Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), the main items being the interviews (new ones posted there 7am UK time daily) as well as author spotlights, guest posts, flash fiction or poetry 7pm.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Author interview no.380: Anderson Maestri (revisited)


Back in May 2012, I interviewed author Anderson Maestri for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the three hundred and eightieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction author Anderson Maestri. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Anderson. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Anderson: I was born and raised in Brazil, and immigrated to the USA in the late 90’s. I am currently based out of St. Louis, Missouri. I started writing in college, and became fascinated with how the entire publishing process can be an art form. I look at every finished project as art I have created both in written form and design.
Morgen: Yes, although creative writing is an art, it’s easy to forget that. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Anderson: I have written self-help, and devotional works. I have the initial ideas for a business consulting work and a story-telling piece.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Anderson: I have published three works so far. In 2002, I published “Bilingual Parenting & The Preacher’s First Ministry” (Amazon). This work is out of print; however, I am in the process of finishing a revised edition to release this year. In 2009, I published “Neither Heads nor Tails” (Createspace). A self-help work focused on balance between extremes in many areas of our lives. The latest work released this February, “Sunday Knowledge: Snippets of Scriptural Wisdom” (Createspace) is a collection of bulletin articles written for church members on a weekly basis during several years of preaching.
Morgen: I’m not sure how relevant my next question is as you’re self-published but have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Anderson: If you count unanswered cold calls as rejection, I simply saw that as part of the difficulty of breaking through the initial marketing efforts.
Morgen: I’d say so, yes. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Anderson: I do not have an agent, but I have wondered at times if an agent would have the connections the facilitate promotion.
Morgen: I’m sure they do help… and in most cases are worth their percentage. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Anderson: Currently, I have not spent the resources to convert my works into eBook format. However, if sales of the paper format progress well, I intend to look into that possibility. Since I rarely read eBooks, I believe that my choice may be biased.
Morgen: There’s little doubt that eBooks are the way to go and it’s not that difficult to do it yourself. I have Amazon and Smashwords templates I could send you if you like. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Anderson: 100%. As a self-published author, my resources are limited, so I use my background in marketing to facilitate adaptation to the specific field of book promotion.
Morgen: That would make it easier. I have no marketing or sales experience but know that just touting yourself with little else to say on the likes of Facebook and Twitter does no good and certainly on Twitter gets you (one) de-followed; it’s a constant learning curve. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Anderson: I was responsible for every single aspect of the design of my books. I believe the cover and title are a major part of the marketing of a book. It is the face of the work that makes the first impression and captures the audience at the first glance.
Morgen: It does and I have had some here say they have been put off buying because of one or the other (or both). What are you working on at the moment / next?
Anderson: Right now, I am revising my Bilingual Parenting work published in 2002. When I wrote that piece, I did it from the perspective of the one raised bilingually. Now I am adding the perspective of raising my son bilingually.
Morgen: I used to live next to a German / English family and it was great hearing them speak both languages. Do you write any fiction, poetry or short stories?
Anderson: All of my work is non-fiction, but I have considered writing the life story of a character I created. However, the idea has remained archived due to other responsibilities.
Morgen: That’s a shame but I do know how not having much time goes. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Anderson: Since I normally start with organizing my ideas in outline format, much like a college essay, editing becomes more of a visual exercise to perfect the final product.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Anderson: For my self-help work, I tend to do much research. My devotional / religious work flows from my every day study of Scriptures and preparation for classes and sermons.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Anderson: I prefer first person, but I still carry much of the college perception that it is not appropriate writing.
Morgen: I’ve been told by an agent that first person has been done to death but I guess it’s different for non-fiction. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Anderson: Most likely my story telling will stay archived.
Morgen: That’s a shame. Writers started as storytellers so maybe when you’ve got everything else written and online. :) What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Anderson: I love seeing the completed work. I am very surprised that I have written as many works as I have. And that I desire to write more. I never expected for this to be this “addictive”.
Morgen: My mum said to me recently that I shouldn’t let it take over her life… I didn’t like to say she was a few months too late. :) What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Anderson: Write without expectations! I know some of us desire to make a living as writers, but the purest work may come from simply writing for the sake writing!
Morgen: Making a living as a writer is really hard (I’m still at the bottom rung) but they say a successful writer is one who never gave up. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Anderson: “Anything in excess overflows!”
Morgen: :) I like that. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Anderson: If you count weekly bulleting articles for our congregation. My wife, however, has been blogging for about a year, and I am her number one fan (www.littleloveliesbyallison.com). Her craftwork is amazing, and her writing brings it all together. But I guess I’m biased!
Morgen: I think that’s lovely. It makes such a difference to have someone close who’s so supportive. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Anderson: I think I have too many hobbies, and I do a little bit of everything depending on my mood and the weather. I like playing soccer, volleyball or any sport for that matter. If I watch anything for five minutes I become interested, and I could end up watching an entire D list movie. I sometimes fiddle with the guitar, other times with lead and charcoal. I also dabble in gaming; PS3 is my console of choice.
Morgen: It’s good to have lots of interests. It’s like writing one genre – it suits many writers but others (like me) need to write different things for the variety, even if it’s a mix of novels and short stories. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Anderson: I have a fan page on Facebook, and I have been using LinkedIn as another means of networking.
Morgen: They’re both great but LinkedIn came to my rescue recently; I was running low on interviewees so I put a shout-out and was soon inundated – I’m now booking into December. :) Where can we find out about you and your work?
Anderson: The links mentioned above are all individual pages where my work could be found.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Anderson: After reviewing all these different genres, what is your favourite genre to read just for fun!
Morgen: I say I read light and dark so it’s crime and humour (pure humour or girlie like chick lit). I do err on the side of dark and sometimes even find my light stuff (1966-and-all-that) usually has a body in it somewhere… I even managed one in my 105K chick lit novel, although it wasn’t a human one. :) Thank you, Anderson.
I then invited Anderson to include an extract of his writing and this is from ‘Neither Heads nor Tails’…
“There is a difference between being passionate about a position and being blinded to common sense by biases. My aunt once “yelled” at me when I was a kid. For some reason I was being annoying and insisting in doing whatever it was I wanted to do. I remember her words as if it was yesterday. They made me so mad, but as I grew older they made so much sense. She simply said, “Anything in excess overflows!” That was an interesting way to say “That’s enough!” She probably did not realize the depth of her statement. The concept that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing was right then being planted in my mind, so that it could mature for the next twenty years. As a result we come to this assessment, too much to the left we have Tails… too much to the right we have Heads; what option leaves us with just enough?”
Anderson Maestri has been involved in the education and instruction field for the past 15 years. His fields of expertise encompass a variety of subjects. He has taught all age groups from teaching soccer to 10 year olds to teaching English to 45 year olds, from teaching martial arts to college students to teaching Bible to those above 60. After years of observation and a few key motivating factors, Mr. Maestri decided to share a philosophy which was planted in his childhood, watered in college, and now it is ready for the harvest. He brings to this work his experience as businessman, his knowledge acquired through years of teaching, and good dose of common sense.


Update November 2012: Since our interview, I wrote Growing Old Graciously as a ghostwriter for a group of senior citizens. We gathered once a week for 13 weeks, and each week I listened and guided their input for each chapter. It was a fun experience. Right now, I'm in the final proofing stage of Coaching Futsal. A short work for soccer coaches.
Morgen: what fun, congratulations. :)
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Author interview no.379: Robert Spiller (revisited)


Back in May 2012, I interviewed author Robert Spiller for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the three hundred and seventy-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author Robert Spiller. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Robert. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Robert: I am a former Mathematics teacher (university, high school, middle school), who recently retired after 35 years to write full time.  I live in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado.
When my second marriage evaporated, I went on a three-week bike ride and brought along 5 spiral notebooks.  What I wrote on this emotional excursion turned into my first novel, a science fiction piece entitled The Children of Yei.  The novel won second prize at a Writing Conference but I couldn’t give that epitome of fine literature away.  It wasn’t until I started writing mysteries: The Witch of Agnesi, A Calculated Demise, Irrational Numbers, Radical Equations (to be released in print copy later this month) that I became published.
Morgen: A novel in three weeks, wow. That’s better than NaNoWriMo. :) In the introduction I called you “multi-genre”, what genres do you write?
Robert: I write an amateur sleuth mystery series with a female Mathematics teacher who solves murders in a small Colorado town.  I have written two sci-fi novels, two historic Young Adult novels, and am currently working on a horror piece that gives me nightmares.
Morgen: Ooh great, then it’ll give us nightmares… or you may not mean it like that. :) What have you had published to-date?
Robert: The Witch of Agnesi – 2006, A Calculated Demise – 2007, Irrational Numbers – 2008 and Radical Equations – print release Feb 2012
The first three were with Medallion Press, Radical Equations is through Courtney Literary.
Morgen: (they're brilliant covers) Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Robert: I just recently threw away over a hundred rejections that I promised myself I would keep until I died.  Obviously, I didn’t keep that promise.  When I was trying to sell the first Bonnie Pinkwater mystery, The Witch of Agnesi, I sent out so many queries and packets that once I received 12 rejections in one day.  As for how I deal with rejections, I really don’t let it get to me (I just assume they don’t understand my genius).
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s just the right thing for the wrong person, and you kept going. :) I only have 20-something rejections but I’ve made myself that same promise because I think any author who has had a bumpy road can see how far they’ve come… plus they get to stick their tongue out at rejectors (I don’t suppose that’s even a word but hey, if we can’t make them up, who can?) when they are successful. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Robert: My first novel, The Children of Yei won second prize in the Paul Gillette Writing Contest at the Pikes Peak Writing Conference.
Morgen: Oh well done. I bet you were thrilled. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Robert: I have had a few agents, but at the moment am unrepresented by a literary agent.  I would love to find someone to help me find a home for my Historic YA mysteries.
Morgen: Let’s hope one’s reading you now. I’ve had three (British) tell me they’re after more historical so it is a genre that’s being sought after. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Robert: All of my books are available as e-books: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords.  In fact the most recent, Radical Equations was published as an e-book in December but will only be available in print later in February 2012.  A good friend gave me a Kindle for a retirement gift and so I’m reading more and more e-books.
Morgen: I’ve had a Kindle since January and I love it, although I’ll still read both formats. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Robert: I am working with a wonderful promoter, Deb Courtney, who has given me a marketing plan that requires me to do a list of tasks for each reiteration of the plan.  I have done signings, speaking engagements, readings, interviews, taught classes at conferences, visited schools.  I am actively involved with Goodreads (I have two giveaways running), have a blog: http://spillerwrites.blogspot.com, a website: http://rspiller.com, use Twitter, Facebook, and am a member of a whole slew of author sites.
Morgen: You’re certainly doing all the right things by the sound of it – you just have to keep plugging away. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Robert: Truth is I have thought of this a bunch.  I always picture one particular actress playing Bonnie – Bette Midler.  Annette Benning also works.  My current favourite book is Radical Equations – but I’ve always liked whatever I’m working on.  My favourite character besides my sleuth Bonnie Pinkwater is Rhiannon Griffith, Bonnie’s Wiccan sidekick. She’s the perfect female foil for Bonnie’s analytic nature: smart, compassionate, generous, and she doesn’t take guff from Bonnie.
Morgen: Bette Midler is great. I like Annette Benning but Bette, in my opinion anyway, has more of a stage presence… she’s cheeky. :) What are you working on at the moment / next?
Robert: Two books really.  The next Bonnie Pinkwater mystery, Napier’s Bones.  And a horror novel set in the aftermath of World War II.
Morgen: They all sound quite in depth, do you have to do much research?
Robert: Each Bonnie Pinkwater mystery features a historic mathematician, so I research their lives.  Each is used in some fashion to give Bonnie that AHA moment necessary to solving the murders.  The Witch of Agnesi featured Marie Agnesi, A Calculated Demise featured Hypatia of Alexandria, who herself was murdered, Irrational Numbers featured Sonya Kovalevskaya, and Radical Equations features Leonhard Euler.  So along with a satisfying mystery the reader gets to learn about these fascinating people.
Morgen: I have to say I’ve not heard of them (history isn’t my strong point) but I know there are people out there who will know so you do especially have to get your facts right because they’ll be eager enough to tell you. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Robert: 1.  Hypatia of Alexandria (we would have cheese, bread and seasoned olive oil).  She was the daughter of the last librarian of the great library.  She was an advocate of reason and many people believe her murder was orchestrated by a man who later became pope.
2. Ghandi (we would fast)
3. Tecumseh, the great Native American chief.  Back when the North America had more Indians than white folks he almost succeeded in driving us out.  We would dine on pemmican (whatever the heck that is).
Morgen: Um… Google tells me it’s an indigenous sausage. :) http://www.natureskills.com/wild-foods/recipe-pemmican Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Robert: I’ve always been partial to ‘Remember the Snodens of Yesteryear’ from Catch 22.  I also like ‘Don’t Panic.’ from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe series.
Morgen: Brain the size of a planet and all they ask me to do is pick up pieces of paper. :) Actually Douglas Adams said one of my favourite quotes… something like ‘I love deadlines – the sound as they woosh by’. :) Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Robert: I am currently using my blog (http://spillerwrites.blogspot.com) to develop a class on Setting.  I teach writing classes in Humor, and the Care and Feeding of Critique Groups.
Morgen: I like the sound of those, especially the latter (because I belong to four). :) What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Robert: I believe more and more writers will go the self-publishing route, as it becomes increasingly easier to put work out yourself.  I’ve heard the argument that this will precipitate a decline in quality, but I have faith that people will read what is exceptional and tell their friends.  Plus there are more and more avenues of review that readers could access (Goodreads, etc) to learn what is good and what is drek.
Morgen: Exactly, that’s what I think; that the reviews will out. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Robert: First of all a reader could check my website: http://rspiller.com.  All my work is available in e-book and print form on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and can be ordered through most bookstores.
Morgen: Brilliant, thank you Robert.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know. :)
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.