Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have been writing for about 25 years, but just published my first book this year. For the first time my writing was a great pleasure not work. It was as if the book was writing itself. Second-language teaching, traveling, sailing in the merchant marine, and working construction contributed greatly to settings and emotional experiences in the book. Getting away from autobiographical thinking freed my creative spirit. Writing an espionage thriller, my favourite genre, instead of a glorified daily journal really sparked my creative juices.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My book is called Tsunami Connection. In 2004, the Boxing Day tsunami shocked me. It seemed odd to me that the oldest, most devout Moslem community, Aceh Province in Indonesia, suffered the greatest hit. Life makes the best stories. I imagined a scenario by asking which groups in society would profit. What had provoked the tsunami plagued me until one night I dreamed about a Russian Akula. I woke up and wrote what I believed was the first chapter. After five years of research while working full-time, it was a great feeling to know the book was becoming a reality.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I tell myself I have to produce 2000 words every day. I make myself sit down and write even if I do not write my main project. To keep up my writing I have joined several non-reciprocal review exchange groups.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Any book in which the voice rings true to me. Len Deighton wrote a series of 12 spy books. I have read the series many times. The closing trilogy called Faith, Hope and Charity still gives me chills after having read them several times. Jean Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy created a world seen through the idiosyncratic eyes of Smiley. Think it is hard to get readership today. Try Stalin’s Soviet Union. Mikhail Bulgakov wrote a biting satire of the Soviet Union that made me laugh aloud.
What are you working on now?
The Hordes is the second part of a dystopian trilogy. The book follows the enigmatic protagonist, Kefira, an intuitive ex-sleeper in her search for answers to timely geopolitical enigmas. In this novel, I intend to explore the characters more deeply on an emotional level. Introducing utility fog, a nanotech element, intrigues me. My goal is to create a cross-genre tale.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Perfect strangers have been remarkably kind to me. When I first understood that I had to learn how to market my work, I have to admit I felt overwhelmed. Then I made a sketchy plan. By amazing luck, I joined the Maryland Writer’s Association. Some people associated the association encouraged me and gave me the strength to take the next step. I made a Facebook page. On FB, I met dozens of amazingly helpful and supportive people. The most surprising event was someone, Christina Ow, all the way from South Africa, giving me my first book review. I could not believe my good fortune. A total stranger in South Africa reviewed my book and gave it five stars. I met her on Facebook. K.S. Brooks at Indies Unlimited has been very helpful. I ran across her on the Net when I first started making freebee promos. Sometimes when I do not know what to do next in my marketing plan, I look up her marketing guide and search through the site for information links. I could go on and on… Suffice to say that the people in the Indie publishing world are amazing.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Start thinking about marketing before you publish. Making a presence on the Net takes time and patience. My latest idea is to post every marketing effort in a blog called Indie Marketing Blues. It will be a cathartic look at the trials and tribulations of the marketing game. Ideally the blog will contain off-the-wall reactions and humour. I am trying to find a young cartoon artist to animate the dialogues.
Making contacts on the Net takes time. When you strike up a connection, keep in touch.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Write 2000 words a day.
What are you reading now?
My contribution to The Reviews Initiative on Goodreads has opened up my reading horizons and given me the pleasure of developing a new skill. I have discovered I love writing book reviews. There is nothing more satisfying for me than getting an email from Amazon saying that another customer used my review to help them make a decision about buying a book. Since getting reviews for Indie published books remains difficult, writing non-reciprocal reviews has the added benefit of getting much needed reviews for my book too.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Soon I am going to retire and be able to write full time. I can’t wait.
What is your favorite book of all time?
The World According To Garp by John Irving just beats the first book I ever read. Leon Uris’ Battle Cry, lent to me by my older sister, remains very infuential.