Interview with an author

No I haven’t hit the ‘big time’ and been interviewed by the press. Alpha Wolf is constantly tweaking their web site and they have decided to publish an ‘interview with the author’ of those people who are being published that particular month. I don’t as yet have a publication date for any of the books but I’m assured that I’m ‘in the pipeline’. In the meantime below is my contribution.

I’ve started to revise the current ‘work in progress’, The Kaiteur Caper. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish most of it before leaving Darwin on the 27th July. I’m also told that Internet access throughout Indonesia is quite good so hopefully before too long the next Karno adventure will be ‘ready to roll’.

 

Interview with an author (me)

Do you have any marketing tips you would like to share?

 

Unfortunately not but I do have some observations and I apologise if these seem to be negative. I think of them as coldly realistic, so here goes.

Speaking as a self-published and soon to be published author, I have obviously looked in depth into Internet marketing. Guess what? It doesn’t work. If it did then there would be a lot more self-published success stories than there are. I do very little marketing beyond announcing on my blogs and facebook page that a book is forthcoming. I’ll put up extracts and teasers. I’ll offer a previously published book on Amazon for free for a couple of days just after I’ve published a new work. What I don’t do is spend a lot of time and money getting my ‘freebie’ publicised and the number of my free downloads seems to equal or better those who spend hours and many currency units doing so. I conclude from this that time and effort is better spent in actually writing or editing my existing work.

It may be that a year or two ago Internet/facebook marketing worked but now everybody is doing it we’re back to the same old problem. How do you bring your book to the attention of the reading public? I’m not interested in bringing my work to the attention of other authors, even though they may well be potential readers, because this whole business of ‘you like my page and I’ll like yours/you write me a great review and I’ll write you one’ is a bubble which has been well and truly burst.

So what is the answer? Sorry, I don’t know. I feel that as ever luck plays a major part in success. That’s not to say that some time spend on the Internet is counter-productive just don’t think that it’s a route to sure success.

What kind of research do you do?

One of my pet hates, indeed turn-offs, is reading a well-written book with good plot and strong characters that is let down by attention to detail. As a former professional helicopter pilot and airline pilot I literally cringe when I come across totally inaccurate references to flying that could have been avoided by literally no more than ten minutes cursory research. Even well-known authors are guilty of this and it’s just sloppy writing and there is no excuse for it.

A soon to be published book has as it’s hero a London doctor. The action takes place in Victorian London and the book takes the form of an autobiography. I think that I must have spent about ten hours researching and cross-checking exactly how doctors were trained in the 1840s and 1850s, probably more now I come to think of it, information was hard to come by even on the Internet. I don’t suppose for one moment that I’ve got it completely right but my aim in researching any subject about which I have no personal knowledge is to be able to produce something which an expert in that field could read and not cringe.

The Internet is an invaluable tool in research of course but it’s as well to remember that ‘stuff’ on the Internet is not always accurate. I look for a reliable, quoted source then try to double check everything. It takes time but quite often will lead me down a previously unlooked-for avenue. Some would say that if it’s on the Internet then it’s good enough because anybody interested will look at the same source material but I think of the ‘professional cringe factor’. It takes time but then to quote a military truism, ‘time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted’.

Where do your ideas come from?

 

Ah, now lightning can strike at any time! An idea can appear as a bolt out of the blue or I may read or experience something and think ‘that might make a good storyline’. I’ve probably rejected more ideas than I’ve pursued but let me give you a fairly typical example of how an idea can morph into something else.

In the afore-mentioned book about the London doctor, the idea started out as what happened when Neanderthals first encountered Homo Sapiens, us. How did the groups interact, did they fight, did they mate or did they just ignore each other like cows and sheep in the same field. I visualized a book spanning at least several generations and probably several hundreds of years. I rejected the idea as unworkable, or at least I considered it difficult to write 150K word novel on the subject. Somehow or other this idea morphed into what about if somebody remembered a past-life as a Neanderthal? I should mention that in my past I also trained, qualified and practiced as a hypnotherapist so I was familiar with regression and regression techniques, although it wasn’t something that had much practical use in day to day hypnotherapy.

I had been taught the history of the use of hypnosis, particularly in pain control in the UK before the advent of reliable anaesthetics. The original idea morphed into an autobiography of a Victorian doctor who became interested in the use of hypnosis as a method of pain control. This led him to using hypnosis in psychological cases which in tern led him to a greater understanding of the human psyche. Throw in Jack the Ripper, the ability to stop an attacker in his tracks by the use of hypnosis and British Military Intelligence and you have a novel. Yes, one of the patients did recall life as a Neanderthal and there is a twist as well. Keep checking the Alpha Wolf site for a publication date of Doctor Pierre Augustus LeMesurier and Jack the Ripper.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?

 

I’m not a writer who believes in sitting around and waiting for some passing muse to drop by. Writing is hard work and there’s only one way to tackle it and that’s park yourself in front of the keyboard and start pounding those keys! Generally I’ll write for a couple of hours a day. I don’t have a set number of words I aim for but I look to produce a minimum of two thousand five hundred a session. I don’t always succeed and it sometimes happens that when reviewing what I’ve written I delete a lot. I always start a writing session by reviewing the last session, more to get back in the flow of things than anything else but from time to time it can lead to a major revision or on one occasion at least, a change in the basic plot.

Of course the thing to beware of is getting sidetracked by checking emails or ‘doing research’. Sometimes you get to a place in the story where additional research is required but I try and make sure I don’t wander too far off the path.

How do we find out about you and your books?

I have a blog that I devote to my writing and comment on current geopolitical affairs. You can find this at

http://www.peterbernfeld.com

I’m currently sailing around the world on my boat and I keep a web diary of my experiences and adventures. You can find this at

http://www.blog.mailasail.com/troutbridge

 

I’d also suggest checking the Alpha wolf site.

 

What can we expect from you in the future?

 

Alpha Wolf currently have two books of a trilogy in the pipeline. The most pressing task is to complete that trilogy! It’s in my head and background research has been done. Other future publications will include an illustrated children’s book and of course the previously mentioned Victorian novel.

 

 

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