jo Sullivan realizes no one seems to care about what might have happened to her, she teams up with Lexie’s friend Chris to learn the truth.  When Jo and Chris investigate Sloan and Whiteside’s funeral home, they put themselves in danger of becoming part of a bizarre collection of freeze dried corpses.

The original idea for the suspense plot for Painted Black came from a news article I read years ago in the Chicago Tribune.  It was about a new method of preservation being used by taxidermists who freeze dry people’s pets to produce lifelike replicas that would last indefinitely.  One person they interviewed stated that freeze drying could be used on people as well, and compared the process to cooking pizzas in an oven.  He sounded so bizarre and unconcerned that it immediately sparked an idea for a character based on him and became the premise for my story.  In my research, I actually found an article in a mortuary magazine about a firm that did preserve a man in this manner.

The idea to use homeless kids as important characters came about from my experience volunteering with The Night Ministry in Chicago.  I was struck by how many times homeless people are treated as sub-human, like they don’t matter.  Some people seem to have only contempt for someone who is homeless even when they know nothing about the circumstances.  Most people just want to pretend that the homeless don’t exist, walking by them with averted eyes.  I would like to make these invisible people visible so we can find solutions to the problem, not ignore it.

I want my readers to understand that the important thing to recognize about homeless people is that they are people.  The homeless part is incidental.  I’m hoping that while my readers are all wrapped up in the suspenseful story in Painted Black, they will somehow subtly have their eyes opened up a little to see that the street people I’m writing about – the same people they walk past on the street without looking at – aren’t really all that different from themselves.

If even only a few people get that, then I’ll feel happy.  I’d be even happier if it inspires someone to make a move to do something about it – volunteer at a local soup kitchen, advocate for improvements in social services, or even just say hi to that homeless person they pass on the corner every day on their way to work.  I am donating 10% of any author profits from Painted Black to The Night Ministry and to Teen Feed In Seattle, in appreciation for the work they do.  I encourage anyone who reads my books to also support any program working to eliminate homelessness.

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