Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
A.R. Silverberry Interview
11/20/2011 9:14:50 AM
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Award Winning Author A.R. Silverberry discusses his novel and the writing life!
For this weekís feature, Iíd like to introduce you to the multi-talented, award-winning author of Wyndanoís Cloak, A.R. Silverberry! Iíd like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers. What do you enjoy doing when youíre not busy writing?
ARS: I donít watch TV. Instead, my wife and I watch a huge number of movies.
Youíve always been creative in many facets of your life including music and painting, but has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
ARS: I made up stories before I knew how to write. My mother wrote some of them down for me. At night, before falling asleep, I would pick up where I had left off and continue the story in my head. Books were sacred. I got so attached to one in elementary school that my parents had to buy a new one for the school library so I could keep the old, dog-eared one. I use to scramble onto my fatherís storage wall to look at the Astounding Science Fiction and Galaxy magazines he had piled on the top shelf. I couldnít read them yet, but the cover art fascinated me. You know, the creatures and spaceships. I never really thought about being a writer until about twelve years ago. From then on itís been a passion.
Your debut novel Wyndanoís Cloak has been receiving great reviews and honored with the National Indie Excellence Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award to name a few. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
ARS: Wyndanoís Cloak is actually the sequel for an unpublished novel. As I was wrapping up that first book, an image for the climax for the sequel popped into my mind. I had the heroine, the villain, the fantasy world, and most of the minor characters, and I knew what they wanted and what they were up against. It seemed compelling, so I ran with it. My protagonist, Jenren, is tough, determined, ferociously loyal, and has a huge heart. These come in handy when her worst fears come true.
Without giving away too much, can you reveal whatís in store for the readers when they crack open Wyndanoís Cloak?
ARS: Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fearsóof being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever.
She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen's family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning.
Wyndano's Cloak may be Jen's only hope. If she can only trust that she has what it takes to use it . . .
If you love page-turners with secrets, riddles, mystery, treachery, and intrigue, youíll enjoy Wyndanoís Cloak.
The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Do you have any advice youíd like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
ARS: Persevere. Hone your craft. Build your platform and brand. Attend conferences, seminars, and workshops. Network like crazy.
How did you come to the decision to become an indie author? Would you recommend it to others?
ARS: One of my editors pestered me continually to submit Wyndanoís Cloak to agents. I decided this one was for me. I wanted it to go out into the world as I had created it. I wanted complete artistic control over every aspect of the process, from the feel of the paper to the color harmony between the smyth-sewn binding and the cover art. The hardback has won awards for interior and cover design, and I think thatís because we made a keepsake. I donít regret going down that road, but anyone who wants to should expect to front a lot of money. The big downside for me was that I did not really consider ebooks, or where they were going. Had I started with an ebook earlier, I might have ridden the trend up. Cíest la vie!
What is the most important lesson youíve learned on the road to publication?
ARS: When it comes to book marketing, think outside the box. If you do what everyone else is doing, you wonít stand out from the crowd.
Iím curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
ARS: Definitely not when the fancy strikes. I agree with Jack London, who said, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.Ē Writing is difficult work, and takes discipline. I donít count words. That sets up pressure, which interferes with my creativity. I put in time. If I do that, I know my creative process will flow, and Iíll produce. Also, time away from writing is important. Youíre brain doesnít stop working on something, even though youíre not consciously thinking about it.
Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
ARS: I work out a rough plot line ahead of time. I try to develop my characters as fully as I can before writing, so I know their motives and how theyíll respond. I also have a unifying theme or metaphor in mind. Paradoxically, this structure is a catalyst for my creativity. But as I write, I stay open to unexpected discoveries. Those characters are wiser than I am. They tell me what I need to do.
Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
ARS: Iíve read that Dickens had almost superstitious rituals he had to perform before he wrote. Me? I use to believe that I had to write first thing in the morning, or the demands of the day would crowd my mind. Iíve tested that belief, and have found I can sit down and write any time. Still, mornings are best. Something about being in close proximity to the dream world.
At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writerís block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
ARS: Writerís block is too generic a term, and lacks specificity. I think itís important for writers to analyze whatís hindering them. Is it fear; procrastination; the inner critic; or issues with the story itself, like unclear character motives or lack of research? Each of these suggests a different solution. Hereís one technique I picked up from my father, who was a playwright/screenwriter, and also taught creativity. He talked about the tyranny of white paper. He suggested that you write on something that didnít matter, like a paper bag, a napkin, or a torn piece of paper with writing on it. Iíve done this with children with learning challenges. I had them scribble on paper and then crumple it up before writing. They loved it! I have a variation I do on my computer. Iíll pull away from the draft Iím working on, and start a file called Sketchpad. Anything goes there. I try different ways to write sentences, description, dialogue, you name it. I also have files where I interview my characters and explore their emotional reactions. This has been tremendously helpful in discovering a characterís voice!
Who is your favorite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
ARS: Honestly, I donít think I have a favorite. Thereís a lot of Dickens, Jane Austen, and Dean Koontz on my shelf . Tolkien was huge when I was growing up, as were myths, fairy tales, and the Oz books. Iíve read a lot of Louis LíAmour, Max Brand, and the spine-tingling tales of Robert E. Howard. Itís all in my literary DNA.
What is the most profound discovery youíve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
ARS: I was stunned to hear that one girl read my book three times in five weeks. It must have struck a chord! Hereís the lesson: Tap into universal issues of the human condition, and readers will follow you anywhere.
What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
ARS: I recently had the honor of sharing an author table with Jafar Yaghoobi. Iíve been reading his book, Let Us Water the Flowers: The Memoir of a Political Prisoner in Iran. Iím reading book one of the Imago series; Dagonís Blood, by Virginia Lee; and some short stories by Steven King.
What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to Wyndanoís Cloak in the near future?
ARS: Iím developing some ideas and characters for the sequel. Meanwhile, Iím finishing up the first draft for an adult novel, part survival tale, part spiritual journey. After that, Iíll be diving into another childrenís novel.
Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss your novel and to share in your writing experiences! For more information about A.R. Silverberry and his novel, check out:
Follow A.R. Silverberry on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/arsilverberry
Follow A. R. Silverberry on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/3fw4owd
Where to buy the book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
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