Monday, January 09, 2012

Getting to know you: Andrew Leon


If you recall from my previous post, I mentioned that there was a list of stuff that: I've started and then not had the time to finish properly. One of the things on this list was an interview with the author Andrew Leon, who has been extremely patient as the ball has gone bouncing down a very long corridor. So finally here is the long awaited interview that was originally meant to be part of the third writer's platform-building campaign (long since finished). Anyway, big apologies to Andrew and with that let's get on with getting to know him. 

Well, maybe not straight away, before we talk all about you, I just have to say that I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman. I loved his Books of Magic (not the Vertigo imprint that came out later - even though I did buy them), but I read a friend's copy and I haven't read it since. Can you just tell me one of your favourite scenes, please? So I can have that geeky 'Oh yes!' moment. Thanks.
Oh, man! It has been so long since I read that, and my copies are in storage. I love that series, though. It's probably my favorite comic series done by Gaiman. Thinking about it, there is this scene where Tim is walking off with the Phantom Stranger (I think) that is just etched in my mind. Whether the etching is accurate or not, I don't know, but it's there. I also loved Gaiman's portrayal of Constantine.


Your book HOUSE ON THE CORNER is available on Kindle and POD. Why should we add it to our to be read lists?
And, now, you're asking me to be objective about my book? How cruel! Well, first, I think anyone who has kids should read my book and read it to their kids. It's great for that. I know, because I've spent more than a little time reading it in my kids' classes at their school, and the kids love it. But for adults, I really think it's capable of taking you back to being a kid and what it was like to think about all the hidden things that could be hiding around the corner. Unless you didn't have an imagination as a kid. In that case, it probably won't do anything for you. Although, it does have more than a tiny bit of humor in it. And, yes, it's available on the Kindle and the Nook and available as a physical book through CreateSpace.

Your book is an e book. How did you reach the decision to be an indie writer? 
Actually, I hate that term indie writer. I'm just a writer. Now, an indie publisher, that I can get behind. Really, I made the decision to self publish only after I finished the book and started querying. It wasn't until that point that I really began to look at the state that traditional publishing is in and the fact that agents, on the whole, don't really do the jobs of agents anymore. Between that and the fact that publishers won't really market you unless you're already going to sell, meaning you have to do it all yourself, I figured I would just do it all myself and skip the 2 year wait.
  
Can you explain a little about he steps you took e publish your book?
Well... that's a long answer. Mostly, because I really did it the wrong way, first. Let's see... I did all of the editing myself. But! I have a degree in English, and I have worked as an editor before, so it wasn't a hard stretch for me. However, I did learn one thing, editing on the computer is hard. I noticed so much more when I had the actual, physical book in my hand, so, if anyone is thinking of self-editing, I would highly suggest having a physical copy to look at to do that with. Even if you're just going to e-publish, it could be worth going through CreateSpace -just- to get a proof copy to hold in your hand and edit from. The other main thing I did was read the book out loud. As I said, I read the book in my kids' classes at school, both as I was writing it and from the proof, and that really helps to catch awkward sounding sentences. As for the formatting... well, that was no fun. Everyone wants something different. CreateSpace wanted it as a pdf, which I had never used before, so I had to figure that out, meaning I had to make a bunch of mistakes before I got it to work. The Kindle required different formatting when I went back to do the second edition than it had required the first time, so that took some doing, too. I'm not a very techy person, so all of these things are the kids of things I wish I had someone else to do for me. Heh

There is a lot of talk about platforms nowadays, why is it so important for an indie author?
I didn't think anything about platform when I was writing my book. Mostly, I see these blogs of people that are still working on producing their first novel and using their blogs to prepare the platform so it's there when (or if) they ever do finish. That's the conventional wisdom these days, but I'm not sure I'm sold on it. What I do know is that managing my blog has made working on the sequel to House much slower than working on House. I suppose what I'm saying is that I think it might be better for people that want to write books to do that, first. Get that first book written and then start working on the platform thing. I don't know... It is important, though. You need to have some way to let people know that you have a book out there. Just because you've written it doesn't mean they'll come, to paraphrase a popular movie. People need to know, and, beyond that, they need to be convinced. That's the hardest part.

Now are you a plotter or pantster?
That's an interesting question, and it's a discussion that I see going on all the time. The people that love the discovery of pantsing vs the control of the plotters. When I'm actually writing, I feel like a pantser, I suppose. I'm just doing the writing. I mean, I don't write anything down ahead of time. I don't make outlines, I don't make time lines, and I don't write out copious amounts of back story. However, I don't start writing until I know where I'm going. I know my plot arc and have it in my head at all times. I can't really write without having a destination. I suppose pantsers would say that makes me a plotter, but I'm sure plotters wouldn't have me in their club, either.


What's your top writing tip?
That would have to be to just do it. I have this problem with my son all the time. He will sit there and stare at a blank piece of paper for hours trying to get the words to come to him. It's painful. I have to tell him all the time to just start writing and the words will start to work themselves out. Yes, he may have to go back and re-work some of the beginning because he wasn't “warmed up,” yet, but that's better than just sitting there. He always says how that will never work until he actually does it, so he always has to come back and tell me I was right.


What's your most valuable writing resource?
That I don't know. I read. But I wouldn't call that a resource, per se. I tend to keep a dictionary and a thesaurus open on my desktop while I'm writing, and I use those a lot. Usually because I have a word in mind that is not precisely the word I'm looking for, so I do a lot of cross-checking of definitions for synonyms. Of course, there's always my kids. They give me a lot to write about. Heh


If you would like to get to know even more about Andrew you can find him over at Strange Pegs. You can also buy THE HOUSE ON THE CORNER directly from Andrew's blog. See? There in the corner. (I tried to draw a circle around the spot, but it's getting to the stage where this post is NEVER going to go up if I continue trying to do it). 


10 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

Thanks, Michele!

Andrew Leon said...

One thing, though... you seem to have lost the "n" off of the end of my last name.

I'll look under this street light over here.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't start blogging until after I'd signed a contract, so I know what you mean by write first and blog later. It works!
Congratulations again, Andrew.

Ness Harbour said...

This was fascinating to read. Am always interested to see how others write.Love the fact you have changed Andrew's surname to Leo as that is my son's name!

Michele Helene said...

Hi Andrew, I actually found the missing 'n' in my pocket along with the two buttons that have fallen off my coat. OK, seriously though, how do you turn off the predictive text on this thing?
Alex, I started blogging before I knew I wanted to write seriously, maybe that's where I'm going wrong...
Really, your son is called Leo? That's the name of one of my characters.

Barbara Kloss said...

I also didn't start blogging till my book was written. Which, now that you mention it, is probably the main reason the sequel is taking so dang long.

Hmm...

Thanks for sharing!

Rusty Webb said...

Good stuff. Reading out loud is a must. That's a great tip.

Andrew Leon said...

@Alex: Thanks!
Although, I'm not sure if I'm on the "it works" side yet. Sales haven't been strong enough for me to think that.

@Ness: Of course, Leo and Leon mean the same thing.

@Michele: Well, I'm glad you didn't have a hole in it, then!

@Barbara: Yes, the sequel is taking much longer. And the blog is part of why I got sidetracked on this other project I have, further delaying it!

@Rusty: Yeah, I sort of think it's essential.

Michele Helene said...

Right Andrew Leo (n)! What can we do to up your books sales? I'll retweet for a start.

Andrew Leon said...

I think what I realy need is reviews posted on Amazon and (probably) goodreads. Of course, good reviews are probably more beneficial than bad reviews, but I'm pretty sure any review is better than no review.

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