Welcome to Rudan Thursdays where we talk about…things! Anything from books and movies, to blog posts and authors, to food and drink.
Allow me to introduce the fiendishly talented, Mr. James Hutchings:
James recently released his book of stories and poems, entitled, “The New Death and others.” You have got to get this. This stuff is so great ~ dark and sarcastic, funny and morbid, morose and devilish…you won’t be able to stop turning the pages as you giggle quietly in your corner, an unholy light shining in your eyes…
Now. Let’s chat with James, shall we?
ME: Hi James! So I’ve got a pretty good take on your personality and sense of humor from reading these stories and poems, but for those that have not yet had that particular pleasure, why don’t you give a little insight into your inner-workings?
JH: I fight crime as Poetic Justice, but my day job is acting. You might know me by my stage-name ‘Brad Pitt.’
ME: Ahem…ok, Brad.. *wink* As I said earlier, this book is fantastic. I totally dig the vibe and style. What inspired you to write it?
JH: Some ideas just pop into my head, without me knowing where the idea comes from. Other ideas come from experiences in my life. For example a while ago I found three injured birds in the space of a few weeks. I took all of them to the local vet. As I was carrying one of them, I thought that the woman at reception might wonder where I was finding all these injured birds, and that was the inspiration for my story ‘Lost, Feral or Stray’.
I’ve written a lot about cats, based on having been a cat owner. But I’m a lot more cynical about them than some cat-lovers. One reviewer said he couldn’t work out whether I loved cats or hated them.
Of course other fiction is a big inspiration. In some cases it’s obvious. I’ve done poems directly based on stories by HP Lovecraft and other writers for example. In other cases it’s more subtle: for example the city of Teleleli or Telelee is partly based on Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar, partly on Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork, and partly on Port Blacksand in the Fighting Fantasy series. The dialogue in Lord of the Rings had a big influence on how my characters talk.
ME: Very cool. LOTR and others have definitely inspired me, all good stuff there.
I couldn’t imagine you getting one…well, maybe from someone without a sense of humor…but if you did receive *rolls eyes* a bad review, how would you react?
JH: Even though I know that some people aren’t going to like my work, I get upset at every bad review.
ME: We writers are definitely a sensitive bunch. I guess its best to keep tissue stocked and ready, eh?
Ok, so I’m dying to know what authors and genres you’re into. After reading this book, getting to know you through your work, I am intrigued to find out what you relax to?
JH: I mostly read fantasy. It tends to be old stories, and more short stories than novels. I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter or Game of Thrones series for example. I used to read science fiction, and found fantasy a bit pointless. I think my idea was that science fiction was stuff that could happen, whereas fantasy was stuff that couldn’t. Nowadays I feel that having ESP or super-advanced alien technology isn’t actually that different to having magic.
ME: Not only do I completely agree with you there, I’m also leaning toward imagining that those sorts of things might actually be possible…like, in real life. For real. Y’know, a hundred years ago we would have said being able to walk into a room and have it light up instantly was proof of the devil, but look at us now!
Brad James, why are you snickering? Stop that!
Ugh, moving along…
For my writer friends, what advice or tips would you have to share?
JH: Nowadays anyone can self-publish. If you can make a Word document, you can have an ebook on Smashwords or Amazon. However that means that if your work is no good, no one’s going to stop you. I’d recommend that people get onto Critique Circle (www.critiquecircle.com) and/or Scribophile (www.scribophile.com), put their work up, and listen to what people tell you. Don’t ‘defend’ your work against people’s ‘attacks’. They aren’t attacks, they’re helping you. I’ve found that the people who defend their work have a strong tendency to have the worst writing, I suppose because they’re not making the changes they need to make.
My next point doesn’t matter if you’re going to self-publish, but it is important if you want to be published by a regular publisher, or if you want to submit stories to magazines. Most places won’t publish work that’s already been published. And most places count putting a story on the internet as publishing it. In my opinion that’s silly, but that’s what they do. Scribophile and Critique Circle are exceptions, because google doesn’t index them and you can’t see any stories without logging on. However there are writing group websites out there where, if you put a story on the site, that counts as the story being published. That seems like a really terrible way to set things up, but they’re out there.
I’d also say that getting a book out isn’t the final step. It’s just the start of the work of self-promotion. This is true even if you’re not self-publishing: I’m told that authors are expected to pretty much arrange their own book signings and so on (if you just want to have a book out to show family and friends then this doesn’t matter, of course).
There are a lot of sharks out there, who make their money from authors and not from readers. They will make all sorts of promises about how they’re going to promote you and help you, but these are lies. Authors do not pay publishers, ever, and if they’re asking you to pay then it’s a scam. Of course if you’re self-publishing you might end up paying someone to design a cover for you, or you might pay for internet advertising, but those are different things. You might also pay a printer to print your books if you want to get physical books rather than ebooks – but in this age of the kindle and print-on-demand I don’t know why you’d want to. Preditors and Editors (www.pred-ed.com) is a good website to look at, and you can get good advice at the forums of Critique Circle. The best-known reputable and free self-publishing venues are Amazon Kindle Direct, Smashwords.com, and for physical books Lulu.com.
Finally, I’d suggest learning to touch-type if you can’t already. You’re going to be doing a lot of typing, and every hour you spend getting faster at typing will save you ten in the long run.
ME: Excellent advice!
James…thank you so much for allowing me the absolute pleasure of reading your new book, “The New Death and others,” and for hanging out with us today. I can’t wait to check out what you have in store for us next!
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
So talk to me! What did you think of the fantastic James Hutchings? Bring on the comments boys and girls, and you could win a free copy of THE NEW DEATH AND OTHERS!