This was an interview conducted by David Wisehart for his Kindle Author blog back in 2011….
Kindle Author – DISCOVER NEW WRITERS
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2011
EJ Mack, author of 25 Random Facts, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about 25 Random Facts?
EJ MACK: It’s difficult to explain the plot without giving too much away as it really relies on all the secrets and revelations to give it its momentum. But I can tell you that it was born from a quiz I was asked to do whereby you revealed a number of unknown facts about yourself to a select group of friends. Almost like group-therapy on paper. I was so intrigued by people’s revelations and candidness that it struck me how little we really know about the people we are closest to. From there came the idea of a woman who is not quite the person everyone thinks she is. In the book we learn not only who she really is, but also how and why she became the way she is now and ultimately, when her secret is discovered, what her future will be. To give you a sense of the general tone of the book, it’s a psychological thriller that hinges on the themes of betrayal, deceit, jealousy, murder and self-sacrifice.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
EJ MACK: I tend to start with one protagonist and then look at what characters are needed to bring out his/her traits. We cannot learn about a character’s innermost feelings or what drives them purely by watching what they do day to day. We also need to see how they respond to those around them in order to understand their viewpoint on the world. It is important therefore to add both conflicting personalities as well as nurturing ones. A person can be faultless in their job, it’s how they behave at home with their family that shows their true personality.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
EJ MACK: I’m split on this. My protagonists always tend to be female which obviously lends me to a female audience, however some of my best feedback has been from male readers. I think the fact that my characters are predominantly flawed and in some ways emotionally twisted makes for a story that can appeal to both sexes. Age-wise I’d imagine anything from late teens upwards.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
EJ MACK: 25 Random Facts was unusual for me because I never really expected it to see the light of day. I wrote the first draft about 18 months ago and then let it sit, gathering dust, whilst I launched myself onto the unsuspecting screenwriting industry. Quite by chance and on a whim I decided to blog it, a chapter a week, to see what reaction it garnered. This was also a great way of forcing me to edit each chapter before it came out. The upshot was, the reaction was good enough for me to begin to believe it was worth publishing. A few more rewrites, some proof-reading and here I am.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
EJ MACK: It’s changed dramatically over the years. As a twenty-something I was very much a late-night writer, a cigarette burning in the ashtray and copious amounts of wine to oil the cogs. I tended to come up with the general idea and then just let it flow; let the characters dictate what happened. But what came out, whilst at times really pleased me, tended to be lacking in structure which is so crucial to the telling of a good story. These days I’m proud to be a member of the daytime club and I also make sure I outline my story fully before I launch into it. I want to make sure I really know my characters and what drives them and ultimately where this journey is taking them. Above all though I try and remind myself always to just get it written in the first place—there’s plenty of time for edits and rewrites afterwards; getting the story out and to its natural conclusion is the biggest battle.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
EJ MACK: Anyone who’s not afraid to stick to their guns and use a different style of writing. I think we’re always on the look out for originality in our authors; for someone who will challenge us. That’s not to say the story has to be complex or intellectual but rather just makes us look at life from a different perspective. I’ve recently really enjoyed James Frey but am also a bit of a die hard Thomas Hardy fan.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
EJ MACK: The Bone People by Keri Hulme. I first read it when I was about 15 and it took me three goes to get into it but once I was in I loved every second. It was dark and emotive, full of complex characters, but yet so positive and life-affirming. And her descriptions of the New Zealand landscape and climate were incredibly vivid.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
EJ MACK: Early days still for me but am targeting online reviewers to start with. I am currently organising a print run for a mail out to local papers and book clubs and perhaps even some local stores, though indies can be hard to find these days. From the word go I have Facebooked and Tweeted unreservedly about my progress and will continue to do so as well as maintaining a blog about the journey.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
EJ MACK: To be honest, for me it was a lack of self-confidence firstly. Having had a few knockbacks from agents in my twenties, the chance to publish without having to secure an agent and publisher was invaluable. Then came the realisation that it would save me all those fretful weeks and months of waiting for responses or, if I was lucky, publishing dates to come around. Of course now I also know that the financial return is that much better for each book sold, although it has yet to be seen whether I have any chance of selling as many copies as I might were I traditionally published.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
EJ MACK: Do as much pre-planning as you can before publication. Get all your promotional opportunities and reviews sorted out as early as possible. I am only just discovering how busy reviewers are so it’s likely any reviews will be sporadic rather than close to release date. I am also beginning to see a need to have some print copies ready—there are still a number of reviewers who will turn down ebooks. The list of Kindle authors is huge now so to have any chance of your book being seen and bought you need to exhaust all promotional opportunities.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
E J Mack